Thursday, January 31, 2008

WSJ: On Style: Law Without Suits: New Hires Flout Tradition

Basically, get with the program youngsters. You aren't as inexpendable as you think. And if you don't believe me, just wait for the economy to continue crashing...

Style -- On Style: Law Without Suits: New Hires Flout Tradition --- Young Attorneys' Casual Attire Draws Criticism at Big Firms; A Crackdown on Ugg Boots
By Christina Binkley
31 January 2008

The Wall Street Journal

One of the lifestyle perks law firms increasingly offer young lawyers is the chance to dress comfortably at the office. With "business casual" as the new dress code of record, ties hang in closets and jackets await their day in court at home.
There's just one problem: It can be difficult to get young associates to shift gears and don traditional dress when the need arises. A decade after the dot-com boom made casual Friday a weeklong event, many people under 30 have never witnessed a suits-only office.
Older people have long complained about the sartorial sloppiness of the younger generation. But the divide is stark in the legal profession.
"I share the lament and disgust about the general level of associates' attire," says Tom Mills, the 60-year-old managing partner of the Washington office of Winston & Strawn LLP. "I think it's abysmal."
For young men and women, a business suit is an uncomfortable yoke to be dusted off for special occasions. "Getting up in the morning and putting on a suit is hard," says Sara Shikhman, a 26-year-old legal associate at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP in New York. She says she hasn't worn one in six months.
When associates show up at work in suits, their peers think they have a job interview, Ms. Shikhman says. "Guys don't really polish their shoes," she adds. They go for cool, rather than traditional. "They wear shoes like you might see Johnny Depp wearing to the Oscars." She recognizes that her firm's partners "definitely look more put together than associates, but they also get more sleep than the associates."
Yet in lawyering, half the battle is the posturing. Many experienced lawyers see their wardrobe as a tool to win the trust of clients, juries and judges. Legal associates who aren't sartorially prepared may not be invited along to a new-client pitch or to take a leading role in court, regardless of the office's stated "business casual" dress code.
Mr. Mills says he is partial to well-fitted Brioni suits for himself. He notes that the going rate for new associates in New York, Los Angeles and Washington is $160,000 a year -- enough to buy suits while paying down school loans. Yet all too often, associates show up at work in jeans -- attire that he doesn't condone "unless it's moving day."
When it came time to pick a point person for a plum assignment at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips recently, the New York law firm chose "a polished, professional-looking associate" over a "brilliant" and experienced associate who had been counseled, to no avail, to improve his grooming and attire, says Renee Brissette, a partner at the firm.
The firm opted for someone more presentable to the client, says Ms. Brissette. She notes that associates are often loath to believe their attire could affect assignments or promotions. "Young lawyers don't like to hear that it's anything but their intellect," says Ms. Brissette. She notes that for women, being professionally attired doesn't require a man-suited look: She has a wardrobe of Nanette Lepore suits that are unmistakably feminine without being inappropriately flirty.
Brad Tobin, 25, who is working at a midtown Manhattan law firm, says he is certain that clothes don't affect job assignments at his firm. "Not at all -- it's really based on work product," says Mr. Tobin, who is working part-time while he completes law school. He says he owns suits but doesn't bother to wear them at work.
Law firms are attempting to raise the bar. Some associates at Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft this winter received a note asking employees to change out of their snow boots after young associates began wearing their Ugg boots all day at work, says Ms. Shikhman. A Cadwalader spokeswoman says she wasn't aware that such a note had circulated.
Winston & Strawn brought in a personal shopper from a local department store last year to address associates on how to shop and dress for work. Mr. Mills says that when some associates do make an effort to dress up, they seem to base their look on Hollywood. "You get the TV-woman lawyer look with skirts 12 inches above the knee and very tight blouses," he says. "They have trouble sitting and getting into taxis."
The firm also hired etiquette consultant Gretchen Neels, a former executive recruiter, to give lectures on grooming, dress, and etiquette standards such as where to place one's napkin at dinner.
She says many members of the so-called millennial generation have never been schooled in the traditions that previous generations learned at their parents' knees. Yet these 20-somethings are still being evaluated by old-school bosses and clients. Many members of this generation not only "don't own a watch -- they've never owned a watch," says Ms. Neels. In many white-collar professions, an expensive watch signals success, while a cool cellphone or iPod, though it tells time, signals hipness.
Ms. Neels, founder of Neels & Co. in Boston, has been making the rounds at law firms, as well as law and business schools at Duke, Harvard and other universities. She hears all sorts of complaints from scandalized partners: One young attorney wears yoga pants to work. Another associate blasted out a firmwide email searching for a size-32 belt when an unanticipated court appearance required him to dress up midday.
Ms. Neels notes that business-school grads share law associates' casual sartorial attitude, and she tries to connect the dots between what they wear and how they come across. When she was coaching M.B.A. graduates at Harvard last weekend, she says only about half came in a suit. One young man showed up in cargo pants, and his cellphone rang during the interview.
"What I'm getting from you is that you're a jerk," Ms. Neels told the student as part of her feedback. "Can you see how I'd get that?"
"Yeah, I guess," he responded, she says.
Trial attorney Rosemarie Arnold says young lawyers need to learn that "courtroom drama is all about control." Ms. Arnold represented Joran van der Sloot, one of three men who were with student Natalee Holloway before she disappeared in Aruba. With courtroom appearances in mind, Ms. Arnold spends $150,000 a year on clothes, she estimates. She is partial to Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana in particular and black suits in general.
"Trying a case is like a movie," Ms. Arnold says. "Wardrobe is everything."
---
Email Christina.Binkley@wsj.com.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Pinkberry & The Empire State Building?

AT LONG LAST. The Pinkberry on 3rd Ave. and 26th St. is open!! I wasn't sure at first, because there was no Grand Opening or line wrapped around the block...but a few people were working inside with customers drifting in and out. Is it too cold outside for The Berry? Does nobody know it's opened? Is this 'hood not full of yogurt eating throngs of 20-somethings akin to those on the Upper East Side? This may be a good sign for my neighborhood, however I fear that the masses will descend soon enough. I am trying to figure out how to get a vacuum tube constructed so that the swirly goodness can be delivered through some kind of suction apparatus from the store and into my hands in a "beam me up" instant.

I also noticed that the Empire State Building was illuminated in a similar green color tonight - see the similarity in the following video? Is the ESB lit up in Pinkberry green in honor of the opening? Probably not, a fun coincidence, perhaps.

video

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Showroom Seven Spring Sample Sale

Showroom Seven Spring Sample Sale
LAST TIME ON SEVENTH AVENUE

Monday, Feb. 2 - Friday, Feb. 15
Weekdays & Saturdays, 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.
498 Seventh Ave., 24th Fl. (between 36th & 37th)

Featuring:
A&G Cashmere, Charlotte Ronson, Clarendon, Erickson Beamon, Issa London, Kova & T, Margaret Loves, Orla Kiely, Robin, Romeo & Juliet Couture, Sue Stemp, Sharon Wauchob, Soundgirl, Tara Subkoff for Easy Spirit, Tony Cohen...

Cash, Visa, M/C and Amex
Photo ID required for building access
Ph: 212-643-4810

Monday, January 28, 2008

From The New York Times' Urban Eye, these things seem cool and fairly accessible to the regular people out there. Well, at least for once I have a vague clue as to what they are talking about anyway:

Art That’s Worth the Coat Off Your Back
If you’re really stylish, you can pull off the following together: the popular coat of the season, the barrel-shaped black and white shadow plaid, according to Bill Cunningham, and the sneaker to have, namely Nike’s Horse Pack in zebra-stripe pony skin ($140 at Blue & Cream, 1 East First Street at Bowery; 212-533-3088). Too much?

If you’re the thrifty type, check out the Thrift On! clothing swap at Botanica on Monday night, or stop by the galleryesque Pawn Shop on Ludlow Street. It trades art by walk-ups and stars (Aleksandra Mir, Miguel Calderón and Gardar Eide Einarsson) for cash. Barrel-shaped black-and-white shadow plaid coats — however artful — probably don’t qualify.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Too Many Restaurants Week

Post-holidays, I promised myself that I would cool it with restaurants and take out food, but alas, this week made that nearly impossible. I visited the following restaurants, one being an old standby favorite known as: Les Halles (the one on Park Ave. South).

Les Halles - A great, crowded New York City brasserie that isn't exactly the height of cuisine, but it is solid, consistent, and fun. The kind of place you should bring out of town guests when you want to ensure that they get a real New York City experience without being overly touristy. While not cheap, it is not too pricey. My recent visit included 3 drinks, dinner and dessert and ended up costing me $70 all told.
Benjamin Steakhouse - An extremely nice looking room on E. 41st St. where you can go for your office Christmas lunch or if your aging parents come to town. Good food and service, a bit stodgy for the likes of the Guerilla Shopper, but meat is aplenty in this joint.

Le Miu - A decent sushi joint on Avenue A. I had an interesting meal consisting of sashimi over soba noodles - a new take on an old dish and something I had never had before. So big points for originality. Otherwise, the room was nice but not anything spectacular. Maybe I'd go back - but only if I couldn't think of a better option...

Sugar "Tiny Cafe of Big Sweet Nothings" - This is that long narrow place on the corner of Allen and Houston under whatever giant child porn ad American Apparel is pimping these days. I love my desserts so I love this place. It's not comfortable or convenient at all, but there are endless treats a la Willy Wonka and therefore I shall return.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Te Casan: Spring Arrivals


This Guerilla Shopper is too busy with her day job this week! However, thought you might enjoy the above from shoe innovator, te casan.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Domain Home (furniture): Chapter 11?

Yes, so remember how I wrote the other day about the great armoire I bought on clearance sale from Domain Furniture a couple of weeks ago? Well I got it and it is great. But when I called to find out about getting my "Free Delivery with Rebate" as advertised on the site, I was told that they had just filed Chapter 11 and that if I wanted my rebate I should file with the courts in Delaware!

So while I want my damn $135 back, I am also thinking...might this mean that they will be selling ALL of their stuff at cheap cheap cheap prices in the very near future...a la Bombay Company?

Kids, I think we might just have a recession on our hands.

Monday, January 21, 2008

STICKLEY Furniture: Winter Sale

It may not be known to the public yet, but the Stickley Furniture winter sale has begun right about now. I know this because while I have not bought clothes for weeks upon weeks, I have been intently researching and purchasing furniture and other related items to upgrade my living space. I am also buying additional renter's insurance (as you should if you don't have it! Call the Cafarelli Agency in Smithtown, NY at 631-543-6363 NOW! Seriously, it's cheap and can save your financial life should something like, say, a FIRE destroys your home).

So I traipsed on over to the new-ish NYC location on W. 25th St. right off of 7th Avenue and met with my man Kevin. I am the soon to be proud owner of a new Metropolitan bookcase (see photo) sleeper chair-and-a-half, as well as a recliner covered in upholstery that took me no less than an hour to pick out. And while this stuff is in no way cheap and barely verging on affordable, it is great quality and SO FRIGGING NICE. And with the current sale going on, you really can't go wrong. Oh, and if you want to get an extra 5 percent off, find someone you know who is an interior decorator or architect to send them a note requesting a "professional discount." I did!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Caravan Sale: Jan. 21-31

I wouldn't have told you, but New York magazine's Best Bets did, so I may as well too....

Caravan is unloading Vivienne Westwood coats for $200, Erotokritos Grecian dresses for $100, and men's Blue Marlin hoodies for $40 at the winter sale.

When: 1/21–1/31 (call for store hours).
Where: 2 Great Jones St., nr. Broadway (212-260-8189) and 128 E. 91st St., nr. Lexington Ave. (212-722-7282).

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Project Runway - The Avant-Garde Episode



Did you watch Project Runway last night? OH MY GOD. I have to say the Chris/Christian team and the Jillian/Victorya teams produced some of the best designs I have ever seen in the show's four seasons. While I would DIE to own and wear J/V's outfit (black coat), I was happy that C/C won (dress) - they really created a piece of breathtaking art.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Poem: A Small Man's Shoe Struggle

I tried on many Steve Maddens
but they maddened me
actually, I tried on boot that I liked
but it was without a partner
like Cindarella's slipper
and no prince came to find it for me
just a gay black stock boy
and he gave up quickly

Debonair Magazine: For Men

Debonair magazine - It's an online new men's magazine that talks about health, fashion and all kinds of sh*t that dudes are supposedly into. Their mission is:

Open the pages of a typical men's magazine and you will often find a medley of frivolous gadgets, preposterous travel destinations and clothing that rivals the price of a small automobile. We think it's time for a change. Money is not the determining factor in one's happiness. While other publications advertise lavish fantasies, Debonair offers exciting realities. Regardless of who you are, what you do or where you live, a better lifestyle awaits.

They just ran an article on the best places for men to shop in NYC that they thought my readers would enjoy - so have at it and let me know what you think!

Lurve, GSNYC

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

WSJ: New Services Help Bloggers Bring in Ad Revenue

For all you bloggers out there, let's make 2008 the year we actually make money off these things! The following article details lots of ideas. Now I just have to figure it all out...

Small Business
Best of Independent Street / Excerpts from WSJ.com's Blog for Entrepreneurs
15 January 2008

The Wall Street Journal
New Services Help Bloggers Bring in Ad Revenue
---
Users Can Customize Appearance of Spots, Use Video and Audio
If you're not making money off your blog, 2008 might be the year.
As more people see potential in earning money off the Internet, there is a quickly expanding array of advertising services and tools for bloggers that go well beyond the standard pay-per-click text ads or display ads.
Many of the most widely used programs are adding features to allow users to customize the appearance and placement of ads on their sites. Some also are introducing newer money-making mediums such as audio and video ads.
"There's going to be a lot of new business models in 2008 that are geared toward more monetization," says Pete Blackshaw, executive vice president of strategic services for Nielsen Online, the Web analysis unit of the Nielsen Co.
Blog publishers could certainly use the help in making money. The vast majority of publishers make less than $10 or $20 a month through advertising, according to Internet-advertising experts. How much money is made through advertising on a site depends much on how much traffic a site gets, the trustworthiness of the content and how relevant the ads are to the visitors.
Starting Feb. 1, San Diego-based V2P Communications is offering five-to-eight-second audio ads, called NetAudioAds, that will automatically play when a visitor lands on a blog or Web site. Publishers sign up for the free service and V2P then lines up advertisers, who bid on rates they will pay to have their ads played on a given blog. Bids generally start around $14 per 1,000 plays. Blog publishers get a 25% cut of the ad revenue.
About 25,000 publishers have signed up so far, says Michael Knox, V2P's co-founder, and several large companies and 2008 presidential campaigns have expressed interest in becoming advertisers through the service. A site that gets 2,000 unique visitors per day with an advertiser paying $14 per 1,000 plays might earn $28 a day, or $196 a week.
Another model that's expected to gain traction this year are ads connected to videos. Revver Inc.'s Revver.com lets advertisers tack on ads to videos uploaded to the video-sharing site. Publishers who then put those videos on their sites, earn 20% of all ad revenue generated from plays of the videos on the blogs. Revver and the videos' creators, often amateurs, split the remainder.
In October, Google Inc. released Video Units, a program that allows Web-site publishers who use its AdSense program -- which places Google-brokered ads on other Web sites based on the sites' content -- to add YouTube videos to their blog sites and have ads appear on the video player.
Some ad services are trying to help publishers expand their advertising by putting ads in their blog's Really Simple Syndication, or RSS feeds, which send blog posts out to subscribers. Some services even specialize in providing ads to publishers that pop up when someone visits the blog from a mobile phone.
Many of the most widely used ad programs -- such as AdSense and Amazon.com Inc.'s affiliate-marketing program, where publishers get a cut of all sales generated from ads on their site -- also are trying to make ads more appealing. For instance, they have rolled out new features in recent months to give publishers more control over how the ads look and where they are placed.
AdSense recently began testing gadget ads, which are more visually stimulating with graphics and interactive features than the traditional basic text ads the program offers.
"One of the biggest things we're trying to do is create more ad formats for publishers," says Google spokesman Brandon McCormick, adding that AdSense paid $3.5 billion to publishers in the first three quarters of 2007.
Meantime, Amazon.com in September introduced several free widgets -- easy-to-use programs that, by plugging a code into a site or blog, let publishers customize how and where ads appear in a blog. One widget lets people embed links to Amazon products in their text, while another lets publishers create a slideshow of relevant Amazon products displayed on their site. Amazon affiliates earn up to a 10% commission on all sales directed from their ads.
Some bloggers already are seeing results. Rhett Butler, founder of Mongabay.com, a site with articles on rainforest conservation and other environmental issues, makes $15,000 to $18,000 a month from AdSense, using various types of ads. Mr. Butler says his blog currently gets about 1.3 million unique visitors per month.
He's planning to eventually experiment with Google's video player ads and create his own video content for the site. "The rainforest has always been my passion, but I never expected to make a living off of it," says Mr. Butler, who quit his job as a product manager in 2003 when he realized he could make a living off his site.
Darren Rowse, the Melbourne, Australia-based writer of ProBlogger.net, a popular blog that teaches other bloggers how to make money, earned roughly $250,000 in 2007 off ads on three blogs he writes. Mr. Rowse says he makes the most off traditional display advertising, where advertisers pay a fee to appear, but he also has used affiliate ads and Google AdSense.
Mr. Rowse says publishers should experiment with several types of advertising and use an analytics program to figure out which ones are most effective. Once they do that, bloggers should, for the most part, rely on just one or two advertising programs "so they don't clutter the site," he says. Bloggers should be careful to pick advertising that doesn't appear to taint the content or reputation of the site, he adds.
Mr. Rowse says certain types of advertising can be most effective for certain sites. For instance, affiliate programs, such as Amazon's, tend to work best on sites with loyal followers who trust their blogger for recommendations. Sites with lots of general search-engine traffic but fewer devotees may do better with a contextual ad program, such as AdSense. Regular display ads can also be very effective, he says, depending on how well the ad matches the site's content.

BigCityDirect: Laptop Computer

Since we're in the BIG CITY, it only makes sense that I write about BigCityDirect. Especially because they hooked me up recently, where Buy.com merely drove me batty.

In urgent need to replace my slow and huge Dell PC that rivals the size of WOPR, I decided I needed a slick lap top. This would move me into the 21st Century and simultaneously provide me with some extra space as I quest for Feng Shui-ity.

My friend who loves all things computers began to look out for the good deals on Buy.com. These kinds of sites offer refurbished computers that are hundreds of dollars cheaper than new ones, and in most cases are pretty much brand new.
The rub with Buy.com was that I provided them with a mailing address different from my billing address so they kept cancelling my order on me. Then I called and talked to a live person about the situation and she took my order again...and d'OH! Cancelled again. So after four tries my computer friend suggested BigCityDirect. Not one problem. A little more expensive - but worth it. I shall be turbo-blogging in no time!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Movement at Pinkberry

Almost like the Oompa Loompas at Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory - I spotted workers sneaking around the Pinkberry site on 3rd Avenue and 26th St. today. I believe they were singing in tandem -- however, they were not orange from what I could tell.

Work quickly my Pinkberrymen, so that I may enjoy in your swirly goodness!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Hollywould Sale this weekend (Jan. 11-13)

From New York magazine's Best Bets: FRIDAY, I thought this was a sale worth highlighting, since this Guerilla finds this particular store interesting, but out of her price range under normal circumstances:

ENDING SUNDAY
Hollywould's cocktail dresses (now $99), satin pumps (now $99), and leather ballet flats (now $79) are on the cheap to make room for spring stock. When: 1/10–1/12 (11:30–7); 1/13 (noon–5). Where: 198 Elizabeth St., nr. Prince St. (212-219-1905).

AprilMarin - Not Yet...


So I got the following press release the other day, including photos of some of AprilMarin's custom-made clothing. Being a new huge fan of custom, I contacted them and asked when and where I could see, touch, try on the garb. I was told that it is not available yet in NYC, but might be soon "somewhere" in Soho. Hopefully good things will come to those who wait...just not sure why the press release says "New York-based." Well kudos, because I've just written about them anyway!

New York-based AprilMarin (http://www.aprilmarin.com/) announces the launch of their new online custom clothing collection that will have women wondering why they ever purchased ready-to-wear. Each item featured at AprilMarin is custom-made and uniquely personal. In addition to customizing each item to your individual measurements, AprilMarin has added the feature of choosing your own jacket fabric color and lining color. Customers can choose from over 72 color combinations to ensure a personally unique look. From AprilMarin pink, sunshine yellow to standard black etc..…there is definitely a color for everyone. AprilMarin asks each woman to take her specific measurements including sleeve length and dress length etc. to insure a perfect fit and unique style. Each item at AprilMarin is designed in-house by co-designers/founders April Bukofser and Marin Milio. AprilMarin encourages customers and viewers to send in their own ideas on new designs for future collections. “We want women to feel good about themselves and their style and we aim to make clothing that does that,” say co-founder/designer Ms. Bukofser. The diverse range of measurement options allows customers to really personalize each item, or if they are unsure, they can opt for standard measurements. The new collection offers eight items that serve as timeless staples in a women’s wardrobe. The collection ranges from jackets to skirts to dresses to suits with prices between $80 and $200. AprilMarin is currently available for purchase online at: http://www.aprilmarin.com/

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Big Drop Warehouse Sale: Jan 18-20

What: Big Drop Warehouse Sale

When: Friday, January 18th to Sunday, January 20th; 10a.m. to 8pm

Where: Open House Gallery: a socially and environmentally responsible venue 201 Mulberry street between Kenmare and Spring streets

Payments: Cash and all major credit cards. Minimum charge $100, otherwise, cash only

Featuring apparel from Seven Jeans, Citizens For Humanity, Paige Denim, Mara Hoffman, Tracy Reese, Rebecca Taylor, Edun, Young Fabulous and Broke, YA- YA, Development and more…

Some price examples:
- Seven Jeans were $205 now$49 to $59
- Citizens for Humanity Jeans: were $192 now $49 to $59
- Development: cotton voile v-neck dress with silk trim was $360 now $99
- Edun: Striped blazer was $345 now $99
- Rebecca Taylor: Wool coat was $548 now$159

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Office Furniture Inquiry

I recently received an inquiry from a handsome young lawyer who was just made partner at his law firm, but is stumped about how to decorate his new office space. He writes:

"I thought you might be able to help me. I get $12,500 to furnish my office, but I don't know where to spend it. I like clean lines, brushed silver type metals, dark or cherry wood--something between mission and modern I am told. I'll need a desk, chair comfy enough to use 8+ hours some days, computer desk thing, book case, and some type of credenza\file cabinet type thing. Any ideas guerilla shopper? Let me know if this is within your vast expertise or if you need more information."

I have quickly suggested that he go online and look at West Elm and Bo Concept to see if it matches his vision, and then we can speak further. If anyone else has other ideas, please feel free to comment!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Domain Home (furniture)

I am on a mission from God, and I've chosen to accept it. Since I live in a rational world, I have determined that there is no way I can afford to buy the kind of apartment I would actually ever live in atop this land mass surrounded by a moat...so I shall make the one I rent a much nicer place in which to dwell.

Translation: I am pimping out my rent stabilized Manhattan shack.

And so begins the story of the Dante Armoire from Domain Home. OK, so it's not really that much of a story. But I have decided to purchase this offering from among Domain's clearance items, which means not only is it cheaper, but then it was also another 5% cheaper. However, in an ad found by Mother Guerilla it noted "free delivery," but when I made my purchase online I was charged $135 for delivery. Which is not free, in case you weren't clear on that point. So I am going to have to make a follow up call on that one and see what I need to do to achieve delivery free-dom.

Anyway, I'm not entirely sure how I am going to fit this grand piece into my bedroom, however it will be replacing three old furniture items that I have been holding onto for far too long. This all in an effort to streamline my bedroom cluttered with disjointed pieces of my youth. I am hoping that my new found feng shui will aid me to achieve and maintain a life full of wealth and happiness. Or at least keep me from cringing at mismatched furniture.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Sales at Cole Haan and Jill Anderson this Weekend



WSJ: Griddles--They're Hot!

Since I still have no working stove or oven in my old new apartment, I am thinking of getting a big bad electric griddle and eating breakfast morning, noon and night! Here's a comparison in today's Wall Street Journal. The winner? BroilKing Professional Griddle.

Catalog Critic
WEEKEND JOURNAL
Griddles -- They're Hot
By Charles Passy
4 January 2008

The new year may be as good a time as any to start giving breakfast its proper due. But how are we going to progress beyond quick and easy solutions like Pop-Tarts and cold cereal?
The short answer: Consider buying an electric griddle.
These classic countertop kitchen appliances, typically designed to offer more room for cooking pancakes, eggs and such than your standard frying pan, seem to be making a comeback. BroilKing, an appliance manufacturer in Winsted, Conn., has expanded its line of griddles in the past couple of years, including one with a splatter guard. And Presto, a century-old name in appliances, has added three new models. Presto spokesman Don Hoeschen says the appliance's continued appeal has a lot to do with its versatility, noting that griddles come in handy beyond the morning meal. "You can use them for grilled-cheese sandwiches, too," says the executive with the Eau Claire, Wis., company.
We wanted to see how some griddles handled the familiar American breakfast spread of pancakes, eggs and bacon. (OK, it's a little on the heavy side, but you can always opt for healthier substitutes, like turkey bacon and egg-white omelets.)
In the case of the Rival griddle we tested, we nearly went hungry. The appliance didn't heat up as well as the four other models we tried and it never got our bacon crispy enough. (And the pancakes came out more like sponge cakes, according to our nine-year-old taster.) A West Bend model performed better in the cooking department, but had other significant flaws, such as a hard-to-turn dial and a narrow frying space (so much for fitting all that bacon on it). Hamilton Beach's Jumbo Griddle came close to the mark, but still didn't quite hit it. The culprit? A drip tray difficult to pull out.
But two griddles made a strong impression. Presto's Tilt'nDrain BigGriddle ($39.96), our pick for Best Value, was 23 by 17 inches, big enough for about 12 modest-sized pancakes. It also gave us the option to position the grilling surface flat or at a bit of an angle, good for anything greasy. Our Best Overall, BroilKing's Professional Griddle ($99), had the edge, with its solid construction -- the handles are stainless steel -- as well as a splatter-guard feature. And at 21 by 12 inches, it still had enough room for all our pancakes -- at least until the call came for seconds.
---
BroilKing Professional Griddle (model PCG-10)
BEST OVERALL
CompactAppliance.com
compactappliance.com; 800-297-6076
$99; standard shipping cost $19
The Good: A sturdy model, constructed partly of stainless steel, that made
the other griddles feel lightweight by comparison. Splatter guard, easy-to-
grip handles and relatively large size (21 by 12 inches) were other plusses.
The Bad: It was more than twice as expensive as other griddles on the
market.
The Shopping: A similar model, minus the splatter guard, is available for
$79.

Presto Tilt'nDrain BigGriddle (model 07046)
BEST VALUE
Amazon.com
amazon.com
$39.96; standard shipping cost $10.30
The Good: At 23 by 17 inches, this griddle could handle enough to feed a
small family. And the unique tilting system gives you the choice of cooking
with the surface flat or angled.
The Bad: Not dishwasher safe; this was also true of the BroilKing and
Hamilton Beach models.
The Shopping: As always, there are different ways to go with Amazon.com:
You can buy through them or through other retailers on their site.
(Currently, this griddle is available only through other retailers, priced at
$40-$45.)

West Bend Electric Griddle (model 76220)
West Bend
westbend.com; 866-290-1851
$39.99; standard shipping cost $9.95
The Good: Finally, a dishwasher-safe model. The griddle also cooked
reasonably well, though we would have preferred not feeling the heat
radiating from the surface so much.
The Bad: The narrow, front-to-back dimensions (the griddle measures 20 by
10 inches) made it difficult to position a strip of bacon that way. And
temperature dial was the hardest to turn of all that we encountered.
The Shopping: This is the only griddle that West Bend offers on its site,
but it does have a panini press and an indoor grill.

Hamilton Beach StepSavor Jumbo Griddle (model 38510)
iKitchen.com
ikitchen.com
$34.99; standard shipping cost $11.20
The Good: Comparable with Presto in quality, though slightly smaller, at 19
by 12 inches. Comes with a handy temperature guide right on the drip tray, so
you know what's appropriate for everything from steaks to eggs.
The Bad: The drip tray was hard to remove.
The Shopping: Well-organized site allows you to shop easily by brand. But
we wish it offered a phone number for customers (Amazon.com has a similar
email-only contact policy).

Rival Digital Griddle (model GR250)
QVC
qvc.com; 888-345-5788
$59.99; standard shipping cost $8.22
The Good: Lots of good features on this 20-by-10-inch griddle, including a
digital temperature setting (our other models were strictly dial-operated)
and removable surface that can be washed separately.
The Bad: If only the thing would actually heat properly. Even when we set
the temperature much higher than the norm for pancakes, we couldn't get
things cooking. The result: "Sponge cakes," to quote our nine-year-old
taster.
The Shopping: Griddle is also available directly from the manufacturer at
Rivalproducts.com.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Cable Installation: Learning the Hard Way

So in my efforts to upgrade my living space I decided to throw caution to the wind and go for the Time Warner Cable Triple Play (with wireless) package. They agreed to come to my palace on the day after Christmas to install it. I was so looking forward to entering the 21st Century with 250 channels, DVR, wireless Internet connection, and so on.

So I rushed back to NYC on the 26th, and the guy shows up on time - a seemingly good sign. He then proceeds to spend much of his time in my apartment trying to convince me that I need to rearrange my apartment so that he won't have to wire anything into my bedroom.

Examples:
1. He told me I should really move my entire PC/printer from my bedroom to my living room. When I said no, he then...

2. ...Told me that if he tried to drill a hole through the wall between the living room and bedroom the walls were weak (which is not so) and the hole may end up being as big as SIX INCHES IN DIAMETER.

3. Upon further discussion, he suggested that he install the Internet in the living room and then I could buy a wire to plug into the modem and run through my living room, into the kitchen, through the hall way and into my bedroom. You know just have a wire running through the entire house to trip over. Nice.

4. He also told me to buy a new phone that would allow me to keep the base in the living room but get a "wireless" second phone that I could keep in the bedroom. Again so that he wouldn't have to wire anything into my bedroom.

He was more than a piece of work.

So he left and I now have a phone, phone modem, Internet modem and huge cable box all piled up next to my TV in the living room - a very attractive set up. And then if that weren't enough after he left I discovered that no HBO channels were working, and whenever I would click on one, the cable would freeze and reboot itself.

Cutting to the chase, I called Time Warner to complain and asked them to come out and fix the HBO situation, as well as wire my Internet connection into my bedroom. A different TWC guy showed up on Dec. 31 and in three seconds assessed the problem:

THE GUY DIDN'T INSTALL ME.

What?! You might ask...

He just plugged my TV into an old wire on the outside of the building that isn't even supposed to be working AT ALL anymore, instead of wiring me into the actual cable system within the inside of the building.

So now I have to get re-reinstalled this coming Saturday. Pretty much starting from zero. But! At least two good things should come out of this experience:

1. I will get the installation the way I want it, not the way the first guy wanted to do it so as to get out of actually working.

2. I learned that the first guy was a sub-contractor, not a Time Warner Cable employee. I was told a little secret by the second, Dec. 31, guy who was an actual TWC employee: YOU CAN (AND SHOULD) REQUEST AN IN-HOUSE TECH. Had I known and done this, I wouldn't have to get my cable re-re-installed and sit around at home all day on a Saturday!

You just HAVE to love the utilities companies.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

More Heavy Metal Painted Jean Jacket





Because I have been getting a lot of great feedback on the other day's Heavy Metal Painted Jean Jacket blog, I thought I'd provide you with additional viewpoints since a picture of a picture speaks 1,000 words to the 1,000th power. And look, chicks dig them too!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Martha Stewart is in My Bathroom






























Now that I have moved back into my rent stabilized palace, I needed someone special to take care of my most damaged room: The Bathroom. So I called my friend Martha and she selflessly directed me to her Martha Stewart Everyday from Kmart line. Yes, I made fun of anyone who shopped at Kmart when I was a kid too, but discount and retail has come along way from the old days.
For Christmas, madre guerilla bought me Martha's shower curtain, liner, assorted towels and washcloths, matching wastebasket and bathroom rugs. This stuff is really quite nice and good quality too.
As you can see from the comparison photos above - those that are reminiscent of London WWII and those that Martha has most recently touched - I am well on my way to achieving bathroom zen.