Category Archives: Writing

7 Cool Summer Activities – AKA the Ice Bucket List

Ms Mel and ODNT know there is strength in numbers – so write a numbered list this month and they will link YOU up! You have 10 minutes! Ketchup With Us

Will I do them all? Well I already know I don’t have enough time, but as long as I keep hydrated and wear spf 100, I could get through what is predicted as a hot and humid couple of months.

I admit I went way over 10 minutes, but they will forgive me, as I am slightly adored by them.

1. Water-based activities. Well does going rowing in Central Park count? Or Splish Splash? I hear Lazy River Tubing in Harper’s Ferry is fun (even though apparently the coolest family that lived there just moved). Or fishing off the coast of Long Island. I definitely want to get to Montauk by the end of summer. Go to the beach – I’ve been exermasizing, and have a new swimsuit, so off I should go. But I hate sitting out in the sun, it’s boring! So much for solar energy right…right?! (Is this thing on?). At least one day out though, with decent suntan lotion. I am all for safe sunbathing, but I always buy an SPF that blocks out every ray. Like black hole strength or something, so I wind up getting no color at all. Which makes me wonder if I did tan, I should definitely keep the beard, I might wind up with a terrible tan line!

2. Go to the movies. Considering I have already put off seeing Godzilla several times, I should really get my ass to a chilly theater. This is a terrible waste of a perfectly nice flask I have.

Every good Rebel had one.

Every good Rebel had one.

I should note that off-broadway plays, independent music venues, and museums are also well ventilated, and offer plenty of entertainment.

3. Wine tasting. There are tons of vineyards in New York State, but unless you are planning a weekender, I can’t understand enabling people to drive in, drink wine all day and then hop back on the road. Seriously, be safe people. You could always just hit up a local liquor store or farmer’s market for tastings and advice on local and famous brand (just be sure to buy something once in a while!)

h0td4wg

                 Summer doesn’t count without this.

4. Fine Dining outdoors. Yes this includes picnics. No, not in Central Park. NYers seem to think this is the only park in existence. Bear Mountain perhaps. Complete with fine wine (but not an all day tasting).  Outdoors also includes poolside or rooftop BBQ’s. I will get myself invited one way or another. I promise not to cannonball (pool not roof!). Ok that is a lie, I will absolutely splash you all. The finest of dining would be a corn/hot dog and cheese fries at Nathan’s. Yes the one in Coney Island – that’s the only one in existence in my universe. And riding the Cyclone. BEFORE the hot dog. I cannot stress that enough.
5. Indoor fine dining – If I want to get fancy pants, a trip out to City Island – I hear the seafood is amazing. Juniors, before it closes and re-opens within the putrid bowels of overpriced NYC housing. Burgers with a buddy (yes, you), is always fine dining, even If the place is a dive or trendy place.

abelburger

 I’ll be Abel to finish this, not problem.

6. Fireworks. No not doing them – I really miss those days. But a good show, and that they are done every weekend in Coney Island is good. And yes you can eat hot dogs during the show, even though it’s already past 10pm.

7. Baseball! The sport of summer. Major leagues though – forget it. Too far too expensive and too crowded, especially with mass transit. Minor leagues! The Yanks and Mets both have teams around here. Cheaper seats that aren’t half a mile back and lot of fan interaction and fun.

Whatever I do though, I should keep a bottle of water in my pack (on those non-flask days) and a Zamzee strapped to my belt.

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Filed under Ketchup With Us, Life, Life in NYC, Lists, New York City, Prompts, Travel, Writing

Eight H Songs

So I am double linking this idea for maximum exposureness, and also because inspiration came from all angles!

First, would be for From My Write Side, who in turn linked from Ambling & Rambling. Songs with an H theme. Since H is the 8th letter of the alphabet, my twist is 8 songs/albums/bands that start with the letter H.

Also since this is a numbered list, it goes along with Ms ODNT and Melmags in their June Blog Post by Numbers Month activity (and you thought they were just about Ketchup and angry letters.)

Sorry but I will not link these up to Youtube or something, because coding gives me headaches sometimes. If you are curious go for it!

1. H. by Tool – From the CD Aenima, it was one of my favorite albums of the mid 90’s. I played this straight through pretty much every day, and then the favorites over again. My friends and I put our own interpretations on the lyrics, a typical fawning gesture. Yet we were the same people who rolled their eyes when people would go on in the same manner about Radiohead. Looking back, yes we were those obnoxious fans. Such is life. Anyway H. is about inner conflicts, ‘the snake’ is mentioned throughout the song, likely a symbol of temptation and self-serving choices, which even if good or bad for us, are to our benefit first and foremost. With the drowned snake at the end, we have regret. The song fades into the sound of a record reaching the end, and the needle cycling through white noise.

2. Hope Tonight – a new CD (and a title track) by my friend Melanie Penn. What’s it like? Well I’ll tell ya…

Maybe things haven’t been going so well lately. After a gloomy end to 2013 (from Fall through November), and a snow filled start to 2014, as early as February, things may have looked to be just more of the same. Even the few nice days have been bookmarked by rainy weather. We deserve more. A song perhaps. One that doesn’t force rhymes, and that doesn’t take too long to learn.
But now it’s Spring (I think it is), the days are lasting longer, and now something else has come up among the flowers. Right now, you can purchase “Hope Tonight”, Melanie Penn’s sophomore release! It will remind of you of the hope, happiness, bittersweetness you have, and how much wiser you are from family and your own experiences. I was lucky enough to get a copy some time ago, and it is absolutely brilliant.
So download, listen, listen again, and you’ll hear it, see it, feel it.
It’ll turn around.
Things always turn around.

3. Hurt – Nine Inch Nails. Later Johnny Cash offered his own rendition, probably the best cover of any song, IMHO. The Downward Spiral was brilliant in its raw sound, which I don’t feel they duplicated afterwards. Like with garage bands, when the tech production goes up, and songwriting becomes a process, that cheap, dirty anger gets buffered. Still, this haunting track completed an incredible dark concept album.

4. Heaven Can Wait – Meat Loaf. Bat Out of Hell was a brilliant record. Yes record. I still have it, salvaged from the ol’ heave ho that your record collection rightfully deserves. Anyway, Heaven Can Wait, is the first of two love ballads on the record that are ironically sandwiched in between songs about horny teenage boys and bad bikers looking to score and split on innocent girls. Still, the emotion and sincerity stand out for Mr. Loaf, and I’m sure this song made it’s way onto many wedding dance floors back in the day.

5. High and Dry – Radiohead. The other band that has the annoying fans. The Bends was a foreshadowing of the complex style and vague lyrics that would grow (at least to me) incomprehensible, or at least an in-joke that I wasn’t going to pretend I got. Released in the midst of grunge, it did not fold to that pressure or sound and that’s why its still listenable.

6. Hung – Napalm Death. My first deep foray into grindcore/death metal and it happened by ‘accident’. At the time, I was into Metallica, pretty much the first step in any teen’s basic metal comprehension. Megadeth, Iron Maiden and Sepultura were also staples. Slayer was harder, faster and darker. So when we came across a cassette given to one of us, we put it on and were dumbfounded by the guttural vocals, chaotic guitars and lyrics that were sputtered out, and would stop mid sentence. We smirked, shook our heads, and were going to eject it, when I convinced everyone to just give it a few more minutes. After all what the hell else did we have planned that day? No foreign diplomats were waiting on us to arbitrate any peace treaties. So we sat there, and suddenly, as the song chugged along to the 2:50 mark of the song, the riff comes in. Jaws dropped. Heads banged.

7. Hats off to the Bull – Chevelle. An obvious reference to bullfighting and rooting for the underdog, this album and title track are built around the state of society and culture these days tied in with a traditional ‘sport’ that is criticized for its cruelty and machismo. Probably my favorite CD by Chevelle since Point #1, as they seemed to return to those roots indirectly, but keeping the sound fresh and perfectly done (see my note on NIN about stale, repetitiveness).

8. Head Down and Half – Both off Soundgarden’s Superunknown. This came out 20 years ago and damn I remember buying it with some of the last crumbs of my lean college student budget. The rest I spent on dinner out at Pizzeria Uno’s with my friends, while we listened to it on my portable CD player. I nod and smile just thinking about how dated that sounds. Anyway, those songs in particular were written by bassist Ben Shepherd, and were seemingly out of place among Chris Cornell’s memorable riffs and structure. It took me a while, but I would later get into them, as I would refrain from hitting the ‘skip’ button. That button made things much easier – no need to wear out the ‘ffwd’ button.

(Hidden Track- various) Ahhh you see what I did there?! Hidden tracks are fun things. Nothing was a better sight than when the track listing was different than the listed version. Even better was when there was no extra track, just the last song having seemingly endless minutes of silence before these odd outtakes or messages. There’s an angry parent calling Marilyn Manson’s hotline, a poetic, if not disturbing phone message 15 minutes after track 69 (as if ‘Disgustipated’ wasn’t disjointed enough, and yes we waited those extra 15 minutes- see #6 again for our work schedules), “Iron Gland” stuck between songs on Alice in Chains’ Dirt, a hidden track before the firts track on Korn’s See you on the other Side and Nine Inch Nails, who on Broken, dragged you out to tracks 98 & 99 for the last songs.

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Ketchup With Us #38 – Homeward Bound

Ms Mel and ODNT Are giving you 10 minutes to write something, anything. Ketchup With Us


I’m on my way to Chicago tomorrow morning, returning home Friday. I will post pictures and stories upon my return. Until then, I began to think about whatever travels we go on, we somehow seek home again.

____

What is home to you- Where the heart is? Where your hat is hung? The newly defined dwelling that love turns a house into?
For me it was an apartment building where I spent my formative years. 18 years to be exact, and we lived on the 18th floor. We had 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a balcony. I would sit out there on summer afternoons and ‘plane spot’ – the route to one of the airports was along the way and I would read the rear wing design. Most were American Airlines, sometimes I would see something unique. Alaska Air had an Eskimo on it. I even went to the liberry once and found a book with an entire index of them. The Concord would roar by at 8 or 10 am on weekends, cutting through the air sharp as it looked.

I’ve moved several times since 1995; lived in a house for 3 years, then my parents bought a co-op. I would buy one nearby a couple years later, where I still live. Still in Brooklyn.
I am a vivid dreamer. Colors, words, sounds, the whole shebang. Emotions and tension as well. A vividly detailed dream can be over-stimulating even if it’s a good one, and for someone who watches horror/thrillers, played Quake almost exclusively for several years and used to listen to death metal all the time, you can imagine the types of dreams I had. Sometimes I had to get home – for safety, or pick up something, a home base…not sure. It could have been any of those reasons. It was, many times, run-down. Not always post apocalyptic. But something that fell into disuse and disrepair. Things did change when we were moving, criminal elements started to move in and we really were forced to get out asap. Not the terms we wanted. But still there was something that made me go there. Nowhere else. I would reach my floor and sometimes just reach the door but never got in. Never got to that balcony again. Never looked out my parents window at the NY skyline with the twin towers still standing.

Guess I never truly made it home again in those dreams, maybe the new ones became more real .

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Ketchup With Us #37: Re- Lenting

Ms Mel and ODNT want you to revisit another entry of yours. Ketchup With Us

This seems fitting to update.

in 2012, I wrote this first post on what I was going to do for Lent. I don’t think I actually decided on anything.

In 2013, I made a choice – I gave up ‘seconds’ in food. I was gaining a little weight, but more than that, I was gaining bad food habits; mainly taking more of something- another helping of rice, chips, cookies, meatballs and pasta, etc. I mean, seconds on veggies isn’t so bad, but that’s not what I was doing. So I made the rule – I can pile it on a plate, bowl, whatever, but that’s all I can have. At first, I took the liberties; a big bowl of pasta and 3 meatballs. The thing is that I don’t eat that at one quick sitting, so what was I actually doing? I hardly finished it, and when I did, there were no firsts on dessert! Gradually I realized that I was portioning out exactly what I thought I would be able to eat and not save for leftovers. As my portions and habits went back to normal, so did my weight (also my energy went back up a bit). Even on Easter Sunday and beyond, the one plateful rule was still in effect. Still is.

Now for this year, I am doing something different.

There is a lot of talk regarding the idea of ‘giving up’ something. Much like a new year’s resolution, everything sounds awesome, doable and a mark of your strong character & faith. So you give up chocolate or cursing.

And you last a day, then get Catholic guilt.

So now it is the emphasis of doing something GOOD each day. Good for you, society, your faith, or just your general well being.

I like that last bit. On that note, I had some unexpected news on Ash Wednesday that rattled me a bit.

(Side note – I got my ashes. Dude, check out the job the priest did!)
4sh3z

Ok back to that feeling. I’m giving up something. Doubts.

Doubt that I can lead others in a good direction. Doubt that despite my awesomeness*, (whatever) it (is) can and will happen. Doubt or second-guessing any/every decision I make. None of those fcuking things that keep me everyone up at 3am.

Already I feel this challenging me, and I bite it back and down. I’ll make it, maybe not perfectly, but I will emerge after 40 days having replaced doubt completely with something very different. Something better.

It might make it easier to look at it in comparison – chocolate would be waaaay harder than this.**

*notice that I have no doubts about that.

**Case in point – Double chocolate & cherry brownies.

dblch0ch33rOriginal Recipe found at Kary Osmond.

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Ketchup With Us #36 – Kitchen Up

Ms Mel and ODNT are giving you 10 minutes to write something, anything. Starting…now! Ketchup With Us

We all have talents. Writing, photography, drawing/painting, singing. Do we gravitate to what we are good at by trial and error, or do we go with the first thing that we get a sense of reward for?

One ‘talent’ I think it more of a necessity is cooking. What difference is there really between a gourmet chicken dinner and some spices simply sprinkled on and tossed into the oven? Comfort food is rarely difficult, but has the secret parts of preparation (not love…well ok BESIDES love, geez) that make it just right. Probably the reason why I refuse to eat Italian food at most locations.

My introduction to cooking started very young. I watched my parents cook while sitting in the kitchen area, as I wheeled small metal cars along the round white table. Typical Italian fare of course. As time went on I would be allowed to bread the cutlets, season the meat, I still recall handling the squishy ground beef for meatballs, or prepare the sides (usually instant from a box, or canned. Cranberry sauce a la Bart if you get the reference).

In my teenage years my parents were usually working later hours and so my sister and I were the ones who cooked for ourselves. We took the opportunity to mix and match dishes that only a teenage metabolism can appreciate – frozen pizzas and chicken strips, or everything deep fried at once! My passage into adulthood came when I found out Chef Boyardee was a real person who made more than Beefaroni. The innocence of childhood was gone.

In college I learned two things, first cookies. I gained a quick reputation of always having peanut butter/chocolate chip cookies in my backpack. A close friend advised that every woman’s weakness was peanut butter and chocolate. Back then I needed any edge, I had no swerve.

It was also the time that I would look at the way we had traditionally prepared everything and switched it up. There was resistance at first, but then scalloped potatoes do taste many, many times better when made fresh!

At this point, I rarely if ever buy cookies. I have a seafood bisque that soundly defeats any canned variety, and can make in 20 minutes with prep. In a pinch, a spoonful (or just a pinch) of curry can spice up anything, and a big handful of chocolate chips makes it sweeter.
dblch0ch33r
I admit this took slightly longer than 10 minutes with editing incomplete sentences, and finding that double chocolate & cherry brownie picture. 

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Filed under Cooking, Creative Writing, Food, Ketchup With Us, Life, Writing

Trifextra 101 – Life 101

On to this week’s Trifextra challenge. This week we’re asking for 33 of your own words inspired by the following picture. If you use the picture on your blog, you MUST give proper attribution to the photographer by providing a link to the photo, not just to Trifecta. Failure to comply will eliminate you from the challenge.


Thomas Leuthard / Foter.com / CC BY

She’d watch everyone else come in through the semesters, the black elixir providing energy if not inspiration. Followed their progress, learned their drinks, and they moved on. Now it was her time…

“Break’s over.”

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Playing Ketchup #32 – In With the Old & New

Ms Mel and ODNT want to know in 57 words or less, your new or old Holiday Traditions. Ketchup With Us

I shamefully admit that with the holiday rush right after a late Thanksgiving, my work schedule as the semester wore down, 3 WORK holiday parties in a week (2 of which I hosted), I didn’t have much spirit. Some things remain a tradition, such as looking up the Yes, Virginia

article (which I posted before)… one of my favorite works of all time.

Something new – first I managed to get a shout on on PIX11 news at 6 am for my Christmas tradition tweet – “Being around family, mainly the ones who couldn’t make it to Thanksgiving.”

Also, I managed to snap a picture of Gussie, who was a sport about it, probably hoping to get on Santa’s Nice list last minute.


gussietree

Getting Max into a photo might prove to be a Christmas Miracle!

Merry Christmas to you all, and to all a good night!

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