Who Named This Storm Nemo?

I found Nemo by DaugaardDK from FlickrThis past Friday a massive snow storm hit the east coast. The name of this storm was Nemo. I am not the first person to note how ridiculous this name is, nor will I be the last, but come on. Who doesn’t think of a cartoon clownfish when they hear that name? I can’t even count how many photos I saw on Twitter of people shunning their Nemo stuffed animals because they were pissed at the storm.

Norman. There’s a good name for a winter storm. Creepy and subtle and hiding its dead mother in the attic. That’s got winter storm written all over it.

Anyway, I went out first thing Saturday morning with my camera and  my new tripod to try and grab some shots of the snowfall. Ironically the massive amount of snow meant that going into the park wasn’t going to happen, the cuffs of my jeans were frozen solid just by walking down the sidewalk, and most of that had been shoveled. Trekking into the ungroomed park? No.

Plus, this was my first tripod experience so I really was spending a lot of time figuring out what I had to unscrew where to make different things tilt. Ideally with a tripod I can shoot with a nice slow ISO and a high aperture value because I’ll have the stability needed to avoid blur due to the large time such shots will take. This should give me high detail and large depth of field. And, from what I can remember from high-school art class, the highest aperture setting should equal a depth of field of infinity.


I’m still tinkering.

Here are a few shots from Saturday. Click through for larger views.

Icicles 71st Street after Nemo
Central Park West facing North after Nemo

Central Park West facing south after Nemo

Recent Photographs

So I’ve been taking a lot more photographs than usual lately. I made a New Year’s Resolution to take my camera out with me more and I’ve actually been doing a pretty good job of keeping up with that. I also go to a lot of bars. So the end result is a lot of pictures from bars…well and some other places.

At any rate, I always find it amazing how easy it is to share my work on the internet, and yet how difficult it is to share my work. Most people know to come here for my words but I have my photographs up at Tumblr and Flickr (I just noticed the use of “r” with no vowels before it to end both those words…I don’t understand how the internet names things). Actually some of my pics have been pretty popular in those circles but I don’t know if those people looking at them there are the same people looking at them here and, well, whatever I figure every once and awhile posting some popular pics here isn’t a bad idea.

Plus, I’ll remind you that you can either check out my Flickr photostream here.

Or you can check them out on Tumblr here.

So according to the will of the people here are the most popular pics. Please click through for larger views.

Here is a beer (cider actually):

Magner's Irish Cider

Here is a bar sign:

Neon Bar SignHere is a three olive martini:

Three Olive Martini

Here is the 59th Street Bridge:

59th Street Bridge

Here is a vodka tonic:

Heaven is a vodka tonic

Here are some Gray’s Papaya hot dogs:

Gray's Papaya hot dogs

Here is a bird’s nest in a traffic light:

Bird's Nest in a Traffic Light

And here is some traffic on Park Avenue:

Traffic on Park Avenue

Tons more stuff up at the sites I mentioned above and, if I can keep up with my New Year’s resolution, more to come.

New York BBQ Festival

This past weekend was the New York BBQ Festival. I went and stuffed my face. This is one of those things that my group always talks about going to but then never does. This year I’m happy to say we made it, though I do have to recommend arriving at around 11:00.

I go there five minutes before everyone else and managed to eat a fried blackberry pie while waiting. Then I wept openly on the sidewalk. God that pie was good.

Sadly I ate it too fast to photograph, but here are some other shots. Most of them are fuzzy due to smoke…which is awesome.

Here we have the world’s greatest traffic sign:

Here is a proud member of the BBQ family alongside his tools:

Here we have delicious, delicious sausage being grilled:

Here’s an old pro serving up some pulled pork sandwiches (these were the most delicious things I tasted all day by the way):

And the following are various signs on various smokers. Apparently BBQ enthusiasts also love word play:

Fantastic day, was home napping and full of meats by one.

And, again, I have to recommend showing up early. This was taken at maybe 12:30:

Not a seat to be found.

Man those sandwiches were good…

SnOMG 2010

So it snowed here last night. A lot. Like a whole lot.

Here’s a picture of Columbus Avenue. I realize that not all of you are from this area, but oftentimes on avenues like this in New York you can see something known as “cars” driving around. Especially at 8 in the morning.

And speaking of cars. Who wants to play a quick game of “Spot the Car?”

Hint: it’s under the snow.

You know it’s bad when you see lunatics like this roaming around:

It snowed so much that it’s still snowing even after it’s stopped snowing. You think you’re in a peaceful snow-hushed landscape and then a gust comes down the street and you get pelted in the face with ice. Stupid wind.

Here’s a nice picturesque scene (ten seconds later this guy was pelted in the face with ice):

And, finally, I feel obligated to point out that my bodega is open. God bless those guys:

Happy Holidays

I went out this morning hoping to take some photos of the city at Christmas time but without snow and without wanting to walk down towards cursed Midtown I didn’t quite manage many holiday shots. Also I was up crazy early.

So instead I have moody, mid-winter pictures.

Which are also nice.

You can click on any for a larger view, as always.

And one shot with a little brightness.

If these look a bit familiar it’s because these are all from nearby my apartment and I’m sure I’ve shot some of these locations before. I sort of have a thing for taking similar shots at different times of the year. Like this.

So no holiday cheer for me this morning but a nice mellow batch of photos instead.

Hope everyone’s celebrations around the solstice are going well.

And now it’s time for egg nog…

Last Sunday’s Cooking

The pots were rallied and the pans were rounded up again this past weekend for some more adventures in cooking.

If you ever cook anything anywhere for anyone, always start with one of these:

No matter how badly you mess up the rest of your meal, people will remember the delicious cheese and olives.

The rest of the menu was very simple. Normally I like to cook 80,000 dishes and take over my friends’ apartments for hours on end, but this time there were only three dishes. Although they did take lots of time and space so that was good.

The simplest was a zucchini pancake:

Shredded zucchini was salted heavily and allowed to sit in a colander for twenty minutes to purge out moisture. Then it was wrapped in cloth and squeeeeeeeeezed to get more water out. Then some beaten egg whites (soft peaks) were folded in with some seasonings, flour and sugar. Finally it was pan fried in oil. Very nice. And no I don’t have a picture of the final product. That would make too much sense.

The second dish was osso buco. This sounds crazy fancy but it’s just veal shanks seasoned, dredged in some flour and seared off in oil:

These then get transferred to a dutch oven. Actually you can brown the shanks in the dutch oven to start with but there was some pan confusion so that didn’t quite happen. Anyway, deglaze what you can with chicken stock and some wine, throw in your normal trinity and some fresh herbs (rosemary makes things happy) and put into a 350 degree oven for about two hours making sure the liquid in the pan covers the shanks. Pull when fork tender.

The final dish was insane and wasn’t actually my department. My friend made raviolis. Home made raviolis. Like the pasta was from scratch.

Isn’t that pretty? Flour and eggs and a pasta roller and you get these nice sheets of pasta. They then get cut:

This basically amounts to slave labor, constant kneading and rolling and sheeting and cutting. But it’s fun. There’s a lesson there about the nature of work and your attitude towards it but never mind that because here’s the crazy part: the raviolis were BEET raviolis.

Baked beets were shredded. And yes I know this looks terrifying:

Then they were mixed with ricotta and seasonings. And yes I know this looks trippy:

Then the ravs were stuffed creating an army of scalloped pasta to do one’s bidding:

Pretty weird looking, rather labor intensive, very delicious.

A poppy butter sauce makes a nice finish.

Also you should drink wine.

Like a  lot of it.

New York Before Dawn

Writing a book is strange work. You compile hours and hours over the course of a year, maybe a year and a half, and throughout that entire time you barely have anything to show for it. You can give “sneak peaks” out or show people your progress in other ways, but that isn’t exactly real. An outline is not a book. A chapter is not a book. A summary is not a book. A book is a book and that is all. A year, a year and a half, and all that time your life is constantly moving past.

I woke up at 5 this morning after some nightmares and began to feel panicky that after all of this work my book wasn’t going to be any good, which is a common fear, or that certain scenes weren’t playing out right, or that my rewrites would never end. Rather than sit around with those thoughts for company I went and walked around in a misty pre-dawn New York and snapped some pictures. That always clears my head (you can click on any for a larger view).

Writing is very strange work…

…and it makes you wander about alone…

…through the empty New York morning.

Pork and Earl

Normally after I cook things I try and get some pictures of the dish and provide some semblance of a recipe to share with you all. At least, that’s what I decided I would do after my last cooking excursion. I shall be known as that cook guy who also writes books.

As I mentioned last week, my big Labor Day attempt was going to be the making of pulled pork.  However, I didn’t get a whole lot of  pictures of the food that was made. I did get a lot of pictures of the sorts of waves a hurricane stirs up when it’s passing by miles away, as that is precisely what Hurricane Earl was doing. So we’ll do a sort of hodge podge here of pictures of waves and descriptions of pork and it will make perfect sense.

First, here is what I drank:

I love that picture and I think Maker’s Mark or Canada Dry should buy it off me.

As for cooking, and as I just said, the main dish was pulled pork. I had to go with cooking in a normal oven as my smoker has been banned from my family’s house. But it turned out marvelously. Not that I have any real recipes to come away with, but I learned a lot about the various techniques. First I brined the pork:

I basically kept putting salt into water until it tasted brackish to me. This measurement means a lot more than cups and gallons as I can never remember that, but I will remember how salty the water tasted. Then I dumped in sugar until it wasn’t horrible to taste. Then I soaked the pork shoulder for about fifteen hours. I think I could go ahead and soak for much longer as well as add some spices to the brine. The finished product, while delicious, could have used some added seasoning and brining supposedly lets the flavors in the soaking liquid fill up the inside of the meat. I’m told that purists don’t like to brine pork shoulder as they prefer a milder flavor and brining tends to make things taste “too much like ham.” But it’s my damned pork and I wanted more saltiness so a longer soak next time I think.

Then I made up a spice rub and applied it:

No idea what was in it. I smelled the spices I had until I had a pungent, spicy mess of powders which I then coated the meat with once I had removed it from the brine.  I let this sit for awhile in an attempt to brine the meat and dry rub it…no idea if that’s legal but it’s what I did. I’m not entirely sure how much this added as I had to use a semi-wet cooking method so all the spices might have simply dripped off in the oven. I would probably pay more attention to my brine next time and less to my rub. But I wouldn’t cook my meat naked, either.

Then I put the pork into a disposable roasting pan and threw in some quartered onions and some celery. Then I added some Maker’s Mark and water. Not a lot, maybe enough until the liquid came half an inch up the sides of the pan:

Next I set the oven for 250 degrees, covered the pan in foil and let her sit in there for about nine hours. The resulting meat was utterly wonderful. It was so tender that I didn’t really pull or shred it so much as tap it with a spoon and watch it dissolve into moist pieces of pork:

And that’s really it. A simple easy recipe. Once shredded, the meat was wonderful by itself or spread on a potato roll with a slice of swiss cheese to top it.

Bon appetit!

The Jersey Shore after Hurricane Earl


Haha…I wrote the headline for this post when it was just a blank document. It tickled me then; now I can’t bear to change it to something less 24-Hour-News-Cycle.

Anyhoo, the tilt of the earth’s axis has brought more direct rays of the sun to the northern hemisphere resulting in the season known as Spring. Following a hunch I went out to the park over the weekend to see if I could capture this “Spring” in photographs.

I was hopeful when I first left my building as the street was lined with these (you can click for larger sizes on any of the photographs):

The only problem was that was really the best of the bunch. I mean there were some other flowers out, like daffodils:

But I hate daffodils. They’re so prim and proper and stiff with their stupid stalks and overly ornamental petals. I mean, lighten up, daffodils.

Daffodils are like Nature’s annoying friend who can’t just drink his soda out of the can like everyone else. Oh no, daffodils need a glass and ice and a coaster and they sit there thinking they’re better than you in their tuxedo while you eat Pringles crumbs off your shirt.

And there were tons of forsythias out. But who cares about forsythias? They’re everywhere.

I like this shot, though,because it looks like the green bush is consoling the yellow bush while the yellow bush throws up over the wall. You all see that too, right? Yes? Good.

Then again forsythias made me take this picture, which I really love. It’s one of those Couldn’t-Plan-It-In-A-Million-Years shots. The boys just started climbing while I was shooting the forsythia. I call it, “The Boys Who Just Started Climbing While I Was Shooting The Forsythia.”

And there was a ton of white out, especially in the trees. This shot reminds me of that Seurat painting with the lady with the big butt:

This one:

I think they called them “bustles.”

I really only found a few spots of colors other than white and yellow. Like these guys:

But they were rare.

Is there some sort of rule about when certain colors bloom? Like maybe there’s a rhyme? Something like:

“In early Spring you get yellow and white, but later on other colors delight.”

I’m not saying we need to start teaching it at pre-school or anything but if it’s true it’d be nice to know because the big guns were most certainly not out yet.

See this?

Those trees in the background are supposed to be exploding with crazy pinks and reds and blossoming goodness.

They’re not.

In the end the picture I took which summed up my feelings best was this one:

Yeah, you can fly a kite in this weather…but it ain’t Spring.

Not yet.

Maybe we’ll revisit this again in a few weeks.

Snow Day

Snowmagaddon was predicted for here in New York yesterday. The same thing was predicted last weekend and we got exactly zero inches of snow. This time around we got some weather and, expecting epic levels of powder, I took my camera around with me whenever I went out during the day to document, you know, stuff and things.

Out for morning coffee I took a detour through the park and was duly impressed. You can click on any of these for a larger view.

There were even sections of the park where you could sort of zoom in and, presto! You were in a snowy woodland.

And even at eight in the morning there were children at play. Or tourists. Same difference.

And then of course, because people are insane, there’s this lady.

That was the scene whilst out for morning coffee. I really thought we’d have something. Then a few hours later I went out for lunch.

The snow hadn’t kept up the pace.

I mean it’s obvious that a storm has come through but it’s not exactly Doctor Zhivago out there now is it?

Here’s my favorite New York City landmark, Gray’s Papaya, covered in literally centimeters of snow.

I don’t know. It’s early afternoon as I’m writing this. I guess if it picks up again and goes on throughout the day it might turn into something, but right now I’m not impressed by this storm.

I am, however, impressed by the fact that the reflective paint used on police cars apparently makes them look really cool when photographed at high speeds.

I leave you with the time traveling cop car.

Okay. Update. I went out for dinner.

My Big Mouth: 0

Crazy-Ass Storm: 1

It most certainly picked up throughout the day.

Here’s the park, the benches to the right were the same benches I photographed in the morning.

So…Thus far I give it a 7 out of 10. It’s no blizzard of two-thousand but it has a beat and I can dance to it.

And it’s still going strong. We’ll see where we end up.

But I ain’t going back out there.