Thursday, September 30, 2010


Monday, Oct. 4: U.S. Senate Debate Event @ Anna Liffey's, New Haven

We're sure feeling political this week! But hey, thanks to years of going to all the right parties, we totally know all of Hartford's hottest alt-pol candidates. Connecticut for Lieberman legit U.S. Senate nominee John Mertens will participate almost-live in Monday night's Blumenthal/McMahon debate via the magic of technology (TeeVee, pause button) from a fun remote venue - New Haven Irish pub Anna Liffey's. Hear the agenda, bask in the validating solidarity of your fellow disenfranchised citizens, throw back a pint. And remember, Linda McMahon is basically a disgusting imitation of a human being: the latest ick.

Jeez, we can't seem to pry the "politics" and "booze" tags away from each other!

The New Silk City

The Silk City Flick Fest is movin' to Hartford. Venues will include The Wadsworth Atheneum, Capitol Community College, City Steam Brewery, Young! Studios, The Hartford Public Library and the CT Science Center. We're pretty excited about not having to cross the river, and to be able to walk between venues, rather than driving aimlessly around Manchester like we did last year. Seriously, that place is a maze.

The schedule is up and there are some intriguing programs planned. We'll give you some highlights, the full schedule is below.

Thursday, Oct. 7, is the Opening Night Reception at The Wadsworth from 5-8pm, followed by a screening of the nominated short Short Breath and the feature film Birthday.

Friday, Oct. 8, is an entire day of horror at Young! Studios. There will be a "Monsters and Gore" Workshop, led by Matt Corrigan. Matt will "teach you how to make all the dead stuff, bloody limbs and gore for your next low budget horror movie." Matt's worked on all sorts of impressive Hollywood movies and he can MacGuyver a bottle of wine like none other.* The day will also include many horror shorts and three feature films including S&man (we totally know them). Also on Friday, Capitol Community College will be featuring student films throughout the day, followed by two nominated features in the evening, Esther's Diary and Safe House.

Saturday, Oct. 9, the festival coincides with The ING Hartford Marathon. Feature documentary Spirit of the Marathon will be shown several times throughout the weekend at The Wadsworth. It's about, well, running marathons. The Wadsworth will also be screening a block of International Short Films several times throughout the weekend and Saturday night they will feature Black Dynamite, a spoof of 70's black exploit movies.

City Steam will hold a series of workshops on Saturday, and the CT Science Center will be screening American Meth, a documentary on the effects of methamphetamine use on a an American family. Young! Studios will be screening shorts all day, followed by a narrative feature from Brooklyn, Apostles of Park Slope.

The festival concludes Sunday, Oct. 10, with a gala and awards ceremony at City Steam from 6-10pm.

*ask us for that story another time.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ken Krayeske (We totally know him!) Green Party

Wednesday, Sept. 29 (that's today!): Green Party Rally @ Sisson Tavern, Hartford

Oh, hey Ken Krayeske and Connecticut Green Party, way to compete for our affections with Sidewalk Dave tonight. But sure, we guess political alternatives, progressive agendas and unabashed anti-war sentiment are as important as deliciously twangy local indie rock. Maybe we can find some way to merge the two. Actually, the Green deal starts at 7 p.m., so you can probably make both. Sisson Ave.: hot tonight.

Krayeske, former Advocate badboy, local indie journo and famous Rell antagonist, is running for Congress for the Greens. Tonight's event at local dive-y joint the Sisson Tavern will include taping for a TV spot, so attention whores: be there.

Hot or Not?: Yoga Week 3

Notice I didn't say "Bikram," this week, hmmm? Last week I mentioned some non-Bikram practitioner criticisms my newest sweaty hobby. This week I actually made it out to the hot non-hot yoga guy's class at Hartford City Ballet (which is a weekly, open dealie, you can just drop in too!) for a different kind of experience.

Everywhere I go, I seem to interact with other CT celebrities. Open yoga class ended up being just myself, instructor Gabriel, and famous ballet hipster Amy, who leads an open modern dance class at the same venue, which you can try some time (but count the Scenics out, we got no moves). Nice to meet her again! And very nice to meet the venue's resident kitties. OMG LOVE KITTIES!

About the yoga. Gabriel teaches Hatha yoga and incorporates chanting and breathing exercises as well as poses into his class. He also dropped a lot of knowledge and vocabulary about the history and goals of practice and chakras and things, which I won't try and reiterate (maybe we can get an interview). He emphasized that postures should be comfortable and that one should be able to relax in them (in contrast to the "stretch beyond your flexibility... feel pain sensation" emphasis of Bikram).

But I also like the militant/masochism thing! Over the weekend I had another one of those great Bikram sessions, where I was getting deeper into the postures and ended up class feeling invigorated. Of course, I also had mostly classes that felt like torture endurance, so don't get all jealous of my progress or anything now.

Like "standing head-to-knee" always sucks. Here's a nice illustration of the progression of this posture (actually, check out the source, it's informative!).

I struggle to just get my leg up. There's people in class around me that get the elbows and the head down and everything. And they don't all even have the hot yoga body, so apparently that has nothing to do with it (bummer!).

And let's talk about my period! Cause why not. Bikram makes a lot of health claims about the postures and all the body systems and health problems that they can help improve/alleviate. The cobra series says it wants to relieve my menstrual problems. And what do you know? My period practically snuck upon me this month. There's plenty of stuff on the internets about yoga and your period. Well, maybe not your period. Good thing DH isn't writing the yoga series, eh?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Phallic Artistry: International Edition

Maybe we've just been kicking around the same old ground in our home town too restrictively to stumble upon any new "phallic artistry" ourselves lately. And though Jackie and I more or less despair of ever getting to leave the state - much less the country - ever again, the way we used to when we had our youth, decent jobs and health going for us... [sigh] For your amusement and education allow us to strain the scope of our blog a bit and bring you these delightful pictures from our successful adult friends' trip to Mongolia, which have been explained as "dick rock" and "vag hill," a site and sculpture associated with local fertility/virility rituals. I can't seem to find much in the way of official literature on subjects (possibly because they are not actually called dick rock and vag hill), but look, some other blogging adventurers reported pretty much the same.

Got any such monuments erected in your neck of the woods? If you've been holding out on us, why not give us the tip? Hell, we'll take the whole thing.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sidewalk Dave: We totally love them!

Wednesday, Sept. 29: Sidewalk Dave @ The Half Door, Hartford
Saturday Oct. 16: Sidewalk Dave @ The Half Door, Hartford

Remember back in August when we threw basically the best party ever, and introduced many of you to your newest favorite band (or newest favorite CT band, if you must qualify them so) Sidewalk Dave? Well, we're thrilled to see they've got some dates coming up at the Half Door, one of our regular hangs anyway.

Check out this very rockin music video they made, which even includes footage from our party. Hott:

Let's not go to the movies

A recent interview with the AV Club got me all intrigued about Todd Solondz's newest film, Life During Wartime. He had such interesting things to say about actors and the film-making process. And then I was excited that it was coming to Real Art Ways, because there just haven't been many movies to get excited about during 2010.

Life During Wartime is ostensibly a sequel to Happiness - you remember that beloved indie firecracker about the mild-mannered child rapist dad and the motley crew of hot messes and their associates he married into? The movie with the title that was soooo ironic because the happiest thing was the little boy's triumph at the end in rubbing one out? Life During Wartime catches up with these characters a decade later and with the weird twist that all the roles have been recast with different actors.

We had hoped to re-watch Happiness in advance of screening Life, but didn't manage to procure a copy. But Solondz said this movie would stand on it's own, so we went at it cold. DH had never even seen Happiness, and I haven't seen it in years. We were both pretty lost from the get-go, and the recasting stunt only muddies things more. I was able to pipe in "Oh, this must be the family... the dad got caught raping kids and went to prison, that's what's going on here." Apparently mom told her younger kids their father died, and now she's trying to move on with a new man in a new state.

This could be an intriguing premise if Solondz made any effort to portray people as people are and really explore what this family might act like. But his characters are broad indie cinema caricatures who just exist to have extremely awkward conversations, like the over-the-top moment where mom tells little Timmy that she knows she's in love because she got wet all over when he touched her elbow... and then she dried herself off with a paper towel. Oh and by the way, never let a man touch you. Or when her young daughter is looking for her klonopin to take before "karaoke class" (WTF?!) and she advises her to just take half a Wellbutrin ("they're right next to my percocets, oh just bring me the whole cabinet!"). Get it, these people are fucked up?

Life doesn't hold up very well either as sequel or stand-alone. We got a couple of chuckles out of scenes of children saying appalling things (we hate children); Ally Sheedy (in the Lara Flynne Boyle role) having loud off-camera sex with "Keanu" is kind of funny; and Paul Reubens is welcome to drop by whatever indie drama he feels like. Mostly we appreciated scenes of college-age Billy's bedrooms at home and at school littered with hipster/intellectual signifiers like a copy of The Naked Lunch and posters for Spoon and Neutral Milk Hotel.

If you're a Solondz completist, you'll check this out anyway. You can see it this week at RAW. If you're not uncomfortable enough after that, go see I'm Still Here or whatever.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Divination: The Intuitive Art of H.L. GROEN

HARTFORD, CT- This Saturday night marks the event that has been the talk of the town; opening night for "Divination: The Intuitive Art of H.L. Groen". ArtSpace Hartford will be the place. Expect to see arts patrons in their fine evening attire rub elbows with the Gypsies and Trotskyites. But this is no fashion show, though I'm sure you'll spy a mink stole or two riding above the latest thing from Paris.

H.L. Groen, famous in this bustling metropolis for her art as well as her wild bohemian escapades, will be presenting a collection of new work, said to reflect "spiritual exploration" and her "impulsive nature". Expect a show of mixed media; drawings as well as several pieces of sculpture.

This reporter had an opportunity to visit the artist earlier this summer. On the day in question Groen had set up a huge tent, resembling a Sultan's palace, from which a child sold an exquisite lemonade. Passing carriage drivers gaped in amazement, and many tied up their horses in order to tour the spectacle and purchase refreshment. Those that entered were dazzled by the exotic works of art hanging within those billowing walls. I was offered a drink from a hidden pitcher. I remember remarking on the exotic flavor and aroma, then abruptly found myself wandering half-naked in a farmer's field after dark.

The gallery has informed me that Hors d'oeuvre's and libations will be provided. Additional spirits will be available at a cash bar.

Groen has a fondness for street urchins and ragamuffins. Her considerable talents have rubbed off on many, and the show will feature drawings of H.L. Groen's visual art students from the Hartford Magnet Middle School and original music by high school students Atticus Kelly and Adrian Mojica of the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts.

The opening celebrations begin promptly at 6pm and end at 9. For additional informations click here or post a letter to the artist at

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New Hartford's Collinsville Baking Co.

In case you haven't figured it out, we'll pretty much do whatever people tell us to do. Julia told us to go to Rocket. And Rocket told us to go to Collinsville Baking Co. And we were driving right past it anyway on our way through New Hartford (Pine Meadow area). Yes, the name is tricky. There seems to be a lot of Collinsville in New Hartford.

In addition to providing great buns and bread to locals like Rocket, the shop has a lunch menu of deli basics and salads and offers catering. We had just eaten lunch, as you know, so our interests lay elsewhere. Cynthia got a loaf of olive rosemary bread. I was mysteriously drawn to the dessert case. How good do these pumpkin squares look?

I'm a freak about PB & Chocolate so I bought one of these brick sized delights.

I know, I know, you're wondering how I keep my girlish figure eating all these cheeseburgers and giant dessert bars. Well, now that you bring it up - in a word: bulemia. Just kidding! I couldn't bring it up if I wanted to. But maybe you've heard about our fitness tag. We're totally fit here.

Go Team Rocket!

Well, after a morning of surgery (assisting, not receiving!) and an afternoon of shopping, Cynthia and I had worked up an appetite, and before we left Brazen Betties, Julia was all "Have you tried Rocket yet?!" I've heard all about this "Fine Street Food" truck on Facebook and been tantalized by their menu postings, but no, we hadn't tried them yet. Well, Julia made a call to make sure the truck was in it's usual position (outside Oddo's - they also do shifts at UConn in Torrington and Torrington's Saturday farmers market). She told them famous, hungry bloggers were coming, and not to take off. Get it, take off?

Haha. Well, they weren't going anywhere, but we appreciate the VIP treatment. Rocket is all about quality and has a simple menu of comfort-oriented food with sophisticated embellishments - like grilled cheese with gruyere on hearty local bread. They buy local as much as possible and boast some appealing NOs: no high-fructose corn syrup, no trans fats, no hormones, no antibiotics. Cynthia had the fancy grilled cheese. I had a green chile cheeseburger. ("naturally raised angus beef, rocket-roasted green chile sauce, monterrey jack and colby cheese on Collinsveill Baking Company roll.") We were enamored. We each had an Avery soda - another local!

We got all chatty with the proprietors of course. We were impressed with the bread, and they gave us a rap about how they didn't want to go cheap or chintzy with anything. We so admire that. They told us we should totally go visit Collinsville Baking Co. (which is actually in New Hartford). [Spoiler: we totally went there!]

Shopping!: Brazen Betties revisited

I've blogged up Brazen Betties before - the wonderful downtown Torrington shop that features exclusively CT designers and artists with sexy, retro and pin-up inclinations. Well, proprietress Julia has been FB-ing about great seasonal sales and new merch and Cynthia and I were in the neighborhood and looking for a good time after the usual bad time at school, so we decided to drop by.

Everybody loves the "steampunk" ring by White Flag Designs I bought there on my first visit. Well, there's plenty more where that came from, so go get one for yourself.

WFD is the work of a gal out in Canton, who is also responsible for One Hand Washes the Other, delicious smelling natural soaps and creams and lip balms and things (Cynthia went for a lip balm). Cynthia also went for this ridiculous[ly awesome] hair ornament by Loveycraft (a crafty bitch from small town charm epicenter Collinsville).

Julia kept encouraging us to try gorgeous and fabulous things so we could see how amazing everything looks on, so of course I was hooked in as well. And loath as I am to spoil the live effect of a new outfit, it is my duty to share with you readers. I got this (price reduced!) chic De Melis... is it a coat? Whatever it is, I love it:

I had to have a Loveycraft too. She makes all these flamboyant headbands with big silky bows and colorful feathers. Check out my 'cock, you know you want it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bitch in Heat: Bikram week 2

It's been two weeks since the Bikram party. Last Tuesday I had a revelatory session where I felt better throughout and finished up feeling happy and energized. The Hot Yoga Guy says this is totally supposed to happen several sessions in. Great, I'm right on schedule! So for the past week I decided to push myself to go nearly every day. The literature out there says you can't really overdo it if you're doing it right, and although the sessions themselves are painfully hard work, there's no soreness or heavy feeling afterward, like I would expect if I were making myself run or bike daily extra hard. Presumably this is because yoga is no impact, the postures rely upon stretching, use the body only for traction and resistance, and the sequence is balanced, covering all areas of the body and matching flexion with extension.

Every session does not feel better than the last. The experience is definitely influenced by the time of the day, level of tiredness from other activities, eating habits. Whether my arms or legs were a little more tired going into it determines the level of torture feeling for me during the standing postures. And yet I am progressively better; already I can get into a better approximation of some of the postures which the limitations of my flexibility impede.

DH and I both look at Bikram as primarily an awesome form of exercise, which is why we're less interested in more meditative forms of yoga (DH says he already really good at "zoning out"). For him, committing to practice has also meant getting away from the rock n roll lifestyle and keeping more regular hours. My hours were already pretty regular-ish, but committing to practice definitely facilitates making other good lifestyle choices. If I know I'm going to be doing Bikram in the near future, the choice is pretty much made for me to do sensible things like drinking water, getting a decent night's rest, not getting drunk and dehydrated, not eating a big pile of awful crap food... Hence there are a variety of incidental benefits in addition to direct physical ones related to practice itself.

I should also mention that over the natural course of talking to people socially about my new hobby, I've run up against anti-Bikram yoga sentiment. One local yoga teacher encouraged me to try other yogas and offered a few specific criticisms. Namely that water loss is not good and that the emphasis on locking your knee is various postures is pretty, not healthy. I am not ultra concerned about the water loss through sweating; doing physical activities or working outdoors (or next to a pizza oven) in the summer will make you sweat all damn day, and that's been working out ok for humans throughout history - and to this day - who don't work at temperature controlled desk jobs. And while not locking the knee makes good sense for something like weight training (leg press, etc.), where the leg is being met with massive, inorganic physical resistance beyond the body's own pushing and stretching, the Bikram sequence as I've experienced it offers gentle induction into the poses, and individual common sense practice (e.g. don't push yourself too hard or too fast) should preclude injury during knee locking or any other position. Nevertheless, I may go give concerned anti-Bikram-guy's class a try some time, if for no other reason than to tell you lovely readers about a new experience, which is, after all, a my raison d'bloge, even if Bikram is ultimately the yoga for me, as I suspect it is.

Actually, there's more to yoga controversy than locking knees. Maybe our friends at Real Art Ways can get bring this documentary to Hartford.

Weekend in South Central....Connecticut

The Scenics split up to cover more ground this past weekend. Your humble reporter received an invitation to check out CT's own Yankee Brutals take on Queen City's Nickel City Knockouts (from western New York state). That's right, Roller Derby!

The bout took place at the CT Sports Center in Woodbridge. The CT sports center appears to be a mallable indoor warehouse space, I saw indoor soccer goals in the unused portion, the entire facility is huge, thousands of square feet. We should have a Scenic party there!

The most important part of the facility was, of course the refreshment stand, selling an excellent variety of beer. I was advised to bypass these and buy PBR cans as the proceeds would directly benefit the CT RollerGirls. Luckily, by the time I arrived the cans were long gone. PBR is fine, but I need to be a bit "warmed up" to tolerate it. I ordered a Long Trail, which went well with the cupcakes (also sold as part of the fundraiser).

What about this Roller Derby phenomenon that's been sweeping the country since the 1880's?

The action was fairly fast, occasionally only lasting for short bursts that would yield to longer evolving action segments. I was handed a guide to the complex referee calls and signals, and applying my full analytical powers I deduced that these hott roller babes were putting a serious beat down on each other.

Next time I'll get some real press credentials and bring my Rolleiflex film camera. Then maybe I'll capture some iconic shots like these:

This kind of looks like some old photos of my grandmother. Now I understand why my Grandfather kept saying she was a real knockout.

Of course for us literary types, the derby names are an attraction unto themselves. My fav for the night was Yankee Brutals co-captain "Babe Vigoda". Does anyone even remember who Abe Vigoda is?

There are all sorts of fun people at the roller derby. I got to hang with friend of the blog Laurie Lynne while she tended her Rockabilly Rita stand
Check out those striped skull stockings!
I've kept you in suspense long enough, CT's own Yankee Brutals brought home the bacon, winning 127-84.

No doubt the entire CT Scenic editorial staff will be partying at a roller derby soon, it's good clean family fun. By "family" I mean an organization like a mafia crime family, or the Manson family.

I bid adieu to the roller derby after an unsuccessful bid to lure a roller girl to my next port of call.
Yes, you read right, the night was still young. I buzzed over to the Independisc Birthday Bash at Cafe 9 (You read about it on this very blog). When I arrived, The Big Fat Combo was on stage laying it down. I have to admit I was a bit distracted running into CT scene legends The Sawtelles, the only band to tour Connecticut on a motor scooter. The Mold Monkies closed the show.

Everyone attending received a gift wrapped CD. Mine featured a Christmas motif and contained an Independisc sampler featuring work from way back in 1999. Cool!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Szechuan Shack

Last night after the excellent Real Ride adventure I caught up with a band (and a restaurant) I have inexcusably neglected. I mean, WTF, I totally know them and totally live here. Well, after all that biking around Hartford, we were feeling energized and hungry, and I knew that Shack was playing at Szechuan Tokyo in West Hartford. Shack is led by trumpeter/composer Stephen Haynes, along with drummer Andy Chatfield, guitarist Kevin O'Neil, and bassist Adam Kubota. I don't really know anything about their kind of music, but I know they are very good at it, and my dinner companion was sufficiently wowed. I said something to Adam about not knowing anything about jazz and he said something about how 'we didn't really get into jazz tonight that was like freakout stuff.' Whatever! Apparently, it's complicated.

Szechuan Tokyo has been providing the West Hartford community with Asian fusion dining and live jazz for years, and I'm excited to list them as another spot where late night dining is possible (we ordered dinner at 10:30 p.m.). Though they seem to have a bit of a sadistic streak; our waiter recommended this hot pepper torture dish to my friend:

Real Fun Ride

Last night's Real Ride through Hartford was a ridiculously good time. Cyclists descended upon Real Art Ways, some with bikes already costumed. Luckily for those of us who spent Saturday afternoon napping instead of raiding The Lot for bicycle accessories, RAW graciously provided glow bracelets and blinkies, so everyone was illuminated. Attendance was impressive:

The ride consisted of a ten-mile tour of Hartford with stops highlighting the history of RAW in Hartford (former locations, sites of art installations). But mostly it was about creating a spectacle in Hartford with our garish two-wheeler parade. We're pretty convinced we made everybody's night who saw us (as evidenced by their waving and cheering). Bolstered by our safety in numbers we brazenly impeded traffic and toured areas of Hartford most of us wouldn't normally bike, least of all at night, including downtown, the Riverfront, the north end, and the Meadows area. Everyone got a special charge out of the pedestrian overpass over Route 91, which included spiraling up and down multi-level ramps on either side.

This being a RAW event, of course area celebrities were present, like guitarist Daniel Salazar and artist Anne Cubberly, whose bike "costumes" were the feature of the previous Real Ride. Anne had to work extra hard to navigate her piranha bike through the overpass but came through it in one piece.

I was impressed by this remarkably ugly sculpture by the Riverfront. I only had time to snap a quick picture of "Jack" the turkey, and didn't get all of his details, but I'm sure they must be fascinating. I thought he might be a candidate to revive the "phallic artistry" feature here on the blog, but maybe we've outgrown that... And actually, this look is a little more vulvar.

I think I can safely say that a good time was had by all, and that everyone who participated is hungry for more Real Rides. Regrettably, the word on the street is no more Real Rides til spring. Perhaps Jackie Scenic and I can arrange to tide interested parties over with a Scenic Bicycle Tour of all our significant West Hartford landmarks, like the street we both used to live on, the coffee shop formerly known as Peter B's and the Elmwood Green.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, IndepenDisc

Saturday, Sept. 18: IndepenDisc XII Birthday Bash @ Cafe Nine, New Haven

We don't exactly know what IndepenDisc is, but we probably agree with them in principle, we know we like parties and - look! - our friends the Mold Monkies will be there. (We loved them at the New England Brewing party.) They're grown-up power pop, if you haven't been hanging on our every word. And by "grown-up" we mean old people. CT rockabilly band The Big Fat Combo will be playing too, and they sure sound like fun. Haha - check out their awesome cover art!

Rounding out the evening is singer-songwriter guy Frank Critelli.

Good bands: check. Tiny venue: check. Disgusting bathroom: check. Sounds like a pile of win! We hope there's really cake and that's not just FB event page teaser bullshit.

Spend some extra time with RAW this week

Thursday, Sept. 16: Creative Cocktail Hour
Saturday, Sept, 18: Real Ride @ Real Art Ways, Hartford

Third week is here again - so soon! So of course we'll be at Creative Cocktail Hour to flex our livers and show off our best fashiony things (and our hott yoga bodies). This month is going to feature some kind of instant art by Jane Shauck and her Polaroid camera. But does that Polaroid come with a Santa suit and humiliation like that one Mad Men episode? We sure hope so...

If that isn't enough (and it's never enough), RAW is hosting another Real Ride, this time a navel-gazing bike tour of RAW-related stuff around Hartford. Regrettably, we missed their last group ride, which looks like it was a ton of fun:

Hey, does this count for the "fitness" tag?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

SnackQuest: Cosmos

This week my demand for exotic school week snacks brought me to one of my favorite local shops, Cosmos International grocery store in West Hartford, which had great India takeout as well as groceries, and best of all, it's cheap. Wait, maybe "tastes great" is best of all. I can't decide.

So this week between classes, I'll be munching on naan bread (99 cents for the pack!), chocolate coated marshmallow cookie-wiches from Turkey, chikki, and seasoned papadi (chickpea flower chips). This haul came out to about $8 - can't beat that on a good day at The Lot, and certainly not at pricey-but-delicious Tangiers down the street.

Good thing I'm always photographing my food in case I remember to blog it up later. On another recent trip to Cosmos, I had a samosa chat (samosa smothered by chickpea curry, tomatoes, onions, yogurt, chutneys, and little crispy thingies) and a large mango lassi (mango yogurt smoothie, possibly the world's most delicious beverage). This stuff is ready to go, a fraction of the price any normal restaurant bought meal, and tastes as good or better. This meal plus one mango, IIRC, was about $8 as well. When I was working at the Worst Job in the World at the elementary school down the street from Cosmos, I used to walk there all the time on lunch and get something small - like a samosa and a small lassi - for about $3 - less than the school kids were paying for their microwaved happy meal equivalents. OMG public school lunches, don't get me started...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bikram Beginner: Week 1

It's been one week since DH's yoga torture party, I am five sessions into my Bikram odyssey (or "trial membershit" as I often mistype), and I love/hate it. Now I don't mean to be one of those THIS will change your life message people. No, I like to be the skeptic, the contrarian, the voice of snarky dismissal. But after only one session, I had an inkling that, if nothing else, dedicated Bikram practice would be the way to the body that I want to have, and which has previously only been attainable as a result of disordered eating (medically induced or otherwise).

And after one week, which I've also worked some running and biking into, I think the Bikram will produce benefits in all other areas of physical activity, where I can already feel myself becoming more focused and breathing more effectively. And knowing that I can push through the 90 minutes 100+ degree heat standard Bikram session keeps me from flagging or taking it easy on myself. I think I may be sleeping more effectively too.

Although I am coming at this new venture from a state of relative fitness (I exercise regularly, have plenty of energy, and enjoy physical exertion), I am not a flexi person and have never participated in any organized sport or exercise. I struggle with the postures and have to do the bare minimum expression on many of them. I am not a slow or calm person either, so even deep breathing is a challenge.

Every session (at my studio) is identical, and this may seem odd to the outsider. But everyone is coming to this with a different level of fitness, flexibility and experience. All the studio websites that I have perused market themselves as beginner friendly, which is good business of course, in addition to encouraging for those just getting started. And once you're in, you realize that even within the "constraints" of this identical session, the point is to keep working yourself harder - improve your postures, increase your flexibility, increase the frequency of practice. For me, with my unstretchy legs, it's going to be a long time before I'm even working correctly; outgrowing the class is not even in the realm of possibility.

I was looking for some good pictures of postures and found this non-CT website (for Bikram Yoga Portsmouth - I'll be sure to visit if I ever get to leave the state again) which has lots of great pictures, and also has lots of good and encouraging information for beginners.

Local to the Scenics, you can jump start your Bikram journey at Bikram Yoga Simsbury or Bikram Yoga Farmington, which both offer the first thirty days for $30 - a really amazing deal for newbs, and good business too, no doubt, since it gives more people the opportunity to get hooked (conventional wisdom: it takes 30 days to start a habit). You don't need a lot of special gear to get started. If you can set aside your inhibitions, be as naked as possible, because the sweat will be dripping and pouring off of you and the heat is quite oppressive. I've been working the sports bra and shorts look (great stuff available about Marshall's and The Lot, as previously noted). DON'T wear your long, official yoga getups. You will bake. I got a yoga mat for $12 at Marshall's too. I splurged and spent $6 (highway robbery!) on this thingie from EMS to keep my glasses on my head, because I couldn't find such a thingie anywhere else.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

CoffeeQuest: Winsted

We've mentioned before what a thrill it is to find a place to buy a decent cup of coffee. In the quest to stay awake at jobs/school, in the absence of alternatives, I've had to compromise my integrity one too many times with Dunkin Donuts swill. So I'm pleased to find a new indie coffee shop, Karen's Cafe in Winsted that serves excellent coffee. Karen's Cafe is a bittersweet discovery for me. The shop is located at 64 Main St., previously the site of my favorite Winsted coffee/restaurant/social destination, Cafe 64, which served the most amazing coffee shakes, flatbread sandwiches, and was staffed with attractive young people and frequented by the hipsterest clientele Northwest CT could muster.

But enough nostalgia! Karen's has only been open a few months, so I hope Winsted wants good coffee as badly as I do. They also serve your expected spectrum of espresso drinks and tea and have baked goods and wraps that I have not tried yet, but look forward to exploring. A sandwich menu is in the works.

What's Hot at the Lot: Style for Miles

Shoppers of The Lot all learn sooner or later that when you find a hot item, you gotta grab 'em up while they last. And I've been so happy with my Russell capri sweats that I decided to go back for another pair. They are so comfy for lounging, and ideal for biking and not getting caught up in the gears too. Got the same color and everything, because really, is there another color for sweats besides grey? I also couldn't resist a $4 organic cotton ribbed top (which unfortunately just proved to be a lint magnet on its first laundry cycle) and some little shorts I need for running/Bikram. Seriously, why would you buy your sweat-clothes anywhere else?

Last year I regretted not buying more than four pairs of these amazing cashmere blend socks; they were gone from the shelves before I knew it, with no worthy successor. So imagine my delight this morning to find them in stock once again. Though the company got tricky and is now packaging them one plain pair + one patterned pair, so now if you want two pairs of argyle socks, you'll have to buy two packs, etc. But at $3 for two pairs, they're totally worth it.