life in and around NYC is insane

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Went out to dinner recently at a local restaurant on the South Shore. It's right on the canal, just a short distance from the Bay. It was a warm spring afternoon, fairly late in the day. The seagulls were circling the area.

At first I thought they were majestic know, like Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Then I remembered my summer job at the beach....and what I REALLY think of seagulls.

Rats with wings.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Daniel Radcliffe on the Today Show

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

of boys and beer

So when Jen was home for spring break, she heard me say I was headed out to the dry cleaners, so she handed me a camisole -- a pretty thing with spaghetti straps and sequins, that she wears to parties and clubbing and such.

It positively reeked of beer.

When she broke up with her boyfriend, B. several months ago, all she told me was that "He wasn't treating me the way I want to be treated."  That's basically her stock answer, the "I'm not ready to tell you the whole story" response.

But now...she tells me the whole story:

Seems she broke up with B because B cheated on her with his ex girlfriend.  Now B and his ex are back together.  All three of them were planning to be at a party, and Jen was prepared to be mature about it....but apparently B was not.  He spilled a beer on her.

My first thought was "good riddance!"

But I hurt for my baby.  She's going to have her heart broken by losers like that....

Monday, April 18, 2011

Happy Passover to one and all

Exodus 15:20 And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.

In honor of Passover, a song by Debbie Friedman:

Paul Revere’s Ride

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,–
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."
Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.
Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.
Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,–
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.
Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel’s tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,–
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.
Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse’s side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry’s height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.
A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.
It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer’s dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.
It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.
It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.
You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,—
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.
So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,—
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mini trip report - it's a Marco Polo world

Another fun day in NYC!

Took the LIRR in to Penn. Took the subway to Times Square 'cause it was raining, then walked to the Discovery Center on 44th. This was the exhibit hall where we saw the King Tut artifacts. Well, now they have two smaller exhibits - a display of artifacts from Pompeii (the one we came to see) and a display of props and costumes from the Harry Potter movies (which we will see another time). For obvious reasons Pompeii was a lot less crowded.

The Pompeii exhibit is amazing. Obviously it's only a small portion of what was found at the site, but ... Well, so many aspects of everyday life in the first century were preserved - the gods and goddesses, the furniture, the art work...the grafitti on the walls, the dice and loaded dice, the ads for the local tavern and fast food joints, even the erotica in the bordello. It made Roman life come alive.

There was also a display of the body casts. When the ash from Vesuvius fell it buried the victims. When the bodies decayed they left hollows in the ash. Archaelogists poured plaster into the hollows. You can see how the bodies were posed when the victim died. So many of them had their hands over their mouths, trying to keep from choking on the dust and gas.

There isn't much in the souvenir shop about Pompeii, though I did buy a couple of refrigerator magnets. Then I went over to tbhe Harry Potter gift shop, "shoppe". Over here you can find "Ollivander's" and "Florish and Blotts". I bought a couple of chocolate frogs for my daughters.

And did I mention the Ford Anglia sitting on the marquee of the Discovery Center? We must go back...

Then we walked through a very crowded Times Square and took the subway to Chinatown. By now it was raining harder, so we didn't really browse the shops on Canal or Mott, but headed straight to Wo Hop for dinner. The line wasn't too bad for a Saturday night. And the hot tea a soup were very welcome.

Had to wait out a thunderstorm before we could walk back to the subway. Right now I am on a train headed home.

Lesson of the day...avoid buying cheap umbrellas on a windy day. Mine wound up in a trash can that looked like an umbrella graveyard.
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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

roommate karma

Some of the most important lessons you learn in college aren't things that take place in the classroom.  Professors teach academics, but college teaches a whole range of life skills.

The dorms at Becca's college are set up as apartments -- 2-3 bedrooms, living room, full kitchen, bathroom(s).  Becca was assigned to a three bedroom apartment, which she was expected to share with 7 other girls.One of the girls moved out just a few days into the school year.

Initially everyone got along, but eventually there were disagreements.  Seven girls in a small space like that, and no one used to living on her own with roommates instead of family, and there are bound to be conflicts.   Little stuff, like who needs to buy paper towels and who forgot to do the dishes.  Bigger stuff, like who's having overnight guests and what level of noise is acceptable when others are trying to study.    the usual freshman stuff. 

By Christmas it was clear that Becca was not happy with any of her roommates. And I suspect the feeling is mutual.

I'm not going to speculate about what they think of Becca.  I'm sure there are things she does that bother them, I'm sure they have legitimate complaints about some of the things she does.

But Becca's biggest complaint was that she had nothing in common with them, that the other six girls had bonded and that they didn't include her in anything.  But they felt very free to use the things Becca brought for the dorm room -- her TV, her dishes, pots and pans, etc.  And they were very careless with Becca's things.  There was the broken coffee cup, the ruined frying pan.

The straw that broke the camel's of the girls went into Becca's closet and borrowed a shirt, and when Becca confronted her she said "Oh, is this yours?  I found it in my room, I thought it was my sister's and she left it here." 

Do not come between my fashionista and her clothes!

Anyhow, about a month so so ago, the other six girls told Becca that the six of them planned to room together sophomore year, and that she'd need to find a new roommate and apartment mates. I think Becca was a bit hurt, but she really didn't want to room with those six girls next year anyhow.

And then there were five.

It seems that one of the girls decided to bake brownies for her boyfriend.  but these were not ordinary brownies. There was a certain illicit herbal ingredient added to the batter.  The aroma from this herbal ingredient is unmistakable, and  it captured the RA's attention.  The young baker was barred from the housing lottery, but was randomly assigned to dorm space after the lottery was over. 

And then the fivesome broke up.  Two of the girls, dance majors, decided to room with other dancers.  The other three decided to stick together.  Of the six girls in the room, I think the three who plan to live together next year are the ones Becca likes the least.

Well, as with most colleges, housing at Becca's school is done by lottery.  You get a lottery number based on your class status -- students who are juniors this year, and who will be seniors next year, get to pick housing first, followed by sophomores.  Current freshmen are the last to pick housing for the next school year. 

Becca took a lot of AP credits in high school, so even though this is her freshman year, she's a sophomore for purposes of choosing her dorm room.  She got a very low lottery number, and she and her new roommate got one of the nicer apartments, on a good floor near the best study lounge.

I don't know where the dancers wound up, but the other one of the worst apartments in the building. 

Becca said "They would have done so much better if they'd stuck with me."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A civil war musical - Shenandoah

Saw this show on a junior high field trip.
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The Civil War

I majored in history when I was in college. So of course it cannot escape my notice that the Civil War began 150 years ago today. I've always found that era to be fascinating. I'm loving the attention it's getting in the media right now.
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Monday, April 11, 2011

tax time again

home sick today, so I managed to do my tax returns today...a few days early for once.

"If Patrick Henry thought that taxation without representation was bad, he should see how bad it is with representation." -- Farmer's Almanac

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Managed to make it through the whole winter ... unscathed by cold and flu season ... But caught a cold on a warm spring day ... Not fair!

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

mini trip report -- John's and the Al Hirschfeld theater.

One of my favorite Theater District restaurants is John's, located on 44th Street at 8th Avenue. Located in what was once a church, the place is famed for its brick oven pizza and its slogan "No Slices" (you can only buy a whole pie). It's loud, it's noisy, it's always crowded. and it's one of the best places for a quick Italina meal in the theater District.

Drew and I met for diner last night.  He had the linguini with white clam sauce, I had chicken parmigiana with penne in marinara sauce, and we indulged in garlic bread topped with melted mozzarella. 

The it was off to the Al Hirschfeld theater, 45th and 8th, for How To Succeed In Business wWthout Really Trying.

(I remember when the Al Hirschfeld was still the Martin Beck.  I saw Phylicia Rashad in Into the Woods, and there was a huge fairytale boot on the marquis of the theater. )

(And, of course, who could forget all those great drawings in the New York Times, Arts & Leisure section, all signed "Al Hirschfeld" , and the number next to his signature would tell you how many times he'd hidden his daughter Nins's name in the  picture.)

Well, How To Succeed is one of Drew's favorite musicals.He loves the movie from the mid 1960's starring Bobby Morse, and he was so disappointed not to have seen Matthew Broderick do the revival a few years ago, so when he heard that Daniel Radcliffe and John Larroquette were starring in a new revival of the show, he simply had to have tickets for it.    I'd seen part of the movie, but didn't have the same fondness for it that Drew does.

so we went last night, and I loved it.

The score isn't Loesser's best work -- that would be Guys and Dolls. But I did like the music, and the dance numbers.  I empathized with "Coffee Break", the song the office workers sing when the coffee machine turns up empty.  the show stoppers are "I Believe In You" and "Brotherhood of Man".

I have to admire Radcliffe.  He's only 21 years old -- that's very young to carry a show -- and this is the first time he's singing and dancing on the stage.  And to do a believable American accent for an American audience?  Radcliffe is still learning his craft, but he did a very good job in the role of finch. 

Larroquette, on the other hand, is an old pro -- even though this is his Broadway debut, he's had a whole career before live audiences, in off-Broadway productions, though he's best known for his work in television (Dan Fielding in Night Court is his most famous role.) He has a comic sense of timing that just won't quit.  the funniest bits in the show are between Radcliffe and Larroquette. 

After the show, Radcliffe and Larroquette remained on teh stage to pitch for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids.  Twice a year Broadway Cares runs fundraising campaigns where theatergoers are asked to contribute to the proram. Cast members stand in the lobby after the show, holding buckets so that theater patrons can donate cash.  Radcliffe read a statement about all the good works the organization does, which led Larroquette to quip "You're British?"  (Gee, Harry Potter is British, imagine that!)  The Larroquette spoke about donating to the organization, and then Radcliffe autioned off the bow tie he wore during the performance -- he raised $2000. 

Drew bought a poster signed by everyone in the cast.  $200, all tax deductible because it's a donation to Broadway Cares. 

After the show, we walked through Times Square, then headed down to 34th Street to catch the railroad home.

This is the kind of NYC evening I live for!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Greece is the word

Not to mention, Italy.

A ten-day trip to the Mediterranean to study Greek and Roman mythology.  Not to mention, good food, good wine and great beaches.
Wish I were going, but's Jen's summer vacation study program.

Really, she gets 6 credits towards her degree.  (Not just for the trip, for the two weeks of online classes and the research paper/project due after the trip.)

Well, she is an English major, after all, she NEEDS a working knowledge of classical mythology.

And why not go right to the source?

I have to admit I'm a bit envious.  And very very nervous.  Jen has never travelled on her own, has never gone so far away from home.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

And in translation

Canterbury Tales - The Prologue - Modern English
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Friday, April 1, 2011


April is the cruelest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

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