TARS Costume

Those of you who have seen the movie Interstellar know that one of the coolest characters in the film is the robot TARS (although CASE is just as cool and less of a dick). Ever since seeing the special feature about the making of TARS, I have been interested and trying to make a TARS costume of my own.

However, despite having seen the special feature several months ago, it wasn’t until recently that I finally started to look into what it might take to build a TARS of my own. I Googled “Tars costume” and found the following video.

Though I knew I didn’t want to do something as high-tech as that, It was just the inspiration I needed to get the ball rolling on a TARS costume project of my own.

So, this past Monday I began my search for some free cardboard. I started at my local appliance store, looking for scrap refrigerator boxes. After finding none in their trash, I checked a few more sources before eventually scoring a dishwasher box from Lowes.

My plan was simple, make four equally sized rectangular boxes, then cut a small circular hole in each side of each of the boxes and run a long cylindrical tube through the boxes to a) hold them together and b) serve as the pivot point to allow him to walk.

TarsConceptSketch_backThis is a conceptual sketch I drew of what the costume would look like from the back.

The follow is a step-by-step of how I made the costume. I apologize for not including reference photos of the process, but the descriptions should be detailed enough for you to fill in the blanks. Additionally, my approach was super simple and low tech. The entire process took only four days, and it only took that long because I was taking my time and not putting in nearly as many hours each day as I could have.

Materials: large cardboard box, hot glue, box cutter/razor blade, pen knife/exacto-knife, t-square, tape measure, compass, ruler, straight edge, cylindrical tube.

Step 1: using a razor blade, cut the box so each side is now it’s own individual panel. You now have four flat pieces of cardboard that are all approximately the same size.

Step 2: next measure the width of one of the panels, in this case ~30 inches, and divide it by three. I chose to not use the full width because the edges of the box weren’t cut perfectly straight. I ended up only using the center 24 inches and dividing that into three 8-inch panels. Using a straight edge, draw four vertical lines from the top of the flat piece of cardboard to the bottom. Do this for each of the four flat pieces of cardboard.

Step 3: using a straight edge and a razor blade cut the flat pieces of cardboard along the lines you drew so that you have twelve 8-inch wide panels.

Step 4: next, take three of the 8-inch panels and separate them from the group. Using a razor blade, cut the folding flap of the box off of two of the panels and put them aside. For the third panel, measure 8 inches from the fold. Draw a horizontal line and with a razor blade, cut off the excess cardboard.

Step 5: using the excess cardboard, cut out triangular gussets from the corners. The ones I made were 3 inches long. You should be able to get 6 total (3 pairs of two) gussets from your excess pieces of cardboard.

Step 6: next space the gussets out along the back side of the front face of one of your groups of three panels. The front panel is the one that still has the 8 inch flap on the top. Hot glue the gussets to the back of the front facing panel and attach the other two sides of the box to the gussets. Additionally, hot glue the flap of the front panel to the top edge of each of the side panels.

Step 7: repeat steps 4 through 6 until you have four equal sized rectangular boxes.

Step 8: On the side of one of your boxes, measure 6 inches down from the top of the box and 4 inches in from the front. Make an X at that point. That is where you will place your hole. The center boxes will need holes on both sides. The outer most boxes will only need holes on the inward facing sides. The boxes I made were approximately four feet tall and thus could be divided into four 1-foot sections. This will be important later when you’re painting TARS as he is broken down in four vertical sections.

Step 9: using a compass, make a circle the size of the cylindrical tube you will be using to hold TARS together. the center-point of the circle is the X you marked in the previous step. Once the circles are drawn, cut them out using an exacto-knife.

Step 10: take your cylindrical tube, I used a tube from a roll of wrapping paper, and begin to feed it through the holes you’ve just cut out until all of the boxes are on the tube. You now have your basic TARS costume complete. The only things left to do are the details ie. painting it.

TarsCostume_backThe back side of the costume. Here you can see where the gussets are, where I made the holes and where the tube fits.

My costume is not complete. I still plan on painting it and adding other details, but I wanted to put up what I have for now because I’m proud of it and wanted to share it with you. Plus it is essentially done… like 90% done. I will add more to this post -or post an update- once it’s complete.

TarsCardboardCostumePose1TARS – interrogation stance

Because of its size (the fact that it’s not as tall or taller than me), the TARS I made is less of a costume (something you wear) and more of an object I puppeteer. This is true of the prop used in the movie as well, however a bit of the mystery is gone from mine because my TARS is shorter than me and thus you can see me puppeteering it.

TarsCardboardCostumePose2TARS – walking stance

Oh the things you can accomplish when you’re funemployed.

Helpful links:

TARS typeface* – Trade Gothic Bold Extended

Google sketch-up schematic drawing – good reference for how the body is divided and where the pivot points are

TARS walking GIF – “gorilla”

TARS walking GIF – “stroll”

Replica Prop Forum – discussion about how to build a replica TARS

*click the link > click the “Try It” tab > type TARS in the word box > make the size 96 (the biggest they offer) > screen grab  the word TARS > open an 11 by 8.5 Adobe Illustrator file > import the screen shot of the font and stretch it so it spans the length of the page. Now you have a stencil you can print and cut out to spray onto your TARS. This worked for mine based on the dimensions I used for my costume. However, you may need to adjust yours depending on the size.

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Route 66 Road Trip

I’ve had in my head for a long time that I want, at some point, to take a road trip on Route 66. This fire was re-kindled recently while watching an episode of American Pickers. All the trips that they go on, the parts of off-beat America that they explore, all made me want to go on this trip again. I don’t know if you can still do it anymore, if the road is still in driving condition or if there is an alternate route one needs to take in order to follow it as close as possible; more research is required.

That is why I have prepared a list of books I would buy for research material in order to plan the ultimate American road trip. Additionally I made a series of a lists (written below) on several topics that I want to remember in order to make the trip as cool and fun as possible. Lists include things like what cars I would potentially be interested in taking on said trip, what music I want to listen to and what movies I want to watch to help ramp up my excitement.

Cars

-VW Bus (Brumos; see video above; also this)

-1950s Mercury Coupe

-GTO

-“Bandit” Trans Am

-Chevy Nomad

-Impala

-Mustang

-Corvette

-Cadillac El Dorado or Deville

-Mini Cooper (old)

Note: I feel that on a trip like this, the car you drive is just as important as the route you are driving. Like putting on the proper attire based on a certain function you’re attending, the right vehicle needs to be utilized for the right drive.

Books

-Lonely Planet: Route 66 – Road Trips

-Travel Route 66: A Guide to the History, Sights and Destinations along the Main Street of America

-Route 66: The Mother Road

Games

-License Plate Game

-plus look up others

Music

-New Shoes

Cars soundtrack

-the 5, 6, 7, 8s

-see DJ setlists 1 and 2

-Vampire Weekend

-Personal Record – Eleanor Friedburger

-podcasts

-Wanda Jackson

-Alabama Shakes

-The Black Keys

-Roy Orbison

-Amy Winehouse

-surf rock

-Tell Me (What’s on Your mind)

-Dogheart II

Pulp Fiction soundtrack

-The Beach Boys

Places to Stay

Blue Swallow Motel

Wigwam Village Motel

Sights to see

-The Big Texan

-Cadillac Ranch (Carhenge?)

Road Trip/Appropriate Movies

-A Goofy Movie

-Smokey and the Bandit

-Cars (Pixar)

Links

Route 66 wiki

Historic 66

Roadtrip USA

Legends of America

National 66

I have no idea when I want to do this or really even why? I don’t really enjoy driving and there is a lot of stress and work involved in a road trip; they aren’t exactly relaxing vacations. However, I think it’s important to do and something I should do within the next couple of years. I better add it to the “Vacations To Do” list.

Past road trips

Cross Country (2006) – I went with my cousin and my uncle on a cross country road trip in 2006. We drove his F-150 King Ranch edition truck which is by no means a small vehicle. This was on factor that was sometimes difficult to deal with when driving. Additionally, there are often very long days of driving which can definitely lead to cabin fever. I will say however that I didn’t see a lot of this country on that trip and that probably the good things outweighed the bad.

Celebration V (2010) – when my friends and I attended the fifth ever Star Wars convention in Orlando, we all thought it would be a good idea to road-trip from Massachusetts to Orlando, driving nonstop for 22 hours. The only negative thing was that in my car we only had three drivers so there was less passing off and longer legs of driving for each driver.

Additionally, my lack of driving confidence makes me nervous and self conscious. I feel I am a good driver but not a confident one. When I’m nervous, my lack of confidence sometimes causes me to make quick jerky decisions/movements when I’m driving and thus, understandably, causes my passengers to lose their confidence in me. When someone points this out to me -as was the case on this trip- it gets me angry and makes me more self conscious. This led to a bit of a spat between Andrew and myself at one point and thus caused an ominous cloud to hang over the rest of the drive.

Mini Takes the States (2012) – when Pete and I did MTTS we were obviously the only two drivers of his car. Because he is such a car nut, he was naturally very protective of his Mini. However, he made a lot of passenger comments whenever I was driving that in general made me nervous around his car, made me nervous to drive and additionally made me angry with him. i.e. telling me when to break, telling me how to adjust my mirrors, telling me to slow down, telling me to speed up and other things.

Additionally, because we had to stay with one another it meant that any decisions that were made where final. We couldn’t split up because there was only one car to get us wherever we needed to go. This led to other tensions when my ideas of what we should do and his ideas of what we should do clashed. Finally, being in a close space with someone -who is already prone to getting on your nerves- for a long period of time is not something that is fun to deal with.

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Top 50 Movies

I have been sitting on this post for literally years. I don’t know what I’ve been waiting for but now I’ve finally decided to post it. I would just like to say that I reserve the right to update (add or subtract) movies as I see fit.

As is the case with several posts I’ve written, this is more for me than it is for you. I always feel like I’m going to forget what my favorite movies are so I decided to finally make a list. However, rather than rank them, making the process more difficult, I’ve decided to simply put them in alphabetical order. More specifically, these are movies that make my heart ache after seeing them and wish I were doing more, or rather make me want to do more with my life. I’m sure this list will change as I’ve no doubt forgotten some or put in others that may not really deserve to be here. But, nevertheless, here it is (with 10 question marks- ones I’m not sure deserve to be here):

Adaptation

AKIRA

Alien

Almost Famous

Antichrist

Artist, The (?)

Bandits

Big Fish (?)

Black Snake Moan (?)

Cool Hand Luke

Cloud Atlas

Darjeeling Limited, The

Enter The Void

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Fight Club (?; too easy to say it’s your favorite)

Finding Nemo

Frances Ha

Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The

Gone Girl

Gone in Sixty Seconds (?)

Her

Inception (?)

Interstellar

Jackie Brown

Juno (?)

La Haine

Lord of War

Lost In Translation

Man On Wire

Matrix, The

Metropolis (anime)

Midnight In Paris

Monsters, Inc.

Moonstruck

Nightcrawler (?)

No Country For Old Men

Panic Room (?)

Public Speaking

Rushmore

Senna

Shawshank Redemption, The

Skeleton Twins, The

Synecdoche New York

THX-1138 (?)

Unbreakable

V for Vendetta

Waking Life

Wall-E

You’ve Got Mail

—Some were too obvious to include

Star Wars (original trilogy; too easy to say it’s your favorite)

Indiana Jones (original trilogy; too easy to say it’s your favorite)

Back to the Future (trilogy; too easy to say it’s your favorite)

James Bond (the complete series; too easy to say it’s your favorite)

Godfather Part I, The (too easy to say it’s your favorite)

Breakfast Club, The (too easy to say it’s your favorite)

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Subway Symphony

It’s rare that when given the opportunity to skip an ad before a YouTube video that I don’t take said opportunity. However, when I saw the following ad, I thought it was poignant for 2 reasons. 1) it features LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, a guy and a band that I’ve gotten more interested in over the past several months and 2) it features the MTA, a subway system I am now very familiar with after having spent the past 6 months living in NY and learning it.

The idea is that since the MTA is supposedly going to switch from a swipe based card system to a tap based one (apparently not till 2019), that they might as well make the sound of the beep when you tap your card, be a pleasant one. So that is what James Murphy is teaming up with Heineken to try and do. I love this idea and have thought for a while now that the MTA should switch to a tap based card system like the T in Boston. In his words: “someone’s going to make a chip that beeps on the next system… that’s a given.  All I’m asking for is the chance to help make that beep something memorable.”

If you’re down with this idea, go to Subway Symphony dot org and sign the petition.

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23 Weeks of Bond

So, as usual I am a few weeks behind on this. I was listening to the Tested podcast and they mentioned the fact that starting that week, there would be 23 weeks until SPECTRE, the next James Bond film, was released. This meant that you could watch one Bond film each week until SPECTRE comes out. Hence the slowest, longest, and most drawn out marathon ever was about to begin.

I Pitched the idea of marathoning the bond movies over the coming weeks to my sister and a couple of my friends. They thought it was a good idea and so last Friday, we kicked off the marathon with Dr. No. Ever since listening to the James Bonding podcast I have been wanting to re-watch all of the bond movies. This realization was the perfect excuse to do just that.

The main reason why I wanted to post this was for any other Bond fans out there. If you didn’t already know about this “23 weeks” thing, now would be the time to start watching the films.

Dr. No: I’m not going to do a post for every movie, but, I thought I would just briefly go over my/our game plan for the next few weeks.

This first week I had my friend Dan, as well as my sister, come to my house at 8pm. Dan brought beer which made it feel that much more official. We then popped in Dr. No and watched it without much peanut gallery commentary, which was great. After the movie was over, me, Dan and Kyra listened to the James Bonding podcast Dr. No episode while playing the The World is Not Enough video game for N64.

I think the plan is to alternate each week, he come to my place, I go to his, back and forth until SPECTRE. I really hope we actually do keep up with this plan because it could be really fun as well as allow me to catch up on the Bond movies, something I wanted to do anyway.

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You’ve Got Mail Excursion

Two warnings/heads ups:

1) this is only for “die hard” YGM fans as there are some “deep cuts” -in other words jokes that only people very familar with the movie would understand- in this blog post

2) I want to apologize that this isn’t as thorough as it should be. I wanted to flesh it out more but I got lazy. Also, I’ve been putting this off for so long that a lot of this information is no longer relevant in terms of the dates it’s referencing.

You’ve Got Mail is legitimately one of my favorite movies. While crashing at Steve’s apartment, we somehow got on the topic of YGM and the next time I was home, I brought it down to watch with him. Well, this past Wednesday I finally got around to watching it. I have a weird thing with movies I really love where I can’t watch them too often or else I ruin them. Luckily I had waited the perfect amount of time so that it felt new again.

I don’t know why it took me so long to go on this excursion. Perhaps I was waiting for the movie to be fresh in my mind but I’m glad I did. One of the key ingredients that makes YGM so great is the soundtrack. Every place I went on the excursion brought up the musical cue for what plays at that location in the movie.

One thing that surprised me was how close every location was in relation to one another. I feel like the characters are so lazy, they never seem to have to go more than a few blocks to get to where they need to go. Regardless, this didn’t ruin the magic, it just surprised me.

YouveGotMail_mapHere is a map of the Upper West Side with highlighted locations from You’ve Got Mail.

I took the B train to 72 street and then walked a few blocks south to begin my journey.

The Shop Around The Corner (106 W69th Street)

TheShopAroundTheCornerThe Shop Around the Corner is actually La Mode an organic cleaner.

Starting at the most southernly point of the map we come to La Mode, the business used to film the fake store front of The Shop Around the Corner.

Gray’s Papya (2090 Broadway)

GraysPapya

Next on the list is Gray’s Papya. This is where Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) and Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) meet towards the end of the movie and get hot dogs before they split off, in order to meet again at the 91st Street Garden.

Verdi Square – “I keep bumpin’ into you.”

[Verdi Square; I didn’t get my own photo for this location… sorry]

Just across the street I found myself at Verdi Square. This is where Joe and Kathleen stop on a bench; him eating pretzels and her eating a fruit.

79th Street Boat Basin – “Hello New Jersey!”

[79th Street Boat Basin; I didn’t get my own photo for this location… sorry]

Working my way north, I headed west towards the Hudson River and the 79th Street boat basin. This is where the Fox II (Nelson Fox’s boat) and Fox III (Joe Fox’s boat) are docked. I had unknowingly biked past this a few weeks ago while on an epic ride. Additionally, this is the place where Joe meets with his father after they’ve both been dumped and this song plays.

Ocean Grill (384 Columbus Ave)

[Ocean Grill; I couldn’t get my own pic because there was scaffolding in the way]

After a short detour through Riverside Park I made my way east to Columbus Ave and the Ocean Grill. This is the restaurant where Kathleen and Joe get lunch as they begin to become friends.

Zabar’s (2245 Broadway)

Zabars…orange you going to give us a break by zipping this credit card through?” -Joe Fox

Next I headed back to Broadway and north one block to Zabar’s. This is the grocery store where Joe sweet talks the cashier into allowing Kathleen to use her credit card to pay for her groceries despite being in the “cash only” line.

Cafe Lalo (201 W83rd Street)

CafeLalo“Do you think we should meet?” -Joe Fox

A few blocks up I found myself at Cafe Lalo. This is where Kathleen waits for her pen pal (email pal?) NY152 to show up but instead is confronted by Joe Fox who, unbeknownst to her is NY152. This is when Joe finds out that Kathleen is Shopgirl, the woman he’s been talking to on the internet.

328 W89th Street

KathleenApartmentKathleen Kelly’s apartment; the one on the left

Further north we find ourselves at W89th street. Simply put, this is none other than Kathleen Kelly’s apartment. Just FYI, between this location and the next I popped off at another spot from the film. However, I felt it was best to save that location for the end of the blog post.

210 Riverside Drive – Joe Fox’s apartment

[152 Riverside Drive]

A bit further up brought me to 210 Riverside Drive. This is one of the locations where the film opens up. You might be wondering why I went here and not to 152, his “actual” address. The reason being that apparently they shoot the exteiror for 152 at 210 for some reason. 152 doesn’t even have an awning in real life.

The weird thing about where he lives is just how close he lives to Kathleen. They are literally only a couple of blocks away from each other. They make this apparent in the opening of the film when they’re both walking to work and you can see the other walking several paces behind. I guess strangers don’t really talk in NY but it seems weird that they would live so close and never run into one another.

—Other Locations

I was fortunate that the DVD had some really in depth special features. One of which pointed out all of these UWS locations, taking a lot of the leg work out of my scavenger job. However, it doesn’t explicitly point out every location.

Fox Books (W17th Street and 7th Ave) – on the DVD extra Nora Ephron (the film’s writer/director) explains that Barney’s was closing down and so they were able to use the space to build the Fox Books set.

H&H Bagels – this is where Joe Fox has his little speech about the flour cloud that gets poured into basement. Unfortunately the location featured in the movie has since closed down. However, that didn’t stop me from going to H&H Midtown Bagels for breakfast.

The thing that sucks about the old H&H location is that, similarly to Kathleen’s speech about what will become of her store once it’s closed down -“soon it will become something very depressing, like a Baby Gap”- H&H is now a Verizon store.

94th Street between Columbus and Central Park West – this is where Joe takes Annabell and Matt to the little fall fair. Fun fact, when I went to check out the area, I ran into a spring festival/street fair one block over! What are the odds?

Riverside Drive and W111 – this is where Kathleen talks with Christina before entering Birdie’s apartment(?). I forget if that is exactly what is happening when they are talking but this is definitely where it takes place.

W111RiversideDrive

W78th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam – this is where Kathleen and Joe part ways before meeting at the end of the movie.

91st Street Garden – This is where Kathleen finally meets NY152 and realizes that it was Joe all along.

91stGarden“I wanted it to be you, I wanted it to be you so badly.” -Kathleen Kelly

Now that I know where it is, I’ve passed it several times on my bike. I had been to Riverside park a bunch before but it wasn’t until I brought down the DVD and opened it up that I realized where spectfically they were standing (it’s highlighted on the inside cover). If you didn’t know, Riverside Park is huge.

Lastly, I just wanted to say thank you to the late Nora Ephron for this fabulous movie.

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Publishing Hope

So for a while now I have been sitting on a couple of “finished” and unfinished pieces of material that I thought would make for great books. The thing is, I never knew the best approach as to how to get a literary agent and how to get published and all that jazz. Now however, thanks to things like e-readers, ebooks and iBooks author I am able to get my material into format that looks like a book but also gives it a chance of getting published.

Yesterday I listened to the Tested podcast episode where Adam Savage chats with Andy Weir (posted below). In it, Andy chronicales the journey his book took to becoming a major motion picture. He essentialy lays out a road map for would be authors, such as myself, to follow. Does it garentee sucess? No. However, if give me a better jumping off point than I’ve ever had before.

The following are notes I’ve taken to sumerazie what I feel were the importan “plot points” or take aways from his journey. This is more for me, but I also that that if people didn’t want to listen to it, they could just reference these plot points. hope it helps.

-Andy started by just writing all the time on the internet. He had gained thousands of regular readers by the time he started writing The Martian.

-When they liked his stuff -he serialized his material- they could sign up for his mailing list and get updates when he worte more

-He then wrote a short story that got “millions and millions of page views”

The Martian was just one of the things he wrote; he just decided to write a serial about a guy who gets trapped on Mars

-He posted a chapter at a time and fans would come up with corrections as he went along; he soon gained experts and editors in different fields

-He told his fans that he reserved the right to go back and change things if he thought of a better idea or if corrections needed to be made. In other words none of his material was set in stone

-Then he would get emials from people that said “Hey, I really like The Martian but I really hate reading it in a bunch of web pages, can you make an e-reader version?”

-So, he made an e-pub and posted it on the site

-Next, he got more emails from people saying that they like the book, “I’m glad you put it in an e-reader format but I’m not very technically savvy and I don’t know how to download a random file from the internet and put it on my e-reader. Can you just post it to Kindle […] so I can just push a button and get it?”

-He then looked into Kindle Direct Publishing; you just post it up there, you set what you want the price to be, set what you want the royalty to be, and then that’s it

-He wanted to make it free but Amazon doesn’t allow you to do that, you must charge at least 99 cents. The lowest you can set your share to is 30% and the lowest price you can set is 99 cents

-Now people could read it on his website, they could download the e-reader file for free, or they could pay 99 cents to have Amazon put it on their e-reader for them

-Within a month or two more people had bought it from Amazon than had downloaded it for free and soon it started getting reviews on Amazon, it started doing really well, word of mouth helped it to spread and then it finally made it into the top sellers. He was able to surmise that compared to others, his was selling “abnormally well,” about 300 copies a day

-Then it made it onto the sci-fi top ten and it made it into the technical top ten, once it got there he said, it really spiked because undecided readers look at the top tens and just download whatever looks sort of interesting

-From there it got the attention of Random House -Crown Publishing

-An editor at Crown Publishing said he wanted to make a print edition but he wanted an opinion from outside the company so he talked to a colleague of his who was a literary agent and had him take a look at the material and tell me if he thought it was publishable

-The agent said “yes I thing its publishable” then he went to Andy and said “do you need an agent?” to which Andy said he did (need an agent)

-The agent then turned to Crown Publishing and said “lets talk about how much you’re gonna pay for the thing”

-The same week they closed on the book deal he closed on the movie rights with Fox

Now granted his stories were specific to his situation and there were many factors that played into his success. However, this is, in my opinion, a good jumping off point for where I could potentially try and start a side career as an author.

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The Martian Trailer

Those of you familiar with this blog know that last summer I read the book The Martian by Andy Weir. Despite the fact that I found the childlike nature of the main character intolerable, overall, I liked the book. I was aware at the time the there was a movie in production but here, now, finally is our first official glimpse.

First takeaway: “I’m gonna have to science the shit out of this.” Second take away: it looks really good. Now I’ve been dooped by good trailers in the past, but this one truely seems promising. The visuals combined with the score at the end got me to tear up the first time I saw it… and that is just a trailer. Fingers crossed this will be a good one.

—Governors Island – didn’t need a separate post to write about it

UmbrellasGovernorsIslandUmbrella art installation at Governors Island

I started my Tuesday by going to Governors Island. I had been wanting to check it out for a while so it was cool to finally check it off the list. The ferry that gets you over there costs a negligible $2, however it seems odd that it costs anything at all considering that the Staten Island ferry, which goes much further, is free.

Regardless, upon arrival there is an instant sense of calm and quiet. It feels like you’ve stepped off into Colonial Williamsburg. I don’t know if it was because I got there sort of early or if simply no one goes there but it felt empty. The front area has a bunch of rundown historical houses along with an old fort. Towards the back there is a huge field where that are some art installations, a tree house and a makeshift mini-golf course.

Off to the side there is a more modern and developed area with a nice playground and well maintained paths that wind through tall grass. Hidden in these paths are wide open areas with hammocks. I grabbed one (they were all empty) and chilled for a bit.

After that I circled back to the playground area. There were these two log obstacle course things that I tried out. There were much more difficult and terrifying than I thought they’d be but fun nonetheless. GI was pretty small and after a couple of hours of exploring I’d pretty much seen it all. I then hopped the ferry back to Manhattan and made my way to work.

—Cooper Hewitt Museum

After work I made my way to the Cooper Hewitt Museum to check out the How Posters Work exhibit. There was some sort of “free museum day” event happening at all of the museums on “museum mile.” They even shut down a section of 5th Avenue and everything.

Poster, LIGHT/YEARS: Poster for the Architectural Leagues Beaux Arts Ball, March 13, 1999, sponsored by Artemide, 1999One of my favorite posters from the How Posters Work exhibit at the Cooper Hewitt Museum

Unfortunately, because people like anything that’s free, the place was a zoo. I basically went in, zoomed through the exhibit and left. It seemed cool and I would have liked to stay a bit longer but I couldn’t handle the amount of people that were in there. However, you can’t beat free I guess.

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Denny

Since this is technically a bike blog I would not be doing my duty if I didn’t report on this.

Denny is a bike that fills a lot of needs I didn’t know I had. Things I like: the integrated U-lock/handlebar, the fact it can be unlocked with an app, the integrated front rack, the integrated blinkers, the integrated front light, the integrated rear light/brake light, the belt drive (chain), and weirdly the tires.

Things I don’t like: the e-assist and the gears which I wouldn’t use. Additionally I wonder if the front rack comes off. Though I like the lights and think the rack could come in handy, I feel like it would be nice to have the option to take it off. I would loe to test drive it and if it were reasonably priced (like $1,000) I would seriously consider buying it.

Seeing this bike made me think of a couple of ideas. One, I feel like since there are already electronics being used to power the lights they could also integrate a bike computer which would be able to display things such as your speed and mileage. Additionally, something I’ve thought of for a while is the ability to use your pedal power to generate electrical energy that would allow you to say for example charge your cell phone while riding your bike.

I’ve also been thinking that having the platform on the front would allow you to mount things like a stereo or a Go Pro now that you have a nice flat surface to work with. Lastly, one of my concerns is “how up to standards” their handlebar locking system is in relation to brands such as Kryptonite.

While attending the Kryptonite lock safety seminar at the New York Bike Expo, one of the complaints they brought up was the fact that their locks are very heavy, however, they did not offer a solution. Just today I was thinking, and I’m sure that it’s probably in the works, either Kryptonite or some other company should develop a carbon fiber U-lock. It would not only be very light, it would also be very strong.

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Belated Birthday

So if you didn’t know or figure out by the previous post, June 4th was my birthday. A month ago, on May the 4th be with you, I sent out a mass e-mail to about 30 of my friends, inviting them to come to a birthday celebration on Saturday the 6th (yesterday). Since last year was such a bust, I wanted to try and rectify it by giving people way more than enough notice to clear their schedule and to be able to attend.

However, as the date approached I was getting more and more “No’s.” I was beginning to re-think my decision and was almost going to cancel since I didn’t think that pretty much anyone would come. But, I figured it’s a Saturday night, regardless of my birthday I should probably go out and have fun.

I had planned an epic six bar bar-crawl including: Culture Club, 230 Fifth, the 40/40 Club, Bowery Electric, The Back Room and The Alligator Lounge. I had no allusions about how unrealistic it was but I figured, shoot for the moon, maybe reach a painting to the moon perched slightly out of my reach. (<–a failed attempt at humor).

So, as we reached the hour of departure I had six people that were maybe going to meet up at the first spot, Culture Club. Luckily, a few days ago, a friend -Nina- of the girls at whose apartment I am staying came by to crash for a bit. So, at around 8:30pm Nina and I left their apartment and made our way to CC. I was glad that if no one else showed up I’d at least have one person to hang out with. Granted a person I barely knew, but still I’ll take what I can get.

We arrived at Culture Club a little after 9pm only to find that it was apparently closed… forever! I texted the people who were potentially coming to let them know Nina and I were going to instead start off at 230 Fifth. In response two gal friends decided they weren’t going to come; one because of work getting out late and the other because of a lack of money. Another said he was at a different bar trying to “close” with a girl so he was as good as a “no.” Another said she would be on her way soon and the last said she’d come after she ate.

Off to a great start, Nina and I made our way down 5th to 230. There was a pretty long line to get in but it moved really fast. Once inside, we took the elevator to the bar on the 20th floor. The place was really posh. Not the type of spot I would usually find myself in. It’s where the “beautiful people” go to verbally masturbate with one another. There were a bunch of “bros” and business men and woman; “young professionals.”

By contrast, there were also a good amount of tourists, you could tell by their accent. Clearly these people had googled “roof top bar new york” and clicked the first result. I can’t hate though, that’s exactly what I did. It is undeniably a tourist attraction. No self respecting New Yorker would actually ever go there. But I am not a self respecting New Yorker, I’m basically a tourist myself and I wanted to go to a spot where I could drink a beer on a roof and look out at the city, and that is exactly what I got. Plus the weather was beautiful so I really couldn’t complain.

After grabbing drinks (I got this grapefruit beer that was really tasty) and heading to the roof, Nina and I chatted for a bit until we got a text from our friend Hannah, one of the girls whose apartment I’m staying at. She was getting in line so we made our way back down to the club area to meet her at the elevators. After we met up and she got her drink, we went back up to the roof. A random bro was kind enough to take our picture. This was the crew for the rest of the night.

230FifthNina, myself and Hannah on the rooftop bar at 230 Fifth

Despite the fact that the place was packed, we found a place to sit. I grabbed a second drink and we planned out the rest of the night. I said that though I did sort of want to check out the 40/40 Club for the novelty of it, I was willing to forgo it. As it is we felt out of place there and felt that 40/40 would have just been more of the same. I was also fine with passing on Bowery Electric as we had already been there.

The only two other places on the list were the Back Room and The Alligator Lounge. Since I go to the Alligator every other Friday for karaoke we decided to skip it. Thus, the next spot we went to was the Back Room. I was totally cool with this as I’d been wanting to check it out ever since getting to NY and the girls liked the fact that it was a speakeasy. Also, it was featured in the FOMO episode of Broad City.

After a bit of a screw up with the train, because the F wasn’t running, we ended up taking the Q to Canal St. It meant we had a bit more of a walk, but again, the weather was great and we were in no rush. We eventually made our way to The Back Room.

I was a little disappointed by the fact that there was a bouncer at the sidewalk entrance because it sort of ruined the mystique. After getting your ID checked, you then walk down these stairs that lead to an ally that leads to an opening and another set of stairs with a door at the top that leads into The Back Room.

TheBackRookOverall idea of the look and feel of The Back Room from the “second” level.

TBR is not only a speakeasy themed bar but it also actually used to be a speakeasy, which to me makes it a little cooler. Just as was the case at 230 Fifth, no self respecting New Yorker would actually ever go there, it is purely for the novelty. However, it was still pretty rad. The cocktails are served in tea cups as to not arouse the suspicion of any undercover cops and the beer is served in a coffee mug. If you get a bottle it is served in a brown paper bag.

After standing by the DJ booth for a bit, we sniped an opening at the couch across the room. We sat and chatted for a bit and just enjoyed the atmosphere. We decided after finishing our one drink each to grab a 99 cent slice of pizza before making our way back to Brooklyn. However I didn’t let us leave without getting another group photo.

TheBackRoom2I look super drunk in this pic, however, I assure you I was squinting because of the super bright flash on my phone. Additionally, I insisted we take in pic in front of the painting of the naked lady. It reminded me of the first room from the Haunted Mansion.

Upon leaving I expertly navigated us to a nearby cheap pizza joint. I had been there before with another group of friends but was amazed that I remembered where it was/how to get there since a) that was a month or two ago and b) I was not leading the group that night.

After grabbing a quick slice we made our way back out to Delancey where Hannah hailed us a cab. I would have been fine with taking the train because I’m cheap, but she paid for it so I don’t really care. Although I do sort of feel obligated to chip in so that might have to happen, oh well.

So what have I learned from all this? Basically something I should have known from the beginning but failed to listen to myself yet again which is this: don’t plan parties for yourself! Don’t plan any events of any kind ever because no one is ever able to come to your events. This is not a “Oh, feel bad for me” statement, it is simply the truth. I have had plenty of lessons in this and have not learned from any of them.

Perhaps now I finally will. Don’t get me wrong, it was a fun night and I’m glad it happened. I’m not mad at any of my friends who weren’t able to show up. I’m also genuinely not upset or bitter about this. I just need to give up trying because these things just never work out for me; FACT.

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