Thursday, May 31, 2007

Once upon a movie

The director of "Once" was on NPR's "All Things Considered" (I think that was it; I heard the interview on the "NPR Movies" podcast, which compiles film-related content from multiple NPR shows.) He said that he likes to think of good musicals as favorite music albums, which you can pop in and watch a few scenes, listen to a few songs, and it's like queuing up your favorite music tracks. I think he's right.

I've already listened to the soundtrack several times, and find myself curious about certain songs - Was that the one they sang in the piano store? Which was the one she listened to as she walked home from buying batteries for her CD player? Enough so that I would consider seeing the film again. Especially if it shows up in my neighborhood theater. (Might be a long wait. My little independent-friendly cinema is currently hosting all of the 3's: Shrek, Pirates, and Spiderman.)

I'm sure I'm not the first person to suggest that "Once" is an ironic title for a film that is earning praise as one you'll want to see over and over.

Into the woods

Today the temperature is expected to hit 90 degrees, but I will be safely ensconced in a conference center upstate, listening to (and giving) boring presentations, most likely with excess air-conditioning, uncomfortable seating, and unhealthy snacks.

Is my enthusiasm embarrassing?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

He's back.

The picture from my camera phone is not so clear, but that's Ellis G.

Living alone again?

Still no sign of the June bug. Let's all agree he's moved on, shall we? You know, I saw the movie "June Bug" and can't remember why it was called that (someone's nickname?) but tend to think it was used to describe something cute. Cute as a bug.

There is nothing cute about this bug.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Paris, Once

Three day weekend, two movies. "Paris, Je T'aime" is a group of 18 short films about falling in love in, and with, Paris. Directors run the gamut from Gus Van Sant to Alexander Payne to Wes Craven to the Coen brothers and several French (and other foreign) directors I'm not familiar with. The pieces run the gamut from excellent to boring. Sitting in the theater, I discovered the same feeling I had during the dance recital the night before; even when watching a bit I particularly liked, I was entirely conscious of the time in a "how many more?" way. I think that's the drawback of short films for me: I am never completely drawn in, in the way I often can be with full-length movies, so I'm constantly aware that I'm sitting there waiting for the end. (The big irony is that I've been focused on writing short stories for the last several years, so you'd think that the short narrative form would be comfortable to me, and yet, even in my pleasure reading, I jump at novels and the short story anthologies I diligently purchase sit on the shelf. Maybe I need to go back to writing my novel. Hmmm.)

Back to the film. As I said, I liked some of the pieces, especially Tom Tykwer's (director of "Run, Lola, Run"), who did a short romance between a blind student and Natalie Portman; the Coen brothers, who placed Steve Buscemi on the platform of a Paris subway, with unpredictable results; and a heart-wrenching piece with Catalina Sandino Moreno (Oscar nominee from "Maria Full of Grace" and also "Fast Food Nation") as a young mother. But some of the others left me cold or worse. Cold is the operative word here, as the theater, perhaps because of the recent spike in outdoor temperature, was blasting its air conditioning. I was so uncomfortable that I almost left, especially as it would have been easy to duck out in between shorts and not feel as if I missed an ending. I wouldn't have minded missing several of these stories, although taken as a whole, I think it's a worthwhile exercise. Just maybe not a really entertaining film.

"Once" has received so much buzz I was worried that it would not live up to its hype, and so I went into the theater with that weird "prove to me you're good" vibe which doesn't do justice to anything (least of all my ability to relax and enjoy.) The theater was packed, even in a venue that was showing it in two theaters, every hour on the hour. You could practically taste the audience's anticipation.

The film is a simple musical set in Dublin about a young man and a young woman. It's the kind of musical I like, in that it's about music, not one of those in which the characters burst into song instead of speech. Here, every song (and there are many), are part of the film because one of the characters has asked the other to share his or her music, or they are practicing or recording together. Much of the film is simply their singing; the rest is a sweet and nicely realistic story of two people who are drawn to one another. I can't say much more without giving it away, as not much happens here: it's a simple story surrounded by good music. And the music is good, in a familiar singer-songwriter way, just the kind of music I enjoy.

As I said, I was resistant going in, but I still think the beginning is slow, and there were moments when I think I could have dozed off during the singing, no matter how much I liked the music. But the charm of the two lead actors is so strong, I became just as entranced as the reviews promised I would. I can pinpoint the exact moment I felt my resistance drop, when suddenly I fell for both the couple and their story. I think what is moving so many reviewers and viewers is the normal way in which these two people meet and get to know each other, without any manufactured movie trappings. And I think the fact that it got to me, despite my intention to not let it, speaks volumes.

I said "reviewers and viewers" above, but would probably include re-viewers as well, since many of the reviews I saw mentioned that this is a film you see over and over. I guess I can see that, since I was one of those who returned home to download the soundtrack from iTunes and have listened to it a couple of times. I learned from my experience with "Rent" that once I become obsessed with a soundtrack I long to see the film/play again, just to remember how the songs appear in their original context. (And to sing along of course!) I saw "Rent" three times on Broadway, which says a lot, considering I've probably seen only two others since I moved here 18 years ago. Every time I flip channels and the movie is on cable, I stop and watch, and sing along. (Like last night.)

Since "Once" is in one sense a long string of music videos, it's like going to a concert of your favorite album, although with the added bonus of a related storyline that's both entertaining and touching.

Monday, May 28, 2007

After Bug?

I didn't sleep too well last night. Maybe because of the bug, maybe because it was warm and I don't have the a/c in yet, and the fan blowing on me tends to make me feel stiff. No sign of the bug this morning, so he's either sleeping away in a place I can't see or he's managed to exit my apartment as unobtrusively as he entered. As long as I don't see him again, this is what I'll assume because otherwise I wouldn't be able to function normally.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

June Bug

My apartment is haunted by a large June bug, one of those huge nasty things that suddenly appear this time of year and you forget even exist the other 50 weeks or so. This one scuttered across my living room floor as I was making dinner and I thought at first it was a tiny mouse. I was somewhat relieved to find it wasn't, since mice freak me out more than bugs, but at least a mouse would have hidden somewhere in the walls and this guy is just shuttling from under the couch to behind the bookcase, never giving me enough time or leverage to slam him with a curled up magazine. He flew up in the air for a bit and I opened the window, wide, hoping to swoosh him out, but that's when he chose to disappear under the sink. The hassles of living alone are that I can move the couch to the side and see him as he scurries, but can't drop the couch and pick up the magazine in time to pummel him.

I just retreated to the bedroom, although since my rooms have no doors between them, I am not really safe. But I'm pretending he won't get this far down the hallway. That he won't fly above my head as I sleep and land on my face. Or crawl along the hallway floor just as I pad by in my bare feet for one of my nocturnal bathroom visits.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

A post filled with numbers.

I suppose it's pitiful that being out at 11 pm on a Friday night warrants its own blog post. Probably as sad as thinking that sleeping until 7:30 does. You know, I'm in my early (mid?) 40's, I pretend to be in my 30's, and my habits make me sound like a 60 year old woman. My grandmother, in her mid 80's, stays up until 2 or 3 in the morning and then sleeps until noon or later. Sometimes I'm jealous.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Dancing the night away.

I don't go out late very often, so when I find myself on the street at night, I feel like I am in a new city. Even the subway is alive in a way it never is during the day. Today I sat next to a beautiful young woman in a long black skirt and black jacket; I had her pegged as a musician, although she didn't carry an instrument. Across from us was a bearded man holding a large canvas. She started talking to him about his painting, he turned it to face us and explained what he was going for (two women, representing winter and spring, identified by color and mood), and asked her what she did. A singer. When my stop came they were still chatting and I wondered if it would be the start of a new romance, or simply another midnight ride on the F train for two people with natural curiosity.

Before the subway I was on a commuter train from upstate, for me the end of a long tiring day, but for almost all of my fellow passengers, the start to a night in the city. Girls in too-tight dresses (I'm no prude, but certain body types are simply not flattered by certain styles), boys in constant motion, up and down the aisles. Laughter and drinking. "Where is the China Club?" a young couple asked the conductor as he punched their tickets. (Their tickets gave them away as much as their question, for regular commuters would have monthly passes.) For the first time in a very long time, I dozed off on the train, just a few minutes before we hit Grand Central. I only came to when people began to pass my seat. An older man stopped to let me get out, but I was still not quite awake and told him I was "not set." Where did that word come from? "Set?" Maybe "ready" was just too long a word, too many sounds, too much effort.

Spinning this tale backwards, I had just spent an evening with family at a young girl's dance recital, followed by dinner in a chinese restaurant. Dance recitals are funny things, as I'm convinced nobody actually finds them entertaining, other than the fleeting moments when a beloved child is on the stage. The rest are just a series of "How many are left?" moments. This one had the added bonus of featuring an adult class, so we got to see a group of middle-aged women tap their way through "Lady Marmalade." As one of my fellow audience members put it, it's one thing to sit and watch other people's kids dance and pretend to enjoy it, but other people's mothers? Oh, but I really am being too harsh. The very littlest girls, even when they weren't my relatives, were always cute. How can you not love the four year old who is so determined to get her arm movements right that she looks like a little helicopter about to rise from the stage?

Painting, music, dance. It's an artful night.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Fits and starts

Cable kept going in and out last night, but thankfully settled into a long stream of "on" during the entire two hours of "Lost." Yay! And the episode was worth it. It will be a long 8 months until the show returns next January/February...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Lost and Off Balance

1. Today I had a series of routine medical tests that necessitated skipping breakfast, and not wearing deoderant/baby powder. (Ladies, at least ye of a certain age, know the meaning of the latter.) The combination of these wild leaps from my usual morning routines tipped my whole day off balance.

2. I went to the DMV today, for the FIRST TIME EVER. I know! I'm in my 40's and never had a driver's license. Oh, wait, I had a learner's permit in high school and college, so I have been to a DMV before, just not in 20 years. In any event, it was clear that the air of inefficiency colors every thing that happens there, even when nothing is wrong. People just walk in the door ready for a fight. It's the DMV, it must be a mess! Yeah, so I wound up standing in a line I apparently didn't have to, because of the lack of clear instructions, but beyond that it went really fast. I had my picture taken before I even knew it was happening and now I have a shiny new "Non-Driver's ID" on its merry way to me. It's something I meant to do for years but finally was forced to, as my passport is expiring and you need valid government id for almost everything these days, so I can't walk around with nothing while the passport is being renewed.

3. I plugged in my vacuum cleaner, and it is not only working, but it sounds better than it has in years. I think that when pulled out the plastic bag I jarred something back on track.

4. Today I almost stepped on two baby birds crushed onto the sidewalk. In two different places. It's freaking me out. Seriously, is there a bird serial killer out there?

5. I came home from a morning of doctors and DMV only to find my proposed "work from home" afternoon waylaid by a flashing cable modem. According to Time Warner, it wasn't me, it was the whole area, to which I cheered, and he took it immediately as sarcasm. Of course he would, but I explained I was serious - at least that meant they were already on it, and I wouldn't have to wait around a week or more for an appointment. I went to the Tea Lounge and worked instead. (Although just down the block, they had service. Whatever.) [UH-OH. SERVICE JUST WENT OUT AGAIN! FUCK I AM JINXING IT BY TRYING TO POST THIS ENTRY!]

6. If the cable isn't back on in time, I won't get to see the season finale of "Lost" and this will make me sad. Yeah, I can watch it online (if and when I get internet access again) but not the same as on my big tv.

7. If you can read this, it's back on!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Long days.

Exhausted. A full 11 1/2 hour day working a client event. Smiling pretty, in heels, making small talk. Balancing a plate of shrimp cocktail and a peach bellini. Remembering that if a guy seems to be staring at my breasts, it's really just my nametag, which has mysteriously slipped down my lapel. Oh, wait. My nametag is still on my jacket which I've draped over a chair. (Is it hot in here or is it me?) I guess he's staring at my breasts after all.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Dust settles

Two hours later, and I've exerted some energy by cleaning the top of my dresser - throwing out old hair accessories, jewelery, make up, and thoroughly dusting each and every container and surface. I hate dust, but it's unavoidable, especially as I love open windows.

It doesn't look like it will rain so I will get out and run some errands. My refrigerator is nearly empty and my pile of clothes for the dry cleaner will likely bankrupt me.

Speaking of $$, I received refunds from both state and federal taxes, after apparently overpaying both. The explanations confused me, and were not consistent with each other, although it appears I transposed the same digits on both forms. It makes me feel a bit better after thinking I owed too much, but also makes me think I should probably use a professional next year. Hopefully I'll own an apartment so it will be complicated enough for me to feel it's necessary.

More open houses tomorrow. I'm considering widening the circle of neighborhoods I'd consider, although a visit to a new area would be better on a sunny day (more time to linger, look around) and it is supposed to rain tomorrow. I need to figure out if my resistance to branching out is illogical. I'm two subway stops from work, one subway stop from Manhattan now, so being four or five seems daunting, but for most people that's a very short commute. Sometimes I fear it's also that I need the comfort of knowing I am in easy walking distance from home. Just in case.


I am in a strange mood this morning. Lazy and yet restless. I wish it would rain - pour, even - so I could just stay inside and be productive. Clean out my closets. Play DVDs of old sitcoms really, really loud.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Oh Thursday

Time is moving so quickly (although for some reason, Blogger isn't, what's with the delay between typing and appearing on the screen? Come on, internet connection, I am not in the mood for this.) I can't believe it's Thursday already, although yesterday felt like two or three days, as I spent 6 hours of it on a train to and from Washington DC for a 3 hour meeting. Worthwhile? About an hour of it was. But it exhausted me.

On one end, I had to wake at 4 to get to the train station, and my ever-eager-to-please body clock did me a favor by waking me at 3 and not letting me doze again in case I missed the alarm clock. Nice!

On the other end, heavy thunderstorms slowed us entering a station just on the Jersey side of the river, and some kind of engine computer malfunction followed (this, moments after I wrote to a friend that at least I could be assured that the train would be in on time, as this was the Acela, not the annoying Amtrak up the Hudson, which is notoriously off schedule, as much as I love the journey.) We wound up sitting for 20 minutes, but worse was that after, the doors stopped opening, so at each subsequent stop, the conductors had to run from car to car pulling emergency cords to open the doors. Yeah, I don't know. We were bunched up near the door in Penn Station for another ten minutes, with a conductor who apparently misunderstood the earlier instructions we'd all heard on his walkie-talkie ("you'll need to pull the emergency cord at the doors") and was futilely radioing in for instructions on whether he should, in fact, pull the emergency cord. I was in the tight corridor between bathrooms and tried to summon up a sufficiently dire sense of claustrophobia ("what would happen if I just freaked out right now?") but I was too tired even for that.

And then, my favorite part! This happened after my last train journey from DC: a long line for cabs in the pouring rain, and the puzzling dilemma of whether to stick it out in line and at least have a quick direct trip to my front door? Or slip into the nearby subway, and risk an equally long (but dry) wait on the platform (more frustrating, because at least in the taxi line, you can count how many people are ahead of you and estimate when you'll be rescued), followed by a wet three block walk home in the downpour.

I chose door #2, and the train played right along: a nearly fifteen minute wait, marked only by my slamming my wet umbrella into one of the metal girders mumbling "Fuck, fuck, fuck," in frustration. (Or maybe it wasn't "mumbling." I had my iPod on.)

But finally, home!

Monday, May 14, 2007

My two cents

Stamps went up 2 cents today, to 41 cents. I happen to be one of those people (or maybe the only person?) who has no problem with this, as I think it's pretty amazing that for only 41 cents a piece of mail can travel anywhere in the country in a couple of days. It drives me insane when people bitch and moan about postal costs - there are so many more important things to concern yourself with, like the rising costs of healthcare or how foreign policy affects the price of gas... Of course not many people send letters anymore; I have a regular "snail-mail" pen pal and pay many of my bills via mail vs. email. In fact, I dropped 5-6 in the mailbox last night, with just 39 cents on each, oblivious to any change. Hopefully this will not be an issue...

My stomach is killing me. Something I ate last night, I suppose, although there was nothing unusual. But it's impacting my desire to hustle off to the gym. Maybe I'll walk to work instead: a workout, but a less taxing one. And it's beautiful and sunny.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Yesterday I saw "Waitress" and it left me in tears, not because it's a touching film (though it is, at times) but because it is the first and last film written and directed by the late Adrienne Shelley, who was murdered last year by a workman in a neighboring apartment. I sat through all of the credits, past the copyright tags, just to see the "In loving memory of" words fill the screen. She also played one of the characters, the "Vera" in this (unintentional?) version of "Alice," the 70's sitcom based on the film "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore." In "Waitress," Cheryl Hines plays the "Flo" character (brassy and sexual) while Adrienne Shelley is the nerdy Vera-like "Dawn" and Keri Russell is the central heroine, Jenna. And of course there is a growly-manager cook who we know has a good heart underneath, much like "Alice's" Mel.

It also brought flashbacks of "The Good Girl," for once again we have a pretty young girl stuck in a small town and in an unsatisfying marriage, who finds herself pregnant. But in "The Good Girl," the husband was a well-meaning dullard, while here he is an emotionally-abusive, controlling lug played by Jeremy Sisto. And Jenna is much more likable than Jennifer Aniston's character, who seemed motivated as much by self-hatred as by boredom. Jenna has a dream: an accomplished pie-baker, she hopes to enter a pie contest that offers a tantalizing $25,000 prize. With that prize, of course, comes the financial means to leave her husband, her marriage, and her hometown.

First of all, I've never been to a pie diner that served all of its meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) in a piecrust. I wish I could remember all of the varieties we hear about, but be assured they are not just blueberry or apple or even quiche. Jenna even serves her husband pie meals, sitting down one night for "spaghetti pie." Don't go to this movie hungry.

Beyond the pie, though, the film is funny and touching and smart. Jenna is no sentimental heroine; she refused to embrace motherhood even as she sees no option but to carry her unwanted child to term. She falls into an extramarital affair and then judges one of her waitress friends for doing something very similar. And yet I think this makes her more real, and her choices as the film ends more realistic.

Of course there is also Andy Griffith, older-looking than you'd think he should be, as the curmudgeonly diner owner who counts Jenna as his "only friend." His character and the related plot line are obvious from the start, but the dialogue between him and Keri Russell is well-written, so I forgave that I saw how and when it would play out.

I read something recently that credited Keri Russell with being one of the great beauties of her generation. I didn't understand that until I saw this movie. She is luminous, even when she's frowning at the husband she despises, and becomes only more so when she finally breaks into a full smile.

I don't recall that Jennifer Aniston ever smiled in "The Good Girl."

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Out out, damned spot

I am suffering under a strange anti-housecleaning curse. Last weekend I was wringing my mop in a mop bucket and the metal edge of the mop head punctured the plastic bucket, sending dirty water everywhere. Yesterday I was vacuuming, and was seized by the brilliant idea to use the hose attachment to battle dust in the vents of the bathroom's ceiling fan. This required some delicate balancing, which wound up knocking over both the body of the vacuum cleaner and the plastic trashcan. Next thing I know, the plastic liner is caught in the bottom of the vacuum cleaner, sending smoke and a horrible burning plastic smell throughout the apartment. I managed to disentangle everything before an actual fire started, but haven't had the heart to check and see what damage I've done to the vacuum cleaner.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Under Pressure

My work days are frantic, trying to get through all of the projects which are suddenly being thrown at me as executives try to squeeze in one last client event before the dead days of summer. And yet, I haven't been able to bring myself to ease the burden by working on things at night, at home. Last weekend I even took my work laptop home with the thought that I could easily do some invitation database cleanup in front of the TV or while listening to weekend NPR. But I never turned it on. I think I'd rather keep the frantic within the confines of my office and let home be the place I can escape from it - even if it means the hours at work are long and the hours at home are few.

I don't know if I'll do open houses again this weekend. The coop I want has fallen through again, and I am a little tired of the whole process. I emailed a realtor the other day about a property she had listed, with some basic questions, and she emailed me back that it was in contract, but I might be interested in something in another neighborhood, one which is not only much further away but well, I can't describe it without sounding like a snob, but it's like asking about Los Angeles and being told that you might like something in rural West Virginia instead. If I wanted West Virginia, why would I be inquiring about LA? Classic bait and switch, or just an urge to push off undesirable properties as quickly as she can?

I'm going to leave early today, a non-gym morning, so I can walk over the bridge into Manhattan.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


So there was this apartment. And I wanted it. And because it was a building just converting to coop, the current tenants have first dibs on buying their apartments, and after initially saying they didn't, the couple in "mine" decided they wanted it after all. So I tried to forget about it. And then, suddenly, they decided they weren't interested. And I was excited! Didn't realize how much I wanted it until I had the chance to be excited about it again. And yet, here we are, less than a day later, and now they aren't sure again. Maybe the want it. Maybe not. My heart can't take it, but legally they have 90 days to put their decision in writing (of which I think only 10 or so have passed.)

If it's meant to be, it will. Right?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Fast Food Nation and Year of the Dog

I saw two very different yet thematically linked movies this weekend: "Fast Food Nation" on DVD and "Year of the Dog" in the theater. Each explores issues of animal cruelty and the dark side of food production in its own way. In "Fast Food Nation," we follow the path of a "Micky's" hamburger patty from its bun-and-condiment-dressed end in a colorful cardboard container all the way back to the bullet striking a dazed cow between the eyes. In between, we have undocumented Mexican labor, sex for drugs and employment, a group of college campus protesters bewildered by the noncooperation of the animals they try to save, and Greg Kinnear obliviously chowing down a burger topped with the spit of a disgruntled fry cook. And Bruce Willis with weird shit going on with his head (moles? age spots? scars from shaving?) in a scene that I still don't think I understand (except that he is a bad guy.) Lesson learned: it's not uncommon for intestines to be punctured during their removal in the gutting process, (although it's more likely when the workers are pressured to work too quickly), and this means that partially decomposed food (i.e., shit) can easily contaminate the raw flesh that becomes meat. Oh, and Avril Lavigne? Not annoying in this movie.

(I like her new single; it has the fun happy pop sound that you want to start off your summer. But I hate the video for it, in which Avril plays three girls competing for the same guy. (I almost wrote "women" but she is, at least in this, playing mere girls.) Amazingly, the girl who offs her competitors by hitting them in the head with a miniature golf ball (hysterical!) and knocking them into a pool (comic gold!) is the one who gets the guy. Yay! Go, bitch! Love to see the bully win. Thank god the guy doesn't have a brain or he might chose differently.)

Where was I? Oh, "Fast Food Nation" is a good movie, if somewhat preachy. But with the subject matter, how could it not be? I can't say it made me stop eating meat (since I already don't) nor does it make me think less of fast food restaurants (I can't think less of them), so I'm the choir. And it was fun to see Bobby Cannavale ("Station Agent," "Happy Endings," and Will's boyfriend on "Will and Grace") play a bad guy. (A hot bad guy. Naturally.) But this isn't a DVD you pop in to watch while eating.

"Year of the Dog" is the first movie directed by Mike White, who wrote "Chuck and Buck," "The Good Girl," "School of Rock," and "Nacho Libre." The twisted yet painfully innocent sense of humor from "Chuck and Buck" is in full force here, with Molly Shannon as a single woman who loses her best friend, her beagle, in a sudden accident. Her journey to live with her grief is hilarious and touching, with an interesting spin: she gradually becomes more and more entrenched in the world of anti-animal cruelty activism, until she's clearly off the deep end. Or is she? Luckily we're not forced to take sides; you can agree that the character has gone too far, but you have to admire her dedication to what she loves. It's a good turn for Shannon, plus there's Peter Sarsgaard as a vet hospital employee and John C. Reilly as a hunting-happy neighbor. (Don't assume you know which is the good guy and which the bad. In this movie the unsympathetic earn our understanding and the righteous our pity.)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Decaf Apartment

Yesterday morning at the gym I became obsessed with going home and cleaning my apartment, but not just cleaning, purging. Target: coffee table that is too big for my small living room and a pain in the ass to move each time I have company over and need to open the sofa bed. In my mind, the coffee table is also the only thing keeping me from practicing yoga at home; if I had that empty stretch of carpet in front of the TV I would pop in yoga DVDs all the time. (I'm not naive enough to fully believe my own excuses, but we'll see. I might surprise myself.)

So still in my gym clothes I took two trips down the two flights of stairs to the street. The wooden frame was bulky but surprisingly light, and the large piece of glass that sits atop was heavy but not impossible. (My biggest concern was knocking it against a step or railing and smashing it to pieces.) I set them both on the edge of the sidewalk, against the curb, and came back upstairs. Took a few minutes to re-arrange the remaining furniture, changed out of my gym clothes, peered down at the street from my window, and there was my coffee table sitting in the back of a pickup truck parked at the curb. Less than five minutes.


Weigh to go?

According to an interview in Entertainment Weekly, Thomas Haden Church was asked to bulk up and add 40 pounds for his role in "Spiderman 3." He claims to have failed, only gaining 20.

That was just 20? The idea that he could look worse is nauseating. Again, I hope that they compensated for his lack of natural bulk with some thickness-enhancing digital effects. The man is 40 - it's not that easy to move back and forth between body types. What happens now, it all turns to flab?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Hot Fuzz v. Spidey - No Match

Wow, that was kinda bad. The plot was sappy and dull, and the acting kinda creepy. Many overblown "emotional" moments in which the audience cracked up at the cheesiness of it all. Personally I've been spoiled by "Heroes" - the "dark" Peter Parker in the movie was pitiful less than a week after seeing the futuristic Peter Petrelli played brilliantly on the small screen. Both actors used a change in hairstyle to signal their turn to the dark side, but for Spidey it was a cheap gimmick and for Petrelli it connected with the character, enriching the transformation, not pointing a gaudy spotlight on it.


I don't think they used the scene shot in front of my building, but the scene in front of the movie theater, yes. Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) lives in an apartment just across from the theater, and Peter stands under the movie marquee and looks up into her window; the building's exterior is clearly recognizable (and quite beautiful, even in real life.) I waited for others in the audience to recognize it, but it wasn't the usual crowd, so I doubt they even noticed. My "safe" theater was overrun with screaming kids, obnoxious parents, chattering couples, and even a woman who had a long cell phone conversation right in the middle of the movie. Thankfully it was loud and I can deal with it when it's a movie like this. Still, I had to wonder: where did these people come from? It's playing in the megaplex up the street, did they get lost on their way there?

I'm such a snob, aren't I?

Man, Thomas Hayden Church looked terrible. I hope it was done with special effects, but his whole face and body were so pumped up that he looked inhuman (and this is when his character was in its "human" form.) It was like he went crazy with the steroids. His ears stuck out like they'd been pushed aside by the muscles wrapped around his neck. Luckily, the part called for no real acting, just scenery chewing along with the rest of the cast. Tobey Maguire? Not really very good in this. Even Kirsten Dunst has some head-slappingly bad moments. Probably the only fresh voice in the film is Topher Grace, because he plays it like he knows it's a cartoon.

I haven't read any reviews yet, although I heard one on the NPR Movies podcast at the gym this morning. I agree with one thing, which is that the film loses a great opportunity to explore Peter's dark side (which is what it "supposedly" is about) when it chooses to have his evil turn sparked not by his own inner demons but by an outside force. It could have been a fascinating story if the core of Black Spidey came from within, not from without. The pieces are all there - the thirst for revenge, the feeling of loss, the guilt, the anger - instead we have black goop from space. (Oops, spoiler. Sorry. It's in the opening scene though.)

(Hey, wasn' the black oil stolen from "The X Files?" Speaking of which, David Duchovny told Elvis Mitchell on "The Treatment" that they are developing a sequel to the movie. I'm simultaneously excited and worried. This will either rock or completely suck.)

Oh, well. Did I mention I saw "Hot Fuzz" last weekend? I liked it a lot. Really funny, very smart, with interesting characters. The plot is a bit silly, but it's meant to be, so you go along with it. One thing that surprised me was the way it was shot - quick flashes of visual images, swooshing sounds, fast movement between shots. It reminded me a bit of "Requiem for a Dream" but I don't have the history of having seen "Bad Boys II" or "Point Break" or any of the other cop-buddy films that "Hot Fuzz" openly plays homage too, so I'm not sure if that's the genre or a new twist on it. (It also reminded me of the opening credits of "Dexter.") Great movie. Skip "Spiderman 3," see this instead.

Getting ready for Spidey

I have my ticket to "Spiderman 3" in my pocket. If you think this film is out of character for me, you may have forgotten this. I am going to see it in the theater in front of which a scene was filmed. I hope it's visible for more than just a few seconds, but of course it's just as likely that the scene fell to the cutting room floor. And I want to see the scene filmed in front of my building. Of course it all could be unrecognizable after special effects!

I'm giving up 2 1/2 hours of bright afternoon sunshine to sit in a dark theater. But I sat outside in a park for awhile this morning, though, and just now spent some time on a bench outside, drinking iced coffee and working on a short story. Tomorrow I'll be traipsing around the neighborhood in and out of open houses.

Spidey time approaches.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Passing through

Somehow my schedule over the past week or so has kept me from cutting through the Trinity Church cemetery on the way to work. (A few of those were because I chose to walk all the way in to Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge.) Yesterday's stroll through the graveyard made me feel that it had been months - where there were short green stalks and tiny blue flowers, there are now thick clumps of vegetation and tall tulips already past their prime.
This picture isn't as bright as it should be (camera phone is limited), but I love the pink blossoms and dark branches against the old city buildings and the fresh greenery.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Clutter's Last Stand

Busy with work again. Although after this week it calms down a bit until June. Hard to believe it's May already. But the April showers (NYC's 2nd largest rainfall in April in history) bring May flowers, and they are in abundance. Likewise the light green buds on trees. I find something very picturesque in the splash of light green against dark branches and buildings; from a distance, everything looks like an artist's rendering of a proposed building plan.

Everything I see or think is in context of apartment hunting. I saw 12 apartments on Sunday - several times going into a building for one open house, only to find a few others in the same place. (Viral marketing via doormen.) There is no surprise in the results: everything I love is too costly, everything I can afford has at least one major flaw (sixth floor walkup, or too small, or a couple of blocks too close to Atlantic Yards, or with reasonable selling prices and exorbitant monthly maintenance charges.) I'm tempted somewhat by the ones that are just too small - I can get rid of stuff, I don't need all my stuff, wouldn't it be great to relieve myself of the burden of having so much stuff? I fantasize about calling a charity like Housing Works to bring a truck, and in my mind I tick off what I can offer them, what I can do without: coffee table, dresser, second tv, second tv cart, old rug, dishes I never use, that box of record albums from the 80's... I think I should go through with the purge no matter what, even if it's just opening up the existing space in my current apartment.
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