Thursday, May 31, 2007

Three years a New Yorker ...

And running into people on the street whom I know without even trying to is becoming a much more common occurence. This place feels like home (as if it didn't the first month I moved here).

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Creepy patents

Google has slightly tweaked its world-beating home page, you might've noticed, and now you can get to most of their various web services from that same starting point, including Google Patents. Which made me, for whatever reason, immediately think of one of the creepier inventions out there. Something I remember learning about somewhere along the way. It's an "apparatus for signaling from graves," according to the description. Yep, two guys from Lake Charles were so worried about being accidentally buried alive back in 1903 that they created a way to alert the rest of the living and get some oxygen while you're waiting for people to dig you out.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Last time for who knows how long

An expanse of green in a land of blue and white. Back up to the alma mater for grad weekend to see the sis get her diploma. The campus just keeps sprouting new buildings, most of them designed tastefully and arranged in harmony with what came before. It's a true "red brick university," to use the Brits' term. No Harvard/Cambridge, but the next best thing after that, and one focused especially on real-world application, with the American version of that building material to match the sterling reputation. It will probably be the last time I go back for what could be many years, now that I don't know anyone who is a student there any longer. That thought along with the emotion of one of the ceremonies -- experienced now as an observer, not a distracted participant -- brought a tear to my eye. The college campus, especially that one, as bucolic as it is, only coalesces into something more when you are a part of it somehow, when you know the people, have a reason to be there, etc. While there is the potential to be a part of the tailgating football tradition, I don't think it will be the same and I don't see it happening for me. Walking by the dormitory where I spent three and a half great years, my mind leapt from one memory to another, most of them happy and more vivid than I'd expect. The campus is littered with those kind of connections, but at the end of the day, it's all just a shell waiting to be filled up by the late-night walks, the snowbound play, the early morning rushing, the emotional gatherings of the students of today and of tomorrow.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

10 Million Miles

Belonging to a comp-ticket club, you have to know how to divvy up the potentially good from the likely awful. So today when I noticed a new show pop up on the queue and I hadn't heard of it, I relied on the see-we-told-you-so reputation of Atlantic Theater Co. as a good bellwether, and I wasn't disappointed. The company that spawned Spring Awakening, now nominated like crazy for Tonys on Broadway, is doing another musical, this time featuring songs by Patty Griffin. Now, I'd been familiar with her genre of music, but didn't know enough of her songs to figure out whether they were all new (a la Duncan Sheik and Spring) or just chosen from her catalog. And even though it turned out to be the latter, I thought the show managed to avoid feeling like a bland jukebox musical. Perhaps because Griffin's songs are pretty heartfelt and amazing and not over the top or cliche. True, there are a few bits of the plot that I now realize were wedged in to match the lyrics of different songs, but overall, it felt pretty organic.

The four-performer cast is split between a young-ish couple and an older man and woman who play rotating male and female roles of people the couple meet or see along a road trip up the East Coast. Both Matt Morrison (The Light in the Piazza), with his military buzz cut, and Irene Molloy are decent singers - although Matt's the superior actor. But the real core of the show rests in Mare Winningham (Susan Grey on "Grey's Anatomy"), who not only navigates several different personas - from waitress to drunk divorcee to late-shift mother to old cat lady - but channels Griffin the best. Her renditions of "Kite" and "Making Pies" are especially heartbreaking. I really think this show has potential, and hope it gets a good reception. It's open in the neat former church building on West 20th Street through July 1.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The big electromagnet under Central Park

It always seems to happen this way. Just when I've lined up three weekends in a row where I'll be out of town -- just when I'm glad to be leaving the city and seeing other parts -- my life turns a corner and suddenly I'd rather be nowhere else in the world. (Which is usually how I feel, but more so currently.)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

"Sunday in the Park with George," one of my all-time favorite musicals and a Sondheim to boot, is coming to Studio 54 next winter. Tickets go on sale in September.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Gates revisited

In case you can't recognize them from this fuzzy non-flash photo from the Tribeca PAC, that's Albert Maysles in the white hair and Jeanne-Claude in the red. (Christo couldn't make it since he was somewhere in Europe attending to one of the couple's museum exhibitions.) They spoke after the premiere of the documentary about the February 2005 draping of Central Park in a particuarly memorable shade of orange.

I thought the film was funny, gave a sampling of the different views expressed back in the late 70s and early 80s and then again in the 2000s, hit upon a few recurring motifs ("You gotta think about who might hate it"), and delivered that touching moment akin to one I remember from Maysles' doc on The Umbrellas, which I saw on PBS, where it hits you: this is/was beautiful. The art, as wonderfully shot by Maysles' crew, and people's reaction to it gets under your skin, bypassing any logic centers, and affects you. I do think the cut of the film was a bit long. (They could've trimmed maybe another 10 minutes off the 100-minute runtime, perhaps.) But I went with J., who wasn't in the city that month and didn't feel the need to venture in to see the spectacle. She found the movie especially persuasive, and now kinda wishes she had seen it.

The next chance to see a Christo and Jeanne-Claude "installation" might not come until 2011, but it might just be worth a visit to the Arkansas River in Colorado to see it. Over the River is currently in environmental impact study mode, according to an employee of C+JC who spoke last night at the gala premiere.

It was at first annoying to me, but later sort of sweet the way that people clapped at different points throughout the screening whenever certain people appeared for the first time, as if this were a stage show. There were a lot of participants in the audience, I realized, and the showing of the film had a feeling of a celebration/reunion two years on. One guy who got a lot of cheers was art-lover Mayor Mike who was the final "gate" through which the artwork passed -- withouth much contention -- before it became a reality.

The Gates was/were one of the first things I wrote about on this incarnation of the blog. Check out the February 2005 archive and scroll down to the bottom.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

High and low brow

So it turns out I will be seeing Spider-Man 3 tomorrow night, followed by Maysles' The Gates gala premiere on Saturday night: from blockbuster bread-and-circuses to a documentary that probably won't even get a theater distribution deal, maybe some late-night HBO or PBS showings if it's lucky. And yet I have higher expectations for the latter.

In other news, that Columbia-area Thai restaurant Lime Leaf has opened up a downtown (direction, not neighborhood) outpost. Unfortunately, they haven't gotten their liquor license yet at the 72nd St. location. It's a rare occasion when you sit down to eat here and order a beer and they can't oblige. Except for Angelica Kitchen, which I'm angry at currently because of their poor management of wait times, and BYOB places, which I don't frequent very often, it's just not that common, I've found. The extra kind waitress (she just moved here from the Midwest and hasn't become hardened yet) assured me, however, that the bar will be up and running in two weeks or so.