READS: Surf NYC – Into the Deep End With The Urban Wave Jockeys


Photo: Andreea Waters


I guess you can call photographer/author Andreea Waters‘ new book Surf NYC ($34.99, Schiffer Publishing) a perfect summer beach read of sorts. Granted, if you’re strolling around certain wet and sandy spots with a copy in hand and your phone’s GPS chatting away looking for where some of the photos in the book were shot, you may luck out and get an autograph from one of the more outgoing daredevils committed to riding the weird, wild waves in and around the NY area.

On the other hand, you’ll probably want to respect both the privacy and utter daring of these urban daredevils out to conquer with their own respect the very waters doing what comes naturally and often under unnatural circumstances. The book is a 136-page hardcover with 64 outstanding images of the guys and gals who dare along with the places they do that daring in. You’ll come for the images, but stay for the stories told in quick bits by the surfers interviewed.

Photo: Andreea Waters

Photo: Andreea Waters


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READS: When A Closed Book Is The Best Thing In The World

huntington 001 (Custom) 

I’d been meaning to visit the sometimes appointment-only Huntington Free Library and Reading Room about a half-hour walk my place for some time, but I’d always found myself a bit too busy to get over that way. That is, until I found out there was a new library that was going to replace the older building next door that was formerly home to a rather large Native American artifact collection. That new building won’t be built for a while, but getting the chance to see and pore over a bit of area history was something I’ve been wanting to do for quite a while. Thanks to TLH setting up an appointment on Monday via email, we popped in today at 10 sharp and stayed about two hours chatting with caretaker/tour guide/author Tom Casey, a man with a encyclopedic knowledge of the history of the area and a ton of other things.

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Stepping Into The Rift @ The Marriot: Traveling Light Might Be A New Option…


Hey, Kids! Time travel exists! Okay, it doesn’t (sorry, folks!), but I’m making it so with this post because I started it when I got back from the FUTURE, but my stupid computer decided to freeze up and not want to post it when I finished. Boo. Anyway, I was HERE for a while seeing part of the future of entertainment and travel courtesy of Marriott Hotels and a few very hard working and talented folks at Relevent and Framestore. More on this in a longer article shortly. My time-bending skills are limited at this point and I need my beauty rest… good night!

SDCC 2014: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Teaser Makes Me Feel A Bit Green…

The third part of Peter Jackson’s busy amusement park version of Middle-earth is on the way to theaters in December and as you can see from this teaser trailer, you’ll be getting pretty much what you expected if you liked the other two parts of this two part film expanded into three. I’m actually a film behind in this saga (I need to see The Desolation of Smaug at some point), so I’m not in a tearing hurry to rush out to a theater 11+ miles away and see this one. Heck, given the extended, special, collectors and other edition home video versions that are BOUND to surface in 2015 and onward, I may as well wait until the DEFINITIVE version of this trilogy rolls out just so I can see every bit of film as it was intended to be seen (er, as far as home versions go). I should probably just follow a friend’s advice and get a nice HD projector to make that one big white wall in the living room a mini movie palace, but we’ll see what happens financially over the next few months or so.

Oh, and you can actually WIN a nice trip to New Zealand to poke around some of the actual locations from the film (minus the green screen effects, of course). That video above will clue you into how to enter and such. Good Luck!

READS: It’s A Mystery To Me And More, Sort of Historical Version…

to live forever PBWell, whee! Barnes & Noble came through pretty quickly and that means I get to do some reading this weekend. While her husband MTM sits at home holding the fort down (and sliding around on the floor in his underwear like Tom Cruise in Risky Business because he’s got the house all to himself), his wife, author Andra Watkins is out walking the Natchez Trace, following the path of Lewis and Clark. Nope, he didn’t drive her out thataway and accidentally leave her to her own devices, folks. There’s a nifty and interesting story behind all that trekking she’ll be doing for the remainder of March plus… but you’ll have to read her blog to get all that info. Hey, I can’t tell her story better than she can and I don’t have a book to sell (yet). SO you get to get it from the horse’s mouth as it were. Anyway, you can grab To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis from a few places digitally or physically. You’re smart, so you’ve clicked on one of the links here or the book cover to the right of this post in the sidebar or have already gotten a copy and are nodding and smiling because you’re further along in the book than I am.

Back with a review soon…

Things I Learned @ Toy Fair 2014 (#2): It Takes A World Village…

world village playset_chinaShare your travel experiences! Laura Barta travels a lot and wants you to do so too. Thanks to her company Whole Wide World Toys is set to make a splash with the first of a few World Village Playsets set in various countries that bring a bit of foreign fun home for the kids to play with and learn from. China is the first stop on Barta’s tour and the $59.99 set (set for a May 2014 launch) encourages not only play, but thanks to the included 32-page storybook, allows for children to get some reading time in to go with their play.

Shop_House_BoatThe colorful illustrated play mat (slightly reminiscent of the great Richard Scarry’s work sans the cute animal characters) is printed on a nice fabric, making it an interesting and arty shift away from a simpler cardboard game surface. A set of fourteen story cards are included to kick off imaginations about that faraway land (and perhaps some future travel plans?). The thirteen figures of people, animals, food and transportation are set in a puzzle frame that has the name of each piece in English and Mandarin Chinese (a nice touch), and if you’d like more elements for the set, an additional $39.99 gets you an extra three wooden pieces – a shop, house and boat, all of which add even more color and life to the set.

My China Travel JournalIf you’re not ready to commit, or don’t quite have the space for the set if you live in a small space, you can (and should) at least snap up the wonderful My China Travel Journal (also available on Amazon in retail and Kindle versions). It’s 32 pages with some color illustrations and photos, telling the story of Emma and Joe, two American children as they explore parts of the country, meet people and enjoy the culture of that wonderful country. Barta’s writing is crisp and lays out some nice historical tidbits that keep the pages turning.

GYI_BTOn a side note, I also have to thank Laura for introducing me to Palais des Thés and their very tasty Grand Yunnan Imperial Black Tea, as there was a bag included with info about the game. They have two retail shops here in NYC, but I’ve never been there all the time it’s been open. Well, that may change soon enough (either that, or I’ll be ordering some tea online very soon). It may not be the trip to China I’d prefer, but I think I’ll be happy nonetheless. That said, seeing this well-crafted playset and talking to Barta made for a great experience and she’s got plans for the next playset already. Ireland is the next stop for Whole Wide World Toys, so it’ll be interesting to see how that set looks once it’s ready.

Humor: Get Lost (Or, You COULD Be In New Jersey)…

(thanks, sjmobb!) 

Pine BarrensI live in an area that’s not too hard to figure out if you live here and spend time walking around on a semi-regular basis. However, on occasions where people who drive here to visit friends or relatives, they often run into trouble with one particular spot where an oval splits into four different directions and streets that need to be followed to their destinations or else you end up driving in some rather oddball directions only to find yourself maybe back where you started or worse. This evening as I’m walking home, a car pulls up beside me and as the passenger side window rolls down, I know exactly what’s coming. Sure enough, a woman pops her head out the window and asks which way a certain street is because she and her husband had been driving around for a good fifteen minutes looking for the building.

Nice guy that I am, I point them in the correct direction and of course, the missus is all “See, I told you it was THAT way” while the hubby is getting a case of the “Yeah, yeahs”. As they both turn to thank me, the husband asks “I suppose people get lost around here a lot?”, to which I respond “Well, it’s not so bad here – you could be in the Pine Barrens”. I do believe the husband happened to get what I was referencing, because he burst out laughing so loudly that his wife jumped in her seat and did a double take before asking what the heck was so funny. As she closed the window back up (I’m assuming no one “rolls” a window up any longer) I waved goodbye, turned and left them alone and walked away with a smile knowing the mister would have to do some fast talking to stay out of the perceived doghouse he just cracked himself up into. Thankfully, that episode of The Sopranos is a pretty darn funny one and I’m glad someone actually got a joke I’d made without having to explain it. Victory!

Bethesda Gets You Cultured (Sort of): Welcome to Uppsala, Sweden!

RoW_GunpointWhile Machine Games toils away on its new game, Wolfenstein: The New Order, Bethesda (and YOU) get a little more cultured in this latest update that actually features no game footage at all (whee!). OK, OK… stop panicking, people. You see soon enough that the game is definitely in good hands (I’ll post a gallery after E3 is over and done). Think of it this way: the lighthearted travelogue and studio tour going on above and below is just fluff to keep your eyes and ears in shape for the upcoming shooter.

In plain English: giving you too much candy now will just ruin your appetite for dinner, you know… that’s your free lesson of the day.

The Whitney Museum 2012 Biennial: “Well, I Don’t Know About Art, But I Know What I Like…” (I Think)

OK, I needed a break from gaming for a tiny bit, so yesterday, I took a trip down to the Whitney Museum of American Art here in NYC to check out the 2012 Biennial. It was definitely interesting to see what’s been going on in the art scene since I hadn’t been to a decent museum in a while and over the past two weeks, I’d been to a few galleries in Brooklyn poking around to see what’s what (and finding some nice surprises).  I was expecting a lot of contemporary art in the usual forms (painting, sculpture, film/video, et cetera), but after experiencing some engaging performance art (of the audience perception challenging kind, especially if you don’t “get” Jaques Tati and dislike nudity, even if it’s cleverly silk-screened on different articles of clothing), seeing a dance rehearsal work in progress (made up of dancers and non-dancers), an entire artist’s studio moved into the museum (with the artist included, happily interacting with attendees) and other stuff you’ll need to go see for yourself, I have to say my brain is cooked up pretty good.I feel like making soemthing arty, but I haven’t a clue just what yet…

A lot of other art there was a bit odd, but really interesting from a few perspectives. I’ll probably go back again next week (Friday after 6pm is a pay what you like admission) and maybe do the life drawing session, as it’s been ages since I drew anything from a live model and I’m supremely rusty. Or maybe I’ll stay home and play some more games, as I need to catch up on a few reviews as well as get through the pile of other stuff I’ve started this year. Speaking of reviews, yeah, the two I’m working on are late, but fear not. They’ll get done and posted over the weekend. Not today, though – I have one more arty stop to make, but it’s kind of game-related, too…

Laugh of the Day: Intel Makes Folks Go Batty For An Ultrabook

OK, how come I’m never around when one of these wacky but cool Ultrabook promos happens? I could use a new laptop myself, as I’m sure the folks at Starbucks are tired of seeing me stroll in with my desktop on a hand truck when I need to take advantage of that free Wi-Fi access. All I’ve ever gotten for free here in NYC while strolling about is a lungful of cigarette smoke from exiled office workers forced to puff away outside their workplaces. Then again, given these videos were shot in Bangkok and Jakarta, the airfare alone would break my bank account.

Ah well… at this point, I’ll take a stale muffin sample over more Marlboro clouds…