life in and around NYC is insane
Thursday, December 27, 2012
I've never seen a non-musical adaptation of the work, and read the book only a few years ago -- got it for free on my nook, I think.
So when I heard they were doing a movie version I was excited and fearful. Some Broadway musicals have been very well done for the screen, others have been a disaster.
We wet to the 11 AM show on Christmas Day. Usually the theater is empty at the first showing on Christmas, but so many people wanted to see Les Miz....Well, I wouldn't say "sold out", but it was close. When we were leaving the theater, the crowd for the next show was incredible.
I loved it. Yes, really. It lives up to the hype, it's a great movie.
What I liked -- Anne Hathaway as Fantine. When she sings "I Dreamed a Dream" ... I was crying. Hugh Jackman as Jean ValJean -- he doesn't have the pure tone to his voice that Colm Wilkinson had, but he acted the part as well as singing it. Speaking of Wilkinson, he makes an excellent Bishop. The "Master of the House" number is much funnier on film, there are small things the actors can do on film to convey their thoughts that would not have worked on the stage. the scene in the convent, which was in the book but not on stage, where the man Valjean saves returns the favor.
What I didn't like -- the song Valjean sings as he's traveling from the inn with Cosette, written just for the movie. It was "meh". Too many close ups of the actors as they sang, took away from the grandeur of the movie. And the "Little People" song that Gavrouche sings -- the song was cut from the stage production during its revivial, and was not added to the movie. It's not essential to the plot, but when he sings the reprise after he's shot -- and he does that on stage and in the movie -- it doesn't "link up".
Overall a great movie.
and we wound up at Chen's for dinner -- a fulfillment of the stereotype.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
So, you may have asked yourselves, songbird is a history geek, songbird loves fantasy, songbird goes to the Rennaisance Faire every summer, so why hasn't songbird gone to Medieval Times?
Truth is, Drew and I went there back in the 90's. Loved it. Planned to go again, but life got in the way.
Then Drew participated in an online auction of some sort, and successfully bid on admission to Medieval Times. The passes could only be used midweek, though, so we had to pick a day when both of us would be off from work.
So we picked the 7:30 show on 12/26. And found ourselves driving from Long Island to Lyndhurst, NJ on a cold, stormy night. What fun we had driving on the Cross Bronx in freezing rain . . .which turned to snow when we hit Ft. Lee. We actually made note of the two hotels within walking distance of Medieval Times, just in case. Fortunately the snow turned to rain by the time we left for home, and at that hour (no traffic!) we we able to take the Lincoln Tunnel, drive crosstown to the Midtown Tunnel and make it home in record time.
As for the evening at the castle . . . The premise is that you are feasting with the King while enjoying a jousting tournament. . .when you enter the lobby you're presented with lots of opportunities to spend your money -- souvenirs, photos with the actors, a full bar, a tour of the dungeon showing medieval torture objects. When you're seated in the arena, you're assigned a knight to root for - we were in the Green Knight's section, where everyone was wearing green paper crowns. We had preferred seating in the front row, so we also received green flags and a souvenir program.
There is no menu -- everyone is fed the same meal ( though vegetarians are offered an alternate selection). Dinner is served without utensils, on pewter plates, to give it a medieval "feel". Our bill of fare consisted of tomato soup, some really soft and chewy flatbread, 1/2 of a rotisserie chicken, a single spare rib (I would have preferred more ribs and less chicken) and roasted potatoes. There were hot apple pastries for dessert.
The show begins while you're eating, mostly demonstrations of horsemanship and falconry, some pageantry. After dinner the intensity builds as you watch jousting and combat. Sparks really fly when swords meet.
Funniest moment of the night - the Master of Ceremonies announcing "If you parked your chariot in our courtyard, New Jersey license plate number xxxxxxx, you left your candles burning. Please go attend to it, as we don't have jumper cables." He couldn't finish this speech with a straight face.
My souvenir of the night? Not the carnation the Green Knight threw to me (though that was nice). I bought myself another addition to my pewter collection. A sword in a stone. Conjures up images of Merlin. . .
So it was a great evening. Of course.
A year or so after I left the firm, she set me up on a blind date. She'd met the guy through an on line dating service; he wasn't a good match for her but she thought he'd be perfect for me.
So Phil and I began to chat on the phone and on line. He was divorced, with one son who was living with him. He was into Broadway theater, one of my passions. We seemed compatible.
On our first date he took me to an Italian restaurant in my neighborhood. (The last time I'd been there Jen was in diapers -- and embarassed her mom and dad by throwing a bowl of spaghetti at the man at the next table.)
So we're enjoying our pasta and Phil starts talking about Gilbert & Sullivan. How he's involved in a community theater company that performs Gilbert & Sullivan operettas.
And I'm getting this incredible feeling of deja vu, because Drew and his parents and sister love Gilbert & Sullivan, and were involved in a G&S group.
And Phil says to me "Most people have seen, or at least know of, the big three -- Pirates of Penzance, H.M.S. Pinafore and The Mikado. But most people can't name any of their other works."
I responded "You mean, like Iolanthe?" Drew had taken me to see Iolanthe.
I expected Phil to be impressed. But what he said next . . .
"Your last name is [name]? Are you Drew [name]'s ex wife?"
Small world, isn't it?
Even funnier, Phil and Drew shared a second "connection". Phil's ex wife Christa had been very close friends with Drew in high school.
We dated for awhile, nothing too serious. Broke it off, nothing too dramatic.
About 3 years ago Drew got involved in a G&S production and the friendship was renewed.
Phil remarried and moved to Pennsylvania.
I'm Facebook friends with Denise, never got around to "friending" Phil. The other day Denise responded to Phil's post and it showed up in my newsfeed. Phil was scared because he had to have heart surgery -- he referred to it as "tricky" surgery.
I showed the post to Drew.
So we weren't totally shocked when this morning Drew's sister called to tell us the sad news. Phil's condition had worsened. He died this morning.
He was 56 years old. Just a few years older than I am.
Monday, December 24, 2012
Sunday, December 23, 2012
We took the train into Penn Station, so the logical first stop was Macy's. The windows along 34th St. are devoted to "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus". The Herald Square windows tell the story of NYC at Christmas, with an emphasis on Macy's participation (there's a "Miracle on 34th Street" scene).
Bought a pretzel from a street vendor outside Macy's. The quintissential NYC experience.
There were lots of street performers in Herald Square. The latest idea is to dress as a cartoon character and charge a small fee to pose for pictures. Mickey and Minnie Mouse seem to be the overall favorites, but you will also see Elmo, Smurfs, the Statue of Liberty . . . Easy way to make a buck, and you see these guys in Times Square all the time. Yesterday I also saw them in Rockefeller Center.
Next up was Lord & Taylor, 5th Ave at 38th St.Good crowd control at their windows. Their focus is Christmas around the world. Very charming.
Next we walked to Bryant Park. There's a pretty tree here, about 30 feet tall, decked out in blue lights and silver ornaments. Lovely. You want a "big tree" experience without the crowds? Come here. The busiest shops, by the way, were the two kiosks with hot chocolate. At one kiosk we sampled French truffles. Very rich chocolate.
And then we headed to the Big Tree -- Rockefeller Center. CROWD ALERT!!!! I literally had to hang onto Drew for fear we'd be separated.
We were walking north on 5th Ave. Made a right turn onto 49th, and entered Rockefeller Center from 49th St. Drew took a few pictures of the tree and the skating rink. And a few years ago, when they replaced the tree topper, they put the old one on display, so Drew took pictures of that as well. (I didn't take any photos this year, I didn't bring my camera, and my hands were so cold I decided it wasn't worth taking off the gloves so that I could use the cell phone.)
My moment of "glory" . . .tripping over a crowd-control barricade. Managed to keep from falling but I did wrench my knee . . .
Then we walked up 50th St. to 5th Ave. That put us across the street from Saks 5th Avenue. Saks has turned the side of its building into a movie screen. Every 10 minutes or so, from 5 PM until 10 PM, they project a 2 minute movie all about snow and skating and etc. Very cute.
But it creates an abominable crowd situation. It was actually scary trying to walk from 50th back to 49th so we could cross 5th. People were packed together like sardines in a can, literally touching each other and unable to move. Took us 10 minutes to negotiate the one short block.
Eventually we did make it out of the crowd and across the street, and took a look at the windows at Saks. The best scene here was the snow globes -- the shelves rotate, shaking up the snowglobes so that they "snow".
At this point we left 5th Ave. and headed to Bloomingdale's at 59th and Lexington. Much less crowded here, the windows are done up to salute Cirque de Soleil. Then we headed up to Barney's at 61st and Madison. This was an interesting display, a short movie featuring Minnie Mouse, where she imagines herself as a Parisian fashion model.
We walked back to 57th and headed back towards 5th. The giant snowflake hangs over the intersection of 57th and 5th. Bergdorf Goodman sits on that corner but by then we were all "windowed out". It was getting cold and my leg was starting to hurt. So we called it a day, and took a cab back to the Marriott Marquis Hotel. Sat in the lobby and people-watched for about half an hour, killing time until our dinner reservation.
Dinner on Restaurant Row. We dined at a charming spot called Lattanzi Ristorante Italiano. Several small dining rooms, each dimly lit, with a candle on each table. Very romantic. They offer both Italian-Roman and Judeo-Italian cuisine, but we were only offered the Roman menu and I suspect you have to ask for the Jewish menu. Perhaps we will, when we go back.
The breadbasket included rustic Italian bread, garlicky breadsticks and some sort of wafer, accompanied by olive oil. One of the "specials" was lasagna bolognese. Which could be ordered as an appetizer or as a main course -- I asked for it as an appetizer. Nice sized portion. I had the veal piccata, thin slices of veal in a lemon-caper sauce, plated with sauteed vegetables (carrot, potato, zucchini). Drew had the veal marsala -- same dish as mine, but with a wine and mushroom sauce. Both were excellent. We don't usually order dessert but I couldn't resist the creme brulee -- served in a wide, shallow ramikin, there was more "brulee" than "creme". The custard was very light and not very sweet, but with all tgat carmelized sugar the custard didn't need to be sweet. Drew ordered cannoli, and was served two small pastries filled with a rich, sweet filling.
The walk back to Penn took us through Times Square. More crowds, more street performers. And atop One Times Square, a famous ball and a countdown to the new year.
Very full day, we both dosed off on the train ride home . . .
Friday, December 21, 2012
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Rewatching "Last Play at Shea" this afternoon.
As Daryl Strawberry said, it was our dump. Citi Field is a nice ballpark, but Shea . . .there was something magical . . .
And bucket list item #1 -- A Billy Joel concert. Only time I saw him live was durin McCartney's first concert at Citi Field.
Monday, December 17, 2012
So the news from Connecticut is ever-present: tv, radio, newspapers, internet. The unrelenying, inescapable details.
I wrote yesterday that the town was just like my town, the school not so very different from the one my daughters attended.
And now we're getting the stories of each victim.
The young teacher who hid her students and lied to the gunman to protect them.
The principal and school psychologist, women close to my age, who put themselves in the line of fire.
The children . . .there's a picture of one little girl, a pretty blonde, who struck a pose for the camera . . .the attitude reminds me of Jen at that age.
And then I found out that one of the children, a little boy, was Jewish. I guess we identify with those who share our religious, ethnic and cultural background, because I felt that death oh so keenly. That the parents and siblings will light a yartzeit lamp for him every year at the same time they light the 6th Chanukah candle. . .
And then I found out that I do have a real connection to Newtown. I actually know someone there.
I was watching the interfaith service last night. The priests and ministers of the various churches, the local iman, a representative of the Baha'i faith. And, of course, the rabbi.
He looked vaguely familiar, this rabbi. His name sounded vaguely familiar. He sang a mourning prayer, and did it so beautifully that I found myself crying.
Tonight at my synagogue I found out why he seemed so familiar. He was our cantor many years ago, when my children first started Hebrew school, and was therefore one of their teachers during that time.
Majes it feel even more like . . .well, it could have been my school, it could have been my town.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
But Friday night Drew and I went to see the new movie, "The Hobbit". A very charming movie, true to the spirit of the book. Of course, the movie foreshadows the Rings trilogy in ways the book never did. Before I saw the movie I wondered how they were going to find enough material for three movies out of one simple book, but this first movie seems to be OK.
Now, of course, I must find the Rings trilogy on DVD, because I am not able to wait for the next installment of "The Hobbit".
Afterwards we wound up at Denny's. You know they have a "Hobbit-inspired" menu right now? I had the turkey dinner and Drew had an egg and sausage skillet. We got collectible cards as part of the package.
Another fine evening.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
The town where it happened...it looks just like my home town. It could have been my town, my school.
Friday, December 14, 2012
And then the usual fluff is interrupted by breaking news....
And now I find myself completely absorbed in the horrible story out of Connecticut. A shooting at an elementary school, 24 dead, many of them children.
The kind of story that scares every parent.
And so many people in my life are teachers, former teachers, future teachers. My father, my mother, Drew, Jen. Yet another connection to schools.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Otherwise known as Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Clapton, and Sir Paul. Joined by Brian Williams, Billy Crystal, Susan Sarandon, Chris Rock . . .
I wasn't home at the beginning of the broadcast. (Thank goodness for the DVR). Heard Clapton's performance on the radio while driving home, walked into the house as the Stones took the stage. Waited all night for Sir Paul, then dozed off in the middle of his performance, but woke up just in time to see the end of the concert. And I plan to download the best of it from iTunes.
The concert was to benefit the victims of Sandy. Only a tragedy of that magnitude could be the root of duch a concert. (A lit of these folks were in the Concert for New York in October 2001 to benefit 9/11 victims).
Aside from the fact that it was a truly awesome concert, broadcast on many tv and radio networks . . .
When I was a little girl . . .if you weren't home to watch a tv special, you missed it. And hoped your friends would tell you about it.
When I was in my 20's, if you weren't home, you could videotape the show. And you avoided your friends until you could watch the tape, so that they wouldn't spoil it for you.
Now you can watch it on tv or stream it on your computer. And live blog about it on Facebook.
And in a way it felt like I was watching it with my friends. We chatted about the performances and the participants. Made fun of Kanye West's clothes and cheered for our favorite songs.
Sunday, December 9, 2012
Or did I?
Let me give you the back story.
When Jen was in high school the cheer leading program was excellent. The two teachers who coached were wonderful. In the years since Jen graduated, the two hood coaches left, and the teachers who replaced them. . . There were three different coaches in a four year period.
This year Maddie took over the varsity team. Jen knows Maddie from high school, Maddie was a senior when Jen was a sophomore, and Maddie was a captain of the varsity cheer team.
Maddie asked Jen and Kristen- another teammate and one of Jen's best friends- to take over JV.
When Jen was in high school there were three squads - varsity, JV and competition. All of the varsity girls and? some of the JV girls were on competition.
But our current coaching staff decided to eliminate a separate competition team and have varsity and JV both compete.
Jen and Kristen signed up for a rookie competition today.
There were 7 teams in their division.
They came in second!
Saturday, December 8, 2012
I read Tolstoy's novel when I was in high school.
Tonight we saw the movie.
I didn't like how the story is framed. At the beginning of the movie the audience is taken to an old theater, where a play, set in Russia in1874, is about to begin. As you watch you become involved in the story, and then the director pulls the camera back to show you the prosceneum and footlights, reminding you that this is only a play.
Not only is this device distracting, it doesn't add to the story. And considering Tolstoy's works were among the first to incorporate "realusm" into a novel, I really don't understand why the director chose to use this device.
That being said, I really did enjoy the movie. Beautifully filmed, exquisite costumes. Jude Law was perfect as the aloof, emotionally detached Karenin. Keira Knightley was beautiful as the passionate, tortured Anna. Though I did think Aaron Taylor-Johndon was a bit effeminite for Vronsky.
I should mention. . .although Drew read the novel many years ago, he'd forgotten most of the details. And he didn't pick up on a lot of those details while watching the movie. My guess is that someone unfamiliar with the novel might miss out on the subplots, the foreshadowing concerning the train accident and Dolly's marriage, etc.
Still, I enjoyed the movie.
And it occurs to me I have to find that hat . . .I have a (fake) fur hat just like the one Anna wears on the train . . .that hat will be great during the next blizzard . . .
Friday, December 7, 2012
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Monday, December 3, 2012
Saw them in concert several times. I cried the day Davy Jones died.
So you know that when the surviving Monkees announced a tour, Drew and I would have to go. I mean, Nesmith hadn't toured with the band since 1997. I'd never seen him perform.
The tour started in early November. Last night was the final concert of the tour, at the Beacon in NYC. And we had tickets for the show.
Our evening began at Viand Cafe. This is a small coffee shop/diner on the same block as the Beacon theater. having spent so much money on the tickets for the show, we were looking to keep dinner simple and relatively inexpensive, and this place fit the bill. Half of the patrons in the restaurant last night were Monkees fans on their way to the show. I ordered a Reuben -- hearty rye bread and lean pastrami served with sauerkraut and melted cheese. It was served as an open-faced sandwich accompanied by potato salad. The sandwich was very good, the potato salad merely ok -- potatoes could have been cooked a little longer, and I would have liked more dressing. I brought half the sandwich home, it was that large. Drew had scrambled eggs, which were served with hash browns and toast, and a side order of saugage. Service was efficient but not outstanding. We will most definitely go back the next time we have tickets for a show at the Beacon.
A word about the Beacon theater. We saw an oldies concert there about a year ago, so last night was our second trip to this venue. the theater itself is anice venue for a concert, but the lobby...way too small for the theater, very long and narrow and crowded. They open the doors to the lobby an hour before the show, but they don't let you go into the theater itself until half an hour before show time, so the corwding becomes almost impossible to deal with.
Now, about the show.
Drew's friend Larry saw the show Saturday night at the Paramount in Huntington, so we knew what to expect. And of course, it lived up to expectations. They sang most of the group's big hits. they sang a number of songs they hadn't performed in awhile, songs that were written by Nesmith and/or originally performed by him. Similar to the Westbury show we saw last year, they made extensive use of video from the band's heyday -- scenes from the TV show and from the movie Head. Very enthusiastic crowd, they amost never actually sat in their seats.
The most cathartic moment: the audience sing-along of "Daydream Believer" while videos of Davy played on the screen.
This was quite possibly the very last Monkees concert. Nesmith is not likely to agree to another tour. Peter and Mickey have toured together as a duo, but they don't use "the Monkees" when it's just the two of them.
It wasn't just a concert, it was an event. And as Drew said, worth every penny.
Sunday, December 2, 2012
Anyone who knows me and who knows Drew would not be surprised to hear that we are history buffs. So of course we had to see "Lincoln".
I really liked this movie. Spielberg's focus was on Lincoln the man, not Lincoln the folk hero we saw in so many Hollywood movies. Set in the winter of 1865, the storyline revolves around the political wheeling and dealing involved in passage of the 13th Amendment. We also get a real feel for Lincoln's relationships with his wife and his sons.
And may I add, Tommy Lee Jones deserves an Oscar for his portrayal of Thaddeus Stevens?
Saturday, December 1, 2012
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- Les Miserables
- Medieval Times
- RIP Phil
- Christmas Eve at HR Singletons
- NYC Christmas
- Friday night burgers . . .yum!
- It was a dump, but it was our dump
- And now it really hits home
- Trans-Siberian Orchestra!
- The Hobbit
- another school shooting
- Deja vu
- Proud cheer mom
- Anna Karenina
- so proud of Becca
- The ornaments are different this year
- Hey hey we're the Monkees
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