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I Can Write

Urgh, I'm really hating my lack of goof off time. How am I supposed to watch Lost and write this here crap simultaneously? I'm no media multitasker. This is old news from last Wed. and I did mention it on my Goodies First deal (didn't say blog) but that's practically a separate entity (I realize it's weird, not to mention cumbersome, to put different subjects on totally different pages rather than just making a giant hodgepodge blog with categories, but that's just not going to happen because my brain doesn't work that way), so allow me to mention my NY Post article that was supposed to run like two months ago. The delay totally wasn't my fault and is only serving to force me to investigate new writing venues, which I have a hard time motivating myself to do. I'm not an idiot, I just don't have connections and am allergic to schmoozing and networking (in person and in cyberspace–I thought people were supposed to be bolder behind the relative anonymity of the web). I was going to write about my weekend adventure at the Short Hills Mall in New Jersey, and how I think something must be wrong with my hormones because in the past few days I've found myself attracted to absolutely random guys on the subway (yesterday I became fixated on this mediocre, shorter, younger version of Bradley Cooper from that not-very-funny Kitchen Confidential, and Alias, I guess, though I've never watched that show), but that will have to wait.

Tales of Stirrup Greatness

Ok, I've stood by as the kids play their Pointer Sisters and Thriller-era Michael Jackson at bars and parties, as they do that Suzanne Sommers tight jeans tucked into tall boots thing, and I've even abided asymmetrical haircuts and side ponytails, but "footless tights" cannot, will not be tolerated or accepted. I am not fooled by marketers refraining from calling the stretchy leggings leggings. When stirrup pants start appearing (if they aren't already in the stores) will they be rebranded as demi-tights, strappy tights, or another vague euphemism? Never mind, I'm blind, they're also being sold by Urban Outfitters as xtra long stirrup with this adorable ad copy, "The '80s weren't all that long ago, so you should recognize these, or at least have heard tales of their greatness." I have nothing to add, that pretty much sums it up. Maybe I should just embrace the greatness. I can't fight the greatness anymore, it's tiring.

Courtly Love

Can you call yourself a mall if you don't even have a food court? James and I rarely have tagalongs during our suburban raids, so having two friends in tow was a rare treat. While we were mixing things up, we thought we'd try a new mall too.

Shorthillsnumbers It was a little hairy because the weather turned icy that morning and for some asinine reason, they'd roped off all outdoor parking lots. So, every Lexus and BMW SUV in Essex County were vying for spots in the covered woefully inadequate garage.

  I guess this is a classy mall. But Paramus also has Tiffany, Gucci and Legal Seafood, yet has no qualms about letting them rub shoulders with Orange Julius and Spencer's Gifts. Not so, Short Hills. We wanted a snack (before going wild at Chevys later) and were relegated to a packed Au Bon Pain.

Shorthillsliving They have these demented modern lounge areas scattered throughout the center, but no food or drink is allowed. Just weird fucks watching crackling fires on television screens. The pretense is odd since the skeleton of the mall is classic '70s, angular planters, tiles that creep up from the floor and cover modular benches, and art like a crazy numeral pile that filled me with glee. They've gussied up the offerings with an Apple Store, Sub-Zero Wolf, Appliance Studio and an Anthropologie. But the place so wants to populated with Sears and Dress Barn.

I didn't end up buying a single thing, but that's never the point with me.

The Mall at Short Hills * Route 24 & JFK Parkway, Short Hills, NJ

Under der Linden

Targethaul The Linden Target is along this peculiar corridor of US 1-9 that's teeming with cheap motels (and a few adult book stores) but it's not too shabby either. Heck, it still beats the Brooklyn Atlantic Center. I certainly came away with a nice haul.

  Apparently, I like purple shirts with ruffles, as I bought a blousy version and tee shirt styled one. I also picked up a simple gray pleated skirt (which reminds me that I forgot to mention the best part of my otherwise blah post-Christmas Target excursion. What might be my best find of 2005: the Isaac Mizrahi woodgrain skirt. I love, love woodgrain and first got into it in late 2004 when I saw some guy's house featured in an issue of Budget Living [that I can't seem to find despite skimming Aug '04 to Jan '05] who'd carpeted his stairs in a comical woodgrain pattern.  I became obsessed with finding woodgrain carpet, and discovered that PB Teen had area rugs, which became a Christmas 2004 gift. I could've killed for something upholstered in Todd Oldham for La Z Boy green iridescent woodgrain, but I didn't/don't have the expendable income. [Didn't that Soho location open last week? Woodmania We had to trek out to Wayne, NJ to view fabric samples last year. And I just noticed the "novelty" fabrics aren't on the website anymore] Since fall 2004 I got woodgrain pillows from Fred Flare, woodgrain fabric from ebay that I use as a table cloth, woodgrain sheets from Urban Outfitters and today I received my woodgrain iPod skin in the mail) Loreal HiP lip gloss in ingnue, marked down limited edition Be Dazzling Revlon Shimmer Blush in Hint of Ruby, Olay Regenerist skin polisher, a couple 99-cent packs of Archer Farms "indulgent snack mix" a tiered skirt hanger, a pair of tweedy flats and half a set of woodgrain-handled cutlery (I split the pack with a friend, as we both possessed too much flatware already).

I didn't realize how much my Target booty meant to me until I went to take stock of my purchases and realized I was missing one of two bags. I almost started bawling, for real. I was convinced that I'd somehow left a sack behind at the counter, but was relieved to discover that it had simply been forgotten in the car. Phew, close call.

Target * 621 W Edgar Rd., Linden, NJ


We had three choices in the Target parking lot: Applebee's, Boulder Creek Steakhouse and Chevys. After a hard afternoon at Short Hills Mall, giant margaritas seemed in order.

Margaritas And they were massive, which made me worry a bit since they conveniently omit drink prices from the colorful menu. We were guessing $12.95, but then you have to remind yourself this is real chain dining, not the Manhattan facsimile. My supersized Gold Rush (Cuervo Gold, Triple Sec and sweet & sour on the rocks) was a mere $7.95–if I'd known that from the get go I wouldn't have nursed it throughout the meal.

For once I didn't feel bad about ordering an appetizer sampler since we were four rather than just the usual two. Spicy wings, taquitos, fajita nachos and a "chicken ?dilla" quartered up, isn't a wholly unreasonable starter.

Enchiladas When I go gringo I do it all the way, and that means chimichangas, but I resisted and fooled myself into believing that seafood enchiladas were healthier (perhaps minutely). Really, Chevys isn't any worse than anything else that passes for Tex-Mex in the NYC area. It's not completely horrible, and they were playing Weezer, for whatever that's worth.

As one of my favorite parts of Red Lobster is the Cheddar Bay Biscuits, Chevys charms me with their little corn blob that's like a freeform corn bread, polenta hybrid. Ah, it's called a tomalito, and here's the recipe.

That would've, should've been enough, but then we had to go and order two desserts: an Ooey-Gooey-Chewy Sundae and something else with ice cream and caramel sauce that I can't recall the name of. I don't think it was the "potato," as they call it. Sunday night in Linden, NJ (I was treating it as a Sat. since it was a three-day-weekend) is a sparse affair. This is one of the only chain restaurants I've ever been to where there hasn't been a wait, not to mention empty seats. It was so desolate they had to send someone over to the Applebee's half-way across the parking lot to borrow whipped cream for our chilled desserts. Now that's service.

Chevys * 1150 South Stiles St., Linden, NJ

Buyer’s Remorse

Have I mentioned that I'm doing this no snacking, lower calorie, smaller portion thing and it's totally killing me. It's not like I'm starving myself, it's only common sense like don't eat fried greasy things, or eat between meals or have seconds. (Which reminds me, have you seen this shit? I thought the French women don't get fat mania was as lame as it got, but now Japanese women are not only thin, but immortal. I love all this secrets of my (grand)mother's kitchen crap. I'm totally going to pen a memoir that will enlighten the world via my upbringing and the women who imparted their culinary knowledge to me. I will cover the finer points of Pizza Hut, bargain bags of puffed wheat cereal, fried eggs and bacon for dinner [I swear I ate this weekly as a kid, though if my mom is reading this I'm sure she'd argue otherwise] and frozen vegetables. I'm waiting for the diet book about black and Hispanic women getting fat and dying prematurely, which is pretty much the theme of this week's uplifting New York Times series on diabetes.) But I can't stand it and I'm feeling overly emotional and both spacey and snippy. I haven't eaten any sweets or drank any alcohol either, and there's no way that's going to last, especially since I'm going to a party tonight and water is not an option. I'm not trying to detox, just not become cancerous and diabetic before I'm forty (after that, lord only knows). So far, this Friday the 13th has been downright dull, but there's still time for plenty of unpleasant surprises. I hate being cryptic, but I must be, and I'm afraid that I'm having a case of buyer's remorse in an aspect of my life. Normally, this would be a depressing situation, to be stuck with a possibly bad decision. But I'm not stuck, there's potentially another option on the near horizon and that's where the problem and stress lies. It would be like getting married and then running off with another guy in a month. But should you stay with something so-so to avoid incurring wrath (not to mention horrible karma) and eat the misery or be rash and selfish because after all, it is your life and I'm a big proponent of not doing things out of duty or obligation. Ok, here's something far less serious, but still problematic, that I can speak freely about: my greasy patch of hair. I don't know what the fuck happened, but something is severely wrong with my never-luxurious-in-the-first-place locks. There is this patch of hair on the right side of my head towards the back that for the past week or two has been perpetually wet and/or crispy looking like there's product in it. I wash my hair every night and I usually let it air dry and end up going to bed with damp hair, and thought this might be the problem. But it's not. I tried using a dandruff shampoo, thinking that it'd be harsher and get rid of weird build-up, I stopped using conditioner, thinking that maybe it wasn't rinsing out properly. It doesn't matter, I still have a wet-looking chunk. All I can attribute it to is that a few Sundays ago I colored my hair with semi-permanent, no ammonia dye (which is stupid because it doesn't do shit to my gray hairs except turn them golden-brown and makes it look like I have light brown roots and that my real, dark brown color is the fake hue) and instead of leaving it on for 20 minutes like recommended, I kept it on for almost an hour because I got caught up in an episode of Small Space, Big Style that had a segment (I made a mental note to catch this, but now it's been on like five times and I'm bored with it already, please get new episodes, HGTV) with the guy who runs Peek-A-Boo Records that I've had a blind crush on for no particular reason since I know next to nothing about him other than that he's been in a few bands that I like and isn't horrible looking. I thought he might be gay, but apparently has a wife that he lives with in a "small" 900 square-foot Austin condo. Oh my god, how do two people live in such tight quarters? (I know this is a national show, but come on. A 350 square-foot NYC apartment from the same episode is small, but most of these houses have kitchens that are triple mine, and are easily as large as many studios.) But in reality, I've never had any love for band guys and I was bothered that his wife said he never sets foot in the kitchen because I need a man who can cook. And more importantly, because of him my hair now has a permanently waxy texture which is becoming difficult to live with.

My Moon

Raw poultry in a Turkish restaurant? I'm totally an avian flu case waiting to happen. Ok, it's not all that Turkish (manchego-stuffed pequillo peppers and tuna tartar with roasted beet vanilla vinaigrette?) but one of my chicken kabobs was pink and translucent in the center, and due to the moody lighting I know I ate more than a few nibbles before noticing the accidental sashimi. I really don't understand the fairly recent Williamsburg propensity towards clubby theme park dining. My Moon had already given me pause based on its unnecessary sprawl and awkward atmosphere. They have a huge useless-in-winter front patio, lots of exposed brick, cavernous ceilings, generous space between tables and big colorful art all over the walls, which gives the impression of a Cincinnati, Portland, Tucson…I don't know, some mid-sized city in 1996, trying to emulate NYC. Instead of pizzazz it simply evokes suburban and middle aged.

I might've reserved my judgment if it wasn't for the frightening free jazz combo fronted by a scatting songstress. They had inexplicably mesmerized a good proportion of the patrons that included plenty of youngsters in addition to the middle aged couples (straight and lesbian) and giant non-white men in XXL leather jackets that seemed out of place not guarding someone's velvet rope. I hadn't heard music like that since I paid a visit to the 70th story lounge at the Swissotel in Singapore this past summer.

So, all I ate was a very garlicky rice pilaf with a yogurt sauce and a few chicken cubes, and if it weren't for the underdone chunk, I would've described the food as acceptable if not overpriced by a dollar or two (kebabs were $13). Though I suppose you're paying for the ambience, which I would've gladly given up for a cheaper fully cooked combo plate from Waterfalls.

My Moon * 184 N. 10th St., Brooklyn, NY

Down the Lane

Home_b_aug05 Brylane Home, there's got to be a little Lane Bryant in there, right? Well, they have the same parent company. This is their housewares venture (no, not curtains for fat folks) and it's kind of like a step down from those hodgepodge aisles at Marshall's that are always a mess. Everything feels (visually, obviously I can't touch the goods) cheap.

But from sooty lumpy coal comes diamonds. I often prefer the bottom of the barrel to the middle of the Pottery Barn road because at least I know no one else that I know will have these items (everyone I know has practically the same Ikea and Target goods). And while the vast majority of Brylane Home's offerings suck, at least two or three gems will jump out while thumbing through.

These tables could be straight from PB Teen and are more reasonably priced than that spoiled brat fare. I was hoping this dog bedding set would have a cat counterpart, but no luck. There was a photo image kitten comforter  that I was dying for at Wing On in Hong Kong, but it was too pricy for me (roughly something like $140). I even got sucked in by the hideous pro sports crap and thought it would be funny to buy James a Redskins furry pillow shaped like a football helmet, but there was no D.C. team to be found.

No felines, no Redskins?what kind of half-assed operation is this anyway?! Well, I've yet to order a single item from Brylane, but I always give the catalog a read before tossing.

Strange Brew

I only hype myself up a couple times a year, if that, so allow me to mention my article about micheladas, spicy beer, in today's New York Post.

There's a new year's resolution–find more writing venues. 2006 is all about branching out. I know, it seems like a blogger is born every minute, so getting heard gets harder and harder. And I hate having to shout (though I love to ramble).

Melt with You

Fonduefixings I had to put this Christmas gift fondue pot to work pronto. I vowed to clean up my food act beginning Jan. 9 and steaming vessels of melted cheese don’t really fit into that virtuous plan. I had to go out with a bang.

No time for experimenting, I opted for a traditional gruyere and emmental combo with a hit of kirsch. (Do you know what would've been really classy? Kraft Crumbles fondue. Totally crumbelievable. Ok, I was just joking, but Kraft has quite a few fondue recipes as it turns out.)

FondueThe only addition to the original recipe was a touch of freshly grated nutmeg. I’m not trying to make a statement, The Vampire wine happened to be a party leftover and the only white I had on hand, though I think pinot grigio is acceptably dry for a fondue base.

I had a fromage fest both Friday and Sunday because who knows when I'll have another chance in the near future.