Hey readers!  Have you missed me?

I know I’ve been absent lately.  It’s for a good cause- I’ve been living.

2010 signalled a fresh start for me.  I have an amazing apartment in Manhattan, a steady job (in lighting!) and amazing friends.  My family has been super supportive and my artistic juices have been flowing.

Life. Is. Good.

And I did it on my own, which makes it even that much sweeter.  25 is my year for new beginnings, new triumphs and for being me.  Like it or hate it, I don’t give a flying poop.  Deal with it, or move on.

So, frienditos, let me share with you my month in review.  Perhaps you will see something among my travels that tickles your fancy and experience some of it yourself!

January 1-In addition to a hangover, the commencement of New Years brought with it my buddy Graham to visit.  After running around Manhattan for awhile, we visited the Excellent Dumpling House in Chinatown.  Delicious food from a hole in the wall- however, that was just the beginning of our Asian experience.  We tried to get into Ninja, an experience on Hudson Street where you actually are served by Ninja warriors, however, the restaurant was closed (I guess Ninja’s do have to sleep, who knew?).  Next, we took a stroll through Union Square and hit up Republic– this place is all about noodles (they even have portraits on the walls of people covered in noodles).  Pomegranate martinis rounded out the excursion.

January 2- Day two of Steham! First stop- brunch at Chocolate by the Bald Man.  The place was packed (as always) but we warmed up by drinking some outrageous hot chocolate while we waited to be seated.  Upon sitting, I ordered a chocolate and peanut butter pizza– heaven on bread!  Whoever said you can’t have dessert as your entree has never been to this restaurant- just make sure to bring your appetite and don’t step onto a scale for the next week!  Next we trekked to Grand Central Station, in which we visited the Whispering Gallery– an archway where one person stands facing the corner and another stands facing the opposite corner.  Looking up slightly, it is possible to whisper sweet nothings to each other from across the room- a very interesting experience indeed.  After stopping into some shops, it was time for Graham to head out.

January 5- Saw the movie Up in the Air at Chelsea Cinema with some buddies, after stopping in for a quick drink at a local gay bar.  The bar was fantastic, a little place with some couches around a fireplace.  I was disturbed to see cracked glass in the door with a note stating that the bouncer had been recently attacked and was in critical condition.  It’s sad how much growing our country still has to do.  Up in the Air exceeded my expectations- Clooney was as charming as ever but newcomer Anna Kendrik stole my heart.  It was interesting to watch this film, as it’s so very relevant to my life at this current moment.  An awakening of sorts, it showed a little glimpse into how our lives follow the paths we take.

January 6- Perks Jazz Club on 123rd and Manhattan Ave.  My first jazz club visit in Harlem, Perks holds a live jazz band every Wednesday night.  The tunes were smooth and the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly.  A great find full of talented musicians both playing and enjoying a good time.

January 7- Alligator Lounge, Williamsburg.  Thursday night at Alligator brings about free Karaoke after 10 PM!  Not only that, but for every drink bought, you receive a ticket for a free personal pizza (toppings cost two extra dollars each, well worth it!)  Alligator is a great place for the young single to meet their peers.  (For those in Manhattan who can’t always make the trip to Bk, Alligator has a sister on the LES called Crocodile Lounge– same pizza special and a small arcade in the back, but I’m not sure about the Karaoke).

January 10- Saw The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus at Lincoln Square 13.  The film, about a rundown traveling stage show full of secrets, is Terry Gilliam’s finest work to date.  There were definitely huge ups and downs to this film- the opening special effects sequence with tiny green hand people looked completely fake (coming from a woman who is studying for her MFA in special effects), however, the acting was quite exquisite (Andrew Garfield’s Anton stole my heart).  Congratulations to Gilliam for succeeding with this film despite the death of a main character.

January 12- This Tuesday night brought about a trek to DUMBO to see the Two Man Gentleman Band play at a restaurant (name forgotten, too expensive for my taste).  While the food and drinks were expensive, the place had a great atmosphere and the Band was well worth the $7 beer.  My favorite- shouting “WILLIAM!” over and over again during their song “William Howard Taft”.  (also enjoyable- the dueling kazoos).

January 13- Weekly poker at Beachwick (my friend’s Bushwick apartment in BK) commenced.  I lost, but I put in a grand fight.  Well, not really, it took me a little while to get back into the swing of the game.  But it was a blast while I retrained!

January 14- The Grey Dog ‘s Coffee, Chelsea (W 16th St).  This is the newest location of the Grey Dog’s Coffee, and it is a must go.  The food was delicious, the selection of coffees and teas was outstanding, they had Dogfish Head 90 Minute on draft, and the desserts are colossal!  Even the music played throughout our dinner caught our fancy- CCR and Allman Bro’s Band, to name a few.  The men behind the counter are worth the visit as well… (Blogger’s Note: The Grey Dog also caters and sells coffee by the bag.)

January 15- DVD must see- (500) Days of Summer.  I previously talked about the weirdness of watching your life unfold on screen, however, (500) Days… took it to a new level for me.  Not only do I completely identify with Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character, but my love life has previously run parallel to the relationship between him and Summer (Zoe Deschanel).  Added bonus- Levitt is the most adorable human being I have ever seen (if I ever meet him, a proposal may be in order).  Favorite scene- the random dance break lead by Levitt- you have to see it to get the full experience.  Go.  Now.

January 16- NYC Social Sports Club Flag football begins- DeWitt Clinton Park/Aces and Eights.  The commencement of my career as a flag football ref, the day was a gorgeous 50 degrees and sunny, perfect for some flag football.  The teams were ready and raring to go- lots of friendly people on the field.  I even got a striped referee jersey!  After the games, the club buses the players and refs to the sponser bar- Aces and Eights, a small place with a back room full of tables for your drinking game pleasure.  Drink specials ensure plenty of pong and flip cup.  The night was a blast full of bonding and friendly competition.

January 20- NFT (Not For Tourists) held an event at Brooklyn Bowl, Williamsburg.  Free bowling from 6-8, a free NFT Brooklyn guide upon entrance, and a free drink ticket.  Although we didn’t get to bowl due to the lanes being packed, the drink ticket, guide, and tons of people to meet were worth the trip alone.  Brooklyn Bowl often holds concerts and events, including their weekly Saturday dance party.  (Blogger’s Note: Another plus- Brooklyn Bowl is located across the street from the Brooklyn Brewery, which has Friday night drink specials and tours on the weekends!)

January 21- Another poker night, this time- I left with as much as I came with- yay, me!

January 22- First on the agenda for the night was dinner for my co-worker who had recently left the company I work for.  We went to a lovely Mexican place (can’t remember the name) on 52nd and 9th.   While the food was delicious, the highlight of the meal were the bowls (and I do mean BOWLS) of margaritas that were served up.  Later, another visit from some friends occurred, this time my girls Lola and Christa from Beantown.

January 23-First stop- brunch with Lola at The Flame Coffee House.  Located in Hells Kitchen, this diner packs great food.  Our server was adorable- he even invited us back the next day!  Then came weekly flag football, at which my blood was flowing and the calls were on point (I even remembered the hand signals, thanks to a briefing by fellow ref Kate).  One dislocated elbow (not me, a guy on the Cheek Splitters [team name, no joke!]) and a couple of midfield Roger Rabbits later, it was off to Aces for some further debauchery.  Three games of pong, over a dozen rounds of flip cup and a slice of Two Boots later, it was time to meet up with my visitors for Christa’s birthday outing.  Keats was the first stop for some badass karaoke.  While the crowd was young and fun, the place was packed to capacity and then some.  This is only the place to go if you don’t mind a mosh pit of sorts while you drink.  We then moved on to a bar not too far from there- name started with an “o”.  While the place was spacious and the music was loud in the back room complete with dance floor, the DJ was reluctant to play any requests and the green disco lighting made me feel a bit sick.  The night came full circle when we ended up at yet another diner (at which I got ridiculed for ordering Matzoh Ball soup- a diner staple.  What do you people know?!)

January 27- This night begins at the Village Pourhouse, LES (although there is a location on the UWS as well), where beer tasting classes are held every first Wednesday of each month.  Each class focuses on a specific brewery.  January was Sam Adams month, and due to overwhelming demand, the Pourhouse added classes for EACH Wednesday of January.  Although there were not really any new beers to try at this tasting (except for the Imperial White, a spicey witbier that boasts a 10.3% ABV) the tasting samples were bountiful and aplenty.  The food was expensive but tasty as hell and the bartender who ran the tasting was knowledgeable and engaging.  (Blogger’s Note: The Pourhouse boasts three rooms and different nightly events as well, check the site for details.)  Next stop was Plug Uglies.  Only a small walk away from the Pourhouse, Uglies was low on the drink specials but the sweet bartender talked us through what they had, ending up with a beer/shot combo.  As it was a Wednesday night, the place was close to empty, which meant plenty of space for us to conquer the table top shuffleboard.  (Blogger’s Note: There is also a pool table and darts available for some raucous competition!  Bonus- all games are free!)   Lastly, it was a short ride on the 6 to Pat O’Brien‘s bar, located at 88th and 2nd.  Again, Wednesday night stuck us with a lowkey bunch of stragglers, however, Pat’s often hops on the weekends with the younger crowd.  Despite the Red Sox and Patriot’s logos adorning the walls, Pat’s is a sports bar with plenty of tables for your beer pong/flip cup needs.

January 28- 92Y Tribeca, Comedy Below Canal.  Every Thursday, 92Y Tribeca hosts a plethora of comedians for some reasonably priced laughs.  Michael Ian Black hosted this particular show, themed upon the website he hosts, Witstream, a Twitter equivalent for semi- and professional comedians.  The lineup included Pete Holmes, Myq Kaplan, Kumail Nanjiani and Amy Schumer.  At a small fee of $12 (in advance, $15 at the door), it was one of if not THE best comedy show I have seen- each comic was on point and the interruptions from the live Witstreams only added to the hilarity.  (Also on my list of favorites for the night, the Wee Heavy Scotch Ale I partook from a can like a Champ!)

January 29- Rudy’s, Midtown.  Although it was only a brief stay for me (Rudy’s is a small space that gets SUPER packed on Friday and Saturday nights), Rudy’s Red is a beer worth talking about.  Also great about this joint- the hot dogs that are grilled right behind the bar.

January 30- Idiotarod.  On this fair single digit degree day, nothing quite beats a five mile race through the streets of Brooklyn and Queens dressed up in crazy costumes and toting around a modified shopping cart.  Quite possibly one of the quirkiest things I’ve ever done, Gilligan’s Revenge survived through losing three members overboard (the cold was just too much), sabotage by the Beavers (silly animals left branches on our island!), and the High Five Challenge checkpoint.  Other favorites- the guy and girl shaking their nakedness at us from their apartment window, Jersey Shore hitting on anything with boobs, and the comraderie we all gained by finishing the race.  Now, to begin brainstorming for next year’s theme…

January 31- Rounding out the month was another trip to Williamsburg.  This time, I visited Barcade– a hipster joint with 25 craft beers on tap and walls full of 80s style arcade games (at 25 cents a play, prices can’t be beat!).  Weekend happy hour ($1 off drafts) extends from 2-8PM, and any hungry patron can search through the takeout menu binder of doom after inquiring with the bartender.  Some of the night’s highlights- Galaga, Tetris, Marble Madness and Centipede.  Favorite part of the night- trying Brooklyn Brewery’s new Brewmaster Reserve, Cookie Jar Porter.  If you haven’t tried it yet- go find it.  (Blogger’s Note: more to come on Cookie Jar Porter, stay tuned!)  Barcade was nothing if not the best was to finish out an amazing month.

And so, readers, we find ourselves in February.  School begins, and I must settle down a bit to let the bank grow back a bit after cutting off it’s tail a few dozen times.  I can promise you this- January 2010 is one month I will never forget- a month of growth, successes, failures, and anarchy.  Life is short, live it up while you can.

February will bring my 25th birthday, and I feel younger than ever.

From this point forward I will be reviewing my experiences more thoroughly in the hopes that I can share with you the fun, cheap and quirky things to do around NYC.  Perhaps you will see something you like and experience it yourself.  My one hope is to inspire those who are feeling weighed down by life, people or possessions to take a small look at what they want, and to encourage them to go out and experience it.

After all, I made it through January, and so can you!

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