Friday, 30 May 2008

Very quiet

There's hardly anyone in the office today - they're all either working somewhere else, at some charity lunch or off to a wedding. You can guess what that means - early departure for me is a distinct probability (well, it is Friday).

A day in the bar for the rugby beckons tomorrow and then my first visit to Shea Stadium on Sunday.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

She Wants Revenge

Last night’s concert was part of the “Nylon Summer Music Tour” – Nylon (which I’d never heard of seems to be a fashion magazine). Anyway, there were four bands squeezed onto the schedule last night so I’d better get to today’s two sentence band reviews:

Switches – although I suspect they were all hammered and the lead singer seemed to be a complete arse the music was quite good. A bit rough round the edges but quite promising – I may look into these guys again (try “Lay Down The Law” on their website).

The Virgins – the first song was really good so I had quite high hopes for the rest of their set but they never really got going again after that. The songs all seemed like reasonable starts that never quite kicked in.

Be Your Own Pet – taking the award for the worst band I’ve seen. Wow, this was bad (Nick – you might want to check them out). They went off at 7,000,000 mph and never stopped. All the “songs” sounded the same although that suggests that there was some discernible pattern to the noise (I did consider that maybe this is a sign that I’m getting too old for this many new bands but I dismissed this on the grounds that I still think Coldplay are sh!t).

She Wants Revenge – they have a pretty distinctive sound this lot (somewhere between old Depeche Mode and The Cure I think is my best description). They also have my favourite ever album cover/back:

Anyway, they were excellent and are one of the bands who sound better live than on their albums. Even the new stuff I hadn’t heard before sounded great.

I looked like they were going to miss out my fave songs from their set but just when I thought they were going to pull a British Sea Power on me they played them as their final two songs of the night “Out Of Control” and “Tear You Apart”.

I’ve had a look around and found a few mp3s posted around the net so here are the links to the sites (TC – I did look for your fave “These Things” but can’t find it):
Out Of Control” – love the lyrics to this song
Tear You Apart” - again, quality lyrics

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Golfing

Well, a driving range anyway. On the West side of Manhattan at about 20th Street there is a large entertainment complex called Chelsea Piers which includes (among many other things) a driving range looking out over the Hudson River to New Jersey. Given that this is only about half an hours walk from my flat I've been meaning to wander in for a while now and the cracking weather this weekend seemed a good time.

It cost me $50 for ~200 balls (not all of which have to be hit in one visit) and $6 for three clubs. Now, I've never really got the hang of golf (although to be fair I've never really applied myself to it for a concentrated period of time). I would say that out of about 150 balls I hit: about 10% really well; about 40% way to the left; 40% way to the right and 10% about 10 yards!

The good thing was that the guys at either side of me were as bad - in fact the guy to my left was a lot worse.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

The Australian (Week 2)

Another llllooonnnngg day in the bar watching rugby on Saturday but it is damn enjoyable - Heineken Cup final followed by the Super 14 semi finals and the first State of Origin match from earlier in the week. Eight hours and four matches later...

Annoyingly, out plan of watching the games in that order was slightly messed up by someone coming in in the middle of the HK game and asking for one of the Super 14 games to be shown so I had to try and watch two games at once in the 2nd half.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Bored

Screw it, I'm bored - there's nothing going on here today so I'm off home at lunchtime. Back on Tuesday as its a holiday in Yankland on Monday.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Argentina: One step forward and one step back

My plan to go to Buenos Aires for a long weekend to see the Scotland game has been progressing along a bit - I have now found out how to get tickets (thanks to the Argentinean Rugby Union who sent me the details) which go on sale on Sunday. However, that success has been tempered as it looks like I have a work deadline/meeting on Friday 13th (the day before the game).

My plan had been to fly down on Thursday night and stay for the weekend but it now looks like I will have to fly Friday night. By the time I arrive and get to a hotel I'll have just about enough time to change and head off to the stadium.

So the plan is still alive but somewhat modified.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Heartland

Saturday night beers and I was predominantly in a bar called Heartland Brewery in Union Square (about 10 mins walk from my flat). This place is a microbrewery with about a dozen different beers - as with most such places they do tasting selections which is basically half a pint of each.

I recommend you avoid the Bavarian Black Lager (never a fan of chocolate flavoured beer) and Indian River Light Ale (tasted like orange juice) but was quite impressed with Red Rooster Ale (although I don't think it tasted of caramel and nuts as suggested).

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Yankees v Mets (Part 1)

Back to Yankee stadium for the first “Subway Series” game of the year – as Saturday was a cracking day weather wise I was lucky I had picked that game rather than Friday which was rained out. Added bonus, my seat was in the shade so I wasn’t in danger of getting sun burnt from three hours in direct sunlight.

A good game it was too with the Yanks 2 – 0 up after the first inning after a Derek Jeter home run. However, the Yanks pitching wobbled badly in both the third and seventh innings to give up three runs in each so that the Mets led 6 – 3 going into the last two innings.

Although the Yanks got one back in the eighth the Mets cancelled this out in the ninth for a final score of 7 to 4 – four home runs in total which was pretty good going.

Curiously, although it was good weather, a Saturday afternoon and a NY derby match the ground wasn’t full (I’d guess about 85%). Anyway, Part 2 of this story will be at the end of June when I go to Shea Stadium to see one of the Mets home games against the Yankees.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Thirty........[mumble].......

As the Facebooker's amongst you may have noticed it was my B'day this weekend - a bit hit and miss of a weekend it was too.

I spent Saturday at the baseball (details in tomorrow's post) which was good but my back didn't agree with the seat so my Sunday plan to go and see the Arena Football (indoor American Football) was junked in favour of an afternoon in the sauna and jacuzzi in my gym. There is only one more home game left for the Arena Football so I'll try and go to that in a couple of weeks.

Friday, 16 May 2008

British Sea Power

After spending Saturday afternoon in the bar I headed off to the Bowery Ballroom to catch a gig – three acts as usual so here we go with a run down:

Jeffrey Lewis – as I’ve noted before I’ve quite often found the opening acts to be damn good. Not this guy – he could possibly be the worst act I’ve ever seen (never mind just the worst in NY). Clink on the link if you want but odd folk music is not for me.

The Rosebuds – Not great but not bad, not a lot else to say. Look I'd been drinking all day, I can't be expected to remember everything!

British Sea Power – I think the best way to describe BSP is inoffensive, they don’t do anything wrong but they’ve never recorded a song that was really memorable in any of their three albums. I did wonder if they would be the type of band who would be better live than they sound (Travis are the best example of this) but not particularly.

Now that sounds negative but they are a perfectly serviceable indie band – they just don’t have any big numbers to play. Having said that one song from their new album (“No Lucifer”) was very good. There are two BSP songs I was looking forward to but annoyingly they only played one (“Carrion”) – the missing song was “It Ended On An Oily Stage”.

You’ll find mp3s of two of the three BSP songs named above on the following sites: “No Lucifer” and “Carrion

Thursday, 15 May 2008

UEFA Cup Final

Its not too often that a Scottish team makes a European final (I remember two others) so I jumped ship from work at 2.30pm yesterday and ran for the bar. I hadn't really thought about it before got there but was surprised by the split of fans - there were about 80 people there and about 60 were Zenit supporters.

I've always been surprised that there are never any fights in this football bar on the rare occasion when I go there but yesterday came as close as I've seen. When the first Zenit goal went in something happened at the other end of the bar and about 6 of the Zenit supporters were chucked out by the bar staff who were not happy at all.

No great surprise in the result as Rangers played for penalties from kick off and didn't get away with it this time.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

The Australian

New bar and (more importantly) a new rugby bar. This convict bar records all the Super 14 matches on their Sky Plus type box and will replay them to order. I wandered in at about 1pm and left at getting on for 9pm after watching: Convicts v NZ (rugby league); Highlanders v Blues; Bulls v Brumbies; and Stormers v Waratahs. Its probably a good thing that there isn’t too many weeks left in the Super 14 season as I could lose a lot of days in here – Tri-Nations venue solved though.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Street market

I wandered out on Saturday morning onto 2nd Avenue (which is a pretty major street in NY) and it had been closed off from 14th Street down to about 7th Street for a street market…and what a lot of absolute crap was on sale too. It was predominantly food stalls or very cheap clothes stalls with a few other bits and prices thrown in.

I haven’t been able to work out what the point of this market was and why a major street was shut to allow it to go ahead.

Monday, 12 May 2008

One year anniversary

Believe it or not it is now 1 year since I left London (I flew on Saturday 12th May 2007) – that of course means I’ve been writing this Blog for a year too. Don’t think anyone bet on me lasting this long writing this drivel.

In that time I have had more than 4,600 hits on this site (November 2007 being the busiest month with almost 500). Weirdest place I’ve recorded a visit from has to be Iran – can’t imagine where that one come from.

Friday, 9 May 2008

ipod advert

I saw the new ipod advert on TV last night - I wasn't really paying attention but really liked the song they were using. So today, with not a lot of effort, I found out it is "Shut Up And Let Me Go" by The Ting Tings - you'll find an mp3 of the song posted on this website.

My descent into 80s-esque disco type music continues.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Tickets

I've been trying to find some tickets for the Scotland v Argentina game which is due to take place in Buenos Aires on 14th June but its proving to be almost impossible. Unsurprisingly the SRU were absolutely clueless - at first they didn't even acknowledge that the game even existed.

I've tried contacting various ticket agencies and the Argentinean RFU directly but nothing so far. Rather annoying as I was planning on heading down for a long weekend (about 10 hour flights but only one hour time difference). Any suggestions?

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Yankee Stadium

Yankee Stadium was competed in 1923 but this is its last year - as of next season the NY Yankees move to their new home (also called Yankee Stadium). This wont cause too much trouble for the supporters as it is being built on the other side of the road from the existing stadium. Being honest I can see why they need a new home as the place is a bit dilapidated inside.

However, here's an interesting little soundbite: despite being 63% bigger than the current one capacity will be down slightly, to 53,000 from 56,000. Apparently this is because they are stuffing the new one full of corporate boxes...nice and fan friendly. Also fan friendly are the ticket price increases, current $250 box seats at Yankee Stadium will seem inexpensive in 2009 as they will cost between $500 to $2,500 in their new ballpark. Also, season ticket holders must commit to at least 3 years with price increases in each year...not cheap to be a supporter.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

NY Yankees v Seattle Marines

My first venture to NY baseball took me to Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon to see the game against the Mariners (coincidentally the Mariners were also the opposition for the home team the last time I went to a baseball game in Cleveland a couple of years ago).

The stadium itself is in The Bronx which is North of Manhattan so this is my most Northern trip in NY so far. I decided I’d wear my Yakult Swallows jersey from Tokyo, if I’d thought about this I could have seen what would happen – several pictures with Japanese tourists. In fact I ended up sitting next to a girl from Osaka who was rather surprised to see a Swallows shirt at the game.

The weather forecast for the day had been a bit dodgy so I was glad when the rain stayed away although it was a chilly when the wind occasionally blasted through the stadium.

The game itself was pretty one-sided with the Mariners hanging on until the bottom of the third inning when the Yankees went 4 – 1 up. They then added another couple from the day’s only home run in the six inning to make the score 6 – 1 which was how it finished.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Water Shortage

I went to the gym yesterday afternoon - not in itself a newsworthy occurrence. I noticed there were far fewer people there than normal but I put this down to the good weather outside. I think that was probably wrong on my part as when I was finished up and went back to the changing rooms I found out that there was no water for showers. Its not a particularly enjoyable experience trudging home from the without having had a shower (luckily I only live about 5 minutes away).

Friday, 2 May 2008

Cucina

Another nice stress free day in the office and roll into the weekend - much better than earlier this week.

Cucina is the sandwich shop that I've been using regularly in the last few weeks. These guys take sandwich making FAR too seriously - a few examples of this pedantry I think:

- lettuce on your sandwich, well would you like that chopped or the whole leaf and if the whole leaf do you want the central stalk cut out;
- you will never get an "end" slice of tomato;
- if they give you a baguette (or "hero" as they are called here for some reason) then they will cut the ends off and throw them away; and
- everything will be cut so that it is the same width or length of the bread.

Getting a sandwich here (after getting to the front of the queue) takes about 5 minutes minimum. They are damn good though.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Glad that's over

Right, I've calmed down a bit from yesterday - a report which seemed perfectly well under control at lunchtime spiraled into a shambles (if there is a more unstable piece of software than MS Word I haven't come across it). Anyway, I did get out of the office before midnight which was a first this week so call it a wash.

I've been listening to a whole bunch of new bands recently, so here are a few sites I've found with mp3s of a few songs I have on my iShuffle at the moment:

"Deceptacon" by Le Tigre - same sort of thing as New Young Pony Club
"Scenic World" by Beirut - almost into folk music here but very relaxing
"Hang Me Up To Dry" by Cold War Kids - more laid back stuff (I am feeling good today)
"Lost To The Lonesome" by Pela - think slow Bloc Party