Saturday, March 31, 2012

and yet

And yet it seems very complicated to get to know someone. You want to listen attentively and observe closely. But there are also things you want to put out there, things that make you seem as interesting and attractive as possible. Rushed. Flop sweat. And then it's over, and you have no idea what to make of any of it. This does not feel as if it were successful.

And looky here! Blogger has just changed their interface, and I have even less of a clue about using it than ever! Maybe this blog will start looking better, maybe worse, and maybe I will just find some place other than Blogger to post this mess.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

bad Luck for good TV

I am so bummed that HBO canceled Luck. Just when I was getting the hang of the horse racing stuff, too. Byt while I was trying to pick up the racing biz, I was so enjoying the phenomenal cast: Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Farina, John Ortiz, Kevin Dunn, Jason Gedrick, Jill Hennessey, Ian Hart, Nick Nolte, Gary Stevens. That's an incredible collection of acting talent. In the last episode, Dennis Farina just broke my heart when he looked at himself in the mirror after killing the hitman in the men's room. Acting your ass off without saying a word is a very special skill; I knew exactly what the character was thinking. It's just a terrible shame.

Canceled, BTW, because three horses died over the filming of 12 episodes; very natural deaths and not uncommon for racehorses, but those assholes at PETA got their accusations all of the media before the real story came out, and HBO chose to cancel the show over the bad press. I hate PETA, and not just for that. I'm as opposed to animal cruelty as the next person, but they spend way too much time and money on issues that pale in comparison to human issues in this country. When everyone in the US - or maybe the world - is properly fed and housed and has health care, then we can talk about fur coats and leather shoes. Plus a lot of their press is extremely distorted. Hate'em.

I just took a look at the last published post on this blog, and it has an ad for Utsav Fashions, Indian clothes! Way cool! and they do sell beautiful stuff.

Monday, March 26, 2012

a So Here's What day

So here's what: one of the committees at work had two big programs recently, the second of which was this past Saturday, and of course it's part of my job to help them. But I guess they thought I went above and beyond, because they presented me with a $150 Visa gift card. Nice, nice people.

Here's another what: someone around work asked me today when my birthday is, and although it might have been a want-to-show-my-appreciation thing, it felt a little like a boy-liking-girl thing. I mean, he put it in his phone. I don't even have my family birthdays on my calendar (which is not in my phone). Of course, sometimes I think these things and I'm way off base. But sometimes I wonder if one or another guy is looking to make my life complicated.

I finally saw the original Agneepath this past weekend, with all the subtitles. (I'd had a copy before where the STs vanished and then appeared again 20 minutes later, but not matching the scene.) Maybe the Amitabh fans built it up too much, but I thought it was just OK. His characterization was quite good, if somewhat overshadowed by his eyeliner, but the plot was not too exciting. Plus, at least in 1990, fight and action scenes in Indian movies were really cheesy. They use loud slaps as sound effects for punches, and in generally it's all pretty creaky. The saving grace was Mithrun Chakraborty (hope I got this right) - although his character was what seemed to be a dreadful stereotype of southerners (waiting for confirmation from Shiva on this one), it's clear that he's an excellent actor and dancer. I d*wnloaded another of his movies yesterday, and am very interested in seeing it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


The exclamation point is because I finally remember what I'd been meaning to write about last week: what I've been reading.

I'm not sure I believe in the idea of "guilty pleasure" books. Maybe that could be the enjoyment of a truly trashy book. But I gave up trashy books a long time ago - life and reading time are both too short. But I guess there's a certain divide between commercial books and literary books, or scholarly books and non-scholarly books, or even more challenging and less challenging books. But there's nothing I read that I'd be embarrassed to be seen reading (if indeed the Kindle had book covers).

So what I read were three Douglas Preston books (I think two were Preston and Lincoln Childs) in a row: Gideon's Corpse, Riptide, and The Codex. All really excellent, although I believe the Gideon book is part of a series and not the first one. I've probably mentioned how much I've enjoyed the (many) Preston/Childs Agent Pendergast books. Even if the characters are not tremendously novel (a lot of similar protagonists and love interests), the plots tend to be vastly interesting and always include a lot of science, archeology, art, and some pretty compelling descriptions of the trappings of wealth. This is all wrapped in mystery, suspense, adventure. Maybe not the most challenging reading, but very enjoyable.

Right now I'm reading The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld, recommended by Bob Steiner. It's a murder mystery set in 1909 New York City, imagining that during his NYC visit, Freud helped to solve a crime. So far, it's not quite The Alienist (a great work of historical fiction set in the same general era), but it's a very good imagining of the Freud/Jung/Ferenczi New York visit.

Still waiting to hear about the job for Barry - he was told about a week ago that they were going to send him for fingerprinting and do a background check, which is what happens right before hiring. But this place moves very slowly.

I called Wendy at the Village Scandal on Monday and she hasn't returned my call yet. I'll try again tomorrow.

Our home computer was on the fritz - seemed like it caught a virus so big and bad that my anti-virus and anti-malware products couldn't stop it. It seemed like a hard-drive hardware problem, so we took it into the shop, but all they had to do was wipe the hard drive and reinstall Windows. We got it back yesterday, and I downloaded anti-V and anti-M again, plus Firefox and Adobe Flash, and was going to do the others tonight - except it died today and Barry had to take it back to the shop. Burns my butt. At least I have a computer here at work, cause I'd be losing my mind otherwise. I know I lived without the internet for some 30+ years, but I have no idea how I managed.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Pat's; making friends

One St. Patrick's Day, my alcoholic self and alcoholic boyfriend came down to New York from Binghamton (where I lived at the time) for the parade. We lost each other and I somehow ended up in a firefighters' bar that had a jukebox full of Irish music. (I am a famous hater of Irish music.) I so do not miss that. I so do not miss hangovers. Sobriety has become a habit I don't think about much, nearly 27 years into it, but on some days I am very glad that I do not drink.

Making friends seems like an odd thing to think or talk about once you're past 50. Your friends are pretty much already made by then. I've known Robin and Leslie since we were kids, and was lucky to make another close friend in Jannah in my early 40s. Lately, one of the members of the "Ef," the fans who comment on Amitabh's blog, reached out to me and I to her, and we got together today at Coney Island to walk and talk. I've been thinking about this all week as we started phoning and emailing and planning to meet. Online and in person can be very different, and it doesn't always go smoothly. But we did have a nice visit today, a beautiful to be out, and a very companionable couple of hours. Very nice so far.

I'm enjoying Twitter a whole lot. It's always so thrilling when someone replies or retweets, always people I never expected to communicate with. I have a big girl-crush/writer-crush on Susan Orlean, and have had a little contact with her. Had a joke retweeted yesterday by Andy Kindler - whom I actually knew slightly at college in Binghamton. I sort of stage-managed a play he was in, The Good Doctor, directed by a kid named Corey Pepper. Corey was a terrific actor and we all thought he was going places. Don't know whatever happened to him, but Andy is a pretty well-known comic. You never know. I do love having those little moments with some of those folks.

Touched base on Twitter with John Ortiz, as I've mentioned, and also the great jockey Gary Stevens, both of whom were in the excellent HBO series Luck - which was just canceled. Three horses died in shooting eleven episodes, and amidst the criticism and calling for investigations and tighter safety, HBO decided to just give it up. Which I suppose is understandable, but still sad. It was an excellent show, and huge visibility for Ortiz in particular.

I swear there is something else I've wanted to write about all week and now I just can't remember what it was. One of the sucky parts of getting older.

Monday, March 12, 2012

books, movies, tee shirts...and movies again

First off, I'm sorry about that shitty review of My Week With Marilyn. I don't mean that I trashed the movie, but the writing isn't very good. Sometimes I get self-conscious about people reading what I write, and end up writing something with a pretentious tone and pretentious language. My favorite writing professor said not to use a two dollar word when a fifty-cent one will do. Then he told us to read a lot of E.B. White.

It's daylight savings time, it's warm and sunny, and i think winter pretty much passed us by this year. Boo global warming, yay mild winters.

So I was strolling around at lunch hour today (rather than running out and grabbing some hot soup to take back to my desk), and walked into Forbidden Planet, at Broadway and 13th Street. Forbidden Planet is basically a big comic book store, aimed at serious collector-types with some loot in their pockets. I read a lot of DC Superman comics as a kid, "underground" comics as a teen, and a handful of indies about ten years ago ("Action Girl" was a particular favorite), but I guess I was never a big fan of comics in an ongoing way. Even if I loved the art, it was never enough reading bang for my buck.

But I strolled into Forbidden Planet anyway. And as I was browsing the indie comics, I heard two guys in the next aisle - one said, "...did you watch it yet?" and the other said, "No, I was watching The Dark Backward last night." So I went into the other aisle, and one of the clerks there said, "Can I help you?" I said, "No, I just wanted to see who was watching The Dark Backward." It was yet another clerk, talking to a third. Then a fourth clerk said to me, "Have you seen our Basket Case tee shirt yet? It's a limited edition design." I feigned interest in the shirt, wondering exactly how he got there from The Dark Backward. But never mind.

The Dark Backward is very obscure and very bizarre, and I'm actually not sure I'd ever met anyone else who's seen it. I made Barry watch it once but it was too disgusting for him. It's not disgusting in a blood-and-guts way, but simply by virtue of being set in a bizarre fictional town where everything is filthy, rotted, slimy, and ugly. And then someone grows a third arm out of his back. The three-armed accordionist (played by Judd Nelson) is pitiable, and everyone else is greedy and nasty. And then the show-biz types arrive. It's ickily wonderful. If you look closely, there are signs and posters within the movie for all kinds of dreadful-looking products (mostly involving pork or pig) from a fictitious company called Blump's; I believe that one was pourable bacon, one was Pig Newtons, etc. When I lived in Manhattan, the film was released, and my neighborhood was covered in fake Blump's posters as advertising for the movie. I so wish I had one.

After Forbidden Planet, I walked down to The Strand at 12th Street, a shrine to the printed word. It's easily the best used-book store anywhere, and so was very important to me at one time. Enormous, stuffed with overstocks and out-of-prints and rare books, as well as half-price reviewers' copies of new hardcovers (the latter used to be a great attraction). I looked at some of the sale racks outside the store - one, two, three-dollar books. And I thought, What on earth would I do with that huge thing? I suppose I've become a die-hard eBooker. I'm keeping some books that are out-of-print and not likely to be eBooks any time soon, books that are personally inscribed to me by the authors, picture books, and cookbooks. Other than that, it's on my Kindle. Or if it's new and too costly as an eBook, I take one out from the library. I just don't need to own those big dusty decaying bricks any more...and I used to have so, so many, and held onto them like they were gold. Things change.

Sometime this week, I'll head over to The Village Scandal, and get the verdict on my jewelry: sold or not. I have two new necklaces ready if she wants more - and if not, I'm keeping the earthtone one (mostly mookite jasper, tan and burgundy).

I'm finally putting my lack of money where my mouth is, and have volunteered to work at the Mermaid Parade this year. The $35 to join Coney Island USA is a mite steep for me, and the gala fundraiser at Webster Hall this month is way too steep. so I'll take a sunburn for the team, if they'll have me. It's going to be summer before you know it.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

My Weekend With Marilyn & other assorted nonsense

Based on Colin Clark's memoir, this movie depicts the young Clark's brief time as a go-fer on the film The Prince and The Showgirl. Marilyn Monroe traveled to Britain to make this film with Laurence Olivier, who also directed it.

Michelle Williams does a fine job playing Monroe, whose insecurities delayed filming and infuriated Olivier, who had cast her in hopes of bedding her as well. Instead, she attached herself to Clark, a green youth at the time, during a rocky period in her recent marriage to Arthur Miller. Williams ably demonstrates both Monroe's sweetness and her deft portrayal of the "Marilyn Monroe" persona. In one scene, Monroe and Clark are visiting Windsor Castle, and when confronted with a crowd of admirers, Monroe whispers to Clark, "Should I be Her?" and morphs into the sexy, whisper-voiced character that made her famous. Williams handles the transition flawlessly.

Eddie Redmayne, familiar from The Pillars of the Earth, is charming as Clark.

Kenneth Branagh plays Olivier, and although his impersonation is spot-on, his appearance is distracting. No effort seems to have been made to make him physically resemble Olivier, and his red hair and light eyes look all wrong. A little hair dye and brown contact lenses would have made a vast difference.

Another complaint is that Monroe's hair color and lipstick color often changed within a single scene; for most of the film, it was softened way beyond what the real Monroe wore. Not until the very end did she wear red lipstick, as did the real Monroe, and it seemed to be a considerably darker shade. It was maybe too obvious that this was used to represent mood and motivation.


My weekend with Jennifer, on the other hand, will most likely be about making a necklace and cooking spare ribs, with a walk on the Boardwalk tomorrow if the weather is as nice as promised.

Yesterday was a killer day at work: back-to-back meetings with two separate room set-ups, food, taking minutes at both. On the other hand, I love seeing the faculty members, and received an almost embarrassing number of compliments on my work and helpfulness. It still seems to me that I'm only doing my job correctly, which apparently my predecessors did not. Mid-April will be a year since I started, and almost all of it comes easily now -- though the work is so varied that I'm never bored. And I happen to have an awesome crop of interns this term, two college and one high school. My first-choice college intern withdrew after the interview (she needed to take a paying job), but my second choice was a very close second, and she's been wonderful. I suppose I get some credit for choosing all three.

I wanted to see Kahani last night - it opened in Manhattan, and the Indian songwriters Vishal and Shehkar were supposed to be in attendance. But I was short of money, and also laden with perishable leftovers from the meeting food, so it didn't happen.

So I learned on Twitter that my Brooklyn homeboy, John Ortiz of Luck, and the great Indian actor Anupam Kher, worked together in a new film opening later this year. So must see The Silver Lining Playbook when it opens. Have to get to movie theaters more, period.

And while I'm @northofconey handle seems to be attracting a lot of attention from various Brooklyn peeps and entities. I'm being followed by Tricia Vita of Amusing the Zillion, the great Coney Island blog. And even more exciting, I'm being followed by Dick Zigun, "the mayor of Coney Island." I've always been such a fan of his. He's the dude who started promoting and preserving old Coney Island, founding the Mermaid Parade, the Coney Island museum, and the non-profit which runs it all. He brought back the sideshow to CI. He's a tattooed saint, I tell you.

And this has led to my finally volunteering to work at this year's Mermaid Parade. Which ought to be awesome, if the sun doesn't clobber me. The late-June event is usually sunny and very hot; the weather gods generally do not permit rain on that day.

And back to movies, I'm in the middle of watching Ek Ajnabee, based on/inspired by/ripped off from Man on Fire, which was a book and two movies (the 1987 film with Scott Glenn far superior to the 2004 version with Denzel Washington).  The 2005 Indian version stars Amitabh Bachchan, and I realized I hadn't watched anything with him in around a month. I was stunned all over again. He really is marvelous.

Monday, March 5, 2012

what AM I up to anyway?

I just don't know what the hell I've been up to for the past couple of weeks. I was writing to Shiva, and couldn't come up with it. Part of it, I think, it's that I've been really tired lately, so instead of staying up to 12 or 1 and watching YouTubes and Indian flicks, I've been crashing around 10. This eliminates a good chunk of my free time.

Sleepy this weekend too. I did watch The Iron Lady, and while I wasn't surprised by Meryl Streep's acting, I was surprised that I liked the film so much. They managed to make the politics go down kind of easy. And as always, I loved Jim Broadbent.

I sat down to make some jewelry yesterday, and just pulled a blank. Wendy wants opaques, but I was looking at my box of jaspers and nothing seemed like a spring color. I did make some earrings from unakite chips (spinach green and salmon pink) on Saturday. I guess I can make a green necklace, but I just wasn't feeling it yesterday.

I feel like I dodged something of a fast-moving bullet of late. Sometimes even a little flirty is way too much. It would have been too easy to leap without looking. I have slowed the bullet down and will look some more.

Barry seems to be very close to getting a job with Ohel, working in a group home for developmentally disabled people. He would be on an overnight shift, so it would essentially be a safety-net role and not well-paid. But it's full-time and it's a job. I'm actually surprised he even considered such a job, since he was never any too comfortable with DD or any differently abled people. But this could end up being a decent field for him.

Barry's been very stressed, so I've been sticking close. I wish I could say that I'm back to 100% since we fought, but I'm really not.

So things look kind of grey here. Mostly what I look forward to is getting some jewelry ready for later this month; to my one-year anniversary at work in mid-April; to mid-May, after which work will be much quieter. I think I'll take a week off in July.

Of course, if Barry gets work, I'll look forward to being less squeezed for money. It's been a little more relaxed recently since we sold some old jewelry for the weight of the gold and silver, and since I made $150 selling my own jewelry in Pennsylvania. But that's not real, steady money. I'd love to see at least a little steady money from the jewelry, but that won't happen right away.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

men who talk like men talked in the seventies; more about Davy Jones; Life of Pi

I realize that part of why it was so nice to see Bob on Tuesday was actually hearing his voice, which is kind of soft and dreamy. The seventies was the time when I first started to have serious attractions and serious and non-serious boyfriends, and those young men and those liaisons were my first experiences beyond crushes. Some of my tastes were certainly formed in that era, as evidenced by my continuing attraction to old-hippie and post-hippie men, both their looks and the ways they sounded. I'm developed likings for other types of men as well, but those guys from the seventies were the first. It also made me thinking about Joe Ford, whom I loved dearly in 1988, before his way-too-young death. My friend Robert Satzger met Joe once and was entirely unimpressed, noting that Joe seemed to being "doing" George Carlin - that is, their speech patterns were very similar. I realize this was probably something that was part of my attraction to Joe. Carlin had that sort of 1950s hipster/Bronx accent way of speaking, although I first heard him in the seventies. Joe was from Brooklyn rather than the Bronx, but he would have been a teenager in the 50s too (he was 18 years older than I). I've heard it said that a lot of things people identify with the sixties actually happened in the seventies, and that's true. The sixties sensibility held on until the late seventies, when disco and singles bars took hold, and the icky part of the seventies began. Loved my seventies hippie stuff.

I have finally started reading The Life of Pi. I avoided it for the longest time because I kept hearing it was about a guy in a boat with a tiger, which made me think of some sort of saccharine parable or something. But I finally decided to give it a shot, and what do you know! it starts out in India, and the lead character is Indian! true, he does end up in a boat with a tiger (I'm at that part now), but so far, what really struck me was the early part of the book, where Pi was searching for a spiritual home and ended up being a Christian, a Hindu, and a Muslim all at once.

It's amazing how Davy Jones' unfortunate and young death has brought all of the closet Monkees fans out into the open. A lot of my Facebook friends are music people in some way, and everyone is talking about Davy and the Monkees and posting all kinds of clips. I used to feel a little embarrassed that I still listen to the Monkees sometimes. I didn't have time to listen to or post any clips yesterday (no audio at the office), but will get to it ASAP. However, I will say that my favorite Monkees' song is probably "Pleasant Valley Sunday" (sung by Micky, not Davy). And everyone is dredging up one of my favorite music industry trivia items: another singer named David Jones was forced to change his name, as not to be confused with the Monkees' Davy Jones. He changed it to David Bowie.

It's always a little depressing when close friends drift a bit due to a serious romance (or an obsessive one). It's happening to me lately with two or three people (one has addition concerns requiring a lot of attention). Of course, I've done exactly the same thing when I've fallen in love or obsession. But it doesn't make me miss the company of my friends any less when they do it...and I'm afraid that, at least in my head, I tend to be a little critical of their doing it. But still, I'm there when they return -- and just now, I'm holding a safety net for one who is pretty certain to crash badly.

I was just looking at the stats for this blog, and still can't figure out why that old post about "summer camp theater and school" is read more than twice as often as any other post. It's 2-1/2 years old already, and the keyword tags are pretty ordinary.  It's a mystery to me.