Would It Kill You to Enjoy Your Subway Seat?

Smile already!

What is it with people on the subway when they get a seat? I now have a much longer subway commute than I used to, and I’m fascinated by the way people act when they take subway seats. The typical seat-taker keeps her eyes down, averted from everyone else. Which makes sense, because then she might see someone who has more of a claim to that seat. She does a very quick, mandatory turn of the head as if she were seeing if anyone else is taking the seat. Then she sits with a sigh and expression of “well, if no one else wants it…”

Actually, we all wanted it and you got there first. And you know that.

What I’d like to see is someone get a seat on the subway and shout out a joyous “yes!” and then keep smiling like crazy for the rest of the ride.


Roasted Butternut Squash

Set oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit/220 degrees Celcisus.

Peel the rind off a big butternut squash and cut out the seedy parts. Chop it into one-inch cubes. Toss with olive oil, salt, and freshly-ground pepper.

Tossing in a bowl is much easier than tossing on a cookie sheet.

The cubes should glisten and the garlic should be evenly distributed. This is difficult, as the garlic tends to slither down to the bottom of the bowl.

Spread cubes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Use a spatula to scrape out the garlic that slithered down to the bottom of the bowl and shake it off onto the cubes.

Roast for 45 minutes.


This is also good cold, believe it or not. If you have a lot of leftovers, you can puree it into a soup.

NY City Council members have lowest IQs among New Yorkers

At least that’s my theory.

Today’s cover headline: Blame the hipsters if city loses out on $2B
subhead: Officials say hipsters, among others, didn’t fill out census

That’s pretty damning stuff. First hipsters ruined facial hair and large swaths of Brooklyn, now they’re collectively responsible for the loss of federal dollars?

Article headline (inside the paper): Hipsters to blame for census losses?

Hold on–that’s in the form of a question now that we’re inside the paper, but it was stated as fact on the cover. What’s the article say?

Councilwoman Diana Reyna theorized that “hipsters” may be part of the cause for the inconsistency of the census numbers, stating that some of them “only want to be counted in their home state.” She also added that they might not participate in the census because it wouldn’t be “cool.”

So it wasn’t “officials,” as stated on the cover of the paper, but rather a single elected theoretician. And to be fair to the factually-flexible Diana Reyna, the paper may have quoted her out of context anyway. But if she really did say that, was she talking to hipsters about this? How did she know they’re hipsters? Did anyone tell her that hipsters don’t use the word “cool?” Was there a convention in Williamsburg (her district, along with Bushwick) that we missed? Perhaps there’s a hipster spokesperson who gives politicians talking points on hot issues. Hot issues like the census and artisanal raw-milk cheeses.

I’m no hipster, so I can’t speak for that homogenous group, but we got our census form in the mail and it took about 20 seconds to fill it out and send it back. I didn’t get a vibe anywhere on the cool-to-lame spectrum.

Back to the editors of Metro New York (who, I theorize, drink their own urine for “health” reasons): the article actually lists many more plausible reasons that the census might have been undercounted in NYC, including doormen not allowing entry to census takers, illegal immigrants not wanting to talk with government representatives, and illegal subletters under-reporting people living in their homes. Also, if a census taker was threatened, the property was listed as having only one resident. I think we all know that any of these might have committed to some severe undercounting.

So skimming the headlines isn’t recommended. Which reminds me, I’d better see what Pat Kiernan has to say about this…

Making a big deal out of helping Japan

For a million reasons, if you want to help Japan during this horrifying crisis, please donate through the Red Cross.

Anyway. This morning I got an email about a promotion to help Japan: Fashion Girls for Japan. It’s a big sample sale with proceeds going to several relief organizations. Cool. But what’s up with their logo?

Fashion Girls for Japan logo, "designed" by Berger & Wild

According to the Fashion Girls for Japan web site, the logo is “courtesy of” Berger & Wild, who also provided some other graphic design work for the project. According to me, this logo is courtesy of the State of New York and Milton Glaser. Cutting the heart out of New York State’s iconic logo and putting the rising sun in it isn’t really design, is it?

And what does it say? “I Japan New York?” “I rising sun New York?” It’s a visual pun that doesn’t actually work.

In the same context, here’s a screen grab of the title screen of a video from a press release news article about the project:


I can answer that, Rachel. No. Not by a long shot. There were a few other first responders pulling people out of the wreckage and hosing down the reactors. And millions of others who clicked a link on Google to donate money to the Red Cross within hours. Etc.

I mean, c’mon.

On t-shirts and place names

I was at the Oakland (California) Zoo a couple of weeks ago with a friend and our two toddlers. As I entered the zoo, a young woman walked by wearing a t-shirt screen-printed with the word “Brooklyn.”

“Excuse me,” I said, “are you from Brooklyn?”

“No, it’s my name.”


At first I felt a little embarrassed. I had just interrupted this woman to see if she’s from my town–and so what if she was? Then I realized that she’s wearing a t-shirt with her name on it. And that’s kind of weird. Unless you’re on a class trip with 30 other five-year-olds, you shouldn’t be wearing a t-shirt with your own name on it.

Mushroom pesto with whole wheat pasta


Throw about 10 mushrooms in the food processor, followed by a couple handfuls of pine nuts, the last roasted salted cashews (and the salt left at the bottom of the deli container), and a couple tablespoons or so of chopped chives. Add olive oil and a couple fist-fulls of grated parmigiano reggiano. Adjust ingredients to taste. Add enough olive oil so that it’s not too paste-like but not runny, either–like hummus.

Cook pasta, drain, then toss with the pesto in the pot. Garnish plated pasta with chopped chives.

We had this with Bonny Doon’s Riesling to Live (and milk for the little guy). Our toddler loved the pasta and finished his whole bowl with much enthusiasm.

Pizza Monday: Dobsohn Edition

The pizza in the nuclear oven

The pizza in the nuclear oven

Thanks to my friend Dobsohn’s comment yesterday, which was echoed by Chanks, I tried a new technique tonight (I made a lot of dough Sunday night): I put the mozzarella on the bottom, under the sauce, so it wouldn’t burn.

Arlo did all the work tonight.

The dough warming to room temperature

The dough warming to room temperature

Arlo rolling out the dough

Arlo rolling out the dough

We rolled the dough out again tonight, but I started a second pie all by hand, without the pin. It’s time-consuming for me, but I can tell I’m getting better at it.

Arlo checks the thickness of the dough - looking for 3mm

Arlo checks the thickness of the dough - looking for 3mm

Olive oil added

Olive oil added

Mozzarella added

Mozzarella added

Tomatoes added

Tomatoes added

Mushrooms added

Mushrooms added

In the blast furnace - over 600 degrees Fahrenheit

In the blast furnace - over 600 degrees Fahrenheit

Good calls, Dobsohn and Chanks!

The finished pie

The finished pie

And the final test–how does it taste?

Arlo enjoys the fruits (pie) of his labor

Arlo enjoys the fruits (pie) of his labor