Saturday, December 18, 2010

More Movie Quickies

I saw The King's Speech last weekend, which I highly recommend. If anything, I thought it ended too soon, which is a rarity in movie-going, isn't it? Usually, they seem to go on way too long - go see Burlesque and you will know what I mean!

While on the topic of movies, I was thinking the other day about this new trend in movies and TV where studios seem to be buying the rights to, heck, just names of stuff, and then making a film or TV show based solely on that name. Here's one example: Battleship - The Movie. Did you heard about this? They actually bought the rights to the game I used to play as a kid (and which apparently is still popular) Battleship, to make a movie out of it.

From Ain't It Cool News: "Universal has made a deal with Hasbro to make a shit-ton of their board games into movies."

The other one, which I am sure more people have heard of or seen, $#*! My Dad Says. This show is based on a Twitter feed where a kid tweets the funny things his father says. Apparently, it's doing pretty well.

What irks me about this is the fact that the studios are paying millions of dollars for the rights to these names. And really, they couldn't just come up with the concept about a movie about a Battleship on their own? Did they have to make a multi-million deal with Hasbro for that?? And $#*! My Dad Says - they couldn't just come up with a TV show about funny stuff someone's dad said to them?

What they are really paying for is the audience's familiarity with the names of these board games and twitter feeds. Which, if you think about it, is a rather sad commentary on the following:

1. The sophistication of the audience. Are they so easily manipulated, and so easily entertained, that making a movie with the name of a board game they already know means they will go see it??

2. How incredibly fearful of failure the executives at movie and TV studios must be today to have gotten to this point: that they can only make stuff with the Barest Minimal Chance of Failure at the Box Office or In the Ratings. In other words, having to pay millions of dollars for the rights to the names of nouns (like a battleship), or an everyday experience (like having your dad say something funny). Sad, especially when you think of the good those millions of dollars could have been put to in a society and a world that so desperately needs it.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I Give Up... For Now

That's it, no more snow predictions from me on this blog. Now the latest models have the storm a possibility again for this weekend, and then another snowstorm mid-week. So I now make this pledge: no more blogging about potential snowstorms until it is actually snowing here in The Hills. Right. We'll see if I am able to stick to that promise.

In any case, I am dreaming of a White Christmas, and I am sure so are these guys above.

Egads!

Another snowstorm missed !! The storm is now expected to miss us completely. Will we have a White Christmas here in the Hills? It is looking less and less likely... for now!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Get The Snow Shovels Ready?

I know I may sound like the Boy Who Cries Wolf, but just read the updates and it looks like the snow storm that has been on-again, off-again for later this weekend is back on again and perhaps in a big way.... we shall see!

A Carless Culinary Trifecta

For those of you in Forest Hills or nearby who are looking for a convenient way to do your holiday food shopping, I have figured out a great way. And guess what? You don't need a car! If you are like me, one of the many residents of Queens and Forest Hills who does not have a car, you no longer have to pine with jealousy at all those suburban-sized stores you hear about from your car-possessing neighbors. Here is my holiday shopping trail, just for you carless (and just think about it, no traffic, no feeding meters, no parking tickets, etc...!) :

First, hop on one of those shiny new F trains at 71st/Continental. Sit back, read, relax, enjoy your subway ride and in about 25 minutes pop out at the 23rd St./6th Avenue stop in Manhattan and you will find yourself in gourmet food wonderland, with three of the best stores just a block or so away!

Your first visit: Eataly, the gigantic new Italian food superstore at the corner of 5th Ave and 23rd. I love their incredibly fresh rustic bread (about $5) which I run in and out to grab whenever I am in the area, but this place is brimming with tons of Italian specialties from pasta to fish, hundreds of sauces, desserts, cheeses, meats, the list goes on and on. And you can sit down and eat there too if you like, they have like 5 different restaurants.





Next, walk one block over to 6th Avenue and a block or so south, where you will find between 21st and 22nd the newest Trader Joe's. Unlike the Forest Hills Trader Joe's down near Metropolitan Avenue, this one is actually easily accessible to those of us without cars! (Go figure, we can't shop at the one right here in Forest Hills, in our own neighborhood, but the one in Manhattan we can easily get to via subway. Just one of the quirks of city life I guess!) Anyway, this new Trader Joe's is much bigger than the one on the outskirts of Forest Hills anyway.




And finally, walk a couple of blocks north to 25th St. and a block west to 7th Avenue and there you have the final stop on my Carless Culinary Trifecta Trail: Whole Foods!



So, there you have it. Who said you need to have a car to live in Queens?? One quick and cheap 25 minute subway ride away and you are in the middle of the best holiday food shopping there is! And you didn't have to get stuck in traffic to get there!! Enjoy, and happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Branding Brooklyn

Maybe Queens and Forest Hills needs a little more of this? Maybe not? What do you think? What local stuff could we turn into a brand? How about: Genuine Queens Mothballs - Tested by Native Queens Octogenarians. Or Genuine Forest Hills McMansions: Bringing a Touch of Third World Europe to First World USA?

From The Times:

DINING & WINE
Brooklyn: The Brand
By STEVEN STERN
Published: December 14, 2010
Small restaurants and large companies alike are hitching their wagons to Brooklyn’s D.I.Y. chic.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hair For Ever? Apparently Not!

Sorry, but I just had to repost this one with the headline I should have used last week when I originally reported the demise of this hair salon on Austin!

I walked by it and a sign says the place has been closed by the city, but I didn't catch for what infraction.

Anyway, one salon down, 500 or so to go here in The Hills!

Survey Reveals 'Ethnic Surge' to the Suburbs

N.Y. / REGION
Region Is Reshaped as Minorities Go to Suburbs
By SAM ROBERTS
Published: December 14, 2010
The American Community Survey offered a snapshot of a decade of racial and ethnic changes in the New York area.

Also, from the article:
"The non-Hispanic white population swelled on the Lower East Side and in Harlem, Washington Heights, Clinton Hill and Bushwick, but declined in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and in Rego Park, Queens. Asians increased in Forest Hills and Flushing, Queens, and in Bensonhurst."

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Last Day At The Forest Hills OTB

....  told beautifully, and quite sadly, by The Times:

N.Y. / REGION
A Hole in Old Routines After OTB Parlors’ Last Day
By MICHAEL WILSON
Published: December 13, 2010
As bettors collected their winnings, regulars mourned the loss of a favorite hangout in one of the last New York City OTB parlors to close.

For those of you who are so eager to see OTB close, think of it this way—instead of heading on down to the OTB, the next generation will most likely do their gambling in the confines of their own homes, via their computers, over the internet. Probably without the friendly camaraderie that comes from years of the same old daily routine. Possibly with no one to warn them when it's time to stop.

Holiday Scenes

Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center

Inside our very own Irish Cottage.


The Plaza Hotel

Lincoln Center

Walmart Won't Waver

From The Times:
Published: December 12, 2010
Despite previous retreats in the face of community opposition, Wal-Mart is seeking sites in the five boroughs. 
Wal-Mart is looking at properties in each of the five boroughs and has hired Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s former campaign manager, Bradley Tusk, to help coordinate its lobbying efforts.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Harold & Kumar Go To Forest Hills

The shoot for Harold & Kumar 3 will be taking place on Austin St. near Ascan this Tuesday.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

12/17 Christmas Fundraiser Concert To Help Restore The Historic First Presbyterian Church of Newtown - Relic of Lost History of Queens!



The historic First Presbyterian Church of Newtown NEEDS YOUR HELP! All are invited to a Christmas Concert & Restoration Fundraiser on Friday, December 17th at 7:30 PM at the church, on the south side of Queens Blvd & 54th Ave in Elmhurst, near the Grand Ave subway entrance. For more information, contact: 

Church Historian Marjorie Melikian: (718) 897-5668 
Preservationist Michael Perlman, Chair of Rego-Forest Preservation Council & Queens VP of 4 Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance:
 (917) 446-7775, unlockthevault@hotmail.com http://regoforestpreservation.blogspot.com/2010/12/1217-christmas-fundraiser-concert-to.html

This church is endangered not by developers which have recently undermined the integrity of historic religious institutions, but is endangered since it is in need of some major repairs to its 1895 building, including weatherproofing, electrical work, roofing, refinishing, and the cleaning and repair of stained glass. Although there is no admission fee, a free will offering will be collected, to benefit the restoration and upgrades of one of Queens' greatest "Landmarks at heart!" Please help by spreading the word, and bringing your family and friends.

The concert is a joint venture of the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown choir with another choral group, known as the Harmonious Chorus. It will be directed by Victor Lui, and the organist is Kiyomi Kimura. Refreshments will be served afterwards.

The First Presbyterian Church is a greatly intact Gothic brownstone masterpiece with a bell tower, has a 358 year-old congregation, and was an engineering marvel as the 5 million-pound church was moved 125 feet in the 1920s, to spare it from demolition during Queens Boulevard's widening.

At the conclusion of the concert, the church's old bell from 1788 will be rung. It was installed in their 4th  church building, erected in 1791, just after the American Revolution. It replaced their 3rd church, which was desecrated by British soldiers and demolished. The bell survived the destruction of that church by fire, and the moving of the present church a half block in the 1920s, which caused the loss of its original huge steeple. The bell has witnessed significant historic moments in Queens. The bell was originally in an edifice on a single-lane dirt road, with horses going by. The current church was built on a double-lane dirt road. Both the single and double lanes are now bustling Queens Blvd.

The congregation began in 1652, and is one of the oldest in New York City. Originally a community church, it became officially Presbyterian in 1715. It was founded in the wilderness (now Elmhurst) of the Dutch Colony of New Netherlands, and has survived war, invasion, and religious and political persecution. The bell and church are symbols of the lost history of Queens, and have withstood the test of time. Your help is most crucial towards preserving this historic site for future generations to cherish.

A rare and unique history of the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown, composed by Church Historian Marjorie Melikian of Rego Park, NY: http://www.fpcn.org/history/

Postcards and photo documentation by Michael Perlman, Chair of Rego-Forest Preservation Council & Queens VP of the Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance, is below and on flickr:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/8095451@N08/sets/72157605752409722/

Interior of the Gothic sanctuary towards the altar.

Looking out from the altar towards the balcony.

One of the church's many enriching stained glass works.

The 1895 First Presbyterian Church of Newtown is moved during the 1920s, and Queens Blvd is expanded to its current size today. The congregation and riggers worked diligently to spare the church from demolition, and this could potentially be the largest and heaviest building ever moved in New York!
A rare glimpse of rural Queens Boulevard with the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown & humble frame houses. The church's original huge steeple doubled the height of the building, and was sacrificed during the move. ~ Courtesy of the Michael Perlman Postcard Collection.

More stained glass beauty of the 19th century. They sure don't make 'em like they used to!

Spiritual scenes transcend from the artist's vision to reality.

An 1895 Gothic masterpiece is a one & only encounter on Queens Blvd! Visualize farmland with frame houses mere steps from this edifice 115 years ago.

John Goldsmith Payntar left $70,000 in his will for the new 1895 church building. "Payntar Memorial" is inscribed above the entranceway. Stained glass windows and Gothic ornamentation create an empowering entry, which is complemented by its hand-carved wood doors with intricate brass handles. These are a few of many authentic features which merit restoration, before they are lost forever.

A closer eye on the Gothic facade with stained glass overlooking Queens Blvd.

The charming 1931 limestone & brick Church House annex on Seabury St consists of recreational facilities, performance space, and classrooms. It is also in great need of restoration and upgrades.




Friday, December 10, 2010

Rabble Rousers

What a perfect symbol of the mess we are all in, wasn't it? I mean, two of the richest people in the world driven blindly into the very heart of the global economic convulsions caused by the greed and selfishness of the richest people in the world? It's just too bad that it happened to Prince Charles because I happen to like him. He seems to be a decent man from what I have seen.

Why couldn't it have happened to W.? He's the one who lost all those British kids their free tuition by dragging the UK into his trillion dollar folly for oil, helping to bankrupt both us and them in the process. Think of how much that trillion dollars could have done - no need to raise tuition on the British kids, money for our schools and other crumbling infrastructure. The list goes on and on....

Thursday, December 9, 2010

OTB Update

For those of you wondering about the status of our OTB (the one off of Queens Blvd., near the T-Bone Diner), it is open today, and here is the sign on their door:

New Thai Restaurant

Snapped a couple of shots of the new Thai place, Mint's Thai Kitchen, on the lower level of the Austin St. Mall, and grabbed a menu. It looks nice. But I have yet to try their food. I hope to in the next few days. Sorry for the blurry pics, I was in a rush! But at least you can get a feel for what it looks like. If you click on the menu scans they will open larger so you can read them more easily.



Snow Still Possible, Then Bundle Up Weather

I just looked at the latest weather info and word is that we just might get enough cold air rushing in after Sunday's rainstorm to bring us some snow or ice Sunday night into Monday morning. We shall see.

But one thing that is pretty certain is that after the weekend storm departs, we get hit with arctic air - mid to upper 20's next Tuesday and Wednesday.

The First Cyberwar?

From The Times:

Hacker Threatens More Attacks on WikiLeaks Foes

LONDON — In a campaign that had some declaring the start of a “cyberwar,” hundreds of Internet activists mounted retaliatory attacks on Wednesday on the Web sites of multinational companies and other organizations they deemed hostile to the WikiLeaks antisecrecy organization and its jailed founder Julian P. Assange.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I'd Vote for Him in a Heartbeat

I have thought more and more that Mayor Bloomberg might be just the solution this country needs right now:

From The Times:
N.Y. / REGION
Bloomberg Urges Centrist Solutions to Nation’s Economic Woes
By MICHAEL BARBARO
Published: December 8, 2010
A speech in Brooklyn intensifies speculation about the New York City mayor’s political ambitions.

Koch Bridge

Hmmm... I guess I can get used to that. He deserves it.





I'm no expert on his accomplishments, but I do know it is hard to find a man who cares more about his city and its people:

New York bridge to be renamed for former Mayor Ed Koch

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Two Forest Hills

Just what the hell is going on with this horrible incident that happened at Bartini's bar at Station Square, the almost unimaginable beating death of Rosedale resident Haroon Walfall on Nov. 27? I have been browsing online and can't believe how an already horrible tragedy is starting to balloon into calls for more violence and bloodshed.

There are two Forest Hills - one that myself and every civilized person I know inhabit, and then another that seems to emerge late night/early morning at certain establishments in and around Austin St., especially on the weekends.

Someone is not doing their job here - whether it is law enforcement, our Chamber of Commerce, our local politicians, I don't know who. But I do know one thing: there is no room in Forest Hills for this crap. We all work too damn hard to live in this neighborhood to have people smearing its fine name with incidents of violence like this. Take it elsewhere if you have to do it. And Bartini's, move your freakin' bar somewhere else if this is the kind of environment you are going to be bringing to this neighborhood.

It's hard to find a neighborhood in New York City more peaceful or family-friendly than Forest Hills. It's one of the nicest parts of the city and its fine, hard-working citizens should NEVER have to be concerned for their safety as they walk the streets of their neighborhood, whether it is during a late night stroll on Austin on a Saturday night, or any other time.

So Long Salon?

My top-notch reporter sent me this today:

"The hair salon on the corner near 5 Burros looks like it has closed.  I've noticed the shelves looked empty the past few weeks and this morning I noticed all the fixtures have been removed. You know the economy is bad when a hair salon closes in Forest Hills."



Not To Be Missed....

From The NY Times:
MOVIES
By LARRY ROHTER
Published: December 6, 2010
Claude Lanzmann, director of the landmark 1985 documentary “Shoah,” discusses his enduring views on the Holocaust.

I had the opportunity to view this film, Shoah, in college, and see that it is now being re-released in theaters 25 years later. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. Believe it or not, it is something like 9 hours long, and when I saw it we went back two nights in a row in order to see Part 1 and Part 2.

It is unlike any other movie I have seen - the story of the Holocaust is told not through any actual historical footage, but purely through interviews with people who experienced it. The most chilling parts to me: the filmmaker goes into towns just outside the concentration camps and speaks with the villagers. Words really can't describe these scenes, you just have to see it.

It's one thing to hear about man's inhumanity to man. But this just might be as close -- hopefully -- most of us will ever come to actually experiencing it. Somewhere midway into this movie, I remember feeling like suddenly all the air was just sucked right out of the theater, it all just really hit me.

Here is a link to the DVD on Amazon if you want to purchase a copy for you and your family: Shoah [A History of the Holocaust] 4 DVD Set , Import, All Regions

File Under "Quite Useful Indeed!"

An iPhone app for the TKTS booth that tells users what Broadway shows are available in real-time:
New York's discount theater booth goes high-tech

Hey, We Can Dream Can't We?

An interesting take on the dream transit system of the future for New York: Transit Fantasyland: Improving service across NYC


Somehow, I think this is not on the list of the MTA's priorities though. However, I did notice that some of the escalators have finally been fixed. So maybe they can get cracking on that new subway line to Forest Hills!

69 Years Ago Today

Snow Update, or Lack Thereof

Well, for those of us wishing for a White Christmas or a whitish remaining day or two of Chanukah, etc.., the longer-term forecast is promising. But that mother of a snowstorm that was promised for later this weekend looks like it will be rather wet instead of white.

I am an extreme "snow enthusiast," you might say, having always loved snow since a kid growing up on Long Island. And, I suppose like NY Jets fans, of whom several members of my family have the misfortune of being, I am always continually frustrated each and every year.

I just said to a friend last night: "Sometimes it feels like New York City is the only place in the world where you can have bitterly cold air for weeks and weeks and no snow!" And to make it extra annoying, when the storms do arrive, suddenly it warms up and you get rain! Blech!

Oh, and one more thing... I know many people think last year was a snowy winter for us. I disagree. Sure, we had a series of Nor' Easters which gave us a lot. But there was just something off about it. It was like it would snow and then it would all melt in a few days, and then snow again. Uh-Uh. I want a Dr Zhivago snowy winter here. Where it snows every few days, even just an inch, and piles up...and piles up... slowly.... I can hear that theme song now....

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Big Daddy of a Storm?

My favorite weather man blogger is getting his Big Daddy hat out for the possibility of a major snowstorm in these parts around the middle of the month... We shall see! But I can barely contain my excitement!
18z GFS gives me Hope that I am on the right Track for a Major Big Daddy

And... it has a name!

The next Mexican-restaurant-to-be, next to the McDonald's on 71st/Continental, is called (drum roll please)...