Jessie's New Boss: Steven King

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This is a funny little story about Jessie’s new uber-boss:

THE SKELETON’S IN STEVE KING’S CLOSET – Don’t expect newly anointed Zenith Optimedia chief Steve King to relocate the media buying giant’s worldwide headquarters to New York any time soon. In keeping with Zenith’s roots, the company will remain in London. But the Riff can’t help wondering if the reason has more to do with a horrible experience King had while working for Zenith in New York, than it does with any other real estate issues. It seems that during the mid-1990s when King served as COO of Zenith North America and was working in its Houston Street offices in Lower Manhattan, he would mistakenly receive mail from another Steve King. “Penguin Books, was in the same building, and at the time they were publishing some of Stephen King’s books,” recalls Zenith’s King. “Most of my mail when I was general manager and COO of Zenith came from strange people sending in the weirdest letters, like, ‘Would you like me to tell you my story about how I butchered my husband and have him buried in my basement?”


Search Engines In The News

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It seems that everyone these days is talking about Google, about how it’s impending IPO will give it a market cap greater than every the market cap of every other company in the world combined (okay, that is not really true), about how its one of the few companies to have its name turned into a verb (you are going out with her on a blind date and you haven’t googled her?!) and how search is the true killer app of the web (how many true killer apps are there anyway?). What isn’t talked about are the other search engines out there – no, not Ask Jeeves or MSN but the small guys, the ones that want to be the next Google. Appropriated from the 3/29/04 edition of Newsweek is this handy list of four cool search engines:

  1. Vivisimo – clusters search results into meaningful categories. eBay uses it to sort auction outcomes.
  2. Topix.net – Credit ex-Netscapers for the ability to automatically build pages around 4,000 online news sources.
  3. Coneteq – A Lebanese project (to be launched later this year) will let you search products by brand, price and location. NOTE: This may get my mother to finally start really using the ‘Net
  4. Feedster – Allows searchs of the thousands of personal web logs (this this one) and ranks results by dates
  5. Grokker – Plugs queries into the major search engins and uses home-cooked algorithms to analyze the pages and organize them into cagegories.

Check them out and post your reviews – I haven’t had time to yet…


Iron Monk

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Former Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson, D-Culver City, kicks Zhang Xiao Ju betweent the legs during a demonstration performed by Buddhist monks at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, March 22, 2004. In their first visit to the United States, a group of Shaolin martial artists from SongShan, China demonstrated acrobatic flips and shows of strength among other things. With the monks urging him on, Wesson made several kicks to the monk who showed no emotion. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Do you think the Speaker hates monks? Look at his glee in kicking this buddhist where the sun don’t shine. I for one wouldn’t allow anyone to do that to me, even with an iron cup.



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I’ve been reading a little, doing crosswords, studying a GMAT Review book and been going to movies and museums. I’ve also developed a paralyzing phobia over writing – I just can’t seem to write these days about anything. Not poetry. Not journals. Not short stories. Taking my writing class has actually made things worse believe it or not. I haven’t done one homework assignment and the piece I turned in to workshop I wrote months ago. I’m not sure why I can’t seem to write anything. I believe I have inherited Phish’s “Waste” as my mantra lately:

Don’t want to be an actor, pretending on the stage/

Don’t want to be writer, with my thoughts out on the page/

Don’t want to be a painter, ’cause everyone comes to look/

Don’t want to be anything, where my life’s an open book/

A dream it’s true/But I’d see it through/

If I could be/

Wasting my time, with you

Only problem is that I’m alone – the “with you” part makes no sense because I spend an awful amount of time by myself. I’m home all day by myself, I’m home all night by myself. So, I’m wasting away with myself (and my crossword puzzles).


Virtual Birthday

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Yesterday, 3/18/04, was my first virtual birthday. While the day was special in some regards, it just didn’t feel as if it was my birthday. I use the term virtual for a number of reasons:

For starters, I received (by a wide margin) more birthday wishes via the Internet than I did via a phone line or my mailbox combined. While in some ways this was a positive, as I received notes all day long while at work, it was also a negative because some people used it as a substitute for other mediums. I never heard my father’s or sister’s voice yesterday. I cannot remember a birthday when that happened. While they sent me instant message birthday wishes, they never picked up the phone and in truth I would have preferred to hear them sing “Happy Birthday.”

The second reason is because the day felt like a birthday hologram. It existed, but not really. Out of my good friends, a large contingent didn’t do/say anything to denote that yesterday was a special day for me. This was disappointing but not totally unexpected. Each year your birthday is interesting because you know that certain people are going to get in touch with you while you hope that certain others will remember you in some manner. You look forward to hearing from both groups but the hope group always is more fun because you never know what you’re going to get and who is going to call. This year, while I heard from almost everyone in my know group (which always is nice and is in no way being diminished), my entire hope group remained silent.

A third reason is because I celebrated it in a very low-key fashion. I bragged throughout the work day about my big evening plans, how I decided to spend the evening in my apartment on the couch watching the NCAA basketball tournament, eating pizza and drinking beer the way I did back in college. I thought it was a great idea and sounded fun. However, sitting on a couch, waiting for a phone to ring while watching game after game isn’t nearly as fun or exciting as I thought it would be.
A fourth reason is there was no special dessert, no candle, no cake, no song. I cannot remember a birthday where I didn’t enjoy a cookie, brownie, slice of cake or something sweet while blowing out a flame.

Now, I am somewhat to blame for my disappointment because I didn’t send an “I was born let’s celebrate at this bar” email to my friends which usually jogs the memory of those who have forgotten. I didn’t clearly state what I wanted to do because I frankly didn’t know what I wanted to really do. However, I just wasn’t really in the mood this year to bang the “pay attention to me “make me feel special” drum. Maybe it is because I had just returned from Amsterdam and was sick of planning things. Maybe it is because I’m now 27, which really doesn’t mean a damn thing except that I’ve been on this planet for 27 years. Maybe it is because I wanted to see who would do what. Well, be careful for what you wish for because you just might get it. Next year, I’m breaking out the drum again and even though its obnoxious, I guess its better to be obnoxious, satisfied and happy than to be understated and disappointed.

Happy birthday to me.


1 in 10 Bingo Students Marry Another Bingo Student

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Here is a link to a Binghamton University Pipe Dream (campus newspaper) article that talks about alumni marriages. The most interesting stat is that that 1 in 10 BU students eventually marry another BU student. I’m sure that the percentage (10%) is much higher for the Jewish alumni as I know of 4 couples who met at Bingo in my immediate social circle, 7/8 of them Jews with 1 half-Jew, who are or probably will be getting married.

Here is a link to the article. Enjoy.


Where I Got Engaged

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There was an article in the 3/17/04 edition of The New York Times which reviewed Montrachet, the restaurant where I popped the question to my now fiance and future wife. We ate there after graduating college in 1999, our first “mature” meal, and the second time we ate there I left with a bride-to-be on my arm. In honor of that special occasion, I have decided to post the entire review. Though the review isn’t necessarily super positive, I must state that we were there for their ultra-popular B.Y.O.B. night, that Jessie is not only a “foodie” but a great lover of wines and that we stuck to the prix-fixe meal which they make so many times that they can’t really screw it up. Here is the review:

RESTAURANTS age in different ways. Some, like Joe Allen, sag into lovable shabbiness. Others, like La Caravelle, become time capsules – fastidiously maintaining their youthful charms. Many just fade away.

In 1985, Drew Nieporent, then a fledgling restaurateur, opened Montrachet in TriBeCa, then a downtrodden industrial landscape. Diners came flocking, and soon Montrachet became the showpiece of a re-emerging neighborhood.

Montrachet wasn’t just stylish, it was serious with a capital S. Bryan Miller gave it three stars in The New York Times (and advised diners who were driving to this unusual area of the city to call for directions). Of the food, then under the direction of a young David Bouley, he wrote, “One evening you can enjoy a homespun French dish of braised cabbage rolls stuffed with foie gras and squab meat and flanked by squab legs. Another time it could be an au courant preparation such as red snapper with tomato-coriander sauce and fresh pasta.”

Mr. Bouley now owns Bouley and Danube nearby. Mr. Nieporent has added 14 restaurants, including Nobu and Rubicon, to his empire. And Montrachet – now in the hands of Chris Gesualdi, the executive chef – has reached a critical juncture. It will either firmly establish itself as a classic in the hearts of the New York’s diners – or just whimper out. TriBeCa is a different place now. It doesn’t need Montrachet. It has to want Montrachet.

Entering the restaurant is a bit like stepping through the looking glass. There is no coat room in the tiny foyer. A small portable heater set on top of a wine cask buzzed at the coat checker, who took my coat, hung it on a metal rack in the dining room, then looked up my reservation. She was polite, warm even.

Before me stood a dining room with sponge-painted walls and self-consciously modern paintings. It felt like a scene from “Wall Street.” I could picture Michael Douglas sitting at a red banquette, bellowing into a first-generation cellphone the size of a shoe.

I hadn’t been to Montrachet in years, and I suddenly felt the disappointment of returning to a childhood home and finding that the backyard is not so big as you remembered, that the curtains are kind of shabby. Montrachet even smells old.

A lobster salad in a murky broth, duck breast and a gummy tarte Tatin shot out of the kitchen and paused briefly at our table. In an hour, we were done. In some respects, it was ideal. It was a weeknight, and I didn’t feel like dining into the wee hours. But three-star restaurants shouldn’t treat you as a takeout joint does.

On other visits, the food took on more luster. Roasted chicken was moist, its skin crisp enough to snap. It was nestled in a potato purée with bright green peas and a rich garlic demi-glace. Risotto with truffles was dense with mushroom flavor, and uninhibited by its simplicity.

A dish of braised tripe looked a lot like shreds of carpet in a brown sauce (how does one make tripe attractive?) but hit all the right notes. It was hearty and savory – a scattering of fava beans and chips of black truffle lurked within. The squab was equally well composed. Roasted pink, it was gamy and sweet, with the breast meat sliced and fanned and a leg there for gnawing. Atop a tangle of frisee, sharing the plate, was a quail egg cooked soft so that the yolk tamed the zesty dressing. But the squab also epitomized the problem at Montrachet. Much of the cooking is textbook-correct, yet you will not be awed. You will be fed well and sent home.

Monday nights tell the rest of the story. That is B.Y.O.B. night, and the otherwise sleepy restaurant springs to life. Regulars pour in and are greeted by name. A troupe of sommeliers glide around the three small dining rooms, pouring from bottles that crowd the tables. All evening, a clamor of glasses and conversation fills the air.

For wine lovers, Montrachet provides a joy ride in the esoteric: long pages of the wine list are devoted to classic and obscure Burgundies. The list rambles, impresses and excites. And just when you’re feeling befuddled, a sommelier moseys by and saves you from giving up and ordering a beer. Montrachet’s team of wine stewards are masterly at listening, assessing your inclinations as well as the plumpness of your wallet and then coaxing you to try something new.

This kind of service can be found only in an older, established restaurant. And it sums up what has happened to Montrachet. Its reputation for exceptional wine has trumped its food. It’s no longer a three-star restaurant aiming to blend perfect food, wine and service. It’s a wine haunt.

A special wine list is ample motivation to dine out, and in a way the menu, like the menu at Veritas (also known chiefly for its wine list), does not make the mistake of competing with the wines. Montrachet’s menu is flush with hearty but restrained bistro classics like magret of duck with peppercorn sauce, mustard-crusted salmon, foie gras and creme brulee.

Unfortunately, though, too many dishes fail even to provide sturdy pairings for the wine. The tuna tartare lacks both the clarity of flavor you find in the best quality tuna and the acidity needed for contrast. The goat cheese salad is fragmented by flavors like red pepper and pine nuts.

Some mistakes are too elementary to comprehend. A molten chocolate cake, a recipe that seems to be in the DNA of every American chef, is thick and sludgy here. And although the Gewurtztraminer panna cotta is tangy and floral, you couldn’t jiggle it with an earthquake.

The kitchen employs lots of ramekins, lots of sticky savory sauces and fruit sauces – coulis, in 80’s parlance – decorated with swirls. This is neither irony nor postmodern quotation. It is simply inertia. Sadly, the gloss and the grooming and the energy in Mr. Nieporent’s restaurant empire, which all started here, are now to be found elsewhere.

239 West Broadway (White Street), TriBeCa; (212) 219-2777.
ATMOSPHERE A 1980’s flashback, with sponge-painted walls and bright abstract paintings.
SOUND LEVEL Quiet enough for eavesdropping.
RECOMMENDED DISHES Roast squab; red wine risotto; roast chicken; saddle of rabbit; trio of beef; creme brulee; strawberry and fromage blanc dome.
SERVICE Deft and not hovering.
WINE LIST An extraordinary list, whose strengths lie in Burgundy. The bartender makes a delicious kir royale.
HOURS Dinner, Monday to Thursday, 5:30 to 10:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, to 11 p.m.; Lunch, Friday, noon to 2:15 p.m.
PRICE RANGE Dinner, appetizers, $11 to $22; entrees, $24 to $30; desserts, $9 to $10. Prix fixe, 3 courses, $36; 6 courses, $79.
CREDIT CARDS All major cards.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS Steps at entrance. Restrooms on main level.
(None)|Poor to satisfactory
**|Very good
Ratings reflect the reviewer’s reaction to food, ambience and service, with price taken into consideration. Menu listings and prices are subject to change.


“D’oh! Looks like Dear Abby isn’t a Simpsons fan”

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I grabbed the copy below from an E Online news post:

The nationally syndicated columnist was taken in by a hoax letter that bore a strong resemblance to a day in the life of the dysfunctional cartoon family.

Dear Abby (real name: Jeanne Phillips) penned a reply to a letter purportedly from “Stuck in a Love Triangle,” which described a picture of less-than-domestic bliss.

The column was sent out to papers last week, but was withheld from Monday’s editions after a sharp-eyed editor recognized Simpson similarities. In the column, titled “Wife meets perfect match after husband strikes out,” Stuck complained to Dear Abby that she was a 34-year-old mother of three, married for 10 years to a “greedy, selfish, inconsiderate and rude” partner by the name of Gene.

An unwitting Gene had committed the unforgivable sin of gifting his darling wife with a bowling ball for her birthday–a bowling ball that was sized for his fingers and engraved with his name, no less.
Frustrated, Stuck decided to make the most of the situation and hit the local alley for bowling lessons.

Little did she expect to find love at the lanes, but as it turned out, a dashing suitor by the name of Franco, a “kind, considerate and loving” individual, was waiting in the wings.

Soon thereafter, Stuck fell head over ninepin for Franco, who subsequently proposed.

“I no longer love Gene,” Stuck confessed in her letter. “I want to divorce him and marry Franco. At the same time, I’m worried that Gene won’t be able to move on with his life. I also think our kids would be devastated. What should I do?”

Replying in her usual sanctimonious, pun-laden manner, Dear Abby advised Stuck to discuss her reasons for cheating with Gene.

“To save the marriage,” read the smarmy counsel, “he might be willing to change back to the man who bowled you over in the first place.”

An editor at one of the newspapers that subscribes to the column noticed that the events described sounded awfully similar to an episode of The Simpsons titled “Life on the Fast Lane.”

In the episode, a less-than-suave Homer presents Marge with a birthday bowling ball.

Marge heads off to the lanes to bowl a few rounds, where she meets another man.

In both the letter and the show, each husband grows suspicious of his wife after discovering a bowling glove–a gift from the other man.

Homer reacts by proclaiming his love for Marge, who later meets him at the nuclear power plant where he works.

Before a crowd of cheering coworkers, Homer hefts Marge into his arms and carries her out of the plant–presumably to live happily ever after.

The conclusion to Stuck in a Love Triangle’s star-crossed romance, on the other hand, will forever remain a mystery.

Via E Online


Dark Tower Release Dates

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From news@stephenking.com:

“Due to popular demand, the US publication schedule for release of Song of Susannah and The Dark Tower have been moved ahead. The on-sale date for Song of Susannah will now be June 8, 2004 and The Dark Tower will be available September 21, 2004.”

I have only two words – Yeah baby!



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From Neu:

In a three-way victory for bitter irony, John Edwards won not a single state on Super Tuesday, while John Kerry was robbed of his sweep by… Howard Dean?!?! I wonder which one is the most pissed? Actually, come to think of it, that probably goes in the decreasing order: Edwards, Kerry, Dean.