Thursday, July 28, 2005

Molti Sopranos

Other trailers I passed today had doors marked "Bridesmaid," "Priest," and "Jamaican Nurse" along with a bunch other character names. Seems to me we have a wedding next season on "The Sopranos." Now, not being a regular viewer, I don't know if this is a spoiler, or if a character is already engaged/planning a wedding. But the last set of trailers was in front of the big Catholic church down the block.

Now that I'm on the subject, let me grouse for a minute. I know several people (pseudo friends) who pronounce it "Soprahhhnos" (like the word "on") which always sounds stupid to me. No NJ Italian American is going to talk like that, right? I can't really correct them because I don't watch the show enough to have any credibility with them. But I do watch HBO and see the commercials, and the announcers say it the way I do - "Sopraaaaanos", (like the word "ran.")


Tuesday I called in sick because I had another job interview. (Yes, it's a disease. Hopefully I'll be cured soon!) Naturally, because I had to put on a suit and a pair of pantyhose and real shoes (not flip-flops), the heat came roaring back, promising to hit 95 degrees. Is this what they mean by "trial by fire"?

I survived - but decided to spend the afternoon in an icy cold movie theater. It was a hooky day, why not? And what better than a film whose very name reeks of winter? November is a thriller starring Courteney Cox and James LeGros, an independent film that was apparently shot in only 15 days. If you see the trailer, (and you can on the film's official website - just don't bother clicking on "Enter the Site" because you'll just get an endless loop of flashes of images from the film), you think it's a fairly straightforward mystery: there's a murder, a cop, some frightening evidence, suspicion. But that's misleading. It's not even a psychological thriller, which I'd expected. I can't even explain what it is, except that I was disappointed. I read a review that called it "too arty for its own good" which I think is right on. It's like a film school exercise in creating a psychological thriller - the i's are crossed and the t's dotted (yes, it wants to be that subversive) - but there's no sense of closure or surprise or anything at the end, despite the dramatic reveal in the final scenes that is supposed to explain everything that you just saw. There's just no connection. Why, if that is the final truth, did the previous scenes happen as they did?

Contrast this to a film like "Memento" or almost any M. Night Shyamalan film, where once you find out the "twist," you want to go back and watch again to see how it fit. And if you do, it's pretty apparent how it did - my god, why didn't I ever notice that Bruce Willis's wife doesn't actually ever look at him or speak to him during their dinner scene? The film has its own internal logic and it follows it carefully, even when the audience doesn't know why it's doing what it's doing until later. And that's why it works. If "November" has that kind of logic, that kind of cohesive suspension of disbelief, I just didn't get it. Going by the post-movie chatter in the ladies' room (and the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes), not many other people have, either.

The Sopranos trailers are back. I didn't realize they'd leave at night and return. I guess they have to refuel/get cleaned/etc., and that's probably easier to do wherever they are rented from.

Morning After

"The Sopranos" was filming in my neighborhood yesterday. Trailers were lined up in front of my building with names on each dressing room door - "Meadow," "AJ," "Paulie," and more. I didn't see anyone come or go (except some production and security people) but in 95 degree heat, I wasn't going to hang around outside waiting.

They're gone this morning. My air conditioner noise must have drowned out the sound of all of those trucks leaving.

Monday, July 25, 2005


I'm in a lousy mood. Coming back into the office after a few days off is rough. I was on such a high from the possibility of other - well, possibilies - and it's hard to come crashing down. I need to get out.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Happy Endings

Yesterday I build my whole day around seeing this film. I had tried to go on Friday, but wanted to get my haircut and then the timing wasn't ever right. With the heat, I feel like everything has to be carefully choreographed so there are no wasted outside moments, and no wandering to connect two destinations by foot.

I'd forgotten that the Landmark Sunshine theater has seating areas where you can hang out before the film, so I could have just sat there for a long time before the movie started, reading Harry Potter. Instead, I took a bagel and sat in the park nearby. This is a park that a volunteer group I was involved with once planned a cleaning day around, only to cancel it when an item appeared in the news about someone finding a stray needle. I always think of it that way, as the needle park, although it's actually relatively small and open and clean. Oh, it has its share of weirdos, don't get me wrong, but I don't feel unsafe there.

I did almost get hit by a basketball, though. Like many city parks, it had some pretty aggressive basketball going on, which I love watching. Unlike a pro sports game, where players are identified by team colors and jerseys with numbers and names, it often takes a few minutes to figure out who is on which team, and I like the confusion, the puzzle of figuring out, watching the players' dynamics, the nuances of their interactions... is this a pickup game or do these guys play together all of the time? Are they friends or just basketball buddies? Do they know the opposing team or did they just stumble upon them today? If I come back next Saturday, will I recognize any of them?

So the movie... I'd heard of it but didn't have a clear idea of what it was about, and still wanted to see it. Usually I do more homework than that, but this time it was like I'd filed away some kind of mental note to see it back in January after reading about it in the Sundance press, and never bothered to re-investigate, just knew I wanted to see it. I didn't even realize (or remember) that it was by the director of "The Opposite of Sex," only that it had appeared in the "What I'm doing next" bits in interviews with several actors that I like. Maggie Gyllenhaal. Bobby Cannavale. Maybe even Lisa Kudrow - not that she's one of the "actors I like" as she annoys the hell out of me. I think it's the fallout from "The Comeback," where all of her annoying habits - the nasal sharp voice, the rabbity tics, the freakish stares - culminate into one of the least-likeable characters I've seen on television. (Intentionally. That's the sad part - her character on that show is clearly written to be despised and pitied.)

Right off the bat I can say that this movie succeeds despite Lisa Kudrow. In fact, she looked so dramatically different (short dark hair and different colored eyes - or maybe eyes that appeared different colored because of her hair color), that at times she reminded me of someone else (still not sure who.) Especially when she didn't speak, although her voice was much better than usual. Most of the other actors were good, too, although Maggie Gyllenhaal? really is a goddess. She is incredibly magnetic, even in this movie, where her character is anything but admirable. And she sings! I am jonesing for the soundtrack. (Not out until next week. Why do they do that? Or is the film not opening wide until next week?)

I really liked the storyline, too. Er, the storylines - another one of these interwoven overlapping ensemble stories that seem everywhere right now. It worked this time, though, probably because the characters had very clear relationship lines (brother/sister, employer/worker.) What I didn't like was the device that the director used to frame his story. In "The Opposite of Sex" he had Christina Ricci supply a voiceover narration; here, he uses screen title cards to explain gaps in the storyline, or simply to move story forward. It isn't my favorite method - I prefer the story to tell the story, leaving the viewer with enough info to fill in the gaps on his/her own. Here, I'll grant, it became more of a comic device (much like Ricci's narration was), but still felt intrusive.

My brain

... is totally empty today. I don't know what to do and am not attempting to do much at all. If this were before I banned tv from my apt on weekends, I'd be a lump on the couch with the remote clutched in my hands. So what does that make me now? A lump at the desk, staring at the IE address bar and wondering what would happen if I typed in random words.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

500 Pages In...

My early impressions of the Half-Blood Prince: The books are clearly formulaic. Something significant happens in the beginning (before school starts), a few more things happen during the school year, and then a HUGE BIG MASSIVE AMAZING thing happens at the end of the school year. (I’m not up to that part yet, so am not revealing anything here. But it’s June at Hogwarts and the pace is definitely picking up rapidly.) In between, though, it’s just Harry and his pals hanging out and continual references to Harry trying to figure out whatever puzzle it is that the previous incidents have brought to light. Can I say... yawn? I get the feeling that J.K.'s editors are too awed by her success to wield the editor's axe and cut out some of the filler. Or, they know that a longer book will sell better, or it's what the readers expect, or it keeps the kids/fans reading and immersed longer in her world so that they feel satisfied despite the long wait in between volumes. I don't know, but it's not hard to see how you could cut one of these 700 pagers down to a 2 hour movie.

That said, I am enjoying it – but it was only this morning, on page 500 or so, that I felt that I had to keep reading and couldn’t put it down.

Podcasts, again and again

I am giving serious thought to starting my own podcast. My biggest concern is what I would talk about, but I've given some thought to that, too. I won't spill the beans yet, because, well, my blog audience is so HUGE that someone might steal my idea before I get it off the ground. I've entered a few contests to win podcasting equipment and if I do win, there will be no excuse. (We're not talking lottery-sized odds here, by the way, so I do have a shot.) I'm still looking at purchasing options, too, though.

There was an article in yesterday's NY Times about podcasting - which means my family/friends who are tired of listening to me talk about it now have someone else telling them it is for real.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Why there are DVDs

I went to see "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" yesterday, along with Cinema Arsehole (tm Bad Wolf.) Now, come on, I expect when I go to a film like that, there are going to be loud noisy kids. I'm not stupid. But I didn't expect parents to let their preschool children sit wherever they wanted, alone, and wander around the dark theater at will. A brother and sister, about 3 and 4, came running down to sit in the very front row, without their parents. The theater was pretty crowded, and you know, it's dark, so I can't imagine what kind of parent doesn't want his/her child sitting with them. Forget the freaky child molestors, or the fact that your kid might get scared during the movie or something, it's just dangerous to let them run around in the dark. It started bothering me during the previews and at one point when the younger started racing past me, I leaned out to the aisle and said "Stay in your seat." Probably not the most appropriate thing to do, but it kept me from sticking out a foot and tripping her.

(No, I'm not really that evil. But sometimes when parents let their kids run wild I wonder if they think of the potential consequences. When I worked at Macy's years ago, a mother kept letting her toddler climb freely all over the glass shirt cubes, despite our telling her it wasn't a really good idea. Sure enough, not long after, the kid fell and smashed his face against the glass. We brought them to the store nurse, who called for an ambulance, since it looked like the kid needed stitches. On the way out to the parking lot to meet the ambulance, the mother stopped back in our department to finish buying a polo shirt. With her bandaged bloody kid crying in her arms. Seriously.)

Eventually the dad came down and sat with his kids, but they still kept running between the front row and wherever their mother was behind me, and he basically ignored them. The mother walked down a few times, also. (I can't tell you exactly how often, but when I see the movie again I'll be able to, as those would be the parts of the movie I missed.)

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Me & You & Everyone We Know

See, I got it right! Miranda July, the writer/director/star of the above-mentioned film, told Elvis Mitchell that for some reason people get pronoun-addled and can never say the name of the movie correctly. Which at the time seemed pretty feasible. But now that I've seen it, the scene in which the phrase is uttered sticks very clearly in my mind, and I can't imagine it any other way. I guess that's how it should be.

All in all, I think it's a great film - it has the feel of a short story, or a series of intertwined short stories (ala "Short Cuts"), and as July is a short story writer as well, there is a basis for that. The characters were quirky and for the most part that worked - some were a bit too quirky for me to get behind. Have I ever said that? I don't know. I'm usually a fan of anything that isn't cookie-cutter, but there is definitely a point where weird can become just weird and no longer a character.

There were two specific moments in the film when I also felt uncomfortable with what was happening. And, again, I don't want to feel comfortable all of the time. I think I would credit both of these to my own squeamishness. The first is an act of violence early on that I viewed as an act of desperation and violence, but somehow got little reaction from the other characters. I thought it would be something that would prohibit a parent from getting custody of his children, frankly, and it disturbed me that it seemed to have no impact at all on that part of the plot. The second was - well, you will know it when you see it. Suffice it to say that one of these little kids is a bit confused when it comes to imagining what adults think is dirty talk. I think I was most disturbed by watching the young actor say the lines - he is very good, but it seemed almost cruel to make him have to think about what he's saying as he delivers his lines.

I think I'm just a wimp.

It's a really good film, with a perfect example of ugly-sexy in John Hawkes, who has been in a lot of other things I've not seen, like "Deadwood" and "The Perfect Storm." In some scenes he was hot, and in others he looked like Charles Manson.

The Half-Blood Prince

I happened to be coming home just past midnight tonight, so stopped off at the bookstore and stood on line to get my copy of Harry Potter. Now I feel obligated to stay up and read it! At least a little.

Is this gross?

I have a toothache - or rather, a swollen gum - that has been killing me all day. I took tylenol but it didn't really do anything. I got a pedicure, sitting on the brand new super-duper massage chair, and was distracted by the throbbing in my gums. I went home and took another tylenol and a nap.

I was out with some friends having a drink and started to feel better. And then all of a sudden, as I was talking, I felt a piece of food moving around in my mouth. Almost as if it had gotten dislodged. Shortly after, my gum/tooth felt better. It was either the alcohol or something had been stuck back there. That's what I'm hoping, anyway - it's sorta near my wisdom tooth and that terrifies me.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Red Letter Day

I slept until 9:24 this morning! I fell asleep at 10, so that's almost 12 hours. I don't know when that last happened. Upstairs neighbor appears to be on vacation, next door neighbor's fluctuating work schedule didn't overlap (or his big heavy work shoes were wet from rain so he actually took them off his feet for once) and while the sun did maneuver through the slats of the mini blinds toward my pillow at 6:30, I managed to roll over to the edge of the mattress and turn my back to it.

Friday, July 08, 2005


In the days after 9/11, our company brought in a counselor who held a group session for anyone interested. He was from Israel, and I don't remember exactly what his position there was, (something with the government?) but he'd been deeply involved in post-traumatic stress counseling. He was visibly shaken as he spoke to us. He said that he had lived through countless terrorist attacks in the middle east, and had never seen anything as horrific as what had just happened.

Middle of the Night? Morning? Hello?

I dreamed someone was dancing in heavy shoes around my bed, but woke up to realize it was my neighbor coming home from work. At 3 am. It's almost 2 hours later, and here I still am. I know that he works odd shifts, but is it unreasonable to expect him to remove his shoes when he gets home?

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Now that I am in a position that communicates almost daily with London, I am more than usually freaked out this morning. Today I am supposed to go into Manhattan for a morning meeting. I am now planning on calling in. Yes, I'm a chicken. But if I don't have to get into a subway this morning, why should I? This is a benefit of living and working in the same neighborhood, and I plan on taking full advantage of it.

PS I hate morning tv. Some NBC guy grabbed a guy off the street in London to talk to Katie Couric (he was from NJ, go figure), and she asked him a couple of questions and while he was still in the middle of answering one of them, SHE CUT HIM OFF. To go to commercial. It's just so fucking obvious how over-rehearsed and orchestrated the show usually is.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Whole Foods

On Monday I went to Whole Foods for the first time. I happened to be in Union Square, after an unsuccessful shopping trip - the great little toy store I hoped to hit in preparation for 2 kiddie birthdays was closed for the Fourth. I was about to head back to Brooklyn to do some grocery shopping when there it was, right by the subway, the brilliant beckoning door of Whole Foods. So I went in, just to look, but amazingly, there was NOBODY on line. And 23 registers open.

And they had Peanut Toffee Buzz Clif Bars. Relatively cheap.

So I figured I'd do some shopping, nothing too risky (i.e., frozen) in case the subway broke down on the way home, and wandered around, upstairs and down. Verdict: It's pretty cool and big and bright and shiny and all, but it has nothing that I can't get in my own neighborhood. The little organic grocery down the street has all of the grocery items and most of the produce. (Nothing beats the food coop's produce, still; but my membership is in suspension. Another story, another time.) The bakery? Well, I live in Brooklyn Bakery Row - I can hit five bakeries within a one block radius - Italian bread, Italian pastry, French pastry, fancy cake, you name it. (See also previous post re: burnt sugar smell.) Fish? There's the great fish market down the street. (It also was a Monday holiday - the Fulton Fish Market had been closed since Saturday. Ugh.) Meat? I don't eat it, but there is a really popular butcher shop a few blocks away. Cheese? Yup, we got ourselves a fancy cheeserie (?) right here in the nabe, and if you just want a great assortment of delicious reasonably priced cheeses, there's always Sahadi's, a fantastic Middle Eastern grocery store on Atlantic Avenue. (Olives. Spices. Nuts. Dried Fruit. You name it.) Coffee? D'Amicos down the street has been named one of the best places to buy coffee in the city. (They roast right in the store - it's very cool.) The only thing maybe I don't have ready access to? Fancy chocolate in bulk. (Although Sahadi's might have it. Dunno. I can't eat much chocolate.)

So I carried my basket of lettuce, cheese, couscous, and Clif Bars back upstairs to the registers, knowing it was silly to cart this stuff all the way back to Brooklyn, but I was enjoying the experience, and so why not? I'd heard so many stories about how crazy it is to shop in Whole Foods, how long the lines are, etc., and here I was, on a holiday when all the cool kids were away, with the store to myself! I was just so high on my own accomplishment, until I got back up and saw that the checkout line had suddenly grown to about 35 people long. Did a movie just let out? Did a breakdancing crowd in the park just disperse?

But hey, now I have enough Clif Bars to last me two weeks. And a fancy Whole Foods bag to line my desk trash can with. What more can one ask?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

I'm so old, Part 2.

I found out that a woman in my office and I are sorority sisters. I thought it was pretty cool, especially when I realized that I'd visited her college during my junior year with a group of emissaries from my chapter to celebrate/witness the installation of theirs. Of course she remembered the year - the year your chapter started is one of the first things you learn as a pledge. (Mine started in 1952. See?) But then I realized that for her 1983 was history - the year that I, all of twenty years old, came to her campus, was the same year she was born.

If that isn't bad enough, I pointed out that the drinking age went up from 18 to 19 while I was in college, and both she and another co-worker (he's 28 or so) didn't seem to realize it had ever been anything but 21. That changing law completely defined my college years, and those of the kids that followed soon after. (My brother was right on the cusp both when it went from 18 to 19, and then 19 to 21; one of those had no grandfather clause so he was actually legal for a few months and then underage again.)

But I never walked five miles to school in ten feet of snow.

I am so old.

I bought the first season DVD of the Partridge Family. I have a fairy robust collection of television DVDs, athough pretty much limited to older shows that you don't see in reruns everywhere, like "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "Bob Newhart" and "Columbo." I wouldn't buy "the Brady Bunch" even though the first season is out, because it's on TV Land right now and I'm bored with it. (Yes, it's only on at 4 am, but that's a common time for me to wake up and not be able to fall asleep without tv noise.)

The Partridge Family, on the other hand, I haven 't seen in a really long time so I thought it would be cool to have. I was also much more of a Partridge Family fan than a Brady Bunch one (the Partridges were much cooler; the Bradys were kinda dweeby.) Yes, I was a kid when these shows were originally on: Friday nights, 8 and 8:30. I remember going to a slumber party the night of the second half of the Bradys in Hawaii two-parter - the party events were scheduled around the airing of the show.

I didn't expect to get so into the Partridge Family, though. I've been watching a couple of episodes a night all weekend. The episodes are fresh, yet weirdly familiar. I know every word to every song they sing, and it surprises me when every time I start singing along. (I had them on LP and cassette.)

And David Cassidy? He still has that something. He's really cute, and very charismatic when he sings. He was my first teen idol crush - I bought Tiger Beat magazine and 16, and he was my "fave rave." I remember being too young to appreciate Bobby Sherman and too old for Shaun Cassidy - David was at his peak right when I started noticing boys. (He would be quickly followed in my heart by Leif Garrett.)

Sunday, July 03, 2005

I am a geek.

Today I bought a new printer and a new phone (cordless/home phone, not cell - although in just a few years since I bought the last one, they've taken on the physical look and the features of cell phones. Who knew?) I have now spent the afternoon enjoying myself immensely - I love new electronics, love unpacking them, reading the user's guides, setting up and testing. Programming phone numbers. Running test pages to calibrate ink cartridges.

I am a geek.
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