Saturday, August 2, 2008

Mama Mia!

A few weeks ago I was feeling blue and bored and it was a million degrees and the obvious solution was to take myself off to the movie theater. There I would be not bored, chilled like a popsicle possibly very cheered up. Opening that day were The Dark Knight and Mama Mia! Yeah, that's not even a toss-up I hate those stupid Batman/Spiderman/Fantastic Four movies. I have never seen Mama Mia! as a musical and I don't know ABBA, but it looked fun and seemed perfect.

It was. It was not good. It was fun. See, there's a difference.

The acting was so-so, the singing also mostly so-so, but the spirit was fun. And that ABBA music, that shit is unrelentingly upbeat- you can not be in the least bit sad with that music around. You can be silly and dramatic but only in the most comical and over-the-top way not genuinely sad.

The music and the story were fun. But for me, the women in the movie were the real focus, their relationships with each other made the movie sparkle. Having Julie Waters and Christine Baranski egging on Meryl, dragging her kicking and screaming into having fun and letting go, those are my kind of friends. I have friends like that, they're the ones who stop by with a pint of ice cream or a bottle of wine and let you whine and complain about your latest woes. Then somehow you are hysterical with laughter, all the mundane drops away and you just enjoy the moment.

Celebrating those friendships. The ones that start out when you're a kid, or a drunk college student or just because you work in the same office but that stick, grow, stay and get better over time, that seemed to be the whole point of this movie. Or if not the point, than the soul of this movie. What our friends, and specifically, what our girlfriends do for us is the key. They know the worst, bring out the best, let us be silly, share our burdens and sometimes dance around to ABBA in funny outfits.

Amen, sisters, amen.

The photo is from the LA Times.

Friday, August 1, 2008

A Rare Aggravation

Generally the little store owned by the Three Z's is a peaceful and lovely place to work. Nice customers, interesting people, and rarely is anyone disgruntled. It is not all that unusual to have some well, off-beat folks visit. Mostly they are sweet and nice, but every so often the more off-the-wall oddball visits. While working at the Three Z's shop yesterday...

Random Dude: That is going to kill you.
Me: *Looking for imminent death and seeing none* What?
Random Dude: The Diet Coke. It's going to kill you.
Me: Uh, thanks. Yeah, it's not good for me. *Looks skeptically at the tiny 12 oz bottle of DC*
Random Dude: Yeah, like it is going to destroy your health.
Me: Well, it's just about my last vice, so I sort of cling to having one a day still.
Random Dude: It's not good for you. I bet if you stop drinking it you will feel so much better. Like, when people ask me for health advice I always say that they should stop drinking Diet Coke. You should drink something else instead. Like coffee. Drink coffee all day long. Or regular Coke. Or (lists 400 beverages). Anything is better than Diet Coke. It's going to kill you.
Me: Thanks.
Random Dude: Lectures about the perils of Diet Coke....again.

Random, preachy, annoying, irrelevant and unsolicited advice is perhaps my least favorite thing. Ever.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

New York Trip- Yankees Game And A Flat

As part of the celebrations of Brooklyn and Ruth's birthdays we took in a Yankee game. Now, let's pause for a second and just admire my wide circle of friends, the diversity and charm. Yes, it's true, I'm friends with Yankee fans. More than one!

Ruth has a job with connections (of the non-mob variety) and as a perk she can go to Yankees games a few times a year. It is always a crap-shoot as to what kind of seats you will get. Last time we were along the 3rd base line and about 25 rows up. Pretty good. But that was nothing compared to this time! This time we were spoiled rotten. A fitting final visit to the hallowed halls of Yankee Stadium before they tear it down this winter. This time we were ushered behind the barricades to a private entrance. We didn't have wait in line, get stepped on, wind through long security lines and up the endless concourse ramps. Nope, no riff-raff mingling for us- we got a private entrance with friendly staff greeting us, a brief wait in a plush lobby before a ride up a private elevator- with an operator. Seriously, we had an operator for our elevator. Ha!Our seats were just over from where the press sits, directly beside home plate on the 3rd base line. This photo was taken using no zoom. That's our view. Also, our seats were cushioned and we had a waitress who brought us our orders of bad-for-us food and treats. A waitress- we were fancy-pants indeed.

The Yankees won- no good for me, but a nice birthday present for Ruth. And then we headed back towards Queens. This is where our night took a little detour.

While driving at speed along the Cross Bronx a little before midnight Ruth's tire blew. We were right by an exit and opted to ride on the flat to the top of the ramp rather than risk death on the Cross Bronx. There are worse places to break down, but you'd be hard pressed to name one. I am very glad that there were three of us together and that Ruth wasn't on her own.

We called for roadside assistance, but it was going to be an hour. Great. We were at a good spot, off the ramp, beside the road, protected from traffic. Morrigan, a champion tire changer, decided to try changing the tire rather than wait. We agreed and set to work. As Morrigan began to work her tire-changing mojo we were approached by a man who did not have a reassuring appearance. He politely asked if we needed a hand and proceeded to wrench the last lug nut loose for us. He wished us good luck and wandered away. Several cars, a mini van and a motorcycle stopped to ask if we were OK and offer advice about 24-hour tire places, gas stations and delis in the area. The rest of the cars just rolled by not bothering us in any way. The only surprise about who didn't stop? The Episcopal Church van- thanks, guys. At least they weren't from the Good Samaritan church... geez. As usual, the good and best of the human nature and New York in particular was on display rather than the worst.

Morrigan got the flat changed out in about 30 minutes. It would have probably taken her about 10 but we had the world's worst jack. Ever.

Wanna see where we broke down?Irony, thy name is Bronx.

Monday, July 28, 2008

New York Trip- The Met

Lordy, Lordy, people, it was a crazy awesome week this past seven days. First, Morrigan and I went down to New York to visit Ruth and Brooklyn for their birthdays. Keeping my nearly unemployed budget in mind we went to The Met. I had never been - I know, shocking!- and we had a blast. The art was amazing- of course. The place is huuuuge, and the architecture of the actual Met is pretty cool.

We saw the Greek and Roman sculptures and then went across to the Temple of Dendur. It was very, very, very cool. I love Egyptology and it was very amazing to see all of the artifacts and the temple and tombs. The mummies were fascinating, and the blue hippo was so darn cute I wanted to take him home. The temple has all sorts of carved grafitti from where people visited the temple over the last 300 years. Napoleon's troops and wealthy Brits and other Europeans on holiday carved their names and dates into the temple.

It is sort of weirdly cool to see someone took the time to carve- quite nicely I might add- their name and date into a piece of stone in Egypt so far from home. On the other hand, they defaced this gorgeous temple. Caring not at all that to scratch their own name into stone they obliterated a history deeper and more important than theirs could ever be.

I even found a poem about it by Shane George. He, too came to The Met and saw the Temple and was both fascinated and annoyed by these graffiti artists of another era.

Next we took a spin through the Superhero Fashion exhibit which was nothing of what I expected. Cool, but I wasn't dying to linger there.

We did a quick sprint through the American wing, but it was mostly under construction. Then we toured the modern art section. It was a mix of things that were amazing and things that make me say, is that art? Seriously, art? There was a giant, two-storey high painting of Chairman Mao. It was very impressive. This is me as Chairman Mao's tie. Unfortunately taken with Ruth's blackberry, so it's teeny. But funny.

They had an exhibit of Jeff Koons work- on the roof of The Met. So up we went. Did you know they have a little cafe up there and you can enjoy a beer or a glass of wine on the roof of the Met, surrounded by art and with a view of New York skyline and with Central Park laid out below your feet? Yeah, you can.

Jeff Koons work was very funky and cool. Definitely the kind of thing where I'm not totally sold on it, but the balloon dog was incredible. I loved that. And my favorite arty photo of the trip was the skyline of New York reflected in the red heart with the couple posing in front of it caught in reflection.

Then we did a quick turn through the Turner exhibit. I am a fan of Turner, but the other ladies were not lovin' it. We tried to see as much as we could of the European masters, but by far it was the most crowded wing. We couldn't get anywhere near Degas or Monet, but we did see part of the exhibit and it felt surreal. I always feel that way when I see paintings that are so familiar but you've never actually seen them. Van Gogh's sunflowers and self portrait and haystacks, Monet's waterlillies, Matisse's dancing figures, a greatest hits of dorm posters and framed posters from early apartments. Sometimes its downright difficult to comprehend that you are seeing the original, the one that was lovingly create by the artist and not just another print.

It can also be hard to see because I'm 5'3" on a good day and often wind up being stepped on and elbowed in the head in large crowds. Blargh.

At that point we had to pack it in for the day because we had tickets to the Yankees game that night. More on that later!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Little Vintage

Way back in April I visited one of my favorite indoor flea markets and found two nearly perfect small table cloths. I had been looking for something that would be 'springy' and change the colors in my living room from the more wintry oranges and reds to something bright and fun for summer.

I think both cloths were hand embroidered by the same person. Not only did I find them in the same bin but they just had a look that paired them up. Personally, I am not particularly talented with an embroidery needle and am impressed that someone could put all this work in and have it turn out so great.

They are both smaller squares, perhaps intended to drape an entry table, bedside table or even card table. (They aren't the little bridge table covers you sometimes find, though.) The first one has four embroidered baskets filled with flowers, one in each corner, with a pretty circle embroidered in the middle. The edge has been crocheted with pink and white thread.
The second cloth has yellow and purple flower bunches in each corner. There is also a criss-cross pattern of purple stitches that make a grid and the edges have been crocheted with yellow, purple and white thread.Not the best pictures I've ever taken, but you get the idea. I added these two to my living room, one on the entry table where I throw my keys and the other on a small table in the bay window with a lamp and some tchotchkes. They have been very cheerful and bright all summer long, just what I wanted.

I think Darcel and I might hit this flea market on Sunday- it's indoors and we will probably wimp out on the outdoor flea market this week! We're fragile blossoms. Delicate blooms...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Some Berkshires Summer Fun

On Saturday Darcel and I took a little day trip up into the Berkshires. We got our culture on by paying a visit to the Norman Rockwell Museum. The museum was pretty interesting and a nice size- not huge, but not small. There were a lot of visitors and there was a lot of bumping into people and having them trod on your toes as they checked out various paintings, but since its a Saturday in the summer we couldn't complain too much. It was amazing how many of the Rockwell paintings you know without ever making a study of it. They really are a part of the subconscious, a part of American culture that is familiar to so many.

They had an art installation of garden gates on the grounds. Various artists created fantastical garden gates and you strolled the grounds and saw them along the way. They were very cool and many of them were available for sale. You could have your own awesome garden gate at home!

We then drove into the town of Stockbridge for a little luncheon. A nice lunch at a local pub, some window shopping downtown and a wine tasting followed by a bit more window and book shopping and we were ready to go.

We headed further out into the hills to the Furnace Brook Winery. It is a stone's throw to the New York border, just about as far west as you can go in Massachusetts. We each wound up buying a bottle of the sparkling cider, it's a little different and incredibly delicious. It will come in handy for this weekend's Tour de France celebrations with Roma.

Finally we made a little stop at the Lee Outlets. A total bust, there was nothing, nothing, nothing, except a Coach bag I couldn't afford at all anyway. Heh.

It was a great, relaxing Saturday and we had a lot of fun. It was also kind to my budget which I love. A full day with unlimited fun but that fun not being based on spending a bunch of cash.

Here are some of the garden gates from the Rockwell Museum:

Monday, July 21, 2008

Happy Hallo- Wait, What?

Dude. People, I went to get Ruth and another friend, Brooklyn, birthday cards and when I walked into Hallmark they were decorating it for Halloween. Not kidding. Halloween. Stuffed cauldrons, plush witches, ceramic pumpkins, all sorts of All Hallow's Eve brick-a-brac.

It is three months, MORE than three months to Halloween. This is just obnoxious. I mean, could we sport a little 'Back to School' and then some 'Fall' before we break out the candy corn?

I am picking up Morrigan and then heading to NYC to celebrate the birthdays of Ruth and Brooklyn. We will make merry, maybe take in a museum, definitely hit the beach and take in a Yankees game. Clearly I will be rooting for the Twins. I am going to try and work up a post or two to leave you while I am gone. I won't be back until Friday, but I am sure you will survive without me. :)