Friday, April 29, 2005
There's a line in Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov that says all people, even the very wicked, are generally much more naive and simple-hearted than we assume. The article reminded me of that sentiment. Read it.
Have a great weekend.
My dear friends, P & E, had their baby girl yesterday (and let me commend little Rebecca on her excellent taste in birth months). I get along famously with P & E's dog, Dudley, and have doggysat for him in the past, so while the expectant parents were away, I looked after the Dudster. (And of course, there is also the slightly portly, although much svelter since her diet, kitty Snagglepuss).
As mentioned in a previous posting, it has been an emotional week. This was punctuated yesterday by the fact that P & E are the first of my friends to have a baby. As I drove to their house, the rain showers of the day cleared up and the sun started to peak through, creating the first rainbow I have seen in quite a long time. It was an auspicious event, and one I shall be sure to embarrass baby Rebecca with when she is a teenager. Needless to say, being me, I teared up.
Back at the ranch, after I made some dinner, moaned and groaned about the lack of The O.C., and became exasperated with the man from Crawford, I decided I should open up the futon in the guest room. I have never owned a futon before, and while I have slept on one, I have never had to open it up. I knew this would not go well.
Dudley was clearly concerned - he sleeps on the futon and he followed me into the guest room while I started moving it about, poking at the wood frame in an attempt to figure it out. He hopped around on the floor nervously, or worse, would cock his head to the side, looking troubled. Nothing seemed to work, and at this point, Snags had come into the room to see what all the cursing and fussing was about.
I gave up after 10 minutes. Who owns a futon? Who can help me? Anhabelle.
The phone conversation:
Megs: I feel silly about this, but I've never opened a futon before and I can't figure it out. I was trying to get it open, but I'm afraid I might break it or knock myself unconscious.
Anhabelle: No! Don't break it!
Megs: Well, what should I do?!?!
Anhabelle: You have to pull up and away on the back.
Yeah, so it turns out that this futon doesn't exactly open like that. After pulling with all my little might on the back of the futon, nothing happened. Granted, I'm somewhat of a weakling, but is it supposed to be this hard?
I decided to inspect the base. After a few good tugs, it started to give way, but rather than turn into a flat bed, it was more of a see-saw. Not what I had envisioned. I climbed onto this teeter-totter in the hopes that tossing my weight on the offending back would flatten it out. Au contraire. First, Dudley thought this looked like fun and decided to hop on and "help." After I shooed him off, I hopped on for a second try.
I'm sure you can see where this is going. As I tossed myself onto the back, the futon teetered with me and sent me, somersaulting, to the other side of the bed. I clearly have no future as a gymnast. As I lay crammed between the futon and the wall, Dudley, who had jumped back onto the see-saw futon, peeked over at me from the bed as if to say, "perhaps you should sleep on the couch."
"Screw that!" I declared. This futon will open! And it ultimately did, although if you ask me how I did it, I'm not sure I could tell you.
I fell asleep on the futon a few hours later thinking of Rebecca and her parents. Welcome to the world of clumsy surrogate aunts and caring little dogs. Welcome to the world, baby girl.
This episode promised to be pivotal. Would Kirsten cheat on Sandy? What stupid crap would Seth pull tonight? Would someone finally slap Marissa? Please? After fiddling with the cable for a minute, I finally got the TV on..... onto our esteemed president. On every channel. Nooooooo! I had forgotten about the press conference.
No O.C. last night, kids. Curses.
Because I am a glutton for political punishment (not sports punishment as I could only bring myself to watch snippets of Kevin Brown's outing for the Yanks last night) I actually watched.
For the nitpicky - why, oh why, does he insist on giving all the reporters stupid nicknames? Stretch? Ugh. I hate it. And I swear he said "diplomatical" which I'm pretty sure is a made up word, although today when I read over the transcript I could find no mention of it.
For the substance, the Prez was at his usual glib best. He remarked that he didn't see why teachers should fuss over "No Child Left Behind" because "If you teach a child to read and write, it shouldn't bother you whether you measure." Look, regardless of your feelings on "No Child Left Behind," there are occasionally arguments that could be made in favor or against such a thing. And saying something like that is so typical of him. It's like, "oh, you're in favor of stem cell research? Then you're a baby killer." "Oh, you're against 'No Child Left Behind'? Then I guess you don't care if kids can read and write." Ooookkkkaaaaayyyy. That's awesome logic, Mr. President.
And then when he said he views religion as a personal matter? Sure you do. Arrrgghgh! So clearly, rather than chilling out, I spent the evening lecturing the dog and cat on why our country is so screwed.
Also, I think the casting is inspired. Martin Freeman, whom you may remember as Tim from the original The Office series, plays every man Arthur Dent. And Alan Rickman as the voice of chronically depressed robot Marvin? Perfect!
I hope to see it this weekend, in which case you can expect a full report next week.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Anyway, the driving range was out by the time I woke up. So I hopped in my Honda and headed off to B-ville.
Liana promised apartment building gossip - I lived there for three years with her, surrounded by a cast of colorful neighbors. There's the racist old lady on the third floor, the long-suffering Diaz family with their two screaming children, our Gotti-esqe next-door neighbor who perpetually hit on Liana, all the while mistaking her sisters for her. Then there's Mrs. H and her little yappy dog. When we first moved in, our downstairs neighbor Brooke would obsessively play Alicia Keyes' "Fallin'" until the floor of our apartment would vibrate. Brooke was evicted for non-payment of rent and best we could tell it was because most of her money went to coke.
And then there's White Trash. WT is a downstairs family of four - they are heavy smokers, dad has a serious mullet, and for about three months, their beat up old pick-up truck sat in the parking lot with a flat tire. Dad also has a penchant for attempting to fix the family cars with a hammer while listening to 80's hair metal. Good times. My personal favorite - dad's brother, a registered sex offender, moved in with them for a while and would leer at the women of the building. There's also the typical spat of domestic violence, which heart-breakingly would send the two children running out of the building. The kids were tremendously polite and sweet and whether their behavior had anything to do with their parents or not, they are proof that sometimes children turn out well, despite their upbringing.
In any event, Liana's gossip was that WT was moving out. I was shocked - according to our ridiculous little landlord from Italy, Vito, WT had lived in the building for about 10 years. I had never really expected them to move. But there they were, packing everything up in a U-Haul when I arrived last night.
The fluctuation of the building is odd for me. It is impossible to live in a building of 14 apartments and not come to know quite a bit about your neighbors, particularly when the walls and floors are so thin. The contrast with my current apartment, where I know none of my neighbors and can't hear anything, has been both a relief and a disappointment. I think part of my attachment and dislike for B-ville stemmed from the relationships I formed in that building and its surrounding neighborhood. And a big part of the detachment I feel towards Morris Plains involves where I live.
I hope next time, I can find a happy medium between the dysfunctional B-ville and the sterile Mo Plains apartments.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
So, it was off to the city, where we checked into our hotel for the night - the Grand Hyatt, attached to Grand Central Station. We had gotten the room through priceline. The room was very nice, and in fact the entire hotel was pleasant, with a few caveats. As Kate pointed out, it's no Rihga Royale and that's the truth. And not surprisingly, the hotel was very crowded with lots of tourists. But for what it's worth, it was perfectly fine for us. We went off to Babbo, having thoroughly trashed our room in a matter of minutes with clothes and makeup spread everywhere.
Following Babbo, we walked out towards 7th Avenue. Given the nature of my shoes - contrary to popular belief, 4-inch stillettos are not made for walking - I was not in the mood for a stroll through the Village. I had made tentative plans to meet up with Philly and his lady friend at a bar on Avenue A called Hi-Fi. Phil was busy in the outer burroughs, celebrating the trek across the Red Sea and making sure that Elijah had plenty of wine in his glass. Annnnyway, Kate and I hopped a cab and headed to Hi-Fi. It was a bit after 9 and the bar was shockingly crowded. Kate and I typically choose to sit at the bar and occasionally talk to the bartender. But there was no room. We managed to find a couple of seats elsewhere.
When we first arrived at Hi-Fi, there was a nice grouping of Villagers - plenty of punk kids, who beat a fast path to the door when we walked in. But as the night progressed, Kate pointed out that the crowd had decidedly turned Bridge & Tunnel (an expression I typically bristle at, but it was appropriate for this crew). The women, most of whom were in their late twenties and early thirties, were dressing like the sorostitutes of my college days. And there were an awful lot of striped shirts in the joint.
The best thing about Hi-Fi is that they have an mp3 jukebox with over 2,100 albums on it. It was incredibly impressive. Of course, the downside of this is that you may never get to hear your songs on a crowded night because everyone is taking advantage of the selection. We spent about two hours there, and neither of us heard our picks. Oh well.
The greatest sin, though, occurred when the overzealous bar staff whisked away my beer which was still about a quarter full. "Hey!" I yelled after the barkeep. But it was too late. Gosh, don't they know better than to touch a Mc's drink before she's finished?
Kate and I gave up on Hi-Fi and went across the street to Orologio, a small Italian restaurant. There was a petite bar with about five seats and given that it was now after 11, the restaurant was relatively quiet which suited us after the din of Hi-Fi. By this point, we were ready for some more dessert, so we settled on the tiramisu. This was Kate's favorite spot of the night.
We met up with Phil and his lady friend at Bar Veloce in Chelsea - it's a wine bar with some other interesting liquor on the menu. Kate and I both had clementine-flavored grappa in keeping with our Italian night. It was truly delicious. I really enjoyed this joint - they were playing Miles Davis (Birth of the Cool, FYI), there were plenty of places to sit and it wasn't too crowded. The quirky bartender was wearing a suit and tie. All in all, thumbs up.
After thoroughly embarrassing ourselves in front of my sober friends, Kate and I headed back uptown. Although, to be honest, Kate and I don't act much differently together when sober as when drunk. We are ridiculous together on a pretty regular basis.
The next day was filled with Dunkie's coffee and egg & cheese sandwiches, as well as the typical sad Megs when Kate headed back to DC.
So, last night following a long day of work, Philly and I hit Collins for steak sandwiches and some baseball. Have I mentioned how good their steak sandwiches are? I mean, I ordered it rare and it came rare! Unheard of! And the fries were so crispy! And they gave Phil Boar's Head Deli Mustard! What more could we ask for? Well, we could ask for a win from the Yanks and Mets. Only one of us got our wish.
By now, if you are a Yankees fan, you probably know that A-Rod had a 10 R.B.I. night, mostly due to 3 home runs. It was so beautiful. FYI, it ain't the first time that A-Rod had a three homer night - he's done it twice before. Yanks won 12-4. Pavano has looked better, but I'll take it. He's certainly panning out better than freakin' Jaret Wright.
What makes most of this amusing for me is Philly's reaction. Phil does not like A-Rod. Hates might be the right word, actually. Phil cackles with glee when he sees A-Rod make an error, so clearly, this was not a happy evening for my Mets friend. Moments before A-Rod's second homer of night, the following conversation ensued:
Phil: Look at him with those stupid white batting gloves. He's so cocky.
Phil: Look at his gloves!
Megan: Yeah, they're white. Guess I never noticed before. I don't really see how that proves that he's cocky.
Phil: No one else has gloves like that. Name one player with gloves that white.
Megan: I don't notice stuff like that. I can't think of anyone off the top of my head.
Phil: Because there's no one! Ugh, I hate him, the arrogance!
Megan: You're making him mad. Now he's going to get a hit.
A-Rod hits a two-run homer.
Megan: I told you. He did that because you were making fun of him.
As for the Mets, they trailed 4-1 for the better part of the game. The Mets always like to keep it interesting though, and they did that last night by scoring two runs with two outs in the bottom of the 9th. But they didn't manage to tie it up, and so Pedro gets a loss. By the by, Smoltz is one unattractive dude. I'm just sayin'.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Being an avid reader of Zagat's, I am aware that Babbo is consistently rated as one of the finest restaurants in New York. And as there are few people in my life who are as expert in Italian food as Kate, I thought she would be the perfect companion for my foodie sojourn.
Our tale begins one month prior when I forgot to call at 10am on the dot to make reservations. As 11am rolled around, I realized my error and called the reservation hotline. After about ten minutes on hold, I made it through, but the only times left for April 23rd were 5:30, 5:45, 10:30, and 11. I took the 5:45pm.
Kate and I arrived early, with the intention of having a glass of wine at the bar. However, the restaurant, which opens at 5pm for dinner was already crammed with people in the bar area. We elbowed our way to the maitre d's stand and were checked off. As it turned out, the actual restaurant itself was nearly empty, but every bar seat was taken, with people munching away. There were also approximately five tables near the bar. These tables are not reserved and are available on a first-come, first-served basis, hence the early crowd.
The maitre d seated us in the downstairs dining area. We were truly seated in a perfect location. First, the main serving table was right next to us, so we could eye everyone else's food. Second, we had an excellent vantage to people watch - Kate and I are enormous fans of critiquing other people's clothing. Some would call us "catty bitches," which is probably a fair assessment. And right behind me was an enormous arrangement of cherry blossoms - one of my all-time favorites. Oh yes, and the lighting. Everyone looks pretty in that lighting.
Now, on to the important stuff. The wine list for Babbo is completely ridiculous - I know nothing about Italian wine, but if you're a fan, you've come to the right place. But luckily, our sommelier had a suggestion after we explained what type of red wine we were looking for and how much we wanted to spend. Big ups to Babbo's sommelier (who was also wearing a fantastic shirt and tie combination).
Next came our waiter. Kate and I were overwhelmed by the choices on the regular menu, so the waiter recommended that we go with the pasta tasting menu. It is, as he put it, what the restaurant is known for.
First up: Black tagliatelle with fresh peas and parmigiano. It came with a fantastic creamy green sauce. According to the restaurant's website:
"We import pasta, Parmigiano Reggiano, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and Prosciutto San Daniele because they are so distinct and virtually indispensable to the creation of a great Italian meal. We fervently believe in the inherent quality, freshness and greatness of our regions ingredients purchased from local, predominantly organic, farmers and friends, many of them from forgotten or heirloom varietals. "
The pasta itself was incredible. I simply can't compare it to anything I've ever had before. And the parmigiano - I wish they had just dropped the entire brick on the table, because I could have eaten the whole thing on some of the Italian bread that they brought us.
Next course was the half-moon raviolis stuffed with fresh herbs and ricotta and served with a buttery scallion sauce. Excellent and the filling had a very sharp taste.
This was followed by Kate's favorite of the night - garganelli with funghi trifolati and a light oil and garlic sauce. The mushrooms were unbelievably fresh. Next up - Marco's pyramids, which are a cross between ravioli and tortolloni. They were filled with stewed beef shoulder and served with a fresh tomato sauce.
By this point, I was so stuffed that when they brought out the pappardelle bolognese, I thought I might explode. And that would be my one complaint about Babbo's - the meal was too rushed. More on that in a moment. I thought that the pappardelle was excellent, and the bolognese was fine. But it seemed to me that they used turkey meat, which seems a little odd. Kate found the bolognese sauce disappointing, especially when followed by the tagliatelle and the garganelli.
The cheese course was fresh mozarella with blood orange (lovely). And for dessert, they brought us a saffron panna cotta with mango sorbet and a warm pineapple crostata with buttered rum gelato. The pineapple and rum gelato were the standout on that count.
We wrapped things up with some grappa and a cappuccino, naturally.
The good - the food, of course. It was, for the most part, simply fantastic. The service was adequate, although we both wished that our waiter had been better about telling us what ingredients were in each course (he did occasionally pop up for that purpose, but not with any consistency).
The only real disappointment for me was how quickly the food came out. It felt as if we did not have enough time to process what we had just eaten before the next course had arrived. In a way, it felt as if we were being rushed along for the next reservation, although when we took our time eating dessert and drinking our cappuccinos, we did not feel rushed. Anyway, the quickness of the food meant that by the time the pappardelle rolled around, I was not enjoying the food as much because I had filled up so quickly. This was particularly noticeable to Kate and I, as we enjoyed an excellent tasting menu at 1789 in Georgetown, where the pace of the food was absolutely perfect.
Still, on the whole, it was an excellent meal and I would certainly recommend it to fans of perfectly executed Italian food. Just make sure that you call one month in advance for a reservation!
In other news, WNYC (the local NPR affiliate) had a fascinating piece this morning about Williamsburg's waterfront development. Bless their little hearts, they provide a transcript of the report, so you can read it here. Despite a really good Morning Edition AND Marketplace Morning Report (seriously, I just don't know what I'd do without Kai Ryssdal), I somehow managed to miss Renee Montagne's interview with Bruce Springsteen! The horror! If you're able, you can listen to it here.
I know I owe y'all a review of Babbo, and that will be forthcoming today, I promise!
Monday, April 25, 2005
Deadwood. The first half of the episode was definitely the weakest of the season. Clearly, plenty is being set-up for the last few episodes. And after the thirty minute mark, the tension really picked up.
Al is now fully recovered, although his relationship with that severed head makes me question somewhat his sanity - especially when he opened the box so the head could watch the bicycle. I'm so thankful they didn't show the head to the audience.
I am very curious about the events with Al and Miss Isringhausen. Al isn't above screwing Alma over, although I suspect he would want to leave her alone considering that it would serve the camp to keep Bullock happy, and despite his shortcomings, I think Bullock would be mighty pissed if a pregnant Alma got hauled off to New York by the Pinkertons. Plus, Al's hatred of the Pinkertons leads me to believe that he has something up his sleeve. I can't wait to see what it is and I will inevitably spend the rest of the week trying to figure it out.
It was such a treat to watch Martha Bullock realize that she and Alma are just alike - both widowed at a young age with a child - and that this is what drew Bullock to Alma (and Martha) in the first place. Also, young William is completely adorable. What a cute little kid.
Other standout moments for me - Ellsworth discussing his options regarding Alma with his dog, and his subsequent sweet proposal of marriage; Joanie coming around and realizing that she would rather smack Wolcott upside the head with a bourbon bottle than die; Doc Cochran's rage at the treatment of the Chinese whores (by the by, I so hope Cy Tolliver gets his long overdue comeuppance).
And of course, Charlie's graveside conversation with Bill. Visits to graves are typically an irritating opportunity to make the viewers get weepy. But not in Deadwood. I'll admit I cried at that scene, but it wasn't manipulative. Just one friend telling another about what's going on. This show rules.
Friday, April 22, 2005
I turned a year older this week. Several things happen when I contemplate age. First, I always wonder what Megan 10 years ago would think of Megan now. Would she be pleased? Disappointed? And I inevitably make some resolutions about my life. I'm not so into the New Year's resolutions thing - I'm much more interested in the "another year older" resolutions.
For the first time in many years, I felt that Megan 10 years ago would be pleased with me. She would especially love my new KangaRoos sneakers. But I also came to the realization that the older I get, the less I care about what people think of me. I want to be a good friend and daughter and sister and aunt, but other than how I treat those people, I am less concerned about seeming silly or ridiculous to the outside world.
In one of my favorite movies, Lost in Translation, Bill Murray's character advises the young Scarlett Jo, "The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you. " I'm not quite there yet, but I find myself more firmly in that frame of mind than ever before, and so, I find getting older to be lovely.
As for my resolutions. I visited my sister yesterday and while she picked up our dinner, I kept an eye on my nephew. He was the usual whirling dirvish, despite an earlier tantrum. But it is nearly impossible to take your eyes off him when he's running around outside. I was suddenly filled with such love and sympathy for my sister. Being very pregnant and chasing a three-year-old.... these are not easy things. And I am too judgmental and hard on her. I hold her, and myself, to an impossible standard. So, I will lighten up on her.
And as for me. A wise man told me that this period of transition in my life would go easier if I treated myself with more self-acceptance. He's right. So, I resolve to hate myself less.
Also, I'm going to eat more vegetables and improve my golf game.
Happy Passover, y'all. Don't forget to leave the door open for Elijah.
I'm eating here this weekend in celebration of my birthday. Full report, along with a Deadwood review, on Monday.
10.) Monster-in-Law (May 13)
Jane Fonda's first movie in 15 years. Plus, Michael Vartan is in it. Oh, yeah, and that Jennifer Lopez girl.
9.) Wedding Crashers (July 15)
My jerky boyfriend, Vince Vaughn, is in this one. I'm sure you've noticed that I have an awful lot of boyfriends. What can I say? I'm popular.
8.) Cinderella Man (June 3)
I'm not as excited about this one, because really, how many Ron Howard directed, Russel Crowe starring biopics do we need?
7.) The Dukes of Hazzard (August 5)
I was not a Dukes fan as a child, but Johnny Knoxville is in this, so out of Jackass solidarity, I may have to see it.
6.) Mr. & Mrs. Smith (June 10)
Brad and Angelina. Enough said.
5.) War of the Worlds (June 29)
Does anyone else find it amusing that Tom Cruise is a scientologist and he's starring in a movie about aliens taking over the earth? No? Whatever, I think it's funny.
4.) Batman Begins (June 17)
My pops and I had an argument about this movie. He didn't understand why they were bothering to make another Batman. But I'll admit I'm intrigued and I think Christian Bale is going to kick ass.
3.) Hustle and Flow (July 15)
I'm really looking foward to this Sundance audience prize winner. The NPR reviewer loved it.
2.) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (July 15)
I'll admit, I'm a little nervous because the original is so fantastic. But, I feel pretty good about Johnny Depp and I love Tim Burton, so I'll definitely check it out.
1.) Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (May 19)
You guys, I totally know I am setting myself up for major disappointment. But I still geek out when I see the previews. Sigh.
I've been happy to see The O.C. getting back to its beach fighting roots in the last couple of months. I mean, really, I'm not watching this show for some sort of great realization into what it's like to be a teenager. I want it to be ridiculous and over-the-top. And I want the long-suffering Ryan Atwood to punch people. It makes me happy. Sure, there's no way they'll ever top the fight at the Cotillion in the first season, but as long as the fists are still flying, I'm pleased.
And Project Greenlight. Poor John Gulager. The scene where he throws up his hands and tells his Director of Photography and his A.D. to just do what they want was really sad. That being said, his A.D.'s Scottish accent is so great that it makes it hard for me to dislike him. I'm pathetic, I know. And while I thought the producers made the right decision in axing Harri the script supervisor, I'll admit that I teared up when she and John had their heart-to-heart. John is such a loyal guy and Harri clearly wants him to succeed. It was touching. As always, Clu Gulager was the standout. My favorite part - when he yelled at the A.D.: "What the f--- is the matter with you? Stop interrupting the director when he's talking to the actors!" Couldn't have said it better myself, but it sounds cooler coming from a 77-year-old. Marcus Dunstan - one of the screenwriters, had this to say about Clu:
"Clu Gulager reaches his boiling point, and he has a way of educating with his anger. He is such a professional that he simply doesn't know how to do a bad job, and when circumstances started swirling, compromising the craft he holds so dear, he sounded off in defense of all actors on the set. It was like a thunderclap that brings calm, not a storm. I believe he used his temper wisely to create windows of creativity for his director. "
Marcus also makes a great point that the film wouldn't be behind schedule if the people who are there to help John Gulager would actually do their jobs instead of contantly undermining him.
Oh, and acording to Chris Moore's blog entry today, the ratings of the show are not good. It's a shame - it really is a fascinating show. Only 4 episodes left, people!
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Lucky for you, that means an admonition to watch Project Greenlight tonight at 10pm on Bravo. Why? Because I'm going to post about it tomorrow, and you'll want to be able to follow along.
And now, more entertainment gossip.
First off, DaVinci Code movie casting. Ron Howard is directing. Tom Hanks (Liana's boyfriend) is Robert Langdon. I'm not really crazy about that. Langdon should be pretty smokin' and Tom's been lookin' a little puffy in his dotage. Audrey Tatou of Amelie fame is cast as Sophie (was anyone else totally in love with all the hats she wore in A Very Long Engagement?). That works for me. Jean Reno (awesome in The Professional) will play the cranky French inspector. And recently cast - Alfred Molina and Sir Ian McKellan - not sure which roles they'll be playing. Maybe Sir Ian will be Langdon's crazy Mary Magdellen-obsessed friend? And speaking of Mary Mag - did you know that the word "maudlin" is derived from her name? I wonder if they will cast a real albino to play the role of Silas. Hmmmmm.
In others movie news, my man Bill Murray is starring in Broken Flowers which will premier at Cannes. Looks intriguing.
Finally, in the gossip department, rumor has it that Keanu Reeves and Diane Keaton are a couple. Those two both seem a little crazy, so I guess it works. And does it make anyone else feel old to realize that Keanu is 40?
I will be participating with fellow suckers, Lynn and Melanie, along with two of my Mah Jong partners, Anhabelle and Gena, in the Revlon Run/Walk for the Cure on April 30th. Proceeds go towards finding a cure for women's cancers. If you can, please donate. Or join us!
Yankees won last night. I'm just happy that Pavano held the Jays to 2 runs. Quelle relief that a starting pitcher is actually doing his job. I'm not going to get too excited - it's only his first win with the Yanks. Philly asked me if I think Pavano is cute. Given the dearth of attractive ball players, I'd say he's one of the better looking ones. You be the judge.
Fellow Napolean Dynamite fans might consider this the best news of the day. Jared and Jerusha Hess, the writers/director of the film are being commended by th Idaho Legislature. Yessssss.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
If you work with me, or are a fellow gossip hound, you've probably heard about the pictures from the Cox-Arquette christening. Kate and I have seen the pics, and we both agree that Courtney and Jen Aniston look lovely. So it's back to Britney if we want to believe that stars really don't look attractive in real life.
Speaking of Brit, I watched Veronica Mars last night (which is actually quite well-written and entertaining) and I saw some commercials for Britney & Kevin. It looks.... well, judge for yourself. I suspect that it'll be no 'Til Death Do Us Part, which I actually kind of loved. Dave Navarro is a real pip.
My beloved Entertainment Weekly had a feature this week called "The New Age of Greed." It's really quite interesting, and I recommend it.
Basically, the feature is about the ridiculous perks that celebrities require to star in movies and television, and how that drives up the cost of production. The cost trickles down and means lower salaries for film editors and directors of photography, AND it's probably responsible for as much as a $1 boost in the cost of theater tickets in the last few years, because the industry standard is that it costs 5% of a films final costs to pay for the perks that stars demand.
The article also contains a lot of "guess who" moments, which I always love. For instance:
- "There's the actress who demanded Harry Winston jewelry to help her get into the role of a wealthy woman (because, you know, it was a stretch), then hid in her trailer when she was asked to give it back. "
- "One action star, for example, requires a basketball court wherever he's shooting, even if it means spending $35,000 to build one. "
- "There is the famous movie couple who demanded a separate private jet from Los Angeles to Europe just for their luggage, at a cost of $40,000. "
Apparently, celebs can require in their contracts that the studios pay for their nannies, personal assistants, personal chefs, etc. while they are filming. And for the record, personal assistants to the big names make $10,000 a week. A WEEK! I am so in the wrong line of work! I'd be more than happy to fetch Cameron Diaz's frappucinos for that kind of dough. Personal shoppers can get $7,000 A DAY! Sigh.
I'm not going to talk about the Yankees today. Suffice it to say, they continue to break my heart.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
This Times op-ed really hits the nail on the head regarding judicial "activism."
I'm pretty sure I am the only person I know who is interested in Mexican history and politics, but in the unlikely event you share my predilection, here's another op-ed.
And lastly, my man E.J. Dionne has a very apropos column today about Cardinal Ratzinger.
Prior to that first trip, I usually brush up on my fundamentals with Ben Hogan's excellent Five Lessons. Mr. Hogan had as close to a perfect stroke as you can get, so it's only appropriate that I rely on his wisdom. But alas, I could not find my copy. I'm more than a little concerned - I know as soon as I go out and buy a new copy, the old one will appear.
I opted to just take my 4 and 6 irons with me. I prefer to take my first trip of the season by myself because I am so very out-of-shape and I whiff several swings. Still, it felt great to be out there. A trip to the range can be as cathartic for me as a yoga class - for 30-45 minutes, I am soley focused on making that ball fly.
Here is my primary problem - the ball doesn't fly for me as much as it should. I am very capable of keeping it straight, and rarely hook or slice. As Elvis Costello would say, my aim is true. But the ball doesn't fly on a consistent basis.
So, I went home and broke out my Golf for Dummies book. But all McCord could tell me was "to hit down" on the ball. Ummm, duh, I'm trying! Clearly I need more mechanical help than that. Being new to the game, I really want to fix whatever swing problems I'm having before I'm too set in my ways.
Anyway, clearly I am no Babe Zaharias, but golf offers one of those rare adult opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, take out some frustration, gain some new frustration, and let the world and all its attendant problems fall away. And hopefully, catch some air.
Monday, April 18, 2005
"You couldn't quote what I'd have to say about him"
--Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana
How about some politics for this lovely Monday?
The Washinton Post had a profile yesterday on Republican Senator Rick Santorum from Pennsylvania. The quote above is what Landrieu said when the Post asked her opinion of Ricky. For those of you who are less obsessed with this stuff, Santorum is the charmer who compared homosexuality to incest, and tried to bring a five-year-old girl into the visitor's gallery during the later-term abortion debates. When Senator Boxer objected to that, he acquiesced, but whined, "we have coarsened the comity of this place." Riiiigggghhhht. Cause bringing a five-year-old in for that type of debate wouldn't coarsen the comity at all.
Something I did not know about Santorum, which I learned from the profile, was that his 4th child, Gabriel Michael, was born very premature - at only 20 weeks. He died two weeks after he was born. While I have a lot of sympathy for anyone who loses a child at any point in life, it is clear that Santorum comes from a uniquely conservative religious perspective, and he views his son's brief life and death as signs from God about his role in politics. He is entitled to that perspective, and it does not bother me that this perspective colors his view of things. I find Santorum slightly less offensive than others because I really think he believes the stuff he is spouting, as opposed to Rick Reed, profiled in today's Times, who appears to be a shyster.
That being said, it is perennially irritating to me that conservatives use Christianity to further their agenda. As anyone who has read Anne Lamott's excellent Traveling Mercies knows, Christianity and liberalism are not mutually exclusive. Regardless, it is hard for me to sympathize with Santorum when he decries homosexuality and abortion, and thinks it's only right to use medical advances to keep Terry Schiavo "alive" but god forbid some scientists think they might be able to cure diabetes and MS with stem cell research.
Compassion, supposedly a key tenet of every major faith, is defined as "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it" by Merriam-Webster. There is nothing compassionate about the conservative agenda that Santorum and his good buddy, our President, advance. As Ron Reagan, Jr., put it in his concise and moving speech about stem cell research at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, "But many are well-meaning and sincere. Their belief is just that, an article of faith, and they are entitled to it. But it does not follow that the theology of a few should be allowed to forestall the health and well-being of the many."
Senator Santorum's serious observation of Catholicism does not prevent him from being pro-death penalty, though. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Conservatives love to quote Leviticus when railing against homosexuality, but conveniently ignore other parts of the bible that they do not care for. My personal favorite? When St. Paul was encouraging the Corinthian church to give generously of their food and money to others:
Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little."
2 Corinthians 8:13-15
So, highlights for last night's epi. Hands down - Al Swearengen, thankfully on the mend from his health problems, calling on Alma Garret. Hard to believe that despite all the connections between these two (he ordered Dan to kill her husband, his road agents killed little Sophia's parents, and everything with Bullock) they have never met. Her quick tongue and obvious disdain for him seemed to amuse him and it was a pleasure to watch the two of them discuss her options for Miss Isringhausen and the Pinkertons. Loved it when Swearengen told Alma, "Tell the little one, no hard feelings."
Another high point for me - Trixie returning to the hardware store, swallowing her pride and apologizing to Bullock. Bear with me, I will try to repeat what she said. She suggests that Bullock lighten up a little, "what with Moses already doing most of the heavy lifting by bringing those stone tablets down from the Mount." Thank goodness someone told Bullock his "world on my shoulders" attitude is wearing thin.
Lastly, Charlie Utter, who is one of the truest friends Bill Hickock, Calamity Jane or Joanie Stubbs could ever have, kicking Wolcott's ass. Too bad Bullock pulled him off, although I suppose that there will be more excitement with Wolcott to come.
But a lot of this episode, besides forwarding the plot issues involving Hearst and Swearengen's scheming, involved two very different versions of friendship. Charlie lends Joanie a shoulder, beats the snot out of the cowardly and murderous Wolcott, protects Joanie's secret, retrieves Hickock's last letter, and sends Jane off to bed following her latest bender. All of this out of his sense of loyalty and decency. Juxtaposed with Al, who both smacks Merrick and gives him a pep talk about rebuilding the paper, looks out for Alma, while it also advances his own intentions, and pushes Trixie out of the nest again, even while it also serves his purpose. In the end, intentions are less important than actions.
Can't wait to see how Swearengen is going to handle the Pinkerton Miss Isringhausen next week. And it looks like Alma is in for a tough day, with a visit from the Pinkerton and Martha Bullock. Gulp. Also can't wait to see if Wolcott will really kill Joanie. I personally think that she hopes that he does.
Sports blog Can't Stop the Bleeding put it best - how can George really be surprised? Read it.
Friday, April 15, 2005
This is my love letter to New Jersey.
A year ago, the Times' New Jersey section (which I usually hate because it's entirely written by cranky former New Yorkers who are pissed that they now live in the 'burbs) wrote a shockingly insightful article called "Proudly Answering to 'Jersey Girl.'" The Times charges for its archives, so I won't bother linking. But here's a very true line about a Jersey Girl from the article:
"Nicole McKenna, said the true litmus test for a Jersey girl was this: 'You always say you can't wait to get the hell out of this place. But you A) never leave, or B) leave and then want to come back.'"
Living in New Jersey all these years, I have typically been surrounded by people who also love the Garden State. On the occasions that I have had friends who have left, they typically miss the Jers tremendously. Even transplants I know have grown to love it, usually. Jersey is like this fabulous crazy aunt, who wears bloomers and farts in public. You make fun of her and she irritates you, but god forbid someone outside the family talks trash about her.
Lauren moved to Kansas four years ago, and aside from calling the first month and complaining about how terrible the bagels were out there, she acclimated. But from time to time, she would have a frustrating run-in about her home state. Professors and other students would express shock that she was from NJ, because she "seemed so nice." And the usual jokes about how polluted and "gross" it was came up.
Likewise, last night when there was a conversation about where you would want to go if you had to leave Manhattan temporarily, lame-ass Westchester won out over the Jers (which came in just ahead of Long Island). I might have been okay if they said Rockland County, but White Plains? Come on. Kids, there's a reason I live here. And those reasons are below.
- The only true diners in the world. My personal fave is the Tick-Tock.
- Malls. Goddamnit, MALLS.
- Crickets at night.
- Lightning bugs.
- Some of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen.
- Miles and miles and miles of beach - from the tacky (Seaside, anyone?) to the tasteful (Bayhead).
- And speaking of the shore, how about some skeeball and waffle ice cream?
- Bruce. 'Nuff said.
- Atlantic City - it's Sin City East.
- The cheapest, diviest Irish bars around. Contrasted with some of the classiest Irish joints around.
- The best Italian food. Hands down.
- Little breakfast nooks like the Bagel Dish Cafe in Highland Park, which do not have a line around the block (cough cough, Friend of a Farmer).
- Driving ranges all over the place that charge $5 for a bucket.
- The Big M (aka, Meadowlands Racetrack to those of you not betting the trifecta).
- Montclair and its dining options (Thai, Vietnamese, Pan-Asian, Sushi, Indian, Italian, French, Barbeque, Ethiopian, Chinese, Mexican, and a real live dinner club with ginormous steaks).
- New Brunswick, NJ.
The list is not exhaustive - I know I'm leaving off a ton of stuff that I love about my home state. But it's spring, which is a beautiful time around here. And now that I'm a crazy aunt, I wouldn't want my own favorite crazy aunt to think I didn't love her.
No posts for me this weekend, so have a good one. I'll be back on Monday with a review of Deadwood.
--Abraham Lincoln, 1862
Fellow NPR addict Lynn reminded me about a very interesting bit of information from Morning Edition.
Today is the 140th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's assassination. NPR played audio from an interview in 1947 with a 101-year-old Civil War veteran regarding how he learned about the assassination. Really interesting. Listen to it here.
I visited the Lincoln memorial, as I try to every few years, last August. It is sad to consider that a man like Lincoln would, in all likelihood, not be elected today.
"Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser - in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough."
As I have gotten older, I don't run into too many "hippies." I do occasionally run into hipsters. And they annoy me. A hipster is, according to Robert Lanham, author of the Hipster Handbook, "One who possesses tastes, social attitudes, and opinions deemed cool by the cool." Of course, living in the Garden State, I only run into hipsters when I'm in New York (hipsters don't like the Jers and avoid crossing out of NYC at all costs) and even then, it's usually just in passing or if I'm eating below 20th Street.
So, it is with this in mind that I went to the ultra hip Tribeca Grand Hotel last night with Philly, Philly's lady friend, and his college buddy, Rajeev. The description of the Grand's Church Lounge says that their nightly DJ lineup performs "for a hip downtown crowd." And man, they were not kidding.
Our particular purpose in bailing early on poker and heading to the Grand was Annie. Annie (and her band The Anniemals) is Norwegian and is popular in Europe, I suppose. I don't know. I'm kind of a music moron. But Philly pitched her as the next Kylie Minogue and thought it would be fun to see her show before she gets big in the States. Plus, it was free. Philly let me listen to the album (unreleased in the States for the time being) and it was fun and poppy, so I was in. The downside? She wasn't going on till midnight and I'ma gettin' a little old for 2am bed time on a school night.
The Grand itself is a beautiful building. It opened in 2000 and it has an enormous, triangular atrium with great lighting that makes everyone look pretty. The Church Lounge, which is in the atrium, has a long bar and a back room with a stage where Annie was going to play. If it had been slightly less crowded, I might have more to say about the seating arrangements in the bar itself, but it looks like they've got some nice chairs and what not.
The problem is that I apparently stumbled into hipster heaven. Every negative stereotype I have of these kids was right before me. Lanham jokes that hipsters should not have more than 2% body fat and I must say, I think I weighed more than almost every guy and girl in the joint. Just like Betakate once felt threatened in the gay coffee shop we were in because she swore the other patrons were looking askance at her cheap shoes, I felt certain that these kids knew I had "Bridge and Tunnel" written all over me. And it made me want to punch them.
It was actually fascinating to see so many caricatures in one place. Perhaps I have such animosity towards the hipster crowd because they remind me of the punk kids in college. I was perpetually getting crushes on punk rock boys in college, who never returned the ardor. Or maybe hipsters just suck.
As for the show, the room was very crowded and hot. And there were an awful lot of Pushy McGees there. Here's what Philly's lady, Emily, had to say about the actual performance - she knows a lot more about music than yours truly.
It was an inauspicious start to the evening - I was just not getting the cards and I decided to play it tight. The last time I weaseled my way in to poker with these guys, I finished the evening $2 down because I made some stupid bets on questionable hands. Well, that and Philly had had one of the most amazing poker runs I've ever witnessed - pocket aces, pocket kings and pocket queens twice! Meanwhile, I got pocket 7's once in all my days of playing poker. And it was on a practice hand. Stupid poker.
The cards eventually turned around for me and I won my first big hand with a King/Jack suited. Winning is so sweet. I went on to finish the night $8 up. Yay me! Sure, I'll never be Annie Duke, but a girl can dream.
The wacky part of poker with these guys is that every once in awhile, the dealer will bust out a round of Omaha. I curse Omaha - it is the screwiest game and it's very hard to tell what other people have because of the 4 down cards. Anyway, I would have won twice on Omaha (full house once, and a flush on the other) but because I was playing so conservative, I had folded. Now that I've hit my stride, I'll try to take a few more risks next time.
Can you tell that I'm totally stoked for the 2005 World Series of Poker?
A little after 9, Philly's lady friend came over the fetch us for a show at the Tribeca Grand Hotel. More on that later - I have a lot to say about that place.
Meanwhile, for those of you who went to the Halls of Justice with me, today is Marcus's birthday. FYI.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
I don't feel bad talking trash about celebrities - they are way richer than I could ever hope to be and frankly, if Britney Spears knew what I said about her, I don't think she'd care. And if she did, she could buy my condominium complex and boot me out, so clearly she's got the last laugh. And as fellow law slave Melanie pointed out, mocking celebrities makes us plebians feel better about our lot in life.
That being said, I am mildly alarmed by my fascination with the election of a successor to the papacy. It might be partially because I read Angels & Demons last year and I'm hoping for a little cloak and dagger conclave action with Robert Langdon bursting in to save the day. But really, it's just that a horse race is exciting. According to this, the German cardinal Ratzinger may get 40 to 50 votes. Ratzinger, whose nickname is "God's Rottweiler," is running into opposition from the former Archbishop of Milan. But then this morning, NPR was talking about how it may be really vital for the Church to pick a Latin American pope. Jeez, Megs! This ain't the Kentucky Derby (which, by the way, is coming up in about three weeks, so break out your seersucker and your giant hats - I'll bring the mint juleps). Perhaps I ought to go back to plain old celebrity gossip - aside from handicapping the papacy, MSNBC is keepin' it real by trying to figure out who the next celebrity pregnancy will be. Sigh. I am a part of the cycle, even as I ridicule it.
For those of you unfamiliar with the conclave process, I recommend reading about it - there's lots of Latin and it's very interesting.
For those of you who can't listen, Kennedy very politely wiped the floor with his detractors and Thomas actually made an interesting analogy between judges and sports referees. Don't bother looking for an article about this in the Times or the Washington Post - the "regular" media didn't bother covering it. AP does have a short piece about it here.
And Tom DeLay still loves being a total douche, apparently. He said during a press conference yesterday that "We set the jurisdiction of the courts. We set up the courts. We can unset the courts." Sounds like an abusive father telling his kid, "I brought you into this world and I can take you out!" Jerk. He also whined about the Democrats, the liberal media, and refused to answer questions about his legal woes, natch. Read about it in that bastion of liberal media, The Times.
And now for the truly shocking news from the High Court. This is courtesy of Philly, who has a friend at NYU School o' Law and Broken Dreams. Apparently Justice Scalia went to guest lecture at a constitutional class and during question and answer time, he was confronted by a grumpy student. The student actually asked Scalia if he had ever sodomized his wife.... and his wife was in the audience. Zing! Read about it here.
The reason for this trip was so that we could both watch our respective ball teams (Yanks for me, Mets for him). This was especially important for Philly, as the Mets are usually only shown on FoxSports NY, which isn't on cable out here. I think. Anyway, as for the bar itself. For watching a game, it was good. There were a lot of TVs and a big screen for the Yankees game. There were a surprising number of Red Sox fans in the joint, a couple of whom did not look fondly on my whooping. Whatevs.
The games were very exciting - the Mets game against the 'Stros went into 11 innings with no score. Sadly, the Rocket did not get the loss, but at least he didn't get a win either. Mets fans must be pretty pumped with Ishii, though. After last night, he really looks like he'll pan out. As for the Yanks, well, it always feels good to beat Schilling, especially because he's a Bush supporter. Schilling actually pitched really well through 4 innings, but started to unravel in the 5th and 6th. And Wright, despite getting himself into a jam more than once, caught a couple of lucky breaks and held the BoSox to 2 runs. But for me, the highlight was seeing Giambi, Mariano, and Bernie earn a little redemption.
Final score: Yankees 5 Red Sox 2. For a more complete recount of the game, check out the Daily News.
As for the Mets - Mets 1 Astros 0. You've gots ta love Reyes, if you're a Mets fan. Heck, I love him. Read about it here.
Other than the big screens, and some interesting Miami Dolphins memorabilia (no clue why this place is such a Dolphins hot bed), the Sportz Bar is lacking. It's generally over-priced and the cheese fries left something to be desired, and cost a whopping $5.50. Much to Philly's chagrin, there was only yellow mustard, and it came in little packets. Really, SB was no Collins. I can't imagine Collins charging $5 for a Yuengling. So, my heart still belongs to Collins -they have Harp on tap, $10 lobster on Mondays and an awesome steak sandwich for $6.
At the end of the night, Philly, who had generously driven, dropped me off back in Mo Plains. And how did I repay him? I broke his car. I yanked the handle right off the passenger door. Apparently I don't know my own brute strength. Sorry, Phil.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
So, I guess I'll throw it out there and see if anyone has any ideas for what, if any, theme this blog should have.
Moving on to what I really wanted to share. My former roommate and general lovely girl, Liana, has a riotous sister, TK. A few years ago, TK took up a movement to ridicule certain products because she sees them as "Signs of the Apocalypse." They tend to be products that exhibit how very lazy we Americans have become. For instance, TK considers Campbell's Soup at Hand to be a sign of the apocalypse. I got into the act and added Smucker's Goober Grape... I mean really, are people that lazy that they have to have the peanut butter and jelly in the same jar?
For Christmas, TK gave me a tube of squeezable peanut butter for obvious reasons. And the other day, Liana called me up to tell me that TK wants to add Febreze's Scent Stories to the list, not because it's so lazy, but because it's just damn freaky. But I think I've got it all beat, by going back to Smucker's. That's right folks, creepy AND lazy, it's Uncrustables! Uncrustables are peanut butter and jelly "sealed" into bread with the crusts cut off and conveniently put in the freezer. Amusingly, Smucker's wanted to patent the PB & J sandwich, but the Feds would have none of it.
Feel free to send in any other Signs of the Apocalypse.