The Bruni Digest

In which I sit on a dirt mound somewhere in Brooklyn with my ears pricked, waiting for New York Times head restaurant critic Frank Bruni, who I imagine to be a Venetian count in a huge ruffled collar, to dole out stars from the inside breast pocket of his brocaded chamber robe. This blog is predicated on the suggestion that every Wednesday, in the Times Dining Out section, Frank lays a huge faberge egg of hilarity.

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Location: New York, New York, U.S. Outlying Islands

I am fiscally irresponsible, which means I have weak bones and a dorsal fin. And a penchant for dining out, even though I am, in the words of many rich people, a "poor people". I make a different face when speaking each of the foreign languages in which I am shittily proficient.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Ninja: Crouching Failure, Hidden Assholes

Frank returned from vacation this week full of sauce and ready to get dirty. Literally.

“Ninja New York deposits you in a kooky, dreary subterranean labyrinth that seems better suited to coal mining than to supping.”

Lighty cap? Check! Starving death-stare? Check!

Frank's review of Ninja was not a thoughtful rumination at the end of which we find a censorious conclusion; rather, his visit there was more like a huge-handed birthday clown spinning around open-palmed in a tight circle of children: non-stop hilarious smackdowns of assholes that didn’t see it coming.

“Oops! My B!”

For example, Frank recommends leaving as soon as you’ve entered. (Warning: I’ma hafta quote heavily this week…)

“You are asked to choose between two routes to your table. The first is described by a ninja escort as simple and direct. The second is ‘dark, dangerous and narrow,’ involving a long tunnel and a drawbridge that descends only when your escort intones a special command, which he later implores you to keep secret.

I recommend a third path: right back out the door.”

But if I leave, won't I miss lots of cool ninjas with steamy balls and sexy headwraps?

“…you will be spared … tedium, a visually histrionic smorgasbord of undistinguished food and a discordant bill that can easily exceed $100 a person with tax, tip and drinks.”

There's only one thing I hate more than a histrionic smorgasbord...

...and that's Discordant Bill. Hey Bill! Still looking retarded? Good to hear!

"Ninja acts like a Disney ride - Space Mountain under a hailstorm of run-of-the-mill or unappealing sushi"

These children were thankfully caught in a hailstorm of fresh and delicious sushi. No but seriously, why are they playing with exotic fish? All I got to play with was staplers and wall-tack. No fair!

"An American offshoot of a restaurant in Tokyo, Ninja intends to evoke a Japanese mountain village inhabited by ninjas, a special breed of stealthy warriors."

OH REALLY? IS THAT WHAT A NINJA IS? I don’t think Real Ultimate Power, the definitive authority on ninjas and their awesomeness, is news to anyone at this point. However, did anyone notice the COMMENTS on the NY Times forum that followed Frank’s review? I swear to a Shinto Bodhisatva, I did not make this up. Please pay special attention to the number of people that found these comments helpful.

September 8, 2005
Reviewer: damon88

I wanna to go to this restaurant so bad I have pee my pants. It has the potential to surrepticiously slice and dice the competition. Megu and their ice sculpture Buddha should think about relocating to Weehawken- the game's over dude. Ninja waiters? These guys are totally awesome and that's a fact. Ninjas are fast, smooth, cool, strong, powerful, and sweet. I love this restaurant with all of my body.

8 of 16 found this review helpful

September 28, 2005
Reviewer: mattbell7

Ninja don't even know how to swim! Were do you get your information bro? Pirates eat more sushi and most of the time are drunk. If a single pirate gets in this resaurant, GAME OVER man! Maybe if Morimoto was there he might be able to stop a few pirates. When I see a ninja, I dont even ask for WASABI.

5 of 11 found this review helpful

September 20, 2005
Reviewer: chrisgeisel

dude you wish you had realultimatepower but your so obviously NOT a ninja but just some kid who wants to be one and talks the talk but do you walk the walk? i don't think so.

your probably a PIRATE is my guess. anyway, a restaurant with ninjas way, way too dangerous but on the other hand could be sweet.

3 of 14 found this review helpful

AWESOME. Thank you for hosting that exchange, NEW YORK FUCKING GROWNUP TIMES. Amazing. "I love this restaurant with all of my body." Has he even been there? Did he pay in cash, or did he barter his Envoy of Earth Dark Emporer Yugio card? Page 1: Judy Miller, War in Iraq, Supreme Court Crap. Page D9: PIRATES vs. NINJAS!!!!!!

As for the food, skanky sushi, drowned octopus, and a "meteorite pot" in which the attendant ninja passed a hot gaul-stone directly into a pot of tepid broth did not "tickle his taint," as they say. Ok, no one says that. But apparently ninjas do say "Go-Mayn!"

Dishes arrived with "loud expectorations of a putative courtesy that sounded more like a rebuke, the phonetic rendering of which would be something along the lines of 'Go-mayn!'...

I grew so weary of these syllables that I asked if they could be varied, if something along the lines of a 'Surrender, Dorothy!' could be thrown into the mix. I was dead serious."

"Hey, guy, when you give me my food, instead of uttering benisons in your abrasive heathen jabber, would you mind singing 'You Gotta Be' by Des'ree? Thanks."

But seriously, I plan on going to Ninja sometime soon. "You're an idiot, Jules!" you say. "Everyone seems to hate this place, and plus, it's pricy and you're poor, like a Croate!" I can't argue with that, the following tidbit tempts me:

"[The restaurant] should respond to an expressed interest in sake with a presentation of its sake list, not with the words 'I'll bring half a liter,' which is what a ninja said.

It should also advise its ninjas that it's not nice to brag about having entertained a Hollywood celebrity who, by the account of the ninja in question, was the apparent beneficiary of recent breast augmentation. I was happy for the disclosure and appalled at the indiscretion."

EASY LIQUOR WITH A SIDE OF HOT CELEB GOSSIP??? It's like sitting at Bar 81 with a copy of the Post, except way more puerile and tacky. Where do I sign?

"If I pose this hard, they'll never know I'm illiterate!"

Speaking of illiterate, I would like to publicly offer my services to Frank as a body guard, since there is no doubt that a band of out-of-work actors dressed as ninjas are currently roaming the streets trying to kill him. I'm a great body guard and I'll work for steak tartare and martinis!

That way I'll be too drunk to notice when my polyester arrow breaks.

And Count Frank, kids would much rather just get candy when they come trick or treating; I tried to eat the copy of Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain that you stuffed in my bag last year and I ended up pooping a 19th century hand-crafted hourglass. It is very beautiful but was hard to pass!!!! Maybe some Charleston Chews?


Monday, October 24, 2005

JLL69's Best Week Ever

As I sit in my windowsill in a chiffonaded nightgown, completing the 2,647th stroke of a natural-bristle brush down my silky locks...

... I'm filled with giddy anticipation for a week that promises to be chronic.

a) Frank is back from vacation with a buttery tan and beaded cornrows, ready to take on the city with fresh verve.

The locals in Jamaica LOVE beading tourists' hair! Almost as much as they love sieving "floaters" from the baby pool.

b) Tomorrow I'm reading at the WYSIWYG Talent Show at PS122, along with some talented peeps. It's a Halloween show, and I promise you this: a 1996 Glamourshot of Yours Truly Insane, looking like a Brighton Beach madame who fell face down in a hot-pink blush quarry.

Click on the above link for more info / to get tickets in advance (recommended).

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Count Takes a Vacation

Frank Bruni sat by the fire in his stately chateau, absent-mindedly running his hands over the lace trim of his princess sleeves.

He felt he had lost his edge in recent weeks. Count Frank had found his marriage to Lady Wednesday Dining less and less interesting recently. Whereas he used to enter the bedchamber every week with rapacious gusto, he had recently been performing his sirely duties missionary with the lights off. Had the knights and ladies that populated the Watteaus and Bouchers which lined his crimson corridors come to life, they might have spied Count Frank’s wandering fingers diddling under the skirts of Madame Travel Section and the Duchess of Television.

This wasn’t the real Frank! No; he shook his head as best he could in his Shakespearean ruffled collar (it sounded like a deck of hotel sheets being shuffled casino-style). His two best friends—a Lalique crystal coq named Philibert and an old copy of Diderot’s Encyclopédie that he called Dennis—seemed to look up at him from their booster seats with accusatory glares. Although they were dead, and also objects, Frank knew that they were disappointed in his philandering. “I’m so sorry, Dennis,” he whispered aloud, tears plopping onto blank parchment.

And speaking of lesbians, there was one more person that Frank knew he had disappointed: The Count’s personal jester. She had falled off the ball in the past two weeks. His jester was a distant female idiot whom he had never met but whose weekly online epistles were the equivalent of a humpy dance performed in his honor by a fat girl in a Technicolor dream unitard with a potentially sterilizing camel toe.

Not everyone enjoyed the Count’s weekly proclamations; there was always someone grumbling about his qualifications, complaining about his stars. But when Frank saw his retarded little jester howling and dancing in her trash heap in Brooklyn, the dirtiest princess of a mentally compromised kingdom, it made him smile under his handlebar goatee.

That was it: He needed a vacation. He unrolled his thick woolen longjohns and threw them into the fire, creating an enormous puff of flames and a small mushroom cloud that smelled like broccoli and Beefeater. He coughed and apologized to Philibert and Dennis, not noticing the subtle thud of a chamber maid who had dropped dead in the corner. “To the Bahamas!” He bellowed. “Until October 26th, I bequeath my pen to Marian Burros!” he exclaimed, while somewhere in Brooklyn, his Jester, too, bequeefed, in the hopes that the Count would return with a renewed sense of Countliness; in return, she promised to get a third, even fourth, amateur lobotomy. No, their partnership was far from over...

Cue “Vacation” by the Bangles

Monday, October 03, 2005

Strappin' on my tap shoes and whippin' out my cane

I'll post a reminder closer to show date, but if you'd like to see me do a scaaaaaary Halloween storytelling in a lineup of mofos that should prove, in my newly adopted argot of compulsive truncation, "totes hilare," the date is October 25, the place is P.S. 122 and the dress code?

1950's aviator.

Performers at the October WYSIWYG Talent Show:

Ed Hamilton

Liam McEneaney

Rachael Parenta

Chris Trent

And me.

Musical performance by
Chris Alonzo and
his band Ghost Runner

Frank, I only hope you take this opportunity to come and pelt me with leftover Kobe carpaccio and rotten heirloom sunchokes.

After all, I'm always hungry!