Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
I was in the city to see Todd — in from Los Angeles with his wife and child, Naomi, who is already a year old — and we did a typical tourist thing on the day after Thanksgiving: wander around Fifth Avenue looking at the various store windows at Saks, Bloomingdales, and Bergdorf Goodman. (Oh, and it should be noted, we did all this with Kerri.) Then we went to 30 Rock to see the tree (unlit until Wednesday). And I've gotta say, the combination of perfect weather and being amongst people full of holiday cheer (not just Todd and co., but the entire city, it seemed) was really fun.
When we separated, I was having such a good time that I made the decision to stay in the city and try to see a show. After an hour-long wait at the new TKTS booth, I had tickets for (of all things) Shrek the Musical. (I know, I know. But I had included it in a recent article for Continental and I was curious.) I'll write more about the show a little later, but I'll say I am enjoying this annual tradition of getting spur-of-the-moment theater tickets (last year I saw Spring Awakening). For laughs and, well, because I had to go, I returned to Charmin's free public restroom, browsed the Virgin Megastore for a while, then fully embraced my inner tourist by grabbing a quick dinner at Planet Hollywood (mmmmm ... Chicken Crunch). Suffice it to say, it was a cheesy couple hours, but I enjoyed myself.
Yeah, Todd was right: In small doses, New York can be a lot of fun. But small doses is key. I'm not moving anytime soon.
Friday, November 28, 2008
I think what it comes down to is something like what Coldplay sings in their song "42": "Those who are dead are not dead, they're just living in my head." Bubby's not really gone if I keep her on my mind, as she is today, more so than on other days. I still really miss her.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Just Saying Thanks
* Hood's Green Monster Mint ice cream
* Sorboni Banerjee
* The birth of my niece, Abby, and the fact that she's happy, healthy, and so f'in' adorable I can't stand it
* T drivers who are able to go express
* My condo, and the fact that my money is invested here and no longer in the stock market
* Good friends
* Not having to live at 110 Babcock anymore, next to my violin- and flute-playing neighbors
* Movies as enjoyable as The Dark Knight, Man on Wire and Slumdog Millionaire
* My seemingly endless ability to display discipline, flexibility, patience, and calm — and basically to stay completely even-keeled — under extreme duress on a daily basis, and not fly off the handle every single time I'm tempted to
* Serena van der Woodsen
* Barack Obama's win in the presidential election
* ... and of course, all of you, my readers, who keep coming back and who have helped me to maintain this blog for more than three years. (Who'da thunk it, right?) I hope you'll keep coming back day after day to see what I have to say.
In the meantime, I wish you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
They Come from a Land Down Under
In 1939, Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman), a frosty English aristocrat, travels to Australia to take control of a cattle station. She meets a rough-around-the-edges Australian drover (Hugh Jackman), and wouldn't you know it, the Drover melts Ashley's exterior and the two fall in love. Throw in a cute Aboriginal boy who awakens Ashley's maternal instincts and you have the film's basic setup. Luhrmann tells his story using the Outback as his canvas. He uses plenty of wide shots to capture the sense of place, often using some trademark camera tricks to give the stars added luster, and Mandy Walker's cinematography is often really sumptuous. It's clear Luhrmann really loves Kidman and Jackman because they do look great. (No wonder Jackman won the title of People's Sexiest Man Alive.)
But at 165 minutes, Australia is just too much. The whole affair has very little point, other than for Luhrmann, Jackman, and Kidman to show off their homeland. There's too much cutesy-ness (the boy calling Ashley "Mrs. Boss" over and over and over gets really grating, as do the repeated references to The Wizard of Oz). The love story and other aspects of the plot seem too conventional, predictable, and I don't know, there. And basically, despite all the visual flourishes, I just wasn't really engaged in the whole thing. Maybe Baz should have thrown in some remakes of popular pop tunes here too. (Just kidding.) I'm giving Australia a C+.
Don't I Have Anything Better to Do?
Of course, the study includes more than just time spent watching a television; it also includes time spent watching content on computers and on mobile phones. I watch my daily dose of YouTube and other clips, but please. There's no way I watch 90 other hours each month. And it's a good thing, because there's this other study that came out recently showing that the more TV you watch, the unhappier you are. "Happy people spend more free hours socializing, reading and participating in religious activities, while unhappy people watch 30 percent more television.... On average, the down-and-out reported an extra 5.6 hours of tube time a week, compared with their happiest counterparts," says a Washington Post article about the study. Thankfully, I consider myself a happy person, and don't consider my TV watching to be excessive. (And no, that's not denial.) After all, it's not like I watch all of that TV in a week; the DVR allows me to watch it whenever I want, and to have a life outside of my living room.
Which brings me to another recent study you may have heard about, the one that said teens who watch more TV are more likely to have sex. Well ... um ... how about I not even comment on that one and let you assume what I'm going to say about it.
Point is: how much TV do you watch? Am I watching too much? Or maybe not enough?
Monday, November 24, 2008
I don't know how much more you need to know about the plot given that Milk is about a real person and it's based on a true story. I'd rather tell you about the excellent cast, which besides Penn also includes James Franco as Milk's lover, Scott; Emile Hirsch as Cleve Jones, Milk's protege; and Josh Brolin as Dan White, Milk's assassin. Franco especially gives a very moving and sympathetic performance, but all members of the cast are impressive. Van Sant tells the story in a tender and not heavy-handed way, making this a universal story and not a "gay" one or any other kind of marginalization. Milk is undoubtedly a sympathetic portrait of the man, and he comes off as one of us: someone who saw a wrong in his community and sought to make it right through sheer will and in the face of extreme prejudice. By the end of Milk, you'll not only be cheering for Milk's accomplishments (and Penn's performance), you'll be wondering why the gay community still has so far to go in terms of their quest for equal rights. I love this movie. It's one of the best of the year, and one that I hope has an impact beyond the box office. I'm giving Milk an A–.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Director Danny Boyle has infused Millionaire with such vibrancy and life that you'll find yourself overlooking the oftentimes cliched nature of the story. The cinematography is excellent; each frame bursts with color and energy. All the acting is good, and the story itself is so engaging that by the time the quiz show reaches its final question (worth 20 million rupees), you're on the edge of your seat with anticipation wanting to know how it will all turn out (as if there's any doubt).
Is Millionaire as good as Once? No. For one thing, Millionaire is two hours long and it feels it. But so much of the movie is so great and memorable that I can overlook that. I'm giving Slumdog Millionaire an A–
Friday, November 21, 2008
I'm Sporting a Yule Log
And if you want even more, check out Colbert's very own yule log. Merry Christmas, everybody!
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Passed Over Again and Again and Again
I hope I can count on you to do your part to stop an outbreak of pantslessness. Please wear pants the rest of this month (at least), and encourage all your male friends and family members to do the same. In fact, why not do a pants check right now? That's right. Stop reading this post and look down at the part of your body below the waist. Are you wearing pants? No? Well, by all means, go put some on! It doesn't matter what kind of pants you wear, or what color they are. They can even be yellow pants. Just cover your legs. The world will be a better place. (Oh, and thanks to Matt for bringing this very important topic to my attention.)
And by the way, Wear a Kilt to Work Day — a day when men are encouraged to go pantsless — isn't until April. So don't go using that as an excuse.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The more they stay the same ... Alright, I finally have to post something about this: My new next-door neighbor plays an instrument. A guitar. Or at least I think it's a guitar. It sort of sounds more like a banjo. But it's an instrument nevertheless. And he plays it a lot. Like, every night. However, things are different now. For one thing, a guitar (even one that sounds sort of like a banjo) is not nearly as bad as a violin. Or a flute, for that matter. Secondly, it's not like it's soooo loud that it interferes with my TV-watching like the playing did in my old place. And finally — also most importantly — I've met my neighbor and he's a nice guy. So if I was ever that annoyed by his playing, I'm sure he'd stop, even though I know he doesn't have somewhere else to go. So I'm going to keep a positive, tolerant, flexible attitude about this. Still, it's totally amusing to me that I've moved next to another instrument player. What luck I have.
Ah well. As the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Out of Town Goes Out of Town
To be more specific, going express inbound — from Packards Corner to B.U. Central, for example — is good, especially when you're on a crowded train. But consider the destination. I'm not really in that much of a rush to get to work. On the other hand, when you're on an outbound train, and the driver comes on the PA to announce that you'll be going express from Washington Street all the way out to Boston College — well, that's just a great thing. It's like the driver knows you've had a rough day and you're eager for some peace and quiet, a good dinner, and some good TV. All the riff raff gets off the train (grumbling, usually) and it's like the whole vehicle is all mine (or close to all mine). I can grab a seat, or stretch out on a couple seats. And then it's like the driver has hit the warp speed button so he/she can get me home likkity-split, and we get to the end of the line in no time. So yeah, that's what I endorse: an express ride home on the T.
Labels: the T
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Say It Ain't So
Before anyone blames this on the economy or laziness or anything else, know this much: I'm trying. But of all the new holiday music I'm listening to — Sheryl Crow, Kristin Chenoweth, the Brushfire collection, Brian McKnight, Ledisi, and even Neil Sedaka — very little of it is any good. Of course, I love the new Harry Connick Jr. holiday album, but I can't really make a CD of only Harry Connick tunes. That wouldn't be very cool — or legal. And I really don't want to make a subpar CD of leftovers that didn't make it onto previous year's mixes (like Dido's "Christmas Day," a perennial also-ran, or Darlene Love's now-three-year-old "Christmastime for the Jews").
Really, I'm just not as excited about making a mix this year like I was last year. So maybe the best thing for me to do is go out on top and leave folks wanting more. After all, last year's mix was really good. Like, instant-classic good. Maybe by next year I'll have enough material to compile a really good and worthy ninth (!!) Very Marty Christmas CD. And, maybe I'll rally and find enough for a good CD this year. You never know what can happen around holiday time. Stay tuned.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Revenge Served Cold
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
How Could They Vote for a Loser Who Doesn't Shave??
An Expression of Love
Monday, November 10, 2008
A film this bizarre could only come from one person, Charlie Kaufman, the writer of films like Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and here Kaufman does double duty as writer and director. I'll say this, and it's not meant as damning with faint praise or a form of denial: Synecdoche is quite an ambitious, creative exercise. Parts of this movie are beautiful and poetic, or they feature Kaufman's trademark dark humor, and others just make you throw your hands up and say "WTF??!!" If you can stick with Synecdoche, it will reward you with observations about life, and how we're all important. "There are millions of people in the world," Caden says one, two, three, maybe four times in the movie. "None of those people is an extra. They're all leads of their own stories." But I'll admit, sticking with Synecdoche is not easy. It's maddening and confusing at times, and it's just not for everyone. That said, I liked this movie — though I can't really explain it, or explain why — so I'm giving Synecdoche a B+.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Spending the Weekend
No Friends, Nothing to Live For
And Your Whispering Eye
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Before I Move On ...
* I still feel really excited about Barack Obama's win, and really happy for the country. I'm proud to be an American, and I suspect this is a feeling that will last for a long time.
* Have you seen this yet: IsObamaPresident.com? What about IsMcCainPresident.com?
* The biggest question I'm left with — as so many others are — is how the country can elect a black man as its president but the state of California (California!) can vote to make a marriage of two people in love illegal. (The same thing happened in Arizona and Florida.) It just doesn't make any sense. I hope the unfortunate passing of California's Prop 8 on Tuesday eventually results in some real positive change for gay people, not just on the West coast but all across the country. (On a side note, I saw Milk on Wednesday and I agree with those who think that if it had been released prior to the election, Prop 8 would never have passed. More comment on the movie itself will come in a couple weeks, closer to its release.)
* If you just can't get enough of hearing "A Change Is Gonna Come," perhaps you'd be interested in hearing 14 different versions, all downloadable as MP3s, courtesy of WFMU.
* I really wish Sarah Palin would just go back to Alaska and stay there, so we never have to see or hear from her ever again. Something tells me that just ain't gonna happen.
* And finally, what will Keith Olbermann do now that in 70-something days, he won't have George Bush to kick around anymore? I guess we'll find out all in good time. But Wednesday night on his show, he didn't gloat and hang a "Mission Accomplished" banner, as was humorously predicted by John McCain himself a couple weeks ago. Instead, in his final Campaign Comment, he looked back on the significance of Tuesday's election, keeping his own words to a minimum and letting the pictures speak for themselves. Enjoy.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
It's Only Been Six Months?
"This Is Our Moment"
Congratulations again, President-Elect Obama. With this victory, with this speech, you give me such pride and make me so happy and excited. What a night this has been.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Hail to Obama
Change Is Coming
Vote Early, Vote for Obama
My pen went right for the bubble next to Obama/Biden and when it was all filled in, I took a quick breath to soak up the moment and feel some satisfaction with my choice. This was my first time voting in Newton, and I will admit, it was great to finally vote for president, but it was also cool to see Barney Frank on the ballot — and be able to vote for him too. I'll also say the three ballot questions were largely game-day decisions since I'd been wavering back and forth on them for weeks. Anyway, by 7:30 I was already on my way home with a smile on my face and tremendous pride in the democratic process. The only thing missing from the whole experience was an "I voted" sticker (apparently, my precinct didn't have any to give out). Oh well. I guess I'll have to get two free cones from Ben & Jerry's to make up for it. (If I drank coffee, I could get some for free at Starbucks today too.)
It's funny: Looking back, I don't think I've ever been this excited to vote in an election — not even in 1992 when I voted for the first time. I'm not totally sure why that is, but it probably has to do with the fact that in '92, I voted via an absentee ballot instead of in a booth (after all, I was in college at the time). And, this year, I just find Barack Obama to be the best man for the job and feel very strongly about that. I give lots of credit (or blame) for my interest in the election to Keith Olbermann, who I've watched just about every night for the better part of the past 10 or 11 months. Love him or hate him, Keith's a guy with a lot of passion for politics, and for the most part, his views and mine synch up pretty closely. When he gets riled up about something, so do I. When I'm excited about something, Keith usually is too. To be clear: I did not vote for Obama because Keith told me to. But I can say that Keith helped me get more invested in making a choice, first between Obama and Hillary Clinton, and then between Obama and John McCain (not that I needed any help there), and to get really excited about the process. So thanks, Keith. You da man.
Anyway ... so now my ballot's been cast and all I can do is sit back and wait till the results come in around 8 p.m. tonight. It's going to be a long — but hopefully good — day. Following the election's become a big part of my life in recent months and while I'm not sorry to see it end, I will miss the process. But more importantly, I'm looking forward to a new administration — and I'm hopeful that it'll be led by my candidate. And hey, if you're reading this and haven't voted yet, what are you waiting for? Get out and vote!
Monday, November 03, 2008
It's Almost Here
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Palin Gets Punked