Thursday, January 31, 2008

Trulli A Great Time

10939 Steps

The Empire State Building. My Beacon

Today was an 8am to 8pm day at work. I was fueled all day by the fact that I was meeting PatFrankSean for dinner. I am not ready to explain it, but there is something just perfectly perfect about working hard and then meeting friends for dinner in town afterwards. And not just one friend, which is nice, but 3 friends. Not a whole table for a birthday thing or a going away do, but 3 friends. It is just a thing.

This is Week Two of "Restaurant Week" in New York City. RW is when many of the top restaurants offer a set menu for $35 a person to entice business in the traditionally slow periods. There are "Restaurant Weeks" in many cities and it is a GREAT reason to meet friends and try a new place. Click here and check it out in your area.

We went to I Trulli on East 27th. I was drawn to the location because it was equally out of the way for everyone! I mean that only because I am excited when I am not on my usual #1 subway line. It feels like a fun overnight trip on the Orient Express to me. I took the R to 28th and walked East. Frank and Sean arrived and Pat met us at the table. I Trulli is a really nice Italian country-style (Pugliese) restaurant. Lots of velvet blazers and Euro-types mixed with corporate dudes, restauranteurs in suits and ties and ladies who dine. And open fires everywhere! A perfect winter atmosphere. I was looking forward to the food.

One cannot orchestrate a conversation (he-he), but we had a nice mix of gossip, current events, what I like to call Talmud Talk™ (where a group discusses an idea/concept to its carcass) and politics where two people are wrong and the third thinks almost like I think. I always have a laugh with these guys and breaking bread is just about purely great as it gets.

Presentation better than food.

Now I would like to report that I Trulli was great, but it wasn't. I think Restaurant Week is an excellent opportunity for restaurants to "audition" for word of mouth. The service was okay, but the set menu on-line (much preferable) was not what was on offer. I even checked it afterwards and they have not updated it. The food was okay. Pat and Sean's pork chops were dry. My short rib was good, but not magic in any way. And Frank's pasta dish was fine. The starters were uninspired and the desert was sloppily presented and something out of Price Club di Parma. All in all a tad cafeteria-style. I just have to say this because, though it was a wonderful time, enjoyment of food is part of the experience of an evening and that was not there. I can't say I would recommend this restaurant to anyone and that is a shame because it is lovely place and their set menu may be excellent. I think a restaurant should really go all out for its deal menu to entice diners to want to return AND tell others. And I am a "connecter!"

Into the night.

We live in Queens, New Jersey, Greenwich Village and the Upper Westside. So NorthSouthEastWest. Almost too cliché if one were to develop a TV series based on 4 similar characters in New York City. Into the night we walked together parting at 3 different subways/trains with Sean politely delivered to his door on foot. A good way to start the finish to a week.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Picture Book Life

I remember as a kid reading those picture books where the action takes place in a large metropolis. There is the postman and the spotted yappy dog and the girl with the ribboned hat holding a balloon and grand library/museum and the statue of some war hero and a park and some tall buildings. THIS is the city of my picturebook and I live in it.

All this came into my head as I walked to work this morning. I walked out of my brownstone and made a left by the Museum of Natural History (v. picture book-worthy) towards Central Park. As I turned the corner towards the park, it was if an orchestra conductor just got out of bed and cued the dog walkers section of the pit. They were all various shapes and sizes and breeds - owners and pets alike. The first chair of the baby stroller pusher park parents alighted upon cue and was followed in allegro fashion by a whole army of them. Bundled bootied babies and fathers mostly. Nothing like a baby or a dog as a chick magnet. And God bless the light-footed joggers in the timpani section. Adding that syncopation to the soup.

As I passed by the burning torches of The Dakota, home of Yoko, I looked up at the windows of all the fancy apartment buildings on Central Park West and wondered if I would ever live in one. Wow, they must be so amazing. Who lives there? Another 100,000 stories by the bar. When I saw a person younger than myself walk out of one past the top-hatted doorman I wondered if they lived there or were just doing the walk of shame. Terrible thoughts to protect my own ego. Hopefully to be drowned out by the majestic swell of the sun coming through the trees.

Upon arriving at the shores of Columbus Circle I was entering the business world of office buildings and coffee carts and commuters. Gone was the idyllic, relatively rural life of the upper west side. I was in serious mode now. Walking down Broadway, past the Ed Sullivan Theatre where David Letterman resides. Hello Deli just around the corner. Times Square arose in a crescendo of lights and taxis and general bustle. My building lay before me. My ID card at the ready and the end of the first movement of the day.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Weight Scratchers

I had oatmeal with a banana. I had a salad. I had 10,000 cups of coffee. With non-fat milk. Something made me angry. I then had 100 bowls of cereal. I think the program wants you to have less than that. I had some water. I walked home from my office into the night. I saw a cookie leaning over a parked car working a deal. A real dish of gelato whistled at me from the corner. I looked and then turned away. I walked slowly up the stairs of my building. Constantly looking around for a wayward ice cream van. I made it inside and closed the door. I had ground turkey, whole wheat pasta and sauce. I had broccoli, I had zucchini. I had yogurt and a bowl of cereal. I was still breaking a sweat. I knew that cupcake was over on 72nd, but I didn't want to get dressed. I didn't dare. I thought about having a strudel delivered. I brushed my teeth instead. I watched a movie. I fell asleep on the couch. I had water.

Another night in the city.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Die Walküre und Mich

A view from the balcony of the Met

Tonight I was at the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center seeing "Die Walküre" -part of Wagner's Ring Cycle. I am in no way this cultured. I only benefited from a ticket that my friend Ron gave me as he had to go to his uncle's funeral in Berlin. So there I was for a 5 hour performance after a 9 hour work day. The orchestra was wonderful and it was great to be at the Met to experience all that. It is amazing what gets done in 5 hours. Not much.

Let's just say 30 minutes could be spent singing about why you dropped a soup ladle or 45 minutes spent on what I am about to do to you. Having read the synopsis in advance to be prepared, there were many moments when I wanted to shout "Kill him already!" or "Banish her already!" Just my modern impatience, I guess.

But a lovely story nonetheless: Siegmund and Sieglinde are twin brother and sister, we and they, find out. Siegmund falls in love with his sister, takes her away from her husband and impregnates her. Their father is a god and he has cheated on his poor wife all over the place including having fathered a load of Valkyries. His fave is Brünnhilde. It turns out that Sieglinde's ex is going to try and kill her brother/new husband (wouldn't you?) and Brünnhilde wants to protect Siegmund. Dad wants to too, but his angry wife says he can't for her honor. (Has he tarnished the hell out of that already?!) so he doesn't and Siegmund bites it. Brünnhilde takes her half sister, Sieglinde (She must be since they share the same god dad, right? This is never discussed in song for 30 minutes, but if you do the math...) away and god/dad is pissed for having been disobeyed. She is so going to get smited, I can feel it. Brünnhilde convinces Sieglinde that she must have her brother's child and then Brünnhilde faces god/pops and he is indeed pissed. She is to be put to sleep until some loser normal man wakes her up and then she has to obey his every command. This is like the worst for a goddess. So she bargains in about 25 minutes of singing to get dad to put her to sleep but surround her with fire that only a hero can break through and her plan is that hero will be her 1/2 brother and sister's incestuous bastard child. So auntie will then hook up with her bastard/incest nephew. The end. Sweet.

I sat next to a musicologist from Poland who was in the US for the first time. I asked him if American audiences were different from those in Europe and he said that in Europe people do not leave until the end. (I wanted to explain the "Two Minute Warning" thing we have here and people were indeed booking it as Brünnhilde lay surrounded by flames.) He also said that encores go on for 20 - 30 minutes in Europe unlike the 3 minutes here. I wanted to explain to him that we are a busy people.

I saw Barbara Barrie who played the mom in one of my fave movies of all time "Breaking Away" leaving the opera. I wanted to yell BRAVA, Barbara, BRAVA!!!

So it is the sights, the sounds, the people watching, the European musicologists and a good filthy story of forbidden sex and carnage that livens up Monday nights here for me.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Good Walk. Spoiled. (me.)

18727 Steps

I walked 8.57 miles today in this great metropolis. I set out on the Upper West Side and walked through the park to the Upper East Side. I walked all the way to the East River since I had not been along this stretch since I moved here. It was a cold, clear and sunny day. A note perfect winter walking day. I walked all along the East River past the United Nations Building.

My dad first took me here many years ago. One of the perks of being a dad, I think, is being able to show your kids stuff like this. I am a ever so young mid forties and still remember that. Thanks, Dad.

I stopped at the 59th Street Bridge which is so fascinating architecturally. A

And nearby Sutton Place is so fascinating financially as in Big Bucksville. I want a private townhouse with a blue painted door that has a private garden along the East River. There I said it.

I then walked through Murray Hill and my dad's old block and then through e. 29th Street where I came upon "The Little Church Around the Corner." I had never heard of it before. So cute, yet ramshackle at 150 years old amidst all these highrises.

Then I headed west through midtown and met friends on 46th Street for dinner. After dinner we passed by Philip Seymour Hoffman standing outside Don Giovanni Restaurant on W. 44th. That is TWO Oscar winners in two days for me! I do not know why it seem less obnoxious writing about star sightings here than when I was in LA. I will have to ponder.
Home. School night. Lovely day.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Put down the remote, New York, let's go out.

I have not fallen out of love with New York and my life here at all, but I guess we entered a natural comfort phase that comes with time: New York leaves the toilet seat up, I have yesterday's newspaper still on the coffee table. The last flowers I gave New York are set aside to be pressed into a book, but haven't been. That sort of thing. But we still use our pet names ("Big Hunk of a City" and "Niblet") on each other so I guess that is good.

I know every day is not supposed to be a back lot musical, but I just didn't want to be in the "went to work, came home, went to sleep, went to work" mode yet. It takes work to not fall into this. Life is indeed too short for one of those scenarios to be the last day. So magic must be either found, or better yet, noticed.

So today I put on my i-pod, my new attitude and my winter coat and headed out. I had completed all the errands that were necessary and allowed the rest of the day to be an adventure. As I walked down Broadway on the Upper Westside I saw Frances McDormand walking up the street carrying a brand new mop. Here I pause because my love for New York swelled. Here is an Oscar winner (FARGO) walking up the street without any cameras rolling playing the roll of her lifetime, herself, carrying a mop with the plastic still around the top of it to hold all those cotton tentacles in place. I love that. NEVER would you see that in Hollywood. There would have been mascara and a BMW involved in the purchase of that mop. Or an assistant would have purchased it. People here climb stairs and step over things. I guess I dig that.

I made my way through Central Park, past the statues of famous literary figures, by the Plaza Hotel and Bergdorf Goodman's. In front of me were, seriously, over 100 cop cars lining 5th Avenue and then along 57th Street. All perpendiculaly parked like it was Main Street in Monrovia. I asked one of the policemen what was going on and he told me it was a "terrorism exercise." Like an egg balanced on a roof, I can't decide which way on the "comforting scale" that fell for me. All I know is that the rest of the city was unsafe as hell at that very moment since New York's Finest were all there.

My master plan was to see if my employee ID card would get me into MOMA for free. (This mission is what I call "Scottish Culture." And I am all about it.) It worked like a charm and here I was on a grey day surrounded by some of the most famous art in the world. Much as I think of Eloise at the Plaza, I always think of spies trading secrets at MOMA or affairs initiating in the Picasso room. What a great place to drop one's glove with either a foreign secret or your phone number in it. Clearly I am single because I spend too much time thinking about these things.
(And not dropping gloves.)
People passing secrets.

After being on my feet all day, I sat down behind a man who had removed those grommets or whatever from his earlobes. I tried to see the world through the holes in his ears. I saw a lot.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Snow. Please?

Below freezing yesterday. Yet no snow. Where is this snow you speak of? I didn't want snow I would have stayed in LA. I yearn for it. I long for it. I feel incomplete without it. I have shoes for it. Perhaps tomorrow.

Walked home despite the temps. Loved it. I think after finishing a week in the office it is nice to get out and stretch the legs and get some fresh air. Made breakfast for dinner and watched a movie. A fine evening by all standards. Maybe someday I will even read a book. At this pace anything is possible.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Lights are Bright

Went out to dinner in midtown. These New Yorkers are EVERYWHERE! I still marvel at how restaurants are busy and theatres are busy and streets and groceries are busy. LIFE is everywhere here and I love it. But there was something about being in midtown in the 50s (a seemingly desolate place post work) grabbing a meal with friends and then stepping out on to the street and seeing the lights that read: "RADIO CITY" ablaze down the block and walking back home along the park that made me take notice. It is a thrill that I have not felt in a long while. It is that feeling of happiness and connectedness and awe that everyday life can often rob. Perhaps we give it away because we don't allow ourselves to be sparked? Or perhaps it is a feeling that "just happens" when it happens. I feel it many places. It is that "pinch me" thing. I felt it at the Hollywood Bowl and being on the field at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow and looking up Clay Street from my work in San Francisco and seeing the buildings of Chinatown. I felt it at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City last year. I felt it surrounded by friends and family many, many times. I felt it at my mum's last Christmas at my brother's house even though I didn't know. Recently I felt it at my garage sale in LA with my pals.

So tonight I am home and I have no idea what is ahead and I fear, but I "felt it" and that keeps me in check.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Danish Poet

This is so odd. Not tremendously, but I will just say it is.

I was writing recently about the seeming randomness of how I got my job here in New York. And this randomness applies to relationships, friendships, etc. I then watched this DVD of Oscar nominated shorts tonight and the winner, The Danish Poet, is kind of about that. The poet doesn't feel inspired so he travels to Norway to meet his favorite author, but along the way he meets a farmer and falls madly for his daughter and she him. She is however engaged to be married and cannot be with the poet, yet she refuses to cut her hair until they meet again. The poet leaves dejected. Her husband gets killed by a cow but her letter to the poet in Denmark telling him so gets lost and eaten by a goat. It goes on but with a lovely happy ending that includes the girl who cuts her hair.

Anyway....I am sensing that a life in motion, in pursuit of something, is a better way to go. "You can't always get what you want, but you get what you need." And all that.

That is all from me today. I am going to Norway soon in pursuit of a farmer, I mean, inspiration.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Shiney New Winter Coat. Suitable for Framing.

From the same guy who brought you:

"I don't want to use this cool STP Oil sticker on my school binder like all the other kids until the EXACT RIGHT binder to stick it on comes along so I will save it in my parents' attic into my adulthood until my parents are both gone and then throw it away intact." And the ever-popular "I will not use this gift card until I have JUST THE PERFECT whatever to use it on so instead I will a. keep it until the store goes out of business b. lose it or c. buy a gift for someone else with it."

Brings you:

"I will walk around New York in an Autumn Coat with gloves and a sweater and never be quite warm enough because I don't want to use my most winter of winter coats until it is COLD ENOUGH because if I use it too early then there will be nothing MORE BETTER to use and I will freeze."

I finally used it yesterday because it was below freezing and supposed to snow. I cannot describe (well, I could) the warm, cozy, Stay Puft Marshmallow Man feeling I had while walking down the street. I had my own little warm fire with a tiny grey kitten lying on the hearth going inside my coat. It was bliss.

But it didn't snow and it will get colder and I have just blown it all to hell. What was I thinking?!!!

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Baby That Changed My Life

Jennie, Eli the Mover of Men, and Jonah the funny and charming Wunderkind!

Playing one's life in reverse often shows the randomness and absurdity of it all. For example if someone were to ask "How Do You Become a Magazine Editor?" one obvious answer would be to go to school for journalism and design and get an internship at TIME. But another answer can be: "Get born in Kansas, go to school for Economics there, date a girl you met in class whose best friend is visiting from San Francisco, crash into her years later when she holds the door for you because you broke your foot (I forgot, "go break your foot"...) and you learn she is at PEOPLE magazine and there is an accounting job and you take it and one day...blah, blah, blah."

So I had a plan to be in LA and rise to the top at FOX and I was on my way. My unit gets sold, my boss gets the ax, I am out the door. Meanwhile because I went to high school with my friend Jon he knows me and hooks me up with his friend PL who is in LA and has a book club. I join and meet all sorts of great people I never would have met. His partner is the head of programming for a major film festival and I get a job screening for them and then I work at the festival in Park City where I meet related TV people who work in New York. There is a job there I want and I go for it. But then nothing. And nothing. And then I do another festival. And then nothing. Meanwhile unbeknownst to me, back East people I don't know are procreating and one in particular does just that. Maybe even just as I was finishing making my bed and headed to return some lightbulbs before I headed for the gym in Hollywood. On a random Tuesday. But right then my life has changed. And I don't know it. She has to go on maternity leave and a fill in for her job is posted on-line where two friends who I worked with years ago in children's programming see it and e-mail it to me. I apply and do three phone interviews and I get it because I had the work experience and I worked at this related festival. I move to New York. And here I am.

There are a million of these stories. This was mine.

Yesterday I got to take a train out to New Jersey (they have those conductors with the hats and the clanging and the whole thing. I loved it!) to meet beautiful Eli, Jennie and Mikhail's new baby, who is really THE major reason I am living on the Upper West Side in Manhattan, eating really excellent bagels and on the subway every morning instead of in Los Angeles traffic. And for me this is a heavenly change. He is lovely and I will be grateful to him no matter what happens. And only because wee Eli was born am I working in Times Square and starting a whole new chapter. The rest has yet to be written, but it all doesn't matter and/or I don't really write it anyway. I simply put it out there and people are born and people die and I jump aboard.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Special Son-in-Law

Bitter cold today. Again, I mocked the ear muffs, but they are lifesavers with the windchill. Vanity exits where survival enters. At least with me.

Last night I got to meet up for dinner with my sister Seona's in-laws. It feels so distant to write it that way because I feel so much that they are my family as well. I think I will make them my in-laws too! Clay and Barbara and Gail, their daughter. Clay is in town for an engineering convention and Barbara and Gail smartly came along! It was great as always to see them and despite the cold we managed down the block to a pub for dinner. Just in time for the Giants vs. Packers game to start so it wasn't quiet!

I have this emotional connection to them because they have known me for years and years and have always been so wonderful to me. When you cast the film version I am only "brother of sister-in-law" which is not a leading role and really the cause of no major plot points. Usually he is the surly one always in a dinner jacket with a martini glass making bitter asides in scenes 2, 5 and is in the background at the big final scene. That is all. Well, they don't make me feel that way and I don't feel that way about them in my movie.

I ask for no one's acceptance, but I do appreciate their genuine kindness. And this is what they give. When I think about all of our weddings and baptisms and anniversaries and funerals they have attended I am truly and deeply grateful for them. Of course they would attend their own son Jeff's wedding to my sister, but they have been there for it all! And through it all. With us. And I guess with my parents gone I know in some way they are there.

I got to play bagpipes at Clay's mom's funeral a few years back and it was an honour. And then to go to Clay and Barbara's 50th wedding anniversary party at the Madonna Inn in California was just great. My whole family was there and it was a great celebration. And I guess today I celebrate them and my good fortune that they are in my life.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Keep Coming Back Little Sheba

210 lbs. / 15 Stone (lost 6.6 lbs. this week mostly from dancing on taxis)

Wow. Back at Weight Watchers. In January. How original. The month of the packed gyms, packed 12 Step rooms and packed weight loss centers. No time like the present to act on a good intention.

We have this leader, Hal. Probably the best Weight Watchers leader I have ever had. He just knows how to deal with people and specializes in cranky menopausal women. This is a gift. I notice that I just want to tell people what they should do. Hal is smoother than this. He knows how to listen, respect the person's feelings and talk them out of the pantry. I have seem him take some old bird from "I have been eating my own baking for 40 years and I am just not going to give that up" to getting her to visualize an apple without always struedelizing it. That is talent. Why this man is not talking people off ledges or diffusing hostage situations instead of getting people to count points is somewhat of a waste, but there are a lot of 100lb weightloss folks in his groups. He is doing good. And in an unassuming, Southern gentleman Fred Astaire way rather than a Come On Down Tony Robbins way.

After, I was standing outside the Fairway Market on Broadway looking almost 7lbs lighter when my friend Brian walks by with his partner and their two dogs. He gives me a quick friendly waive like we borrow sugar from each other or talk over the fence weekly. I had not seen him in about a year and that was in LA! It was more like crashing into your high school lab partner in Tibet. Okay, I exaggerate. He said he reads my blog on occasion and just thinks we see each other. The downside of cyberfame. It was nice to chat to them and it turns out we are somewhat neighbors in the UWS. Again, the Big Apple is really a small town.

My friend Tom took me to see the Saturday matinee of "Come Back Little Sheba" at the Manhattan Theatre Club. This production stars S. Epatha Merkerson from "Law and Order" fame. So much of the city is tied to "Law and Order." If "Law and Order" and "Sex and the City" had a baby it would be called Manhattan. This William Inge play is one of those plays I think I have seen either in stage or movie form. I had seen neither. I really thought it held up because human pain and longing and loss is timeless. Unfortunately. And closeted tortured alcoholic playwrights who kill themselves know of what they speak. Feeling that deep pain and longing from the actors in a play written circa 1950 is really a tribute to the writer, the director and the actors. I would have thought this play was a creaky chestnut, but I am really glad I got to see it. And 1950 is not that long ago, I suppose, since Shakespeare still manages to get his points across in a pretty timeless fashion. The director and William Inge's nephew spoke after. Well worth sticking around for.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Save Me, Jesus. I Want to Live Forever.

At a function last night at St. Mary the Virgin Church in Midtown. "Which St. Mary?" "You know, St. Mary, the virgin. That one. You know her." "Oh right, the virgin, right, right. I used to get her confused with St. Mary the Filthy Slut and sometimes with St. Mary Who Had Sex But Didn't Like It, but then she got her hair bobbed and looks totally different from the other two."

I know that is kind of a cheapshot, but these names are absurd to me now. When I was young I never thought twice about church names and how odd they may seem to many. I just thought that is what they were called, which, in fact, was true: that is what they were called. Our Lady of Perpetual Help, St. Mary's Catholic Church of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, The Precious Blood of Christ Catholic Church, etc. (Can you imagine having to answer the phone "Good Morning, Precious Blood of Christ, how can I direct you?" Sounds more like an expression of exasperation than a church name: "Oh precious blood of Christ, would you stop playing and get in here and get your dinner!" ) And Immaculate Conception Academy (an all-girls school where I grew up. Just makes the name all that more creepy.) And the topper for me has always been "celebrating" the Feast of the Circumcision. I know it is not feasting ON the circumcision, but it is close. There was this spoof of a Martha Stewart Cookbook for all holidays where they had this recipe of calamari rings in tomato sauce (complete with accompanying photo) as the dish for celebrating this holiday! Pretty funny. And gross. But funny.

Anyway, it all gives many of us peace and there are nice statues and windows so so be it.

Well more imporantly than all this is I found out that St. Mary, The Virgin is the REAL film location for the movie "Fame" that stood in for the High School of Performing Arts and right in front on 46th St. is where they danced on the taxi. Talk about a holy revelation. The story goes that the High School of Performing Arts which was across the street (the building is still there, but the school has moved) wouldn't let Alan Parker use it to shoot "Fame" because he made "Midnight Express" and they didn't want their name associated with this. Huh? So a church (okay, an Episcopalian church) stepped in to let a man who made a movie with male prison sex use their building?! Does not compute, but that is the story.

That's all.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Category: Wet and Fun

Here is Poppa's tip for today: Get proper sleep and go out for sushi at lunch hour. Oh and have your whole office go to Park City, UT all at once so you can get some work done. This is the groundwork for a fulfilling life. Almost grandmotherly advice: "Honey, if I can leave you with three thoughts: Sleep, Sushi, Park City, UT." I have to say I was so happy today for those 3 reasons. Sleep has eluded me in the City that Never.

When I left the office at an hour that was fair and balanced it was SLEETING! I remember that word from the post office code, but not from my own climatically-pampered life in California. As I hoisted my tattered $5.99 umbrella with its broken spokes and forlorn droop, I thought, "How exciting is this wet and freezing madness?! I love it!" And then I pondered " What is the appropriate music to play on my i-pod?"

Tortilla "crisps" and HP?!!
Tonight I had a destination. I was helping out at the BAFTA East Coast Pub Quiz Night at the Telephone Bar in the East Village. This place has three iconic red British telephone boxes on the outside and plenty of pints and fried foods of the Anglo-Saxon gods on the inside. It was a perfect venue and we had a huge turnout despite the weather. The quiz went so well. Marc did a great job as Quiz Master and Lisa was the brains behind the whole event. And then there was me. We had great categories, prizes and just a great time.

Marc working the room.

Lisa. Always keeping score!

One of the things that excites me most in life for some reason is getting people to meet each other. And at the quiz night strangers were on teams together and because of the set up had "license" to talk! My true delight will be when they say hello to each other at future events. It rocks my world. People often need an entrée to talk to each other like a dog, or a t-shirt with writing on it or a book. If you aren't reading a "The Kite Runner" in public or aren't wearing a t-shirt that says "The Prickly Pear Pub, Mesa, AZ" or walking a beagle, then you better get to a pub quiz night is my advice. The Three Pubquizzateers!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My Travels in the East - Fun Times!

Back in my LA days (about 4 months ago) when I was asked to meet up or do anything that was anywhere more than 20 minutes from my house, I felt put out. Just too far and inconvenient in the comfort of my Audi with stereo and heated seats and sun roof. But on the island of Manhattan, a new place, a distant shore, is a welcomed adventure. And all on filthy, germ-laden, personal-space-invading public transport.

Last night I was meeting a colleague from LA whom I only knew via e-mail at a pub in the deepest darkest, outerest, Upper East Side. The OLD me (and probably, eventually a new me) would bristle, eye-roll, heavy sigh and pile on the put out self-importance of, well, me. But the present me thinks: "Cool. A new line! A new neighborhood!" I work on the westside of midtown and this was in the Eastiest of the upper east where public transport is more frowned-upon. I descended many, many stairs practically from my building to take the E train to 53rd and Lex. Then I went through this massive gauntlet, this rabbit warren of humanity, underground to get to the 6 train. This transfer on foot was a journey in itself. There are people coming at you in all directions going to other platforms and with seperate agendas. But there is a flow and you jump into the current and ride it out until you are dumped onto the 6 platform. I forgot to mention it is KEY to have an i-pod where this is all set to music. I was into The Clash's "London's Calling," but some Phillip Glass or bagpipe music would have worked as well.

I took the 6 up to 86th and Lex and headed east. For blocks. I could have taken the bus, but I wanted to see what there was here. "Wow, Barnes and Noble and ATT & T stores like everywhere else on this blinkin' planet." As I mentioned before I have this idea that people look different in the East, but that could just be my imagination. I finally got to 85th and York. Yes, York. When you are no longer on a numbered or famously-named Avenue, you know you are far, far away. ("York" is a funny word when you just look at the configuration of the letters without the "New" in front of it or the connotation of some quaint Roman baths attached.)

We met, it was a success. I headed back West on foot and then bus, through the park to the Upper West Side. It was good to be out of the woods and back to my pen.

Rock and Roll and Nod

Went to see Tom Stoppard's "Rock and Roll" at the Jacobs Theatre on W. 45th Street. After an 11 hour day and not being up on my Prague Spring and the Communist movement in the UK more than I want to admit, the dark theatre and the intellectual wordiness of Stoppard lulled me to sleep. I think I love the theatre more than most things, but it is also a dark warm place that can put my flat out. An 8pm curtain is usually the first time I have stopped all day. Brutal combo. And I go right into dreaming so I have no clue I am asleep.

I managed to get it together relatively quickly and enjoyed the rest. He used loads of Pink Floyd music which reminded me so deeply of my brother Sean. Sean was a huge Pink Floyd fan and I wonder if he still listens. I have to thank him for the exposure to Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath and Jethro Tull. I really learned a lot musically from being Sean's brother. I like all those bands now, though I was not supportive then. And my knowledge of Roger Waters and Syd Barrett was helpful tonight. Sort of like the pay off of being raised Catholic for studying literature or art except I still like being Sean's brother.

It is amazing when I am watching a play and I no longer think of actors on stage, but have totally given over to them as the people they are playing. I think it happens more in film for me for some reason, but tonight I had no thought to it being Brian Cox or Sinéad Cusack or Rufus Sewell up there. Amazing performances.

I go to sleep now.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Snow Job

There was no glamour in Gotham today, I am afraid. I got to work at 8:30am and left at 11pm. That was pretty much the day. I did nip out die udon with buckwheat soba noodles. Excellent and hot. Would have been better with SNOW!

My big excitement this morning was to get up and look out and see snow everywhere like THEY said. It didn't happen. No snow. I want snow, snow, snow. THEY say there will be some flurries tomorrow, but I no longer trust THEM!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

When You Get Older, It Just Gets Smaller.

11546 Steps

Ahhhhh. SunDAYS. I just LOVE them. Coffee. Light in my apartment. This I never see during the week! And weekend life outside. Loads of joggers and dog walkers and tai chi folk. And with errands completed on Saturday I get to truly enjoy it and be a part of it. I walked 70 +blocks along the river to Greenwich Village this morning. It was a clear, fresh day and I had my ipod turned to a meditation piece. I know that sounds odd, but it was nice to bliss out and be out.

Here's to the Boys Who Brunch...Met PatFrankandSean and we went in Frank's auto up by Columbia to this new place Sean had heard about called Community Food and Juice. It is across the street from the Seinfeld diner. I have to say despite the 1.5 hour wait(!!!!), it was really good. (When certain folk make their annual venture out of the Village for a purpose, you wait.) I had no "order envy" and was completely satisfied with my meal. We also spent the whole day BRUNCHING! But it was a good hang and a good time as always.

But somehow my breakfast melded into my evening plans.

The fantastic Nicole and a guy wearing a tablecloth with buttons

Got home in time to turn around and go out to Nicole's 40th Birthday Party at Buceo 95 on 95th and Amsterdam. I have to say I go to more 50th birthdays than 40th birthdays these days so this was a refreshing change and she is to be adored. A great last supper table of people I had never met before and I had a ball. But get ready for this, I don't expect you to fully follow, but it just points to what a small world I live in: Nicole's friends, sisters Joli and Hayley, are friends of my friends Greg and George in California, but there is NO/ZERO connection between me knowing Nicole and Greg and George knowing Joli and Hayley. And then Shaun (who it turns out danced with Greg and George at Joli's wedding!) and Joli both used to work for the woman who has the office next to me!!! And then when the birthday cake slices came out I said "How many points is that?" which is Masonic code for Weight Watchers and the woman next to me says, you're in Weight Watchers (all she has to do is look at the photos I have attached!) and I say Yes, you? Yes! Where? The Ansonia?! Yes! Hal ?? (our most excellent leader) YES!! Me too. Saturdays? Get OUT!! ( the LA person said that), 9:30. YES!

Le sorelle!

And we live around the corner from each other...

Supposed to snow tonight. I am so excited.

What a fantastic life I am having at this time.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Plus a Tiny Titian

A Tiny Titian

20718 Steps
216.6 lbs.

Saturday mornings are second only to Sunday mornings as my favorite part of the week. Saturday mornings just feel more "errandy" and that is where they lose to Sunday mornings. So in true Saturday morning fashion I did errands. I will not bore you with the washing of the dishes from the WEEK! or the sorting of the recycling because that stuff does not scream sexy, exciting Manhattan Blogger life.

Here is all the excitement that is fit to print: I went back to Weight Watchers this morning. I have always told people to get into the facts, ma'am: just get on the scale and look down. And I took my own advice this morning. I gained back the weight I took off right before Thanksgiving less .4 lbs. So here I am back and it is okay. I felt relief just being back. Now I know, now I can do something about it.

The Fishmonger at Citerella

I treated myself by going into Citerella, one of the best fish markets in the city, and bought some trout. I love that place and it was a fun game just shopping there. I was surprised because it wasn't that expensive. I rectified that by picking up my $508 eyeglasses afterwards. I lost my glasses on Thanksgiving and had NO IDEA it would cost me this much to replace them. But it is so good to have the sharper focus. I immediately treated my new vision to a walk across Central Park to the Metroplitan Museum. I feel so local when I walk in there and plunk down a buck, get a badge for my lapel and wander through the galleries for an hour. They have Titians to spare and one of my fave Modiglianis is there. This place is vast, extensive and amazing. I could go on. I have the Met across the Park from my brownstone and I can go anytime. God, I love this place.

This evening I met up with my friend Sean and we walked around Gramercy Park area and the Flatiron District. He showed me the Indian district on Lexington. I must go back when I have some points to spare! It will be an age before I tire of this island.

This apartment building on Gramery Park has gas lamps and a armored guard!

Statue of William Seward in Madison Square Park and me.

Friday, January 11, 2008

My Commute

Another non-stop day in the office. A blur. Just kept going until I told myself to stop and leave. One more click on that button. Please. One more series scheduled. C'mon. One more write up for April. I need to! One more idea played out. One more rating inserted. In the scheme of things I am doing surgery on the brain of a paper clip. Perspective. But on the other hand, I care about what I do. Enough.

Time to decompress and what better way than on the ginormous, anonymous, tremendous streets of Manhattan. It is perfectly Zen to coast through the masses. One of the perks of living and working here is being in the middle of it all. I walked up Broadway and returned phone calls from friends. Scott and I had a good chat all the way past Columbus Circle and Central Park South. We talked about life right by Lincoln Center and finished up in front of Fairway Market. Great to talk to him as always. I got some provisions and was going to call Rab when I noticed Clint rang in. Returned his call. He was on 8th and Folsom in San Francisco heading to Oakland. I was on 72nd and Broadway. Amy rang in from California. I set up a 3 way call and we talked all the way across the Bay Bridge up Broadway making a right at Zabar's to Oakland and up my staircase. Clint and Amy were then face to face in their kitchen and I was on my couch! What a lovely way to get home!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sheep Under Me Eyes. I Can't See to Count Them, but I Know They Are Puffy

Got to work at 8:30am. Left at 9pm. Shell shocked. Got home. Screened a program for work eating vegan dumplings with chicken. Installed wireless in my apartment. Here I am. Bed.

No thought to share. If I had to force one it is: "I have to get a sweater darned and lose weight."
Must. Get. Sleep.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Rialto

I live in New York City. This becomes clear to me when I pay my high rent every month. When I pay high anything every day. When I lug my groceries and my laundry some blocks. But it is also clear to me when I walk to work through Central Park and when I leave the office in the evening and meet a friend for a drink and a Broadway play. I am still amazed by this access. I just love it. May the novelty never wear off.

We went to see Irish playwright Conor McPherson's "The Seafarer" tonight. Male anger and isolation like what I saw in Pinter's "The Homecoming" a few weeks ago. Plus a hell of a lot more alcohol! Booze and chat. I could go on and on and on and on and on about this. We Irish love our drink. It was so odd seeing the set with the linoleum worn away revealing the older linoleum underneath. And the morning light coming up through the window as dawn came. I KNEW that place exactly. I knew those people. That really struck me. I was in that house at one time. I knew that.

And the actors were amazing. Like my friend said, "We have not seen great, great plays this season, but we have seen great performances." This is true. Ian McShane and Eve Best in "The Homecoming." And those actors tonight. And Deanna Dunnagan in the Steppenwolf Production of "August: Osage County."

When the theatre let out many other houses were emptying and whole seas of humanity with different playbills in hand were all mingling on the streets. This is part of the theatre experience for me in New York. I also love going outside at intermission and if the theatre across the street or next door has a similarly timed intermission I love seeing people pour out of there. At a risk of a reader eyeroll, I love the collective experience of theatre here. It is part of why I am here. It is part of why I am here.

I got back to my brownstone apartment and climbed the stairs, checked my mail and took off my shoes. I put my keys and wallet in the upper left hand drawer. This is my set. This is the end of Act II for today. Not a lot of drama. Nice.

And Curtain.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A Brand New Day. Everything is Fine.

Today I ate in order: cereal, lentil salad, cubes of cheese, an orange, Cinnamon Pop Tarts, Fish and Chips, Burger and Fries, Ice Cream and Cake.

I thought I was doing Weight Watchers but if you dug me up and did an autopsy you would think I left a vegetarian orgy for a children's birthday party.

I have reasons for everything I ate. I think I was doing pretty well until the Pop Tarts. They are in a vending machine on my floor at work. And only 60 cents the injection. I was stressed. I was really stressed. I should have walked around the block. I walked to the sugary methadone clinic in the office kitchen instead. I thought I had stopped this. I thought I was clean!

THEY, the wise and ubiquitous and ominous THEY, say you can start your day over at any time. I choose to start it over now when I am going to bed. So today I basically ate NOTHING!

"That boy starves himself. He really needs to eat something. A whole day without food? He is fasting. How honorable."

Monday, January 7, 2008

Oy with the Head Already!

What was on my mind today? Well nothing. I just worked. I guess work is on my mind. I got here at 8:30am and left at 9pm. I need to work smarter. Better. I guess. Lately I feel like I am pushing rocks up hills; I don't seem to get the work done. This causes me "controlled panic" if such a thing can be achieved. I got home and watched a program for work with my chicken dinner. Took notes. I flossed. I am now going to bed.

All this sends me into a horrible "How Does Oprah Do It?" thing. When I compare myself to Oprah, I suffer. I know she has a million handlers and assistants, but that lady works hard. There is no way she doesn't. But then she rides her bike in Montecito! There are people who run companies, raise kids, read the classics, have abs of steel and learn Flemish. They also VOLUNTEER! I know there is a trick and I am going to learn it.

Here is just a quick working list of things I think I need to "GET":

1. First thing's first. Just do the next thing.
2. Reading 2 pages of Homer or Flaubert is better than fretting about how behind on the classics I am.
3. Walking to work is exercise. Walk to work.
4. Signing up for a class/joining a group is something you do whether you have a job/relationship or not.
5. If I know I have done the best I can at that moment, then so be it.
6. Meditation. There must be something good in it for me based on the fact that it freaks me out.
7. When I compare myself to Oprah (or anyone) I suffer.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Sunday Dusk

I love Sundays. Sunday mornings and days, I mean. My fave day of the week in fact. No longer do I look forward to Saturday nights out. I have gone through "the change." I am into mornings. Another chapter in my never ending book entitiled "IT JUST HAPPENS." Like death and taxes there are certain certainties.

Here are some:

1. Your doctor is going to be younger than you. (CHECK)

2. Your president/prime minister is going to be younger than you. (If Obama wins here I am spared by one year.)

3. You will not recognize any of the artists on the Top 10 Music list. (90% CHECK for me)

4. Things that went out of place on your body in your 30s always went back. In your 40s and beyond, they stay in their new position.

But what I have gained besides lines and inches is Sunday mornings. Coffee. Music. My computer. All at home with light coming through my window. Then a walk with my ipod through the park or along the river. I love it more than 3 aspirin and a stranger in my bed.

Had brunch in the Village with the guys and we had a star sighting. I have had major New York- esque sightings this weekend, in well, New York. First Stiller & Meara at the next table on Friday night and now Annie Liebowitz loading the back of her SUV on Bank Street. Heading to her cool villa upstate that I saw in that HBO special no doubt. It felt like Wild Kingdom as we stealthily approached the side of her vehicle. "Shhh. Steady. Don't disturb the wild life. If we walk slowly and steadily she won't notice us staring at her. These creatures like to be left alone to do what they are doing. Greenwich Village is their watering hole." Of course I was dying for a photo of the famous photog for my blog, but we were just too near and it would be just too rude. I cannot turn into But imagine me with my arm over Annie's shoulder by her SUV on tree-lined Bank Street with quaint Federal-style brick buildings behind us and us both beaming for the camera with one of us just having been at Buckingham Palace having photographed the Queen which resulted in a firestorm and heads rolling at the BBC and the other having just had breakfast. That is my concept for the photo you are not seeing here.

Then there is Sunday night. I have a problem still with that. Sunday Dusk is how I see it. It is not that relaxing Sunday Roast and a Movie thing for me. It is "Ok I have the week ahead and I have to hurry up and relax and get to bed and get up early and really make it happen this time" feeling. Much different than walking through Sheep Meadow listening to Vivaldi hours earlier. One daypart at a time, I suppose.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

If You Could See What I See.

I have to say as much as I have HUGE problems with technology I still take time while others are smelling roses to marvel at the mobile phone. Here you are 10, 000 miles away talking to a friend with a Mars bar held to your head whilst getting your eyebrows waxed or spending quality time with a loved one at a nursing home. A marvel I tell you. A marvel. But now I want a PatCam(tm). It is a tiny device that I attach to my forehead so I can show you where I am and what I am seeing during our call. Not that I won't listen to whatever it is you are going on about, but that you get to SHARE my surroundings with me. I hear this capability is out there, but I am always 5 years behind. There are "early adopters" and there are people like me - "technology's stepchildren." Not a PC term, but there you have it.

For example. I was talking to my friend Jon this morning on my way to return Christmas gifts. He said "Are those horse's hooves?" I could have been way out in the parking lot at the Paramus Park Mall, but I was walking through Central Bloody Park on a beautiful winter day and those were horse and carriages he was hearing! There were also ice skaters and the skyline of Central Park South buildings in front of me. There were the park statues and old couples holding hands. I want to share! LOOK! LOOK! And I want to see what you are seeing too. This is what we call CONTEXT. You know how it is once you finally get invited to someone's home or you have been in their office and then you have that visual of where they are when they speak to you? It just makes the experience so much more personal. Don't you think? And isn't technology pulling us away from "personal"? Okay, so I air my dirty laundry to the world on a daily basis via this blog, but there is that WALL O' SAFETY with it. I wear masks.

(Virginia, daddy just lost his way with his whole point. He is pulling over. )
I returned gifts and redeemed my gift card at Bloomingdales which Jon in San Francisco directed me to, by the way - "just keep walking east on 59th Street." I got this great sweater. Thanks, Leiyan! I then got a hat and I bought underpants. (The camera would be turned off at this point.)

Walking back home through the Park my friend Maureen came back into my head as she often does. (In cyber speak it is called a Widget. She placed a widget in my head.) I have this feeling that if they keep putting widgets in your head you should call them. We had not spoken in a while and it was so wonderful to speak to her. Hat and gloves in the Park right by Tavern on the Green. In our conversation I was reminded of how many great laughs we have had over the years. Just so many. And how many years. Piping. Banking. Life. Death. Hangovers. Fillums. Role Playing. Tawk. Camping Purse. I sat down on a park bench and we had a chat. This was just the best that money could buy with technology. Well, not really. If the phone dispensed boiling water and a tea bag, I think that would have been the best. We talked well past where John Lennon got shot and up through the west side markets to around 72nd Street. She would not have known any of this since as I had no PatCam(tm). For all she knew I was sitting in an empty room talking to her. And maybe that is the point of it.