Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Cove

Hello all in blogland. I will be writing a post about the second leg of my Costa Rica trip shortly, but we are taking a short commercial break to keep you well informed of the goings on in the world of television. Tomorrow night (Sunday, August 29th) at 9 PM eastern, Animal Planet will be showing the Oscar-winning documentary "The Cove". If you have not seen it this is an absolute must. If you have seen it, you may want to DVR it (like I'm doing) to show to anyone and everyone who ever comes over to your house for a movie night. The film is amazing. Yes, it is a documentary but it feels like an action movie. And it finally exposes the truth about what happens every year in Taiji, Japan to hundreds of innocent dolphins. It will likely make you cry, but if you love dolphins it is your duty to watch this amazing film and continue to spread the word. If we all protest this, eventually Japan will have to stop.

The synopsis from the website:
"Academy Award® Winner for Best Documentary of 2009, THE COVE follows an elite team of activists, filmmakers and freedivers as they embark on a covert mission to penetrate a remote and hidden cove in Taiji, Japan, shining a light on a dark and deadly secret. Utilizing state-of-the-art techniques, including hidden microphones and cameras in fake rocks, the team uncovers how this small seaside village serves as a horrifying microcosm of massive ecological crimes happening worldwide. The result is a provocative mix of investigative journalism, eco-adventure and arresting imagery, adding up to an unforgettable story that has inspired audiences worldwide to action."

Spread the word.

Also, if you missed last night's season finally of "Whale Wars", Animal Planet is having a marathon of the season all day tomorrow leading up to their broadcast of "The Cove". The oceans need us to show our support!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Costa Rica part I: Arenal Volcano

Hello all! I have returned from Costa Rica! DanT and I made it home on Monday at 1 AM. We are doing great and had an amazing time but took too many pictures! Yes, it is possible! We took about 900 pictures. We filled the 4 GB card bought for this trip and had to use about half of the 2 GB backup card that we brought. Due to the 900 pictures we took, this will be a post of pictures covering our first Costa Rican destination, the Arenal volcano. All the pictures are in chronological order, just for reference...
Post early morning flight, after arriving at our first hotel, this is me - asleep - in the hotel lobby.
Yeah, that's one of the top 10 most active volcanoes in the world. Our hotel faced it.
Hotel room "waterfall" shower. See me dancing? That's how tired I was.
Part of our daily breakfasts. Amazing tropical fruit!
Enjoying a truly local banana
Along with fresh fruit every day we had the national dish (which happens to be vegan): Gallo Pinto, or spotted rooster. It is a beans and rice dish. The black beans speckle the rice which is where the name comes from. It's really a filling, fantastic way to start the day. This was an excellent, energy filled breakfast. We tended to hike in the mornings, as it is Costa Rica's green season and it rains pretty much every afternoon. It was sunny almost every morning, however, so hike we did!
Hummingbird. Perching. Apparently they do that.
Look what we found right at the entrance of our La Fortuna waterfall hike.
A nest with two eggs in it! According to our guide this is the nest of the national bird. A small brown bird with a beautiful song.
La Fortuna waterfall. Beautiful
Fish in the river. Look how clear!
River and forest. Pretty much all of Costa Rica looks like that.
Teeny lizard
Beautiful lizard at the exit of the park
On the way home our guide spotted this howler monkey and his family climbing the electric wires and a nearby tree.
The real thing on the tree. Bananas grow like weeds in Costa Rica.
And in the backyard of our room, cows and bulls enjoying grasses taller than me.
It looks like a postcard!
DanT and I getting ready for our hike of the volcano. Awww, so cute...
Probably the greatest picture of me ever. Apparently I was thirsty (that's the mouthpiece of our camelback).
View from as high up on the volcano as we were allowed to go.
Those black rocks you see at the bottom are dried lava from the big explosion of Arenal in 1968. Since then, this volcano has been consistently active, but not deadly (except to the stupid people who want to look into it and fall in. Seriously, don't do it...)
Our last morning in Arenal, two sparrows came to visit us at breakfast. I like to think the boy sparrow is chasing the girl.
And on to our next destination we go!
That is lake Arenal, and to get to Monteverde, our next destination, we had to cross it! Monteverde will be covered in my next post. Think cloud rain forest, high up in the mountains. Even more beautiful then Arenal, if you can believe it! Thanks for your patience with all the pictures, but we took 900, so I promise this doesn't even scratch the surface. More next time!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sea Shepherd Events!

Two big Sea Shepherd events!

On Monday night here in NYC we had an awesome event: S'more Protection for the Oceans. We obviously had s'mores (Tuesday, was national s'mores day. How Robyn finds these weird events out is beyond me!), lots of s'mores. I saw the faithful volunteers putting them together in the basement kitchen. They had a nice assembly line going. I helped out upstairs. There was a giant raffle table. Sea Shepherd NYC had more prizes then we could even fit on the tables in V-Spot where the event was held. I helped with the merchandise sales. It was great to speak with everyone at the event and discuss how they got to Sea Shepherd. It's very interesting to see people's passion for the defenseless animals of our precious oceans. Sea Shepherd sold about 100 tickets for that space, which is very full indeed! It was fantastic to see support for our oceans (and on a Monday night!). So far, the amount raised that has been counted is over $3200! And we still have to count credit card and check sales! This is really fantastic. Thanks to Ethan and Robyn for organizing! I really had a lot of fun (DanT had to drag me out of there!) and I hear we will be doing another fundraiser soon, so keep checking the calendar on this blog! A big thanks to Danny and the V-Spot crew for donating their space to us for a few hours. It was a great success!


Paul Watson and Pete Bethune will be on The Tonight Show, tonight! This is big! For starters, Paul Watson is a great speaker, so tune in for that! But it is great that Sea Shepherd will get to speak out after all this time. If you are watching Whale Wars you know that a few weeks ago they showed the Japanese whalers sinking the Ady Gil. That happened this past winter, since then Pete Bethune has gone to trial in Japan and been convicted and released to go home to New Zealand. So, this is a good way for the US audience to catch up. I hope you all tune in tonight at 11:35! Paul and Pete are the second guests. I will not be up (I simply cannot stay up that late without becoming a major grouch), but I will be DVR'ing and watching it early Friday morning. I hope you will watch it, too! This is big exposure for Sea Shepherd outside of the Whale Wars viewer.

Okay bloggies, this will be my last post for a while. I am going on vacation next week!! I will be going here, so if you have any recommendations (food, things to do, etc.) leave them in the comments!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Last Comic Standing

So, I know I've mentioned the NBC show Last Comic Standing before, but the finale is on Monday at 9PM and Myq Kaplan is still in it! A vegan could win a quarter of a million dollars on national TV for being funny! You should watch it. Even if Myq doesn't win, he made it really far and has been really funny the whole way. It makes me warm and tingly inside knowing that vegans are everywhere in every industry. But, go Myq! I really have thought you are the funniest of all the contestants throughout this competition. Remember: Tomorrow (Monday) at 9PM, NBC.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Champ's Family Bakery

Champs Family (VEGAN) Bakery. On the corner of Ainslie and Leonard in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn
An old skool Italian (VEGAN) bakery
Cupcakes, sandwich cookies
Muffins, danishes and big cookies
Old skool Italian baked goods box
Clockwise from top left: banana chocolate chip mini scone, raspberry danish, chocolate chocolate chip big cookie, pignoli mini cookie (gluten free!), and a cowgirl cookie sandwich with pink vanilla frosting in the middle. All this vegan awesomeness for $16.50. And they gave me an extra pignoli cookie free, which I did not realize until I got that box home and opened it! You can see that there is only one pignoli cookie in the box... I may have eaten that extra one already! Woops! It was sweet and nutty and delicious. I also took a few bites of that raspberry danish. Holy crap, I could gain a whole lotta weight eating those things. Light, flakey, sweet, delectable baked goodness.

Please go support Champ's! It is three blocks away from the Lorimer L train stop. Perhaps Babycakes came first, as NYC's first vegan bakery, but Champ's reminds me of my New York City childhood. They are adding more treats each day! there will be croissants next week, the lovely man behind the counter told me. I will be back for those, let me tell you.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Who doesn't love ramen? Everyone has their own ramen-based memories. My favorite ramen memory is from college (probably just like your ramen memories are). DanT and I had just started dating and DanT was not the healthiest eater... He ate a lot of ramen. So, I decided to make us healthy ramen! This involved adding a bag of steamed birds eye mixed veggies. So, truth is, it was only marginally better for you. What you are about to see is not your college ramen. This is the good stuff. The professional stuff. Souen is a mini-chain here in New York City of macrobiotic restaurants. They are not vegan as they serve fish. Vegan except fish. Annoying, but that's how macrobiotics do it. Souen opened a ramen restaurant last year: Souen Ramen Noodle Shop. I've been twice. This is a recap of tonight's adventures.
Seitan Dumplings
These were some delicious dumplings, though I had a very hard time eating them. They were a bit slippery. Right after this picture was taken I dropped one into the sauce you see over there on the left and made a bit of a mess. Woops! But they were very tasty. Full of ground seitan. Yummmmm.
DanT and his Curry Ramen
DanT says he thoroughly enjoyed his curry ramen. full of noodles and veggies, it had carrots and Japanese squash that were delish. I tasted some of the soup as well. It was well spiced with curry, but not overly spicy. DanT does not like overly spicy.
my White Sesame Ramen
My ramen had a broth made out of white sesame (i.e. tahini) and miso. It was salty and exactly what I had been looking forward to. There were bean sprouts, some lotus root slices, seaweed, and various asian greens. The only thing I could have done without were the hunks of ginger floating about. It was not the most pleasant surprise. But those noodles? Perfection.

I treated DanT to dinner, so he treated me to dessert! You know what we were near? Lula's Sweet Apothecary. If you do not know of Lula's yet, you are way behind. It is the best ice cream ever. Not the best vegan ice cream, the best any kind of ice cream. Ask DanT (a recent vegan convert), and my friend Alissa who is not vegan and eats cow milk ice cream (I'm working on her...). They swear they have never had better. This ice cream is so creamy and flavorful that I do not go to the East Villiage without stopping by. Also, there is no artificial crap in this creamy dessert. The flavors taste exactly like what the label says because that is what it is made out of! Okay, lets see the desserts!
My cone of Lula's awesomeness
This was a gluten-free cone (why not? It tastes good and does the job.) with ginger cookie ice cream on the bottom and peanut butter and jelly on top. Both taste exactly as the name states, so I'm not going to bother elaborating. I'm pretty sure that these were both cashew based. Lula's has some flavors that are soy or coconut based, but most are cashew based. Trust them. They know what they are doing.
DanT's cone of soft serve
DanT went at this cone within a second after it was handed to him. I didn't get a change to take a picture before he had mixed his swirled flavors together! This is chocolate and cake batter soft serve swirled. So essentially it is chocolate cake batter. That is exactly what it tastes like. I do like the cake batter. It tastes like licking the beaters in my childhood when my mom would bake birthday cakes.

One last word about Lula's, it is run by the nicest people. The counter people are lovely as well. You can taste every flavor (on metal spoons that they wash and reuse, people!) without feeling like they are frowning upon you. Tip freely!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Bold Native

I posted about a week ago about a movie that was screening in NYC called Bold Native. I went to the Monday screening (and hope you did too) and I'm finally here to review it for you.

You NEED to see this movie. It was so well done. I hear that it was made for almost no money which makes this even more impressive. This is a fictional movie about the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). If you don't know anything about the ALF this is their mission statement: To effectively allocate resources (time and money) to end the "property" status of nonhuman animals. This often takes the form of actions that are illegal such as destruction of property and liberation of animals. You can decide for yourself what you think of these illegal actions. What you do have to say is that the ALF takes action that you and I do not in our daily lives. I posted a while ago about animal testing and how horrible and unnecessary it is. The ALF agrees on that point. I may participate in protests, but they go in and liberate the poor, suffering animals locked in cages.

Bold Native is about animal liberators. It is the story of Charlie Cranehill, a regular guy who thinks animal exploitation is wrong (just like you and me) and decides to do something about it. Charlie's ALF cell is called Bold Native. The movie expertly weaves together real footage of animal liberations from labs and fictional footage of our hero participating in animal liberations. Charlie gets ratted out by a fellow liberator who gets caught and goes underground to avoid the FBI. In case you do not know, our government has decided that animal liberators are the number one domestic terrorist threat here in the USofA, even though no human or animal has ever been injured by the ALF. Ever. To me that shows just how the government feels about it's citizens. If you have money, you have power. Animal testing facilities, pharmaceutical companies, animal agriculture, they own the government and the government is happy to protect them in anyway possible. Like passing the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA). Harsher penalties for the same crimes. If I was some random crazy person and burned down a building I would not be charged as a terrorist, but if I am an animal liberator and burn down an animal testing lab (after removing all the animals, obviously) I will be put away for years as a terrorist. This is a tactic used to silence us as activists. It does not silence Charlie Cranehill. He is a smart guy who understands the consequences and decides he has to help the helpless anyway. There is a quote towards the end of the movie that I really loved: "Bold Native is not a person. It's an idea - that animals are not property. They are not ours to use. They are an end unto themselves. Their freedom is beautiful, and their slavery is a horror." Amen.
MollyG and Joaquin Pastor who plays Charlie Cranehill in Bold Native
I recommend that you go on the Bold Native website and beg them to do a showing near you. You will not regret it. I hear that the writer/director and producer are trying to get Bold Native shown on college campuses and on Netflix. Please email them here and ask them to do those things. It would be a mistake for you to miss an opportunity to see this film, and an even bigger mistake if the general public never gets a chance. I saw it once surrounded by vegans and animal activists. I wish I could get another chance to take my non-vegan friends and family. I sent Bold Native an email saying just that. The movie was witty, funny, charming, sad, horrifying, and most of all moving. And critical. People really do think that animal activists like members of the ALF are terrorists. This movie gives a face to a faceless movement. A movement that needs us to speak up. The animals need us to speak up.

Note: I just got an email back from Denis Hennelly, the writer/director of the film. This is what he said about future showings: "Thanks for the encouragement.  We'll definitely try to set up another NY screening.  We've been talking to BAM and we've got plans for a college tour too.  And we're gonna try to get the film onto dvd in the next month or two.  We're also working on netflix and itunes." Keep your eyes out!!