Thursday, September 18, 2014

Roosevelt Island's Color Scheme Spreads Into Manhattan

If you take the Roosevelt Island tram and look down at FDR Drive, you may notice a splash of red that wasn't there before.

An oft-overlooked sculpture called the East River Roundabout has been repainted crimson, giving it a similar look as the tramway and the red buses that circle Roosevelt Island.

I'm not sure if this is a deliberate effort to extend the Roosevelt Island color scheme to more of Manhattan, but it's a welcome change.

The sculpture, which had looked like a dreary, long-abandoned roller coaster, now enlivens the waterfront. 

It's still a bit of an oddball art installation. The work, dedicated in 1995, was meant to turn the roof of a former garbage transfer into an inviting plaza. Alice Aycock designed the 80-foot-long aluminum helix that sits atop the plaza. (You may remember Aycock as the artist behind the beautiful aluminum sculptures featured earlier this year along Park Avenue.) 

The East River Roundabout circa 1995. Photo courtesy of

I'm definitely an Aycock fan, but I'm not sure the original vision for the East River Roundabout ever came to fruition. When we briefly lived in that part of Midtown — not far from Sutton Place in the shadow of the Queensboro Bridge — we strolled over to the plaza once. I can't say it was buzzing with people.

Will the new paint make it more of a destination? Hard to say, but it at least makes it less of an eyesore.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

One Step Closer to My Dream

It's been my longstanding ambition to create a restaurant where you can eat everything on the table (including the utensils and napkins). Pending a licensing agreement with Alka-Seltzer, it will be called "I Can't Believe I Ate the Whole Thing."

The idea to serve wraps, bread bowls and other edible items. We'd use pretzel forks and a lettuce leaf for customers wipe their faces (perhaps a nice bibb).

Serving drinks has always been the challenge. I've contemplated having waiters rove around shooting beverages into customers mouths from a nozzle, but this doesn't seem practical. Likewise, lowering the temperature to subfreezing and using glasses made of ice would be difficult.

So I was excited to see this solution: serving drinks inside ice-cream cones. Apparently you can get a latte this way at Alfred Coffee & Kitchen in Los Angeles. (Thanks for the heads up, BuboBlog West Coast correspondent Dave.)

Why didn't I think of this before?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

When Tupperware Made Toys

Kelly was given these vintage toy blocks from a friend, who I think purchased them on eBay. They're a Tupperware creation from 1971 called Busy Blocks.

I have a faint memory of playing with these things as a child, but I don't think our family owned them. Each block opens to reveal a little green figurine — army-men style — that corresponds to the picture on the side of the box.

Who knows, maybe they contain Bisphenol A. But the kids had a great time playing with them.

And the best part about 1970s toys? No princesses anywhere on them.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

A Pirate Party

I've been trying to make a video every time one of my children has a birthday. But with three kids and 18 birthdays until adulthood, I just realized I'm on the hook for more than 50 videos.

My quality may trail off after 30 or 40 of these, but I'm pretty happy with this one.

It helps that it's a cute pirate-themed celebration and not an awkward teenage party. (Stay tuned for that. Only seven to 12 years away.)

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

A Writer in the Making?

"I been in the lab / with a pen and a pad." —Dr. Dre

Former Senator Bob Dole, who paralyzed his right arm in World War II, liked to carry a pen in his hand to make the injury less obvious. (I wasn't a supporter of his, but this always seemed like a noble gesture — many politicians might prefer to make their war injuries more obvious.)

Anyway, Lucy cuts a similar figure as she totters around the house.

She always seems to be clutching some kind of writing instrument (ideally something harmless like a crayon, but often a crayon, pen or marker).

She'll typically stop to scribble with it, but not always — it's as if the pen itself is conferring power to her as she makes her rounds.

Neither of the other kids did this.

I hope this means she will follow in her parents' footsteps and become a writer or editor.

Otherwise, we're going to have a lot of defaced walls and furniture for no good reason.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Graduating to the Big-Kid Legos

Elliot turns 6 later this week, and that means he's finally old enough to play with real Legos. (Standard Legos — not Duplo — are recommended for ages 6 through 12.)

But in our case, the biggest challenge to playing with Legos is the other kids in our house. We can't have a bunch of tiny pieces floating around when they could be swallowed by a 1-year-old.

This is the conundrum of the oldest child. It doesn't matter if you're old enough to play with a toy; you have to make sure your younger sister can handle it too.

But in order to be fair to Elliot, we've struck a deal. He can play with his big-kid Legos (which he got as a birthday gift) as long as Lucy is asleep.

Elliot and I were assembling a Batman Batcopter set yesterday afternoon (the instructions had 47 steps!) when there was a BANG BANG BANG on the door.

Lucy had woken up from her nap and was prowling the house. We had to scramble to gather up the Legos and put them away.

I realized then that the most terrifying villain in Gotham isn't the Joker or Scarecrow. It's your toddler sister.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Showing California Pride

I've said before that hand-me-down clothes are like a never-ending version of "Who Wore It Best."

In this case, both girls wore this California shirt — but Alice showed a little more reverence (with hand over heart).

Alice wins this round. (In fairness, Lucy has barely ever set foot in California.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The First Hyperlapse of the Roosevelt Island Tram

Instagram released a new app today that lets you shoot time-lapse videos without the usual shakiness. It relies on your smartphone's gyroscope, rather than just trying to stabilize the video based on the images coming into the camera.

It's pretty cool, so I figured I'd use it on my commute home to take what I assume is the first Roosevelt Island tram Hyperlapse.

Unfortunately, I didn't realize until too late that it works in both vertical and landscape modes. As a result, I created a dreaded vertical video. Please don't hold it against me; it was my first Hyperlapse ever.

UPDATE: I made another video from other direction. And yes, it's horizontal.

This latest one has been shared by a few websites and now has almost 13,000 views.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Like a Bird Taking Flight

Elliot began riding a bike without his training wheels on Sunday and got the hang of it faster than I expected (well, he still has some trouble starting and stopping — is that important?).

I always imagined that teaching your kids to ride a bike was a seminal moment, but I didn't expect the rush of exhilaration. It's really like they're taking off right before your eyes. You realize that they suddenly have more freedom than ever before (as Elliot showed when he rode off and didn't stop until he crashed into a patio table), and it makes you scared and proud at the same time.

I suppose I'll experience something similar when he learns to drive a car — a thought that makes me hope we never leave New York City.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Bringing Some Bling to the Family

Elliot doesn't turn 6 for a couple more weeks, but he got to pick out his birthday present today. His choice: a gleaming gold bicycle.

It's not an expensive bike (Kelly took him to Toys R Us to get it), but it's about as flashy as this family gets. It also lends support to the idea that gold is back in fashion with today's youth.

In any case, it will probably be slightly more fly once we take the training wheels off.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Parents in the 1800s Named Their Kids Odd Stuff

I've had a couple more guest posts on the Nameberry site in recent weeks. One looked at color names for boys, while the other addressed the popularity of using last names as first names.

In both cases, there's an overarching theme: If you think baby names today are crazy, the 1800s were even weirder.

So don't feel bad about giving a strange name to your child. People in stovepipe hats and corsets were happily naming their kids Green, Lawyer and Doc. (On the other hand, I'm not sure Nevaeh would have occured to them.)