Saturday, February 25, 2006


Despite my sensible decision to stay in last night, watch Murderball and clean my kitchen, I succumbed to temptation when Pablo called and beckoned me to Manhattan. I can't really think of anyone in my life who can call me, say, "hey, all my friends ditched me tonight, you want to hang out?" and I will respond, "Oh, sure."

Anyway, Pabs tempted me a with a promise of trying out a place for Kate's bachelorette party - you may recall that I mentioned the MetroCafe last weekend, which was disappointing and therefore nixed for the party. We did, however, receive Kate's consent to have dinner at Benihana, so we opted to try that out last night.

Problem: Paul called at the appointed meeting time (for once I was the semi-late one): there was no Benihana at the address we had looked up. I picked Paul up and we decided to head down to Reade Street to a hibachi place we had found online. Long story short - we walked the length of Reade - no hibachi. Meltdown ensued.

"Goddamn it! Why can't we find a freakin' restaurant for this thing? Do you know how many restaurants are in this fucking city? Millions! Why can't we find one damn restaurant?" Also, it was very cold outside and cold makes me cranky.

"Well, fuck it. Let's take her to Dunkin' Donuts for her party," Paul suggested.

We temporarily gave up on the hibachi quest and grabbed dinner at the Reade Street Pub. I had a blue cheese bacon burger and we split some "loaded fries." The fries give the cheese fries at ESPN Zone a run for their money. Also, it's fun to draw on the paper table clothes.

For those of you keeping score - this is the third outing I have been on to find a restaurant for Kate's bachelorette party. This party, much like the doll in Tree House of Horror number whatever, is cursed.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

How 'bout Jazz? You like Jazz? I like Jazz!

On my ride in the citay on Saturday night to meet Paul, I wound up discovering a big band/jazz program on WNYC. Big Band Sounds apparently airs every Saturday night at 8pm and I have to say, it was a lot of fun to hear Benny Goodman's "Life Goes to a Party" on the radio. I haven't listened to swing in awhile - when I've been in the mood for jazz lately, I've been wearing out my Dinah Washington (Dinah's "Backwater Blues" rendition is an all-time favorite) and Ernestine Anderson CDs.

Anyway, the last song I got to hear was the original version of "Stormy Weather" (yes, Ethel Waters sang the first version that became famous, but the first recorded version was performed by Harold Arlen, the co-writer of the song and it was really interesting to hear him sing it).

And yes, the title is from The Simpsons.

More Friends! More Allies!

I think maybe this week will be Simpsons Appreciation Week for me and all titles will thusly be Simpsons related.

I oversubscribed myself this weekend and now I am tired, have a grouchy cat, messy apartment, and lot of work ahead of me. Still, it was a fun weekend.

Friday night, Philly and Emily kindly let me crash at their pad, which meant that I could stay out with them till 5am at Don Hill's, because apparently I think I'm a rock star. My body strongly disagreed. It especially disagreed when I left Brooklyn at 10:30 in the morning and forced myself to run errands and do work.

Saturday night I was back in New York, this time trying out the MetroCafe with Pablo as a potential spot for Kate's bachelorette party. Our original choice, Kitchen & Cocktails, apparently closed last November. We nixed MetroCafe, but had fun doing what we always do - quoting the Simpsons and questioning the sexuality of every male in the room.

Sunday afternoon was spent at Hunan Cottage, aka best Chinese food in Northern New Jersey, with Sis and her family.

Me: Tell me a story.
Connor: Once upon a time there was a square, and he was ugly and he was proud. The end.
Me: That's... a... great story.
Sis: It's from Sponge Bob.

Everything is from Sponge Bob. And on the rare occasions that it's not and I guess Sponge Bob, Connor rolls his eyes, looks at me and says, "No, Megan, that's from the Backyardigans." Duh, Megan.

Sunday night was poker back in Brookaleen and I won! Mwahahaha! Winning made me cheery, so I tagged along with Phil and the usual suspects to Avalon. To say that Avalon is not my "scene" would a) be an understatement and b) presupposes that I have a scene outside of sitting in my kitchen, drinking tea, reading the Times and listening to NPR. Oh well, we'll chock this up to experience and a few good jokes.

Today was spent sojourning about New Jersey visiting with various peeps, including Lynn and her new dog, Fenway. And because I love her and Kevin, I forgive them for being BoSox fans.

And now I need a three day weekend to recuperate from this weekend. But instead I'll go to bed early and hope 8 hours of sleep will restore me to sanity.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Brokeback Belleville

Liana, always the dutiful wife, came to visit me this week and brought me chocolates (the box had a picture of a train and said "Choo-choo-choose me!" I swear.) and a pez dispenser and a card. Liana always gets me the sweetest and funniest cards - usually cards that start out with "To My Wife" or something of that nature. And even though this year, Liana had a real live Valentine boy, she didn't forget about her wife.

When I was in law school, the ideal that friends ought to be your cheerleaders in life came to me in large part from Liana. I'm wracked with enough self-doubt on a daily basis that what I really needed during law school (which just exacerbates insecurities, self-doubt, and any bad habit that you may have) was someone spurring me on, reminding me after rejection letters, or endless studying, that I could do it.

During the summer of the bar exam, I became "crazy" (according to, well, everyone who talked to me for more than five minutes at a time). I didn't drink, I went to bed at 11 sharp every night, and I stopped watching TV (except for the World Series of Poker on ESPN and an occasional Yankee game). I was obsessed with the bar exam. And when I would walk through the living room of our fabulous Belleville apartment to get some water, I would occasionally pause to see what Law & Order episode Liana was watching. "Uh uh!" she would say to me if I stood for too long, and point me to my room. "Study!" Liana's backing made it even more appropriate that she is the person who got to call me and tell me I had passed when the mail arrived with the results.

I think roommates always have a larger impact on us than we suspect at the time, though I like to think that I'm usually aware of it as it happens. Regardless, I suppose I don't tend to consider the impact I have on a roommate. Liana called me at work the other day.

Liana: Pam was going through my cosmetics case and she was making fun of all my fancy pants makeup. Then she found the Nars eyeshadow.
Me: Mmmm. Nars.
Liana: And I explained, 'Oh, that's Megan. She got me into the good stuff when we....' and Pam said, "When you two were living in Brokeback Belleville?"

Yes, Pam. It was Brokeback Belleville. And I miss it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Did I mention that I loved Wallace & Gromit?

I did? Well, I am again.

Your guess is as good as mine

Oral arguments will be held in the New Jersey Supreme Court for Lewis v. Harris, the gay marriage case, on February 15th. Philly's judge wrote the dissent when it was in the Appellate Division.

You can listen to a story about the whole case here, or you can actually watch the oral arguments in the webcam here.

I could really see it going either way.

Happy Crapentine's Day

Or Venereal Disease Day, which Pablo and I used to call it after seeing a sign at a busstop advertising a "V-D Day" party. Morons.

I don't like Valentine's Day. I have never liked it. I think it's cheap, gimmicky and designed to make everyone feel badly about themselves. Couples wind up getting stressed and being disappointed and single people wind up feeling lonely or bitter or both.

I know that's not true for everyone - some couples have great Valentine's Days and plenty of single people have their own traditions. And I didn't even always write this day off as a total loss. I always took the opportunity to make a fuss over my family and friends. After all, isn't this holiday supposed to be about love? Why should romantic love get all the attention?

Well, I feel like it's an uphill battle now. First, isn't every day "couple's day"? Isn't life as a couple much easier in many respects? Where's the day celebrating the quiet troopers who have to drop off and pick up their own dry cleaning or be their own designated driver or go solo to that movie they really want to see?

For the couples out there - do take time and remember what it was like to slog through this day and give your single friends a pat on the back. And for the singletons - good job. If you can go 364 days not being bitter and grumpy, I think it's okay if you take this day as your own.

Monday, February 13, 2006

It is what it is

When I was 21, I spent a bad summer at home, and in an attempt figure out why I was such a mess, I turned to some self-help books. Lucky for me, aside from the books, I had a Kate, who threw herself whole-heartedly into my self-improvement by reading the books and making it a mutual summer of development.

One of the books was, in retrospect, dopey in its simplicity, but for two neurotic college girls who had never been told this stuff, it was pretty helpful. The book taught a lot about living in the present moment, compassion for the less than worthy, and perhaps most importantly for us, to limit how much you let your thoughts run away from you. As the writer had pointed out, sometimes a person starts out with a simple thought, like, "gee, I can't believe I just spilled sauce on my favorite sweater" and by the end of a half hour, your thought-process has exploded the entire situation into "My life sucks, nothing good will ever happen." Okay, that's a drastic scenario. But it's true that if I'm not conscious and conscientious of my thought processes, I can take a mild negative scenario and explode it into epic proportions.

I almost never do anything like that anymore, thanks to seven years of practice. The importance of living in the moment, the knowledge that I am in complete control of myself, and can therefore effect how I behave in nearly every situation, that in many respects any problem that I have which is rooted in myself can be solved through my own thoughts and actions - this is liberating information that I learned that summer. It took years to really apply it all, but I have been doing it on a consistent basis since that time.

So it was with some sadness that I have found myself slipping into the trap of wishing that things were other than they are. In an episode of the Simpsons, Homer forces Bart to join his grease collecting business and Bart says, "But I'm supposed to be in school!" Homer responds, "Sounds like someone's got a case of the 'sposed ta's.'" I had a serious case of the sposed ta's.

I felt adrift, lost and uncertain of what to do, while at the same time, intractably focused on what I thought my life was "supposed" to be like at this point. Where was I going? This was a disaster - for such a planner to feel so clueless and dissatisfied. I allowed a modicum of obsession on the sposed ta's, before I threw up my hands and sighed, "It is what it is." I am unhappy with it, but it is what it is. So let's get to work on fixing what's within my control. But it's hard to fix it when you aren't even sure what you ought to be doing.

After tossing the problem on the back-burner (another suggestion from the aforementioned dopey self-help book - it basically means that you stew the problem without bringing it into focus at the front of your thoughts.... this advice also works very well on tricky crossword puzzle clues), I had a little lightbulb moment in the shower this morning, of all places. It's a babystep in the right direction.

And in the meantime, I have my little action plan, my cat, my hobbies, and the other small things in life that distract from the sposed ta's. It is what it is. So now I can get to work. And the next time I fall off my mental health horse and roll about in the neurotic muck, I'll get to do it all over again.

I'm just crackers about cheese

When I was in college, my roommate for the most significant amount of time, Janet, was a Wallace and Gromit enthusiast. She asked if I had ever seen W & G before, but the truth was, outside of The Young Ones and Ab Fab, my knowledge of things British was limited.

Anyway, she was always promising to get a Wallace and Gromit video for us to watch, but it never panned out. Regardless, I knew of her affection, and so I was especially pleased when Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit came out last fall to such rave reviews. My sister took Connor to see it, and they both enjoyed it - granted, my nephew's thumbs up is suspect in my book since he loves Thomas the Tank Engine and Home on the Range.

Annnyway, I had the opportunity to watch Were-Rabbit this weekend, and consider me a W & G convert. It has become entirely clear to me why Janet is such a fan. Nevermind that Gromit, the dog, is very adorable and that the humor is clever and the claymation so good, it almost doesn't seem like clay. I think if I had seen a W & G episode while Janet and I lived together, I would have noticed some parallels. Janet and Gromit are the thoughtful, patient and silent ones, while Wallace and I are the rambling, dopey, cheese-lovers. Yes, Wallace is "just crackers about cheese," as he repeats oft.

The Times pointed out when Were-Rabbit opened that the creators of the series imbue Gromit with so many facial expressions that you never really notice that he does not speak. But I think my favorite thing about the movie were the little claymation bunnies. So cute! I have a soft spot for bunnies. And cheese, just like Wallace.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Too High, Can't Come Down

I'll admit I'm late to the Ipod bandwagon. I don't live in New York, I really like NPR, I'm comfortable with silence and I didn't have $200. But last year, in what may be the coolest thank you gift ever, P & E gave me an Ipod shuffle. Phil used to harass me endlessly to set it up, but all I had was my old laptop, which was not compatible with Itunes. So I waited.

New computer, return to the gym and lost discman - so I have finally set up the Ipod shuffle for exercise purposes. And it completely rules - it's the best exercise mix ever! I am so very pleased with it thus far.

I will admit that it is Dandy Warhols heavy, and while I always think of the Basement Jaxx as great running music, the Dandys have been, well, my favorite band for so long, that I suppose they transcend such a description. I listen to them when I'm happy, sad, cranky, or just the usual even-keel.

I saw the Dandys in September at CBGB for the CMJ Music Fest (thanks to Phil for the ticket, naturally). I had wanted to see the Dandys for quite a while, but solo concerts is the last frontier of aloneness that I have not undertaken. In other words, till I met Phil, I didn't know any other Dandy fans. Aside from the fact that it was awesome to see a show at CBs, a first for me, the Dandys were great, and the rather picky Avi (who saw Weezer with us back in May) declared his undying love for Zia. And who can blame him really? She's not hot, but she's pretty fucking cool.

Anyway, I digress. My point is that all this Dandys love, a special resurgence of which I have had in the last year, was made deeper when I watched DiG! in the fall. DiG! is a documentary made over seven years of following the Dandy Warhols and crazy-ass Anton Newcombe of the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Aside from being a great exposition on creativity, music and fame, it's also got undercurrents about friendship and addiction. I liked it so much, I recommended it to Kate and Bart, whom I thought would appreciate the pathos. And they did! Not only that, but I think I have converted them to Dandy fans. I'm making them a mix of my personal favorite Dandy Warhols songs ("Hard on for Jesus," anyone? "Down Like Disco"?), but Bart very nearly went out and bought the albums himself. I've never converted anyone to a band that I love - this may be a first for me. If it works out, I'll have Kate and Bart with me the next time the Dandys play.

Until then, I've got them on my Ipod shuffe spurring me to run my little heart out.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The quiet tragedy of a missed chance

Roxey and I went to see Brokeback Mountain last weekend, and as you may recall from my Golden Globes quips, I was not particularly excited. I was really worried that it would be melodramatic and manipulative - the two inexcusable devices of moviemaking. I am pleased to report it was neither.

Just like all the critics said, beautifully acted, directed, shot, written. It's got the whole package and I feel confident saying it'll probably take home best pic this year. And not undeservedly so. Did I like it more that Good Night, and Good Luck? No. Crash? Yes, probably. And I haven't seen Munich or Capote yet, so I can't comment on those, though I'm hoping to cram them in. I do have to agree that 2005 was a great year for movies. Even the popular fodder of 40 Year Old Virgin (Anhabelle and I don't really have any original jokes with each other anymore, it's pretty much all stolen from Steve Carrell and Paul Rudd) was good fluff.

Anyway, back to the lesson at hand. I won't go into a recital of the film, and I know a few of my four readers have not seen the pic yet, so I won't ruin it. But by now you know that Ennis (Heath Ledger, who despite annoying the crap out of me as a human being, is actually an apt actor) and Jack (Jakey Gyllenhal, still cute as a button) are cowboys in the midwest, circa 1960s. They meet, get it on, fall in love. And then the real world complicates everything. The film is never pandering, never beats you over the head with its "message," and is never ever manipulative. I say this because, while, yes, Roxey was a weepy basket case, I only teared up a teense. There were multiple opportunities for Ang Lee to go over the top, pop on the soaring music and make me cry. But he eased back from that. The story was tragic the way everyday life is tragic. And we all muddle through.

The part that hit me the most was a moment where, sitting on the banks of a lake by the mountain, Jack pitches an idea of running off together, which Ennis, always practical, shoots down for legitimate reasons. I knew at that moment, there would never be fulfillment for either of them. As the movie progresses, you see moments where both characters realize that they missed their chance to be together, to be happy. And it is deeply sad, without being maudlin.

Ang Lee likes the theme of missed chances, of deeply loving and never having. It's why he can so beautifully relate to Marianne and Elinor in Sense and Sensibility, and more importantly, why he made me ball my eyes out in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, even though the beautiful Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun Fat express very little of their emotions verbally. He does that again in Brokeback, and shame on me for thinking such an auteur would be manipulative.

Staying in bed

Grey's Anatomy is my current guilty pleasure. Last week, following the Super Bowl, they aired a super duper, ratings stunt, exciting episode. Despite the hype, I still enjoyed it. The protaganist, Meredith, starts out the episode refusing to get out of bed. Her best friend comes to drag her out. As Meredith explains her predicament, she moans, "I need something to happen. I need a sign, some hope, something to spur me on. And in the absence of that, I need to stay in bed and feel like I might die today."

Well, I couldn't stay in bed physically, but I was definitely there mentally. I'm taking a moment, pausing, if you will, to collect my thoughts before I press on. It hasn't been the best week of my life, certainly. Or really, the best month. But that's okay. I'm getting out of bed and pressing forward. You have my apologies for the lapse in blogging.

And if you're looking for a guilty pleasure, Grey's is on Sunday nights.