The Unbearable Banishment: October 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Not a fair fight. Not even close.

3-Year Old Daughter was Snow White for Halloween.

Right after I took this, she laid the old "Daddy, I love you" routine on me.

This is SO unfair. How am I suppose to put up any kind of resistance? In the immortal words of Ed Grimley, I'm as doomed as doomed could be.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Public art that mocks my plight

All art isn’t housed in stuffy old museums. New York is littered with public art installations.

There are two ways to get from the vile Port Authority to the Times Square subway station; you can either walk above ground down 42nd Street or you can take the underground walkway that connects the two. The tunnel is a dreary, Soviet-style passageway that’s all function and no form. It’s an avenue-long tunnel of concrete, white tile, steel I-beams and exposed florescent bulbs.

In an effort to cheer up the walk a bit, the Metropolitan Transit Authority has commissioned a series art installations (as they have in MANY subway stations throughout the city). When you walk eastward towards Seventh Avenue, as a multitude of commuters do every morning, this is the installation that greets you. It’s inspired by the classic Burma-Shave ads of the 40s where a series of sequential signs containing a word or two reveal a poem.

Remember: This is the first thing that harried commuters coming from the dark New Jersey suburbs see at 6:30 in the morning on our way to the salt mines.

I don’t know who to attribute this work to. There’s an accrediting placard on every piece of public art but I can’t find this one. On a good morning, this makes me laugh. Some mornings? Not so much.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

A startling development

It's official: Robert De Niro is a pussy. Travis Bickle and Jake LaMotta are a long time gone.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

NOT Tony Soprano. Well…just for a moment.

Saw the very funny God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza (who I am insanely jealous of) with the dream cast of James Gandolfini, Marcia Gay Harden, Jeff Daniels and Hope Davis.

It opened back in March. Typically, a celebrity cast of this ilk would have bailed out by now because of other contractual commitments. But the four actors are having so much fun with their roles that they took August off and came back in September. It’s very unusual. They’re leaving for good in November so if you have half a mind to see it, you should do so before the new cast starts because who knows what’ll happen after that.

Marcia Gay Harden is the best. She transitioned nicely from quiet, caring Brooklyn liberal tree-hugger to raging lunatic. Gandolfini didn’t display a shred of Tony Soprano, which is a pretty neat trick considering that The Sopranos is steeped into my consciousness. There was a moment when he was yelling at Jeff Daniels and he poked his two fingers in Daniels' direction. That simple gesture placed him firmly back in the New Jersey mob, but only for a split second.

[Note to Leah: This play is all about those annoying Park Slope yuppies and their nauseating perfect children. You and Sarge should see it.]

* * *

Scarlett Johansson is the latest movie actor who'll try to establish some stage credibility. (Can Gwyneth Paltrow be far behind?) This winter, Liev Schreiber (who I saw perform in a revival of Eric Bogosian's Talk Radio and doesn't need to prove anything to anyone) and the lovely Ms. Johansson (Women hate her. I can't imagine why.) will revive Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge. I've seen that play and it's pretty rough stuff. Liev is a longshoreman. Scarlett is his young niece. He likes her in that special way. Much trouble ensues because, as you know, it's not polite to seduce your niece.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Look! Up in the sky!

New Yorkers always have a bit of a chuckle at the tourists who walk about the city with their heads craned up. They fall off curbs and crash into lampposts and each other. But savvy New Yorkers know that the tourists are RIGHT! There's a spectacular show going on up there. Some of the finest architectural flourishes in the city can be found above the 40th floor.

Case in point: Take a look at the crown of this art deco masterpiece. This building is elegantly described by my good friend Artisté Florenza on her blog and is the subject of one of her beautiful paintings.

This grandly embellished piece of architecture on the corner of 51st Street and Lexington Avenue in midtown was originally called the RCA Victor building when it went up in the '30's. The symbols and details on the crown of the building were inspired by radio waves and it is quite a site to see.

Is it a symptom of my advancing age to say they don't design them with this depth of detail anymore? Click on this pic and take a good look at it. Can the polished surfaces of Frank Gehry compare to this? Nay, I say.

The Empire State Building, that Grand Old Dame of the city, has ornamental lighting that changes almost every night. Each color scheme is a commemoration or celebration. On October 19th, I was walking by after a meditation class and saw this mess!

I looked it up when I got home and apparently, these "Psychedelic Tie-Dye Colors" were in honor of the New York Historical Society's Benefit for the Grateful Dead Exhibition and Archive. Are they running out of themes?

* * *

All the street corner fruit vendors in Manhattan call you either "boss" or "my friend." I like it.

* * *

Cost to park in a garage on 89th Street off of Park Avenue for a bit over three hours to take The Daughter to The Metropolitan Museum of Art: $45.

Ouch. Just so you know. When you lay in a bed of roses, you're going to get stuck with a few thorns.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

The one where I curse out The New York Times

According to today's New York Times:

American officials formally requested the extradition of Roman Polanski...over his flight in 1978 from sentencing for having sex with a 13-year old girl.

Listen, you bastards, Polanski did not "have sex" with that girl. He raped her. Actually, it's worse than that. He drugged, and then sodomized her. A 13-year old child. "Having sex" implies consent and sanitizes what occurred. The Times refuses to call it what it is. If Polanski were an investment banker, they'd be screaming for justice from the lofty perch of the Editorial page.

And Woody Allan, of all people, should keep is fucking mouth shut. Another child molester. Takes one to know one, I suppose.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Weep not for me. Unless you really want to.

I've been having some black days, my friends. I don't write about them because, honestly, my travails are so boring. I prefer to keep it light. Plus, feeling sorry for myself after reading some of Jimmy Bastard's posts makes me feel like I'm missing a testicle. Or two. But suffering is relative and mine is very real to me.

Tonight, I took my sorry, troubled ass to Carnegie Hall for a piano recital. That probably sounds like a big bore fest to most of you, but it helps me. A lot. Schubert's Sonata in B-flat and a piece by Brahms that was stolen from Handle. [Oh, excuse me, I mean Variations on a Theme. Yeah, right.] I'm a new man. It won't last. It never does. But it's a bridge to get me through to the next crisis. You do what you have to. It used to be weed, drunk driving and some unprotected sex. Now it's piano recitals at Carnegie Hall. It sounds boring, but it isn't.

If you live in New York City and don't visit Carnegie Hall once or twice a year, you're not taking advantage of something that's unique about this old town. You can sit way up high for very little money (as I do). The acoustics are such that you can close your eyes and it sounds like your in the second row. And saying it's a beautiful building is like saying water is wet.

I've never repeated a post before but this is one of my favorite New York stories and it all ties in. So this is for any readers I've picked up who might have missed it the first time.

* * *

In 1986, a renovation project was completed on Carnegie Hall. The acoustics of Carnegie Hall were something that musicologists and the city always took great pride in but, post-renovation, music purists insisted that the sound had somehow been compromised, particularly in the lower registers. There was a growing theory that a thin layer of concrete that hadn't been there previously was installed under the stage floor. Officials involved with the renovation adamantly denied the existence of the concrete. They said the story was pure fiction and they dismissed the critics as conspiracy theorist crackpots.

Well, as usual, the crackpots were right. In 1996, Hall administrators announced that there WAS INDEED a heretofore unknown layer of concrete below the stage and it was removed. The reviews were unanimous. The Hall’s warm acoustics were returned to their original form.

Can you imagine!? I was amazed by that. At the end of a concert, someone turned to their date and said, “I enjoyed the adagio, but it sounds like they’ve mistakenly installed a thin layer of concrete under the stage.” I’ll never be that perceptive about anything.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

NYC wildlife

Early one morning, I was walking past the Verizon store on 6th Avenue and 41st Street when a small brown dot in the bottom left corner of the window moved and caught my eye.

Upon closer examination, I could see that the tiny brown dot had fur and a tail.

It was a trapped little mouse! He somehow fell into a space whose walls were so high that he couldn’t extract himself. There was a Verizon service truck parked at the corner and the driver said he was going to free him as soon as the store opened. We can be benevolent towards mice but if it had been a trapped rat, the driver would have been waiting for the store to open so he could mash its head in with a tire iron.

* * *

Did you know that the sparrows in New York City are so tame that they’ll take food right out of your hand? Try doing this with a sparrow in your backyard and see how close you get.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Another black eye for The Garden State

A short walk from my house is the not-so-mighty Navesink River. It's a shallow, quiet river that empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Along its banks, you can rent boats and kayaks and go out rowing or crabbing, neither of which I've done because I'm not a big outdoorsman. I like rowing on Central Park Lake but that's about the extent of it. Is there any part of this blog that might lead you to believe I'm an outdoors kind of guy? Quite the opposite. Drinking a cup of coffee that's gone cold is about as close as I ever get to roughing it. I understand its appeal but it ain't for me. I work like a dog. I don't sleep in tents on my time off.

While Sister #2 was visiting, we took a little stroll down to the dock to watch jellyfish float by. There's a gracefulness as they flow by on the tide. But they also look like great gobs of mucus. Near the boat rental dock is this advertisement:

I've been living down there for seven years and never saw the typo! My sister asked, "kray-bing? What the hell is kray-bing" Ha. Upon closer examination, you can see that they tried to fix their error. Let's hear it for the New Jersey Public School System!

* * *
Wichita Lineman! Glen Campbell! Earworm! Gaaaaaaaa! Help me! How in God's name did THIS get into my head? And why am I admitting it in a public forum? Do I really have nothing to lose at this point? Take a look at that searing guitar solo. If you can make it that far.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

If Messieurs Wolverine and Bond were Chicago inner-city beat cops

I was lucky enough to score a ticket to A Steady Rain, the two-hander starring Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman on Broadway. It’s an impossible ticket to get (unless you want to pony up $376.50 for a “premium” seat. Rotten greedy bastards.)

Cynical old me was ready for an evening of eye rolling and tut-tutting. The reviews were okay, but not glowing. I thought it was going to be an evening of movie star crap-ola. Well, guess what? It was great. Fuck the critics (as usual). I had a fine time. The attempted Chicago accents were a bit grating at first but I was pulled in on the strength of the story and flashes of raw emotion.

Jackman had the better, more showy role but Craig was fine, as well. They both have legitimate stage credentials so it was far from being a vanity project. I remember Kelsey Grammer playing, believe it or not, Macbeth on Broadway several years ago. Now, THAT was a vanity project. It closed after just 10 days.

When I mentioned that I was going to see A Steady Rain, several people told me to make sure to turn my cell phone off. They were referring to an incident whereby Hugh Jackman stopped the show to chastise someone in the audience whose cell phone went off. The clip is below. Hugh Jackman is a polite Aussie. Click on the second clip and listen to New York native Patty Lupone school Hugh on how it’s done.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pick a century, for cryin' out loud

Sister #2 teaches at a college in Upstate New York in the heart of the Mennonite community. She was in the local coffee shop doing some work when this grand old dame walked in, opened her laptop bag, plugged in, booted up and started surfing the internet.

Isn't that contrary to their belief system? I know they're big advocates of modest dress and quiet lifestyles, so what's up with the laptop?

* * *

I just stumbled across this quote from Andy Warhol about Coca-Cola:

A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the president knows it, the bum knows it and you know it.

Isn't that beautiful? I swear, if I worked in the marketing department for Coke I'd create an entire ad campaign around that.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Random NYC photos: while you were still asleep

Early morning in New York. This is 42nd Street looking east from Broadway at 6:30, a short time after the sun came up. While the rest of you were dreaming of sugar plums, I was on my way into the grind. Look at the way the colors of the sky are reflected in the Bank of America building on the left.

This is about a half block further east. Note the ornamental neon lights in the spire of the Chrysler Building are still on. Click on it for a better look.

As a homage to The Daily Smoke, I'm including this black and white pic of Grand Central Station and the Chrysler Building.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dat 'ole black theater magic

Here's some opening dialog that I lifted from a New York Times fluff piece about the excellent new production of Eugene O'Neill's The Emperor Jones that's about to open at the Irish Rep.

Who dare whistle dat way in my palace? Who dare wake up de emperor? I’ll git the hide frayled off some o’ you niggers sho’!

Imagine 1:15 minutes of that! It's a ballsy show that's presented exactly as O'Neill wrote it and I think these guys are going to take some heat for the manner in which the main character is portrayed. They throw every racial stereotype that blacks have been fighting against for decades onto the stage. But if you can hang with it, you're in for a hell of a ride.

The show is a hallucinatory nightmare. The sequences of the Emperor, Brutas Jones, escaping through the jungle are eerily realized. Kudos to the stage, sound and lighting guys. They even employ creepy puppets to depict a dead man, a slave auction and various jungle horrors. John Douglas Thompson is excellent as the Emperor. Lotsa luck to him.

I'm no O'Neill scholar but this seems a very unlikely play for him to write. I think it was his first success.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Satanic child

3-Year Old Daughter got her hands on a pair of scissors and decided that now would be as good a time as any to start on the road that will lead her to a spot on Project Runway.

The first step in dress design is, of course, cutting cloth. And since they look like bolts of unspooled fabric, why not start on our priceless dining room curtains? Just look at those lines! They're perfect. Here's the left curtain:

And for the sake of uniformity, she also tailored the right.

Mrs. Wife put her on the phone:

Me: Did you cut our curtains?

3-YOD: Yes, Daddy! Wait 'til you see it!

I wasn't quite sure how to take that.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Supplemental to Kandinsky post

To Florida Girl in Sydney: Yes, the exhibit was expansive and included work from his early years, including this beauty.

This was the revelation to me: that Kandinsky is more than just squiggly line abstractions. Can you tell I’m a little worked-up about the exhibit? It was perhaps one of the best I’ve seen in years.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Is the Kandinsky retrospective any good?

How am I going to explain how great this exhibit is without sounding like a pretentious jerk? Art exhibit reviews almost always leave me cold. They're awful things to read. Art is subjective and open to personal interpretation. Reading some "expert" from the Times spew his opinion strikes me as a waste of time.

Having said that, I have to be honest and report that the media is right about the Kandinsky show at the Guggenheim. It's a blockbuster and it knocked me flat on my ass. Way better than the lame-ass Monet water lilies exhibit currently at MoMA. I walked in knowing just a little bit about Kandinsky and walked out a big fan. His work is far more eclectic than I thought it was.

I took two artists with me; Artiste Florenza and Sister #2. Both attended prestigious art institutions. Do you know what I did? I laid back a few steps and listened to the two of them discuss the work. It was an education. I came across this beauty and thought it was an interesting composition.

Then I heard Sister #2 remark, "That's a nice profile." I was standing right in front of the damn thing and never saw it! Always bring someone smarter than you.

Part of the exhibit is a healthy selection of works on paper that are just as strong as the works on canvas. It's like two exhibits in one. I had no idea just how great this guy was.

It's not a question of if I'll return for another visit but, rather, how many times I can get there before it closes. If you're in town between now and January 10th, you should make a point to go. It's fantastic.

* * *

Take a look at these two Eurotrash visitors I found outside the museum. He's wearing one of those expensive European pinstripe business suits (click to view). A few moments prior to this shot they were sucking face and slobbering over each other. Then, Pink Tie's phone rang and he stopped to take a call. I'm no expert at reading body language, but I'd say she feels a bit put out by the coitus interruptus.

Here's a link to view over two dozen works on exhibit.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

By the sea, by the beautiful sea: A photo essay

Sister #2 came to town for a five-day visit. I like when my family visits. There's no stress! I get along with all my siblings extraordinarily well, but I suspect the fact I've lived 500 miles away from them for the better part of the past 25 years might have something to do with it. I'm certain they'd be less tolerant of my foibles if I lived just down the street.

If you don't mind my saying so, Mrs. Wife and I are most excellent hosts. And that's no idol brag. Ask around. Tomorrow, I'll hit her over the head with the Kandinsky exhibit at the Guggenheim, but over the weekend it was all-Jersey, all the time.

Moments after her arrival we whisked her away to the Bruce Springsteen concert at Giants Stadium. This was the last concert at Giants Stadium before the wrecking ball transforms it into a parking lot, so the show had some historical heft to it. As I mentioned in previous posts, Mrs. Wife is related to the Springsteen clan, so we were gifted some great seats and briefly chatted with family members before the show in an access-restricted area.

I'm not the biggest Bruce fan in the world but you've got to admire the guy's work ethic. He just turned 60 and still pumps out a highly-entertaining three-hour show. He played, appropriate enough, a cover of The Rolling Stones' Last Time. Also, bizarrely, a cover of You Sexy Thing by Hot Chocolate. Hearing Bruce sing My Hometown and Jersey Girl (a Tom Waits song!) in New Jersey almost makes moving here seem like less of an ordeal.

Photo: Todd Heisler/The New York Times

We took Sister the Second to Seaside Heights. It's a bucolic Jersey Shore beach town that has all the necessary accouterments, namely, a boardwalk, an amusement park and pork roll and cheese sandwiches. The Daughters have been going to places like this for so long that I don't think they realize how special they are.

This carousel is from 1918 and still has its original Wurlitzer organ. 3-Year Old Daughter doesn't care a whit about any of that historical significance stuff.

I, once again, was forced to teach 7-Year Old a valuable bumper car road rage lesson.

Both Daughters are deadly accurate with a skee-ball. It's talent they inherited from their mother, who I seriously don't remember ever beating. It's her game. of them.

For family lurkers, here is daughter and Mrs. Wife, strolling on a sun-drenched, sea breeze swept boardwalk.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I vish to be alone

New York is a fine place in which to be alone. To walk into a little café with an armload of newspapers and sit at the counter and read them over a bowl of chili and grilled cheese and a white mug of coffee and a waitress who says, “What else would you like, love?”—this is heaven.

Garrison Keillor

As previously stated, I didn’t marry until much later in life than most. People began to wonder why I seemed to be, by all external appearances, normal, but still unmarried. As though that were a societal barometer for normalcy! Rumors were rampant. People wondered if I was gay, (Nope. Would say so if I was. In my world, it’s nothing to be ashamed of.) or hated women (Hardly! I love women! Having daughters was my secret preference.) or afraid to commit (Hummm. Maybe a bit of that.).

When I first arrived in New York all those years ago, I was inflicted with a crippling loneliness that lasted for several months. I, quite literally, didn’t know a single person here and going from the suburbs of Cleveland to Manhattan was a rough transition. At that time, New York City was a broken, dark, scary place. It wasn’t the buffed city on the hill it is today.

But then, quite suddenly, I snapped out of it. I embraced the city and its (apologies to Warren Zevon) splendid isolation. From that day forward, I was never lonely again, even during those long stretches when I wasn’t seeing someone or had few friends to call. Like Mr. Keillor, I could always belly-up to a café and eavesdrop on conversations or walk my city streets until I felt better. I found that to be a tremendous solace during my dark hours.

I believe there are people who get married as a cure for their loneliness. I’ve hung on my cross for lots of things, but loneliness was never one of them. I’ve been lucky that way. How can you be lonely or homesick when you’re heart is in the right place and you’re surrounded by 8.3 million people?

Photo by Alfred Stieglitz


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cover your eyes! Oh, the humanity!

I’m just a traditional guy with traditional tastes. I don’t mind a bit of experimentation now and then but when you do THIS to Shakespeare, I have to take exception. I saw the now mercifully closed Peter Sellers production of Othello with Philip Seymour Hoffman.

In it:
  • The actors spoke Shakespearean dialog into cell phones. Sometimes, while standing right next to one another. You know how I feel about cell phones.
  • Iago wore street clothes. He had a green shirt because he was, you know, jealous.
  • It was FOUR HOURS LONG with only one :15 minute intermission, which is completely unnecessary for that play.
  • A lot of action took place on a bed made of TVs. And some folding chairs.

  • Montano, a soldier of Cyprus, was played by a woman. In the barroom brawl scene, Othello’s Lieutenant, Cassio, doesn’t beat her up. That would be adhering to the original text. Instead, he graphically rapes Montano on the TV bed.
Philip Seymour Hoffman had a few scenes of utter brilliance but the rest of the cast was just burned out and didn’t connect with the characters at all. Maybe I’m just superficially swayed by celebrity. Probably.

A friend described Othello as an oaf who allows himself to be easily fooled by a henchman. It’s his least favorite Shakespeare play. It’s a pretty accurate assessment so that kind of ruined it as well.

I have tickets to see Jude Law in Hamlet. He'd better not fuck it up or I'm through with The Bard. I can't take another evening like that. It'll kill me.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Loch Central Park

I took one of the last warm days of the season off from work and dragged 7-Year Old Daughter into the city. Again. She's been there quite a few times now and walks around like she owns the place. It's pretty funny. She has developed a comfort level with the city, which is by design.

Renting a row boat on Central Park Lake is probably The Most Touristy thing you can do, but it's a fantastic experience. I've lost count of how many times I've done it. It's still a thrill. And it only costs about $10 bucks! So worth it. The Central Park row boats and the landmark Carousel are absolute musts on a warm day. You're never too old for that stuff.

I like watching clueless city people try to row a boat. They often row incorrectly; with the stern of the boat going forward. The bow of the boat cuts through the water quite nicely but for some reason, dopey New Yorkers prefer the struggle of trying to push the stern through water. Perhaps it's in their nature to make things more difficult than they need to be.

Here we are at beautiful Bethesda Fountain. Did you see Tony Kurshner's Angels in America? This fountain plays an important role. There's a charming song-and-dance number in The Daughter's favorite movie, Enchanted, that features the fountain.

If you row out to the middle of the lake you can get a spectacular view of the luxury hotels along Central Park South. For being in the middle of New York City, the lake is actually quite big.

Many years ago, my brother was visiting and I took a photo of him rowing. When I got the pictures developed, I discovered that I accidentally got a shot of his testicle hanging out of his shorts! Do you guys want to see it?

If you visit Central Park mid-week you'll witness a phenomenon called "The Leisure Class." These are people who hang out in the city all day and have no visible means of support. They don't have proper jobs. And these are not tourists! They're locals! Look how crowded Sheep Meadow is on a Thursday afternoon. Where do they get the money to live like this? Arrrgghh.

Random architectural flourish. Click on that and take a look at the latticework. Nice!

I heart New York. Always have. Probably always will.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Of COURSE the dog is French

I was in the throws of really enjoying my self-pity when I stumbled across this gem from the BBC:

Former French President Jacques Chirac has announced that he has given away his beloved dog after it attacked him for a third time. (It bit him on his belly!)

Mr. Chirac's wife, Bernadette, said the dog had been treated for depression after finding it difficult to come to terms with leaving the Elysee Palace.

Hey, do you know what, Mrs. Chirac? Fuck your depressed dog! This is a bad time for me to read about a dog who's receiving treatment for depression because he can no longer live in a French palace. I am, for the time being, tapped-out of empathy. Bring him here and I'll give him something to be depressed about. I'll stomp on his little Maltese paws.

C'mon Universe! Give me a break, would ya? Don't throw stuff like this in my path right now, okay?

* * *
I didn't go to the gym this morning. I heard a chocolate chip muffin and a cup of coffee calling out to me. You understand, don't you? Instead, I took a brisk Autumnal walk from 41st Street and 9th Avenue, down 42nd Street and then up Lexington Avenue to 48th Street (a distance of approximately 1.3 miles) carrying my commuting bag (+/- 15 pounds) and the weight of expectations (incalculable). Does that count as a workout?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Wave after wave

More bad news on my doorstep. My God, it’s relentless. Doesn’t it ever fucking stop? Bukowski has a great poem about how it’s not an atom bomb or cancer that kills a man; it’s the accumulation of small indignities that finally does him in. Nietzsche speaks of the death of a thousand pinpricks. Years ago, I came across this quote from Chekhov and saved it:

Any idiot can face a crisis. It is this day-to-day living that wears you out.

I received yet another humiliating kick in the crotch yesterday. Mrs. Wife and The Daughters are away for the weekend so I came home to an empty house. I spent the vast majority of my life living alone by choice. I got married very late in life, not because of a lack of opportunities, but because I was reluctant to surrender my beloved solitude. I am still pretty much a loner—I have few friends—and try to spend some time in seclusion. But on this particular night, walking into a dark house with only my thoughts for company felt threatening.

Before going to bed I took the recyclables out to the garage. I opened the door and stepped into the pitch black. My mind played tricks on me. I imagined a badger or trapped dog leaping out of the darkness. I hurriedly walked to the corner of the garage, threw away the bottles and slammed the door shut behind me.

I went upstairs to meditate. Do you know what? Sometimes, meditating is a big waste of time. Sometimes, it’s counterproductive. Sometimes, it draws you in deeper to the very thing that you’re trying to spirit away from. I lay in bed and starred at the ceiling, certain that I’d never fall asleep. But I did.

* * *

I woke up this morning and contrary to my expectations, the sun came up. I went out for a run. It was early and nobody was stirring. Bono sang:

Lights go down it's dark
The jungle is your head

Can't rule your heart

I powered up my laptop. I received a kind word from a friend. Is this how it’s going to be? Okay, then. Scramble two.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Princess Leia and her drinking problem

I saw Carrie Fisher’s one-woman show, Wishful Drinking. Take a look at that poster. Isn’t that just too funny! Princess Leia passed out with a martini glass and a bunch of pills. Hilarious. Fisher spent many years being tabloid fodder and it’s nice to see her turn all that misfortune and addiction into an entertaining evening for the rest of us.

She starts the segment on her life during and after Star Wars with, “George Lucas ruined my life.” She says this while wearing a ridiculous Princess Leia cinnabon wig.

The best segment of the show is Hollywood Inbreeding 101. It’s a twisted look at her parents, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, and the multiple-marriage/multi-generational mess the two of them spawned. It would be funny if it weren’t true. That it is lends a touch of pathos to it and makes me glad I had an ordinary childhood.

My two quibbles is that at 2:15 it could probably use an editor. And the venue, Studio 54, is TOO BIG for an intimate, one woman show. Other than that, it’s a winner.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Makes me want to quit blogging

This item on CNN's landing page..

...makes me feel like blogging is a joke instead of a legitimate means of expression. It's the old dictum that I don't want to belong to a club that would have someone like this as a member. Am I being a big baby again?

* * *

I just read a convincing and sobering report. Because of the advent of electronic communications, teaching cursive handwriting is no longer considered a priority in schools. Classes have been dramatically cut back and will eventually be eliminated altogether.

Cursive writing will go the way of Morris code and the DuMont television network and vanish. It will become a relic of a bygone era that only hobbyists will practice. That's a little sad.

* * *

An Unbearable birthday tip 'o the hat to the lovely, lively Mrs. Wife. How do you do it? Do you have an aging portrait somewhere in that crawl space behind the linen?

Unbearable personal factoid: I am 14 years older than Mrs. Wife. It works for us!