04/21/15 9:00am

Whether it's flows (work or otherwise) finances or food, we all have areas in our lives we'd like to make easier to execute. Few of us can afford to hire the village of personal chefs, trainers, advisors and assistants it would take to unburden ourselves of these activities entirely, but fortunately, there are plenty of apps out there aimed at making our lives work smarter not harder. Recently, we've been sharing some of our favorite smartphone apps amongst ourselves, testing their abilities to up our productivity levels and take care of things we'd never get around to doing ourselves. Here are the four apps we're finding most helpful at the moment, all cheaper than an Apple Watch.

acorns

Turn your spare change into incremental financial investments with the new app Acorns. Photo: Acorns

Acorns
I'm not entirely proud of the fact that it's taken me until the cusp of my 30s to start considering financial investments, but then I read this CNN piece highlighting the fact that the vast majority of people my age—93%—share my hesitations about the stock market. Coming of age in the financial upheaval of the 2008 recession has had the residual effect of making most millennials incredulous about financial investing. Fortunately for us, the designers of the new app Acorns have come up with a pretty foolproof way to ease into it. The app allows you to take the spare change from electronic/debit card purchases and invest it into a diversified stock portfolio picked for you by a Nobel-prize-winning economist based on your spending habits, annual income and long-term goals. It's an easy way to dip your toe into investment pool without needing to throw down serious cash with a financial advisor in order to do so. I've been using Acorns since February and will say it's super simple, secure and so user friendly that it's alleviated a lot of the fear I had about financial investment. Acorns is free and available through iTunes, Amazon Apps and Google Play.—Jordan Galloway


Caviar
Brooklyn foodies tend to lead two different lives—when we’re out on the town, we dine on some of the most acclaimed, cutting-edge New American fare in the world. But when we’re at home on the couch, it’s usually greasy Chinese food or standard pizza. Caviar combines the best of both worlds: high-end, cool Brooklyn cooking and…well—laziness. Download the app and choose from a curated selection of spots like Talde, Franny’s, Blue Ribbon Brooklyn, Prospect and No. 7—many of which don’t otherwise deliver. There’s a $4.99 delivery charge, but come on, that’s worth it when you can even get a milkshake or a pint from OddFellows ice cream delivered without taking off your pajamas. Caviar is free and available through iTunes and Google Play.—Brendan Spiegel (more…)

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04/20/15 11:18am
It's been a rough winter, and a late spring. You deserve some day drinking. Photo: Alison Brockhouse

It's been a rough winter, and a late spring. You deserve some day drinking. Photo: Alison Brockhouse

On Saturday, May 16, Brooklyn Based and Brooklyn Brewery are headed to Crown Heights for the first Immersion of the year. If you’ve never been on one of our daylong food, drinking, and shopping crawls, here’s how they work—for a mere $25 you get a wad of “walking around money” that entitles you to four of Brooklyn's best beers at four different bars, your choice of two lunches, and sweet deals around the neighborhood.

This year, the fun begins at Berg’n, where you'll get a Green Market Wheat beer and, if you like, slow smoked, pulled pork with pommes frites from Mighty Quinn’s Barbecue. From there, you can choose your own adventure, hitting up Covenhoven for your choice of BLAST!, a double IPA, or Sorachi Ace, a saison-style ale; Butter & Scotch for a Chocolate Stout (with the option of upgrading to a beer float for a few bucks!) and Catfish for Summer Ale. If BBQ is not your thing, you can opt instead for lunch at Ital Kitchen, one of our favorite Caribbean food joints in Crown Heights, where you can order your choice of veggie jerk chicken, Brooklyn chow mein, any stew or veggie jerk wrap.

Some of the deals we’ve wrangled so far include 20% off any purchase of $20 or more Owl & Thistle General Store, a free coffee or tea when you purchase any baked goodie from Cafe Forte; 20% off jewelry at Calabar Imports and 20% off any purchase at Reclaimed Home; 30% off five acupuncture sessions at Mountain (which you'll probably want to save for later, and you can, till August of this year) plus 25% off a selection of drinks the day of the Immersion.

We’ll be playing some trivia games throughout the day for fun and prizes, too.

This is an awesome way to bring on spring, so tell your friends to clear their calendars for an excellent day of drinking in Crown Heights and snag a ticket now. And if you want to help us spread the word about the Immersion in exchange for free tickets, or if you're a neighborhood business that like to get involved, just let us know.

On Saturday, May 16, Brooklyn Based and Brooklyn Brewery are headed to Crown Heights for the first Immersion of 2015. If you’ve never been on one of our day-long food, drinking, and shopping crawls, here’s how they work—for a mere $25 you get a wad of “walking around money” that allows you to redeem four beers at four different bars, enjoy your choice of two lunches, and get sweet deals around the neighborhood.

04/20/15 9:29am

Crown Heights' latest "artisanal" food spot isn't along the ultra-hip environs of Franklin Avenue, but all the way over on Kingston Ave., a stretch of the neighborhood that is largely home to Orthodox Jewish residents. I love walking through this slice of the borough to check out all the old-world Kosher bakeries and butcher shops, but was surprised to find a very New Brooklyn-y spot open its doors here recently. Boeuf & Bun is decidedly on-trend: exposed brick, Edison bulbs, open kitchen, mason jars, etc, etc...Just don't expect any pork belly entrees. Or a cheeseburger for that matter, as this beef-centric spot is also a Kosher kitchen. But pig or no pig, there are plenty of heart-stopping reasons to check out Bouef & Bun--and by heart-stopping, I mean over-the-top, artery-clogging, deliciously ultra-fried, perhaps quite literally heart-stopping.

Truffle salt with a side of fries.

Truffle salt with a side of fries. Photo: Boeuf & Bun

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04/17/15 11:49am
Randy Weston (Carol Friedman(

The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music will honor Brooklyn jazz legend Randy Weston during its spring gala festivities, starting on Sunday. Photo: Carol Friedman

Those in the jazz music community would wholeheartedly agree that pianist and composer Randy Weston is a true legend of the genre. In a career that has now spanned over six decades, the Brooklyn musician has been an well-known advocate of African music and culture, especially when it comes to linking those influences to jazz music. Weston has the experience to back that up, having visited 18 African countries and lived in Morocco for a few years. In a 2010 interview, he told me, “I thought it was necessary to document our history because African people, Africa and even African-American traditions are disappearing. How can young people know what happened before? I was lucky to live in Africa and hang out with traditional people and just speak about what music can do and the places that it can take you, how it’s a spiritual force.”

The NEA Jazz Master's amazing life, going all the way back to his Bed-Stuy roots, is told in his recent autobiography, the aptly-titled African Rhythms. On Sunday, Weston will be at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music to talk about his book with writer Shannon J. Effinger; pianist/composer Sharp Radway will perform a solo concert for the occasion. Then on Tuesday, Weston will be the honoree for the conservatory's spring gala taking place at the Brooklyn Museum. Whichever event you decide to go to, you are paying tribute to this important jazz and cultural ambassador. (more…)

04/16/15 11:26am
Etsy's IPO this morning is a sign of good things to come for the Brooklyn tech startup scene. See what all the fuss is about at a celebratory popup market in Times Square today. Photo: Nasdaq

Etsy's IPO this morning is a sign of good things to come for the Brooklyn tech startup scene. See what all the fuss is about at a celebratory popup market in Times Square today. Photo: Nasdaq

By now you’ve probably heard that Etsy, the Brooklyn-based online creative marketplace that is the definitive source of all things cute and quirky, had its IPO this morning. Etsy is a pioneering anchor of the burgeoning Brooklyn tech startup community, and its IPO performance will surely serve as a bellwether for an entire cohort of local early-stage companies. It’s also all about promoting and empowering everyday creative types to become savvy and successful entrepreneurs, which is an exciting ethos in the context of a corporate tech world that seems to care less and less about the well-being of the society it purportedly serves (what's up, Facebook. Don’t even get me started, Uber). The human side of Etsy will be evident today at a popup marketplace featuring 14 sellers that represent a cross-section of its diverse and individualistic community. Brooklyn-based Etsy shops Alexandra Ferguson, Goose Grease, purlBknit, TM1985, and Dusty Rose Vintage will be joined by other makers from all over the globe to sell their unique goods, tell their stories, and celebrate the IPO. As dyed-in-the-wool New Yorkers, we are loath to recommend trips to Times Square as a general rule, but if you are looking for something to do on your lunch break today, this is nice way to show your support for lots of small Brooklyn businesses, and one huge one.

The Etsy popup market will be at Broadway between 42nd and 43rd Streets from now until 2pm today. 

04/16/15 9:00am
'The Room'--known as the 'Citizen Kane' of bad films--has acheived cult status with Midnight screenings around the country. Rifftrax  has helped make it even funnier. Photo: Drexel Theater

'The Room'--known as the 'Citizen Kane' of bad films--has achieved cult status with midnight screenings around the country. RiffTrax has helped make it even funnier. Photo: Drexel Theater

There are bad movies, and then there are really bad movies. From Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space to the Mariah Carey vehicle Glitter, the history of cinema is endlessly littered with disasters that beg one to wonder: Who thought it was a good idea to make these films in the first place? Yet from the comfort of our living rooms or a darkened theater, we can appreciate these bad films as cheesy fun and totally ripe for mocking.

Making fun of these pictures through heckling (or riffing) is an art form that actor and writer Bill Corbett has perfected over the past 20 years. He is best known as one of the stars of the beloved cult TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K for short), which ran on cable from 1989 to 1999. Several years after the end of the series, Corbett re-teamed with fellow MST3K alumni Michael J. Nelson and Kevin Murphy for their current venture RiffTrax, a continuation of the peanut gallery format pioneered on MST3K. (Here is an example.) Founded in 2006, RiffTrax provides funny audio commentaries featuring Corbett, Nelson and Murphy, which are either pre-synced to movies you can download, or that you can synch with your own DVDs/downloaded movies and let the hilarity ensue. In addition to B-movies and old film shorts, the RiffTrax catalog features commentaries for top-tier works like Star WarsThe Hunger GamesThe Avengers, and Casablanca. RiffTrax's real bread and butter, though, is in overdubbing awful films.

TheRoomWeb2Tomorrow, April 17, the RiffTrax guys are making their New York City debut at the Tribeca Film Festival by riffing on several "illustrious" examples of cinema, including The Roomregarded as one of the worst films in history. Once again, Nelson, Corbett and Murphy are bringing the RiffTrax experience to a live setting, delivering their zingers at a screening onstage. In early May, they'll repeat the riffing for a live broadcast via satellite at theaters nationwide.

Corbett—who is originally from Bay Ridge and attended Xaverian High School—says he'd known about The Room for a while. "There are plenty of bad movies out there, but then there are these just masterpieces of badness. They're so great in a way—that every move is wrong in such a funny way. That to me is one of the things about The Room. I know it became a cult hit in L.A., and the legend kept growing until we finally said, 'We have to consider this.'” (more…)

Brooklyn Based delivers free daily emails about the borough's best food, events, attractions and innovators. Get Brooklyn Based in your inbox--sign up here.

04/15/15 9:43am
Novelist Junot Diaz is doing a free reading and Q&A at St. Francis College this Thursday night at 7pm. Photo: St. Francis College

Novelist Junot Diaz is doing a free reading and Q&A at St. Francis College this Thursday night at 7pm. Photo: St. Francis College

Been a while since you heard a really great story? This week, there are so many cool literary/storytelling events going on in Brooklyn that we can’t possibly choose between them, but here’s a quick rundown so you can decide for yourself.

First up, we have to deal with the sad news that Big Terrific, the beloved weekly comedy show at Cameo run by Jenny Slate, Gabe Liebman, and Max Silvestri, then by just Gabe Liebman and Max Silvestri, and then, for the past few years, by Max Silvestri alone, is coming to an end after seven hilarious years. Final shows are tonight and next Wednesday at 8pm and, as always, are free.

Thursday night, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao author Junot Diaz will be reading and doing a Q&A at St. Francis College as part of the Walt Whitman Writers Series. Admission is free and first come first served, so you should probably get there long before the 7pm start time.

If you are looking to laugh on Thursday, we are once again teaming up with comedian Tom Shillue and Brooklyn Brewery to bring you Funny Story, the hilarious monthly showcase of excellent raconteurs that CBS named one of the 5 best storytelling shows in New York City. As always, your $10 ticket includes a beer, and this time we are running a special 2-for-1 deal for advance ticket purchases in honor of NYC Comedy Week.

Nostalgia for your adolescence? You won’t want to miss Goosebumps creator R.L. Stine when he reads from the latest installment in his creepy Fear Street series, Don’t Stay Up Late, at Bookcourt on Saturday night at 7pm. Just don’t walk home alone in the dark!

Of course, there are lots of other kinds of things going on this week in Brooklyn, from Industry City's Open Studios to the seventh annual Brooklyn Folk Festival. Read on for more ideas on cool ways to spend the next seven days. (more…)

Brooklyn Based delivers free daily emails about the borough's best food, events, attractions and innovators. Get Brooklyn Based in your inbox--sign up here.

04/14/15 9:00am
Stash your grass in box that shows off your personality instead of a plastic baggie. Photo: ShopPlasticland

Stash your grass in anbox that shows off your personality instead of a plastic baggie. Photo: ShopPlasticland

States like California and Colorado have already completely decriminalized marijuana, and New York is following suit in a limited form. Last year the city amended its policy on marijuana possession, so enthusiasts will no longer be arrested for being in possession of less than 25 grams. But the biggest news is that Governor Cuomo signed a medical marijuana bill into law.

Before you light up that blunt, you’ll need to know that there are an incredible amount of restrictions that come with the Compassionate Care Act, which has not yet taken effect. Only patients suffering from debilitating or life-threatening conditions will be allowed to acquire prescription pot, and the cap on how many medical dispensaries can be established--just 20, as of now--will make it difficult for many to purchase pot legally. But if you do in fact qualify, and you can make your way to a dispensary, the weirdest part of the new law is that you aren't able to smoke it. The law allows for extracts, tinctures, oils and edibles—but not smoking.

Still, Erik Pye, the owner of Sunflower Pipes in Bushwick, a shop that currently sells gear only for legal, flavored herbs and tobacco, has already felt the effects of the changing laws. "All of the smoke shops have benefited in places where it is legal," he says. "We do festivals, like we did the Cannabis Cup [in Denver], so it's already helped." Businesses in New York can't help but be influenced by other states with more leniency. "Just the atmosphere of it being accepted more and less stigmatized" has been a good thing, he says. 

Doctor's script or not, there are already a few new means by which to enjoy your Mary Jane. Don’t let the fact that the last time you thought about pot paraphernalia was in a head shop on St. Marks street deter you. The new gear is more high-tech and well designed, but still easy to use.

Here are the top essentials for the new dawn of decriminalized weed laws.

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04/13/15 11:00am
Four vegetables walk into a bar: Arugula, treviso, cabbage and watermelon radish (Photo: Bar Bolinas)

An asparagus and watermelon radish salad at Bar Bolinas in Clinton Hill. Photo: Bar Bolinas

If you're like most native/longtime New Yorkers, your favorite thing about traveling elsewhere isn't finally breathing fresh air for the first time in years, but the chance to complain about how the water in other places just doesn't taste as good as ours. (And of course that makes the bagels and pizza everywhere else subpar, too). Similarly, when Californians move to New York they looooove to gripe about how our food isn't up to their very exacting standards. Too few fresh fish tacos, no avocados on every corner, no In-N-Out, no Its-It, not nearly enough French-fry-stuffed burritos, etc, etc...The truth is, they're not entirely wrong. California cuisine, when made outside of a Pizza Kitchen, is undeniably delicious, fresh, and often cutting-edge. I hate to say it, but those Left Coasters know what they're talking about. Fortunately for all of us, said Californians keep moving to Brooklyn and opening restaurants. (more…)