Monday, December 29, 2008

Bar Spotlight (Football Season Edition): Calico Jack's Cantina

Calico Jack's Cantina

800 2nd Avenue

(northern Murray Hill, dead area)

This is going to sound harsh, but screw McFadden's for watching the Bills game. I say that because it's packed to the point of fire hazard, you can't fully take advantage of the all you can drink/all you can eat wings deal for 20 bucks, and most of the snobby, aggro-fans go there.

Go to Calico Jacks next door to watch the game. It's the same dudes who run the place, the same beers, the same theme song everytime the Bills score, plenty of TVs, more room, and more room for getting to that beer and oh, those wings. The other thing is that everyone is civil and has room to breathe here. Yeah both are poorly situated in the unforgiving gray areas around Grand Central and it's not real homey, but there is a curious small Jets bar next door.

Let me tell you about these wings. I'm a fan of the tender, smaller wings that reside at places like Croxley's (hmm maybe another Bar Spotlight is afoot). These wings are big and juicy, and they seem to get hotter (or my tongue seems to wear down) as the game goes on. They are really solid wings, and anytime that my roommate the Bills fan wants to watch the game at Calico Jacks, I am more than up for watching the game if they are playing the Pats or if the Pats aren't on that day.

It's all you can drink Bud and Bud Light for 20 bucks and with that comes the all you can eat wings, which are brought out on three party trays and they keep 'em coming throughout whenever the Bills are on. 15 dollars gets you all you can drink soda and wings as well.

There are no other games when the Bills are on folks, so either you're a fan or you're a fan of the opposing team.

Otherwise a somewhat fratty, typical Murray Hill establishment, their full menu, while bland, is really decent and the portions are enormous. The place for Sundays is well lit and the bar is easily accessible although the bartenders sometimes are a bit slow on the draw and fail to notice patrons (or don't care). The floor staff is uniformly a lot of fun most times and if you manage to grab a table (reserve on Tuesdays) it's a lot of fun and there's plenty of TVs to choose from.

The split level design keeps the bar traffic and the tables somewhat separate which is nice.

Did I mention the wings?

For some reviews on Yelp, please go here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Slack Off: Christmas Eve

For those of you who are enjoying time off from work this holiday season but in the back of their mind still think about work, here's an enjoyable office video that has less than 5,000 hits (you'll want to say you saw this first). Also yesterday was the first time I played Halo 3, and man, that game is pretty frickin' awesome.

Basically this lazy IT guy is playing Halo and a sales guy calls him and they think it's a good idea to shut down the server. It just snowballs so badly. The masking of the voices is weird, but almost gives it a South Park quality which actually makes it even more funny in a way.

I linked to this before on the AMD Fusion widget post, but here it is again, embedded, in all of it's 10 minute glory. You'll be crying so hard by the end, and watch for the email warnings that the "web dude" gets. Such a huge office fail. It's amazing.

Web Dude vs. Sales Guy:

Bar Spotlight (Football Season Edition): Town Tavern

Town Tavern
134 West 3rd Street (by 6th Avenue, next to the McDonald's)

(Update 12..28.08: Eagles just made the playoffs, so definitely stop here for first round action)

Don't worry Philly, you're well represented at one of the biggest college bars in the city.

Town Tavern is one of the biggest and most raucous bars in the NYU part of Noho/West Village, which is commonly linked by either bars that used to be more awesome or bars that just get worse in terms of the crowd the more you pass it (Red Lion, 1849, etc.).

Town Tavern is one part of a two part behemoth by 6th Avenue and 3rd Street, right next to the Fat Black Pussycat which itself is a labyrinth of 4 or 5 different sections thrown together, all different, kinda hazy, and a considerable amount of brosephs and ho...sephs. Town Tavern is more homogenous in design, being smaller (a two floor, two bar, two bathroom layout similar to say Black Finn in midtown, with the top floor having a nice view of the street), and doesn't really boast much on tap but their bar food has interesting little ditties like fried mac 'n cheese triangles and good wings. They do the party platter thing a lot, and with the pitchers at decent prices (you should REALLY go to their Wednesday night 25 cent pitchers after 7pm, yes you heard right, 25 CENTS). Not every seat is guaranteed a view though; some of the tables upstairs are scrunched so there's not much room if it gets crowded but the amount of tables depends on the amount of parties gathered.

Downstairs has a splash of seating in the front when you come in with the bar in the back; TVs are placed along the left wall and behind the bar. As you walk upstairs you hit the bathrooms hooked around to the right and another bar awaits with several more TVs and a large space for chilling.

So what makes this place worthwhile, especially if you're an Eagles fan (did I mention that this is an Eagles bar, tried and true)? The staff is a lot of fun usually and there's enough jokes to go around beyond the NYU nights during the week. The 3 dollar Bud Light pints and 4 dollar Yuengling (Pennsylvania!) bottles go a long way, and with 25 cent wings on top of that, your calorie intake should be good for the day.

The West Village doesn't really offer a lot of goodness when it comes to football, so head a little east to 6th if you're looking for a fairly loud time and love the Eagles but don't like Feagles (fans know how to be disgruntled here).

For more info on their events on Sundays and throughout the week, check out their official site: Town Tavern - Attempting College At Any Age

And on Yelp: Town Tavern On Yelp

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wrecords By Monkey - High Style Meets Low Carbon Footprint

Looking for something unique yet subtle and everyday fashionable? Brooklyn again, is where it's at with Wrecords By Monkey who have been featured on countless fashion and hip culture magazines. It was really cool to see their display at the Winter Craft Fair this year and I was about to nab the "Working Class Brooklyn" bracelet but didn't have enough cash on me. They have different collections and an insane amount of different designs that are really perfect for quick fashion upgrades for men and women.

From the site:

"WrecordsByMonkey is a Brooklyn-based design company that bridges the worlds of fashion, art and music. Using reclaimed vinyl records, they create handmade accessories with a low carbon footprint that can be incorporated into anyone’s individual style. Their niche product, the Wrecord bracelet, comes in designs from silly to sophisticated. WBM’s full line includes bracelets, necklaces, earrings, rings and t-shirts, all inspired by the idea of relating to music lovers of every generation.

Founding partners Patrick Chirico and Brian Farrell started WrecordsByMonkey in 2004. Both have degrees from the Fashion Institute of Technology—Chirico in fashion design and Farrell in fine arts.

They started making the record bracelets one by one in the hallway of their dorm, hand drawing all of their unique graphics directly on the records. Since then, they’ve come up with a innovative manufacturing process and operate out of their studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where they have hand made over 60,000 record bracelets, and created thousands of designs.

They introduced their record bracelets at NYC markets, which is how they learned their niche product appeals to a wide range of demographics; all ages, cultures and styles. Currently, WrecordsByMonkey sells in over 20 states, in places ranging from art museums and design stores to independent boutiques and larger chains. They also sell in the gift shops of museums such as; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota Houston Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston, Texas Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Kansas, The Chelsea Art Museum NYC, New York.
WBM has also done private label work for companies such as MTV and the GRAMMY Brand, creating custom record bracelets, graphic design and unique packaging and displays. They have received press in print, online and TV. Chirico and Farrell have also spoken at colleges about entrepreneurship and innovative materials, and they continue to be involved with charitable organizations and philanthropic ventures. WBM has donated to organizations including the Make A Wish Foundation, LIFEbeat, the S.T.O.K.E.D. Foundation, and Girls equality of Brooklyn."

Here's a photo from their Off The Train collection (photo from

And also their Classic Patterns Bracelet Collection below:

To shop, browse, read about their collections, and see what kind of circles they run in, and of course, overall shenanigans, go to their official site:

Monday, December 15, 2008

AMD's Fusion Widget: Get an Instant Upgrade Now!

Check out this new widget from AMD (also on the sidebar here at KCB) and get some free software in the Download section, it's a gaming utility that optimizes your AMD-laced computer so that all those clunky background processes are shut off during your gaming or multimedia-ing experience either at home or at work (shh....don't let the bosses know, like in this hilarious video). Basically it's a free upgrade for your computer. Gotta love AMD and their mindset/culture, not only are they the cool underdogs but they have powerful words like this - " Fusion. It’s the energy of innovation. It’s what’s fueled our past, and what will drive our people and partners in the future."

For more on the Fusion movement, go to

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Debaucheri's 'Stand Up For Sex' benefit on 12/16: Comedy, Burlesque, and possibly a lot of "that's what she said"

I got a Facebook invite recently to a sex comedy show/benefit thrown by Debaucheri, part of an initiative that "aims to bring about a sex positive culture through education, exposure and awareness." There will be merriment, live comedy, and lots of sex talk in earnest. Here's the lowdown:

"Featuring Comedy From:
Ben Siegel*
John Mahone*
Jena Friedman*
Joanne Filan*
Evon Campbell*
Alec Sobel*
+ Burlesque and Erotica+

Basement of Think Coffee
248 Mercer Street Btwn W3rd and W4th Street

View Larger Map

Doors Open 7:30
Show Starts at 8pm
Party ‘til 10:30pm

$7 Cover, $5 advance if you RSVP

20% of the door profits go to the Sex Worker's Project ("

You can also win a contest to receive a Love Seat from Adam & Eve (

Considering New York is such a sexually charged atmosphere especially after the sun goes down (along with quite a few people) I think due to the sheer amount of different backgrounds that its denizens purport to having, underground organizations that deal frankly with the more probing subjects can find a happy medium just existing without really gaining much exposure. In entertainment, there will always be a niche through publications like the Village Voice that really know the heartbeat of the city and has the network to cover much of the events and have the pro-active readers to shimmy along to check these things out. However, having a serious "sex awareness" message is cool, but really when it comes down to it, people, whether they admit it or not, enjoy the heightened sensuality, almost danger (getting out of the usual under-stimulated zone we occupy quite a bit) of going to functions like this and getting tickled. I guess the learning is more like "sex awakening" rather than "sex awareness".

I always find subjects like violence and sex to be really fascinating not just because of the morals but because of the visceral nature of how it affects the psyche and the body. There is so much judgment passed around regarding the nature of these things, the intellectual manifestations of something that can be considered primal and taboo. So in that sense, and due to it's central location, you should check this out after work on Tuesday, it should be a fun time had. Oh and that love seat raffle, I'm sure taking that home on the subway could be pretty interesting depending on how it's wrapped.

For more information or to RSVP, go to their official site: Debaucheri Mag

To RSVP on Facebook, go here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Actors in New York: Mike Cannon (actually he's a comedian)

Mike Cannon, who runs his own blog right hee-yarh, called Dirty Jokes From A Shitty Kid, can best be described as a harmless, lovable, cartoony, maybe slightly naive, white devil. His jokes are some of the most pointedly offensive diatribes in the world, but he's just a pretty down to earth guy at heart, and I give him props for being born in the city and currently hailing from Queens but not hailing cabs. He's been consistent on the New York circuit and is in contention for the web contest So You Think You Can Roast? which you can check out here:

Here is his latest small set from Comic Strip Live on 12/6:

As you can see he takes it way too far but for some reason, never seems to go into the category of just plain shock. There's a giddiness but at the same time a self-awareness that his bits are incredibly profane, which makes it more perverse than anything else. As the audience you are allowed to be shocked, he won't take it personally, and you end up not taking it personally. In that way, his bits go through without a hitch because with that kind of unspoken guideline settled, it almost gives him license to say whatever and still sound really unabashedly energetic about it. It's surprisingly infectious I must admit. I guess for all the people not included in the things he describes, the homoerotic, incestuous, violent, disease-riddled, and down to earth situations, we can all get a gasp/snort from it.

Here is an older clip from a few months back, a small competition at the Triad Theater where he nabbed first place:

Again, check out his apologetically raunchy blog: Dirty Jokes From A Shitty Kid.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Punk Slope XMess Party on December 20th at Bar 4 - You Know You Have Nothing Better To Do

So my colleague at work and I were talking about Bar 4, as I had just witnessed the latest Gashouse Gorillas show and he mentioned that he knew the owner who had a long and service-able (what a pun) history dating way back, and sent me a Facebook invite to the annual and possibly greatest (but who knows) incarnation of Punk Slope with the holiday bent. I haven't heard "Party, My House, Be There" in a while but I guess that would be an appropriate song, because the DJs should be fun, and Mr. Walter Schreifels will be on hand to perform all sorts of goodies from all those bands that he's been in that people like. Will he take requests? I personally haven't heard "Cherry, Cherry" by Neil Diamond in a while and I know they got that piano sitting all nice.

Oh if I could make one more request considering the pedigree that will be in attendance: Can someone please, please play an Empire State Games song? So amazing.

Nothing like bringing some punk establishment (wuh wuh wait a second Mr. oxymoron) to Park Slope every once in a while that's a bit cleaner than Lucky 13. How will they fit everyone? Well hell if any hipsters show up they are thin enough to use as a rug...

From the invite:

It's time once again for the annual
Saturday December 20th, 2008!

'tis the season to be jolly, merry, and all that good shit.
we've lined up one hell of a night... check it out...

(Gorilla Biscuits, Quicksand, Rival Schools, Walking Concert)
our favorite guest returns!! playing your favorite tunes from the past, present and future!
we could not be more excited to have him for this special occasion!

along with special guest DJs!
CHRIS DALY (Texas Is The Reason, Jets To Brazil, 108)

and your fave residents!

It's a thinking/drinking man's punk party, as everyone shall be of age, some will be wearing glasses, some will be drinking glasses, and I just might wear some pinned up braces (red of course, with some green trimmings for that holiday sheen). Also if you mix Jay Grotrian and Josh Grabelle's names, you can have something that will always vaguely remind you of Josh Groban. Who will unfortunately be in attendance...not.

To attend through Facebook (they have yet to do reminders for events which sucks) go here: Punk Slope XMess on Facebook

And check out what Bar 4 has going on all the time, support their musical gatherings and you just might be hearing the next big thing out of 7th Avenue. Here's their address on Google Maps:

View Larger Map

Monday, December 8, 2008

AVAAZ with Zero Bridge @ Public Assembly 12.05.08

AVAAZ can be described, as taken from their moniker: Electro Global Discotek. An organization dedicated to cultural partying with some South Asian flair, as the tuxedo'd MC got the crowd in on the up and up while the DJs were spinning mid-tempo mixes with a bit of drum 'n bass and jungle thrown in for a global measure. Scenes like this always make me want to don glow in the dark contacts and make like Nas in the beginning of Belly with the pulsating beats as theme music.

The parties happen monthly and Public Assembly is a good place for it (the former Galapagos, which is now in DUMBO) with it's lax bar but nice pool in front and plenty of space to gyrate (although the crowd was a bit sparse at times depending on the set). This time around they threw in a curveball and some of New York's finest, Zero Bridge, put on a terse and forceful 40 minute set of an impassioned mix of U2 and indie pop sound with a hint of The Clash. Pushing through with tunes like their newest single "How Long" and "Late Bloomer", mixing 'manifesto' cuts with the lead singer Din's commanding prescence (being tall is advantageous), and you have a really nice rock concert in the middle of all the electro pulses. Mo, the drummer/kid brother of Din, headbanged like a wily teenager which was great, and backed by former Orange 9mm bassist Greg, they quickly got on track after the first song's timing was off initially.

The crowd was taken aback by it a little but Zero Bridge is very danceable and judging by how many people congradulated them afterward, AVAAZ gave their shimmiers a little taste of rock and Zero Bridge in turn won new converts.

Here's their video for "Late Bloomer":

zerobridge Late Bloomer

And then afterward the accomplished British actor/rapper (Path to 9/11, Deadset) Riz MC transitioned things back to the gyrating hips with a short set, rollicking along with chaotically fast beats and polemics. His style didn't translate well to the denizens of this party but, at the same time, gotta appreciate and give props to pushing the pace like an unruly spin class. He's big across the pond and I'm glad I got to see him rap.

Check out Riz MC on IMDB

For more info on AVAAZ events, go to their official site.

For more info on Public Assembly visit their official site as well.

Check out Zero Bridge on and pick up their EP Havre de Grace digitally here.

Gashouse Gorillas - A Half Hour of Comedy at Bar 4 on the night of 12.4.08

Video should be posted fairly soon and I'll get that up as soon as it comes around from the Gorillas themselves.

Bar 4 is kind of a perfect place to have small bits here and there, and I guess comedy is a rare instance (I know, Park Slope is sooooo serious.....ok that was a lame joke) so it was nice to see Gashouse Gorillas hamming it up in front of a new audience of people who had no idea the kind of profanity and twisted sensibility they were in for.

Unfortunately their first joke was exposed before they had a chance to capitalize on it, starting off looking like a band but they were introduced as a comedy group from the songwriter going on after them. As their band banter escalated into a taunting handjob meth-addled shoutfest, they set up a couple of zingers that got the crowd more into it, and surprisingly, nobody was talking and everyone was watching, which is always a good sign (it's usually why I never try to go into bars on live music/performance nights, no offense to them, it's just I'm probably with friends who I would like to talk to and I don't want to put down the efforts of someone who should receive my full attention if I'm going to see them play).

I can't help but feel like the initial joke, if it had gone through, would have really worked and would have given the whole first set a real hairyness, and by that I mean awkward "is this a band melting down before my eyes" kind of shock.

The second set, with no masks as to what they were about to say, had a couple of nice sketches, especially the Subway sandwich guy sketch ("I'm sorry if this sandwich cannot satisfy your wife") and the starter, in where a concerned citizen tries to persuade a really sarcastic beat cop to check out a mysterious package.

It's been a while since they performed live but things look like they are rolling and are looking pretty fluid.

For more Gashouse, go to

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mascot Bloopers from College Humor

That rhymes sort of....this is amazingly funny, I'm still wiping the tears from my small, small eyes.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Bar Spotlight (Football Season Edition): Slainte

Slainte Bar & Lounge
304 Bowery (between Bleecker & Houston)
Tel: 212 253 7030

The EV and the LES aren't really the first nabes to consider when going to watch games; it's not really inherent as much as other areas are of Manhattan. I think that's a pretty agreeable statement, but correct me if I'm wrong. I would like to write up Phebe's and Blue Seats but I do have a soft spot for Slainte, a spacious affair also on Bowery but a little farther south, close to Houston.

I don't think Slainte is even the first bar to consider; they don't really have food and drink specials when it comes to games (although it's advertised). They do have the Ticket, and plenty of TVs by the bar as well as the large projection screen in the back by the tables. More of a place to watch European football (they play Irish sessions every Sunday other than NFL season), their menu is fairly tasty with the usual Irish specials like bangers and mash along with other savory dishes and pub fare. The brunch special is just for food - you're not going to be doing all you can drink here, but whether it's English or Irish it feels satisfying like a real meal during the 1 o'clock. The beer tends to hover around 6 bucks a pint which feels expensive after a couple so you might fare better with a similarly priced mixed drink.

With the cider on tap, there's plenty of room to walk about here, and the bar is long and slightly winding. It's a wide space and that's what I always enjoyed about the place, it gives a sense of "room to breathe" and the vibe is decidedly (unless it's soccer time) no bullshit. I enjoy going here on a Saturday night as well, so I would recommend this bar for those intentions on top of going to a game on Sunday afternoon. The brick walls and Gaelic writing add to the flavor and the TVs are large and well placed along the bar (even though the front high tables get no love really in terms of the view).

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Not Doing Anything Dec. 6th? Visit the Winter Craft Fair!

Staying local is always a fun and refreshing thing to consider when connecting with your environment; just because it's winter there's no shortage of stuff. Throw on your jacket Saturday December 6th and head over to the Winter Craft Fair at the Brooklyn Friends School at 375 Pearl Street between Willoughby and The Marriott (one block east of Adams). You can take the A,C,F to Jay Street/Borough Hall, or the 2,3,4,5,R to Court Street Borough Hall.

From the website:

"Brooklyn Friends School, 375 Pearl Street in downtown Brooklyn, holds its 29th annual Winter Craft Fair on Saturday, Dec. 6 from 10 am to 5 pm. While the main event features 45 local artisans selling unique holiday gifts, the Fair offers locally produced food, carnival games, a book fair, and all-day entertainment for children and families. Best of all, proceeds benefit the Horizons at Brooklyn Friends School academic enrichment program for children at PS 307 and PS 287 in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. It will run during the entire day from 10am to 5pm.

From top to bottom, the school building, just around the corner from the Marriott at Brooklyn Bridge Hotel, will be a winter wonderland of giving and sharing. Children from ages 2 to 12 will enjoy bouncing rides, face-painting, and carnival games, spend time learning about and producing old-fashioned holiday crafts, and help build life-size paper Gingerbread girls and boys.

There will be strolling singers and a student jazz band performing throughout the day, and a professional photographer's booth will be set up for holiday-themed portraits. From cupcake decorating to composting and karate demonstrations, there will be fun activities for all.

Winter wreaths and plants, fresh from the Canarsie market, will be on sale, and there will be a special section for craft projects created by Brooklyn Friends School's youngest children. Childcare is available so that parents have opportunities to survey the vast array of fresh, local and inspired crafts and gifts from quiltmakers, potters, jewelers, needlework artisans, and apparel designers."

For more information please visit and click on Craft Fair Central where you can see a list of vendors and activities for the whole family. Part of the proceeds will go to Horizons at Brooklyn Friends School. Here's the map below:

View Larger Map

We're on Metro NY!

A little bit of self-centered fun; I was informed by Yelp admin that a Review of the Day in the 11/21 edition of Metro NY would feature a KCB review of Arthur's Tavern. You can visit Arthur's Tavern on the web at

Not only that, KCB is grateful to even be on the same page as a favorite program on the great NYC TV (oh how I envy), Cool In Your Code! Oh and Paris Hilton....I guess.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Ireland House Loves: Kings

No, we're not talking about that somewhat fun game if you have a game group of kids (a good friend Kyle Sharp, one of his buddies from Albany, Dickie, has the best rule ever to play if you get the chance: Have everyone say their last word twice. Example: "I think it's your turn turn." Amazing).

The Ireland House is one of my favorite places from NYU, and in fact, probably in the city. It's a hub bub of older Irishmen and Irish-Americans and a few students peppered in. They hold events all the time from concerts to readings to lectures, it's incredibly informative and interesting and they try as hard as possible to really explore both stereotypes and the misunderstood notions while celebrating the more fun aspects of Irish culture.

They had a screening of Kings tonight, a heavily nominated Irish Film and Television Award winner from last year that never made it to the States with any impact. The most notable star is Colm Meaney, and the film is mostly in Gaelic which is wonderful, with some English peppered in.

The film concerns 5 immigrants from Connemara, young lads who travel to London in search of more opportunity in labor work. The picture mostly takes place in 2007 where they gather in a pub to celebrate and toast one of their own who was killed in a subway "accident." The story is almost stagnantly told through overcooked flashbacks filmed like a flashback from Cold Case or something. Only until the end do you really get a sense of where the heart of the matter lies, and it's a very uneven piece, but notable for several things. The biggest problem is adapting from a play, it's not quite as cinematic as it could have been, and the dialogue is heavy handed and a bit bland at times. While the characters become heated and then calm back down numerous times, which can reflect how conversations work in real life, but the shifts are awkward here.

First off, Colm Meaney, even though a lot of people know him from Star Trek, he is an amazing actor with a huge range. He's one of those actors with incredible conviction, and when he does comedy, it's even more fun to watch him at work. The way he pulls his chin in, which I think is almost a signature move, always denotes some sort of intense thought, and he's somewhat miles ahead of the rest of the actors in the film.

I think the best thing about the film is it's treatment of alcohol and its relationship to the characters in the film. Sure it's blatant, but by the end, you kind of see how the film provokes, however simply, the notion that its not the drink that's the problem, it's actually a horrible band-aid for some who have become rife with despair and isolation as an immigrant, and for others, it's something to escape but comes back to this theme of the Irish immigrant psyche of denial and victimization that ebbs and flows with whiskey and beer.

The film I don't think presents drinking as a stereotype; but rather, it dissects drinking as a focused conflict for Jackie, the deceased character, and Mairtin, a somewhat unhappily married man who has given up drinking but it has distanced him from his friends and he still fights with his wife over it.

For Jackie, who perishes in front of a subway train, he goes sober only to loose his life. He chooses a clean path and yet, is the one who goes first. His scant little dialogue concerns his disconnect, and maybe drinking brings him closer or in effect farther away from his emotional problems. It's a fine line. He gives up this vice of alcoholism in hopes that he'll become better after not being considered for a job by Meaney's character Joe, who has since become a successful construction businessman. Joe doesn't hire any Irishmen in his crews; possibly because the fear of too much drinking, but also a possible rejection of his own background. His questions are harsher and more real after his sobriety, about how he has lost his specific Irish identity, which used to be diverse but under the English lens he's just "Irish", which happens when you are generalized as an immigrant. His desire to go back home is not an easy decision, neither is it for Git and Jap, because they have been away for so long, their lives have matured in a way that they can neither help nor be too proud of, and that's the thing they must improve on, not a romanticized ideal of how things used to be. They are trapped.

Mairtin, who tries to go sober like Jackie and follow his example, becomes more burdened at home due to his wife's not trusting of his ability to do so. Presenting two sober characters who in fact emotionally are unhappy is an interesting thing to do; it can say that drinking is not the problem, rather it's the other oppressive things. But at the same time, looking at the causes of such alcoholism among the Irish at the time in London, is it a way out, a blissful solution to those problems that has manifested itself as a misconstrued stereotype? By presenting drinking as a conflict of interest and self-awareness, the film just lets the characters drink, or not drink, in a natural state; they don't drink because they are Irish, they drink because being Irish in that situation oftentimes is in the context of an uphill battle. The drinking can, however, mirror this idea of denial in their psyche; that their problems can be tossed away for a little while, or that this is a crutch that is necessary to keep going. There's a lot to work with here I think, beyond the film's initial and very stiff boundaries. Alcohol is part of a cycle that never seems to break, especially for Jap and Git, the heaviest drinkers of the clan at present. That is very relevant to the Irish condition and culture that has perpetuated from so many years of oppression and opposition and strife. Jackie was left behind; it wasn't the fact that he did or didn't drink; it was that his disconnect from his friends, either through unemployment, poor direction, alcoholism, or geographical disconnect with his father, Michil, pushed him as an immigrant into a hopeless, endless well.

Their assurances while having a long night of getting hammered are tossed aside because of the nature of Jackie's death, which is revealed to be a suicide. It throws almost everyone for a loop, and causes the breakdown of the evening's mostly festive nature. Jap, the most wildly up and down of the characters, does an impressive 180 by the end, and the title is brought up in the context that these men, now aging, could have been something, could have been Kings. How so, one asks, with so many faults among all of them? That affinity for the ideals of finding a better life didn't play out well for these characters at all.

Overall the film really plods along and the set ups are kind of uninspired; due to the theatricality of the dialogue, often the actors are caught more posturing than naturally carrying out the conversations. The Gaelic spoken is natural however; the sounds are great and helps to give a bit of color to the proceedings, but still the film could have been streamlined a little better and made better use of Jackie's ghost and the flashbacks. The language becomes a huge part of the film that was not in the all-English play; the idea of holding onto the native language among the group is essential to the spirit of these characters whether they reject it or embrace it, and throughout the film is a constant reminder of the best of what they represent to themselves and the bonds between each other. The different voices between Git, Jap, Joe, and somber Jackie are especially good to see.

If you want to check out more about Kings, go to IMDB or Amazon. Here's the trailer from YouTube:

For more on the Ireland House, go to their official site where they have an events calendar.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bar Spotlight (Football Season Edition): The Hairy Monk - Sox In The City

The Hairy Monk
337 Third Avenue (corner of 25th Street)

In the next few spotlights, since we're in New York and there are certainly plenty of bars that pay respects to the Giants and Jets, there are many bars (including say Cody's or Kettle of Fish, which the Steelers play a prominent factor in their Sunday business in the former, and Packers fans can enjoy a cold Magners at the latter) that cater to the displaced fan. I've been trying to tap bars that don't have a particular fan base but are just good for all the games. However, certainly we can acknowledge a few bars that are particular to a team that doesn't play home games at the Meadowlands. Places like Calico Jacks/McFaddens, Town Tavern, Phebes, all of which I will hopefully profile over the coming weeks.

Again, I understand the UES has a lot of great sports bars; it's the only thing they have really. Going further south is like simply getting better; by the time you hit Gramercy you can enjoy what the east side above 14th street has to offer. The Hairy Monk is situated right on 3rd Ave. and 25th, and there's a lot to enjoy about this place....if you like red sox, are very patriotic, or have a bit of Celtic pride in ya. Since I have to admit I'm a huge Patriots fan, I'm starting off these team-specific places with HM because, well, it hits closer to home.

The worst thing about this bar is not really bad at all; New York fans who come to the bar usually get REALLY obnoxious and to tell you the truth, it pisses a lot of people off at the bar, including the staff, who are all Boston fans. It's one thing to root for your team, but to know that it's THE Boston bar in Manhattan, and yelling crap is just kinda silly. But nevertheless it's entertaining, just this past Thursday this dude was just fuming because of the suit-ish casual Jets fans who were standing on the chairs and being douches.

The Hairy Monk features Pats games, but having access to all the games they will switch a couple of the smaller TVs to other games especially divisional ones (there are some Dolphins and Jets fans who show up).

Anywho, so moving on to the specifics of the bar. It's not too roomy and on Sunday it's a really tough sell to grab any sort of space that has a good vantage point, but the TVs are well placed at the bar and across from it; there are two huge flat screens that fans huddle around. Paths to walk through are very few but most people are obliging. The tables section provides even less room but the projection screen gives those with less than perfect eyesight a huge canvas to watch the games on. It gets somewhat warm unless they throw the air conditioning on, and there is quite a bit of jostling for position. The blue, yellow, and woodsy colors give it a nice afternoon glow.

The bar itself is old timey and done up like a cozy tavern, some memorabilia, some pictures, and a hell of a lot of taps to choose a great pint of Newcastle or Sam Seasonal. They serve everything in the king's pints (imperial pints, or, in homage to Role Models, "venti") which makes for more beer but they also inflate the price to 6 bucks. Most of the staff is really nice (probably because I'm a Pats fan) although a little absent minded at times. Sundays are rough, they usually have two 'tenders working the bar but even that it's about 3 rows deep of pending orders. The digi jukebox isn't on for the games but you might want to throw on a couple of songs to pump up the crowd.

The food is ok for pub grub; the burgers are hit or miss, and the fish and chips are decent, but their appetizers like nachos and chicken fingers and mozz sticks are pretty good. And they serve a full Irish breakfast which can be fun if you're looking to power up the Sunday brunch (the weekend brunches are until 4:30pm and include 2 drinks). The most interesting thing is their fries; they aren't french fries but little potato wafers that are sometimes awesome, sometimes a bit bland (the shape isn't condusive to catching a sprinkling of salt).

For Sundays, they have a wings and Bud/Bud light draft special, basically if I remember correctly it's 3 wings for a dollar but you have to order at least 9. And you can do an all you can drink with the aforementioned pints for 5 or 6 bucks. But don't quote me on that because it's not listed really. Like I said, they have better stuff on tap so you might be swayed to drink something of a stronger caliber.

This has been famous for being a longstanding Boston bar; I think it's pretty ballsy to be so outright about it in a town where Boston is really put through the ringer on a lot of things, but they flaunt it and defend it strongly and I respect that. To me it's not about the food or drink, it's the communal aspect of gathering fans of an unpopular town to one place, and you always get that underdog feeling and at the same time, the warm feeling in the place is more palpable for it.

For more info, go to their official website: Hairy Monk Official Site

Or check out the reviews on Yelp: Hairy Monk On Yelp

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Slouch and KRTS @ Karma Lounge 11/13/08

Now while I do not have the background or know-how to put the music that Slouch and KRTS throw down in context, I do know a groove when I feel it, and both these guys have it in spades, as evidenced by the trip I took for an hour or so at Karma on Thursday (see video below of krts, horrible phone pictures to come soon). Karma's hookahs being longstanding and flavorful, I was in for a really cool show, and it certainly took the sting off of watching the Pats loose a heartbreaker to the Jets at the Hairy Monk...

There's something to be said for music that seamlessly weaves into life's nightlife soundtrack, especially in this city. I showed up a couple minutes into KRTS's show (I apologize for not being able to review the early sets on the bill), and he was already pumping into full swing with echoing old school breakdowns and pings here and there to get people's brains flowing. Several younger cougars were weaving their hips in and out of these landscapes but krts wasn't there to play nice. His LP Posing Flower has a more laid back collage of melodies and connected dots, but his set this time around pushed the barrier a little more, there was more force and sweatier funk to it. Once he found the groove he stuck to it, and it's a great formula: take a hip hop beat and throw expiremental electronica over it, making the listener work at it but at the same time keeping the mid-tempo bumpin' going. It's like going to a soul funk show but decidedly weirder as he builds you up and brings you back down and up again but with the noises of a machine and production rather than blaring horns and higher-power vocals. The beats were huge. By the end of Slouch's set, everything overheated and the speaker connection blew. The great thing is KRTS is also a showman when performing; sure musicians get into their work, but it's like he's attacking his set up like a hawk lasering in on the prey, it's pretty infectious.

And then I noticed something else, with Karma's vibe in terms of it's lighting and low-ceiling basement, coupled with Mr. Teoh's self-developed editing software to fully get the attention of my eyes with the VJ'ing (besides the girl across from me who was wearing pajama pants and a fanny pack, I guess we call that unique?), it felt like the brothel scene in Roger Dodger a little.

KRTS transitioned into DJ Slouch's set with no breaks and it was cool to see the change of pace but keeping a similar groove down. Slouch looks like a serious technician, a little less light and more somber than the KRTS set but no more or less for it. The music slowed down just a touch and pierced the show with a kind of cleanliness almost; if KRTS was the rambunctious kid who got everyone riled up, Slouch was the cool older brother who brought a different brand of funk. Should I pull out the Matt Dillon Mickey Rourke analogy in Rumble Fish? I dunno, but that's the second Mickey Rourke reference I've made in the past 24 hours. Slouch was a smooth operator with a sip occasionally from what looked like a whiskey on the rocks. Unfortunately for him, as I stated earlier, the connection was fried for half his set but he came back for the last minute strong. If you were dancing to his set, it's like you shouldn't be breaking a sweat because there's a constant flow that restrained and focused. Cool stuff.

Catch Slouch at Karma often, it's a great fit. You'll want to check out his E.P. Labor and his Travels. Find out more about him:
Slouch on MySpace
Slouch Official Site

For KRTS, to learn more visit his official site or MySpace or on YouTube.

And here they are, really nice guys, KRTS is saying, "here's my hand, take it" :

Monday, November 10, 2008

Rival Schools @ Mercury Lounge 11/06

Rival Schools I feel pretty much have a built in fan-base from the other famous bands that they are associated with, namely Quicksand and Gorilla Biscuits. The band can be overshadowed by the kind of superstar status that their members have attained being a productive part of not only one, but several influential bands in the hardcore scene. Walter Schriefels is not dissimilar to a Bob Nanna of Friction, Braid, and Hey Mercedes, even in that the last band mentioned is a bit lighter in sound and more melodic by nature as well as Rival Schools is.

So seeing them with a couple of co-workers who share a love for many of the same bands was a real treat; namely, I was hanging out with a couple of dudes who while only eclipsing my age by 4 or 5 years, were heavily involved or listening to music that I was growing up to only peripherally since I could not drive or go to shows and whatnot. It matters to them more to see a band like Rival Schools, and it's something I looked forward to even though ultimately I probably would prefer a band like Metroschifter.

The interesting thing tonight was that they opened for Bad Brains early on at 9pm at Irving, so naturally them being 45 minute over schedule was foreseen. I skipped the opening bands although I wished to have seen The King Left, as we had a couple drinks at Gawker while playing that Rock Band game and failing on Jane's Addiction and Sex Pistols of all bands, and then had to attend a farewell party to another co-worker at Bob Bar (or Bar Bob).

And then of course we got Bereket shawarmas (I apologize because I can't remember the particular name of the sandwich) and it was amazing. I didn't even want to go to the show. I just wanted another one because it was amazing. And delicious. Especially after many beers. Dan Williams thought the same thing, but Loni ra Berman skipped out. It was awesome Loni. There.

Rival Schools came on to the hope of new material (which is true) and a familiarity that the crowd had with the old standards, anticipation of a long hiatus building and the band's age shining through. There's is an undeniable Quicksand imprint, and both have a somewhat unique 90s sheen to them (even though Rival Schools was bigger around 2001) with hoarse vocals but a "grungier" (hate to use it but I guess it's the simplest way to describe it) feel than some of the other bands of the time I think. There's a patience and a slower pace almost; save some election talk there was little banter between songs and they pushed through most of United By Fate, their only officially released LP to date and a couple covers. Songs like "Travel By Telephone" and "Used For Glue" came back suddenly, but the audience really kept their cool; it's as if "hey this is what I came for, that's totally cool, and I'm possibly a bit old to be moshing". The atmosphere was energetic but not overwhelming, as if the fans were a bit nostalgic and were a bit frozen in the wake of songs that they probably hadn't heard live in a while. The new songs pushed a bit more pop and conventional but sounded fresh and pretty tight. It was an economic show, expected and very professional and definitely satisfying.

Rival Schools "Used for glue"

As always, Mercury is a great, low-ceiling affair but the temperature was kept at a moderate level until a pit started to develop during the last three songs or so and I got clocked in the chin and bit my tongue which caused a gnarly little abrasion for a day or two. They are one of those bands because of their pedigree and connections over the years, you may have been able to glance at all the ex-label people and the community that has supported them in their prime and now. It's a cool snapshot of mostly people who have gone on to do other things, or fans, like my co-workers, that may have moved beyond them at some point but got a great glimpse of a new record from an old dawg.

For more pictures and context, go to Brooklyn Vegan's post which graciously took an excerpt from this review: Brooklyn Vegan - Rival Schools & The King Left @ Mercury Lounge - pics

To see them on MySpace, click HERE.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Election Night Eve

"Well I'm here, and you're here, and it's true- there's a whole lot of walking to do
And you're cool, and I'm cool, and it's true- there's a whole lot of walking to do
There's no fuss, and I trust, I trust you- there's a whole lot of walking to do
And you're strong, and I can be too- there's a whole lot of walking to do
And you do, and I do- there's a whole lot of walking to do"

- Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

It's such a monumental day coming, everyone in this country and around the world is watching. Only now, is there the feeling of affection for history created in the present. And it will be made, no matter who is elected. A defining moment? You bet.

Of course there's still the couple months downtime until next year, so kick back these holidays!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gashouse Gorillas - Death of the American Dream Part 4 (yes it's the last part)

So here we are at the final part, the not so dramatic but very amusing finale to a tale of two shakes.

Go to their YouTube channel for more artsy fartsy sketches.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bar Spotlight (Football Season Edition): Cody's Ale House

Cody's Ale House
154 Court Street, just south of Atlantic Avenue
Cobble Hill
(I forgot to put these addresses to start!)

Cody's is quite simply one of the best bars I've been to to watch the games on Sunday. You have Sunday Ticket, plenty of TVs all around (although the quality and color temp varies) at different angles for great viewing lanes. It's crowded but never too much so, and beyond the numerous Steelers fans, you have most teams represented here. There's zero tolerance for unruliness or obnoxious behavior or spats between rival teams. But it's different than say, 200 Fifth.

Nestled in Cobble Hill only two blocks off Atlantic, it's fairly nonchalant from the outside, you may even pass by it without noticing the crowd inside. The bar is cozily shaped on the right with two levels of TVs by the bar, a string of tvs by the high tables on the left, and a few TVs in the back on the plateau'd table area where if you're lucky you can grab with a few friends early.

The staff here is top notch, these guys love the game and you don't even have to say anything, if you're perched near a TV and they see you have a particular team's apparel on, they'll make sure the TV near you has your game on, and your first pint comes with a "good luck" as well. That's the shit right there, you know you're in for a good time a great establishment (that has a rotating cheap pint, can you say Amber Bock for 3.75 last week?). People here are friendly and nobody really looks out of place. You'll see the regulars kind of hunched at the front of the bar and then sporadically the cornucopia starts. I actually was offered a seat so I could eat my food at a high table where the dude's girlfriend left to run an errand for a few minutes and he was like, "yo you should sit down, she won't be back for a while". Then, when she got back and I got up, they were like, "no worries I'll just pull up another chair". Oh Cobble Hill.

The waitress is SUPER nice and she knows how to work the crowd, and by that I mean she's always on the move and comes around often for refills and has no problem even if I just want a Diet Coke, she'll grab it for me.

The food ain't half bad either; I enjoy the chicken fingers and the calamari is decent. The salads are pretty fresh as well if you're looking for something a bit healthier.

There are no pretentions here, or even outlandish behavior, it's one of the most civilized bars for football that I've been to with this amount of a crowd. Most of the women here are decidedly short and cute as well, although during the weekday there's not much atmosphere, this is definitely very high on my list every Sunday when I'm picking a spot to hang.

The picture below is old; the TVs on the pigeon stands above the bar have been replaced by flatscreen TVs, and the back section with the tables has also been equipped with 4 TVs, one on each wall.

Folks it doesn't get any better than this really.

You can check out Cody's on Yelp here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gashouse Gorillas - Death of the American Dream Part 3

Here we are, the dramatic third part of the flaming doc, Death of the American Dream, or DAD, or DOTAD.

As usual, you can see Gashouse Gorillas material on YouTube here:

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Poster Critique: Up

Let's put Pixar in context; the consistency of their work I think puts them up there as one of the great, and productive, production houses ever. The high quality animation that they churn out, they pretty much have it all taken care of, 200+ million at the box office, a constant sense of wonder with each film, incredibly respected collaborators like Brad Bird, and unique stories that allow them to push themselves artistically and in the animation field. It's the Pixar brand, and when you get to that point, you allow yourself to be included in a great circle starting with the old studio system all the way to something like the Miramax during the 1990s.

In that sense there's really not much to critique about Up; all they really have to do is slap "Pixar" on it...oh wait they did. There you go, that's reason enough to see it. But they do it again with an adorable teaser poster that hopefully has been rolled out or will roll out soon, because I'll get to the theater super early just to look at it and get all warm and fuzzy before seeing possible crap. Such as Danny Deckchair, starring the wonderfully cute Miranda Otto, and from which I'm sure the creators of Up had to have noticed, both their poster for it and the idea behind balloon flight.

Sure, the great, blue sky is wonderful and not even that daunting due to the fact that the blue is exceptionally bright. There are so many subtle things about this poster though that really make it an interesting "small object in space" kind of thing. Let's start with the placing of the title; it looks like a cloud itself, massive because the scope of the picture looks to be massive. The tilt of the font and the addition of dimension as the top is bloated really is a great, suggestive piece to bring a lot of whimsy to the poster.

Obviously also, the fact that the house is drawn so tiny with SO many balloons is a fantastic idea that only seems like it could be from a fairy tale. It floats among the clouds, and even has the gentle shadow to show that it's even above the clouds. The use of the flying house is great too, there's a small sense of movement to the right, and it makes you wonder where it's going, and not only wonder, it makes you want to know what happens to this curious house flying around. Is the house flying on their own valition? Did they try a fun experiment? Or maybe that's the story; that the house flies around on purpose, checking out the world from a distinctly non house point of view. It also reminds me of Jack and the Beanstalk, a fun story in it's own right.

The clouds also don't take up the whole sheet, the ample separate from the massive title font and the clouds on the bottom half give buoancy, as if past the clouds there's something even cooler as the house flies right.

As always the bubbly use of color and a wonderfully neutral yellow for the house (reminds me of when they are trying to pick the shade of yellow in Juno).

You can check out Up at IMDB here.

Actors in New York (not a play on that Richard Gere/Winona Ryder movie): Anna Koonin

Keeping things to this coast after talking about Marvelous Toy from Los Angeles, I figure I would bring you up to speed on the good citizens of this city.

Having been a bartender myself in the city, and knowing the kind of culture and sort of pride that many consider and get behind due to its many unique qualities and difficulties, some of the cliche is that actors find fluid and flexible employment in this part of the service industry. You employ a great smile and small talk in your arsenal while also honing listening skills and working on a timer from minute to minute, second to second. Even the act of doing something over and over again can mimic small takes where you engage in an improvised dialogue with patrons.

Anna Koonin is one such woman. Many people and friends have known her for a while now as the baroness of No Idea Bar in Flatiron, although I feel she would say she's a bit more modest than that. Knowing Anna at NYU through class and friends, and her education at that institution under Atlantic and Playwrights gives her a great classic combination of acting perspectives. See, I didn't want to just turn this into Bartender Spotlight, although that is an idea for the future to go along with the Bar Spotlights.

You may recognize her from her small part as a bartender on Guiding Light, or if you're a fan of Newsday, which along with other local publications New York can't seem to get enough of, you may recognize her as the woman with the wine tour in their commercials:

She was also a recent host on NYC TV's They're So New York program, where she got to report a piece on Rooftop Films, a non-profit indie film showcase. You can see check out the program at this link and see her bio and comments here.

She is a proud member of AFTRA (the other large film/tv actors union besides SAG) and is currently also freelancing at the legit agency Harden-Curtis. I encourage you to stop by on Wednesdays and Fridays at No Idea, a good bar in itself but surely made better by Anna's bright and appealing countenance. I understand the uphill battle that many actors face, but she's certainly got a hold on the consistency of work and I'm sure it'll lead to something great.

Some of her recent stuff is on the Midnight Talley Film's YouTube channel, check it out here.

For her official website and contact info, go here:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gowanus: The Last Vestige for Ar-teests?

If you're looking for something other than the Brooklyn Flea to go to this weekend, Gowanus is having their annual more-artists-than-you-can-shake-a-paintbrush-at tour where you can observe artists of all sorts in their natural habitats. It's called A.G.A.S.T., Annual Gowanus Artists Studio Tour, and it's this weekend on Saturday and Sunday from 1pm to 6pm, absolutely free.

Gowanus itself has always had an interesting desolation on many of its blocks that is unique to Brooklyn considering the neighborhoods they border. It's like a slightly less fun version of walking around parts of southern Soho/northwest Tribeca, where past industrial activity no longer seems prevalent but there's still the remainders, a lone truck, littered coffee cups, etc.

I can imagine that some cool art is going to be hanging around, I think there are particular inspirations and impressions that many of the artists probably draw from. You can preview all of the participating artists, join yourself, or sign up to volunteer at the official site below. The tour is set up by the Brooklyn Arts Council.

Official site: A.G.A.S.T.

Marvelous Toy - Out of the West and into your ears

I sometimes enjoy lo-fi sounds paired with big sonic tastes and lots of instruments thrown together; a band like Saturday Looks Good To Me comes to mind, with their idea that in the golden days of music, well, we recorded and felt the instrumentation more. Then you have bands that really push it onward and upward with a kind of "the bigger the better" mentality I feel, with Flaming Lips and Arcade Fire.

Marvelous Toy hails from different parts of Los Angeles, bringing together a few different sounds that are altogether far away from the pulsating pop or vacuous rock or g-funk rap...or snotty third wave ska (hey ska still love ya). Their angle is really to inject an already full-of-imitators genre with some Western twang, and I don't mean southern country, but a Western western twang, reflecting beauty and starkness from times on a "frontier" of some sort. Jordan Hudock's vocals, I thought at first on their song "You Were Brighter", was trying too hard to channel an indie Johnny Cash minus the deadpan, natural calm Cash's voice brings, but on "Twice the Speed", he really succeeds with a steady delivery and good emotion. On "Waiting For The Fire" the falsettos and chorus do a poor man's Shins.

The keys also keep things old timey down-to-earth or conversely add a pronounced orchestral touch, and some lulling backing vocals from cutesy Ny Lee kind of make you wish you were watching a sunset with a beer, maybe in Silverlake, maybe in the woods, maybe just anywhere.

At the core, they fuse this western aesthetic with slow pop progressions, you know, to mimic being contemplative. While not punchy with their switch ups and bridges, they certainly pull through with a lush sound that I'm sure a band with more members and verve like Arcade Fire could admire. They describe their sound as "a washing machine" but I think they can admit to a more calculated delivery than that.

I'm curious to see where they go from their EP "All Is Quiet", with it's silhouette flowery late sixties San Fran vibe artwork; maybe lyrically they'll inject some uppers and the music will follow. Only in the west I guess.

Marvelous Toy will be playing a Halloween show at R Bar with Les Blanks, The Voyeurs, The Hectors, and Fol Chen. Not a huge fan of the mopey music video but I'm sure live they'll throw a few smiles.

Suggested Track: "Twice The Speed" (not on the EP)

Visit their MySpace page or you can buy here at Amazon.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Do Ya Like Mashups? Well Do Ya Kid? Toy Story and The Dark Knight

This one is really good, I enjoy it when they use the real audio from one trailer and are able to synch it, although it's considerably easier with animation of course.

T-Rex and Mr. Potato Head, watch for their lines.

Bar Spotlight (Football Season Edition): Reade Street Pub

The Reade Street Pub is a downtown/Tribeca establishment complete with neon red "bar" sign fairly centrally located and a provider of some of the best, most delicately tender burgers in the city. Their fries aren't my favorite, but the burgers more than make up for it. I try not to look beyond the apps when eating at the bar during the game; it's an unnecessary cost (I mean, you're already out and about when you could be home watching the game instead, you know, not spending money). The new TVs are fantastic and a huge improvement.

Oftentimes the pub isn't filled with much of a crowd, but the loyalty is unquestioned. A lot of downtown suits come here to relax and kick back, and it's decidedly an unattractive bar in a sense. However, it's one of the few bars that's lit so you can actually see the person you're talking to, a la Limerick in Chelsea, which is a nice change of pace and there's a warmth although it's not the most crowded place. The burgers were really the key, and the fact that it's not loud like the Patriot Saloon, has more bar space than Walker's, and less cheesy than Tribeca Tavern, and certainly more casual than any number of lounges in the area. The only real competition in the immediate area is something like Puffy's or Kenn Broome.

The one oustanding thing about this place is also the beer is as cheap as it gets; there are very few places that are always on the lookout with 3 dollar mugs and as far as I can remember PBR for dirt cheap, comparable to the Patriot, which is probably one of the top 5 cheapest bars in the city.

Back to the brand new large HD TVs that they have behind the bar at a low level so it's very watchable, they have 3 or 4 along the bar, the projection in the back, and a couple more along the walls (the space behind the bar isn't much so you can really get a homey close up with the games). There were TVs before but were replaced and now it's just actually a good pick to go for the games. The tables on the restaurant end in the back and off to the side are good but the bar is really inviting, everything is just more open here, less stiff. The food sits on place settings with the same old Gaelic ad/history bit, and no one here is afraid to start up a conversation with someone else at the bar. The 'tenders are fairly chatty but always attentive as well. Photos are all around of times gone by.

It's a hop skip to Brooklyn from here, accessible to the A,C,1,2,3 and R trains.

The official site isn't much, so might I suggest the Yelp page here for more info: Reade Street Pub on Yelp.

Gashouse Gorillas - Death of the American Dream Part 2

Here it is folks, Death of the American Dream part 2. It's almost as good as Godfather 2. But not as good as Steel Magnolias.

As always, you can find those Gorillas on YouTube here.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Poster Critique: Saw V

Now I can only admit that I've seen the first Saw movie, and I did think it was a solid movie, and Cary Elwes showed he can still carry a picture even nowadays. I did not think it was particularly great, for all it's devious decisions it put the characters through, it was actually less menacing than I thought coming in. I think Tobin Bell has been an incredibly good heavy over the years from C movies to television shows, he's got a great face, the beady, sleepy eyes have a tiring, alluring, and dangerous effect. It's good to see he has a franchise, and in general, it's actually kind of cool that a franchise can be built around a villian, but part of me feels like a lot of critics pan the series for not having any emotional strength.

I'll probably see Saw V, and catch up to it beforehand with the II, III, and IV, against the judgements of my friends. It is certainly one of the most successful horror franchises and the gore is always noted, as the premise revolves around a visceral obstacle or problem, which can be used to great effect in a story dramatically and visually.

So now we come to Saw V, out for Halloween as per the last four. I chose this poster over the man struggling with the box over his head because besides the tagline for that one: "You won't believe how it ends" I don't think there's much there.

It's to the point where they are able to build buzz by being seemingly elegant and suggestive with the title, leaving out "Saw" and just having the V, which is a strong letter besides being the numeral. The placement at the bottom also leaves the rest of the poster room for no clutter, and leaving out the credits also is a good touch. The Twisted Pictures and Lionsgate logo are less visible under a slight shadow and are mixed up in the arm hair, further leaving the viewer to concentrate on the profile. I really like the Saw artwork over the years and I particularly like this one for it's mystery.

Bell's face can be determined immediately due to the rugged but precise detail, so the viewer is thrown right back into his world, his perspective. He has become this towering figure in the franchise and the main reason why people go to see it; what kind of horrific tests can he think of next? His character, what is the next chapter in his own life? The use of his face as a mask with the messy Jason-ish straps is quite unnerving and very mysterious. The face is so detailed, and the eyes in place and the mask is alive. It presents the question of who is this man, and is he really him? Or is he someone else? Is there a purpose for his blank face, seemingly tired from four previous Saw movies? Or is it the calm before the storm?

All these questions pop up and that's a good thing; I'll want to know if I can figure out any more mysteries to this Jigsaw man, what exactly is there left to explore?

The color is just right, following suit from previous artwork, a kind of blotched, slightly desaturated and grimy tone. The man's hair is tossed, and the ample body hair kind of denotes some sort of beast. But the sedated expression and the mask pulled just so indicates a sort of harmlessness, an elegance almost that clashes with the high contrast background.

I also like how the light illuminates, somewhat harshly, the man's "face", but in essence it doesn't because you know it's just a mask. Everything, although within plain sight and done with great detail, it's just out of the reach of explanation. It's not simple. The fact that it's a profile versus some cheesy head-on shot is also a great advantage. The man may look like he is in a stupor, but again, it's just a mask, so what do we know? We'll have to find out.

Bar Spotlight (Football Season Edition): Coppersmith's

So I bring myself back into Manhattan for another round of Bar Spotlight. Coppersmith's is located in northern Hell's Kitchen, right on 9th Avenue, which essentially gives it a good location stakeout for a football loving bar. The area isn't exactly riddled with TV heavy establishments, so if you're in the area it's a great pick, even if you are further east, I think this would be a great bet if probably the only bet.

It's a pretty simple bar but doesn't overdo anything, it's certainly tailored toward sports with the big screen projection in the back and the flatscreens lined up behind the bar. The area though gives it a little more character; the doors open up to the street if the weather is nice, and there's a nice mix of tables for groups, high tables for one or two people, and a bar long enough to seat probably 20 people without getting elbowed. The lighting isn't harsh and it would seem to be a nice place to hang out just because, and on the weekdays it's never really that crowded. The tiled ceiling and pale yellow walls give it an easy sense that works well during the day, it's inviting and bright.

So for Sundays, you'll want a pitcher of crap for 12 bucks, which in the long run only saves anyone what, a pint? Bud or Bud light is probably the way to go, but I would definitely suggest getting some food here, the fish and chips are quite good for 11 bucks, you get two nice sized fillets and the bartender although busy is more than happy to serve up a refill on that soda (for some reason, I don't find myself drinking alcohol when eating, it just doesn't happen that much).

The layout really is quite good, they manage to pack a lot of seating into really not a lot of space, there's always a clear path to that bathroom since you're going to need it after throwing a few back.

My only real concern, and I'm not sure if they fixed it for this season, but they have a delay on the big projection screen, a noticeable one that if you have a faster play by play game like football, it's really gives you an annoying sense of "what happened?" when everyone is screaming about 2 seconds before you because you're watching the slow screen. The other problem is that their 3 dollar domestic pint special lasts on a Sunday just like a happy hour during part of the second game (they should probably extend it from like noon to 8). But the all you can drink for 25 bucks doesn't hurt if you really don't care about your Monday's. Pints here are usually north of 5 (a lot of 5.50's) so I would stick with the discounts and the food.

The crowd here really isn't so bad either, suprisingly a lot of women keep the guys tempered and at bay, and it's always good to see a balanced bar (I've seen many a female sports fan sipping on one of their cheesy martini variations, that could be why).

To see their official site, go here.