- Chantez et vous trouverez votre chanson -

Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.
     -George Bernard Shaw

It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves- in finding themselves.
      -Andre Gide

Sunday, March 30, 2008

An Ode to Chien-Ming Wang

In honor of the Yankees home opener tomorrow, this post is dedicated to my (second) favorite Yankees player, Chien-Ming Wang (2nd only to the l.o.m.l., Derek Jeter).

Mr. Wang and I are buddies.  Not really, but I like to think so.  I happened to be at his major league debut game on April 30, 2005 against the Toronto Blue Jays.  Even better, we happened to have a-maz-ing seats and were surrounded by the players' friends and families, aka Wang's biggest Taiwanese fan club on that cloudy Saturday afternoon.  

They sang songs in their native language for every strike thrown, and held up signs in fuddled English ("KKK Go Go Go - clearly an innocent, cultural misunderstanding, but humorous and entertaining all the same), and generally made the exciting game that much more colorful and spirited.

It was an excellent game, and it was so uplifting to watch the rookie starting pitcher do so well in his major league debut.  His first pitch thrown was a strike, and though he recorded no decision (closer Mariano Rivera took the win), he received a standing ovation when he left in the 7th inning, and the Yankees won 4-3.  I've loved the guy ever since.

Tomorrow, March 31st, 2008 at 1:05pm EDT, Chien-Ming Wang will start the final Opening Day at Yankee stadium, on his 28th birthday no less.  I'm wishing him all the luck in the world. Unfortunately, I will not be able to watch due to reality and the need to work everyday, but you should tune in...and sing something in Taiwanese when he throws a strike for me pleaseee. :)

New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays
Yankee Stadium
Monday, March 31st 1:05pm EDT


I don't think you can talk about Pittsburgh without mentioning Primanti's (or the Steelers, for that matter, but it's not football season...just you wait).

Primanti Brothers is world famous (or at least we like to think that) for their greasy sandwiches, stacked high with your meat of choice, fries, tomatoes and cole slaw...yes, cole slaw.  We've never claimed to be culinary geniuses in Pittsburgh, but don't knock it 'til you try it.

My personal top choices for sandwiches are the Pitts-burgher Cheesesteak, Capicola & Cheese, Turkey & Cheese, Roast Beef & Cheese, and my Lenten favorite, the Deluxe Double Egg & Cheese. All range from $4.99 to $6.49.

When I was home last weekend, I went to the Primanti's in the Strip District at 2am post-bar...the real way to go.  The Primanti's in the Strip District (Read: not a community of strippers, but rather a strip of old school Italian and Polish grocers, butchers, Steelers pride shops, and restaurants amidst the old warehouse section of Pittsburgh) is the original location that has been in the area since the 1930's.  It's a gritty little restaurant with a lot of charm and later-added murals of Pittsburgh icons covering the walls.  It's open around the clock to accomodate truckers and workers in the area...and that also makes it a very convenient stop-over on the way back from the bars, haha.

There are a few other Primanti's outposts throughout the city, and vendors in the Pittsburgh stadiums, but then almost 10 years ago, they began expanding into suburbia with sit down restaurants and expanded menus.

Now it seems every time I go home, there are more Primanti's locations that have cropped up. There are currently 14 locations throughout Pittsburgh and 2 in Florida...Florida?!  It almost seems like Primanti's is on it's way to becoming the Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks of Pittsburgh, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.

Nothing beats the original.  Nothing beats being in the Strip District at whatever hour of day or night, and having the cranky man behind the counter fry you up a huge, greasy, falling apart with deliciousness sandwich...

No trip to Pittsburgh would be complete without a visit to the Primanti's on the Strip.  Yum.

Primanti Brothers - Strip District
46 18th St. (at Smallman St.)
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Primanti Brothers in Pittsburgh

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

BODIES...The Exhibition

I held a brain this weekend, and a heart.

BODIES...The Exhibition is currently on view at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, and it was my grandma's belated Christmas present for the whole fam to take her to see it.

It was very informative, and really interesting!  Besides medical and dental school students, who ever really gets to see the human body like this??  It really brought to life all those things I learned in high school anatomy class that went in one ear and right out the other (sorry Mr. Austin).

While waiting on line, my thoughts were all over the place.  I really didn't know what to expect; to tell you the truth, I was a little nervous to see real dead bodies dissected and up close. Would it creep me out or make me nauseous?  I don't take throw up well...maybe I wouldn't like this either.  But, I was very intrigued at the same time.  

As we first entered the exhibition, it felt like a cattle call.  There are a lot of Pittsburghers interested in the body I guess, and it was slow moving through the first few sections.  

The first room consisted of all the bones - pretty tame.  Most of these things I had seen before in museums or classrooms.  The tibia, the fibula, the skull, etc. There were some cool looking skeletons in fun athletic poses that I enjoyed, but other than that, I wasn't amazed yet.  

Then, the first astounding thing: a full human skin looking like shed snake skin laying in a glass box (Snow White style).  Creepyyy.  It looked...kinda like lightly tanned leather.

As we moved through the rooms, we moved through the different systems of the body.  I saw things I probably will never see again.  I saw muscles, what I work so hard for in the gym, up close and personal.  I saw adipose tissue (fat!), what I work so hard to not have any of, up close and personal.  (Sidenote: My thought when I looked at the "adipose tissue" body - It must suck to have your dead body on display as the example of what love handles look like.)

The exhibition was set up really well.  You saw each system and part dissected and on its own, and then you were shown that system within everything else in the body on a separate "model." It's truly amazing how everything fits together...there's so much stuff in there!

10 Thoughts and New Facts Learned at BODIES:

1. I don't ever want to have black lungs.  Don't smoke - black lungs are not attractive! (who cares if no one ever sees them...it's so unhealthy!)

2. The development of a fetus is such a wonder.  This section of the exhibit was hard to look at knowing that these little ones never made it.  Yet, it was so interesting to see how big they are at each stage and at what point they develop all their miniature organs, considering we only ever see how big the baby bump is from the outside.  

3. The stomach is not nearly as big as I assumed it was.  I should eat less.

4. The liver is huuuge.  I should drink more.
(kidding.  That's the Irish in me.)

5. Human muscles look kind of like meat.  I gave up meat for Lent, and this makes it significantly harder to go back to the good ol' rib roast now that Easter has passed.

6. The process of digestion to "elimination" should take from 10 hours to several days.  I'm glad I'm not in college anymore...those dining hall meals were clearly not being digested properly.

7. Females are born with all the eggs they will ever have.  Males keep producing sperm until they are old.  Now that's just not fair.

8. No matter how close I looked, I could not tell a difference between the healthy organs and the cancerous ones.  Good thing I never tried to go into any medical field.  I'll leave it to the professionals.

9. The kidneys are really tiny.  And to think kidney stones cause so much pain.

10. I still kind of giggled to myself when I saw the anus and the testes.  I might need to grow up a little.

BODIES...The Exhibition is on view in many places, not just Pittsburgh (we're not thattt cool). Check out www.bodiestheexhibition.com to see if it is on display in your area.  I highly suggest seeing it.  

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Anberlin - The Unwinding Cable Car

Happy Easter! 

Unfortunately, I feel sick as a dog today.  Fortunately, I'm back home in Pittsburgh so mom and dad have let me be a permanent fixture on the couch today, and catered to my every sicky need.

I feel too crummy to try and write real coherent thoughts, but here is an awesome music video I caught the other night on tv, and wanted to share.  Really makes you think...

Once I'm feeling better, I plan to write about the cool things I saw and did this weekend in my home city of Pittsburgh.  Not living here anymore has really allowed me to appreciate the place in a whole new way.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Musings about Love and Life

About Love:

In my opinion, love is one of life's greatest mysteries.  Does anyone really understand it?  I feel like it's such a guessing game; there's really no rhyme or reason to it.

Even those supposed "Relationship Experts"...I don't think they have it all going on either.  I mean, they all have their theories, but really, didn't Dr. Phil abuse and cheat on his first wife multiple times?  I'm supposed to get relationship advice from him?!

That's why I think love is so interesting.  There's no rule book; you just have to go with it.  The ups and the downs, the heartbreak and the joy, the exciting days and the mundane days.

"Now I know I have a heart, because it's breaking." - the Tin Man 

About On and Off Relationships:

People don't go on again and off again because they like getting hurt over and again. 
Maybe it's that their feelings for one another never change, but their ability to make it work, their dedication to the relationship at that time does.  And I guess, at that point, you have to let go.  And when it's right, if it's right again, you come back together, this time with a fresh-faced admiration for one another and what you have together.

I think faith is so important...faith in your feelings, faith in the person you love, and faith that it will all end up right in the end.

Just some thoughts.  Until next time, I'll remain in New York, "a place where there are no happy endings," and wait for true love's kiss.  :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Online Shopping

Online shopping = God's gift to shopaholics.  

Reasons why online shopping brings joy into my life:

1. Save stress, time and energy by looking up things online at any hour of the day or night.  And no lines!  

2. Double the fun.  I get excited twice when I shop online...once when I pick it out and order it, and again when it arrives in the mail a week or so later.

I want to share something about my mini-obsession.  Something I don't think everyone realizes--a shopaholic secret, if you will.

Every shopper loves a bargain, but no one likes the experience of bargain stores.  Crowded, messy, pounding music...not so much.  I love me some $20 sundresses as much as the next girl, but by the time I've hunted down the cute stuff (in my size...a whole other struggle), waited on the never-ending dressing room line, and then the never-ending register line, I have a migraine that Excedrin can't touch (H&M's, Forever 21's-- you know who you are).

Psst...there's a better way!  A lot of these bargain stores have Web sites with everyyything in the stores plus more.  Check 'em out:

www.forever21.com : I feel like most people forget or don't realize that Forever 21 has an online counterpart.  The Web site is great-- clean, easy to navigate, and with all the cheap trendy outfits your little heart desires.  Best of all, discover which sizes/styles/colors are available immediately without a hunt on the floor, the dressing room reject rack or the aide of an uncaring employee.

www.urbanoutfitters.com : The gem of this over-priced hipster haven is the clearance section in the back.  Too bad it's a free-for-all with clothes strewn everywhere and a very hit-or-miss selection.  Their Web site, however, has a whole section devoted to sale and clearance items where I have had no troubles finding hit after hit after hit.

www.victoriassecret.com : The semi-annual sale.  I walk into the store with high hopes every time, but I never find anything spectacular.  All the bins are picked over, and the sizes are always mixed up.  Try beefing up your collection of "unmentionables" during the sale online-- you can easily search by size or price or bra style.  

www.americanapparel.net : From time to time, I find really great deals on the Web site that I've never seen in the stores.  But, my favorite part of American Apparel's Web site are the instructional videos.  Learn 20 different ways to tie a scarf or wear a dress...makes it a little easier to stomach spending the dough for their incredibly simple jersey pieces.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Angelo's Restaurant & Pizzeria

My boyfriend is Italian.  New York Italian.  Staten Island "all I know is Italian food, and I will only eat the best" Italian.

So imagine my surprise when I (Pittsburgh-raised without an Italian gene in my bones) found an Italian restaurant that met his "standards." 

Angelo's is an out of place, unassuming Italian restaurant on Main Street in the middle of a Hasidic Jewish neighborhood in Queens.  Newly renovated with glass-enclosed sidewalk seating, it's an intimate restaurant with decent prices and amazing food.

The meal begins with an assortment of garlic knots and bread, and then the real bread arrives--right out of the brick oven and topped with chopped tomatoes, herbs and garlic.  A word of advice: the bread is fantastic, but don't fill up.  No matter how many times I tell that to myself, I still eat way more than I need to.

For appetizers, I love both the Portobella alla Veneziana (grilled portobello, mozzarella, tomato, balsamic sauce) and the Frittura di Calamari alla Schizzo (fried calamari, cherry pepper sauce).  I try to stay away from fried foods, but this calamari is good, especially with the sweet and spicy cherry pepper sauce.

As for main dishes, you can't go wrong with veal here.  There's almost 10 different veal dishes, and I haven't had a bad one yet.  My favorite so far is probably the Vitello Pizzaiola (veal, mushrooms, garlic, oregano, basil, fresh tomato).  Of course if you're not a fan of fattened baby calves (I admit I can't let myself think about it when it's on my plate), you can sub in chicken on any veal dish.  Main courses come with your choice of either a vegetable or pasta; I recommend going for the vegetable.  It's often escarole, and it's really tasty.

I don't normally go for pasta dishes at restaurants since I make it so much at home-- I'm a sucker for meals that take 15 minutes or less to prepare.  But, I've made exceptions for the Rigatoni Norma (baby eggplant, fresh tomato, basil, shaved ricotta) and the Gamberoni Fra Diavolo (shrimp, garlic, spicy tomato sauce).  Both are delicious and much better than anything I could ever make myself!

The wine list here is comprehensive, and there's a fully stocked bar as well.  If I had to say one bad thing about Angelo's, I guess I'd mention that the dessert list has never thrilled me.  We always stay for coffee, but the dessert menu is a little beat up and the choices don't look very appetizing in the pictures.  On the upside, I've always been too full for dessert anyway!

Angelo's is a great spot - I've taken my family, my friends, and I've started a trend among my guy friends of bringing dates there.  My Italian food radar was clearly on when I found Angelo's.  The bf is very proud!

Angelo's Restaurant & Pizzeria
69-26 Main St.
Flushing, NY 11367

Angelo's Pizza in Queens

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

birthday weekend

So, my birthday was on Monday.  23 years of age.  Sigh, I'm getting old.  
My actual birthday was quite crummy so I won't go into that, but the birthday weekend was full of excitement.  My younger brother and friends from home came in to visit and spend the weekend with me, which was wonderful.  I need that every so often...a touch of home and a reminder of my roots.

Only thing is, when people visit, I'm thrown into the role of Miss NYC Tour Guide.  And, though I've been living here for over 4 years, I'm still no expert, especially when put on the spot to provide fun activities and classic New York memories.

For instance, New York is full of hidden treasure restaurants and shops with unassuming storefronts...am I supposed to have innate knowledge of where they are?  Is that what will make me a true New Yorker?  If so, I am definitely not there yet.  As much as I would like to be "on the fly" about things, every time I go exploring in Manhattan and hope to happen upon some good eats (especially when with someone that expects me to direct the way), I end up walking and walking (and getting hungrier and hungrier) to no avail. 

Therefore, I plan.  I "google"; I "city search"; I "hop stop."  Does it make me less of a New Yorker?  Probably.  Do I care?  Not really.  Although, I'll admit I'm a little hopeful that someday I won't have to plan so hard for all the Pittsburghers that think I've "made it" in New York.