I got him a combined Chanukah/birthday present this year (which I'll give him tomorrow night) (and no, he doesn't know this blog exists) -- tickets to see Mary Poppins on Broadway. It's not the show I would choose, but he really really REALLY wants to see it. So I sprung for two seats in the first row of the front mezzanine -- better than orchestra for this show because of the flying...We're seeing the show on February 5. I'll also take him to dinner, not sure where yet...
but we're also going to go out to dinner with friends, probably the weekend after his birthday. there's a group of friends who go out every time it's someone's birthday. I have to start thinking of where I'd like us to go for Drew's birthday so that we can pick a date and time and get the group together....
We are slowly recovering from the Christmas blizzard....you know the deal....you race to the grocery store before the storm to make sure you have enough provisions, even if you just did grocery shopping a few days ago..then you hunker down during the storm, and wait it out....and then you have to dig out....
The picture I will carry in my head from this storm....my two college-age daughters, wrapped in blankets on the living room couch...watching DVD's from when they were younger ....Anastasia seems to have been the video of choice....it was their favorite back in 1997....
I've never read the novel, and I've never seen the John Wayne version of True Grit, so I had no preconceived notions when we saw the Jeff Bridges movie yesterday. I've since found out that the John Wayne movie was filmed in the Colorado Rockies when the story is set in Arizona and Oklahoma, that the actress who played Mattie in the first movie was 21 though the character is 14, and that the John Wayne movie changed the ending form how it wa sin the novel. The new movie is supposedly true to the novel.
This version of the story is very gritty and harsh. Jeff Bridges' performance is full of bravado and pathos. Loved Matt Damon's Le Beouf - his Texas Ranger bordered on the ridiculous.Hailee Steinfeld as Matttie...well, that girl deserves all the buzz she's getting.Josh Brolin was pure evil....there's dark humor, terrifying moments, satisfaction and redemption, and a bittersweet ending that I just didn't see coming.
And why not? The secular aspects of the season have become deeply ingrained in our American tradition. It's part of our communal heritage.
Not to mention, I have plenty of company: the most famous Christmas songs were written by Jewish men -- Irving Berlin wrote "White Christmas" and Mel Torme wrote "The Christmas Song". Barbra Streisand, Neil Sedaka, Kenny G. and (Lord help us) Neil Diamond have all recorded Christmas albums. Barry Manilow recorded THREE Christmas albums. Allan Sherman recorded one of the funniest Christmas songs ever. And Phil Spector produced one of the best-selling Christmas albums of all time.
I could go on and on in this vein....but Adam Sandler did it better....
No, Christmas is not "my" holiday, you won't find me at Midnight Mass. But the ideals of the holiday -- peace on Earth, good will towards man, charity, benevolence, altruism, friendship, generosity, kindness, compassion -- are the ideals good people of all faiths advocate and support. The gathering of friends and family is something to be cherished. It's no wonder that many religions and ethnic groups celebrate joyous holidays at this, the darkest time of the year, as we grow closer to those around us and seek to banish the darkness from our lives...
So you will find me at a friend's house tonight, basking in the glow of her Christmas tree and enjoying a festive meal. And tomorrow, the fulfillment of a stereotype -- going to the movies and out for Chinese food (thank you, Justice Kagan!).
So let me wish you all the joys of the season. Happy holidays -- Christmas, Chanuka, Kwanzaa, Festivus or whatever you choose to celebrate -- and a happy and healthy New Year to one and all.
Had to make a presentation at work yesterday. I think it went well. My coworkers say I always present interesting and amusing cases.
Annual holiday party at the office today. We serve breakfast and entertain the kids with magicians, crafts and visits to Santa, and everyone goes home by lunchtime. It's been a long time since i brought my kids to an office party....though Jen now has a once-a-year job as a cartoon character at someone else's office Christmas party. I am the mother of Minnie Mouse!
Why is it that the most macho-looking guys on the subway are the ones you want to tell to "man up"? Those poles and handrails are there so people can hang on while the train is moving, not so that you can lean on them (and on my fingers) looking "cool" .
Winter officially started on Tuesday, but I'm already "done" with cold weather ans snow. Wish I had a Caribbean trip planned for this year, but alas....
My Avon lady gave me more of that great hand cream -- the cold weather is sucking the life out of my skin.
My brand new pink lipgloss exploded in my makeup bag yesterday....everything was pink and sticky....
Nothing is as exciting as a new tube of mascara and a new compact of eyeshadow when you're feeling drab ....
Missed the lunar eclipse the other night. totality was around 3:00 in the morning. I set my alarm for 2:30 but ...well, what seemed like a fun idea at 11 PM didn't appeal as much in the wee hours...looked out the window, saw the orange tinge to the sky but decided it wasn't worth the effort to put on a coat and go outside to look at the moon....
Finding out about Alan got me thinking about other people I haven't heard from/about in awhile. Found out yesterday that Jen's celebrity friend, C.J., is not currently performing....his band, Push Play, broke up in April. He's writing music for other acts right now....
Loving my nook...I've downloaded a lot of books, and love having my library so accessible. right now I'm reading Eat, Pray, Love. I did not like the Julia Roberts movie -- thought it was too long and dragged at times -- but after I saw the movie I got curious about the real Elizabeth Gilbert ....and I am enjoying the book more than I thought I would.
I think I finally got the hang of blogging, I look forward to writing every day.
Jen said something to Drew the other day about how her housemates are all turning 21 in the next weeks and months, and how they're going to be able to legally buy beer for their house parties.
And Drew told her "You're 20 years old, you're not allowed to drink."
There's a huge difference between underage drinking at 14 and underage drinking at 20.
The reality is, she's been going to college parties since...well, since she started college. I remember her telling me about one party, when she was a freshman, where she got doused with beer because "some guy at the party was drunk and rowdy but the people whose house it was couldn't throw him out..."
She's 20 years old, in most countries around the world she could go into a bar or liquor store and make a purchase without having to bring fake ID.
When I was her age, I could legally buy alcoholic beverages in the State of New York.
I think I'm more concerned with whether she's being sensible about drinking....as in, "don't drink to excess", as in, "don't drink and drive", as in, "take the keys away from a friend who's been drinking" and "don't let the party get out of control." You know, all the "drink responsibly" messages....
I'm not there to see what she does. She's got a good head on her shoulders. All I can do is to hope she uses it.
I met Alan about 10-11 years ago. At the time I was practicing law with a large firm in NYC. An attorney about 3 years younger than me, he and I were adversaries on an insurance ocverage suit. As that case wound its way through the NYC courts, Alan and I became friends.
In fact, Alan confided in me that he was unhappy with his law firm and was looking to change the direction of his career. I thought he would fit in well with a small law firm I'd been assoicated with in the 1980's, and recommended that he seek employment there.
It was a perfect match and I was happy I'd played matchmaker. He was at that firm for several years, would have stayed there foreever if the firm hadn't dissolved.
He moved onto another law firm, and we'd have lunch occasionally -- it was a business lucnh but also a social occasion -- his firm was trying to get more business from my company.
He was a nice guy, Jewish, single...we never connected as anything other than friends. He always asked about my children, about their plans for college....
It occurred to me a few weeks ago that I hadn't heard from Alan in months.Many, many months.
It occurred to me that Alan would be a good person to ask about a job for my sister, an experienced trial attorney who despertely needs a career move.
It never occurred to me that when I'd go looking for Alan....I'd find his obituary. He died 12/21/2009, a full year ago....
Weight was up a bit. I knew why, too -- a lot of dining out and not making the best choices.
The show -- well, I missed the live finale...thought I'd catch it on video a few days later....never happened....but I found out ada was chosen to be a finalist along with Frado and Patrick.... Patrick won....saw Frado on a local talk show and he looks good...
I don't know, maybe it was just this season, maybe I'm just bored with the show, but I couldn't muster up a lot of interest in this year's competition. I'm not sure I'll watch the enxt season, and even if I do, I don't think I'll be blogging about it.
The movie opens today, but Drew and I got to see it a few days ago at a special preview.
I've never seen the original Tron, Disney's 1982 homage to video games and gamers. Drew has it on videotape and tells me he'll show it to me -- we were supposed to watch it before seeing Legacy, but ....
Well, anyhow, you don't need to have seen the original movie in order to follow the plot of the sequel. the orginal protagonist, Kevin Flyyn, has disappeared, leaving behind a 12 year old son, Sam. Years later, Sam goes to the video arcade his father used to run -- closed down now and preserved in all its 1980's glory -- and somehow finds his way into the digital world his father invented. He finds himself engaged in combat with "programs" as he seeks out his father and does battle with his father's alter-ego, CLU.
It's a 3D movie, but interestingly, the "real world" sequences are shot in 2D and the 3D effects occur only when Sam is in the digital world.
I enjoyed this movie a lot, and now I want to go back and watch the original.
We also got to see the trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean 4 ...can't wait for this movie to come out next May!
Last year, Drew and I and a group of friends went to an Italian place in Drew's neighborhood. There was a modified prix-fixe menu (we had a choice of about 5 different entrees), open bar, champagne toast at midnight, DJ and dancing. a great time was had by all...
This year I think we may end up at a Mediterrenean shish kebob restaurant. Same deal as last year, plus entertainment -- belly dancing.Drew and I have eaten at this place many times, the price is right...sounds like a perfect choice for New Years'.
It's that "wonderful" time of the semester -- final exams. Jen's last day of class was the 9th and Becca's last day was the 10th. "Finals week" (a misnomer, the exam period is really about 10 days) is now in full swing, and exams are set to end by the 22nd.
This is Becca's first "finals week", of course. She's a bit...intense...about the process, planning out her studying time and preparing for the tests.
A few weeks ago I got a letter from some association at her college, asking me to pay for a "finals survival kit", a basket of snack foods to keep her going while she's stressing out. I could choose healthy snacks like fresh fruit, or "good" snacks like chips and cookies, or (for an additional fee, of course) I could choose a combination of both. Of course I chose....both.
Jen is an "old hand" at finals, of course, and much more relaxed about it. She even manages a weekend at home between the end of classes and her first exam. The parents' association at her school sells "finals survival kits" to be delivered to the dorms, and usually it's the parents of freshmen who buy the kits. As a junior, jen is perfectly capable of providing her own snacks....she brings them to school after raiding the kitchen at home.
So i am wishing both of my college girls good luck on exams. Study hard, girls, and do well!
Did really well on the new program this week. Lost almost 3 pounds! That takes care of the weight gain over Thanksgiving and then some....
the final four go home. Interesting to see Ada's family actually crying over her, I still feel upset that they didn't send her a video....Frado did a charity fundraiser at home on Staten Island...
and Jillian and Bob get to pay surprise visits to the contestants...
and they're training for a marathon...
weigh in, and the weight loss over 6 weeks will be the determining factor in who will be the final three... it's Frado and Patrick above the yellow line, Elizabeth and Ada below, and America gets to vote on who goes to the final and who goes home.
So yesterday Drew and I headed into Manhattan to ejoy the charms of the city at Christmas.
We boarded a Long Island Rail Road train the Polar Express around lunchtime. I noticed that several of our fellow passengers were dressed as Santa, elves, etc. Didn't realize it until later, but that was our first encounter with participants in this year's SantaCon.
Our first stop -- a street vendor for a soft, hot pretzel.
And look, he even has chestnuts!
Next up, the windows at Lord & Taylor. You actually had to get on a line to see the windows. But you were entertained by piped-in Christmas carols and Salvation Army bell ringers. In fact, all of 5th Avenue was one big musical festival of Christmas music.
At Lord &; Taylor, this year's theme was holiday memories of New Yorkers, and there were scenes of NYC Christmases past and present.
Our next stop was Bryant Park, behind the main branch of the NYC Public Library. No photo of the library, I was disappointed to see Patience and Fortitude no longer wear wreaths...
But they've added a lovely tree and skating ring at the park, as well as dozens of small shops.
Continuing up 5th Avenue, our next stop was Sax 5th Avenue. By this point the crowds were so thick I literally had to hang onto Drew to keep from being irretrievably separated.
The windows are all about a little girl's fantasy:
Bergdorf Goodman's windows are about fantasy travel.
And let us not forget the giant snowflake that hangs over 5th Avenue:
Cartier is wrapped up like a giant present:
The main attraction, of course, is Rockefeller Center. It was very crowded, though, so we didn't stay long.
And the Swarovski tree topper:
On 6th Avenue we saw giant ornaments:
We took a small break from the Christmas crowds and walked down to Times Square. Which was just as crowded, of course. A quick stop at our favorite hotel to visit the rest rooms, and then we looked at the ball atop One Times Square. they haven't reset it for New Year's Eve yet....would have liked a picture, but my camera,,,well, all I got was a blur of light...
Hopped on the subway down to Canal Street. Chinatown was relatively uncrowded and quiet. No bell ringers, no piped-in music. Went to our favorite hole-in-the-wall, Wo Hop. Feasted on fried dumplings, wonton soup, lo mein and sweet and pungent chicken. We were way too full to even think about stopping anywhere fore dessert.
We saved the best holiday windows for last:
The Herald Square windows tell the "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" story:
the 34th Street windows always tell the story of Miracle on 34th Street, the orginial movie, of course.
Macy's also likes to decorate outside...this year they giveaway toy was a Smurf, so there's a giant Smurf on the marquis:
And an elf:
the last stop before we wnet home, the Amtrak tree in Penn Station. I was a bit disappointed that the model trains weren't moving -- they were running when I passed by the other day:
It was very crowded all over the city, and we did A LOT of walking, but it was a wonderful day...
So last week I was lamenting that neither of my daughters would be home for Chanukah...
...and Becca scheduled a dental appointment for Wednesday afternoon, and showed up for dinner at home Wednesday night. And before she headed back to school, she went grocery shopping...in the pantry closet and the refrigerator. Seriously, she went back to school with latkes, matzoh balls, chicken soup ...
It's a phenomenon I've seen quite a bit lately.
Becca's experience at school...well, she doesn't have a traditional dorm, she lives in an apartment with 6 other girls, they have a full kitchen. they don't have a traditional dining hall, their meal plan gives them access to an a la carte cafeteria, and Becca says the food is "awful". So of course she has to raid the refrigerator whenever she's home.
Jen's experience was a bit different, of course. During Jen's first two years of college, she lived on campus and usually ate in the dining hall, so her at-home shopping was mostly for supplemental items for her dorm room -- Easy Mac, Cup of Noodles, bottled water...And, as I recall, they ordered a lot of pizza. But now that she lives off campus and has to provide all her own food, she makes sure to pack lots of stuff in the car when she drives back to school.
I guess we have to feed our kids even after they move out.
Gained a bit over Thanksgiving, not a shock. Could have been worse.
Weight Watchers has roiled out a new program, all the point values are different. I have to learn program all over again. A real challenge, but I will manage. Still annoyed that there's no app for my Droid...they gave us a calc ulator with a shortcut to the mobile website, not nearly as functional as the app they made for iPhone -- I ought to know, I have the app o the i/touch, but it loses functionality when I'm out of wifi range.
So last week Lisa went home, and now there are 6 players. After tonight there will be 4 -- there will be a red line and a yellow line. It's the last week on campus.
first up is a pop challenge, with a money prize. It's sponsored by Subway sandwiches and it's about exercises...got a phone call and missed who won...figured I would check the website...found out that Brendan and Patrick were the final two, and Brendan won the prize $10,000.
Back from my phone call, missed all the medical reports, and it's time for the next challenge. they're doing step ups and running a mile while carrying all the weight they've lost since arriving on campus, and the winner gets a one pound advantage as well as a prize, an in-home gym -- Ada wins!!!!
Then the last chance workout...brutal...
Ada is up first. 6 pounds -- that's a good loss for her. and she's got the one pound advantage.
Elizabeth is next. 4 pounds, and she's not happy.
Next up, Mark....7 pounds. He's disappointed, he worked so hard this week.
Patrick comes to the scales...he needs more than 11 pounds to be safe. He got 12! He'll be part of the final 4.
Frado's turn. He needs more than 9 pounds to be safe. 15 pounds and he's yelling with joy.
Mark and Elizabeth are below the yellow line. Who else will be there? Ada or Brendan?
Brendan comes up to the scale. He needs more than 10 to stay above the yellow line, more than 5 to be above the red line. He lost 5 pounds, he's bleow the red line and is headed home.
so ada is safe.
and Mark and Elizabeth are below the yellow line.
Mark is confident his friends will keep him in.
Elizabeth thinks people will act in their own interest.
Especialy so because my desire to become a lawyer was formed, in part, in a high school history class.
It was 10th grade, and we were studying European history. And my very creative teacher decided to put Napoleon Bonaparte on trial for crimes against the people of France. Everyone in the class got to play a role -- those who didn't have specific characters sat on the jury -- and we all had to write a term paper about our experience. Two students were assigned to be prosecutors and two were assigned to be Bonaparte's defense counsel. I was on the defense team and we got an acquittal!
and while I was thinking about that history class, I also remembered Portia, the female attorney in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. I have issues with some of the characters in that play, but Portia...."The quality of mercy is not strained..."
Shakespeare really had a thing about lawyers, didn't he? "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers". That's the famous quote from Henry IV Part 2. Such a misunderstood quote -- the character who uttered the words urged killing the lawyers to create anarchy in an otherwise well-ordered society.
I guess, if I had to choose, I'd want to be a lawyer in Shakespeare's England.
We saw Tangled last weekend. This is Disney's reworking of the Rapunzel fairytale. We saw it in 3D, the newest trend, and we made usre to see a late evening show so as to avoid being with crowds of kids (although the three young girls sitting behind us oohed and aahed at the 3D effects but otherwise kept very quiet during the film).
Many elements of the story are derivative, reminding me of the many classic Disney fairytales I saw as a child or when my own children were little. The back story of the king and queen and their longed-for daughter reminded me of Sleeping Beauty, and Mother Gothel reminded me of the Evil Queen in Snow White. alan Menkin's music sounded familiar, but then again, he wrote the music for Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid, didn't he?
I loved Flynn Rider, the unlikely hero, and I loved how Rapunzel is a very resourcesful, 21st-Century princess who can take care of herself. Loved how the movie is full of drama, romance and comedy. Max the horse made my day.
And I can already see Rapunzel running around the Magic Kingdom in a blonde wig and purple dress.
Interestingly, and on a personal note, in some ways the Rapunzel character reminded me of Jen. And not because of the blonde hair. Some of the body movements and facial expressions -- it's as if they used my daughter as the model for the character....
So despite the pre-holiday meltdown and drama my sisters created, Jen and Becca and I had a great Thanksgiving lunch with Drew, and a lovely Thanksgiving dinner with my parents, family and friends. I don't think it's a bad thing for two college girls to split their holiday between two sets of relatives, and I think my daughters enjoyed being with Drew's family no matter what they told their aunts. There was no drama at either home Thursday, though my sisters...let's just say the weekend did not resemble Thursday at all....
Becca spent most of the weekend working! The job she had at the mall last year -- well, she can work there anytime she wants, and she wound up taking shifts Wednesday, Friday (Black Friday shopping!), Saturday and Sunday. Nice paycheck for that, I'm sure. Considering that she doesn't work while at school, the money will come in handy. Of course, she made time for her social life -- or rather, her boyfriend...
Jen, on the other hand, spent her time taking care of chores - like servicing her car, going to the dentist, getting her hair done -- as well as catching up with her friends. She doens't have a retail job around here, she's got a job at college, as a teaching assistant in an elementary school.
I think Jen is starting to really understand why I ask her to call me after she drives back up to school, that there's a reason I ask her to check in when she gets back to school. All weekend long I told her "It's not your driving that worries me, it's the morons on the road who scare me." Sunday night, as she was driving back to school, she narrowly avoided an accident. The car directly in front of her hit the car in front of him -- but thanks to her ABS brakes and a quick reaction time, Jen avoided hitting the other two cars. She had to pull over to the side of the road to make sure her car was all right (and, I suspect, to regain her composure), but she drove away unscathed. Must have been scary...
They just went back to school, but I am already missing my girls. Tonight is the first night of Chanukah, and for the first time in their lives, neither of my daughters will be home for the holiday. I sent them off to school with electric menorahs and lots of chocolate coins and dreidels, of course, but ...sigh....