Contemporary art

As part of my MOMA ticket, I also get to go to PS1 in Brooklyn. Let me just say I have more contempt for contemporary art than modern art. All I saw were a series of pictures and/or TVs. I'm sticking with old art for old guys.


Adventure Capitalist by Jim Rogers

Yup, another book down. I'm actually quite excited about the next one: Prisoner of the State by Zhao Ziyang (趙紫陽). By the time I am done, it might coincide with the 20th anniversary of the June 4th Incident.

First things first though. Adventure Capitalist is a book about Jim Roger's travel around the world - twice. Basically, he zig zags through the Euroasia continents via Middle East and Russia, and then takes a route along the southern shorelines across Africa, Asia, Australia, South America and back to America. The book is more about a from-the-ground view of economies that he comes across: Rogers will have a few paragraphs to a few pages dedicated to why he would or would not invest in that economy. The focus is usually on the resources and governance that the country has and the bureaucracy of doing business there.

Overall, it's a pretty entertaining book that touches on some very serious subjects (e.g. lack of accountability for NGOs) while moving along crisply with his travels. I respect a book like this - one that voices an opinion bluntly with no regard for the opposition. Sometimes I find Rogers a bit radical... but hey, it's his opinion!

And I love the last 20-25 pages on his views on the American economy. The book was published in 2003... so I sincerely hope Jim Rogers made a killing over the last year or so in this crappy economy. Highly recommended, especially if you dream of traveling around the world.

(By the way, I would love to read one that's about culture)

Off to some serious Chinese history.



Weekend in Toronto was fantastic with perfect weather and a perfect host (thanks, IM and EM!). Will post pictures later.

Our Air Canada flight was surprisingly good. The in flight entertainment system (I think it's called Enroute) had a good collection of TV, Movies, and music available to the passengers. On the way there, I just wish I knew it was as simple as plugging my iPod headphones into the socket. I watched some CSI thing (without voices...) on and off till we landed.

On the way back, however, I chose to watch Valkyrie, the Tom Cruise move about the assassination of Adolf Hitler. It's sad that Tom Cruise as a person has been relegated to being the butt of jokes of talk show hosts and celebrity magazines. As a result, perhaps, Valkyrie has not received the same amount of respect that it deserves.

It is a good movie about the courage of men who stood up against tyranny. I don't know enough about German history to comment a lot, but my suspect is that there is always a lot of dissent under tyranny, and it is a matter of time before someone speaks up and acts. Valkyrie did a good job (but not great) in depicting these men, each with various degrees of conviction in attempting to overthrow Hitler. On one end there is Tom Cruise, one who is worried about his family but willing to give up on them; on the other is his commander, who would only act if Hitler's death is confirmed, thereby costing Operation Valkyrie valuable time in the coup. I would have wanted to see more on Cruise's struggle between country and family. Likewise for some of the characters in the movie. Recommended.

Note 1: it is surprising how little things have changed the course of history - the second villain who was prepared to commit suicide if one of the commanders did not fold under the fear of Hitler... the aforementioned general who was too scared to act swiftly... and that's just the psyche. The effects of the bomb being mitigated by open windows due to the weather... things like that.

Note 2: As I said before, you can rule by fear, but not forever. I wonder how long that will be for North Korea... and for a host of African nations.


Millburn (NJ) Deli vs. Katz Deli

Readers know that I frequent a lot of good restaurants. So far, in NYC, there are a few that I have returned to for various reasons:
  • Shake Shack because it's a great burger option on the cheap side and is especially fitting for bringing my tourist friends
  • Penelope Cafe because one was brunch (mmm... Nutella french toast) and one was lunch (fish and chips were surprisingly good)
  • Millburn Deli because AG-friend AL lives around the area and swears by the sloppy joes made there
Yesterday I went to visit AL in Millburn again. Last time, I had the Sloppy Joe with Pastrami. This time I had the turkey sandwich with stuffings and cranberry sauce, a.k.a. The Gobbler. I have to say the Pastrami sandwich was much better even though the Gobbler was still very delicious. Anyway, I asked AL to come into the city some day so I can show him some of the best food in NYC that I have already experienced (Mmmm... Di Fara...). Then Katz Deli (Wiki, Yelp, Cityseach) came up. And I thought it would be fun if I did a back-to-back Millburn and Katz sandwich faceoff:

(Note: I know it's hard to compare a sloppy joe sandwich and a classic pastrami sandwich... just bear with me)
Outside Millburn Deli
The Gobbler

Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the Sloppy Joe with Pastrami. The above is the aforementioned Gobbler. Overall, the SJ as a sandwich was very good. The meat was fresh and was still steaming when I ate it. The cole slaw was excellent and flavorful - it really balanced out the strong flavor of pastrami. It was one of the best sandwich moments I have had (being from Hong Kong and all) in a long time. There was a sandwich shop in Harvard Square - can't remember the name - that also manufactured sandwiches that were divine. Verdict: highly recommended, even after the 45 minute train commute.

Katz's Deli Pastrami Sandwich

Earlier today, therefore, I visitied Katz's Deli. After a 5 minute wait in a chaotic line (it's more like a free for all... even though they call it lines), I ordered its famous pastrimi sandwich at a ridiculously expensive $15. Luckily, the person preparing my sandwich had run out of pastrami so he went over to the roaster to retrieve a fresh piece of meat and started cutting it. He first gave me a few slices to munch on and then went on to prepare my sandwich. One on rye and one on white, both with moderate musturd (I wanted mine juicy, but he seem to have misheard).

The pastrami was by far the best pastrami I have ever (Langer's, I hear, is a major competitor for that award). Succulent and juicy, the pastrami was easy to chew on and was very flavored - a bit too strong for my tastes but still very good. The musturd helped balance the taste a little but it wasn't enough. Oh, but that thick layer of pastrami...! So good. Verdict: Highly recommended.

Like I said, you can't really compare the two. However, if you told me I could only eat one sandwich for the rest of my life, then the Millburn Deli gets my vote. Overall, the Sloppy Joe is a sandwich with better flavors. To be fair, the pastrami was better at Katz's for sure, but not by a lot. The taste of the Sloppy Joe wins out. Too bad it's 45 minutes away from Manhattan.


Predicting a HR

This is my second visit to the Death Star... HW got tickets so I thought why not. CC Sabathia is pitching, and he's always a wonder to watch - brings back memories of El Guapo.

Anyway, as I lined up for $11 beer, A-Roid hits a 2-run HR in the bottom of the first. Stadium cheers as I said to HW: looks like he's on today, he'll probably hit another one when the Yanks are up 10-1.

I was wrong.

A-Roid hit one all the way to the warning tracks in Center Filed with his team up 9-1. I hate being wrong. Arg.

Speaking of sports:
  • Celtics just ran out of gas; the night before game 7, I sadly mentioned that if I had to put money on it, it would be on Lakers-Magic parlay. Of course I wished for the Rockets-Celtics wins...
  • Sports Center has a top 10 #1 picks. WHERE IS TIM DUNCAN!? And why did Derrick Coleman make the list!? I'm truly baffled.
  • Between MJ and Hakeem, there was Sam Bowie; between LeBron and Melo, there was Darko Milicic; between Chris Webber and Penny Hardaway, there was Shawn Bradley; I'm just saying.
  • Watching two teams you don't care about (Yanks, O's) is difficult... I can't cheer, I can't clap, I can't do anything. But I can tell you this: Yankee fans are obessessed with Derek Jeter
  • Drunk but not too drunk guys with a performance streak in them are great for the games - there was one guy who kep yelling "Derek Jeter, I love you man!" when Jeter went to bat; same guy howled at the moon when Hideki Matsui came to bat (Godzilla is Matsui's nick name)


Scenes in NYC

Stuff I see around NYC that are semi-intriguing (in no particular order):

Nice use of outdoor billboards and cross advertising by HP and Vivienne Tam. Great concept for computers for the Sex and the City crowd - I hope it does well, though it probably won't

Professional dog walkers in Central Park... they are, um, "Behavioral Specialists". Do they work humans too?

This Smart Car really thinks it can get away with parking illegally

Walked by a bunch of extras doing a film (The Baster)... so this is how to make rain - they also sprayed the side walks, to the absolute horror of a lady sprinting out of her apartment building


Pizza Mecca in Pizza Mecca

I don't think many would dispute that New York City is the mecca of pizza (Settle down, Chicagoians, deep dish pizza is more like cheese). And the best pizza in New York is a hole in the wall in the middle of Brooklyn called Di Fara. Um... best pizza, as awarded by New York Magazine, not just Josekin. See Wikipedia (wikipedia!?), Citysearch, Yelp... and a fascinating read on the secrets of Di Fara.

Anyway, I went with my friend HW (His Q&A style review) and his friend C (Her review of Di Fara). The 45 minute ride on the Q-line brought us to the middle of no where.

It was another 45-minute wait before we got a slice of Sicilian Pizza while we waited for the half artichoke half regular pie. This might be a good place to bring up the fact that I overcut my right thumb nail - apparently, my hand cannot handle hot pizza when my thumb doesn't work. Arg. Ops, I'm distracted again: the pizza was excellent and exceptionally good. Very delicious with perfect mozzarella and margherita resting on a crisp and thin crust. The fresh basil as well as the bucket of olive oil was simmering through the whole slice.

Another awesome thing at Di Fara is that you watch the master chef Dom do his thing: making the crust, putting the ingredients on, placing the pizza in the oven, taking it out WITH HIS BARE HANDS, cutting fresh basil on it, adding olive oil... the whole nine yards.

Similar to the Sicilian slice, the round pie was also very good, if not better (it was definitely easier to handle). Due to the nature of the pie, the crust was better and I like crusts very much. On an adjacent table, however, one customer had a pretty burnt crust... anyway, I liked the plain pizza more than the artichoke side. Like I said, very similar to the sicilian slice.

Since we are in the middle of no where, after Di Fara, we had no choice but to take the 45 minute ride back to the city (or, if you fancy, a few stops to Coney Island!).

Verdict: it takes time to go to Mecca, so go at least once! Highly recommended for the overall experience. Unfortunately, I can't tell if it is the best cus I haven't had enough pizza... but I'm pretty sure this was one that I wouldn't taste elsewhere. In fact, I'm in trouble... I can't go back to $3 slices on the NY streets!

One twist too many

Watched State of Play last Friday - the movie that made Ippudo possible (it was the movie that helped us get by the 2 hour rate). Here's the review:

I understand that a movie about conspiracy theory needs to have twists. Since you probably won't watch the movie, here's the plot (SPOILER ALERT!!!):
Oh, whom am I kidding... who would care about State of Play!? Young senator's (Ben Affleck) staff, who is having an affair with the senator, is murdered. Young senator is involved in one of the biggest corporate conspiracies involving ex-military men for defense contractors. Old school reporter (Russel Crowe) is ex-roommate of this senator and links another murder case to the the staffs' murder. Crowe investigates and finds staff being a spy for the defense contractors. And that the mentor of the young senator is the one who recommended the staff. But the staff fell in love with young senator and stopped helping.

The reporter finally finds the link (against a newspaper deadline, of course) between the defense contractor and the older senator and the staff. Up to now, it's been a brilliant performance by Russel Crowe as well as some incredibly intense music score.

Oh, but there's always a twist. Affleck is actually a friend of the murderer, who has gone semi-rogue and killed on his own. Uh... what!? I was ready to leave when reporters uncovered all the links...

One twist too many: it was from slightly recommended to not recommended.


Yes, I paid $32.5 for ramen

Well well, I finally made it to Ippudo (Website, Yelp, Citysearch), the famous ramen place that everybody in New York can't stop talking about.

At Ippudo, PNGF and I actually got there at 8:00 and was told that it was going to be a 2 hour wait. TWO HOURS for ramen! Luckily, we've scouted out a movie we wanted to see nearby and 2 hours turned out to be perfect. When we returned at about 10:30, we were immediately seated. An hour later, I paid $65 for a 3-appetizer, 1-noodle, 2-drink affair (Sake, by the way, was very good thanks to the waitress' recommendation).

Verdict: Pretty good, recommended if you can somehow not wait 1.5 hours! Pity I didn't bring a camera... although I only found 1.5 dishes aesthetically appealing.

Food: Green peppers were absolutely delicious. I wish they used sea salt instead of some powdery salt - would have given the pepper a more balanced flavor. A good start to the meal. Next up were the famous pork buns. The pork itself was less fat (compared to its Shanghai original) and more tender. The bun was the same. I prefer the Shanghai version since the meat is juicier (thanks, fat!). Third appetizer were the pork ribs. It was delicious but not all that different from other ribs I've had. The Asian style doesn't require a lot of sauce so that was good since the flavor of the pork was retained. Otherwise, it wasn't all that special. Finally came the long awaited ramen: like the green pepper appetizer, this was absolutely delicious as well. The soup was light but full of flavor. The ramen was fresh (of course...). Slurping up the ramen with the soup (they give you a really really big spoon) felt very good, almost as if I'm back in Tokyo.

Alas, but I really wanted to talk about is the difference in philosophy that Asians and Americans have towards dinning.

Asians: we dine on the quality of the food that is served. We pay top dollar for top food and we scoff at a any deal TGIF has to offer. That's just the way it is. Would I pay $32.5 for ramen again? Probably not, unless it is a visitor who really wants to eat at Ippudo. I'm sure there are similar ramen places that can show me a good meal for half the price.

Americans: they dine on the quality of the dining experience. They'll pay top dollar for top service and atmosphere... and at-least decent food. Unfortunately, their palate just isn't as well trained as the Asian ones - we Asians, as a matter of fact, do grow up in households where all dishes are shared! And hence they are able to endure both a 2 hour wait (part of the experience!) and the price (novelty experience).


The tale of two books

I re-read Touching the Void. And I ordered Into Thin Air. But here, I want to talk about Outliers, which I briefly touched on yesterday.

Compared to The World is Flat, which I reviewed a couple of days ago, I like Outliers better. Both are pulling real life examples to prove their point. But Gladwell is much better at using popular culture and writing to connect with the reader. Granted, the two discuss two topics that are very different in seriousness, but still...

Anyway, a good read doesn't mean it's a good book. Essentially, what Outlier does is to find the Outliers and then trace how they have succeeded... eventually, every success story is broken down and the author concludes that a lot of it is the situation. Yup, this sounds like organizational behavior all over again. And therein lies the problem of the book: Yes, it's the situation that made the success. But of course it is! You identify successful people and then, ex-post, examine the components:
  • Yes, they were smart
  • Yes, they were born in the right year
  • Yes, they family supported what they did
  • Yes, their cultural background benefited them
  • Yes, all these opportunities fell ontheir laps and they seized it
Amazing stories, yes. Amazing conclusions, not really.

When I read the chapter on Korean Air, however, I found it quite odd. If the Korean hierarchy and lack of communication caused multiple accidents, why hasn't the same occurred in Japanese or Chinese airlines? A lot of these academic -> pop culture books have this problem... correlation, yes, but no causation link.

Which is why I've always like Freakenomics, who have a good academic approach to proving their point with popular data.

Verdict: Recommended.

Some random thoughts too: basically, you need to practice 10,000 hours of something to become very good at it. Hmmm... and you need to be born into an era where there's a boom somewhere so you can make your millions. Am I screwed already? I don't know. Let's hope there's a new boom coming up before I become too old to benefit from it!


Lost, Season 5

I once called the end of Lost Season 3 the mother of all cliff hangers. After Lost Season 5, that still holds true. In fact, disappointingly, Season 5 didn't even come close. It's an awful ending that puts too many question marks on the table but answers none of the questions that have been plaguing (may I use that word?) the audience all along Season 5...

My view all along: look, if old Eloise Hawking was okay sending Dan back to his death, then she must be okay with Jack trying to detonate a nuclear device on the island! Duh!

Next book...

Remember I said there's never enough time to just do the things you like to do? Well, I'm trying my darn best. After going almost two years between reading books, I've started another one already.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell: Mr. Gladwell attempts to show that innate ability (IQ) has far less to do with success than we think it does.

I'm 100 pages or so into the book, and the examples it uses is quite fascinating:
  • Smartest man in America (IQ = 195, only because they can't measure anything higher accurately - and I'm curious, how do you design these tests if you aren't the smartest in the world? Can someone with an IQ of 150 design a test that can test another with an IQ of 308?) who only reads in his home and has achieved nothing of significance (in our sense of achievement)
  • Historical examples such as Andrew Carnegie and John Rockefeller
  • Contemporary examples such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.
Well... all nice and dandy... except that I already know this from my own life experiences and Freakenomics. Let's hope the next 200 pages are better.

By the way, I'm working on some food-photo journal-review-map thing.


Watched 2 movies

The Soloist: After playing Ray Charles, Jamie Foxx tries to be a musician again, this time homeless and suffering from occasional schizophrenia. Robert Downing Jr plays the reporter who covered his story and tries to help him on his feet. I thought the movie was okay... somehow, I was a bit numbed by the feel good story. I shouldn't be and I apologize. The movie makes an attempt to discuss homelessness and how "healthy" people are helping in the wrong way. To us, they need to stand on their feet and figure life out. Especially one as talented as Jamie Foxx. The movie correctly portrays the homeless perspective too. It's not just standing. It's life. Frequenty, we help without thinking of what we're asking for. Something as simple as moving into an apartment means the world to one who hasn't had a bed in 20 years. As the movie stipulates... it's not sympathy he wants... it's a friend. Slightly recommended.

Earth: Well, what can I say... I should have done more research. This 90 minute feature is a cut and paste of the BBC nature documentary "Planet: Earth". Watch the documentary instead. Now I understand how hard it is to make short series into a movie. 90 minutes was way too long for a topic way too big. Absolutely amazing images though. Not recommended (I do highly recommend getting the TV series).

And today, as I walked by two theaters... I had no desire to see any of it (but Star Trek... that will have to wait till PNGF is free).


Glen "Big Baby" Davis

Oh yes I saw the winning shot... more importantly, however, did you see him shove the kid who was sitting court side, as he was celebrating? Priceless!

Celtics even the series.

By the way, Paps has too many fist pumps.

No B, No B!!!!

It's a nice day in New York, so we're going to walk around Central Park after dim sum at Chinatown. We're sitting in the train station, minding our own business.

Another train comes into the station, loads up the passengers, and then leaves the stations. It's not our train, so the wait continues.

"NO BEEEEEEEEEEE, NO BEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!" yells the lady in the train as the train roars pass us to the next station...

  • This particular train station has a B train and the D train
  • If there's no B train, then the D train is the only train in the station
  • You (the conductor) are on the D train
Sometimes, America and its "services" really piss me off. Would it be so bad to yell when your doors are open? Would it!?

Finally, I read a book

But before I get into "The World is Flat", let me quickly warn you about Wolverine.

Tom Cruise to MI:2 (For the record, MI:3 never happened) is Daniel Craig to 007 is Hugh Jackman to Wolverine. What was wrong with those movies? Well, it focused on the actor rather than the character and the story/other characters. What made the MI series so much fun was that the whole team worked together. MI:2 made it seem that only Tom could do anything. Ditto with 007 and his team of experts (Bring Q and the gadgets back please). Yet the new 007 movies have made it into a 007-does-it-all himself movie.

And so that's where Wolverine fails miserably. It's not about mutants using their respective powers to defeat a common enemy. It's about Hugh Jackman and his muscles and, uh, emotions (Laugh!). Sorry, I have no interest. Not recommended.

To the book "The World is Flat" by Thomas Freidman. By the way, last time I read a book and reviewed it was 2007-6-13. Two years ago! HOLY SHIT! I'm reading that same book, Touching the Void, again. (Also, two years since that A-hole took my camera, sun glasses, and passport - in that order of importance - in Peru)

Overall, I'm okay with the book. The idea was probably novel at the time it was written and Friedman goes to great lengths to prove his point. My main critique is that it is overly generalized and struggles a bit when it overstretches its arguments. For example, I could argue that R&D is the main driver of economies and attribute economic developments to R&D. Is that 100% of developments? 90%? 80%? Friedman really tries to do 100%...

Nonetheless, it's an interesting book. I remember when I first saw dot-com businesses pop up left and right, I thought that the "perfectly competitive" world in classic economics would finally appear and no business would profit anymore (yeah, I was naive and young at the time, please give me a break). Friedman took it much further.

With that, couple of thoughts (with the benefit of hindsight):
  • Friedman argues that music and other liberal art subjects is essential in gaining an upper hand in the flat world due to the nature of the subjects focusing on collaboration - just wha the flat world needs. Yet, at the same time, he blasts the US education system (parenting too) for not putting enough time in engineering subjects and focusing too much on sports and music and teams
  • He mentions that the openness of the capital markets is the basis of "trust" and a great differentiator of the US economy. Hm... still think that trust exists?
  • He also mentions in the same section that the great consumer demand in the US is a differentiator... now we know it, along with China, is a major contributor to the current crisis
  • Friedman says education, healthcare, and retirement security are three very large expenses... yes, indeed... if we can only get everybody to realize that and do things for their own good rather than waiting for the govt to do something
  • Is some of China's advantage (over India, in particular) the lack of democracy? Friedman makes a weak attempt to defer to difference in leadership... just say it: a dictator that does the right thing has an advantage over a democracy in making policies happen.
  • There's reference that the next party who adopts the newest technology to reach voters will win the next election. Let's just say Barack read the book. (Or... me thinks... Bush fucked up in his presidency... oh, but what do I know...)
  • What causes the inflammation of terrorism? Poverty or humiliation? Friedman votes for humiliation. I vote for poverty, which fuels the humiliation. Look, if everybody was middle class, where would terrorism get its grass root support?
I wish I read the book immediately when it came out. A little late, perhaps, but still relevant now (albeit a bit obvious). Recommended.

And let me end with one of my favorite lines in the book:

"Ultimately, September 11 is about them - the bad guys - not about us" - Thomas Friedman


Behind enemy lines

Finally, I get to see the Red Sox play live. Last time I watched them play was in Boston where the O's idiotically took out their best pitcher with 1 out in the 9th and then their bullpen blew a 5-1 lead.

Finally, I get to see the Red Sox play the Yankees live. Last time I saw that was waaaaaaaay back in Patriots day of 2002 (I think) when I snuck out of the office at 11am to sculpt a ticket ($75?) to watch Pedro kick some Yankee butt.

Ah, but this time was going to be different. This time was at the new Yankee Stadium, the home of the evil empire, the death star...

I did all this with PNGF, who was gracious enough to endure yet another Red Sox-Yankee marathon with me in the rain. Here are some of our actual conversations:

PNGF: Why does the subway stink so much?
Josekin (in a whisper): It's the Yankee fans

PNGF: Why isn't A-Rod playing?
Josekin: He had too many steroids
PNGF: Really? That stops you from playing?

PNGF: He (Jason Varitek) is really low (Batting average)
Josekin: Yeah, but he's a good catcher
PNGF: Oh, he's a catcher? That's okay then.
Josekin: (nodding head, proud of PNGF)

We left after Jason Bay hit a 2-run HR to extend the lead to 6-3. By then it was midnight (2-hr rain delay... WTF) and I didn't want to stay long because PNGF has an early day. The Red Sox won 6-4 when Paps struck out Cano with the bases loaded. Go Sox!

By the way, the stadium is only so-so. It's big and the screens are nice... but it ultimately feels too corporate and not cozy enough like Fenway. The stadium and the 2 hour rain delay might have cost the Yankees the game. The crowd was dispersed and the noise was too low to make an impact on the game. I remember in Fenway there was always a murmur in the air... a noise that was ready to break out if the situation called for it... same thing exists in Yankee Stadium, except that the Stadium fails to capture it. Too bad for them. Sox 4, Yankees 0 for this year so far.



I've been blogging a lot... aside from the pictures posting (MOMA in Picasa); however, there's actually not much content. A few food pics and a few comments here and there and that's it. I really should put more thought into my posts.

When you work, you don't have much time to do things you wanted to do.

When you are free, you still don't have enough time to do things you wanted to do, but for entirely different reason: the main cause of this feeling of "no time" is because with the free time, you suddenly realize how much you wanted to do!

List of things to do:
  • Do-it-myself: Photography, hiking, movies, blogging, trying out restaurants, poker, reading, playing and watching sports...
  • Do-it-with-people: hanging out with PNGF, meeting old friends from kindergarten, primary school, middle school, high school, college, AG, GSB (Booth), and hosting visitors from all over the world
Lucky for me, I can do all of the activities now... though there still isn't enough time! And therein lies the follies of modern life: how can one person possibly do everything he or she wants to do if there's a job waiting Monday through Friday!?

When you work, you choose one activity from the do-it-myself category every weekend... and 2 to 3 activities from the do-it-with-people category and that's it. You squeeze the nights and the weekends, and then you squeeze some more... and you start to internalize that your hobbies and interests don't fan much beyond meeting up with friends and families for a hike, a meal and a drink.

How sad.

Bulls vs. Celtics

One of the things that I sorely miss but can't do anything about is watching sports. Wrong time zone, wrong channels, wrong atmosphere.

Coming to NY has coincided nicely with the NBA playoffs. Even better, my beloved Bulls are colliding with my second love Celtics! I must have had about 62 heart attacks watching this series, with 48 of them coming in game 6 when the Bulls clawed their way to triple OT win. Alas, I never watched game 7 due to a wedding. I blame myself for the Bulls final defeat... but what a fight they put up!

Some thoughts:
  • Ben Gordon's performance, while amazing, needs perspective: he's up for a new contract next season. Every shot he's taken in the last two minutes of a game gave me a heart attack. Please don't overpay him.
  • Ray Allen, on the other hand, just gives me chills. He's a cold blood assassin. Only Robert Horry has given me similar chills in the past years.
  • Vinny Del Negro cannot coach
  • Doc Rivers cannot coach in the last minute of a game - luckily, he has Ray Allen
  • Derrick Rose is absolutely ridiculous - he can go anywhere on the floor he wants, even against Rondo
  • Forgotten men: Kevin Garnnet, Luol Deng
2nd round we go. Go Celtics!

And tonight I will have a little Red Sox Yankee action if it doesn't get rained out!


MOMA visit

My first museum visit in New York City. For the number of times I've been to New York, it's actually quite shocking how I haven't been to a museum yet. During my Europe trip, I developed a taste to take pictures (See pictures from museums in St. Petersburg and Paris) inside museums. Finding the hidden art within an art is quite fun.

In fact, when I was taking pictures, my friend PL who went with me asked why I was taking pictures from the side. Well, if you do it from the front (like the following Van Gogh and Matisse paintings), there isn't much besides "here's the painting".

Van Gogh's postman... (forgot his name) he picked up VG from the hospital after he cut his ear off

Well, I was asked (more like challenged) to find PNGF's favorite painting in the MOMA. Here's my final answer: Dancers, by Matisse. And yes, I was right.

Here's another Matisse piece. Notice the painting behind the sculpture: it's Matisse's studio... which has the same sculpture in it! Pretty cool picture, I thought. Oh, and I used my Benro monopod for the first time. Not the best way to get stable pictures though, but I guess it's good enough.

MOMA only had one piece of Monet... but it was a big piece. Having a person looking on from the side gives it a better sense of size. Too wide even for wide angle lens!

When I saw this painting, I immediately thought I liked it a lot... and now I can't believe I thought that. It was a Joan Miro piece. Arg... I went to Miro's museum in Barcelona and really wasn't impressed.

One reason I don't enjoy contemporary art is this:
Here's another reason:
The weirdest thing is that MOMA anticipated my feelings (certainly not just me!) and had a narrative for another piece of contemporary art: so modern art is more abstract (me thinks plain and simple) because back in the days, people didn't have many different perspectives and their senses were relatively simple. Hence an impressionist painting was a big step forward for the audience. Nowadays, people have much more art experience and utilize more of their senses... therefore artists turned to more abstract forms to express those senses. I.e. to challenge their audience.

Um... I guess that makes sense. I think more of it is famous artists thinking if they can fool the world by making pieces of crap. And yes, they did fool the world. In the narrative for the above red thing, the person says "it wasn't until years later where people finally appreciated..." I think it's cus people stopped arguing on whether it was good or crap instead.

When I saw this piece of sculpture, my first instinct was that this was an Aussie artist... to my disappointment, when I looked at the description, it was an American artist. Oh well. But then when I started to listen to the audio guide, it says that the piece is named "Australia". See, my instincts were right! (too many trips to Australian bars in HK)

This one reminded me of the Chu Ming pieces I've seen in Taiwan last month. More like a fake.

I wasn't overly impressed by MOMA's art. Seems like the collection were mostly donated, which could explain why it was so limited. A Van Gogh here, a Monet there, a few Matisse, and that was about it. There were more exhibits on the first few floors but were more modern art (MOMA, duh!) and didn't interest me too much. I guess I need to head to the MET some day!


Stars in New York

I forgot to mention that the day before, at Peter Luger, our waiter informed us that Adrian Brody was also in the restaurant. My friend PC went to take a picture with him.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon in MOMA. I'm not a big fan of contemporary art, but MOMA had some impressionist paintings, so I will entertain it. More on this another day.

And when I walked pass Cartier nearby MOMA, clearly there was something going on. I took my camera out and took a few pictures, and then some guy tapped me on my shoulder...

Posted by Picasa

Are you a paparazi? What's going on? Who's in the crowd?

Um... maybe my facial hair did me in.