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Archive for the ‘Unfortunate’ Category

The Times bestsellers
Nicholas Sparks, number 2.
This just in: schmaltz sells.

rain + great hair = timeless prose

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I watched my first (and last) episode of The Hills the other night, and this is what I retained from the show:

  1. It is about a small faction of Hitler Youth living in the Hollywood Hills.
  2. They speak in a code language, using phrasing like “WTF?” “LOL” and “bitchcakes.”
  3. Heidi totally spread a rumor about Lauren being in some totally bogus sex tape even though they were like totally BFF’s before but Heidi was all “what the fuck?” and then Lauren was all “oh no you didn’t just say that” and Heidi was like “whatever slut” and it was like so totally sweet.
  4. They are on a network that once promoted the art of music.

This was the first thing I had watched on Music Television for a long time, as I, like the majority of the world, realized that it had replaced music with rich, drunk teens who like to have sex. And now, apparently, even MTV has realized this. According to Gawker, who spoke with a staffer at the network, there is a “What does M stand for?” party going on that is very….mmmmysterious. Has MTV finally thrown in the towel? Given up on what they once were? Did they finally read all of my letters and decide to bring back Singled Out? (Hey – Chris Hardwick had real stage presence.) Is the M finally going to stand for something realistic, like Malignant? Or will MTV return to its musical roots?

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A couple weeks ago I tripped while shopping at TJ Maxx. I tried to laugh it off and act as though I was okay with the situation, but being that I was by myself, I don’t think anyone was buying it. A few minutes later I left.

The point of this story is, I can only imagine what Miss USA is feeling right now. Poor thing.

If I were her I would’ve kept on cat-walking off the runway onto the nearest bridge. Then I would’ve jumped off.

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After a lovely Sunday afternoon of walking around the neighborhood, drinking outside and playing Scrabble at Abilene (Jonathan, I apologize, “wino” is actually in the OED), I returned home, put on my pajamas and opened up a fresh Netflick. My roommate was on the way to his shift at the Park Slope Coop, and I was all set to sit back, relax and enjoy some non-Food Network programming. But before I saw Coming Attraction #1, I got a phone call informing me that Michael Showalter, Eugene Mirman and some guys from Upright Citizens Brigade would be performing later on that evening at Union Hall. My roommate has just recently started enjoying Michael Showalter’s comedy, and was eager to attend. So I took my pajamas back off, put down my Netflick and once again vanished into the bustling Brooklyn biosphere.

Here at Brooklyn Skeptic, a lot has been written about Union Hall, as it is home to two bocce courts, and, according to some, a lot of assholes. Despite all of this, it can not be denied that Union Hall’s basement is a great place to see a live show. The way it is set up is kind of like your childhood neighbor’s basement. A small, old, room with folding chairs and comfy couches, it is truly an intimate and comfortable setting. I spent half the time I was down there waiting for my old neighbor’s mom to walk in with a bowl of cheese doodles and soda (what’s up Mrs. Stirparo?). We were there only about fifteen minutes early, but managed to get seats in the front row, looking at a small stage on which we could literally rest our feet.

The show was fun and relaxed. Michael Showalter came on first and warmed up the crowd, talking about his weekend and making fart jokes. He introduced a British comedian who I am pretty sure was funny, but I might have just been charmed by her accent. Eugene Mirman was really drunk and quite humorous as he went off on rants about how he hates various things. And the guys from UCB were there to plug their new show Human Giant, which is unfortunately airing on MTv, right between Pimp My Ride and My Sweet 16, I believe they said.

At one point, Michael Showalter was crouched down watching the show right next to my roommate, who nerdily kept poking me and smiling. The place is so casual that the comedians usually hang out there afterwards, talking with fans and drinking. This friendly atmosphere worked equally well when I saw Zach Galifianakis at the same venue. He was allowed to get close to his audience, which is essentially half of his show, as he frequently runs around berating people. Although I have never seen live music performed at Union Hall, I can only imagine that the area works well, allowing the audience to truly feel like their favorite band is playing at their basement party.

So for all of the nay-saying that seems to go on about Union Hall, don’t judge a bar by its cover (there is no cover, mind you). There may be some annoying people and some bocce hostility, but there aren’t many bars in Manhattan or Brooklyn that can stir such happy, warm and intimate feelings. And isn’t that what drinking on a Sunday is all about? No? Oh right. I’m just an alcoholic.

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Pool is passé.

I’m going to break it to you, there are no longer guys in fedoras tapping their wingtips to the jukebox, with a cigarette between their fingers. It’s been replaced by frat boys in polo shirts & baseball caps, or suits with loosened ties. All the romance is gone and has been replaced by a certain banality.

Bocce doesn’t need to get people to pay for it. They know they’ve created a group of individuals who will come to the only bars in Brooklyn (owned by the same person) to get their bocce fix. They’ve created a subculture who crave their hands around their large balls. They will come week after week, set up leagues, and practically live at these bars. Do we need it in more places? No. And I like it that way. Pool you can go almost anywhere. I can barely walk down the street without running into a pool table.

And I’m sorry, something is wrong if you think handling a small stick and delicately hitting small balls is somehow tough. All that green felt is simply bourgeois. Bocce requires you to get down in the dirty court, pick up balls with your bare hands, and throw it down a court. You really learn to channel a more primal energy. You call that cute? Obviously you also haven’t heard the smack talk that goes on.

You have to accept that bocce is the new hotness, while pool is the old hotness…which can’t be anything but lukewarm.

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I don’t think the word ethereal has ever been used in relation to a game where you lob large circular objects onto a court in an effort to knock other balls out of the way. However my point was not that Bocce is ugly. More that Bocce is, in a word, cute. Bocce is billiards’ cute indy-rock girlfriend who is a little more shy and less overtly sexy. Billiards, on the other hand, is slightly more out of one’s league (pun sooo intended). Billiards has a series of shiny, colorful balls and a beautiful green felt table with six evenly placed leather pockets. And you use a looonng, shiny, aerodynamic, wooden stick that you know you just want to wrap your hands around and….. Ahem. Chalk.

Anyway, again, bocce is definitely hot. Its balls just aren’t as polished.

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Bocce is, perhaps, the hottest game in the history of bar sports. It doesn’t have to hit you over the head with its overtly sexual equipment (cue, balls, holes, etc.) – it’s a demure game with dignity, class, and a regal aura. Sure it’s easy to look sexy while splayed out on a table, man-handling a huge stick. That’s some rookie shit. All of the sexiness in bocce emanates from a player alone on the court, the envy of the entire bar. That player in untouchable. And as we all know, the hottest person in the room is the one you can’t even get close to.

Where billiards is carnal, bocce is ethereal. Though your feet are on a court made of earth, your spirit hovers above near the pressed tin ceilings. Your body becomes a vessel for the, um, balls and thousands of years of Italian history course through your veins, like so many Brooklyn Lagers. If there is anything sexier than the spiritually superior and historically inclined, I don’t want to know what it is.

This sport is so fucking hot, even the pope plays.

bocce-pope.jpg

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I am a pool player living in Brooklyn, and was recently introduced to the small world of bocce. Featured at a few bars in my neighborhood, some of my friends have recently taken an interest, and I have been more than happy to come along for the ride.

A lot has been said on this blog about the game of bocce. It’s been around for centuries. Charlemagne played it between orgies and fighting wars against the Saracens. Mussolini threw the balls around while drinking tea and reading Il Popolo D’Italia. I myself used to watch the old French men in my neighborhood stand around, chomping on cigars and getting their shoes dusty while playing the very similar game of petanque. And now it has gone so far as to reach the Brooklyn bar scene.

I enjoy playing bocce, even though I suck. And I have to say that of the two bars I have been two with bocce courts, they don’t fuck around. People seem to be enjoying themselves immensely, and I have heard that leagues have been established and are quite popular. I know for a fact that one of the editors of this blog happens to be an avid bocce player. My question is this: does the concept of playing bocce in bars have any staying power? Will this catch on? Will bars start to sprout up all over the country with long, rectangular courts and large balls in every corner?

The answer, is no. And the reasons are simple. For starters, you have to have a pretty big establishment to host even one bocce court. Floyd already feels a little cramped with the one they have in there. Secondly, no one will ever pay for bocce. And this is for the simple, but incredibly stupid reason that there is too little involved in the sport. Would you honesly want to pay to throw little balls on the ground? No. Thirdly, and I am not denigrating the talent involved in playing this sport in the slightest, but it is not a sexy sport.

Pool, on the other hand, is a popular sport worldwide to pay for and play in bars. Men and women alike are drawn to the long phallic shape of the cue, and know that they don’t have the money to purchase a pool table of their own. You can pack a bunch of them into a room, and charge people two dollars a game to cross their fingers and hope that they can make that bank shot and look cool in front of the sexy person standing next to them. Why does this look cool? I’m not really sure. Ask Paul Newman.

Even if there are only two bars that I know of (although I’m assuming there are a few more) that have indoor bocce courts, I hope it stays that way. While it may not have the sex appeal of the aforementioned billiards, there is something comforting about sitting in a dimly lit bar, clutching a nicely poured micro-brewed beer and listening to the sweet cracking of two heavy, hard balls. I’ll always have pool, but it’s nice to know that there’s an alternative past-time in Brooklyn.

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Friend:

I am going to have to disagree with your douchebags/sq. ft estimations. While douchebags run wild in both bars on a typical Saturday night, I don’t recall ever running into one on the bocce court at Union Hall. I did however want to punch a girl in the face at Floyd. Now, I’m not saying more hate-worthy females can be found at Floyd, I’ve just never encountered one at Union Hall.

I also think your average patron age is off, for both bars. And even if you’re right, and the mean age for Floyd is 25, most of the people there look/act/dress like oldish 30-somethings. While Union Hall brings in the opposite; older clientele trying to recapture or maintain their youth by dressing like a young hipster. And yes, hipsters are annoying and always think they’re funnier than they actually are. However, they at least make me feel like the young 23-year old I am.

I mostly agree with everything else you said, but in the end, I choose Union Hall. In spite of the fact that Eugene Mirman like, lives there.

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Floyd's Bocce BarNumber of Bocce Courts:

  • Floyd: One
  • Union Hall: Two
  • Performance Space:

  • Floyd: No
  • Union Hall: Yes
  • Price of Drinks:

  • Floyd: Reasonable
  • Union Hall: Reasonable, if slightly more expensive
  • Douchebags/Sq. Foot on typical Tuesday Night:

  • Floyd: .1
  • Union Hall: .3
  • Douchebags/Sq. Foot on typical Saturday Night:

  • Floyd: 1
  • Union Hall: 3
  • Jukebox:

  • Floyd: Better
  • Union Hall: Good
  • Average Age of Patrons (rough guess):

  • Floyd: 25
  • Union Hall: 29
  • Bathrooms:

  • Floyd: Two, not disgusting
  • Union Hall: Ten-ish?, not disgusting, often quite clean
  • Major Perks:

  • Floyd: you can play bocce, most nights it is not very crowded, nice bar tenders, pew-like benches, lots of alt-country on the jukebox, have Bass Ale on tap (it’s delicious!), nice furnishings, people bring their doggies sometimes, Crap-o-copia, everyone is guaranteed to like this bar
  • Union Hall: you can play bocce, very beautiful space, cool bands and events downstairs, have two sections of padded wall (…), nice outdoor area, have Regina Spektor on the jukebox, within walking distance of my house, the food looks great but is very meat-centric, everyone is guaranteed to like this bar
  • Major Faults:

  • Floyd: Sophisticated computer system to dim and brighten the lights in an annoying but hip way, not as close to my house
  • Union Hall: People bring their children (Jesus Christ, Park Slope. What’s your fucking damage?), it’s incredibly crowded on the weekend and just uncomfortably crowded on weeknights, more frequent incidents of patrons being total assholes, long wait for bocce, the food looks great but is very meat-centric
  • Final Verdict:

    Two Brooklyn bocce bars diverged in a borough, and I – I took the one less Park-Slopified and that has made all the difference (sorry, Mr. Frost). So, I like Floyd best.

     

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