Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Laundry held hostage: day 8

I can see my laundry bag sitting on the counter of the laundromat, but with the place closed and the shutters locked, it might as well be in Siberia. Earlier this afternoon, I called the laundromat and they actually answered the phone. I asked the guy if they were open and he said yes. Then I asked how late they'd be open, and he said until 6 PM. (Their posted hours are 7:30 AM to 7:30 PM.) So I said I'd leave work early and come get my stuff by 6. I asked several times if they'd be open at 6, and after hearing a long conversation in another language, he said yes. He said they'd be open at 11 AM tomorrow, not that that helps me much. I should have just left work immediately and gone home, because now that I'm about ready to leave, they're not answering the phone anymore. I guess I'll go now anyway, and plan to come in late tomorrow. If anyone who reads my blog has any thoughts on how to get my laundry out of there through some other method (landlord, police, possible threat of legal action), I'm open to suggestions.

Friday, October 27, 2006

a bunch of new CDs

Since I'm in class this week, I get "out" of work earlier than usual. Class ended at 4:45 yesterday afternoon, so I was on my way uptown for orchestra rehearsal an hour early. That extra time gave me the chance to go to Tower Records in Lincoln Square. Tower is closing their New York stores (I don't know if they're closing anything else) and they've marked down all of their remaining inventory. Right now the discount is at 25% off everything. I don't listen to much popular music anymore, so I went straight to the classical department. I had a mental list of composers and works that I needed to fill out my collection. Unfortunately, the selection has already been well picked over. I found a number of CDs anyway, but I had to lower my usual snobbish conductor/orchestra/label standards. Here's what I picked up:

Mozart: Symphonies 39, 40, 41 (Gunter Wand, NDR Symphony Orchestra)
Bruckner: F Minor Mass (a bunch of people I've never heard of before, it was $12 before the discount)
Bruckner: Symphony No. 2 (Eschenbach, Houston)
Stravinsky: Petrushka and Pulcinella Suite (Bernstein, NY Philharmonic)
Stravinsky: Rite of Spring and Firebird Suites (Ozawa/Chicago and Leinsdorf/Boston)
Strauss: Don Quixote and Schumann: Cello Concerto (Rostropovich on cello, Karajan and Bernstein, Berlin Orch. and Nat'l Orchestre de France)
Dvorak: Violin Concerto and Piano Quintet (Sarah Chang, Colin Davis, London Sym. Orch.)
Chopin: 2 piano concertos and some other works for piano & orchestra (Skrowaczewski, Alexis Weissenberg on piano)
Mahler: Symphony No. 7 (Barenboim, Staatskapelle Berlin)

They also had one copy of my grandfather's recording of Vaughan Williams' Tuba Concerto. Eight years ago, when EMI released the CD, I bought five copies of it at the same Lincoln Square Tower Records location on a weekend trip to New York because I couldn't find it anywhere in DC or online. At this point my father has three or four copies of it, my mother has two, and my brother and I have at least one apiece, so I left Tower's last copy on the rack.

I got nine CDs for a little over $100. The receipt said I saved $32, and I'm not sure if that's much of a bargain. At rehearsal my stand partner pointed out that I could pay $10 for CDs on iTunes or just download the same music illegally. I'm aware of both of those options, and I prefer to have physical copies of all of my music when possible. That way I have the original source material should I need to re-rip or restore my electronic copies of my collection. I've ripped all the CDs and put them on my iPod, but so far I've only listened to part of the Chopin disc. I'll get out earlier this afternoon, so I'll check out some of the others as I'm wandering the UES looking for bits and pieces of my costume for Saturday night's Halloween party. What I can find will determine what my costume turns out to be.

Still no word from the laundromat. Not only are they still closed, it doesn't look like anyone has been in there. I may be buying more clothes over the weekend to replace what's being held hostage.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Five years of iPods

Monday, October 23 was the fifth anniversary of Apple's launch of the iPod. So I'm a few days behind on this post. I just re-read my post from September 2004 where I discussed my then-brand-new iRiver MP3 player. At that time I described myself as "not an iPod guy" and said that I resented all the iPod owners I saw on the subway. Well, as a recent buyer of an iPod of my own, I guess I have to eat those words. Part of it was industry peer pressure. There are more accessories and third-party support options for iPod owners than for any other player, due to the iPod's overwhelming market share. And as much of a pain in the ass it has been to re-tag all of my music files so that they show up properly in the iPod's menu, it was a job that I'd been putting off for too long. Finally, while my old iRiver player had more built-in features, like an FM radio, line-in and microphone recording, and a dedicated line-out jack, I can count on one hand the number of times I used any of them (and in fact I never used the record function). I ran out of reasons NOT to buy an iPod. And having bought one, I'd have to say I'd get one again. I don't know if I'll run out and buy the rumored "widescreen video iPod" that iPod fanatics expect Apple to announce any day now. But when my current iPod is ready to go to gadget heaven, I'll probably go to the Apple store and get a new one.

I'm still resisting the temptation to get a Macbook.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

frustration at home

Last night, on my way home from work, I found a battalion's worth of fire trucks on 1st Avenue between 87th and 88th Streets. Frequent readers of my infrequent postings will recall that this past summer I came home to find fire trucks one block south, putting out a fire in one of the apartment buildings. This time, they were one block closer to mine, and the fire in question, while apparently minor, happened in the building where my regular drop-off laundry is located. When I walked by at 7 PM, the laundromat was still open despite the presence of several firemen, a little smoke, and some fire hoses. But the lady behind the counter said my clothes weren't ready yet, and could I come back at 7:30? I said that was fine and went home to find that I had no cable TV or Internet. Great.

At 7:30 I went back out to the laundromat. By now FDNY was running water through some internal vent in the building, and showering the sidewalk in front with the runoff. When I looked in the laundromat, one of the firemen said "no one's in there" and I could see why: there were several inches of water on the floor and running out the door. I waited around until 8 PM but there was no sign that anyone was going to reappear to mind the store and give me my laundry. At that point I'd have accepted it in any condition, including "sopping wet." I eventually gave up and went home to call Time Warner and learned that they had a service problem over several blocks, including my own. I was able to sponge off a neighbor's DSL line for the evening (I know, God forbid I should go without Internet access!) but I didn't get to watch Monday Night Football or any of my recorded shows from the weekend. I did get some practicing done, however, so the lack of other entertainment options had at least one benefit.

This morning I left early, as I'm in a training class for VMWare the rest of the week. At 8 AM the laundromat wasn't open yet, and I was in a hurry anyway. But when I went by there at 5:30 PM, the shutters were still down and there was a sign in the window reading "closed for a few days -- cleaning store." So now they're holding my laundry hostage while they clean up the mess. It didn't even look that bad in there. Maybe tomorrow I can catch them while they're cleaning up the place. On the other hand, a few years ago one of the Chinese restaurants down the street had a fire and closed down, but left a sign on the door that said "we be open soon." That was in 2004 and I'm STILL waiting for them to reopen. I wonder if I have any legal options if the laundromat never reopens and lets me collect my laundry?

At least my cable TV and Internet were back when I got home tonight.

Friday, October 20, 2006

quick catch-up post

I'm new to NYRO, but I think it's customary that the orchestra gets a week off from rehearsal after a concert. However, since our next concert is Mahler's 3rd Symphony, and we have only 8 weeks to rehearse, instead of a week off we had our first Mahler rehearsal tonight. It went far better than I expected. The orchestra is more than capable of playing the work. More importantly to me, I'm capable of playing it. I wasn't sure I'd be up to the challenge, but it was easier to hear my section's entrances and play the right notes when I was playing with the viola section, as opposed to practicing the part by myself at home. I still have hours and hours of practice ahead of me, but it's not going to be impossible. By comparison, the Tchaikovsky symphony we played last weekend was more difficult in some places.

After rehearsal, I went to The Gaf to watch the end of Game 7 of the Mets-Cardinals NLCS. I wanted to be in a crowd if the Mets won, so I'd have some fellow fans to celebrate with. Instead, the Mets went down 3-1, and I paid for my beers and got the hell out of there. I had planned to go back there on Saturday night to watch game 1 of a Mets-Tigers World Series, but now I'm not sure I'll even watch the thing. I know the Mets are my adopted NY baseball team, and if the Pittsburgh Pirates were to ever miraculously get back into the playoffs I'd be cheering for them. So the Mets loss doesn't hurt me as much as it does the die-hard, grew-up-in-New-York-rooting-for-the-Mets fans. I acknowledge that. But it still doesn't feel good to me. I wanted to see the Mets in the World Series. I wanted a Mets championship parade through the Canyon of Heroes. Instead, I'll settle for the sour grapes of knowing that the Cardinals will probably lose 4 games to 0 or 4-1 to the Tigers in the World Series. And that there's always next year. And more importantly, there's football season, and hockey season, and EPL (Arsenal is finally showing signs of life!) and college basketball to keep my sports needs satisfied.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

proof that I played a concert Saturday night

IMG_0636, originally uploaded by catelinp.

I had my friends take a photo of me after my concert on Saturday night to prove that I actually played in public with an orchestra for the first time in about a decade. Also, I don't have any recent photos of me all dressed up and with my viola, so here we are. The concert was a complete success. My friends enjoyed it, and we got several ovations at the end. I'm happier than I can express in words to have been a part of it.

For everyone who had something else to do tonight, the next concert is Mahler's 3rd Symphony on December 16. Mark your calendars now. I know it's the height of Christmas party season. That's why I'm getting the word out now, so you can tell people "I can't come to your party, I've got to hear my friend Phil play Mahler." It's going to be fantastic.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

oy vey, or Only in New York...

... would a Yankees pitcher crash a small plane into an Upper East Side high-rise apartment building. Seriously, I'm truly sorry for Cory Lidle's family. Apparently his wife was on a plane on her way to LA when her husband's plane crashed into an apartment building at 72nd St. and York Avenue in Manhattan, so she probably didn't know anything had happened until she got off her flight. It's a terrible, tragic story. Really, I don't know what else to say.

I was supposed to go to game 1 of the NLCS tonight at Shea Stadium. At 5:45 PM I was at Century 21 buying a light rain jacket and a Mets cap so I could stay dry and support my adopted NY baseball team. At 6 I was on the subway with a co-worker (going to the game with me) when a guy in full Mets team gear said that not only was the NLCS game cancelled, but game 2 of the ALCS was off as well because of the Lidle tragedy. We were already getting off the subway in midtown to meet my colleague's cousin, so the three of us went to a bar to get more news and see if the rain would let up. By 7 we found out the game was in fact officially postponed, so we had a few more drinks and made plans to go to the makeup game on Friday instead. Then I went home, had a late dinner, and watched yesterday's episode of "Friday Night Lights" (quite possibly my new favorite show; I'll have to write an entire post on the show sometime). Tomorrow night is dress rehearsal for Saturday's concert, so I wouldn't have been able to go to a game at all tomorrow. Friday, on the other hand, works out almost perfectly for me. If there is a game, and I can go, of course I'll have a write-up here by Saturday.

Friday, October 06, 2006

NYRO update

Last night's rehearsal was the first one where I felt comfortable with the music, especially the Tchaikovsky symphony. I still need to practice my parts this week, but I think I'm ready for the concert. I'd better be, as it's next Saturday night, October 14. And they've listed my name on the roster on the orchestra's web site, so I guess that makes me a full member of the orchestra. I hope there's no hazing for new members -- I'll have to check on that.

Earlier this week I received my part for Mahler's Symphony No. 3, the only piece on the December concert program. Those who know me know that I LOVE Mahler. As excited as I am for next weekend, I'm really looking forward to the next concert. I've never played a Mahler symphony before so I'm apprehensive about my ability to play the music. I've looked over the part and I know that I can play it, but it's going to require lots of practice time over the next two months. I can't wait to get started learning it.

Here are the full details for the concert next Saturday, for anyone who reads this blog but didn't receive the e-mail I sent out last week (the program notes were written by the orchestra's music director and conductor):

When: Saturday, October 14, 2006 – 8:00 p.m.

Where: Good Shepherd-Faith Church @ 152 West 66th St. (between B'way & Amsterdam)

Admission: FREE


  • José Pablo Moncayo : Huapango
  • Darius Milhaud: Le Carnaval d'Aix – Mitchell Vines, piano
  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 1 "Winter Dreams"

Here's some info about the program:

Returning to the NYRO stage, pianist Mitchell Vines will join us as soloist in Darius Milhaud's light-hearted and free-spirited piano concerto, Le Carnaval d'Aix. Inspired by the commedia dell'arte tradition, it consists of 12 miniatures that portray the different characters, events, and moods of carnival time in the French village of Aix-en-Provence. Full of lively rhythms and tender melodies, Le Carnaval d'Aix is light, joyful, and a lot of fun.

The major work on the program will be the Symphony No. 1 in G minor by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Written by the youthful composer (and subtitled "Winter Dreams") the piece is by turns haunting, graceful, lighthearted, and, finally, immensely powerful. Full of the wonderful melodies, robust harmonies, and sensuous orchestral colors for which he would soon become world-famous, this first essay in the symphonic genre gives us an early look at the young genius.

Our concert begins with the rousing Huapango, by Mexican composer José Pablo Moncayo. Based on the Mexican folk dances from the popular festivals of the costal region of Veracruz, Huapango is an exhilarating mix of distinctly Latin rhythms and melodies; when these rhythms and melodies are combined, the results are wild, raucous and very exciting!

Hope to see you there,

David Leibowitz, Music Director

New York Repertory Orchestra

Thursday, October 05, 2006

my bathroom sink has been fixed

In case anyone was curious, I got my new sink on Tuesday. It wobbles a bit, though, so I need to call my super to see if he still needs to work on it. But now I can brush my teeth in the bathroom again.

Wednesday night at Varsity Letters reading series

Two nights in a row for me out on the town means that the cats are getting restless. It gets worse, boys: I've got rehearsal on Thursday and a busy weekend ahead. (Like they're reading my blog...)

I went to a monthly sports book reading event at Happy Ending on the Lower East Side. It's hosted by Dan Shanoff, who used to write the Daily Quickie column on ESPN.com and now blogs on his own. I'd been wanting to go for a while, but I've always had other plans. However, this evening I was free, so I had dinner at work and then hopped the J train to Bowery and Delancey. (Quick side note: I hardly ever take the J/M/Z trains, and when I do, I feel like I'm on a completely different subway system in some foreign city. The trains and stations look the same, but they're so unfamiliar that they seem completely alien to me. And when I get out of the subway, I'm in a neighborhood that's I've left largely unexplored, so I always expect to get lost.) The big draw for this month's reading was Will Leitch, editor of Deadspin.com, one of my favorite blogs. Before Will got up to talk, the guys who do the 0:01 photo for ESPN The Magazine each month presented a slide show of their work and talked about their new book, a collection of 0:01 photos. Then Tom Callahan, author of a new book about Johnny Unitas, talked about working with Unitas and interviewing old Baltimore Colts players and coaches. Will was the last speaker on the program, and he read two short pieces, one from his book Life as a Loser and another that I think he said hasn't been published yet (I don't remember exactly).

After the reading I stuck around, had another beer or two, and got to meet Will, his fiancee Shari (with her own book now on sale), Dan Shanoff, and some other Deadspin readers and sports fans. I ended up sticking around until the bitter end, mostly because I wasn't in any hurry to get home and I was enjoying talking sports and making fun of everyone else's teams. I'm already looking forward to the next event: a reading with Michael Lewis (of "Moneyball" fame) on November 8. Next time I think the Deadspin readers need to wear nametags with their commenter names on them. I'm not sure who I met this evening, but I'm sure some of them are regular commenters over there. I'll have to become a little more active in that regard myself. Not that it's a big secret, but over there I'm Peter Cavan, a pseudonym my grandfather used to use (to what end, I have no idea).

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

last night's party on Steve Forbes' yacht

It's been a while since I got to go to something cool in New York as part of my job. Last night, my boss and I attended a vendor's security briefing at a midtown hotel and then took a bus with a few dozen other IT managers to Steve Forbes' yacht, The Highlander, for a cruise around Manhattan. We enjoyed fine wine, a buffet dinner, some incredible weather, and utterly fantastic sunset views of the city skyline and New Jersey. I may be bragging, but I think these are some of the best photos I've ever taken. I'm especially proud of this one. We did have to listen to a sales pitch from the company president, but it was worth it for the food, drink, and atmosphere. I talked to a guy in ESPN's IT department and found out that yes, they actually do shoot the "This is SportsCenter" ads at the network's Bristol offices (I had thought that some of them were in a studio somewhere). However, he wasn't in any of the ads. We got a gift bag on the way off the boat with some Forbes magazines and a wrapped package that turned out to be a desktop notecard holder and pen set that I left at home. A free ride on a luxury yacht, all the food and wine I could want, and swag at the end? That's a perfect work outing in my book.

Monday, October 02, 2006

weekend recap, and a bonus rant about plumbing

On Friday night, just as I was leaving work, I got an invitation to join some of my co-workers for drinks. We went to Loreley on Rivington, where my friends were out back in the garden enjoying liters of German beer. I had two liters of Spaten Oktoberfest and soon I was loving life as much as they were. Around 10 PM everyone else had taken off, leaving me and one other guy to continue the evening's revelry. We stopped at a pizza place for something to help soak up the beer, then we went to a Bleecker Street bar where his friend was serving the drinks. A few more beers later, and I was just on the happy side of drunk. (As opposed to the 'blacked-out, how did I get home?' side of drunk.) We took the party to Taco Bell on Sixth Ave., a haunt I haven't visited since I moved out of the Village three years ago. After hours of drinking, a burrito seemed like a fantastic idea at 1 AM, and I didn't realize until the next morning what a terrible decision it really was. After our run for the border we walked down 4th St. to the East Side to get taxis home. On the way we ran into one of my old friends from college, his wife, and another friend of theirs. Only in New York does it make perfect sense that I'd run into a friend at 1:45 AM on a deserted East Village street.

I took it easy on Saturday morning, what with my hangover and all. I didn't have much time to sleep in, as the plumber showed up around 10 AM to start working on my bathroom sink.


Last weekend, I noticed that I had some kind of (what seemed like a minor) clog in my bathroom sink. Whenever I ran the water in the bathroom, I'd hear a gurgling sound from my kitchen sink (the two rooms are adjacent and the sink pipes are connected). I didn't think much about it until last Tuesday night. I washed some dishes, then went into the bathroom and noticed that my bathroom sink had filled almost to the point of overflowing with dirty dishwater. I bailed it out, then called my super to let him know about the problem. He called me back on Wednesday afternoon to tell me that his plumber had been over there to look at the situation and that it would be fixed shortly. So imagine my surprise when I came home that night to find a huge mess in both the kitchen and the bathroom. Apparently the plumber had had to get under my kitchen sink, so all of the liquor and cleaning supplies I keep there were on the kitchen floor, along with a generous amount of filth. The bathroom was just as bad, and I didn't have a functioning bathroom sink either. At least my shower, toilet, and kitchen sink were still working. My super stopped by and said that he'd try to have the work finished on Thursday or Friday, and if nothing else, he'd get someone to clean up the kitchen. When I got home from rehearsal on Thursday night, nothing had changed. No cleanup or further repairs seem to have happened. By Friday night the work in the kitchen was done, so on Saturday morning I put all of my stuff back under the sink. The plumber worked in the bathroom on Saturday and again on Sunday, and by Sunday afternoon I had a new cabinet and sink in my bathroom, but it was still not connected. The last thing I heard was that the plumbing supply store in my neighborhood was closed on Monday, so the plumber would get the supplies on Tuesday, though he didn't say exactly when he'd finish the job.

In addition to all of that mishegoss, on Saturday night I managed to lock myself out of the apartment while I was making dinner. My super had flipped the switch on the apartment door that sets the knob to locked, and I'm not used to that. I took out the trash, and just as the door closed I realized I didn't have my keys. I did have my phone, so I called my super and he was kind enough to come right over and let me back in. Actually, as the plumber had his spare key to my apartment, the super had to jimmy the lock with a piece of metal. In the meantime, James had arrived for dinner and football, and he made many, many jokes about my ineptitude. We were able to save the chili I'd left on the stove, and Michigan beat Minnesota, so it turned out to be a good night after all.

The rant part of this is that all I had was a damn clog in the pipes, and now I'm getting a new sink?! I don't really see how a clogged pipe leads to a completely new sink, and while I'm waiting for workmen and supplies to finish the job, I'm brushing my teeth and washing my face in my kitchen. I wish I'd taken pictures of the mess; it was quite spectacular.


I watched football for a while on Sunday afternoon, then I had an early dinner and went to the Javits Center for Kol Nidre service for the start of Yom Kippur. It's supposed to be a 25-hour fast (from sundown to one hour after sundown the next day), but since I'd had to eat dinner at 4:30 on Sunday and I waited until 8 PM to eat dinner tonight, it ended up being about a 28-hour fast. Tonight's dinner was a three-egg omelet with green onions, Cheddar cheese and cilantro, hash browns with mushrooms, turkey bacon, and toast. Mmm, breakfast for dinner.