Monday, December 29, 2008

Yes, there are Mens who are Gentlemen

Saturday night I went out with the lovely Hope Tarr to an event given by 9 different Meet Up groups. To tell the truth, I wasn't really interested in going out, but I felt that I should really make the effort. After all Mr. Right is not going to come knocking on my door while I'm in my jammies watching Baby Mama with Tina Fey.

I'm really glad that I ended up going because there were lots of men there and they actually went out of their way to talk to us! And buy us drinks (well actually only one of them bought Hope a drink, I was still nursing my Cosmo). I'm not saying that we met the loves of our life Saturday night but it restored my faith in mankind, which has been sorely battered this past year.

My only quibbles were the fact that the so-called fashion show consisted of just people at the party voguing while Benny Ninja (from ANTM) exhorted them to give their fiercest poses. And the open bar was only for an hour, so hordes of people were thronging the bar trying to get their free Vodka drinks before 8 p.m.

One of the guys that we met, a Brit, apparently spends a lot of time in Miami working for drug lords, which I hate to tell him, is not exactly a selling point, at least not for me. Keeping criminals out of jail is not exactly what I'm looking for in a man. But he was certainly fun to talk to.

I'm so glad that I joined like 9 Meet Up groups in the past week!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Movie Review: The Spirit

On Christmas Day, I took myself off to the AMC movie theater for my annual xmas movie. This year I decided to see The Spirit. Since I was planning on seeing the movie before noon, my ticket was only six dollars which was great, because I'm unemployed and also because that's about all the movie was worth.

The plot is fairly simple, the Spirit is sort of like Batman, in that he fights crime alongside the cops of Central City. No one knows where he came from except this one cop who knows that he's really a cop named Denny Colt that everyone thought had died, hence the name The Spirit. The Octopus (played by Samuel L. Jackson) and his gang of cloned goons, are trying to take over Central City. The Octopus wants the vase of Herakles which is supposed to make him immortal. Meanwhile The Spirit's old flame Sand Serif is in town looking for Jason's Golden Fleece. Due to a mix-up, The Octopus has the fleece and Sand has the vase of Herakles. And The Spirit wants to stop them both.

To say that I was disappointed in this movie is an understatement. Perhaps my hopes were just too high, but I thought hey, it's Frank Miller and the late Will Eisner, this should be awesome. I had familiarized myself with the character of The Spirit in it's new incarnation from DC Comics and was thoroughly intrigued by him. However, the movie while stylistically beautiful, falls short on things like character development, fun, and action.

The lead actor Gabriel Macht is not nearly charismatic enough to play the role of The Spirit or at least he's not allowed enough moments in the film to let the audience see why women swoon so much over him, and why Ellen, the doctor who tends his wounds, spends all her time waiting for him. There is a cute little backstory of his relationship with one of the female villainesses Sand Serif (and not one person made a joke about how her name is the same as a computer font). But again, her character is not very well-fleshed out, and Eva Mendes, although beautiful, is not a good enough actress to give her any weight beyond what's on the page.

Scarlett Johanssen comes off much better, but as much as I love Samuel L. Jackson, I think he needs to take a step back and not do every single film script that comes across his desk. The man needs to work with directors like Ridley Scott or even Martin Scorcese, even Clint Eastwood for god's sake. I'm even willing to add Spike Lee to the list. He does way too much crap. He's like a black Michael Caine, and Caine didn't start winning Oscars until he took a step back and became a bit pickier about his film scripts. Put Samuel L. Jackson in a movie with Will Smith or Denzel or DeNiro, actors who are worthy of his talent.

The Spirit, even for the most-die hard graphic novel and comic book lover is a miss.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

I hope that everyone has a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or Winter Solstice!

I'm off to the movies tomorrow to see The Spirit and then over to a friend's house for holiday cheer and lots of wine.

It's raining here in New York today so I leave you with this lovely image of Daniel Craig to keep everyone warm and toasty for the holidays.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Fat Free Phooey!

I have a recipe for the most amazing gingerbread ever made that I got from my ex-best friend, but it requires buttermilk. Now that wouldn't be a problem except every single grocery store and supermarket that I have been too lately is only selling 'Light' buttermilk. Yes, low-fat Buttermilk, which the recipe doesn't call for.

When did this become an issue? Who out there drinks buttermilk like every day? As far as I knew buttermilk was just used in pancakes or ranch dressing or in my case gingerbread. So what's up with the low-fat option? And if you are going to offer low fat buttermilk, don't stop selling the full fat stuff.

Anyway, according to Wikipedia, buttermilk actually has less fat than regular milk anyway, so there is no need to make it low-fat!

I tried to make the recipe with the 'light' version but it just didn't taste the same.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Play that Funky Banjo!

Saturday, I dragged myself to The Philoctetes Center to see Bela Fleck and Lewis Porter in a roundtable called Living in the Musical Moment: Banjo Innovations. Although the week was pretty good, I had been suffering from female problems of a certain nature and I was pretty under the weather. Plus it had snowed on Friday and all the pretty snow had turned to slush, meaning I couldn't wear a cute outfit. Still I perservered.

I admit that when I think of the banjo several images come to mind. One Steve Martin in his early comedy days. Two, Hee-Haw and Deliverance. Yes, I'm that kind of East Coast liberal. But I'm trying to be open to things and new ideas which was the whole point of going to Philoctetes in the first place. And I'm glad that I went.

There is a reason why Bela Fleck is one of the most well known banjo players in the world. I had never head banjo playing like this. At times, he could make the instrument sound like a guitar, at times he could almost make it sing. I had no idea that the banjo was such an incredible instrument. He's won 8 Grammys and been nominated numerous times for his music. He's even played classical music on the banjo. Who would have thunk it. The banjo is not just for bluegrass anymore!

I also learned that the banjo was developed by the slaves in the South (yes, another thing that people have color have come up with that has been appropriated by the white man! Just kidding). Bela Fleck told a story about traveling in Africa for a documentary that he was working on and meeting musicians in West Africa who played a similar instrument. Which makes sense because most of the slave trade was from West Africa. I love hearing stories that trace the origin of something which is why I watch too many shows on the History Channel and the Food Network that trace the origins of certain foods.

Anyway, I was so impressed by the music that I ordered a Bela Fleck CD from Amazon. Of course he's also pretty good-looking too. But of course, just my luck, he's taken. Although he did compliment me on my mint chocolate chip cookies, courtesy of Nestle. I just can't a break.

To cheer myself after yet another romantic disappointment (don't ask), I put on one of my prettiest and oldest party dresses and headed out to The Dove Parlour for a Christmas do thrown by the Rebels of Romance. They were serving mulled wine that was so hot you could see the steam come off of it. Despite the snow, it was a wonderful party and we all received little goody bags.

Sunday, I dragged myself to the library to do some research and ended up coming home and watching all ten hours of season 4 of Monarch of the Glen, a series set in the Scottish highlands.

So despite a few bad apples, it was a pretty good weekend.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Dancing in the Dark

Yesterday, I took myself off to the Betsey Johnson sample sale in the Hotel Millennium, which is a gorgeous art deco hotel located in the theater district on 44th Street. I was looking for a party dress for a Christmas party that I'm going to tomorrow night. Although I shouldn't be spending the money, I can't resist a pretty party dress. Well, I was tres disappointed. All of the party dresses were strapless! What's up with that Betsey? The last time I wore a strapless dress was for a beauty pageant in college, and I spent the entire night wondering if it was going to fall down. I just don't have the belle poitrine for that kind of dress. What happened to all the great dresses that she used to create? Oh, I know, they don't end up in the sample sale pile! I remember when her dresses used to actually be relatively inexpensive, now they cost like $300 and $400!

Afterwards, I schlepped over to Banana Republic to look for a dress and I couldn't find anything which may be God's way of keeping me from spending huge amounts of money I don't have. Still I had a good time trying on clothes. They had way nicer dresses on sale that the ones I saw at the Betsey Johnson sale.

I also went to the Best of 2008 night at Dancesport where I've been taking ballroom dancing classes for the past two years. This was a mammoth evening of 27 performances by either students or student/teacher combos. There were even a few wedding dances thrown in. I bought a class of Chateau Dancesport 2008 and settled in for the evening. Beforehand though was dancing, and I even got to do the hustle with Paul Pellicoro, who is the owner of Dancesport which was fun. By the time the evening was over at quarter of one in the morning, I had seen some great performances and some scary ones. I even got to vote for best performance of the evening.

I'm glad that I went instead of staying home and watching Grey's Anatomy re-runs, that would have been painful given the dismal state of the show this season.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Yeah, I have a laptop!

I finally went out and bought myself a laptop. I know, I know, it's the 21st Century, everyone has one. But I had gotten spoiled using the computer at my various jobs that I never bothered to either upgrade my computer at home, or buy a laptop. Of course, that I'm a lady of leisure, I need a laptop, since my home computer is 12 years old and doesn't really have a place for my flashdrive, and even if it did I would be afraid of blowing it to Kingdom Come if I tried to use it.

So I went over to Best Buy and Circuit City to buy a Netbook but the cheapest one they had was $279 and it didn't even come with Microsoft Word but some weird software that belonged to the company. Plus the screen was really really tiny, and I can't afford to go blind right now since my health insurance expires in March of 2009. So I remembered this place I had read about in New York magazine called The Little Lap Top Shoppe and I googled it and found out it was on the Lower East Side.

I hopped on the train, well actually 2 trains and went on down. Sitting on the shelf was a Dell Latitude for $179, completely rebuilt! After I added the modem and a carrying it bag, it still came out to $237 which was way cheaper than the ASUS model at Best Buy.

So now I've joined the 21st Century!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Word of the Day: Truthiness

Saturday I went to a roundtable at The Philoctetes Center concerning the twin topics of autobiography and biography. Given the fact that I write mini-biographies over at Scandalous Women, this topic was right up my alley. And the list of guests was impressive, Simon Winchester, Nicholson Baker and Judith Thurman who has written biographies of Isak Dinesen and Colette. One of the topics that came up was of course the infamous James Frey. One of the panelists, David Shields, felt that Frey had been made a scapegoat, which I disagree with. He set himself up by insisting that everything in his memoir was the absolute truth and then he turned out to be a big fat liar. Nicholson Baker brought up a good point that when people pick up an autobiography there is an unspoken pact between the reader and the author, that what they are about to read is the truth. And then Judith Thurman said that there are facts and then there is the truth and they are two different things.

Whoa! I had never thought of it that way, but after I thought about it for a bit, I realized that she was right. One of my favorite Scandalous Women, Lola Montez, completely reinvented herself. Born Eliza Gilbert in Ireland, she went to Spain to study dance and when she returned she was Lola Montez, complete with the accent and a made up story of an aristocratic background. She told this story so many times that she actually began to believe it, and when she wrote her autobiography, she kept up the lie. It had nothing to do with the facts, but with her own version of her truth.

I was so fired up that I actually got up at the end of the roundtable and actually made a comment and asked a question, which I never to do at the roundtables at Philoctetes. In almost two years, I have asked precisely two questions. Part of the problem is that I'm not exactly a quick thinker, quite a few times I've thought of questions I wanted to ask later on after I got home. The other problem is sometimes the roundtables are either so over my head or out of my comfort zone, I wouldn't know what to ask. Anyway, I made my comment about Lola Montez and then I asked Judith Thurman if she felt like Amanda Foreman, that if she had a chance to write her biographies of Colette or Isak Dinesen again, would she take a different tack, now that she's gotten older or would she emphasize another aspect of their lives? I felt really proud of that question, particularly when a gentleman after the roundtable told me that he thought my question was very intelligent. Yeah, score one for me! Oh, and I remembered to mention the blog when I made my comment. Got to self-promote.

I was disturbed however when Francis Levy, the co-director of the center, made an announcement that things were kind of dire at the moment, due to the economic climate and losing some of their funding (?). That worried me. What would I do with my Saturdays if I didn't have Philoctetes to go to? Even though some of the roundtables were over my head intellectually, I've always gotten something out of them, and I've felt like I've expanded my horizons considerably since I discovered the center.

It is times like this that I wish I could win the lottery, so I could set up a foundation and continue to make sure that places like Philoctetes continue to exist. I would be such a good rich person. I hate getting letters in the mail from worthy causes and not being able to contribute. It sounds a little like playing Lady Benevolent, but I've always thought if I had access to a great deal of money, I would set up a foundation to make sure that the arts, particularly small theater companies, were decently funded, as well as research into diabetes and lung cancer.

Ah well.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Fair is Foul, and Foul is Fair

Okay the weather has been particularly crappy this week here in New York. Either it's been raining like Noah is about to build another ark, or it's been cold and windy. Of course earlier in the week it was warm for December. I wish the weather would just make up its mind what it was doing so that I would know how to dress accordingly.

Still unemployed but not quite as depressed about it as I was last week. Perhaps it is because I had the best pizza of my life yesterday at Artichoke Basille. They are famous for their spinach and artichoke slice so of course I had to try it out. It's pretty pricy for a slice of pizza at $4.00 but it was humongous. Imagine the best spinach and artichoke dip possible, now imagine it on a slice of pizza and you have an inkling of what it was I ate yesterday. It was so good and filling, I didn't have to eat anything else for the rest of the day. Seriously.

Next week, I'm signing up with every temp agency known to man, plus I have a meeting with my career counselor, courtesy of my old company. Yes, they have a service set up to help you find other employment, which is pretty cool when you think about it. Plus, I'm hoping that the fact that I've employed for two jobs in-house and went for my orientation will help in the long run.

So all in all, not a bad week, despite the fact that I'm apparently out of the age demographic for

Friday, December 05, 2008

Woo-Hoo, I got Canned

Sorry I haven't blogged lately. My position at my company was eliminated on Monday and I'm going through the states of grief, shock, denial, bitterness and chocolate. Trying to decide what my next move is. Keep you posted!