Tell me stuff (updated)

You are correct that I have not been blogging much or responding to comments like I usually do or even responding to email a whole lot.

The reason is that I’m on a deadline (yes, the same one, yes, it was moved again, yes I really have to meet this one) and am working my arse off. (Oh, how I miss my arse!)

In the meantime I think you lot should entertain me. Here are some questions:

  1. Does anyone have any recs for best brunch place in NYC?
  2. Who’s going to be the first Australian to win the Tour de France (no, it doesn’t have to be this year)?
  3. What’s the best book you’ve read lately?
  4. I just read Out by Natuso Kirino. Loved it. Can anyone recommend a recent crime novel that’s sort of like? I don’t like mysteries—that is I prefer crime books where you know who done it and it’s the whys that are the thing. So I want something all psychologicy. (My fave crime writers are Patricia Highsmith and Jim Thompson.)
  5. Where do I go to buy buttons in NYC? (Yes, that’s right I still haven’t gotten them.) (Oh, and by “buttons” I mean those things that can fasten clothes.)
  6. Is anyone else following the New York Liberty this year? Testing times, eh?
  7. Apparently I need some kind of formal wear, you know, like a dress. Anyone got any recs for cool interesting designery shops in NYC?
  8. What’s your favourite Elvis song and why?
  9. Without googling explain the difference between the Australian and New Zealand flags. Which is lamer?
  10. What new-to-DVD movie should I get to reward myself when I finally meet the deadline?

Thanks! Hope you’re all having a fab weekend (what’s left of it), that all your deadlines are being met and you don’t look at Monday morning with too much dread. As soon as my deadline is finished I promise to be a good blogger again.

Update: bonus question:

Riemannia‘s question here reminds me that I’ve been wondering what you call those metal door thingies that you see all the time here in the footpaths of NYC. You know, that when you open them reveal stairs that lead down into the basement of shops and restaurants and bars. Do they have a name? They aren’t grates so what are they?


  1. Jenny Davidson on #

    This is nothing like OUT, but Justine, you MUST MUST MUST read Charlie Williams’ DEADFOLK and the other two books in the trilogy, FAGS AND LAGER and KING OF THE ROAD. I will mull over the crime-novel question, though, and send you a better answwer soon. (Again, it’s not really at all like OUT, but have you read Sara Gran’s stuff? Both DOPE and COME CLOSER are spectacularly good; perhaps the second will be slightly more to your taste, I’m guessing.) I find Denise Mina amazingly good in the female noir category; and I also recommend the very dark sort-of-not-exactly noir of Heather Lewis, see if you can get hold of HOUSE RULES (if you’re in the mood for something unbelievably bleak and depressing & beautifully well-written).

  2. Seth Christenfeld on #

    3. Currently about 50 pages from the end of Colson Whitehead’s marvelous John Henry Days.

    4. I consistently hear raves for Ruth Rendell’s 13 Steps Down. I’ve had it sitting nearby for about eight months but haven’t gotten to it yet.

    8. “(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea.” (You didn’t say which Elvis.) Justine says: There is only one Elvis.

  3. dylan on #

    10. I’m not sure…I just watched Matador. Don’t even think of picking it up..It sucks
    Can’t wait for third book
    Just Read: Thorn Birds
    Reading: Ayn Rand’s We The People

  4. Little Willow on #

    My favorite Elvis song might be Hound Dog. It’s catchy.

    I like the Australian and New Zealand flags, but my favorite flag is the British flag due to its symmetry.

    It’s not new on DVD, and it’s not new, period, but THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS is one of my favorite films of all time. Barbara Stanwyck!

  5. Jenny Davidson on #

    i don’t like ruth rendell/barbara vine, though i have read an awful lot of her books considering how little i like her!

    i had brunch at that tartine place recently (you know, on one of the prettiest blocks in the west village), hadn’t been there for a long time but it was nicer than i remembered. gets crowded, best to go 10-10:20ish to miss the crowd; also they really don’t have anything on the menu other than eggs and pancakes/waffles; but an enticing pastry case….

  6. Christopher on #

    If Cadel Evans doesn’t win the Tour in the next three years (including this one), then the first Australian Tour rider is not currently riding in the professional peloton.

    I guess that doesn’t actually answer your question.

  7. orangedragonfly on #

    3. i just finished twilight by stephenie meyer, and i loved it. it was one of those books i didn’t want to ever get to the end of…i’m quite glad new moon (the sequal) comes out so soon!!

    8. this changes, but right now my favorite elvis song is “can’t help falling in love”–probably because right now all my favorite songs are sweet love songs. my husband is in the army and has been in iraq since september….but he’s coming home very soon!! so i’m kind of sappy lately. 😉

  8. CAAF on #

    Your ass looks marvelous, even worked off.

    As for 7. don’t know if this is formal enough, but:

    I’ve been eying the chrysanthemum and the cherry blossom skirts with longing. Some lovely tops too.

    Don’t think she has a shop but she’s based in NYC.

  9. Rachel Brown on #

    You might like another Japanese mystery writer, Miyuki Miyabe– very psychological/social in outlook, much more about what drives people to commit crimes than about whodunit.

    I did the English adaptation for another one, Chain Mail by Hiroshi Ishizaki, which is a YA thriller in a similar vein, but it’s not out for another couple months.

  10. Seth Christenfeld on #

    8. In that case, then, it’s “All Shook Up.” Or possibly “Burnin’ Love,” since it sometimes comes on the radio at work and is a lot of fun to sing along with.

  11. Mely on #

    1. i am very fond of cafe lalo and the popover cafe.

    4. rachel beat me to the miyuki miyabe rec–i’d say start off with all she was worth, then crossfire, then shadow family, in descending order of excellence. You probably know about Sarah Smith’s novels already? And … I am hitting the limits of my knowledge of contemporary thrillers already. You can have my copy of Susanna Jones’ the earthquake bird if you think it might be of interest.

  12. molly on #

    I can never resist a chance to suggest Old Devil Moon (on … 12th between A & B. I had to check, it’s been a while). It’s decorated a little like a flea market exploded, and there’s always a wait, but it’s worth it (also, you have to go into the smaller back room and push the button that makes the train go). It’s kind of southern – they serve grits and chicken-fried things, including tofu – and their brunch items are spectacular and filling. They don’t do the booze-included thing; for that I used to go to 7A, with their odd little home fries. I still don’t think anywhere in NYC gets home fries right.

    I wanted to recommend a dress store, but I can’t remember the name. And after four years, I don’t know if it’s there anymore. I miss the city.

    (PS. Hello and nice to type at you. I’m a new reader, in the blog and paperworld sense.)

  13. Naomi Novik on #

    1. I second mely’s rec of Popover Cafe, although warn it is a madhouse during brunch hours. The best pancakes in the city (either with or without fresh blueberries) are served, bizarrely enough, at Pershing Square, a commuter/tourist place right across from Grand Central.

    5. There is an amazing and tiny little button shop called Tender Buttons on 62nd near Lexington.

    also, hi! *waves*

  14. Milly on #

    Milly isn’t my real name but I wanted to see your comments bar have comments from Mely than Molly than Milly. ROTFL!!!!! 🙂

    On your bonus question I’m sorry but I don’t know what you call those things eitehr.

  15. Milly on #

    Drat! Naomi Novik foiled my way cool plan!

    Waves at Naomi!

    I love your dragon books!


  16. Ted Lemon on #

    Devil Moon is way yummy. It looks like a dive when you walk in, but rewards you for your willing suspension of disbelief. I haven’t been there in rather a long time, though, so it could have changed.

    I’d recomment V for Vendetta for your viewing pleasure, except it’s not out until August 1. :'(

    Best book I’ve read recently is hard. I quite enjoyed Alistair Reynolds’ Century Rain, but I don’t know if I’d elevate it to “best” because there have been so many good books recently.

  17. elizabeth scott on #

    2. Cadel Evans — I don’t think he’ll win this year, but given the overall wackiness that has been the Tour so far, who knows?

    Michael Rogers is also looking pretty good.

    3. Firethorn by Sarah Micklem

  18. Justine on #

    Wow, thanks everyone this is so very helpful and entertaining. Quick responses:

    Jenny: Thanks for the recs. I look forward to more. Another crime book I loved was The Cutting Room and the first of Jake Arnott’s books.

    I do, indeed, know Heather Lewis. Scott’s a huge fan. One of the first books he gave me to read was House Rules. Have you read his book Fine Prey? House Rules inspired it.

    Seth: I’ve tried Ruth Rendell and while I thought her books were good, they don’t quite hit the spot the way Out did. Or Highsmith and Thompson do.

    Thanks for being such a good sport about the strike out!

    Dylan: Thanks! I can’t wait to finish the third book!

    Little Willow: I love that movie! I may treat myself to a copy of it. I’ve watched all my Preston Sturges so many times they’ll fall apart soon.

    Christopher: As you know I have high hopes for both Cadel and Michael Rogers. But I suspect you may be right that the first will be someone we haven’t heard of yet.

    Orangedragonfly: I bet you’ve been sappy. I can’t imagine how hard that must be. Have a wonderful reunion! (That’s one of my faves, too. And I have no excuses . . . )

    Caaf: Ohh! You are right! There are some very lovely clothes in there. And she shows her stuff at the market in Nolita which Scott and me stumbled across once last year and could never find again. Now thanks to you, dear Caaf, we have found it!

    Rachel: Thanks! Will track it down.

    Mely: Thanks for narrowing my search. Shall get hold of All she was worth de repente. I have indeed read all Sarah’s books. They’re fabulous. What’s The Earthquake Bird?

    Molly: Excellent that’s quite close by, too. Shall check it out. If the name of the dress shop re-emerges let me know.

    Hello back atcha!

    Milly: Very silly. You’re not Niki, are you? And I exercised my blog goddess status to change the time stamp on Naomi’s comment so you’d get your Mely/Molly/Milly wish. Hope you’re happy!

    Naomi: Thanks so much. When the deadline is nuked I shall finally get those buttons so I can finally wear my two favourite shirts!

    This must mean your back from the grand trip. See you soon!

    Ted Lemon: Right definitely checking out Old Devil Moon. Great name for a restaurant! V for Vendetta was a pleasant surprise wasn’t it? Especially after Allen Moore’s rant against it.

    Elizabeth Scott: I’m hoping and praying Cadel makes the podium this year. In my dreams he and Micheal Rogers are up there and Robbie McEwan’s in green.

    I heard Sarah Micklem read from it awhile ago and was dead impressed. I must finally read it! Thanks for the reminder.

  19. CW on #

    3. The Broken Shore, Peter Temple.
    4. I like P.Highsmith for psychologicy, too.
    8. Hound Dog. Or Jailhouse Rock.

  20. Diana on #

    1. When I was recently in NY I was completely blown away by Schiller’s Liquor Bar in LES.

    3. I really really loved Something Borrowed. I didn’t think I would, but it was so compellingly written.

    8. This may be blasphemy, but I’ve been listening to “A Little Less Conversation” remix recently. It’s just such a fun summery song. But under usual circumstances, it ‘s a toss up between “In the Ghetto” and “Just Can’t Help Believing”

    9. I love any flag with the Southern cross, so I think I vote Australia? Or do I have them confuzzled?

    10. Hmmm… good question. I myself have just rented Tristram Shandy, which I’ve heard is rather amusing, and has Gillian Anderson in it to boot. I’ll tell you how it goes.

  21. Rebecca on #

    Erm, I can answer a few of those:

    3. The last book I read was Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. It’s one of the best YA vampire books I’ve ever read, and it’s been called “the vampire book for people who don’t like vampire books,” so even if that’s not up your alley, it might be worth looking into. Although, that was actually a reread. Last really good book I read for the first time was Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson, which I think you’ve already read. 🙂

    8. You Ain’t Nothing but a Hound Dog, because I loved it as a kid.

    10. Normally I’m not into romantic comedies, but Failure to Launch was really good.

    Bonus: Uh, cellar doors? Manholes? Maybe it’s one of those crazy New Yorkian things. 😛

  22. E. Lockhart on #

    brunch: I recommend, if brunch for you is 10 am (as it is for me) dim sum at Golden Bridge on the bowery. It gets too crowded later.

    clothes: have you been to the Otter at 361 Bleecker St? I used to like it there
    but you also might try Anthropologie
    despite their CRIMES against footwear they often have nice formal stuff –party dresses

    re: crime novel: Brat Farrar by Jospehine Tey

    I’ve been to Schiller’s (see Diana, above) and loved it, but go at off hours as it is trendy so can be zoo

    buttons: for fancy ones, like for a jacket, Common Ground on 15th st, I think it is — Native American art gallery and crafts/jewelry etc.

    Elvis: hunka hunka burning love
    I don’t think I need to say why

  23. Jenny Davidson on #

    i love “brat farrar” too! that, “the franchise affair” and “miss pym disposes” are all quite extraordinarily good, and not really at all dated barring the occasional strange racial reference (oh, i wish we could magically get rid of these from our favorite earlier twentieth-century authors, but that would be orwellian and evil….) i completely second caaf’s peter temple recommendation, he is an absolute genius & you can’t go wrong with any of his books. thanks for the tip on scott’s h.l.-inspired book, i will totally go & get it soon…. (and i liked firethorn also, it’s very dark and extremely well-written.)

  24. Ted Lemon on #

    I’m afraid I missed Allen Moore’s rant. I don’t know why, but for a long time now it’s been the case that I feel like movie reviews just aren’t helpful in determining whether or not I will like a movie. I used to think I could just apply a fudge factor to a review, but so many movies I’ve really liked in the past couple of years have been panned by the critics. But anyway, I’m glad to hear that Andrea and I weren’t the only ones who were pleasantly surprised by V. :’)

  25. Jenny Davidson on #

    oh, and justine, another dark thriller-y writer to try if you haven’t read him already is kevin wignall, i think you would find his books very compelling.

  26. alison on #

    Justine, the best book I’ve discovered recently was Eva Sallis’ Fire Fire – favourite Elvis… any one where he’s just looking right out at you, singing for you alone…

  27. Josh on #

    3. Ana Castillo, so far from god. Hilarious with lots of sympathetic characters dying.
    4. You care for Charles Willeford? Makes Jim Thompson look like saroyan.
    1, 5, 7. If you ever came to philadelphia, I could make great recs vis-a-vis where to find brunch, clothing, etc.

  28. shelly rae on #

    Justine–by the numbers….
    1. I don’t know about the best but I love brunch at the cafe at the Morgan Library. The food is good, you can do brunch in the old family dining room and you get to eat in a place chock full of old books.
    2. Hmm, nope not this year but I still think Stuart O’Grady or maybe Robbie McEwan? Although I’d be happy if Floyd Landis won this year I’m hoping that Oscar Pereiro from Spain wins this year–he’s a great rider.
    3. Lately? I’ve been re-reading Jane Austen so Pride and Prejudice not what you’re looking for? I also really liked Molly Gloss’s Wild Life, it feels like a woman’s journal from the early 1900s of wild Washington State but also has a that twist. I’m also admiring the world building and plot juggling skills of George R.R. Martin’s Clash of Kings but I’m afraid to read more because he’s already killed off characters that I liked!
    4. I haven’t read a crime novel since the day that James Ellroy told me that “I looked just like the girl who got away.”
    5. Surely there are amazing magical button shops in NYC–I’d head to a fabric shop myself–or the garment district?
    6. no
    7. The day someone asks me for clothing advice is the day hell freezes over. But I think it’s very exciting that you need a fancy dress.
    8. Love me Tender–because it’s also one of my favorite folk songs, Aura Lee.
    9. The Australian flag has more stars! But both seem to say more about being former colonies than cool countries. Time for new flags!
    10. The last thing I bought was Firefly–I like movies, just don’t buy many.
    Bonus–I think they are just called “cellar doors” but in some cases it might be called a hatch.

  29. Charlotte May on #

    3. Markus Zusak’s The book thief – set in Nazi Germany and narrated by ‘death’.
    Qiu Xiaolong’s Death of a red heroine- set in Shanghai in 1990 – great for the cultural and political ambience!

  30. da on #

    sopra, oh but thats in sydney.
    should be zouzou, but evans will do. thought you didn’t like mcewan.
    highsmith good.donna leon better food.
    blue sude shoes, he stole it!
    green and gold forever, but Aust southern cross better.
    hatch is right, i think?

  31. lili on #

    I have a question for you, oh knower of all things sydney.

    vanilla slice.

    pastry + custardy goodness + pastry + ?????

    a) plain, pure virginal white icing
    b) spotty ungodly passionfruit icing
    c) hellish lurid pink icing

    (i have a growing suspicion this is a sydney vs melbourne question, but i need to check with you first)

  32. Garth Nix on #

    Only one answer, I’m rationing answers this month.
    Favourite Elvis Song:
    “Polk Salad Annie”, the live version he sung in Las Vegas, 1970. It’s actually not quite as good as the original Tony Joe White version, but I like it and Elvis sounds like he’s having fun, particularly with his long “Hut, Hut” intro. Hadn’t heard it for years, downloaded it from iTunes a few weeks ago. Now I play the Tony Joe White and Elvis versions back to back.

  33. tricia sullivan on #

    do you like james lee burke? ‘in the electric mist with confederate dead’ is exceptional–but another planet from highsmith.

  34. Jenny Davidson on #

    “security grille” is another option for those doors, that’s what i’d say….

    lurid pink icing is always good–they’ve got some very enticing- if somewhat flea-bitten-looking cube-shaped cakes like that at the hungarian pastry shop on amsterdam north of 110th st. in manhattan, check them out if you’re ever in the neighborhood…

  35. little willow on #

    YAY! Finally, someone else who adores it. (Now if I could only find a copy of the short story it was based upon, Love-Lies-Bleeding!) I’m trying to recall if I’ve seen any Sturges other than The Lady Eve, which is fab. I adore Barbara Stanwyck’s films, especially Strange Love, Double Indemnity, and Ball of Fire.

  36. parker on #

    10. not movie, but complete first series: love my way (set in sydney, starring claudia karvan)
    great viewing – brilliant as a reward.

  37. veejane on #

    realizing that “you ain’t nothing but a hound dog” could be turned into jazz, with the melody dancing rings around the basic chord progression, was one of the big musical revelations of my life. Also, I am vaguely convinced that with a little effort you can turn the song into a polka.

    What? You can do it to “danny boy” you can do it to any song.

  38. Cyril N. Alberga on #

    If you do go to @SQC (quite nice) remember that they have (or at least used to have) a “bottomless hot chocolete”. The waitress last time I was there had to check, they hadn’t told her about it, but you get re-fills. Wait for cold weather!

    I don’t know the “golden Bridge”, but around the corner of the bowery and east broadway is the golden unicorn. Second floor, dim sum to die for, and if you’re lucky you’ll get a place at a big table with lots of locals.

    Movies? It’s not new, but if you haven’t seen it, monsoon wedding.

    Books — I’m currently re-reading. Tepper’s “True Game” books, & “Good Omens”.

    I don’t “do” elvis, nor mysterys (nor spelling — orthographobia)

  39. nalo on #

    You might like Michael Gruber’s novel _Tropic of Night_ and its sequel, the name of which I don’t remember at the moment. I loved both books.

  40. reiya on #

    1. five points, essex, bubby’s (tribeca or brooklyn heights)
    3. kushiel’s scion (haven’t read it yet, but i know it will be)
    5. toho shoji (6th ave and 36th st) has tons of crafty stuff; or you can try any of the trimmings/accessories stores down 6th ave in that area
    7. century 21 has designer dresses on the third floor at half-off

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