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Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category

Enjoying the Easter Bunny?

Posted by evankessler on April 24, 2011

I saw this sign at a butcher shop. I didn't know eating the Easter Bunny was a thing. Happy Easter, enjoy your cooked Bunny.

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Christmas Eve in Atlantic City

Posted by evankessler on January 10, 2011

Bally's Casino

Image by Paul Lowry via Flickr

Christmas time brings about a dilemma for many a Jew Yorker. Though there are heaps of our ilk spread across the five boroughs, the Christian holiday is still often regarded as an opportune time for many people, chosen or not, to spend a few days visiting the lands from whence they or their significant others came in order to be closer to family or just warmer/different environs.

So with the holiday frost nipping at my heels and the prospect of being a lonely Jew on Christmas cooped up in my Brooklyn apartment with no one to play with–as many of my faithful and faithless friends took the low road out of town– I pondered my own brief escape from the frigid prison of cinema and Chinese food. I came up with a plan that amused me so.

ATLANTIC CITY!

I wasn’t so sure that the East Coast’s Las Vegas of depression (the west coast’s being Reno) was even open on Christmas Eve, but the more I pondered this plan, the crazier and more enticing it became. The last time I’d been to that particular stretch of the Jersey Shore, I’d emerged a winner to the tune of $800 (thanks Donald Trump!).  Being recently unemployed, I figured that kind of luck might do me some good in the wallet department. Plus, as someone who enjoys new and odd experiences, I figured you couldn’t beat a Casino on Christmas Eve in terms of depravity.

With two days ‘til Christmas, I spent a large portion of my evenings brushing up on Blackjack situations with digital outings on Yahoo! Games. And just when losing fake money began to cast serious doubt, my faith in the probability of reward was restored when both a TV show I was watching and a song I was listening to mentioned casino situations. These were sure signs that fate was calling me to that boardwalk without ill intentions.

When Christmas Eve morning came, I had a few things to sort out before I could make my AC run. Feed roommate’s cats, check; file unemployment claim, check; Stop at the bank and take out $200, check; turn off irresponsibility sensors, check! Atlantic City here we come!

Now one can’t magically teleport to Atlantic City just yet, but I’d be willing to invest any future winnings on the furthering of such technology as it would help to avoid the encounter with the cavalry of the downtrodden that line up for the buses that leave every half-hour from the Academy bus gates at the Port Authority of New York. It’s an assemblage of various financially-strapped but morbidly obese, blue-haired elderly, and faux-high rollers that spend $35 round trip hoping to meet the tattered-dress-wearing, cigarette-dangling, bleached-blonde version of lady luck who spends most of her time– be it summer or winter– on the Atlantic City boardwalk courting the lonely and desperate for one night stands. She may not be the sexiest girl in town, but you wouldn’t kick her out of bed–at least until the nicotine stench started to attach itself to your clothes and everything else in the room.

With teleportation yet to become an option, I endured the two-and-a-half hour slog down the 130-mile stretch of highway towards destiny. Contrary to popular myth, this bus ride wasn’t all sweet dreams and rose petals. The requisite discomfort that accompanies even the briefest stints on public transportation became apparent even before leaving the station as several passengers took the opportunity to relieve themselves in the bathroom. Not that this is the improper place to do so; it’s just that doing so that early into a road trip tends to give the recycled bus air that not so pleasant aroma with an undesirable immediacy, to be coped with throughout the entirety of the journey.

Not to be outdone in the malodorous bouquet department, the woman sitting next to me unveiled a fully dressed Subway sandwich reeking of pungent processed meat and vinegar; several strands of dried out, confetti-like lettuce hanging out from a compressed region of submarine sandwich siphoned the scent towards my nostrils, like an excited toddler shooting down a waterslide.

I knew what I was getting into before choosing to make this trip, but the accompanying misery of transportation had somehow presented itself as appeal. That misrepresentation was now abundantly clear. To combat my foul-scented surroundings I turned my focus to literary matters, having a copy of Mark Twain’s “The Innocents Abroad” at my fingertips and an iPod full of 9,000 plus options blasting distraction into my ears. My pilgrimage to personal gain had been gifted with a certain amount of tunnel vision, lest an unforeseen distraction should arise. The only thing resembling such a distraction were the two reasonably attractive ladies seated behind me, whose presence seemed quite the heavenly apparition in a bus full of degenerate gamblers hellbound for the holidays. I would’ve attempted to engage them, but they were enrapt in conversation from the get-go and they presented nary an entry point, so rather than butt-in, I minded my own.

From my previous experiences on the road to Atlantic City, I had always remembered the trip as being a straight shot without any stops, but this route suggested otherwise. The bus took refuge at a few New Jersey rest stops, the most amusingly named being the “Cheesequake” rest stop. The naming powers that be must have run out of inspiration while conjuring names to honor with fast food commerce for in the midst of such notable historical contributors as Vince Lombardi, James Fenimore Cooper, and Clara Barton they took a moment to acknowledge and appease the gods who might rain such a dairy natural disaster upon unfortunate turnpike travelers. Though, personally I may have gone with the more likely to occur Dark Chocolate Hurricane.

After more than 2 hours of cramped travel, the signs were encouraging. We could be getting closer to our destination, and just like came an actual physical road sign that alerted us that Atlantic City was nigh. The shame of it was that I had to put my book away mid-chapter, but the excitement and fortune that lay on the horizon were certainly worth it. The gambling haven was in plain sight. Our bus was scheduled to make the Showboat Casino its ultimate destination. I had never been to this particular establishment and was looking forward to it, if only because I spent the entire trip trying to figure out which song that I like contains a mention of “the Showboat Casino Hotel” (that would be Cracker’s “Happy Birthday to Me”).

When the bus pulled into the Casino’s individual station, the crowd sprung excitedly from their temporary perch ready to take the slots and tables (but mostly slots) by storm. Unfortunately, before anyone leaves the bus in this situation a Casino representative must be fetched so that they may present individual visitors with their $25 gambling coupon to be used only on slot machines. One young man–who had only taken the bus as transport to family for the holiday– was reprimanded by a few silver foxes when he tried to leave the bus for fear that he might get first dibs on the coupon. The prospect of one person gaining a gaming advantage had turned this cooped up bunch into a pack of petty, ravenous animals.

After 5 minutes more of waiting on the bus, the Showboat Casino representative arrived and people began to disembark, but with one new wrinkle– the bus was now stopping at Bally’s. Half of the passengers had had enough and made their cash grab where the bus stood, while the other half stayed on at the prospect of being let off at Bally’s. I was to be counted among the latter. It’s not that I necessarily had a preference towards one over the other, rather in my previous experience at Bally’s I remembered the coupon being recoupable for cash, which I preferred over having to spend $25 on slots. And if you’re playing 5ç slots with $25 to spare, that amounts to something like 500 slot plays, so you’d much rather have the cash.

Once the bloodlust for Showboat Casino coupons came to a close, our bus was cleared to make its final descent into Bally’s, where the coupon anticipation act repeated itself in a more civilized fashion, the only disappointment being that my remembrance of a $25 cash prize was, in fact, a mirage.  I entered the building with a Casino card and a ticket for $25 that I was told was to be slipped into the slot machine with an accompanying card. Despite several tries to convert my ticket to slot credits in the vast archipelago that is the Jackpot Islands, I was more or less lost in a sea of casino card technology. I took my leave for the cozy confines of a card table.

Scouring the Blackjack Table minimums I came upon several $15 tables that bookended those with $25 minimums. I found an end table with an open seat to my liking and peeled $120 out of my wallet. Mumundkumar, the friendly dealer, accepted my cash challenge, exchanging it for a fresh batch of $5 and $10 chips.

I can’t say things went bad or good for the first stretch. My tablemates and I were in a perpetual state of equilibrium; you win some, you lose some. Though there was a tender moment between myself and my immediate neighbor–a Plaxico Burress look-alike with a blinding diamond ring on his right hand– when we both hit on hands on 14 and 16 respectively only to be rewarded with a 7 and 5. The result was a celebratory high-five that was not at all awkward.

Excitement and camaraderie aside, the hands that Mumundkumar–or Mac as he preferred to be called– weren’t that kind to us. I was probably down $40 when his replacement, Xiao, took control of the card shoe. I didn’t fare quite as bad with this new dealer and I was somewhere around $30 in the black when Mac came back. The charade of false hope went on for another several minutes before I was down to my final $5 and had to dig out another Andrew Jackson in the hopes he’d veto the Impending Poverty Act of 12/24/10. But Mac’s next two hands pushed the bill through anyway.

Dejected and unsure of my immediate gambling future, I took to the boardwalk to suss out a food option and ponder the value in making further get rich quick attempts versus deciding to pack it up and cut my losses . Remembering that it was 6pm on Christmas Eve, I knew I’d have to scramble back towards a casino-sanctioned eatery to fill my poor belly. Luckily, I happened upon a Nathan’s and indulged in some of their famous fare before pulling myself up by my bootstraps and back onto the road of Atlantic City triumph.

I contemplated a move to the Taj Mahal, the site of my previous successful outing and took a stroll through Caesar’s Palace, but in my obsessive compulsive heart of hearts, I didn’t want to leave with the feeling that I had let Bally’s beat me. It didn’t hurt that I knew somewhere Bally’s had $10 minimum tables and those might stop or at least slow the hemorrhaging of money from my wallet. I decided to seek them out.

My search took me from the plain, classy wing of Bally’s to the gimmick-laden Wild West Casino extension, where there was a bar charging for $2 drafts just feet from any table where your alcohol was guaranteed free. I managed to locate the precious $10 tables in this region, but such tables were popular with other hard up folks. Instead, I plunked myself down at another $15 minimum table complete with a sexy-wild west lass emblazoned on the façade as Tim McGraw’s “Indian Outllaw” blared through the speakers.  I couldn’t see my dealer’s name, as her hair covered her nametag, but I figured I had plenty of time to be sociable and learn.

Mystery dealer was relatively friendly when it came to leaving my small fortune in tact; she may have even tacked on a 20-spot or two. All I know is that I had more than what I started with when I first cashed into the table and that made me less count conscious. Instead I was able to enjoy the ebb and flow of the game. You win some, you lose some; you don’t get too far down. After 40 minutes or so of ups outweighing downs, my new, somewhat profitable acquaintance took her leave never to return. In her place, arrived a somewhat more attractive dealer of Southeast Asian descent, with an overly friendly disposition.

Seated at a nearly perpendicular angle to her, I could not spy her nameplate and strike up conversation. I was waiting for her to spin towards me so I could grab a glance at her tag, only when she finally did she resembled her predecessor in that there was a stream of hair flowing over where I would normally spy her name. I did however catch a B and two L’s interrupted by her black strands. I assumed her name was “Belle” but couldn’t get over the thought that she didn’t look like a Belle or Bella or anything involving a B and two L’s.

As “Belle” continued to deal, my pile of chips began to look about as healthy and wealthy as a pile could look when using the wisdom of playing by the blackjack book. I had easily gained back my losses for the evening, if not broke into the black yet again.

The vibe of the table was an extremely positive one. Seated along with me were three African-American men of varying ages. One heavyset 20-something year-old that had the demeanor reminiscent of the local aged wise man whom had seen it all before. The next man was the actual elderly man, who while maybe not wise was certainly sleepy, and the third just a calm, cool and collected middle-aged guy who kept quiet but wasn’t above the occasional excitement. During our time together at the table it felt as though we were all amassing small fortunes. The table sage kept a running commentary of encouragement in a gentle, assuring tone throughout our tenure together even during tough hands.

“That’s okay. You played the hand right. It’s all gonna come back to you.”

“There it is. As long as you do what you’re supposed to do you’re going to come out a winner.”

“Alright, nice play. You got it, I told you.”

“You can’t help what happens with the dealer. Just play your game.”

With his positive demeanor, consistent flow Confucius-like wisdom and tee-ball coach encouragement, you’d think he was doing much better than he actually was. I didn’t notice it through the haze of good vibes he was sending everyone’s way, but he was actually losing. I soon realized he was betting more than the $15 minimum despite having at one point warned against going too high above it.  He ducked out for a few hands and exchanged another $20 for chips before saying his final goodbye to the table.

Somewhere in that final stretch of the near 2 hours spent being peppered with affirmations an older white gentleman joined the table, best described as a cross between Larry David and Alan Arkin, only severely lacking in affable nature and good humor. Upon the previous table cheerleader’s exit, he tried to assume the throne of table morale raiser. When 10s, face cards, or Aces were handed out to any player, he’d shout “that’s the name of the game” before the dealer displayed that players second card in the hope they’d been dealt a blackjack. It was an admirable attempt, but not exactly inspiring. And after hearing it two to three times during every hand it began to be somewhat grating–you might say slightly more grating than the Casino’s soundtrack of outdated pop songs, none of which post-dated early 2003.

Also joining the table, in the vacant middle slot, were a duo of older white southern gentlemen. I use the term “gentleman” loosely not to represent mannered men, rather to denote their being most likely in possession of male genitalia and on the verge of incoherent drunkenness. One of the pair was actually engaged in the game of cards, the other undertook the brotherly duties of propping him up and explaining to him that he couldn’t take action on other people’s hands. Their demeanors were also quite different. The soused and skinny senior Private Pyle was angry and unfriendly, while his bald and bearded buddy was a regular good time Charlie, laughing whole-heartedly at his friend’s expense in guttural bursts and exclamations in my general direction each time he chose to stay on 8 or hit on 19.

Their act grew tiresome and somewhat uncomfortable. The drunker and more ornery of the two frequently threatened violence against his friend if he didn’t let him play the way he wanted to play, while the more jolly one just got obnoxiously louder and more prone to pointing out his friend’s inadequacies. At one point a space opened up next to the drunker southerner and a young woman volunteered her chips to play there, but the Pyle shooed her away because he didn’t want the distraction of having to see her cards in his line of vision.

The uncomfortable vibe continued on through the alternating of two dealers. The lovely “Belle” with the pleasant demeanor was temporarily replaced by Anthony, a tall, crooked-toothed, salt-and-pepper jheri curl wearing dealer who wore his daddy issues on his sleeve– as evidenced by the fact he introduced himself by saying, “You can call me Anthony, or just call me a bum like my father used to.”

Anthony was a little clumsy with the cards, but he still did a somewhat admirable job. He may not have been the ideal casino dealer, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t effectively and consistently gather chips from the losing hands he doled out. My recently amassed fortune was slowly depreciating under his watchful eye, but had been cushioned enough and was periodically replenished so as not to induce panic. Anthony’s dealing inconsistencies caught up with him on one hand as “David/Arkin” decided he was going to split a pair of 9’s against the dealer’s 7. But before he could get to show his intentions, Anthony passed over him assuming he would stay as he was showing a winning hand. It wasn’t unjustified as most of us at that table wouldn’t have split that hand. It’s not what the book says to do and aside from drunk and disorderly to my right, we were all pretty much using that standard.

His presumptive split skipped over, un-fun David/Arkin let his displeasure be known in the most passive of manners, despite the fact that he had won the hand. Throughout the next hour-and-a-half or so he was a master of passive aggression, continually dropping hints that he would be a whole twenty-dollars richer if not for Anthony’s blatant disregard for his unlikely maneuvers. I believe there was even another dealing stint with “Belle” before Anthony returned and the entire situation came to a head, As the pit boss came to welcome another player to the table, Arkin mumbled something about Anthony owing him twenty bucks. The mumble grew to a grumble and ultimately to a roar.

The game was stopped and a debate raged with Anthony and the pit boss for ten minutes. The table all but cleared out and the grumpy gambler had won the day as he received a voucher for twenty-whole-dollars! The commotion managed to clear out most of the table including the pair of belligerent Dixie drunkards and the game resumed with Anthony still dealing. The instigator of the commotion was so utterly proud of his self, but realized that everyone else still present was mighty perturbed at the interruption. He tried to lighten the mood, justifying his actions as a means to an end for clearing out our unruly neighbors and wearing that like a badge. But at least they had created some laughable, if frightening entertainment.

“Belle” returned soon thereafter and proved to be a boon to my profits. I had managed to go from just above even to close to about $105 in the red for the evening under Anthony’s reign. But “Belle” bought back an air of calm to the table along with good fortune. When it threatened to be just me and the complaint department at the other end of the table, a boatload of Korean tourists quickly filled up the seats keeping us company for quite some time, followed by a Darius Rucker look alike that somehow managed to look younger while having a sprinkling of salt in his hair.

The latter sat with his girlfriend who when one of the Koreans dropped out found a spot at the table. It was during this relatively prosperous time I noticed “Belle’s” nametag again. I realized a “P” peaking out from behind her hair, ultimately coming to the realization that the dealer I’d come to know and love as “Belle” was not in-fact named Belle. I had only been reading the blanks surrounding B and L-L that went on to spell B-A-L-L-Y-‘S. It was a good thing I hadn’t felt comfortable enough to ask “Belle” any pertinent questions while mentioning her name. Then again, maybe I would have learned her actual name.

Despite my newfound lack of knowledge as to my friendly dealer’s first name, I pressed on in my quest to become more acquainted with an increasing amount of hundred dollar bills. My ultimate goal for the evening was to earn four-hundred-dollars or enough money to buy a new camera– preferably a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 or Canon Powershot S95, prior to my upcoming trip to New Zealand.

The David/Arkin hybrid soon left the table as did the Koreans and I found myself seated with Darius without his girlfriend to my right. The only wrinkle here was that Darius was not playing. He was watching me play, constantly applauding my decisions. It was a very awkward game of me vs. “Belle” with an enthusiastic audience of one.

Supremely confident in my blackjack skills, Darius started betting on my hands. If I bet $15, he’d put $15 more in my little circle. If I had to double down, he’d contribute to my double down pile. We were doing pretty well together. He continually used his winnings to tip the dealer and tip me. We regularly engaged in high fives and fist bumps when the thrill of victory arose and optimistic chatter when it didn’t. It was simultaneously thrilling and degrading. We were a team, but I was his lucky horse.  After a lengthy winning streak, I urged him to return to his own place at the table, as it was really awkward to play the dealer one-on-one like that. He did for a few hands and then said goodnight.

No one to play with, but the dealer and still with a goal in mind, I continued to battle “Belle” for my ultimate monetary reward. But the light sting of the occasional glass of bourbon and the heavy intake of above average oxygen levels began to have its effect on me. My eyelids, despite being told otherwise by the piping in of refreshing elements, had a heaviness about them– and a slight tinge of pain began pulsating within my temples.

I saw the money on the table, counting it at $380. That was $120 more than I had changed for chips. It wasn’t $400 plus, but it was a good haul. I pushed the entirety of my chips towards “Belle” signaling to her that I was done for the night and the morning– seeing as the clock at somehow managed to crawl to 2:53am.

“Changing $330!” screamed the friendly dealer to notify her pit boss.

Confused, I looked down at my chips certain I’d divided them into even piles and calculated the amount correctly. Then it hit me. At some point in the course of the evening the pile of 10 $25 chips suddenly morphed from $250 to $300 in my brain. She was right. It was only a $70 takeaway. While it was better than nothing, it was a definite disappointment.

I bid my new friend adieu and cashed in my non-fortune and headed towards the Bally’s bus port, reflecting on the past 12 hours. Had my AC outing been a success?

Well, let’s see; I had come in search of bizarre characters-check; holiday desperation-okay maybe a little bit; and a positive flow of cash into my wallet­–$70, could be worse. It would seem all my goals had been met, but a strange thing happened as I strolled through the last stretch of slot machines– I caught my a glimpse of myself reflecting on a flat stretch of metal illuminated by a dim, blinking display. I saw a tired, disheveled wreck of a 32-year-old whom traveled two-and-a-half hours to a casino on Christmas Eve to revel in the sadness of others and win enough money in order to buy a camera only to come up well short of his goal.  I was the exact person I had come to see.

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Pick Me!

Posted by evankessler on December 18, 2010

I’m off to yet another Yankee/White Elephant Gift swap for the holidays this evening. I don’t look at this so much as another opportunity to take home a $20 piece of crap that I’ll get absolutely no use out of (though last year’s cougarhead stapler was glorious), so much as it is a chance to show off my subpar gift wrapping prowess.

But what I lack in ability to fold paper and use tape, I try to make up for in my persuasive and creative use of the allotted blank space on my choice of wrapping paper, in this case, a copy of The Onion. I hope someone appreciates my little message in the crossword box, but if not, it’s they’re loss of a stellar gift.

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The Gifts That Keep On Giving

Posted by evankessler on December 15, 2010

Christmas gifts.

Image via Wikipedia

The holiday season is well upon us, and with it the practice of giving and receiving is in full swing. It’s not all Jane Seymour Open Hearts collection pendants, engagement rings from Jared, and big Mercedes-Benzes wrapped in bows; Lord knows in this time of recession it’s the little gifts that bring the biggest grins and –in some cases– the most pronounced, poorly-hidden frowns. Nowhere is this more apparent than the time-honored holiday party tradition of the Yankee/White Elephant gift swap. This convivial contemporary custom mixes the magic of the Secret Santa with the scarring occurrence of being present for a home burglary.

For those not familiar with the White Elephant gift exchange tradition, it entails that  guests of a holiday party all bring a gift within a specified price range, placing it upon arrival within the previously designated area– usually by a Christmas tree or Hannukah bush.The participating guests are then asked to pick numbers out of a hat (or similar receptacle) to determine the order in which they claim their gift. While it may seem those with the earliest numbers get the advantage this is not so. Though they may have the most gifts to choose from initially, they also have the better chance of having their gift stolen, for each subsequent gift getter has the option to steal a previous gift or open something new for their very own– that may eventually get ripped from their admiring grasp before all of the gifts are exchanged.

The most exciting aspect of this event is the potential for a rather rigorous volley of exchanges. Though some such gatherings are marred by less risky participants, the fun is amped up by those with a penchant for brazenly coveting the unwrapped prizes of others, who don’t mind crushing newfound materialistic attachments for their own selfish gain. These are the people that turn an exchange of both the crappy and cherished into a soul-crushing, rip-roaring good time.

Having been to two of these events in the past two weeks, I’ve mostly won out in my dealings, both times being bestowed with the number 5 pick. As you could well surmise, getting a good item at such a juncture would ultimately prove unfruitful, because whatever you would pick would subsequently be stolen. But even with the #5 pick, I generally managed to skirt the heartbreak of having precious items robbed from my person, mostly because I’ve not managed to secure any precious cargo despite having a vast array of shiny packaging to pick from on each occasion.

The first gift swap, which had a price limit of $5, saw me unwrap the gift of delicious foreign candy bars. While I find candy to be utterly delicious, it is entirely untrade-able as an entity of holiday cheer. With each successive pick, I attempted to entice the contestant with deliciously sweet treats to no avail. I can’t complain, I don’t think my own gift, a DVD of Roadhouse 2 starring not Patrick Swayze, was not being clamored for either.

Candy, Candy, Candy I Can't Let You Go–Because No One Else Wants You

Frankly, for such a cheap price point, the gift I picked may end up providing maximum utility, as it’s not more junk to keep around in my room that I forget I have for a year before I decide to throw it out. Rather, it gets eaten, and then it’s gone. That being said, I would’ve liked to have been involved in the trading fun.

My 2nd gift swap, which occurred this past weekend, had a slightly more substantial price point, boasting a limit of $20. I was almost assured a somewhat enjoyable gift, as the accent was placed on a “sillier the better” theme. I think my gift of a DVD boasting Police Academy movies 1-4 fit the bill rather well and would be enjoyed for the silliness by whoever wound up with it. When pick #5 came up this time around, I was fairly confident I’d wind up with the best gift that everyone would immediately be clamoring for. Despite going one pick after a well-thought out zombie survival kit, some of the contents which were not suitable for the one child in the room who eventually traded for it, I decided to roll the dice that my unwrapping skills would reveal something highly-coveted.

While my gift was a good one, it was severely lacking in humor. I enjoyed the film The Dark Knight, but was pretty sure I’d never watch it on DVD. The Batman figure that accompanied it, complete with masturbation hand movement, would just be another thing sitting in my room.

Again I desperately lobbied for a gift exchange, though I figured most of my friends already owned this movie or were in the market for something better. There was a skull and crossbones snuggie, a color-changing umbrella, and a children’s racecar driving game that all freely exchanged hands while I sadly displayed my more practical gift.

Then it happened. With one more pick left to made there was an endless gift exchange flurry. Save for all of the presents that had reached their exchange limit, it was a free for all as contestant after contestant decided to swap for already existing gifts rather than open that last wrapped enigma. The turn was in the hands of a ten-year-old and the crowd eager for the game to go on urged him to swap for something. I held out my Superhero-themed present, but made sure not to be naggy about it. Just like that, The Dark Knight disappeared from my grasp and I had a somewhat limited choice of things that had exchanged hands less than three times. That being said, I knew what I wanted.

Our host had been sadly trying to pass off what I thought were the best gifts of the evening. He sat there throughout the proceedings trying to coax each person to snag his newly acquired reading materials and in one fell swoop from my hands, that was achieved. I was now the proud owner of George W. Bush’s Decision Points and Sarah Palin‘s America By Heart, both “signed” by the “author.”

 

Consequently, My Least Favorite Photo I've Ever Been In

 

The final gift was gone a few minutes later and while mostly everyone was pleased with their takeaway, my bounty was quite the unexpected treat. Now, I’m not sure if or when I’ll get around to reading these shining beacons of American literature, but I suspect a conservative book club night at a local bar is in order.  Chapter 1: Quitting.

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Caliente en Coney

Posted by evankessler on July 20, 2010

These are the temperatures that try men’s souls. 90, 93, 87…when accompanied by a soup-like humidity and the promise of no escape or air conditioning they could prove to be the ruin of many a weekend.  The oppressive swelter blankets the body like an ill-advised trip to the sauna in a wool sweater. Fun and heat exhaustion seem to be mutually exclusive ideas at this point, but the reward for magnetizing the seemingly alien concepts with three days action-packed activity ends up being all the more gratifying when successfully carried out.

The center for much of this weekend’s polar attraction was a real freak magnet, Coney Island. Dotted with mysterious, fascinating beings of all shapes and sizes and all walks of life; at times a living, breathing, hypnotic train wreck; At other times a vast expanse shrouded in the promise of  undiscovered thrill and uncharted territory that often accompanies the exploration of a tomb of ancient relics.  Or maybe it simply served the purpose of alcohol central for those looking to relax and have a good time.

The latter was certainly the case on Friday afternoon as I traveled due South via the Q line from the 7th avenue Station in a race against time and my good friend Matt who had himself hopped aboard the F train at a similar time to reach Coney Island to get his 30th birthday proceedings off to an early start.

My determination to win the race to our meeting point hit an early snag when the Subway came to a 10-minute standstill at the Prospect Park stop due to some sort of emergency at the next station. I still had faith that I would arrive before or at the same time as Matt, but I had replaced my competitive edge with a more patient disposition. Besides, upon my arrival I was going to stop at Nathan’s and get a hot dog and cheese fries before high tailing it to the rendezvous point at the ever-so-famous Ruby’s Bar  & Grill on the boardwalk. It had all the makings of a classic day at Coney Island.

Midway through making my Nathan’s order at the corner of Stillwell and Surf, Matt called to notify me that he had won this time. I didn’t gracefully accept defeat. I held that we were at least tied because I had stopped at a convenience store and at Nathan’s since I’d been there. We called it a draw and I met him two minutes later with Cheese Fries in hand having gulped down my dog with onions and ketchup along the way.

I grabbed two Ruby’s Ambers at $7 a piece for myself and the birthday boy and started out our Friday afternoon working our way towards potential mental imbalance that goes with excessive heat and the dehydrating nature of too much alcohol. In a matter of minutes our party grew bigger to include Matt’s sister Brooke and their mutual friend Jackie. Having a taste for something other than beer they decided to break in the day’s festivities with a Vodka Tonic only to discover that the surly female bartender had more or less given them vodka on ice with a splash of tonic.  Their request for an accompanying lime was met with a harsh rejoinder of “no fruit.”  So there they sat, drinking their Vodka and ice as Matt and I enjoyed our tasty brews watching the crowd of summer beachgoers parade up and down the boardwalk.  The only thing missing was Matt’s wife Jenny who had unfortunately come down with the flu.  We remarked that as a nutritionist she’d probably be busy handing her card out to the nutritionally challenged majority who proudly flaunted their spare tires like baby kangaroos popping out of pouches, revealing them as offspring ripe for the tanning.

The crowd grew bigger yet and stayed true to the old adage, “the more the merrier.” Aleks, Marie, Abbi, Drew, Natalie, Jeff, Alix all came out early to celebrate before the evening’s main event, a baseball game featuring the Cyclones of Brooklyn as they took on the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.

The game itself was not the main event, rather it was the fact that our good friend Matt would be tossing out the first pitch on account of it being his birthday. Seeing as Matt, like myself was a lifetime Met fan he was thrilled to be throwing out the first pitch for their minor league affiliate and still even more thrilled to get the chance to meet their manager, Wally Backman, a pivotal member of the ’86 Amazins.

Brooke, Matt, and Jackie enjoy a few sips of Shapely Piña Coladas

As we sat and sipped our drinks Matt ran through his scenarios while drinking a Pina Colada through a red tube shaped like a lady with curves in all the right places, figuring out what he would say to Wally. I maintained that I didn’t think there would be a chance  he’d get to meet him, but he would never know until he went down there.

Matt and Marie split off from us at 6:15pm so he could prepare for his pitch. It was actually pretty endearing. Matt had his glove and was desperately yearning for a few practice pitches even though he had no ball. We sat around for a few more minutes until Marie sent a text message giving us our marching orders to head for MCU Park.

As we rounded the side of the stadium we heard an announcement about a first pitch being thrown out by someone else. Determined not to miss Matt’s pitch as it was pretty much the sole reason this idea was chosen for his birthday party, I broke into a bit of a jog to get into the stadium on time and what do you know…as I descended the steps behind home plate shortly after my entrance, this is what I saw:

Matt Slings It Right Down the Pipe...But A Little High

The rest of the game was kind of an enjoyable breeze. Our party grew bigger to include 25 plus people including but not limited to Arby, Sam, Chris, Pete, Zak and Emma. The ‘Clones jumped out to an early lead off a home run in the third by their shortstop Nieves and held on to win 2-1.  For a good portion of the game Marie and Abbi had picked a favorite player they thought was cute. Unfortunately, we soon found out it had been the wrong guy and they quickly switched their allegiances from 2nd Baseman Rylan Sandoval to 1st Baseman Jeff Flagg.

A 'Clones Victory

There was no need for rally caps, but we did have nice new hats courtesy of our birthday deal with the Cyclones that also included a free beer and a free hot dog. With game in hand and a few beers in our bellies we left the ballpark satisfied as the skies opened up to highlight that Coney Island summer tradition of Friday Night Fireworks.

Oooh...Aaah

Once the light show died down I was trying to push everyone to an evening at the vaunted Beer Island but there was a slight push to go towards another more storied landmark in the Wonder Wheel. Abbi was pushing it and I was sort of dead set against it on account that there would probably be a line and I kind of had to go to the bathroom, but as we drew closer I found myself entranced by the old-fashioned amusement.  I gave in, forked over $6 and just like that was in line for the shaky section.

This Way to the Wonder Wheel!

We Prefer to be Swingers

Which is Not Immune to Certain Dangers

I rode in a car with Matt’s sister Brooke, Marie, and Aleks. The swinging section was not what I had expected at all. I thought it would just be kind of dangly.  Instead it was on a track that purposely dipped you on an incline and back like the tamest of roller coasters. It was a surprise not only to me, as Matt’s sister was certainly not thrilled by this wrinkle and let out her fair share of reactive noises. Still, it was a fun experience that not everyone in the party had partaken in.

...But the View!

The rest of the crowd had sidled up to the sauna-like bar at Ruby’s that was undoubtedly 15 degrees warmer than the outside seating area.

After watching an obese women in a bikini act a fool in front of a young crowd who made her the chief entertainment in Ruby’s unadvertised freakshow, I retreated outside to the more calm confines of the boardwalk making relaxed chatter and generally enjoying myself amongst the company. Matt enjoyed his first corn dog and then we pretty much packed up for the Slope.

Matt Sizes Up His Nitrate Popsicle

The last survivors of the evening ended up being Matt, Myself, Arby, and Samantha. The latter two didn’t last long as Matt and I had one more beer at Bar 4 before calling it a more-than-successful evening.

As I headed home towards my apartment I had the urge to tackle a protective stomach coating from Smiling Pizza on 7th avenue. I ordered up a slice and was immediately greeted by an excited declaration of my own name, “Evan!”  I looked to my right at the person who had ordered a slice just before me. There stood my good friend Ryan from my days at Ramapo High School.  It was a holy crap kind of moment, but good to see him after what had probably been 10 years.

We talked for a bit outside before I reached into my pocket to exchange numbers only to realize that there was nothing in my pocket with which to exchange numbers. I was phone-less. Fortunately, I knew I had my phone on the train and must have left it at Bar 4. We both walked to Bar 4 where my phone lay conveniently between 2 couch cushions. Crisis averted, old friend’s phone number received, evening over.

The next day I woke up at my own leisure and casually went about my business for the first few hours of my day. There had been some talk the previous few days via email about possibly making a trip to Coney Island to check out the Village Voice’s annual Siren Festival. Jason and Kayvalyn were really the only ones who expressed interest, but I didn’t have anything else to do that day and thought Coney Island might be fun to do again.

We met up around 2:30pm on the 7th avenue Q Platform only to have to wait 40 more minutes for the train to come. Our first move upon arriving back on the Isle of Coney was for beer. The concert organizers were doing it a bit different this year. Those in need of alcoholic refreshment were confined to an alcohol pen under the guise of being a beer garden. It was not the way to drink, but we each had 2 drink tickets each so we were sort of forced to use them, though we did so at separate times and separate stages so as to not spend too much time in one place. First we sat in the pen listening to what I think was Ponytail.

Beer Pen Blues

Not content to stand amongst the crowd, we sought out the variety at hand opting to cross the boardwalk and plunge feet first into the bay.  The only problem with this was that the beach was so densely populated that actually reaching the water was a bit of a labor, but one that was certainly well worth it. Once we came to the waterfront we were amazed by tightly packed masses in the water that extended far beyond our area of the beach. It was a sight that not even a well-positioned photograph could say a thousand words about. The visceral experience was far more valuable.

The Beach-going Masses

Happy Feet

Happy People

There were so many characters around us on the beach and all seemed to be having a blast as they cooled off from the intense heat. It was also an interesting perspective from which to take in the sites beyond the boardwalk in the other direction. They Cyclone and Wonder Wheel formed a playful, aging skyline that stood as a proud testament to Coney Island’s lasting recreational appeal.

The Wonder Wheel was Really Just an Excuse to Get a Photo of This Weird Skinny Guy

The Cyclone in the Distance

Having just cooled off a bit, we weren’t ready to throw ourselves into the roasting pit known as the main stage beer pen. Instead, we made a b-line to check out the view of the stage from Luna Park.  Rather than hang around with a clear view of the stage Jason, Kayvalyn and I took advantage of being in the middle of all of that updated amusement. There were a few ride options that interested us, but none more than the Air Race that gave willing participants the opportunity to spend a few minutes hanging upside down in an airplane.

It's a Bird, It's a Plane...OK Yeah, It's a Plane

There was something perfect about gliding and dipping upside down through the air listening to the poppy sounds of the Pains of Being Pure of Heart. It seemed an atmospheric ideal and I for one felt a bit of a thrill upon my exit from the ride. It beat standing around watching a band. On our way out of Luna Park we happened upon a carnival game where two weeks ago my roommate Laura and I had won little animals with Mets logos emblazoned on them.  Those bears/weasels were still there but on top of those there stood the creepiest game prize I had ever seen.

"Show Me on the Doll Where Mr. Jackson Touched You"

Leaving Luna Park we decided to catch some more Siren Bands. I think we caught the end of the Pains of Being Pure of Heart while enjoying another brew in the barricaded drinking region. While talking to Jason and Kayvalyn I noticed my friend Summer off in the distance and said a quick hello, but once beer was done, we had more exploring to do.

Our Surf Avenue travels took us into another familiar site which I had never before taken the opportunity to explore, the home of the El Dorado bumper cars. Well, that sounded like fun. Jason, Kayvalyn and I bought our tickets and lined up for a bit of bumper bashing, though we figured the blinking lights and constant beats threatened to give an employee or two one helluva headache or recurring seizures. Lights and music overload mixed with a childlike propensity to create mayhem behind the wheel made for a smashing good time if a brief one. I didn’t have time to pick out a fellow bumper car rider to punish mercilessly with my reckless driving habits.

All of that excitement was enough to make you hungry, so we settled on some tasty tacos on the boardwalk.

Real Mexican Tacos Indeed

Mmmm...Tacos.

As I marveled over the Chorizo taco from some place that advertised “Real Mexican Tacos” Jason or Kayvalyn noticed a group of hipsters just sprawled across the middle of the boardwalk as hordes of people were forced to avoid their selfish lounging. We repeatedly exclaimed in an increasingly incredulous tone how much we were not fans of these clowns causing a bottleneck on the boardwalk. Jason took matters somewhat into his own hands, walking up to them to snap photos of their general obnoxiousness. At one point a strange old lady poked herself in and eventually myself and Kayvalyn posed with them as well. I think they started to understand towards the end the more than obvious intent of our actions.

Our culinary adventure didn’t end with tacos and boardwalk hipsters. Prior to making our way back to the Stillwell stage we stopped for some dippin’ dots. Now I had previously heard of dippin’ dots and have heard many people exclaim about them as a vital ice cream experience of many a person’s childhood; I however had never experienced the magic of dippin’ dots. I have to say, I do prefer regular ice cream. Dippin’ dots were ok, but nothing special.

Meh

Finally, our evening at Coney Island came to a close as we took in a few minutes of the Holy Fuck performance from the side of the stage. We all agreed that they sounded really good, but we also wanted to beat the throng of thousands to the subway station.  We chose not to stay too much longer.

HOLY FUCK!

Upon my arrival at home that evening my roommate Laura was having dinner with our former roommate Laura and her family. I was treated to a lovely desert and a few beers thanks to the welcoming crowd. Someone had also bought a wine called Red Cat that featured a cat in a hot tub, with a smitten kitten in the background pining over said sexy red cat. The smitten kitten was especially hilarious because the cleavage on display in her  dress somewhat hinted that said cartoon kitten might be sporting some feline implants.

Red Cat: The Perfect Wine for Hot Tubbing with Kittens in Heat

So how did the wine taste, you ask? Let’s just say it was a red wine for those who like their red wine as sweet as life. And life so far this weekend had been particularly sweet.  Fortunately, I had one more day to go.

Sunday was not so much  a day rich in uncharted adventure as it was anchored firmly in the promise of a relaxing outing with friends.  My friend Enisha’s former roommate Julie was having a Bastille Day party a few days after the holiday celebrating French Independence.  I was slightly vexed over which accoutrements would be appropriate for the festivities.

My original thought was to swing by the supermarket and pick up some frozen French fries from Ore-Ida, the most french of our frozen food corporations. Then I remembered that the party was to be within spitting range of a McDonald’s and resigned myself to the task of buying a few helpings of large fries and delivering them in a greasy paper bag.

Before I could make that move official, I made a mini beer run to the supermarket where I happened on La Premiére Biére Française also known as Kronenbourg 1664. After stocking up on a classy French brew, my curious nature led me to the frozen foods section in search for Ore-Ida products.  Before I could stock up on frozen fries I happened upon another gem perfect for the celebration, Stouffer’s French Bread Pizza. Perfect.

The Perfect Bastille Day Accoutrements

I was on the early side to the party, per usual, but I joined the fray out back on the deck making appropriate conversation about Whit Stillman movies as one of the girls at the party had just auditioned for one.

While enjoying my Kronenbourg 1664, I also partook in the delicious array of fine foods prepared by our wonderful french host who had apparently been slaving over a hot stove for the better part of the last day and a half. The Pulled Pork and Vietnamese Meatball Sandwiches were no doubt the culinary highlights of the afternoon along with some sort of Dijon Mustard and sliced tomato pizza.

There were few familiar faces in the early going but soon the back deck was populated by Jason, Kayvalyn, Pete W, and Morwin. I made new friends with Serena, Jessica, Patricia, Pete’s friend Jeff and Jimena, the latter of which I had seen on several occasions but never really had the pleasure of making her acquaintance. There was plenty of warmth emanating from new friendships to go along with the somewhat unbearable heat. Luckily there was refuge to be sought in the central air conditioning of Julie’s apartment.

The original plan had been to move the festivities down to Smith Street for their Bastille Day Street Fair, but as the day grew on til it bordered the evening we saw that this would be a futile effort. Instead a few of us went to Woodwork down the street for a few beers.

For the last few hours Pete had been talking up the burger at Cornelius and although I had been stuffed full of food both french and not-so-French, all of that meat-centric conversation had my taste buds watering. So, the weekend came to a close with burger in hand as Morwin, Jimena, Pete, and myself savored the last taste of the perfect couple of summer days.

THE END

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DAYENU!

Posted by evankessler on March 28, 2010

Passover doesn’t begin until Monday…or so I think.  I’m not really up to speed on the dates of all of Judaism’s annual manifestations in the 2KX.  Clan Kessler did things a little early this year, because we march to the beat of a reformed drummer.  It was a good time.  Aunt Melanie and Cousin Erika were in town.  Greg and Kelly brought their new dog Bunny to take part in the festivities…and our normal guests the Wolks were on hand to take part in the rather informal seder happening.

The story of Pesach was told, four questions were asked, and delicious food was enjoyed by all.  DAYENU!

Kelly and Bunny

Two Balls And A Carrot

Aunt Melanie came out of the Kitchen asking, “who wants two balls and a carrot.”  Erika and I seemed like the only two people who found this inquiry to be overly humorous.  We’re very mature. I told Erika I would name this post “Two Balls and a Carrot.” I lied.

Now That's A Good Looking Plate

Oddly, my favorite part of the meal was the Asparagus for really bizarre reasons that you could probably guess.  Not only is Asparagus delicious, but I get some sort of sick enjoyment later in the night when a certain bodily function reminds me that it was part of a nutritious dinner.

A Belated and Be-Earlied Celebration

Several birthdays were being celebrated during the Seder.  My cousin Erika would turn 25 later in the week and the day before my brother turned 61.

THE END (OR IS IT?)

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The Road to 2010 and Beyond

Posted by evankessler on January 7, 2010

It’s been over a month since my words were last encoded on this here site and while I’d love to lavish some sort of exciting tale as to where I’ve been all this time,  I’m afraid  my only reasonable explanation is, “sometimes a man just needs a breather.”  After all, I’ve been writing almost every day on OneRiot and honestly don’t think my everyday existence in the month of December was worth writing home or the far corners of the world blessed with Internet access about.

To sum it up it’s been a mixture of horrible occurrences and enjoyable holiday-themed parties which thankfully drew to a close when the clock struck midnight on December 31st, 2009.  Rather than close the loop right there I’ll spare you the lowlights that closed out 2009 and keep you abreast of the positive.

December 4th– My good friends Matt and Jenny threw a wonderfully classy gala to kick off the Holiday season.  I wore a tuxedo. There were delicious little ham and cheese sandwiches and pumpkin dip.  Matt got on the floor and danced to David Bowie.  I have video. I spent a lot of time talking with Stephanie K and her boyfriend Andrew of Mahogany.  Tricia (pronounced Tree-See-Ya) from Brazil put a Pillbox hat on my head. Pictures were posed for.

Not A Brand New Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat

December 11th-Andrew M had a pretty sweet party to not only celebrate the first evening of the Choliday known as Chanukah (which I really prefer to spell Hannukah, but that was my attempt at a horribly lame Hebrew language joke) but also his preferred holiday known as Christmas.  Even though it was 14 days away we got into the Christmas spirit by drinking wine and bourbon and rockin’ around the Christmas tree with Bill M, Gigi, Laura B, Laura R, Dan F, Krissy S, and a few others. Later in the evening Dan F took his shirt off, though he lacked a proper change of costume in the form of a gorilla suit or banana suit, so he settled for some of Andrew’s clothes. Krissy also made me sing the Hannukah prayer a 2nd time.  A fun time was had buy all…photos were taken.

"On The First Night of Hannukah My True Love Gave To Me..."

Andrew Next To Dan Aykroyd In Spies Like Us

December 12th- Zak and Emma added to the total of sweet holiday bashes.  This one may have been the tops thanks to the hot toddies, backyard fire pit, and above all the yankee gift swap.  Being by the fire with a hot refreshing drink  and meeting a wonderful group of people aside…the Yankee gift swap was the star of the evening.  I ended up having the 3rd to last pick of the gift litter. Plenty of desirable gifts were traded prior to my pick including  a set of glasses from Crate & Barrell, a set of nunchucks along with some other weaponry, and a duck alarm clock.  I figured I might be trading up with someone who went before me.  There were but a few gifts left under the tree, none of which had packages that caught my eye in the early going.  So to decide I engaged in a round of eeny-meeny-miny-moe, which left me pointing to a bag.  I had previously surmised that nothing good could come in a bag, but how wrong I was as I unwrapped the gift paper surrounding my prize I was met by the fearsome brass-like head of what appeared to a cougar.  As I examined it further I came to realize that not only was I the could-be owner of a brass cougar head, but I was the could-be proud owner of a brass cougar head stapler!  Game. Set. Match.

I quietly prayed over the next 2 gifts that no one would see fit to rob me of my coveted present.  The person that followed me netted bacon jam, so I was safe…and the final gift belonged to someone who was not there…I believe.  I was in the clear.  I spent the rest of my evening carefully caressing cougarhead stapler.  The best gift of all-time.

This Coming Chinese New Year is The Year Of The Cougarhead Stapler

December 13th- On a day I hadn’t planned anything I was invited to attend the birthday Bill M, proprietor of Wasabassco Burlesque and brother of Andrew M,  at Union Hall.  I had only planned to go for one drink but was having entirely too much fun as our small crowd of friendly revelers made snide comments at the overly enthusiastic bocce players before that gave way to our play-by-play critique of a first date in-progress.  Let’s just say the girl was exhibiting very friendly body language while the guy was increasingly awkward and did not mirror said language at all.  None of us thought he would score, but Andrew was increasingly optimistic.  Unfortunately, I left before seeing anything come to fruition.

December 16th- House Hannukah Dinner- Departing roommate Sara B made latkes and applesauce which were delicious.  All 5 roommates ate dinner together and played a lengthy game of dreidel.  Matt G stubbornly refused to use any Hebrew terms throughout, instead preferring to use the english word printed on each side, which oddly didn’t correspond to the outcome of each spin.

December 17th:Home for the Holiday- Went home to Rockland with my brother and his girlfriend to exchange gifts and celebrate Mom’s birthday.  I got a shirt and some loot, not to mention heaps of delicious leftovers that I promptly polished off in the next day or so.  Mmmm…Latkes.

December 19th: Snowpocalypse 2009- The lord unleashed fury in the form of snow on the Eastern Seaboard.  We probably got between 6 and 9 inches of snow.  Rather than just sit in and watch the snow outside, I trekked through gusty winds and piles of white powder all the way to Fort Greene to celebrate Ajay’s birthday at Der Shwarze Kolner.

Surviving Snowpocalypse '09

Early on in the night I ran into my old college friend Craig D.  We caught up for a bit. Jason, Kayvalyn, Kishore and Morwin were also showed up eventually.  Later on in the evening, Kishore, Kayvalyn, Jason and I  trekked further into Fort Greene despite the threat of Tauntaun snow beasts and an ever-increasing,  treacherous amount of snow.  We went to Jason’s co-worker’s party that happened to be in some weird frat house.  It was one of the more bizarre party’s I’d been to…but that’s what happens when you’re in the midst of a snowpocalypse.

December 23rd- Trivia night at Pete’s Candy Store.  Our team “Avatarded” consisting of Myself, Suli, and Morwin nets 2nd place.  We get a free round.

December 24th- Suli and I see Avatar.  The visuals are great, the story is lame.  It’s in 3D.

Still December 24th- I got with my friend CS to a Jewish Christmas thing at a bar called Destination in the East Village.  They have a piñata that is shaped like a hundred-dollar bill.  I’m still trying to decide if this was Anti-Semitic.  On the plus side, they did offer free Chinese food.

Happy Jewish Christmas?

December 25th: Christmas Day– Watched Food Inc. and decided that Monsanto was the most evil corporation in the world.  Had Christmas dinner at Katz’s delicatessen with my brother.  A Japanese tourist came up to me because my Matzo Ball soup had piqued her curiosity.  Got home relatively early and watched The Deer Hunter for the first time ever.  Wow. That’s a powerful movie.  Avatar can suck it.

December 26th- Watched Food Inc. and decided that Monsanto was the most evil corporation in the world.
Watched Cool Hand Luke for the first time ever.  Another powerful movie.  Avatar can still suck it.

December 29th- My friend Joe bought a house in Pearl River.  Suli, Rich, Lina, and I went to Pearl River to see his new house. In other news, my friend is grown up enough to have his own house with a wife, a front yard and fridge full of Hot Pockets.  You know, the works.

December 30th- Hung out with my friend Victor’s friends who were visiting from Spain in Williamsburg.  Good times and a good opportunity to practice mi espanol.  Unfortunately, I have no photos.

New Year’s Eve- The day started early as Eric, Laura B, and I got the house ready for the party.  Actually, it was mostly Eric and Laura B.  I had the difficult task of making a musical mix for the evening in addition to the brownies I baked. Laura did a fantastic job of decorating the kitchen with ornaments and making some sort of weird apple rum punch.  Eric made a 22 lb turkey with stuffing and gravy amongst other things.  He also made pizza rolls.  Maureen, in from LA, came over early and helped out with said pizza rolls.

The crowd started rolling in some time after 9 to ring in the new year.  We tried to make a fire pit on the deck but the rain quashed that dream.  The party however was a rousing success.  Dick Clark was back on the air, Katie H announced her pregnancy, Maureen made up a list of everyone who was going to appear on Dick Clark’s Rockin’ eve including Fyodor Dostoyevsky.  Champagne was spilled all over Laura B’s room.  The Black Eyed Peas performed too many times from Vegas.  Jason, Kayvalyn, Suli and Andy showed up after midnight.  My good friend Brian who lives in Idaho showed up around 3am with his girlfriend Jess.  We met up with friends at Union Hall and closed down the bar.  Before it was all over I determined that 2010 would be the year I do it for the ladies, which led to this enduring image.

2010! The Year I Do It For The Ladies

January 1st- New Year’s Day Hangover.  Brunch at Stone Park for 14.  Mmm… Pork Belly B-L-T.   Later that evening…My first time at Bull McCabe’s in probably 8 years to hang out with Jess I and Mike G, who had just been married the week before but would be celebrating their wedding the next day in Ft. Greene.

January 2nd- Housewarming Brunch at Lauren and Rosario’s in Ft. Greene although Ajay and I had already warmed said apartment 5 or 6 month’s earlier.  A small crowd was on hand to drink mimosas and compliment Lauren on her flavorful salsa.

In the evening it was back to Ft. Greene this time dressed to the 9’s, but not in a tuxedo (I consider that 10’s) for Jess and Mike’s wedding dinner.  I spent a lot of time talking  to Brian,Jess, and Marika as well as Jess’s friend Frances, who I hadn’t seen in many years.  I spent a good portion of the latter part of the party convincing Jaime W-G to give her maid of honor speech she had prepared.  She kept hoping it would go away, but I kept bringing up to everyone she was talking to so she wouldn’t get off the hook.  She wrote a wonderful speech, it would be a shame if it had gone to waste.

Jaime W Speechifies The Room

I Call This One Married Couple in Black and White

Frances drove me to the bar after in her car, but as we walked to her car to make the drive I noticed lights on a car in front of us turn on.  I thought this was Frances’s car that she had just unlocked… it wasn’t.  I opened the passenger side door to see an African-American woman with a look of confusion painted on  her face as she talked on her phone.  I quickly shut the door, realizing I wasn’t getting in that automobile.  Frances had a honda.  She drove us safely to High Dive for some drinks after the party. A few drinks were had and then we all went our separate ways.

January 5th- Brian and his girlfriend Jess came in and we went to Dinosaur BBQ for dinner.  Sweet…sweet Dinosaur BBQ.

Alright, that about catches me up to present day. Onward and upward.  2010! Let’s go hang out in the den.

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OneRiot Guide to Last-Minute Halloween Costumes

Posted by evankessler on October 30, 2009

Jack-o-latern

Image via Wikipedia

Muahaha, Spooky greetings OneRioters! Here we are on the cusp of yet another haunted All Hallow’s Eve, ready to gorge ourselves on Candy corns (yechh!) and Fun-sized Nestle Crunch (yum!). Are you with us?

Well, before you secure enough sweets to last you the next financial quarter, you’re going to have to stop stomping around the neighborhood in your everyday gear, because no one wants to give M&Ms to a banker or a dad casually dressed in Eddie Bauer gear– unless you can convince them that your costume is “1995 Man.”  So if you’ve waited ’til the last minute and have yet to secure a quality costume for Saturday’s big party or trick or treat trek, we here at OneRiot have a few suggestions to help you stand out amongst a sea of balloon boys and Jon and Kate plus Eight impersonators. So without further ado, the OneRiot last minute Halloween costume guide for those who have yet to decide:

Halloween 2008 – Last year Sarah Palin costumes were all the rage. You probably even dressed as the former Alaska governor last year. You’re so creative. Why not pull that power suit out with the American flag lapel pin out of the closet this year, make your hair look all sexy librarian-ish and slap on that pair of New Year‘s 2008 glasses you’ve held onto hoping to somehow get another use out of.  For good measure grab yourself a piggy bank and slap some lipstick on that thing and maybe glue some old candy wrappers to your person. Voila!

Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger– Dust off that old sport coat and procure a pair of pilot wings, a nifty hat and a sweet white stache. Carry with you a tupperware labeled “Hudson River” filled with water and a mini toy plane. Throughout the party keep landing your toy plane safely in the tupperware. Everyone at the party will consider you a hero. If you don’t want to carry around the tupperware you can just keep dropping your plane in other people’s drinks, but we suspect that could be annoying.

Joe Francis– For the sleazy mail order video king getting young girls to act uninhibited on camera may have led to a jail stint, but donning an orange prison jump suit and walking around the party of your choice beckoning fellow revellers to “go wild” whilst training your video camera on them could make you the hit of this Halloween – and give you plenty of memorable footage for years to come.  Just don’t sell it in monthly installments for the low price of $9.99.

Unsexy Cat- Every halloween, like clockwork, a bevy of impressively endowed ladies make it their duty to prove their sex appeal by showing that every possible profession looks better with less clothes on. This also extends to portrayals of Satan and domesticated animals. The fact of the matter is this: “Sexy Cop” or “Sexy Oncologist” are not real jobs and not all men are turned on every time a Siamese cat walks by. So in order to bring a dose of reality to halloween, we find the “Unsexy cat” to be a welcome change from the usual come hither costumes.  All it takes is an unattractive baggy pair of sweats, a tail and some cat ears.  Once you get to the party just start rubbing up uncomfortably against people and asking for food or water.

Veiled Insult– (or the, this is what I’m going as special) A lot of people show precious little creativity on Halloween. Couples will try to be cute and dress up as Raggedy Anne and Andy, or whatever adorable duo costume they found at the costume shop.  Ladies will try to be super sexy (slutty) and some guys will try to toss it off like they don’t care enough to get dressed on Halloween and just pop in some vampire teeth or a hint of fake blood. This is your chance to get back at them by going all conceptual. All you’ve got to do is get some lacy material to fashion a veil and affix it to a hair clip. Next, just attend a party and tell people how awful their costume is. They’ll either get your concept or they’ll want to fashion a new “person with a bloody head” getup for you. The key is to criticize sparingly and effectively, whilst enjoying their poorly dressed company.

Alright, Onerioters. Have a happy and safe Halloween.  Don’t eat any apples with pins in them, and if you’re giving out candy at your house don’t be the weirdo who pawns off pennies.

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Happy July 4th

Posted by evankessler on July 4, 2009

Happy July 4th for those Born and not born in the USA.  We beat those limey Brit bastards…well, not in 1812…but whatever.

Remember, don’t kill any yellow men.  Just because the Boss had to do it, doesn’t mean you do.  You’re not fighting off any Viet Cong at Khe San.  Alright, stay cool rockin’ daddies in the USA and enjoy your independence for a few more weeks.

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Canada Day, Eh!

Posted by evankessler on July 1, 2009

Canadian flag outside the Maritime Museum of t...

Image via Wikipedia

Nearly every independent country has their special day where they like to celebrate being freed from the chains of tyranny or a benevolent monarch. In the U.S., it just so happens to be right around the corner on July 4th.  However, before the nation of Lincoln, Washington and well, Rutherford B. Hayes basks in the glow of yet another firework-laden birthday smash, those Nanooks to our north have cause to pop the champagne corks and light off some M-80’s. Why, you ask?  Because today is Canada day!

That’s right, today marks the anniversary of the day back in 1867 when Wayne Gretzky freed the Edmonton Oilers and all surrounding Canadians from Lord Stanley’s iron grip with a few swift dekes and a hat trick.  Canada would never be the same. Actually, that’s not entirely (or at all) true.  Rather, Canada Day commemorates the signing of the British North America Act, which united the then four provinces of Canadialand as one nation under a maple leaf, indivisible, with liberty, hockey, and socialized medicine for all.

Canadians all across the Great White North will be whooping it up today with barbecues, picnics, a few poor attempts at water hockey on thawed out ponds, and general good times. Sounds like a good time to us. But really, how is that different from any day in Canada, which begs the question, “Isn’t every day Canada Day?”

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