May 3rd, 2008


Rising Star

I haven't written in a while so I'll do a bunch of separate posts rather than go on and on. Well, I may still go on and on, but in digestible bits.

I read about a Barnard freshman named Sarah Dooley reputed to be the next big talent, and it looks like she lives up to the hype.

Funny YouTube mockumentary series (locations include a Reid bathroom):

Original songs:

Bookish Girl

There have been a few times I did NOT take books from the NYT or laundry room shelves (yay), and a few times I did (oy). I used Borders coupons to buy 2 more S&S crossword collections. And I just had to go to the Strand when I had time between Tribeca Film Fest movies in the neighborhood. I brought my want list and only had time to check the outside carts. I got two $1 books that were not on the list, but could have been. With online shopping, I've forgotten the fun of making discoveries at used bookstores. It's the only kind of shopping I enjoy. I'll go back eventually and look inside, but their regular prices aren't always great. I hadn't been there in years - so long, that I forgot where it is and walked downtown instead of up from 11th St. on both Broadway and 4th Ave. and almost had to ask for directions until I finally saw the outside bargain carts.

When buying my books, I walked right past the intimidating bag check since I was just going to the register to pay. I was not stopped, but I think my large bag could be a problem, a la Housing Works, if I ever really shop there. When I got home, I happened to get a designer online bag store e-mail and ordered a smaller bag. I think. I'm not sure if it's actually smaller or if it will fit on my shoulder. Even discounted, it was more than I usually pay (3 figures!) but once in a while I splurge.

I read:

"The Dead Hollywood Moms Society" by Lindsay Maracotta - Funny, biting take on evil Hollywood with a pretty good murder mystery plot.

"I Shouldn't Be Telling You This" by Mary Breasted - 1983 novel about a recent Radcliffe graduate working for a newspaper that sounds an awful lot like the NYT. The character smokes, drinks, smokes pot, sleeps with married men and is in over her head at the job. Bleh. The author is Radcliffe '72 and was an NYT reporter, but I'm not claiming the story is in any way autobiographical.

Another class of '72 graduate from my own school, Rebecca Goldstein (who I didn't know), wrote "The Mind-Body Problem," about a Barnard grad in the Princeton philosophy department (like the author), struggling with school and her marriage to math genius Noam Kimmel. The book is from 1983 so I don't think Noam is based on any NPL members. The philosophy got too dense for my lazy brain (mattering maps?), and I was happy to finish. I did like the mention of CU artist Sam Steinberg (everyone from my era has a Sam painting), and this observation: "There were Jews at Princeton, of course, but nobody seemed Jewish. At Columbia even the non-Jews had seemed Jewish."

Tribeca 2008

This was a busy week as I had 10 Tribeca Film Festival tickets. The movies in this year's festival didn't thrill me in anticipation, but most turned out to be worthwhile.

Just like in "Wordplay" Q&A's we could count on the sudoku question, I've come to expect certain generic topics in all Q&A's: How long was the shoot? What was the budget? What did you shoot it in? (these from film school/industry types - do most people really care if they used 16mm or whatever?) Is the movie going to be released? Where did you come up with the idea? How did (famous star) get involved? Not always the most interesting sessions, but I appreciate the filmmakers showing up. They all did, except the "Quiet Chaos" director who was there previously but had already left.

My selections were almost all at the AMC Village VII. This is near my cousin B's (and it was her birthday Friday), but I never got in touch or arranged to meet. Sorry. I soon felt like a commuter on the C and L trains. The films:

"Hotel Gramercy Park" - This hotel is around the corner from MetLife and we occasionally had luncheons in its faded restaurant. This documentary talks about the property's recent Ian Schrager transformation to a hot boutique hotel. The movie does not forget the longtime owning family and their personal tragedies, as well as a few quirky tenants who stay on through renovation. Best moment: Paris Hilton is turned away from the opening.

"Secret of the Grain" - Uh, I don't know how this was because I didn't set the alarm and missed the 12:15pm showing.

"Quiet Chaos (Caos Calmo)" - Set in modern Rome, this is a lovely portrait of a man and his young daughter coping with his wife's sudden death.

"Fermat's Room" - How could NPLers not like this Spanish thriller that features math/logic problems?

"Two Mothers" - Fascinating documentary about German filmmaker Rosa von Praunheim's search for the adoptive parents he didn't know he had until age 58. The subject was there for an interesting and informative Q&A.

"Baghdad High" - Ordinary high school students in Iraq were given video cameras to document their senior year. The boys were charming and managed to be typical teens in spite of what was going on around them. I had to miss the Q&A to get to the next movie...

..."Bitter & Twisted" - While waiting for the movie to start, some random people around me were talking and they both happened to be Australian. What a coincidence! But not really - the movie was Australian. The storytelling was elliptical and I couldn't really get into this quirky suburban family's woes after one son dies. The reviews were very positive, but I wasn't on the film's wavelength and even considered walking out.

"Yonkers Joe" - I ran into Pen Gwyn the day before and she had tickets to this too, but decided to skip the 10:30am showing. I made it because I was still up from the day before. I took out my contacts for 6 hours during the night, put them back in, and headed back down to the theater. This movie was both gritty (gamblers, con men) and poignant (a Downs syndrome son on the verge of adulthood). Strong performances.

"The 27 Club" - after the Strand visit mentioned in the previous entry, I went to this movie at the Village East Cinema a block east on Second Ave. It's about a fictional rock star who OD's at age 27 like other famous rock stars, and the effect on his longtime friend and bandmate. Joe Anderson is an actor to watch.

"Story of the Red Hills" - I had another hour to kill before this movie, also at Village East. I could have gone back to the Strand but I was woozy from lack of sleep and wasn't sure I could stay awake, so I headed home. I stuck the ticket in a prominent place in the emergency exit gate of the subway. I didn't see anyone take it and for all I know, it's still there. I went home and was soon asleep.

So of the 10 tickets, I only used 8, making the package the same price as individual tickets. Oh well, could have been worse. TFF, if you're reading this, please consider bringing back the Daytimer Pass! Or some pass that doesn't require specific movies that's more reasonable than the $1100 Hudson.

All week, my cough was a problem. I finally bought medicine midweek (I had to immediately return a package expiring 10/07 to Duane Reade, but they were nice about replacing it) and I think the cough is fading at last. Meanwhile, I always had my "American Cannibal" water bottle filled and ready, but still probably disturbed people when I just had to cough (like during the graphic sex scene in "Quiet Chaos"). All the water meant I often had to go to the bathroom, which wasn't great since there usually were lines, and one stall in the limited number available had a door that didn't lock.

I didn't go out of my way (or even not out of my way) to talk to anyone, so there was no homey feeling like there was at Sundance. By now, enough time has passed so that I was not recognized. But I was there for movies, and that was rewarding. Audiences were enthusiastic and all the showings were well attended, but not uncomfortably packed. Only once did I have to sit way up front in a bad seat, and it was my fault for getting there at the last minute.

I was tempted to buy additional ticket packages for night and weekend performances, and I'm still tempted to go to some of the awards showings tomorrow. But I think enough's enough.

But wait, there's more...

Club Freetime listed a free concert last Sunday at Town Hall with pianist Richard Goode. The program was good (groan) and the price was certainly right. N has recordings by Goode, and wanted to come, so I went downtown earlier Sunday afternoon and picked up tickets. I might have been able to get them at the door, but wanted to be sure. I thought of hanging out until the concert at the nearby NYT, but there was plenty of time, so I went back home. Then back down for the 5 pm show.

It's best to be on the left so you can see the keyboard, and our seats were on the right. But at that price, we couldn't complain. During intermission, people in back of us speculated on trying to move to left-side seats, but they realized they'd have to wait until everyone was back to see what seats were empty and by then there wouldn't be enough time to get to their original seats if necessary. So everyone stayed put.

Other than the fact that my cough was pretty bad (I tried to let loose only between movements but it was a struggle), it was a nice concert. He did the Moonlight Sonata, which seemed too fast in the first movement and slow in the second, but just right (blazing fast) in the third. I used to be able to play that, but never with confidence and probably not at full speed. The only other piece I knew was a Chopin mazurka. He did a lot of Chopin, and I'll have to see if any of those pieces are in the books I inherited from my great-aunt.

Tomorrow the same free series features Tashi, who I haven't seen since the '70s. They haven't been together lately and this is a reunion. But the program is modern and not appealing to me. Besides, I have work to do.

I gave N a tour of the NYT building, and then we met a visiting puzzler for dinner. After some missteps, we found our intended location, Junior's. I don't eat cheesecake but I had a nice piece of chicken. Afterward, we walked around a little and the Times Square area was bustling. It got quieter further north, and I realized I needed toilet paper and headed for the 57th St. Associated. I like the city that never sleeps, where you can always buy supplies.

The next day I met (different) N for lunch at Turkuaz. I hadn't eaten there in person since it was under different ownership, and it was quiet and nice. The lunch special menu didn't have my favorite yogurt chicken kebab, but the zucchini pancakes and stuffed cabbage were good.

I was feeling fat, but the scale was acting strange and I couldn't weigh myself. I couldn't find the manual, but the indicator LO didn't bode well. I tried removing and reinstalling the battery, but that made it not display at all. The nearby hardware store didn't have the right size, but I picked up a battery at Radio Shack near the movies. At first, nothing displayed even with the new battery (uh-oh!) but I put it in again, waited, and finally the weight registered. It was high. Too much eating out.

The Martha Stewart crosswords segment aired yesterday. I'll talk about it when I get a picture they're supposed to send.