Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Small Reminder of San Francisco in an NYC Apartment

Kelly found this from Petit Collage, a San Francisco-based seller of home decor for kids' rooms.

It's a charming wood print celebrating San Francisco, and even includes the Sutro Tower (though there's no Vaillancourt fountain).

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Am I Selling Out?

On weekends I often like to wear my San Francisco Giants cap around town. But whereas the hat allowed me to blend in with my surroundings in the Bay Area, it can become the source of unwanted conversation here in New York.

"San Francisco?" said a man on 59th Street. "Wha?" (His tone when uttering "San Francisco" suggested it had no right to exist as either a municipality or baseball team.)

Sometimes I don't really want to deal with people. So I found something that lets me camouflage myself while still supporting my team: a New York Giants cap.

Courtesy of the site, this is a replica hat from before the team moved to San Francisco in 1957 (they used to play at the Polo Grounds in Manhattan).

You almost have to do a double-take before you realize it's not a regular Giants cap. The risk, of course, is that New Yorkers will think I'm wearing one of those creatively colored Mets or Yankees hats. This CANNOT happen.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I've Outlived All The Fallen Rappers of My Time

It's that time of year again: I'm celebrating a birthday and wondering which deceased rapper I've now outlived.

The answer is, I've outlasted pretty much all of them. Every hip-hop artist cut down in his prime is younger than me  even Jam Master Jay and Ol' Dirty Bastard, who lived well into their 30s. (I've already noted the sad realization that I'm much older than someone named Ol' Dirty Bastard.)

I am still younger than Heavy D and Nate Dogg, but they died from health problems. It doesn't seem like they should count.

In any case, I'm happy to be here — and sad for those who aren't. I would go pour a little liquor on the ground, but I live in a high-rise apartment with no houseplants.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

New York's Tallest Building Upstaged by Ketchup Bottle

Today we took a subway ride to the financial district  our first trip downtown since arriving in New York three months ago.

I was excited to finally experience One World Trade Center up close, and was certain Elliot would be thrilled to see what will soon be the tallest building in the United States.

Unfortunately, someone has installed a giant inflatable ketchup bottle in nearby City Hall Park.

Elliot was delighted by the ketchup bottle. He could give a crap about the building.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Scenes From Roosevelt Island

This weekend we walked to Roosevelt Island's South Point Park for the first time. That's the undeveloped  and very quiet — area near the southern tip of the island. They haven't completed a long-planned FDR monument there, but the parts that are open are quite pretty.

There's the view of Midtown...

...the geese...

...the ruins of a smallpox hospital (supposedly, New York City's only landmarked ruins)...

...and lots and lots of flowers: shown here with the U.N. Building and the World Trump Tower in the background.

Not bad for a part of the city nobody has ever heard of.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

You Don't Look So Big From Here

One World Trade Center, which became the tallest building in New York in April, is now clearly visible from Roosevelt Island.

Well, maybe not too clearly. From our apartment, we only see the rabbit-ear-like cranes poking up from behind the UN Building. And even from the southern end of the island, which is closer to One World Trade's downtown location, it looks like this (click to expand photo).

Not really an imposing tower when you see it this way.

This is what it looks like up close.

Photo courtesy of Paul Anthony Moore on Flickr.

In any case, Midtown East (which is next to Roosevelt Island) may get rezoned to allow more Empire State Building-sized towers.

That would have a much bigger impact on the skyline from this vantage point.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Are Baby Names Getting Worse?

I've been focusing on people choosing old-fashioned names for their newborns, but here's a different perspective.

The Deadspin site took a look at some of the more contemporary names making the rounds...and found them wanting.
[Parents magazine] surveyed 13,000 readers and asked them, "If you had a boy/girl, what would you name him/her?" Now, you and I both know that Americans of all stripes have grown progressively worse at naming children. It's not enough for your child to have a normal name and then try to stand out on their own merits down the road. No, no, no. Every parent now wants every child to be unique and special from the moment the doctor wipes all the amniotic fluid off of it, even though all babies look alike and contribute nothing to society. 
But people are stupid and happily ignore this fact. You would think that baby names have reached their apex of ludicrousness. But you would be wrong. Oh, dear reader, you would be so, so wrong. Americans are somehow getting even worse at naming children, and they show no signs of correcting themselves. You think that Jayden is the bottom of the barrel? My friend, I combed through this survey and found names that would confuse and terrify you. I can't even list them all here, because your brain would die. Instead, I've picked just a few representative choices, to show you the tip of the preppy white moron iceberg. There's a bizarre assumption that if you can make your child's name unique, the child will be unique. And that's NEVER the case. Chances are, if you name your kid Braxlee, he or she is gonna end up bent over the sink in the back of a TGI Friday's, offering tail in exchange for a better skim off the tip pool. 

• Adler
• Attyson
• Bastian
• Blayde The extra Y in there makes it 10 percent sharper. And don't fuck with Blayde's brother, Nyfe.
• Chesney
• Draven Please note that if you name your baby Draven, you must dress him up like the Crow at all times.
• Diesel
• Izander "I'd like my son to sound like a shirt. Can you do that?"
• Jaydien That's right. JaydIen. Don't forget that I. That I is what sets young Jaydien apart from the mere Jaydens of the world. Now don't you people who named your kid Jayden feel behind the times? You bought the beta version of that name. It's like buying an iPad too early. Six years from now, the name will have morphed into Jayydizzosoian, and then you'll really feel like a sucker.
• Kierson Straight from the "Invented Irish name for Boston-area steakheads" file
• Ryker
• Sincere
• Sketch If you name your child Sketch, you should be arrested. At that point, you're just basically looking around the delivery room, coming up with nouns as names. "Oh, fuck it. Call him Monitor."
• Tulsa If you're gonna name your kid after a place, at least have the common courtesy to name him after a legitimate tourist destination. No one wants to hang out with a kid named Tulsa, or a kid named Kalamazoo. Ol' Kal. Always gettin' in trouble.
• Tyce Fuck you.
• Zaiden Of course Zaiden is here. It takes Jayden and throws a Z in front, which makes it SO STRONG. God, I just wanna slap a loincloth on little Zaiden and club dragons with him. Be on the lookout for Drayden, Fayden, Waiden, Strayden, and Klayden coming to your hood.
• Zebulon Classic hillbilly, with the bonus of sounding like a cartoon alien planet.
Those are the boys. For the girls... God, I'm so sorry for you, little princesses. Here is what your meth-addled mothers cooked up for you:
• Annyston Joined by brother Schwymmir
• Brook'Lynn The abuse of apostrophes in names has to end. A reasonable person should be able to know, by looking at a name, when one syllable ends and another begins. But no, dumbfucks all over the country have to be like "I'll name him Raw'Bert." You stop that. Give me some credit for being able to read even if you can't.
• Brylee Isn't this an ice cream brand? It should be an ice cream brand.
• Copelia It's a ballet about a mechanical love doll, only spelled wrong.
• Cortlyn
• Fallyn "I'd like my daughter to sound like a dystopian young adult novel, please."
• Harvest You know what people will Harvest from your daughter? Her V-card.
• Jerrika You know what comes next, right? You guessed it: ZERRIKA. You will meet a Zerrika one day, and then you won't know what to do with yourself.
• Joplyn
• Julissa Classic hybrid name. It joins the likes of Emichelle, Eliza'Betty, and Jessikate.
• Luxx Why not add that third x and fulfill her destiny? That's what you want, right? You want little Luxx to grow up, move to the Valley and earn $60 a week getting jet spraykakke'd for a series of Brazzers short films, yes? There's no other reason to name your child Luxx.
• Mahayla
• Midnight
• Sharpay This is a character from High School Musical. It's also a breed of dog. Why stop there? Name your child Dobyrman.
• Tayzia
• Tybee Seriously, fuck you. Unless you want your kid to grow up to become a made-for-TV cooking product, piss off with Tybee.
• Xylethia
• Yankee And... the final insult.
As I said before, this is merely a sampling. There are so many more horrible names on the list: Trust, Wellen, Kayson, Stormy, Mayson, Kayleen—it goes on and on and on. I wish I could tell you there's an end to this, that writing your local Congressman to draft laws preventing this kind of child abuse from happening would do the trick. But I can't. It won't. Our fate is sealed, not unlike that of poor Luxx. Luxxx. Luxxxx'Ann. God help us all.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

'The Golden Girls': Old-Lady-Name Central

With so many parents choosing century names and old-lady names for their kids, I've been wondering if anyone has examined the impact of "The Golden Girls" on the trend.

After all, Sophia (played by Estelle Getty) now has the most popular moniker in America, and the show is a source of other great names in the same vein.

Sure enough, the Nameberry blog beat me to this topic, covering it in early 2010 (before Sophia reached No. 1 nationwide).
When The Golden Girls hit the small screen in 1985, the names of its leading ladies — Rose, Dorothy and Blanche — were late middle aged, and Mama Sophia was old enough to have already been in and out of the Shady Pines Nursing Home. That was 25 years ago, a period of major change in the name world. Sophia is now the seventh most popular baby name (and #1 in some places), Rose is America's favorite middle name, and Dorothy is one of the belles of the nameberry name boards. 
Not only that: other Golden Girl names, names that were virtually written off just a couple of years ago, are back in play. Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, for example, named one of their twin daughters Marion, Julia Roberts chose Hazel for hers and Molly Ringwald picked Adele. And nameberryites are cool with similar period names like Clara and Cora, Vivian and Vera.
Such names have become even more mainstream since Nameberry addressed this issue two years ago. (Adele also has gotten a boost from the singer, of course.) But I think the growth for some of these names is just getting under way.

I really like Dorothy and predict that it's going to blow up in the next 10 years. It was No. 3 in the 1910s and No. 2 in the 1920s, making it a perfect century name.

I don't predict as dramatic an ascent for Rose, which  as Nameberry notes  is more ensconced as a middle name now. And Blanche doesn't have the same charm.

But let's dig deeper: What about the names of the actresses on "The Golden Girls"?

Stella is already popular, and I could see Estelle gaining steam as well (though it's not currently in the top 1,000). Estelle Getty was born in 1923, when the name ranked 123rd.

Bea Arthur was actually born Bernice  a name that I don't expect to make a comeback soon. But Beatrice has already climbed back into the top 1,000, and I think it will go higher.

Rue McClanahan had an unusual name, and it doesn't evoke a bygone era. If it makes any headway in the coming years, it will be due to the "Hunger Games" character, not nostalgia.

Then there's Betty White, the only member of the principal cast who is still alive. I don't see Betty staging a rebound, but it's a diminutive of Elizabeth  a perennial favorite  so it may get some love on the nickname front.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Baby-Name Inspiration: Pubs in London

BuboBlog foreign correspondent Anh-Minh came across a place in London called Elliot's.

Photos courtesy of Anh-Minh.

And then one called Alice's.

I assumed the third place they visited would supply a perfect name for our third child, but it turned out to be Tom's.

Not super-cute on a girl (though maybe better than Ribbo).

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Getting There Isn't Half the Fun

They say a journey of a 1,000 miles begins with a child throwing up in the Bronx.

Well, at least that's how it was with us. We took a road trip from New York to Maine, and our children scarcely survived the ordeal.

Elliot in a happier moment.

Elliot vomited twice on the way up. The first time it happened, we'd already been stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic seemingly forever. After I pulled over in a suburban neighborhood to clean him up, I looked around and wondered where we were. Then I saw an MTA bus and realized we hadn't even left New York. Jesus, this city can be hard to escape. (But then, they did make a movie about that.)

The second time was in New Haven, since Elliot was apparently intent on making us pull over in derelict areas. The rental car was in such bad shape by this point we had to find a car wash and bribe them to clean it Harvey Keitel style.

Did I mention it was hot? Kelly snapped this photo of the car's thermometer.

Somewhere on Interstate 95.

On the way home, Alice bolted away from me in a Connecticut Sbarro and did a faceplant on the floor. She chipped her front tooth and bled everywhere.

I'm worried about her tooth (do dentists bother fixing baby teeth?). But Alice has been characteristically tough about the whole thing.

And on the bright side, she looks more like a real New Yorker now.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Baby-Product Idea

I was thinking: Why aren't there more baby products for parents from the hip-hop generation?

As a rap-music fan who has to slather a lot of balm on babies' bottoms, I would totally use:

BALM-ASS cream (tm).

Let's make this happen, Procter & Gamble.

UPDATE: So apparently some people didn't understand this post.

It's supposed to be a play on bombass.

Fine, forget the whole thing.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Low-Budget Headrest Video System

We piled into a rented Chevy Cruze to drive up to Maine this week.

The car doesn't have a lot of frills, but Kelly found this cool accessory that turns an iPad into a headrest video system.

We tried to entertain Elliot with "Finding Nemo," only to discover that it was a little too scary for a 3-year-old.

I guess I didn't remember that the movie starts off by killing the mom and massacring a school of clownfish eggs — only to get more frightening.

"Mommy, can we turn off this movie and not watch it again?"

"Do you want us to skip over the scary parts, Elliot?"

"It's all scary parts."

(Oh well, maybe when he's four.)

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Talk About Pressure

You can surrender your baby here...

...but you only have three hours to decide.