Monday, November 16, 2009

The Law of Unintended Consequences

SO THIS TIME I was on the verge of trying to re-create one of the New York lunches, when, suddenly, I went insane. This is a chopped pastrami sandwich. Once upon a time in New York, in some deli off some avenue in the middle of the island, I ordered a patrami on rye, and the guy behind the counter grabbed a double handful of pastrami (in one hand, mind you), slabbed it on the countertop, and proceeded to whack at it with a cleaver. Then he took the resultant heap and plunked it down atop the slices of rye he had previously plastered with spicy brown mustard, wrapped the thing up in white deli paper, sliced it in half, and handed it over. So today, while tempted to try and recreate one of the recent New York lunches, I decided to try this chopped pastrami trick insetad. I also reasoned that grilling it with cheese would be a reasonable strategy, even though the only reasonable cheese I had for such an adventure was white American.

Clearly there is a kind of alchemy to the chopped pastrami, and clearly it is an alchemy of which I am unposessed. But while the thing did kind of fall apart on me, and the grilling was one helluva trick which I only barely pulled off*, it was still a really nice contraption. Chopping the meat brought out a level of savory spiciness I doubt would have otherwise been present, the American cheese went along rather nicely after all, and, to top it all off, the stuff in the container you see upscreen is the last of the blue cheese cole slaw, which, in the presence of the pastrami (and the ketchupo!) really popped. Which is all by way of saying: insanity, too, sometimes has it's benefits.

The film of the day is Ghostbusters, not in that it is on and I am watching it, but more that I feel compelled to write a little something about it. Recently, one of the Onion AV people wrote a little something about it for thier Better Late Than Never feature, in which (saving you from reading the whole thing) she missed a couple of key points to enjoying Ghostbusters. The first thing, and the most important thing, is not to expect it to mean anything. Part of the charm of the thing is that it isn't really any one thing. It tries to be a half dozen different things, and only partially suceeds at being a few of them. It is a cacahonous, schrizophrenic affair: Bill Murray is in his movie, Sigourney Weaver is in her movie, and Danny Akroyd has created his own alternate universe in which the 3 Stooges are serious scientists and ghosts are both real and animated. (Ernie Hudson and Harold Ramis are in that movie, although both are inexplicably straight men.) It was the 80's. People were trying to reinvent cinema without having any very clear idea of how to do it or why. (And there was alot of coke going around. Alooooooooooooooooooot of coke.) But this thing still hold together, for whatever reason. There is a very definite sense of harmless cool to it. This is why so many people dress up as Ghostbusters for ComiCon and DragonCon and what not. Call it the law of unintended consequences. Nothing about this movie says it should work, but somehow, the silly goddamned thing still holds together.

So do I recommend it? Never chop your pastrami. Let someone who really knows what they're doing do it. (And this applies doubly if "chop your pastrami" is slang for a particularly deviant sexual activity.) If Ghostbusters is one of those movies you can watch pretty much any time it comes on, good for you. But don't expect anyone who doesn't get it to be persuaded by any argument you might craft as to why the thing is some kind of cerulean genius. It's not. It's a pure fluke.+ Remember: for every Ghostbusters, in the 1980's, there were 34.7 Howard The Duck's.

*This was actually a rather impressive flip, in that I only lost perhaps 4% of the pastrami into the frying pan in the process, which I was later able to incorporate into the finished sandwich.

+And we should all be glad they didn't stick to Akroyd's original, whacky-ass script, which had him and Belushi as time-traveling spirit cops out to bust Einstein for ethereal fraudulence, or some such crap.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me

SO FOR MY birthday, since I just got back from New York, and after that, Bluefield, West Virginia, I decided that I would buy some new shoes. These are the Nike Air Pegasus model, which I have taken to calling the Air Pegs, because it's easier to say, sounds cooler, and, y'know, that Steely Dan song. They are kind of the un-Nikes of my collection. All my other Nikes are super light and super squishy, while these weigh in at an apalling seven ounces (GASP!?!) and have a more substantial EVA sole platform. They are still WAY comfy, and very handsome as well.
And then, in honor of my birthday shoes, I had a beautifully poured Black & Tan.
(That's a lie. The shoes arrived after I had started in on the B&T, along with a pulled pork barbeque sandwich on a kaiser roll with blue cheese cole slaw, and French fires with kethcupo! There was no movie of the day. I have been plenty entertained as it is.)

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Boulevard of Broken Streets

SO WE WENT to New York. Yes we did. This is a corned beef on rye from the Stage Deli, the Wifey's favorite. We went there the first night, showing up about five thirty. By the time we left, a little after six, the joint was packed.

What you do not see in this shot is the first of two beers I had with this meal. The sandwich-- this is half, by the way-- was fifteen bucks. The beers came to sixteen bucks.

This is me just a shade below Times Square. I include this mainly to counter the Wifey's assertion that I didn't take any pictures outside of the hotel room. This is actually one of the many pedestrian plazas recently created along Broadway, in the name of alieviating traffic. The first couple of them kind of baffled me, but the further we went Uptown, they more they grew on me. And, strangely enough, they seemed actually to be working. Broadway used to have some of the most egregious traffic jams, all the time, and in the 25 blocks we walked up and back, we didn't see a one.

(But I actually didn't take any pictures outside the hotel, for the rest of the trip. I didn't want the camera to slow me down. Union Square, Madison Square Park, Washington Square Park, Chealsea, Greenwich Village, the Hudson, Chealsea Pier Park-- I think that's what it's called-- East side, West side, all around the town.)

And here's the Wifey setting up her Command Center. (Laptop.) She was so entirely into it that she didn't even notice me taking the picture.

And this was lunch. A coupla of Carlsburgs from a bodega a coupla blocks up and a pastrami on rye from the, literally, corner deli. (Actually named the Corner Cafe.) This was the third day, by which point I had tweaked my left knee, shocked the sinews of my shinbones, and beat my feet all to hell. My reasoning was that I had better take it easy for the rest of the day. (I didn't. That was the day I stepped out the door of the Hampton Inn on 24th Street at Sixth Avenue and walked straight out west all the way to the Hudson, and Chealsea Pier Park.)

Speaking of the Chealsea Hamp, this was our view, or really as much as I could get of it through the window. (I got what I thought was a better shot, but the Wifey suggested, correctly as it turns out, that the bar in the middle of the window ruined it. It really did.

And here's where they lived. (Monty Python reference.) This is the bitchin' high rise apartment builing across the road. I didn't actually see any of the tenants during the stay. But I did toast them with my Carlsburgs.

And here's the view colored by the sun setting over the Hudson river. On this day, I believed in God.

And this is the view at night. Good night, New York.

And this is my plane home. I thought it was a kind of pretty view, for an airport. An album cover maybe. Anyways, the plane got me home, which is good. And sad. The shuttle van took us across the Queensboro bridge, across Rooseveldt Island, with a great view from Midtown all the way down the island. The plane banked high and hard getting out, giving mostly a view of the sky and the sun, but as I looked back I got a shot of the middle of the island, clear from river to river, with the Empire State Building right smack dab in the middle. Good bye, New York. I love you.

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