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October 27, 2008

Wake Up Productive

As the internet evolves, it increasingly offers more. In the past few months, I've taken advantage of a few online courses that are beneficial and insightful. Fees can make one hesitant but as with any investment, you get a good amount of evidence with which to decide whether or not to buy the product before you jump in.

Wake Up Productive Eban Pagan Wake Up Productive is a program given by online entrepreneur Eban Pagan and I decided it was worth my time. I've been through two of the sessions so far and am excited by its lessons. Eban has online businesses that focus on different aspects of running your own business and also a successful dating site. He offers tons of free tidbits so you get a sense that the guy has a lot of solid information. And boy, does he. Here are a couple of the concepts that have stood out for me and already helped me from this program. In introducing the background for making yourself more productive, Eban Pagan discusses the competing aspects of our daily lives. One quote he gave was:

“Life is easy if you live it the hard way and hard if you live it the easy way.”

Wow. This really hit home for me. It means that if you try to take shortcuts, eat junk food, always go for instant gratification over long-term investment, you'll get the quick fix that often backfires in the long run. Most of us are good at certain things and not so good at others. I find that I can learn from the areas in which things come more easily for me and then apply those lessons to the areas in which natural answers don't flow as well. Here's another quote:

“Habit is destiny — First we shape our habits and then they shape us.”

Among the brilliant thinkers throughout time who have focused on habit are psychologist William James. When I read James in college talking about the importance of habit, it made sense but I didn't know well how to make habits out of things that were difficult to do. With a program such as this one, you will find tools to help you do so.

October 23, 2008

City Complications

After months of positive parking experiences, my car was towed in midtown Wednesday night, causing chaos and two days' lost work as the situation became more complicated. Turns out I parked at a commercial Muni meter and even though it was past meter times at night, you have to have commercial plates to park there. Everyone at the city offices was helpful; it was just a very tangled mess of red tape and scary costs plus late fees on already paid tickets and more. I am so grateful to have my car back now.

Car Tow 

October 21, 2008

Great Live Jazz

Mentioned a while back on this blog, Puppets Jazz Bar in Park Slope, Brooklyn offers up serious live jazz in a great atmosphere with amazing music, great drinks and a small delicious menu of food.

Puppets Jazz Club

Puppets has moved down the block to swankier but still intimate digs at 481 Fifth Avenue off 11th Street. My friend and sometime keyboard player for my band plays with heavy hitters in both the jazz and pop arena and he had a recent gig at Puppets the last couple of weeks with bassist extraordinaire Alex Blake. It's been longer than I realized since I heard juicy live jazz and this night did me much good. They even played a knockout version of Night in Tunisia, the Thelonius Monk beauty, for me that was stunning, especially Ted Cruz on piano. The audience loves the jazz being played here, which is always a nice contribution that keeps the air pulsing along with the music.

October 19, 2008

Children's Wallpaper Art

Currently on view at the Cooper Hewitt is a show on children's wallpaper.


Above: “Popeye with the Hag of the Seven Seas;” by Elzie Crisler Segar

The show presents wallpaper from the 1800s to the 1990s and related items of influence such as children's characters in books and cartoons. Some very cute stuff. One of my favorites conceptually is a wallpaper of blank squares so kids can fill in their own images or paste in pictures — very inventive. The Cooper Hewitt is a small museum in a gracious upper east side mansion so it's always nice to visit; they are working on an ambitious interior expansion now too, which will allow exhibits of much larger items such as automobiles.

October 18, 2008

The Explosion of Great Jeans

In recent years, the blue jean industry has exploded with options in fit, leg styles and color — although it would be welcome if these great-fitting jeans came in a range of colors like fuchsia, lime, grass etc. However, the beautiful blue shades in which they are available does a jeans-lover proud.

fantastic jeans

Some of my favorite brands and styles, L to R: Citizens of Humanity Ingrid Flare, JBrand Cigarette Leg, JBrand Lovestory Flare and AG New Legend Flare

While I've always loved fashion, I do not not love to shop and this plethora of choices can be overwhelming. Since I buy almost everything online, I've tried to do this with jeans but until you are familiar with fits, brands and cuts, it's a sea of confusion and not easy since you have to pay and get credited for mistakes. With jeans, it can be even harder than shoes to get a fit you like in the waist, butt, legs, along with a color and style you want; this is serious fashion engineering. Also, jeans can stretch or shrink as you own them and only testing really tells you that.

The solution: Beginnings Bleus, an amazingly great jeans store in Bayside, New York (and two more in Westchester) that my girlfriend, Jodi, turned me onto. Wow — the people who work there are serious jeans consultants. They are familiar with all the top brands, fits and colors and pay attention to you with in-depth service. Thanks to them, I was able to finally get some great-fitting jeans. I've tried cheaper choices and they don't fit well. While these brands cost a pretty penny, there are often sales where things get marked way down. Once you know what you like, you can try looking online too but even the same brand fits widely differently in different styles so a place like Beginnings Bleus is a lifesaver or at least a jeanssaver.

October 17, 2008

Wing It

As Halloween approaches, here is a sneak preview of my custom-made dragonfly wings, made by Meghann Frickberg of Art of Wings.

gorgeous wings

As I have learned, superior costume wings stay on better. There are some great-looking manufactured ones but they flop around and are uncomfortable and unwieldy. The beautiful pink flowers you see above also grace the center back of these wings. The ones above are extra clips I had made for my hair and costume. Last year, celebrating Halloween by wearing a costume and going to a place filled with costumed revelers was freeing. The eclectic personalities make for a great night. Can't wait for this year's merry-making with Marie Antoinette, Clark Kent, Robin Hood etc.

October 16, 2008

Inside the Designer's Studio


NYC's East Side Design Within Reach hosts an IDSA series event called “Inside the Designer's Studio,” tonight, a glimpse into the head and work of some of today's leading designers.

Tonight's event features Rita Nakouzi from Promostyl, a trend forecasting and tracking company, so the slant will be a bit different than an individual designer's discussion of their work. Sure to be very interesting for design buffs.

October 15, 2008

E-Mail Clients

E-mail software has long been referred to as an e-mail "client," for some reason.

eudora At any rate, Eudora, poetically named for writer Eudora Welty, remains a powerful and simple solution. Tonight, I downloaded the software for my client, Houlihan Tattoos so they could use their web domain e-mail properly. They had been using Yahoo Mail with their Verizon account and it turned out that Yahoo Mail does not allow secondary e-mail accounts that require an SSL (secure socket layer), which is a desirable security trait for an e-mail address. So the client needed e-mail software that would allow them to check multiple addresses at once. Outlook does allow this, as do other options but Eudora remains a great choice that is very easy to use at first glance.

We got stuck looking for an "allow authentication" checkbox under technical options but eventually found it. Since I am a Mac diehard, working with their Windows Vista system was like groping in the dark. But a bottle of wine and many laughs later, all was well. I am so lucky to have clients I can have fun with too. Hooray for great software that does what it's supposed to do.

October 14, 2008

Design Minds

There's a scintillating design panel discussion coming up with my favorite buddies from the IDSA (Industrial Designer's Society) on October 28th.

IDSA panel discussion

Taking place at Design Within Reach's Tribeca location, the event will feature three panelists from leading design firms involved in industrial and other design disciplines (frog design, FITCH and IDEO). Discussions will include future design challenges in terms of environmental issues, technology, leadership and innovation. Sure to be a fun and mind-expanding evening for anyone who loves design.

October 13, 2008


Nice reason for a day off — to celebrate the discovery of our land. Many great things happen by accident.

columbus day

October 12, 2008

A Beautiful Spot

Glen Island Park is right near my current stomping ground of City Island.

Glen Island Park

This shot doesn't do the grounds justice. A beautiful spot to walk along the water by, especially at night. A little oasis in Westchester. Ahhh.

October 11, 2008

Simple Video Capture

Found a very simple piece of software that allows you to capture video on the Mac and costs only $20.

iShowU video capture It's called iShowU and it's easy, inexpensive and does what it's supposed to do. You can't take a screenshot of a DVD on the Mac with the built-in screen grabber. I assume this is for copyright protection reasons but in my opinion it's silly because people who want to find workarounds will and I use screen capture constantly to show things, discuss things etc. At any rate, luckily there are lots of great utilities out there and this one does the trick.

October 10, 2008

Grace of My Heart

Grace of My Heart is a killer song by Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach and a brilliant movie by director Allison Anders from 1996 that traces the roots of modern music from New York's 1950s Brill Building up to the 1970s.

Grace of My Heart

Illeana Douglas stars as Denise Waverly aka Edna Buxton in Grace of My Heart

Unique and masterful actress Illeana Douglas stars as a female singer/songwriter in an era that champions only guy grouups initially. She becomes a songwriter and the story follows her life through different musical eras and personal highs and lows. A music lover's dream, all the music for the movie is original and written by people who were either performing during the times and in some cases their children (Louise Goffin, daughter of Carole King and Gerry Goffin). Larry Klein, producer and ex-husband to Joni Mitchell, produced all the music and has a small part as a record producer in the film. Other stars include John Tuturro and Matt Dillon, both giving stellar performances. One of my all-time favorite movies and soundtracks. (Note stellar singing by Kristen Vigard.)

In the superior commentary by director Allison Anders, she notes that Ileana Douglas' lipstick and nail polish in the scene above were created to match the 1960s recording studio sound baffling exactly — the type of design touch that makes this movie a thrill to watch as well as to listen to.

October 9, 2008

Eiffel Tower Has the Blues

France's Tour Eiffel or Eiffel Tower, probably Paris' most famous landmark, is decked out in blue light for six months in honor of being the current head of the European Union. The blue light with yellow stars signifies the EU flag. A gorgeous architectural tribute.

Blue Eiffel Tower

Photos by Linda Mathieu — by way of Just Muttering

October 8, 2008

It's Analog Mouse Season

Cold air has only just begun to blow in and my cats have managed to fell two mice in two days already.

Cats catching mice So far, my cats have only caught adorable little mice that look like the ones at left. They are so cute, it's incredible. Sometimes they're not dead yet but unfortunately, they usually are. It's still shocking for me and I really hope this doesn't continue and that the mice get wise that this isn't a good shelter for them.

The ways of the animal kingdom can seem brutal to us; I don't like that my cats don't leave these little creatures alone. I can tell when they're stalking but you can't see the mice so there's really nothing you can do. By the time you know about it, it's usually too late. Still, the timeless continuance of their pursuits and their hunting expertise are admirable, if the results don't please me much.

October 5, 2008

Wind-Powered Art

Aeolian Electric is the name of an art project that explores the power of wind and had its outdoor opening reception this Saturday at the East River Bank at 23rd Street in NYC.

Wind Powered Art

“The Wonders of Nature” by Cade Peterson

Eliott Montgomery from the Industrial Designers Society curated the show and had an inventive piece in it too (see below). The six creative designs are currently displayed on East 23rd Street at the East River Bank at a space called Solar One. The pieces were created to trigger focus, awareness and imagination surrounding the subject of renewable energy sources. Much is talked about these days regarding solar power, renewable energy and sustainable resources. This show aims to present a playful curiosity about this technical subject and to help bridge the gap between engineers and end-users. Heavy-duty sponsors include O2NYC and Toyota. It's a nice way for artists to voice their thoughts through their work.

Wind Powered Art

“Wind Tree” by Elliott Montgomery — the record (Winnie the Pooh) spins faster or slower depending on the power of the wind hitting the top of the “tree,” causing the voice to speed up or slow down too.

October 4, 2008

Play with Your Food

For the past couple of years, I've gotten a small calendar titled Play with Your Food, with fantastic food creatures created by Joost Eiffers and Saxton Freymann. 

Play with Your Food

Looking at October's artwork today, which is giraffes made out of bananas, I was charmed once more. When I looked the calendar up online, I found out that these two creative wackos have written books that have sold over a million copies. They deserve their success; their work is hilarious, original and beautiful.

October 2, 2008

Pampered Pets

Tiki Cat For all the pet lovers out there, of which there are millions and that's just the ones I know about, Tiki Cat and Tiki Dog is another excellent food with pure ingredients and the good sense to include adorable kitschy artwork on their packaging.

A few of the better pet stores that I like to frequent and where you can find this food include:

  • Bark and Meow in Tarrytown and
  • Provisions for Pets in Bronxville (no site)

It's always good to have a pet store that carries healthy food and good looking items for your furry friends in the various neighborhoods you like to frequent. It's made my life easier that I now have superior pet stores in Brooklyn, Tarrytown and Bronxville besides forays into Manhattan where there are several.

October 1, 2008

Street Art and Time Travel

Kirchner at MOMA Here's an upcoming show at MOMA that looks beautiful: Kirchner and the Berlin Street.

One of my favorite aspects of great art is that it has the power to transport you to another time and place. These seven colorful paintings look very contemporary to me but were created between 1913 and 1915. Go on an easy time travel and jump into an artist's vision from another time.