Thursday, December 29, 2005

What comes before Part-B? Part-A.

I’m off to DC tomorrow for a New year’s Eve celebration with my favorite affianced couple – Kate and Bart(les). We are going to Equinox for dinner – I’m pumped! Not so pumped for the drive down – you may recall that I have had bad times driving to DC in the past. So wish me luck!

Everyone – Happy New Year.

Dude, you got a Dell

My new computer has finally arrived! You would not believe the epic battle I engaged in with UPS to get my little mits on my computer, the bastards. It’s not set up yet, but I hope to have it running by next week. Seriously, the UPS debacle was like out of a commercial for poor customer service or something. Truly heinous.

Anyway, blogging should be more regular once I have that puppy all set up and I can blog from the comfort of my own home.

It reminds me of vacation

Last night I met up with Janet on the Isle of Manhatts for some dinner. Jan is down from Vermont – on vacation from teaching the kiddies. We had sushi at Taste of Tokyo on 13th Street – the yellow tail was fan-freakin’-tastic and the age tofu was also quite good.

Janet brought me some pictures from our journey to Vienna – hers were of course a great deal more artistic and interesting than my touristy shots, but that’s to be expected. Anyway, there’s a shot that Janet took of me looking perplexed while reading one of the travel guides. I know why I make that face – it’s because I’m reading something and I don’t agree with it. Janet said I make that face a lot. She wasn’t kidding – in her collection of photos, there are at least four of me sporting that expression.

She also gave me a copy of what is now my absolute favorite picture of myself. I generally hate hate hate pictures of me. But this one is in black and white, me sitting in a courtyard in Grinzing, listening to the accordion and violinist who were playing. I look so happy. And when I see that picture, I remember exactly how I felt at that moment – relaxed, peaceful, and light. Thanks for the photo, Jan.

After dinner, we went for a walk and Janet was drawn to the smell of a soap store called Sabon. Check out their stuff – I bought the coconut vanilla body butter and it’s pretty great. The smell of coconuts reminds me of vacation. Maybe not a Viennese vacation, but a vacation nonetheless.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Snack Attack

This is courtesy of Kate. We both saw The Chronicles of Narnia this week. I thought it was eh, but Kate loved it. I know, serious role reversal here.

But we both agree, this is effing hysterical. Check it out.

Figgy Pudding

Work has been ca-razy, kids. So, my apologies for the lack of postage. The AWESOME news is, though, that with the year end bonus I got from my job, I was finally able to buy a new computer, which should be arriving any day. That ought to make posting a heck of a lot easier. Hooray!

As many of you know, my family is not religious. That being said, we have always celebrated Christmas. This year will be no different, though I have to say that it's so much more fun now that we have munchkins in the family. Cooper is too little to really appreciate it, but Connor gets very excited about Santa.

Years ago, my love of the holiday seaon was restored by apartment-mate Jerusha's infectious enthusiasm for all things yule. As you may know, the second, (or is it third?) verse of We Wish You a Merry Christmas talks about eating "figgy pudding." Since I didn't know the rest of the words in the verse, I would just dance around the apartment singing "Figgy pudding figgy pudding figgy puuuuuddding, figgy figgy pudding" to the music. Ever patient Janet would finally sigh, "Meg, please. Sing something else."

Even Elana, my all-things-Jewish guru who would light the Hanukkah candles in our apartment, got seriously into the Christmas music. I recently saw Good Night, and Good Luck, and when someone quips that Murrow's buddy Fred Friendly is Jewish, Murrow retorts, "Well, don't tell Fred that. He loves Christmas." It reminded me of Elana.

This is all just a way of saying that, whatever holiday you celebrate, if any, I hope it's an especially happy one. It's been a big year in the world, and in my own little personal world. Not only will this be Cooper's first Christmas, but Anhabelle and her Dave welcomed a little baby boy - Ben - this month. He has a blog. Check it. It's not only his first Hanukkah and Christmas, it's his first month. Devon the Duchess of Devonshire, who may recall my ear-splitting "figgy pudding" refrains welcomed her son Noah this month too. P & E's little girl Rebecca will be celebrating her first Christmas. And it's Kate and Bart's last Christmas where they aren't married.

In other news, Philly is off to Belgium and Engulund this week. Poker buddy Rajeev finished his first semester of law school. Lauren and Janet are both home for a brief respite.

And as for me, I am off to my folks to drink coffee, read the paper, and do my mother's bidding.

I wish you all a wonderful weekend, and lots of hugs and kisses.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

She Loved You Rotten

I was very pleased today to see that one of my favorite movies this year, The Constant Gardener, was nominated for a Golden Globe for best picture. Also, the incandescent Rachel Weisz got a nod for supporting actress. Sadly, Ralph Fiennes, one of my all-time favorite actors, was snubbed. As usual.

The Times has a great piece today on Ralph, talking about why he is perpetually snubbed despite his gifts. As they say: "The essence of his acting is to play off the tension between his characters' restraint and his genuine movie star ability to hold the screen. That subtle balance may be great for a film but it is hardly an awards-winning gambit."

True, true. Ralph completely stole the show in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - and that was not an easy task. I can't think of any other actor in the world who could pull off Voldemort - the mythical personification of evil - without becoming a complete caricature or being weighed down by the makeup. I mean, Peter Jackson had it easy on that count in Lord of the Rings - Sauron never fully materializes and the Dark Riders don't require great acting.

As for The Constant Gardener, besides having a very important message about the pharmaceutical industry and super powers' treatment of impoverished Africa, it is also largely about Quayle's struggle against what he has always been - a person who follows the rules - and his need to be more like his deceased wife, to throw caution to the wind and learn the truth. And it's also about losing the truest of loves, and finding out more about them after they're gone, which is always bittersweet. We watch Quayle struggle with his fear that his wife was disappointed in him, his fears that she was unfaithful. But the film never beats you over the head with this. It's not an easy part to play and in certain scenes, Ralph shows more in one facial expression than most actors will convey in their entire lives.

So, Ralph, sorry you got snubbed, but I will continue to follow you to the movie theater.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Priori Incantatem

Anhabelle and I saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (opening weekend, natch). And Anhabelle, proving once again that she is the Pregnant Wonder Woman, didn’t go to the bathroom once! She rules.

Enough time has elapsed since I saw it that I don’t want to give an entire review. But I do want to say that the final act was un-friggin’-believable. It completely captured the spirit of the book. I was enthralled and terrified, which is amazing considering that I knew how it ended.

The Harry Potter books hold a special place in my heart, as you may recall from all my blathering about the 6th book this past summer. There is something terribly special about seeing those books brought to life, particularly when they are done well. The final confrontation in the graveyard? Exactly as I imagined it. The Times remarked that Ralph Fiennes was born to play the role of Voldemort and they are so right. He was perfect.

It’s hard for me to know whether non-readers of the series would enjoy the movie, but if you are a reader of the series, you must see it. And in case you were wondering, yes, Cedric Diggory is very handsome, yes I feel more than a little dirty for thinking so, but at least he’s over 18.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Your Innapropriate Comment for the Day

Matlock and I spend a decent amount of time worrying that our jokes are inappropriate for the office. Three years with the guys at law school has basically erased any line I ever had. I told Matlock that E thinks some of his jokes are a little "off-color." And Matlock responded that when ladies are not present, he's told jokes in a neon blue shade that have had E in stitches.

I was, of course, jealous. Why should E get to hear all the good jokes? What constitutes "neon blue"?

Today at lunch, overly litigious co-worker McGee said he thought we should sue the woman who hit my car.

McGee: We'll all sue her!
Me: Yeah, that's a great idea. What exactly would you all sue her for?
E: Loss of consortium.


Me: That would be.... gross.
Matlock: That's what I mean by "neon blue," Meg.

Caught on Film

Last Saturday, I went to visit Kate and Bart up at her folks’ house. I consider Kate’s family to be my adopted family. I love my family a lot, but it’s always nice to have another family too. Anyway, after dinner, Kate was in the mood for a Guinness, so we went to our new bar.

A word on our bars of yore. When Kate and I were both of age, we started going to (I’m not proud of this) Friday’s. We had no clue where the good bars were, and Kate really liked their mudslides (milkshakes with booze, she called them). We hated Friday’s. We kept going there, but we complained every single time. The bartenders were completely immune to our feminine wiles, they never remembered who we were and I thought their drinks sucked (I also got into an asinine argument about the Yankees with one of the bartenders once, which I won’t even go into). We started going to the Palisades Mall where Kate discovered the Metropolitan Martini at Legal Seafoods. After a martini, we’d head over to the Loews, and let me say there are very few movies that do not benefit from a martini.

Anyway, following that, there was the dreadful Muggs, and it was all quite by accident that we discovered the Ramapo Valley Brew Pub. RVB had a great selection of beer, all brewed on the premises, and of course, had plenty of Jameson’s for Kate (or Jamie’s as she calls it, because they’re pals). We started going regularly on Monday nights and befriended the two bartenders – Mike and Charlie. Mike was a raging alcoholic who basically let us drink for free and would skip everyone else’s songs on the jukebox for us. Charlie was adorable, dense, and the straight man to Mike. We loved it there.

Then Kate moved down to DC. When she’d come up to visit, we’d head over, but Mike got busted for having about a pound and a half of weed in his car. Oh, and he was drunk driving on top of it. And Charlie quit. So, we gave up. In the spring of this year while heading to Suffern for dinner, my parents and I drove past the RVB and I noticed it was closed. Ma said it had been raided – drug sales and underage drinking. Kate and I sure know how to pick ‘em.

In October during a visit, while waiting for our sushi reservation at the excellent Tawara, we walked across the street to Brady’s at the Station. I never call it that because when I first went there, it was called the Trackside. Anyhoo, Kate likes it because the bartenders are pleasant and they have Guinness. I personally wish they had more of a beer selection on tap, but whatever. It’s no Gaslight Brewery, but beggars can’t be choosers.

While having a Guinness at the Trackside, the typical topics came up, including Kate and Bart’s pitch to have me move down to DC. And at some point, I said, hey, if you had a house big enough for me to live in, then I’d move down there. Kate and Bart were pleased.

Fast forward to Monday morning. Kate’s sent me a video on my e-mail. It goes something like this:

Darkened bar, lots of conversations going on. Look, there’s me!

Me: …a house that I could live in.
Bart: So if we have a house big enough for you, you would live with us and be a lawyer in Washington, DC?
Me: Sure.

I’d forgotten that Kate’s digital camera takes video. D’oh! Nicely done, Kate and Bart. I’ve offered to move in with friends before and be the kitchen gnome… shockingly no one has ever taken me up on the offer. Hey, I thought it was safe to say I’d move in with K and B – what newlyweds want their best friend moving in with them? I guess it’s better than a mother-in-law, but still.

Don’t get me wrong, I think living with Kate and Bart would rule. Of course, I’d rather they came up here, or moved to New York or something. But I don’t think Bart really knows what he’s getting himself into. Sure, I’d cook for everyone, because I like that sort of thing. But after a couple of months, rather than a wacky episode of Scrubs, it would probably be more like an ep of Absolutely Fabulous and Bart might be stuck in the role of Saffie or Eddy’s doddering mother.

On second thought, that sounds like a great time. Sign me up.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I Love My Co-Workers

First things first, I've decided to rename "D" "Matlock" for the purposes of this blog. Matlock because he's the oldest of the group and because I talk to him the most and referring to him perpetually as a letter is annoying.

Matlock is our out-of-the-office social director. His primary goal is to think of combinations of events that will make it difficult for the ladies, K and myself, to figure out what to wear. He initially wanted us to go to the rifle range and then to see Rent on Broadway. K protested, so now it's just dinner and Rent. Meanwhile, Matlock has decided we're going to the rifle range, followed by a reggae concert in the near future. To facilitate this, Matlock burned a copy of Babylon by Bus for E, our resident Star Wars geek.

Matlock and I had the following conversation during a Dunkin Donuts run:

Matlock: I burned you a copy of Babylon by Bus.
Me: Cool, thanks.
Matlock: I burned one for E too. I asked him if he knew who Marley was.
Me: (laughing in anticipation because I'm sure E doesn't know who he is). What did he say?
Matlock: He said, 'I know who Jacob Marley is.'
Me: What?!?!
Matlock: Yeah. I was like, 'Dickens, E? Come on, I mean Bob Marley.'

I love my co-workers.

Monday, November 28, 2005

When the Katz Away...

On Friday evening, I went in New York to spend some time with dear Phil. As you may recall, Philly left New Jersey several months ago and returned to being a city mouse. This weekend, his lady went home to visit her family while Philly stayed behind in Brooklyn Heights. I was concerned he might go blind from non-stop playing of Grand Theft Auto and proposed an outing.

So, you can imagine that it was a lot like last summer, except instead of me dragging Phil to Jersey gustation landmarks, Phil decided it was time that I experienced Katz’s Deli on Houston. Katz’s, of course, is the scene of Sally’s orgasm in When Harry Met Sally.

What can I say? Phil declares Katz’s to be his favorite in all of New York and that declaration is not without excellent reason. Phil recommended that we split a pastrami sandwich. This from the kid who never wants to share his fries with me, so I figured this must be a sandwich to reckon with. And oh boy, was it. Simply put, it’s ginormous. We split the pastrami on rye with mustard (and I was completely shocked to see people getting a pastrami sandwich with cheese – American cheese(!) – which is about as sacrilegious to me as filet mignon medium well) and we each got fries. By the end of the meal, I was completely stuffed. The pastrami is really incomparable.

Growing up, we were always surrounded by great Italian delis. And whenever a new deli would open, my mom would sigh that she wished there were a Jewish deli in the area. She always said it was one of the things she missed most about living in New York. So keep in mind that my pastrami experiences in life are couched by the fact that I live in Jersey and I completely accept the argument that you don’t know good pastrami till you’ve had it in New York.

So I’ve officially had the best pastrami there is. I highly recommend you check it out. And, if you get bored while sitting there, look around at the photos of all the celebrities with the owner. Wu Tang Clan, Spike Lee, Bjork and Bill Clinton all have their photos on the wall. According to Phil, when President Clinton rolled in, he had a sandwich, a hot dog and an order of fries. The man can eat.

We finished up the night at a Brooklyn Heights bar with not one, but two cask ales on the engine. Since Phil moved back to New York, my social life has changed. I spend a lot more time now with my new co-workers. I still try to see as much of Anhabelle, Gena, Pablo, et al. as I possibly can. I see Liana Banana and Wendy nearly every week. And when I do get to see Phil, it’s usually in the context of a poker game. So I’ll just say that while I try to navigate my little boat on the changing currents of life as gracefully as possible, accepting and embracing change as it comes my way, I am at times struck by how much I miss certain times, people and places. This outing reminded me that I miss Phil, which I already knew, but most especially if there’s a good meal and beer to be had.

An Elephant in a Mirror Factory

Happy belated Thanksgiving to all. As you may or may not be aware, for the last two years, I have been responsible for hosting my family’s Thanskgiving festivities. It’s always a mixed bag – on the one hand, I enjoy cooking and I love my family. On the other, I don’t have a lot of free time or a dishwasher.

Anyway, dinner turned out fine this year, though I’m still adjusting to this new oven which apparently does not run as hot as the old one. And I have totally learned my lesson about not taking short cuts with the pie crust – I solemnly swear I will not cheat and use frozen pie crust again. The results were disastrous. Also disastrous? My sister and brother-in-law’s disciplinary skills when it comes to my nephew.

As for the title, well, the little Buddhist in me is always pondering such mysteries as karma. And now that I have gotten to know my co-worker, D, better, I think about such things even more because D is an actual Buddhist. Anyway, Thursday, though fun in certain respects, was really quite stressful and busy. If you can possibly find a friend or family member to mooch off of instead of hosting the holiday yourself, I highly recommend it. Following dinner, I drove my parents over to the hotel where they were staying. On my drive home, about three blocks from my house, a woman ran a red light as I was driving through an intersection and hit my car. Poor car. Poor me.

As I sat in the Dunkin Donuts parking lot waiting for the cop to take my statement, I thought about the good I had done all day and wondered what on earth I could have done to deserve such karmic retribution. I couldn’t think of anything. I must have done something really shitty in a past life. I must have been an elephant in a mirror factory.

Long story short, I went home later and cried at the end of Finding Nemo because I always cry over substitute stuff instead of the stuff I’m really upset about. Then I had to wash all the dishes. As I told Chuck the next day, it’s going to be hard to top this Thanksgiving as the worst Thanksgiving ever.

The good news is, no one was hurt in the accident, and the car is just a thing which can be fixed. Of course, I then caught a cold this weekend. I’m really on a karmic roll. You might want to stay away from me. On the other hand, I’ve been blessed with great parking spots lately, so I’ve got that going for me.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Lady Doesn’t Wander All Over the Room

Sorry for the lack of postings. I had to work this weekend. Boo! Booooo! But in summary, I went out with co-workers, D and K on Friday night in the cit-ay. It was good times. Since this is not an “anonymous” blog, I do need to beware of how I refer to work and the people I work with. So, co-workers will get just an initial.

Anyway, Friday night, late night. Saturday, Philly’s birthday party. Let me just say that parking in Brooklyn Heights is heinous.

And Sunday night? Rome, naturally. It was fan-fucking-tastic. Seriously, best episode yet. With eps like that, the show is going to give Deadwood a run for its money in the “Megs’ favorite HBO show” department. My favorite line was when Vorenus runs into his old friend from the wars at Pullo’s trial and he has to talk the guy out of rescuing Pullo for political reasons. The friend says: “’Politically?’ I fuck ‘politically’ and its fat ass.”

Anyway, the title of this post comes from the lyrics of "Luck Be A Lady." I must go to Atlantic City tomorrow night for “networking” shit. So despite the fact that “a lady doesn’t wander all over the room” according to Sky Masterson, I will be doing just that, shaking the hands of old men. Oh, who am I kidding? I was never a lady. I’m less than thrilled, though co-worker E and I decided to play some blackjack when the hob-nobbing is over. So at least I’ve got that going for me.

I hope to have an AC update by week’s end.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Who Knew A.O. Scott was a rap fan?

The Times’ A.O. Scott reviews 50 Cent’s new movie, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, which I incidentally have no interest in seeing, and actually shows some knowledge about rap music. I completely agree with this assessment: “As a rapper, 50 Cent has been an overachiever, selling boatloads of records in spite of his pedestrian skills. Lacking the verbal wit of a Jay-Z, the storytelling ability of a Biggie Smalls or the engaging personality of a Kanye West, he has gotten over through doggedness and a certain truculent charisma.”

I admit I enjoy “In Da Club” but I think that is the extent of 50’s talent. A.O. says the movie is okay, mostly because of the supporting cast and director Jim Sheridan, but that 50's acting abilities are, not surprisingly, as lacking as his rap skills.

The Most Sensuous of the Cured Meats

Like George Costanza, I too love a good pastrami sandwich. In law school, we used to refer to the deli on Academy as “the good sandwich place.” Occasionally, the good sandwich place would have a hot corned beef and pastrami sandwich and it was truly worth the walk.

Anyway, the Times has a good article about how tasty cured meats are. Check it out.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Mole vs. Jet-Pack Boy

Anyone who watched Arrested Development last night will know what the title is about. To welcome back Arrested from it’s seemingly endless hiatus during post-season baseball, the lame-o’s at Fox put on two new episodes, and they may go down as two of the best in the sitcom. Seriously, this show just keeps getting funnier. It really is the funniest show on TV right now. Yes, funnier than Curb Your Enthusiasm. With Curb, I laugh later, while I screw up my face in embarrassment during the episode. But Arrested? I nearly peed myself.

The phone rang at 8:57 and it was Liana.

Liana: Are you watching?
Me: Yes. I nearly peed myself, I was laughing so hard by the end.
Liana: I was guffawing so loud, I thought I was probably annoying the neighbors, but I couldn’t stop myself.

We continued repeating funnier moments and giggling until Liana said, “Gotta go. Prison Break’s on.” Bless her heart.

Soooo, this leads me to my READER SURVEY! As you may recall, I used to review Deadwood when I started the blog. When Deadwood starts up again sometime next year, I’ll do that again. But in the meantime, I thought I’d have a weekly show that I review. The question is – what show? Any suggestions? Rome is probably out since there are only two episodes left. But, I do watch a wide variety of TV, so respond with your vote.

Man, that shit’s impossible

I caught the last half hour of a personal favorite last night - Riding Giants. If I haven’t sung the praises of this documentary on the blog or to you personally before, consider yourself on notice. Riding Giants chronicles the history of big wave surfing by profiling three individual surfers – Greg Noll, who brought about a renaissance for surfing in the 1950s, Jeff Clark, who discovered the treacherous Mavericks in California, and Laird Hamilton, the greatest surfer of today, and possibly all time.

Philly snarkily suggested that I have a crush on Laird Hamilton, but it’s really Greg Noll who captured my heart. The foul-mouthed surfer dude had a certain Vince Vaughn air back in the day. And he’s still foul-mouthed today, though quite a bit older. When he sees a magazine cover of Laird surfing a ridiculous wave in Tahiti, Greg says, “Man, that shit’s impossible.” It’s a funny moment. Though I must say, that Laird Hamilton and Gabrielle Reese make a very beautiful couple and their children are probably imbued with ridiculous athletic talent and good looks. Mia and Nomar, Stephie and Andre’s kids got nothing on the Reese-Hamiltons in the looks department.

Anyway, I highly recommend.

Monday, November 07, 2005

I think Delta Burke would be pleased

Saturday was Roxey’s birthday (or for you 50 Cent fans, birfday) and after watching a bunch of Arrested Development episodes and taking a nice nap, I got all dolled up and went to fetch Rox and her best friend Adonna. We headed down to New Brunswick for dinner at Delta’s, which is located by the swanky new townhouse development. For those of you familiar with New Brunswick eateries, it’s right by Frog & the Peach (très overrated in my opinion).

Delta’s opened in 2000, and so it was after Rox’s and my time in the Bruns. Neither of us had been there before, but Adonna had been there several times and had recommendations. And before I go onto the menu, as an aside let me say that I was on. On! I’m not a typically funny person, but every once in a while, say two or three times a year, I will have an evening where I am on comedic fire. It’s never when I would want it to be and there’s no predicting it. On New Year’s Eve last year on the Circle Line to Hell with Wendy and her friends, I was unstoppable. One of Wendy’s friends said to her after the Death Trap Raft Trip, “I didn’t remember Megan being so funny.” That’s because I’m usually not.

Anyway, we arrived at Delta’s a few minutes late for our reservation, so we sat at the bar and had some drinks, while we waited for the rest of our party to show, and then for our table. Delta’s has a very nice long bar and a live band playing jazz – but not so loud that you couldn’t have a conversation. I had a Mango Tango Martini, which was quite good. Others in the group had pineapple mojitos, which were a big hit, and sour apple martinis, which were also quite good.

After punishing us for being late, the hostess finally seated us. The service in general was just okay. But the food more than made up for it. Delta’s is basically a fancy pants southern soul food restaurant. And while I would not say that Delta’s babyback ribs are as good as Indigo Smoke’s (because, while they were good, they couldn’t hold a candle to Indigo) I will say that the food was generally fantastic.

The fried chicken was excellent, though not as good as my dad’s. Seriously, though, no one can beat my dad’s fried chicken. The macaroni and cheese? Un.Believable. Seriously, in a class by itself. Better than Indigo Smoke’s. I didn’t have any candied yams, but Roxey raved. And the collard greens eaters at the table had similar kind words. And last but not least, the buttermilk biscuits. Truly great – crispy on the outside and warm and fluffy on the inside. I’ll be dreaming about those biscuits. And unlike Indigo, which charges you for the sides, every meal came with two sides included.

Complaints – I really wished the mashed potatoes had come with gravy. And I wished I had room to try the red velvet cake, but the servings were enormous and I pretty much wanted to die by the end of the meal. The overall price was reasonable – there were 7 of us, and including our share of the birthday girl’s meal, it came to $35 a person. And remember – we were all having drinkie-poos.

Adonna raved about the oxtail, which she had on previous occasion. While she liked the smothered pork chops she had on Saturday, we both wished we’d had the oxtail. Oxtail is tough to find, and I definitely plan on having that on my return trip to Delta’s.

I really think it’s hard to beat New Brunswick on the drink and restaurant front. I wish it were closer.

You Will

“Jan Schakowsky told me about a recent visit she had made to the White House with a congressional delegation. On her way out, she said, President Bush noticed her “obama” button. “He jumped back, almost literally,” she said. “And I knew what he was thinking. So I reassured him it was Obama, with a ‘b.’ And I explained who he was. The President said, ‘Well, I don’t know him.’ So I just said, ‘You will.’ ”

--William Finnegan, The New Yorker

The one and only Barack Obama was in New Jersey this weekend stumping for Jon Corzine. Roxey and I agreed that if Barack runs for president in 2008, we’re quitting out jobs and joining his campaign.

In other news, Roxey said she’d “bet money” that Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm will run for president in 2008, after seeing her speak at Rosa Parks’ funeral. All I have to say is that the dems have some pretty great people out there and if the best they can do is Hillary Clinton, who will never win, then shame on them.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

And then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel.

Tonight is poker night, and I have to go sit in traffic to make it there on time, so this will have to be short.

I’ve gone and gotten sick. This is not surprising, given the frequency of illness in my office and my germ monkeys, I mean, nephews. I was worried this morning that taking DayQuil would make me all fuzzy-headed and that my work would suffer. But a few weeks ago, Kate quoted a letter she had read in an advice column about some girl who was bored of her corporate drone job and was thinking about going to law school. A reader wrote in with the following: “Please tell that girl not to go to law school. I am a lawyer. The law is simultaneously the most mind-numbing and stressful job you can have.” Too true, too true.

Anyway, being fuzzy-headed did not impede my ability to do my job. Actually it was good I was addled, because I didn’t have time to think about being bored. So there you have it.

Unfortunately, I doubt the DayQuil will be helpful in poker. I’ll just have to hope the guys get a head start on the beer.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Bad Boy’s Guide to the Good Girl’s Heart

It has just occurred to me today that I am no longer in the sort of job where my blogging propensities can be made public to my co-workers. But since so many of my ideas come from co-workers, and context may at times be necessary, I shall have to find more creative ways of reference. It will have to be enough to say that I lunch with several co-workers every day. Frequently we talk about work, but occasionally we talk about fluffier stuff – TV, movies, and the not-so-fluffy President.

The other day, one of the female co-workers, we’ll call her Martha (because she’s a good baker), was sharing a story about a guy that she “met” at a bar. And by “met” I mean saw across the bar and thought was attractive.

Martha is a good girl. Absolutely no question. One day at lunch, though, we discovered that we shared the same affinity for Wentworth Miller of Prison Break. And I subsequently learned that Martha also liked tattoos. Regardless, plenty of good girls find tattoos attractive. Annyyway, back to the guy at the bar. The guy at the bar actually works at this bar. And he apparently exudes an aura of someone who has, oh, I don’t know, been behind bars. And when I say “behind bars” I’m not being tongue-in-cheek, punny, I mean spent some time in prison. That is when I learned that Martha is actually attracted to bad boys.

“Every girl loves a bad boy!” Marth attempted to defend herself when I professed my surprise. “Come on, don’t you?” Well, there are bad boys and then there are baaaad boys. Martha admitted that a little law breaking goes a long way. “No Class A felonies, though,” she insisted.

I, generally, don’t love a bad boy. They’ve never done anything for me. Messed up guys? Sure. I, like many girls, have been drawn to the idea of “saving” someone, though the luster is pretty much gone from that (“saving” usually leads to “taking care of” and I have enough problems taking care of myself). But felonies? Not so much.

So color me surprised when I found myself oddly attracted, not simply to Wentworth Miller, but to his mildly sociopathic character on Prison Break. Background: Prison Break revolves around Michael Scofield (played by my new boyfriend, Wentworth) who is a structural engineer. Michael’s brother, a two-bit crook, gets arrested and convicted of murdering the Vice President’s brother. He’s sent to death row. Michael comes to believe that his brother is innocent, gets himself arrested and sent to prison in order to break his brother out. I know the premise is dopey, but seriously, the show is riveting.

Michael has this sort of damn-the-consequences, I-don’t-care-who-gets-in-my-way attitude that I find, well, very likeable. As Entertainment Weekly described him, “His Michael Scofield has the silky voice of a sociopath, the resigned stance of a long-distance runner, and the deadpan delivery of Macaulay Culkin at his Uncle Buckbest.” Yep. That pretty much sums it up.

But why? Why a bad boy? What’s the allure? I suppose a part of it is, as Martha stated, the recklessness and dangerousness. But a big chunk of it for me is the idea that underneath all that, there is goodness and heart. Of course, in the real world, that’s not true. Underneath the bad boy exterior is more…. bad boy. Maybe you’ll find some of the pathos to explain the bad boy, and that is always interesting, but there’s no way of changing it. A good girl’s fatal flaw is her belief that she can heal the bad boy. But she can’t.

So now that I find myself attracted to someone as messed up as a Michael Scofield, I must once again purge myself of such dysfunctional radar readings. And in the meantime, I can continue to love Michael Scofield, because thankfully, he’s fictional.

Monday, October 31, 2005

There is nothing called ‘hope’ in my future

I signed up for Netflix a short time ago after a recent fruitless search through my local Blockbuster. God, I hate Blockbuster. Anyway, I just watched Born Into Brothels, which won the Academy Award this year for best documentary.

When I was in middle school and my sister was in college, she began majoring in photographer. My sister was very gifted with a camera, particularly at capturing people in candid moments. My sister, despite being a real talker, somehow managed to disappear when she had her camera. I say this because it's hard to get pictures in a candid moment of teenaged girls, and yet she took roll upon roll of photos of me and my friends without any of us noticing. On the other end of the spectrum is the photographer who becomes a part of what she is photographing.

Born Into Brothels tells the story of a photographer (Zana Briski) who went to the red light district of Calcutta in order to photograph the prostitutes. Instead, she gets caught up with their children and teaches them photography. The story has several interesting ideas – first is the transformative power of art on children who would otherwise simply become pimps and prostitutes themselves. Then there is the way that this story is just as much about Zana Briski getting wrapped up in saving these children. And finally, the horrifying truth that no schools in India will take these kids… these kids who need help more than anyone else. And even when there are schools that will take them, breaking from the red light district isn't always a possibility.

Two of the children are especially haunting – Kochi and Avijit. Kochi speaks with the sort of worldliness and brightness that an eleven year old simply shouldn’t have. And Avijit has the sort of talent with a camera that a trained photographer in his prime would kill for. Avijit, after his mother is murdered by her pimp, says “There is nothing called ‘hope’ in my future.”

Without giving anything away, some of the kids succeed, go to school, escape the district. Most of them don’t. Despite that, Zana's best interest, most of the kids wind up staying in the red light district. But Kochi and Avijit do succeed, and go off to school. Zana subsequently started a foundation for the kids where she sells their work to pay for their school. Some of the photography is truly amazing. Check it out.

This is Halloween

So, it’s Halloween, one of my favorite holidays. I have affection for the holiday from childhood, but these days most of my memories regarding Halloween come from my apartment during college on Richardson Street. Devon loved Halloween, and she would go crazy with the decorations. Then we’d have a party. We had a few parties a year, but it was the Halloween party that I always remember with such fondness. I can’t entirely explain why. Perhaps it’s the change in the weather that marks the true delineation between summer and fall.

Anyway, we would always tell everyone to come in costume, but inevitably it was just the residents of the apartment that were costumed.

Regardless, Halloween reminds me of carefree, cool fall nights, and the company of old friends. Well, that and a good scary movie. Of which there have been paucity in recent years.

Tonight I'm taking the nephews trick-or-treating. Wish me luck getting Connor to share some candy with me.

That’s How I Roll, Son

So, I’m back. Nothing like a little two month hiatus to make me appreciate the medium of blogging. To summarize what’s been going on lately, I’ll give you an itemized list:

Moved out. Yes, an absolutely dreadful week of packing, movers, so on and so forth. But the new joint is great and Mr. Abbott, after a week of serious grumpies, is now quite happy in our new home.

New job. Well, all I can say is that, like the blog name, work is still seriously for suckers.

Plenty of concerts. Saw Green Day, Coldplay, and the Dandy Warhols. The Dandys were at CBGB, and it was my first time there. Didn’t get to see the Chemical Brothers at Central Park, but don’t get me started on that debacle.

Lots of TV. Loving Rome on HBO. It’s not as multilayered as Deadwood, but it’s fascinating and for the most part, historically accurate. And my new obsession Prison Break. I highly recommend.

More on all these things (minus the moving) later. I probably won’t post every day, but you can expect me several times a week, and I promise, no more two month breaks.

Friday, August 19, 2005

We laughed and laughed and ate all the cookies.

There's a Chappelle's Show sketch where the main character is a crack addict named Tyrone. In one of the earlier episode, Tyrone goes to give a lecture to some school children about why they shouldn't do drugs, and it winds up being an instructional speech about where to buy/how to use drugs.

At one point, he's telling the kids about the first time he smoked marijuana: "My friends and I smoked some weed after school. And we laughed and laughed and ate all the cookies. It was terrible!"

For whatever reason (probably because it's funny) Kate and I love this sketch and whip out lines from it all the time. Especially the above line. There's also the classic "Do you know what dog food tastes like? Do you? It tastes just like it smells. Delicious!"

I tell you this because I am off to DC is less than an hour for the usual South East high living of martinis and gorgonzola cheese, Southern market coffee, and Chappelle's Show quoting. Pablo is driving down with me, which means that there will also be lots of Simpsons quoting (much to Kate's chagrin). And of course, there will be bridesmaid dress shopping.

Anyway, have a great weekend, and let's hope that a monsoon hasn't hit I-95 and washed it out, although knowing my luck, it probably has.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Alpha Down, Dude

Phil and I drove to Nueva York yesterday after work for poker. And with apologies to Phil, who thinks I pretty much always get conversation reconstructions wrong, I am going to try and repeat a small excerpt from the car ride.

Phil: I hope we get there before Rajeev.
Me: Why?
Phil: Because if he gets there first, he'll que all his music on the computer.
Me: So? (this above comment seemed especially strange since I thought that Rajeev and Phil had nearly identical musical tastes.... it seemed like me and Kate fighting over NPR programming)
Phil: It's this passive aggressive thing we have going where we're each trying to play music that the other person won't know.
Me: There's music you guys don't know?

And while I have never thought of any of these guys as quintissential "alpha male" types, I guess they sort of are when it comes to music. And maybe a little bit when it comes to poker... but what guy isn't alpha when it comes to poker? These two points became clearer as bickering would erupt over whose turn it was to pick an album, and as Rajeev's buddy Jason, who had never played poker before, won a series of big hands. I smartly stayed away from the music selection, and managed to do fine at poker - I hit quad 10s in a hand of Omaha, which is probably the best hand I've ever had in poker.

Annnyyway, after a particularly contentious hand of poker and some disagreement over the next musical selection, Phil got fired up and Jason came out with the line of the night: "Whoa! Alpha down!" Awesome. I wish I had thought of it. Regardless, it clearly belongs on a t-shirt.

Rest of the night progressed as usual with lots of beer, cheesesteaks, smack talk and poker. The cheesesteaks from Blondie's? Excellent, as were the waffle fries. I have come to realize that Phil sometimes acts like a Mc when it comes to ordering group food - in other words, like you grew up in a family without enough food, or too many kids fighting over said food and now overcompensate by ordering everything on the menu. My mom is a big fan of that method. And we used to run into problems with this in law school when two of the guys would go out to White Castle or Popeye's to buy dinner for the group. Phil, it's official. You're an honorary Irishman. Your love of fried fish, single malt, beer, gambling, and general belligerance in an argument makes it clear. I'll just add a "Fitz" onto your last name and you're set.

"We just gave too much away."

First things first. Fucking Yankees. What the hell? D-Rays are 9 for 13 against us this season? It's a disgrace. The Yankees don't deserve to make the playoffs this year. If we're very lucky, George Steinbrenner will fire himself after this season.

Next. I came into work late today. My typical morning routine is Morning Edition on NPR, followed by BBC World Service. However, BBC World Service is covering ad nauseum the Israeli eviction/pull-out from Gaza. Not to belittle or undermine this story, which is clearly very important, but BBC World Service's coverage has been... well, repetitive to say the least. I almost feel like they're just looping the same program. Cue sound on the melee, then sound of shouts and protests, poignant and sad interview with a woman who's leaving her home, interview with a Palestinian. The end. Except it lasts for about 30 minutes before they bother to cover any other world news. My point is, I'm getting a little tired of BBC's coverage.

So, I switched over to ESPN Radio, which I always enjoy. Listened to Mike and Mike in the Morning, and then at 10, it switched over to some dude named Colin Cowherd. And I hate him. "Who is this guy?" I wondered. Cowherd is apparently from Portland where he had a show. I have no clue what his sports background, if any, is. He proceeds to make the most blanket, and obvious statements one could make about baseball, and since it's just him on the show, it feels like he's yelling at you. I personally don't like radio programs where there is only the one host and no sidekicks. I'd much rather listen to a constructive conversation than some douche from Portland yowl at me about how the Yankees are incapable of beating crappy teams this year (Really?!?!? I had no idea! I thought we were playing swell and that it was totally fine for the Rays and Kansas City to smack us around.) Then he starts talking about how he's noticed that the players for the Twins and other lower pay-roll teams tend to be very small and that bigger teams like the Yankees and BoSox have very large beefy players. Ooookkkaaayyyy.

I had to switch over the The Fan, and it's usually no contest that I'll pick ESPN radio over WFAN. Sid and Joe B. (well, actually it's Ian Eagle filling in for Joe) were definitely preferable to Cowherd. Sure, I'd rather listen to Dan Patrick or the Michael Kay show (I enjoy Don LaGreca), or even Mike and the Mad Dog, but any port in a storm, people. Any port.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

¡Oígame compay! No deje el camino por coger la vereda.

Friday was a big night.

Law school friend Vanessa and I were meeting up for dinner, old college friend Jim was in town looking for apartments in preparation for his big move to New York, and I took the PATH train to the city for the first time in quite awhile.

I typically drive to New York for two main reasons - it can be cheaper and faster than public transportation if you park on the street, and since I am typically out late in New York, it's nice to just get in your car and go, rather than waiting for the subway, PATH, so on. And if you have to take the NJ transit train, well, they usually stop running by 1am, so that can be a problem.

Anyway, Friday evening, I wound up taking the PATH from Pavonia/Newport in Jersey City. V and I were meeting at 7pm, but at 6:30, I was still thick in the middle of Holland Tunnel traffic and I knew there was no way I'd make it to Columbus Circle by the appointed time. So, PATH and subway it was. Going in was fine, coming out was a whole different story which I will save for later.

Anyway, I met Vanessa at Azucar, a Cuban restaurant on 8th Avenue at 56th Street. My whole weekend had a very Latin theme to it, which seemed even more apropos following Ibrahim Ferrer's death. Outside there's a man making cigars, and there's a busy bar just through the door. The restaurant itself was also bustling, but Van had gotten there early and snagged us a table (and also had some empanadas, which she said were excellent, to tide herself over). The decor was really nice, with the typical warm, low lighting that softens the edges and makes everyone look better. Lots of vegetation, too, which helped muffle the din somewhat. I had rabo encedido - braised ox tail in red wine sauce with mashed plantains. It was served with a side of rice and it was simply splendid - the meat was tender and full of flavor, and the mix of peppers in the sauce was quite complementary. Van had the pollo aljibe, which she raved about.

The service was quick, friendly and attentive (and patient considering I was late to meet V, and she sat at the table for about 45 minutes before ordering) and the salsa music was at a good volume. I love salsa music, and I thought to myself Friday night, "If I were a waitress here, it might not be so bad, I'd just dance around all night long." Anyway, I'll definitely return to Azucar.... I think I'll have a cuban sandwich and a mojito.

As ever, the company was a delight. I hadn't seen Vanessa since last October, but she was full of her usual saltiness. Few people could pull off, "Megan, you should be black. Ordering ox tail. Jesus," or "If another associate talked to me like that, I'd tell the partners, 'Fine. But you're losing two attorneys today - her because I'm gonna kill her, and me because I'll be going to jail." We gossiped and commiserated and had our usual rollicking time.

I met up with dearest Jim after dinner and we headed off to Citrus for my favorite sangria. Citrus has its faults (the music is completely bizarre and the bar area is not comfortable) but the sangria rules and I actually am a fan of the food too. Jim is a law-talking person too, so we did the usual legal blah-blah and caught up since we hadn't spoken since December, and hadn't seen each other in years. The delight of Jim is that despite the fact that we have both changed a lot since we were 18, we can still talk and talk like it's 4am in the dorms and Jim's roommate has sexiled him. Spending time in New York with Jim is so refreshing because he sees it through entirely different eyes - the kid grew up in Idaho and has loved New York, or the idea of it, since childhood. Everything is fresh and clean and beautiful, even when it's hot and sultry. This fall, he'll be moving here for the next two years. "I wonder if I'll ever see New York as home," he mused. "Or if it will always just be this beautiful, exotic other. I think it'll always be the other." I hope so. Familiarity can breed love, but it's nothing like the love you have for the ideal in your head.

Jim and I said our good-byes and I headed back to the PATH, where I got to wait on the unbearably hot platform with other Jersey-bound folks for 30 minutes. As we rolled off to Hoboken, I dozed off in an attempt to block out the loud people. I was so successful that I slept right through my stop and had to wait at Grove Street till the next train came. I stood on the platform as a train headed to Journal Square came in, watched a guy go running off the train and puke all over the tracks. "This is why we can't have nice things," I muttered. Long story short, from the time Jim and I said good-bye outside Lincoln Center till I got home to Mo Plains, two hours had elapsed. This is why I don't take public transportation.

Never gonna dance, only gonna love

Last August, Turner Classic Movies did a gimmick they called "Summer Under the Stars" or something like that. Every day was a different classic movie star marathon. I was in the process of packing for a move, and basically was shell-shocked from the bar, so it was perfect for me.

Poking around on the Times for a break today, I found this article about some new DVD releases. What tickles me about it is that there's a new Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers collection out. It includes Swing Time, Top Hat, Follow the Fleet, Shalll We Dance, and The Barkleys of Broadway.

The reviewer read my mind - always a fan of Top Hat (who wouldn't be?) I saw Swing Time for the first time last August on TCM and I completely fell in love with it. How could I have missed this Fred and Ginger gem - it's obviously beautifully choreographed and executed, but the storyline itself is so bittersweet and gentle, which is unusual for a Fred and Ginger movie - the climactic scene set to "Never Gonna Dance" is romantic and heartbreaking. Love it!

Anyway, check it out, and if you have TCM, check out the lineup. This Saturday is Jimmy Stewart (includes The Man Who Knew Too Much, You Can't Take it with You, Vertigo and Rear Window) and Bogie gets the last day of the month (sadly I've missed Lauren Bacall, Cary Grant, and the aforementioned Fred.... and why no Orson Welles? Weird).

Monday, August 15, 2005

Mourning the Life That Wasn't

On Saturday night, Mike and Gena hosted a lovely wine tasting at their home. Their house, for the record, is brand new and was built to their specifications. It is utterly, ridiculously lovely. I keep encouraging them to get a dog, go on vacation and ask me to pet-sit just so I can bask in the glow of their home.

At one point I went into the kitchen to get some water and as usual, I molested the refrigerator. It is a wonderful stainless steel Jenn-Air fridge with french doors, an internal water filter and a bottom slide freezer. Cooking and entertaining are important to Mike and G, and so their kitchen is pretty much perfect - Viking range, island, granite counters, marble tile work, cherry wood cabinets with silver fixtures. It is, in sum, exactly the type of kitchen I have always wanted. Gena stepped into the kitchen and asked what I was doing. "Oh, just fondling your fridge, as usual."

Seems like most of my people are divided into two camps right now - life crisis or massive settlement. The settlers - buying property, having children, working towards a lasting and fulfilling career. The life crisises - wondering if they're making the right decisions, not sure what they're doing and so on.

My teenage years were difficult, unpredictable and unstable for a variety of reasons. And loathe as I am to admit it, I suppose those years drove me towards some of my goals earlier in life. I have always erred on the side of, or perhaps more accurately craved, stability and predictability. And so it was with trepidation and disappointment that I realized some months ago that nothing in my life was headed in the direction that I had expected. Despite staying close to home, I am no closer ot putting down roots; despite an advanced degree, I am no closer to a lasting and fulfilling career. And while I feel deep satisfaction with my personal life, I must admit that I thought I might have some ideas about marriage and family by now. I didn't expect to be married, of course, but I suspect that at this juncture in my life, I am further away from that sort of settlement than I have been at any other time in my adult life.

And as I realized these massive shifts between my expectations and reality, I mourned the life that I didn't have. But since so many of these disappointments were beyond my control, I figured perhaps there was a lesson to extract from this after all. Perhaps this was really an opportunity for reinvention. I never expected to be here - to be planning massive job jumping, calculating how much money I have to save so that I can run off on a world tour, and accepting the fact that after a couple of decades of behaving in a manner that is more mature that I should have to be, it was time to be immature. There is something overwhelmingly liberating and refreshing about it. Why shouldn't I sell my car and go live in New York in my 30s? Or move to Valencia for that matter?

But for a moment on Saturday as I stood running my finger tips over the steel door of G's fridge, I forgot all that and felt the sadness that goes with unfulfilled longing. It was only fleeting, though. Changing takes practice.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Plan Your Escape Route

About a month ago, old college friend/housemate Devon came up from her southern home to visit New Jersey. We met with other housemate Elana to catch up and eat some kosher food. Devon is by far the most advanced of the college folk - married, owns a house, baby on the way. The rest of us are mostly picking our noses and wondering where we went wrong.

The topic turned to jobs/careers, and Elana explained to Devon that she had just started school to become a massage therapist. E has been working for the last couple of years doing computer stuff for a university. It's certainly not what she planned on doing when she was in college, but what was supposed to be a temporary job turned into something else. Elana cleared her throat. "I graduate from massage therapy school next June. And then I'm going to move to San Diego and get a job at a spa. Or I might work on a cruise ship." There was a pause and I said, "I think that's awesome. That's a great escape route."

My own personal escape route is to keep doing this for a few more years, save up some money, pay off some debt, and then leave. I think I'll travel around the world for about three months, thanks in part to this website, and Global Freeloaders, and when I return, perhaps I'll open a bar. As I was looking for new jobs earlier in the year, I came to the conclusion that one of my problems was that I was entirely lacking any enthusiasm for my chosen profession. It's not the field itself, which is generally interesting. It's the idea that I'm expected to do it for too many hours a week, to give up too many things in exchange for money and a shot at becoming partner. Why?

That question of why is what spurred me on. Maybe you'd hate anything you had to do for 80 hours a week. Or maybe there really is something out there that'll make you happy to get out of bed every day. It's not true that everyone hates their job. With these thoughts circling my head, I realized that one of the main reasons I was hanging onto this profession was the idea that I had spent three years in school getting the degree. I couldn't waste the time or money, could I?

I got feedback from the strangest and most unlikely of sources - my brother-in-law. He grew up very poor and as a result, has always believed that the pursuit of money was very important. But back before he started doing stock analysis, he used to teach doctors how to use and read CT scans and MRIs. And he really enjoyed it, it just didn't pay a whole lot. So when I talked about traveling the world because there were so many places I wanted to go and I couldn't really see myself trecking around India when I retired at 70, and that then maybe I'd open a bar, I got a rant from my sister, and a knowing nod from Crazy. He said, "It's good to travel when you're younger. You're right, you should do it. And a bar could be a good business. And you could always go back to law if it didn't work."

Opinionistas clearly doesn't have an escape route planned, but I think she ought to get one. After reading her entertaining blog, I am more convinced than ever that no amount of money is worth the hours and the crappy living. And meanwhile, I intend to spend the next few years fleshing out my own escape route. Cliche as it is, life's too short.

Home again, home again

Well, the good news is, folks, that I have found an apartment that is to my liking and the landlady decided she'll let me live there. I sign the lease this Sunday. It's a real load off.

I'll be moving at the end of the month to fair Nutley, home of the Pizza Wars, American Bistro, a good steak, my favorite pedicure place, and two shakes from Montclair and Clifton Commons. Sigh. Life is good.

The apartment is on the second floor of a house, it's just my apartment and the one below. I'm pretty pumped. In fact, I think this calls for a playing of favorite happy song, "Ray of Light". I haven't lived in a house since I left college, and needless to say, a house has charms that a building sometimes lacks. Anyway, the new place has two bedrooms, a large kitchen, a utility room (with washer/dryer hookup!), living room, and an enclosed sun porch. Plenty of room for me and Mr. Abbott. I hope that the next time I move, it'll be into my very home. Preferably this one. Ha ha! Kidding, of course, it's much more likely that in order for me to buy property, I'll have to live here. Or here. Then again, I don't think the humidity and heat of Vicksburg, Mississip would go well with my delicate Irish constitution, and I definitely have too much crap to live in a cardboard box.

So, in lieu of buying anything in the near future, you can find me in Nutley.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


You may recall from previous posts that my best girl, Kate, is engaged. She and her betrothed, Bart, are getting married next June and I am sharing maid o' honor duties with Kate's little sister. Go me! It's not my first time as a bridesmaid, and probably won't be my last. It's not because I am some sort of beloved friend that I am chosen, I think rather, that I have gained a reputation as a bridesmaid fascist.

I like planning parties and what not. At the same time, dealing with whiners and other unhappy family and friends isn't my cup of tea. Isn't this supposed to be the bride and groom's day? Yet it frequently turns into what everyone else wants. Well, my general feelings are that if Kate and Bart are paying for it, then it should be just as they like it, and I have no problem being a little bitch about it.

The thing is, for years, Kate has been threatening to be a Bridezilla. The funny part is, she got engaged, they booked the church and the reception site, and she subsequently stopped caring about any and all wedding-related plans. In fact, the only thing on which she has laid down the law is that the bridesmaids can't wear black (phooey). Enter Bridesmaidzilla. While I was fussing over what we should do for a bachelorette party and bridal shower (the purview of the bridesmaids), I came to the realization that Kate has made absolutely no other plans for this wedding. Granted, there's plenty of time, but it's always best to get these things out of the way, in my opinion.

As such, I have been making lists on the remaining issues, taking down names and numbers. My fascistic planner side is not something I find terribly appealing or enjoyable, and yet it's almost compulsive. On the flip side, I feel like if I were in Kate's shoes, I'd probably be taking the laissez faire approach as well. Actually, if I were in Kate's shoes, I'd probably elope. This wedding shit is a real boondoggle. At least, that's how I feel about myself. But when it comes to other people, it's nice to be included in one of the more important days of their life.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Candy doesn't have to have a point

I've been catching up on my movies the last couple of weeks. I've already discussed March of the Penguins, but I have subsequently seen War of the Worlds (it's so sad that matinees are $7.50 now), Me and You and Everyone We Know, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Hustle and Flow. Didn't dislike one in the group, I found them all enjoyable, some more than others, of course.

WOTW was pretty intense. Good effects, naturally, and I was actually able to put aside my irritation with Tom Cruise. I liked the fact that the story was entirely from the main character's point of view - there's not too much blather about beating the aliens and so on. In other words, you don't really know how the war is going or what's happening, except as Tom Cruise's character experiences it. Made it realer and scarier. Kind of wanted to shove a sock down Dakota Fanning's throat, but that's to be expected.

I also liked Me and You, though I'd recommend DVD for this. Chuckles loved it, and I think it's loveable if you're in a certain place in your frame of thinking. Briefly, Me and You is about a newly single father and his two kids and the woman with whom he strangely becomes involved. It's all about loneliness and connectivity, but what really made the movie for me were the two kids. The younger one especially was to me what the kid in Jerry Maguire was to everyone else.

Charlie was my favorite of the bunch, partially because Pablo and I saw it on the IMAX. I am a fan of the original, but I don't even really feel the need to compare the two - I think it's entirely possible to enjoy them both. Johnny Depp's Wonka is a lot more malevolent and maladjusted than Gene Wilder's more paternal Wonka. It goes without saying that a twisted Wonka is more in keeping with Roald Dahl. Granted, the boat scene was rather lacking (the original is quite scary) but on the whole, I had a lot of fun.

And last night I saw Hustle and Flow, which was certainly fun, and since we saw it at $6 movie night in Maplewood, it was the bargain of the bunch. Terrence Howard's role as a pimp turned aspiring rapper was a complete 180 from his role in Crash. I hope to see him in more stuff in the near future. I also enjoyed Taryn Manning, who was, interestingly enough, also in 8 Mile.

Coming up, I'm hoping to see The Aristocrats soon, which Lauren really enjoyed, and Broken Flowers with my man Bill Murray. Such a long way from Carl Spackler, buddy, but I'd follow you anywhere.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

He's a Great Kai

I am mildly in love with Marketplace Morning Report's Kai Ryssdal. For you non-NPR listeners, Marketplace is the economic-themed half hour show that's right in between All Things Considered and Fresh Air with Terry Gross. The Morning Report is the ten-minute morning version that's on at 8:50am every day after Morning Edition.

Anyway, I've loved Kai for years. He's got a great voice, he's smart and he has the most wonderful, dry sense of humor. His weekly "Sign of the Apocalypse" cracks me up every time. Kai has been the host of the Morning Report for years.

Meanwhile, the more substantial Marketplace was hosted by lame-o David Brown, whom I do not care for. Anyone who describes himself as a "renaissance man" deserves a cock punch. Sure, sure, someone probably wrote that for him, but it seems so much more effusive than Kai's or Tess Vigeland's description, and therefore I think Brown had a hand in it.

But anyway, I am happy to report that David Brown is gone and Kai Ryssdal is now hosting the 30-minute Marketplace. Hooray!

In other news, this past weekend's This American Life made me cry. It was about the difference between how we want people to see us, and how they actually see us. As far as themes go, it wasn't as well-tied as it usually is. But the last two stories were so well-told and moving that it didn't matter. Jonathan Goldstein's realization that his father loved him because of who he was and not in spite of it? Priceless. But I lost it in the final act where the mother is trying to help her ten-year-old son learn about who his father really was, now that Dad has a degenerative brain disease that has wiped away his personality.

Chuckles and I argued last week about Ira Glass, host of TAL. I'll grant that my argument wasn't that strong... I think I said something like, "You're crazy! Ira Glass rules!" And he does. So. There.

Last, but certainly not least, it's hard to beat Peter Sagal saying "badunkadonk" on the radio, and then having to explain what that means to Roy Blount, Jr (whom I strongly suspect was drunk).

Everybody's got a little light under the sun

This, folks, is Philly's last week as a Jersey pretender. This weekend, he moves back to New York where he will live with lady friend Emily, while they await the completion of their fantabulous Brooklyn Heights apartment. When all is said and done, this will be their view. Purty, isn't it? I am, of course, very happy for him, as all friends are happy for each other when they are excited about the future. At the same time, I'm sad. Now I'll have to audition a whole new set of Yankee-hating, Mets-loving poker players to keep my life interesting. On the flip side, I'll probably drop five pounds from not eating so many burgers and drinking so much beer. So I've got that going for me.

Anyway, last week, in the continuation of Know Your Enemy: New Jersey, Phil and I went to the Gaslight Brewery in South Orange. Phil declared it "the best bar in New Jersey" (and bear in mind that he's probably been to about 5 bars in the entire state). It certainly is quite good, especially if you're a fan of beer. First off, Gaslight has cask-conditioned ale. I can't even begin to tell you what a challenge it's been to find that in the Jers, where the plebs just don't enjoy good beer. Anyway, we returned there again last night.

Gaslight has a nice bunch of its own brews, as well as "guest beers" like Fuller's and Lindeman. As for their own beers, I like the 1920s Lager, which is apparently a classic style of American lager from pre-prohibition. Phil really liked the black bear lager, which he had again last night. We both finished the night with some Lindeman Peche, which I think even non-beer fans would like because it's sweet.

Other enjoyable things about Gaslight - they play both Mets and Yankees, so if we get the corner of the bar, I can watch my boys and Phil can watch his. The juke box is also enjoyable, although I could do with a little less Bon Jovi (and a lot less Eagles.... god, I hate the Eagles).

In the meantime, I do believe that Phil has warmed a bit to New Jersey, even if we don't have a bar as cool as the Blind Tiger.... then again, Blind Tiger doesn't have $10 lobster on Mondays. If you're interested in reviewing our previous adventures, they are here, here, here and here. Tonight, Rajeev is coming out to New Jersey to experience Fuddrucker's with us.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Little Buddhist

So, I tell them I'm a pro jock, and who do you think they give me? The Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald... striking. So, I'm on the first tee with him. I give him the driver. He hauls off and whacks one - big hitter, the Lama - long, into a ten-thousand foot crevice, right at the base of this glacier. Do you know what the Lama says? Gunga galunga... gunga, gunga-galunga. So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness." So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

-- Carl Spackler

I apologize that my posting last week was so lacking. I was having a series of meltdowns.

I’m in search of an apartment and the hunt has been poor thus far. I’ve seen two apartments – one terrible and one decent, but not really what I want. Really, I’d like to just pick up my current apartment and move it closer to my new job, but that isn’t working out so far.

What I really enjoy, though, is how the realtors look at me like I just said I own a pet llama when I explain that I have a cat and have to bring him with me when I move. Christ, doesn't anyone own a pet anymore? I can't believe what a hassle this has been.

Anyway, I am currently reading a book about Buddhism. I frequently become interested in a religion, read all about it, and then move onto another religion. High school, I read about Islam. First few years of college – Judaism. First year of law school, Christianity. And now, Buddhism. It’s not a question of practicing; I just find the study of religion to be fascinating. Still, as I read about Buddhism, I find myself thinking, “Hey, I do that!” or “That’s a good idea. I should look at things that way.” So I'm working on cultivating a little Buddhist in myself.

Last week when the dentist told me I have to get new veneers, to the tune of $6,500, I had a little bit of a freak out. What would I do? I couldn't afford that! And I still have so much other stuff to do, like work and find an apartment, when would I have the time? And I should get a second opinion! Would the insurance cover that? After about 5 minutes, the little Buddhist Megan said, "Megan, this is silly. Your teeth won't fall out of your head. And if they do, insurance will probably cover new teeth. So don't worry. Take care of it next month."

The little Buddhist has been getting quite a workout lately, though thus far I am pleased with the outcome. I'm still not very good at meditating – my mind keeps straying to things like, "I'd like a donut," or "Does my breathing always sound this loud?"

So, I'm working on all this, but I'm never going to reach nirvana because I could never be a vegetarian. Meat is just too yummy. Guess I'll have to settle for listening to my Nevermind album. Ba dum dum. I'll be here all week, tip your waitress on the way out.

Bitter Dan

My mom calls it the Irish. The Irish is your sixth sense, psychic ability, whatever. My mom has the Irish something fierce. Old Italian women give the eye, but my mother just calls it a curse, and when she puts her hex on you, bad things happen. I am generally completely lacking in the Irish. A year ago, I had a prophetic dream and my mom exclaimed, “I knew you had the Irish! You couldn’t be my daughter and not have it!” Well, I’m pretty sure I don’t have the Irish, but I knew Saturday that I would run into old friends and I was right.

Saturday I headed up to bucolic Mahwah, my hometown, to visit my parentals and buy a new cell phone. I planned to go home after mooching dinner, do some cleaning, and a little memo writing for work. But then Philly called.

Phil called because he rightly thought that I was going to be in the city that night…. but I had rescheduled those plans. As Phil was telling me that he and his people would be out at a bar on the Lower East Side, I thought, “Well, gee, I’m just going to go home. I have so much work and cleaning to do.” But my mouth wound up saying, “That sounds good. I’ll come out around 10:30.”

The trip into the city was lousy – accident in the Holland Tunnel, blah blah blah blah blah, I didn’t want to make a deal because I’m trying to be calm under such situations, and I hate to be a stereotypical Jersey girl complaining about traffic when I’m out with Phil and his decidedly un-Jersey surroundings. Long story short, I left Mo Plains at 9:45 and rolled into
Loreley on Rivington Street at about 12:00am. Good. Times. (Sorry Phil, I know the excessive sarcasm of that phrase is bothersome, but if ever it was called for….)

Anyway, it wound up being completely worth the hassle to get in. Indeed, I’m not the type of girl to stay out till 3:30am unless I’m having fun. Playing the role of typical Jersey lamer was yours truly, but it wound up being fun anyway. One of Phil’s buddies is actually from New Jersey, and we agreed (naturally) that true diners are only in Jersey (open 24 hours and owned by Greeks, of course), and that making a right on red is completely logical and it’s asinine that New York doesn’t allow this. Meanwhile, Rajeev has just returned from his three week trip to Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, so there were plenty of stories to hear. I enjoyed Loreley, although I was certainly not cool enough to be there.

I headed upstairs to get a beer, and locked eyes with Jay from college. “Hey!” he said. “Demarite?” “Yup,” I responded, “Megan.” As I turned to see whom he was with, I found myself face-to-face, with TK’s old flame Rich and Liana friend (and Rich brother) Jim. “Megan!” Jim exclaimed and we exchanged the heartiest handshake I’ve had in awhile.

For those of you who didn’t know me in college, allow me to explain “Demarite.” For three years, I lived in
Demarest Hall. Residents were known as “Demarites.” Demarest was home to special interest housing – in other words, organized groups for whatever you had an interest in – mine was writing, Janet’s was visual art, Lauren and Roxey were in political science. For writing, we would meet and discuss each other’s writing. In poli sci, they’d argue politics, and so on and so forth. In retrospect, I’d say it was a real nerdfest, but it’s where I met all of my closest friends in college. So there you have it.

I stood talking to Rich, Jim and Jay for a couple of minutes and stuff like, “Hey, did you see that
Jeremy Glick was on Fox News?” “Yeah, he was on the O’Reilly Factor, it was crazy.” Then I threw out, “Guess who I saw walking down the street in Montclair last week? Bitter Dan.” “Bitter Dan!” the guys all yelled at the same time, as if this were Norm on Cheers. During my first year of college, there were about 5 different Dans living in Demarest, so they all got nicknames – Pipe Dan (smoked from a pipe, of course), Red Dan (had red-hair), etc. And Bitter Dan. Bitter Dan was simply very funny and very bitter. He was punk rock to the nth degree, ridiculously smart and lazy, and completely, singularly, himself. I have never met anyone like him, and don’t ever expect to again.

Bitter Dan was a celebrity in our dorm – everyone knew him and he clearly was important in all of our views of home. I’ve told about 7 different people now of my Bitter Dan sighting and everyone reacts the same: “Bitter Dan!” I can’t even count the number of times I would come back from class and see Dan sitting on the front stoop smoking a cig, complaining about the lack of unionization at Brower Commons or something to that effect. He represents so much of my college experience, and so it was natural that he would look at me and not know who I was. I guess it’s always that way for people who are representative.

Anyway, my Irish sense told me I’d run into law school people, but college is a better place to remember. The rest of the evening was spent in the company of Phil and many of his college and law school friends. I can’t stay up till 4:30am like I did in college and not pay for it the next day, but holding onto that youthful feeling makes it all worth it.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A Slut in My Own Mind

I once remarked to some friends that I was probably the sluttiest girl I knew in my own head. In reality, I am two shakes away from the convent. But no matter. Maybe I'll never be a slut in the traditional sense, but that's not stopping me from being a tramp with realtors.

I'm looking for an apartment, and time is running out. I tried to do it on my own, but found the lack of returned e-mails and phone calls annoying. Also, what with Abbott and all, it's tough to find an apartment that will let me bring a cat. It's also not so easy finding stuff in my price range. Craig's List is filled with one bedroom apartments in Montclair for $1500.... are they dipped in gold? Christ. Or $2000 for a 2 bedroom. Otherwise, it's $800 on P & E's old street, which was frequently closed due to police activity. So as you can see, I'm having difficulty with the middle ground.

In a typical Megan frenzy I started calling and e-mailing multiple realtors. It wasn't really intentional, but if I sent out an e-mail to one, I'd just get carried away and keep sending more. The result is that, I think at this point I have three realtors.... though I may have more. I'm starting to lose track. In the process, I managed to find Dan this very nice furnished apartment one block from the beach that he has decided to take. Meanwhile, I'm still homeless as of September 1. Luckily, a glass of wine helps me sleep at night.

I'm also thinking about wheedling my way into other people's homes.... I was hoping Lynn might let me live in her attic, but she says it's filled with boxes she's storing for other people. And I'm also trying to get Wendy to buy a house and let me live in it with her.

Anyway, when you add to all this the cost of another deposit, the fact that I am po', and dreading the call to my pops asking if I can borrow four grand, well you can imagine that I don't really feel much allegiance to any realtors at this point. Frankly, the one who finds me the nicest place in my price range, doesn't waste my time, and doesn't recommend that I ditch Abbott (thanks, Evelyn the Realtor, who recommended that Liana leave Kitty Kitty with her mother), is the one deserving of my money (or, really, my credit card). So, for now, it's Megan the Trollop.

I'm going to see a place tomorrow morning - I'll be sure to keep you posted.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Animal Planet

This past Friday, I saw March of the Penguins with Lauren. We selected Millburn as the location, and before I get to my thoughts on the movie, allow me to complain for a moment. This was a 9pm showing. Of course, that didn't stop a particular couple from bringing their two young children. Both kids were noisy, but the youngest one by far would not stop talking. This was a small theater, so it didn't matter where you sat, you could hear the kid: "Mommy, why is he doing that? What are they doing? What's happening?" Not once did those parents tell the kids to shush or pipe down. Hi, this is a movie theater, where I just paid $9.25 to see a movie about penguins. This is not your living room. Will you tell your kids to shut to eff up? Thanks.

Now, to the movie. Loved it. I kept whispering to Lauren, "This is unbelievable!" Because really, it was. I don't necessarily mean the movie (although it is well shot, I thought, and the fact that these guys were in Antarctica filming all this for 13 months is tremendously impressive) but I mean what these penguins go through to reproduce.

I have been reading about Mei Xiang and her panda cub at the National Zoo, and I was fascinated to learn that a female panda will not eat or drink for almost a month after she gives birth because the cub cannot be left alone. Then I found out from M of the P that male penguins will not eat for 4 months while tending to the egg and then the chick - they lose up to half their body weight. And I thought, damn. Those pandas are freaking lazy bastards.

Anyway, it was a great movie, the penguins are completely amazing and adorable, and I highly recommend it. I'll tell you, there are some things in it that are tough to take and yes, being the nut job that I am, I may have teared up a few times.

One of the things that was particularly intriguing to me, though, was a human's desire to anthropomorphize other creatures. There are points in the movie where a human's overwhelming maternal or paternal instincts is placed onto these penguins. For instance, one penguin loses her chick to the elements and stands over him for a few moments, as if beseiged by the unbearable loss. She then tries to steal another mother's chick, unsuccessfully. It's almost human, the response, and the narration (perfectly done by Morgan Freeman) plays on that. Yet, later, the mother penguins stand by and do nothing when a large preying gull attacks the chicks. So, clearly, the human maternal instinct is not the same as that of the penguins. It kind of reminded me of Pi's father's admonition to him and his brother in Life of Pi, that these are wild animals and you must not think they feel the same as we do. Pi remembers this, even as he places human feelings onto Richard Parker (a Bengal tiger) while stuck in a life raft with him.

Anyhoo, I was reminded of this again when I listened to an interview with the director of Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog), a doc about grizzly bears and an amateur grizzly enthusiast, Timothy Treadwell. Treadwell was killed by the grizzlies he so loved in 2003, and from the previews, it's pretty clear that he a) was mentally unstable and b) thought these bears were his friends. If you want to hear the Herzog interview, it's here.

I also watched The Ghost and the Darkness, about the man-eating lions of Tsavo. I saw it a few years ago, it scared the bejesus out of me, and thought I'd watch it again. Anyway, if you're not familiar with the story, check this out, and I do recommend the movie - Michael Douglas at his campy best, and Val Kilmer does a shitty Irish accent.... but it's largely accurate and suspenseful.

So, there you have it. Lions, bears, and penguins. And for those of you who didn't know that ligers are real, well, they are.