Archive for the ‘Cool Stuff’ Category

The Penny Palate

I recently started a new blog called the Penny Palate, dedicated to eating and drinking cheap in New York City, at restaurants and bars and at home. In our current economy, it’s a classy site for the unabashedly stingy. Here’s a full description of the site from its about page:

from The Penny Palate

picture-11Please, sir, may I hear some more?

We know you’ve heard it before. “You have to be rich to do anything in New York.” Whether it’s a skeptical suburbanite or your I-banker friend who’s happy to drop the equivalent of your entire paycheck at swanky bars, there’s a pervasive sense that there’s no fun to be had in this city without paying a steep price. We don’t buy it.

The Penny Palate is devoted to rooting out the cheap food and drink that skeptics are too lazy to find. As Wall Street swirls deeper and deeper into the toilet, cheap restaurants are flourishing and more and more establishments are getting in on the action with “recession specials.” The heady days of the extravagant spender are past, and the hour of the penny pincher is here.

Our daily postings will tell you where to grab lunch when your wallet’s light, what bar serves up cheap drinks and free grub at happy hour, and even how to cook dinner and entertain without breaking your piggy bank. We’ll include special categories like a “Happy Hour of the Week;” “Tuck for a Buck,” which points you to great food for only a dollar; and our favorite, “The Circular Jerk,” epic journeys in food shopping and cooking led by the treasure map that is the circular.

We’re not talking Frank Bruni’s “cheap” $65 sushi special here. We’ll never recommend anything over $10, so when we say cheap, we mean it. So let’s raise a 2-for-1 pint to the thrifty New Yorker. This site’s for you.


When to Hold ‘Em

from the afterhours section of Playboy Magazine, April 2008

How to Count Cards

It Isn’t Rocket Science, But That Doesn’t Mean It’s Easy

Dustin Hoffman counted cards to win at blackjack in Rain Man. Kevin Spacey and a gang of MIT whizzes will count cards in 21, a film based on Ben Mezrich’s book Bringing Down the House. But how exactly do you do it? Here’s an explanation from Semyon Dukach, who was president of one of the MIT blackjack teams that won millions from casinos in the 1990s and who today runs Blackjack Science seminars:

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Potpourri, April 2008

Here are a few of the product write-ups I wrote for the April Issue of Playboy Magazine.


Few things are more depressing than watching your paycheck tick away at the fuel pump. Make the switch to a Vectrix electric scooter ($11,000, and you can bypass gas stations permanently. Though designed more for getting around town than going cross-country, this is no sewing machine with wheels. It boasts a top speed of 62 mph, and its tight handling lets you weave through traffic jams. It goes 35 to 55 miles on one charge, and if you run out of juice, just plug the on-board charger into any electrical outlet and you’re golden. Plus, the scooter’s simple construction (250 parts compared with 2,500) for a gas scooter makes it a low-maintenance proposition. No gas, no oil, no problem.

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Duly Noted

From Playboy Magazine, February 2007


There’s no denying that some of the world’s best writers–Hemingway, Faulkner, Joyce–worked best on the sauce. Paul Smith celebrates the time-honored tradition with this leather “wallet” (about $350, that conceals a flask, notepad, and pencil. Even if you’re no master of letters, some quick note taking will at least allow you to recall the name of the lit major you wake up with in the morning.

Tougher Than Leather

From Playboy Magazine, January 2008

Orvis Leather Sports Gear


Remember when a man could fix his own dislocated shoulder while guzzling a beer between plays? Those were the days. Revive a bygone era with Orvis’s hand-sewn replicas, made to the exact specs of old-time sports collectibles (from $40, Bonus: Orvis donates five percent of its annual profits to environmental preservation efforts, so you can keep a clean conscience while playing with your balls.