Friday, June 19, 2009

Kashi GOLEAN CRUNCH! vs. Fruit Loops: A Comparative Study

Last week Sarah bought us Kashi GOLEAN Crunch! cereal (The Original). I think her choice was a sort of redemption, meant as a kind of penance for the previous week’s cereal: Fruit Loops (which I love, by the way). She claims to like it, but I think it’s SICK and even downright dangerous. I tried it for the first time at breakfast the other day and one of the fibrous clusters scraped my throat. Roger aptly described the experience of eating Kashi GOLEAN Crunch! like this: “It’s like eating a mashed up granola bar.”

To be fair, the cereal does have: 9g protein, 8g fiber, 16g of whole grains and, according to Kashi, is “the latest in dieting: healthy eating.” So, if you’re looking for something healthy and don’t mind the taste of a mashed up granola bar, then Kashi GOLEAN Crunch! is where it’s at.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

coffee in greenpoint, a geographical study

Recently, I have been doing some research for you. This is important. Who knows the next time you are going to need the information I am about to share with you. You could suddenly have to hold an emergency meeting with your associate in North Brooklyn. The G train could shut down, and you might need a place of refuge from the rain.

View coffee in greenpoint in a larger map

1. Greenpoint Coffee House -- 195 Franklin St. at Green St.
This place is across the street from my house so it gets big points automatically. There is out door seating, and a pleasant interior, although my roommate and I are never sure if we are supposed to order at the counter or sit down or what. Coffee prices are pretty cheap too, for example, a latte is 2.50 which is much less than comparable Manhattan places, or even other places in the neighborhood. They have food here, too, and a nice loose tea selection. I would say proximity and price are winning qualities here.

2. Champion Coffee -- 1108 Manhattan Ave between Dupont and Clay
I just found out about this place recently but I really like it! It is tucked away in the northern area of the neighborhood, and actually located under some apartments. They have a backyard that is surrounded by other people's homes, including fire escapes above the shop where you can see the neighbors' dogs. They are really friendly here, and I like the tucked-away location. Coffeewise, they have only Americano, no regular, so prices start a little higher, but I have always enjoyed coming here a lot, and would like to try the food options they serve. Bonus: if you go in the next few days, you are going to be able to check out the 4th of July Parade they have constructed on that part of Manhattan as part of a Jennifer Aniston movie they are filming.

3. Brooklyn Label -- 180 Franklin St. at Java
I went to this place for the sake of thorough research. It is always busy with diners, and though I think you could sit around at a table without ordering a whole meal, I never have wanted to just because it is so busy. They do have coffee to go, which isn't the cheapest (2.25 for small iced coffee I think?) But they were actually pretty friendly.

4. Cafe Grumpy -- 193 Meserole Ave. at Diamond
I read great reviews of this place before going, so expectations were high. I don't know enough about coffee to really care about all that, but what I like the most about this place is the space. There is a lot of room! I have come here to do job applications when I got sick of my apartment. It is also close to McGolrick Park which is my favorite park around here, and sort of close to the library.

5. Brooklyn Standard -- 188 Nassau Ave. between Humbolt and Jewel
I came here today after getting soaked in the rain and liked it! It is modeled after a bodega but with local and ethical products including Stumptown coffee -- which actually isn't local. But it is fair trade. Prices are good for logo-free, fair trade coffee, and they just give you a cup and you can serve yourself which helps you to participate more in the whole experience. Far from my house, and not really a place you can come to sit around, but right next to McGolrick park. Also very friendly here!

6. Sweetleaf Coffee & Tea -- 10-93 Jackson Ave., Long Island City, right over the Pulaski Bridge

Going to this place from Greenpoint requires a walk across the Pulaski Bridge (you could also take the 61 bus or the G to 21st -- probably the only reason anyone would ever use that pointless stop.) but I think the walk across the bridge adds to the reason I like this place. The second time I went, I didn't like it as much, but I think that actually had to do with the fact that I got on the 7 shortly after (it is right next to the Hunters Point stop) and there were some problems and the entire platform was bumper to bumber and it was raining and horrible and everyone was late to work. Also it was burning hot down there. Anyway, I do like this place. They serve Stumptown and had very nice staff (too nice, really) though there isn't much seating. The scone I had there was very good too -- which I think is rare for scones you didn't make yourself.

On the map, I also included Gregory's Coffee which is an expensive, unfriendly, mediocre place in Manhattan that was close to one of my internships. I put it on there for comparison. I don't think you would want to go there at all. I prefer any of these places compared to places in Manhattan because they are less crowded, you can actually get a seat, and much cheaper for good quality!


Two updates on some essential things that I have reviewed before.

1. Today while walking around in the rain, I had to take refuge in the Nassau Ave. G station for a second, and also to find out how much money is on my metrocard. Who knew? I have to correct my early review of this station, and say it is more interesting than I thought. I had only ever gone in the Norman Ave. entrance, but the Nassau Ave one is larger has a lot of stairs everywhere, and even some old mosaics reading "To Brooklyn" "To LI City and Jamaica." The station was opened in 1933. Apparently you can also see where the old wooden token booth was from back in the day. Here's a picture from this subway website of the maze-like quality of this station:

2. I think I have some evidence that some Greenpoint readers really took me up on my Earplug advice! Yesterday I went two 3 drugstores looking for the Mack's ear plug brand I previously reviewed, and they were out at both Rite Aids on Manhattan Ave! I had to go to the more expensive Duane Reade, and found a good selection, including a smaller size (Mack's Jr.) which I think will eliminate the problem I reported on earlier. Also, they are purple.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Elizabethtown: Worth a Second Glance

Tonight I decided to pop Elizabethtown into my DVD player. The first time I saw it, almost 4 years ago, I wasn't satisfied. I remember leaving the theater with all of these unanswered questions and while the movie runs for 123 minutes, I wanted more. A second viewing, with more life experience under my belt has changed my mind.

I won't describe the plot, because that would do an injustice to the film and in some ways, the plot doesn't matter. What Cameron Crowe does with this film is to expose his audience to an array of themes that is reminiscent of his film Almost Famous. We have the lost son, trying to cement his position within his family as well as within the world. A free spirit who holds the proverbial mirror to our face to help point out the flaws as well as the beauty. The loss of a loved one and the gaining of a friendship.

The movie ends with an epic road trip where our main character reconciles the pains of his recent situation while he navigates the roads of America, all with the ashes of his dead father strapped in next to him. In some ways these last scenes fully capture what Crowe's movie is trying to tell us. We might all get wrapped up in our personal dramas and hardships, but we can lessen these burdens by returning to our roots and family. A bit idealistic? Maybe. But it sure does make me want to take a road trip of my own, navigated by Kirsten Dunst.

BIZARRE: Strange Invaders

I don't see many movies anymore, and this weekend when we accidentally bought and then returned tickets to see Up 3D and then couldn't see just plain Up, I assumed I wouldn't see one any time soon. How wrong I was.

Sunday, my friend picked up Strange Invaders, a gem of a sci-fi film, for only $1 at a sidewalk sale. The film seems like it might be a spoof, but after listening to the commentary for about five minutes, I think that maybe they were taking themselves seriously. The story is a little difficult to follow, but generally it's about aliens, who dress like they are from the fifties. There's some subplot about a man searching for his ex-wife and daughter, and in the meantime goes through two girlfriends.

Two things I think might have been in homage to Plan 9: the outdoor lighting changes constantly within one scene, so you never know if it's night or day or some weird combination of the two; and the plots holes are so big and so frequent that the move plays like swiss cheese. The best thing about the movie was definitely Wallace Shawn, who may be my favorite person ever.

Overall: Fun but not as fun as Destroy All Humans or Mars Attacks!, though it did sort of rekindle my love for Wallace Shawn, Siskel & Ebert, and watching movies with friends.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Stops on the G Train

"You gotta love the G train. If you love it, it’ll love you back.”

Court House Sq.
-- I don't like the race from the E, V trains to try to make the G train. You get tricked into thinking that there is no wait, since there are always G trains waiting in the station. The only difference is that you can wait while sitting in the train, waiting for the bell to ding and the doors to close.

21st St./Van Alst -- I do not get the point of this station. Have never been here, and don't need to since it is about half a block from Court Sq.

Greenpoint Ave. -- The station I know best. Sometimes the card swipes don't work, and sometimes there are men passed out by the turnstiles. I like thinking about how much cumulative time I have spent waiting here. How many of my ideas can I credit to reflection time, waiting on the G?

Nassau -- Meticulous G train riders will have realized that I forgot about Nassau in the first version of this review. I think that's accurate. Notable things near this stop are the Greenpoint Library, McCarren Park, and Peter Pan Doughnuts. Other than that, it is nondescript.

Metropolitan/Lorimer -- I swear they have timed the L train to just miss the arriving G trains. Whenever I take the L train here, I have just missed the latest G and it is 15-20 minutes wait or sometimes more! In winter, this G train platform has a cold breeze even though it is underground. What?? I do like the musicians who sometimes play down there on the Smith-9 bound platform.

Broadway -- Have never stopped here, but always seems creepy from all the stains on the walls.

Flushing -- no opinion.

Myrtle/Willoughby -- Never been but always a ton of people get out here.

Bedford Nostrand -- The only times I have waited here are with the G goes unexpectedly "express" or they do that weird late night shuttle thing, or that time the whole g train shut down below this stop.

Classon -- no opinion

Clinton Washington -- there were stretches this winter when I waited here late at night for what seemed like hours and hours. These exits might be the most scenic exits on the G line, especially the SE Washington and Lafayette exit in spring when the roses are in bloom. Climbing the stairs, I swear you can actually smell all the greenery growing around here.

Fulton -- This is the worst stop to wait at. It always takes forever, and there are so many misleading traffic noises that make you think the train is coming and it isn't.

Hoyt Schermerhorn -- Once I waited here for about 45 minutes with a crowd of people before they annouced that the G wasn't coming. Negative points for the A/C trains often not running here on the weekends and it never being clear what's going on.

Bergen St. -- Never had to wait here too long except one time for the F train when I had to pee really bad.

Caroll St. -- Again, never had to wait long here. Something about this area of Brooklyn?

Smith - 9 -- Always seems like a long wait here. Once I went through here on the F train and since I had left my house it had started snowing. When we emerged above ground, the skyline of Brooklyn was full of huge snowflakes -- the first of the year.

Great article about the G train

If you are a G train rider, I encourage you to comment with your own reviews of the different stops.