Sunday, January 30, 2011

Introducing Hops

So I thought I'd introduce you to the newest member of our family:  Our cat Hops.  This is a picture of his first moments in our house.  He was supposed to be a Christmas present but we had to adopt him a few weeks earlier and it's not the kind of present you can hide in a closet.  He's 5 months old in the pic.  As you might suspect, he spent the first few days hiding under our bed.  Now, he's all over the place, especially when he thinks he should have more food.

At night, he often sleeps downstairs on the mouse pad of the kids' computer (I wonder why he likes the mouse pad?).  Around 3 am, he comes up to our bed and lays down on me.  I'll wake up and scratch him for a moment.  But apparently, that's never enough for him because he then climbs up on my chest looking for more.  If I don't give it to him, he backs his butt up to my face and sits on my mouth.  If I don't get scratched, you don't breathe.

Here's a photo of him in our "silverscape" we created for Christmas.  Yes, silverscape sounds like that weird perky woman on Food Network.  But the cat looks good!

I've heard that people will get a dog after the last kid enters elementary school.  Dogs would have been much too much work.  It's nice having Hops around during the day.  I don't look sooo strange talking to myself.  And, he's always a good excuse to sit on the couch and *ahem* "rest my eyes."

Here's a photo of Hops with the kids.  If you want to know (and you haven't already guessed), I did name him.  It's not because he hops a lot, although he does this weird sideways, high, hop when he's playing.  Hops, you know like in beer.

Oh yeah, we think he might be possessed.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Like A Good Neighbor...

These past few days have been a bit challenging.  I hesitate to say difficult or hard because it really wasn't probably due to my great neighbors.

But, I've been suffering from severe allergies which makes everything worse.  Then, there's the snow.  There's so much snow and I'm sick of it!  And, Brian is up in New York because his dad had to have some surgery.  He took my car, because it handles better in the snow.  Meaning of course, that the car I'm stuck with does not handle well in the snow.  Of course, there's no snow in upstate New York right now.  If it weren't for his dad, I'd be pretty pissed right now.  Oh, okay, I'll admit it, I'm pretty pissed.

Here's why though:  yesterday, I was going to go to the Arden Theater because it's my prep week.  I pulled out of the driveway and promptly got stuck on my street.  It took 2 of my neighbors, my daughter, and myself 45 minutes to get my car off the street (which is not that long).  We never would have gotten out but for our kind neighbors.

The list goes on:  other neighbors had my kids over for sledding, then ordered dinner for all of us so I didn't have to cook or even clean up.  So cool, especially with my runny nose and stuffed up head.  Who really wants to cook then?  These neighbors also watched my son for the afternoon so I could get my car stuck on my street in the snow.

Today, I finally made it to the Arden.  I had plans to meet up with a friend and her kids for dinner since her husband was away as well.  She picked up my kids and brought them to the restaurant and ordered them some food while I spent an hour and half in traffic.  I would have been totally frustrated except that I knew my kids were okay. 

To ice the cake?  I came running out of the Arden because I knew my parking meter had been up for at least 15 minutes.  Sure enough, I saw the parking guy wandering around my car to write down the license plate.  I ran up and said, "Oh, shucks, I'm too late.  Oh well."  He says, "No worries, I haven't written anything down yet.  I don't want to be out here.  You don't want to be out here.  Have a good night."

Isn't it amazing what a kind gesture can do?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Shopping: Bring on the Frump

I hate shopping.  Really, really, really.  Okay, maybe only two reallys because sometimes I'm on a roll and I find fantastic deals that look good on me.   But not often. 

I even hate grocery shopping.  Every Sunday, I scour cookbooks and the weekly ads for stuff to make for the week.  I don't mind the cooking, it's the deciding and shopping that sucks.

The problem with my abhorrence of clothes shopping is that I end up looking frumpy all the time.  I don't like to spend a lot of money on clothes so I'll buy something inexpensive and then get it home and realize that I just look like a frump in it.  But I can't, just can't bring myself to spend $35 on a shirt.  A shirt?  That I'm going to stain?  Not so much.

My daughter, however, LOVES shopping.  It kills me.  One day, I took her and friend to the mall.  Clara had saved up a lot of money to spend that day.  However, it took her 4 hours to spend it all.  I'm not ready to leave her alone at the mall so I hung around, checking out shops and texting her.  Three hours in, I was at one of the restaurants having a beer.  In my defense, I stuck it out as long as I could.  That apple fell far from my tree.

Here's where I think I go wrong:  I tend to look for a specific item when the stores no longer carry them.  Take today, I was looking for some long sleeve, v neck, t-shirts.  I had just seen them the other week --or was it the other month-- in a few stores so I thought I'd find them quickly.  But no.  Didn't find any.  Or, okay, I found a few but none in my size.  Oh, unless I wanted to spend $40.  For a shirt?  I'd rather be frumpy.

So here's the deal:  I'm bringing frumpiness back!  Fergie can be Fergalicious so whyI can't I be frumpalicious? I'm starting a fashion revolution!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Inception: How Did You Think of That?

I watched Inception last night.  This is the Christopher Nolan film about dreams with Leo Di Caprio in the lead.  Mr. Di Caprio has to enter the dreams of the heir of an energy company and implant an idea into his head, making the heir think it was his own idea.  It was pretty good, great special effects but nothing fancy.  It could provoke and has provoked lots of discussions about what was real but I didn't really care.  The entire movie could have been a dream and then what does that mean?  Nothing.  I did like the idea they used of waking up from one dream into another one.  That happens to me all the time.  I tend to dream a lot and I often wake up from one dream and find myself in another dream.  Or at least I think that's what happens.  Lately, I've been having a lot of nightmares which suck.  Years ago, when I lived in Dublin, I would dream about saving the world.  That was awesome, it was like my own private superhero show with me as the star. 

The movie kind of reminded me of the film Synecdoche, New York with Philip Seymour Hoffman because both movies concerned creating alternate worlds for the characters as well as the question of what is real.  Although in Synecdoche, NY, Mr. Hoffman creates a theatrical version of New York inside a warehouse casts actors to live in this fake town.  Talk about alternate realities.  To me it was definitely more thought provoking than Inception maybe because of the theatrical link or maybe because of Mr. Hoffman.

I really like Philip Seymour Hoffman as an actor.  He tends to do a lot of weird indie flicks as well as some big blockbusters (M:I3 anyone?).  And while I did like his portrayal of Truman Capote in Capote, I thought Infamous was a better overall movie about In Cold Blood.  But I do like the fact that Mr. Hoffman continues to be involved with his New York theater company LAByrinth.  He still directs and acts in their productions.  Its my opinion that the film actors who came from the stage are better actors.  I would love to see Mr. Hoffman on stage.

Not, however, in Othello.  He did (about a year ago) a 4 hour Othello in New York.  Not many people liked it I don't think.  I don't think I would.  4 hours!  I have better things to do with my time.  I did see Patrick Stewart (of Star Trek/X Men fame) in Othello in Washington, DC at The Shakespeare Theatre.  He was a white Othello in an all black cast.  It was pretty good although Iago couldn't find his light.  We were sitting near the front and the show started with a rain storm with actual rain on stage so we got a bit wet.  It was a nice special effect though and really set the scene.

I worked with rain when I was an intern at Center Stage in Baltimore.  It was for Twelfth Night.  We had a rain system set up just outside the theater doors on the back wall of the theater.  I had to open the doors for Sebastian to enter when he washes up on shore.  Later Viola enters through those doors but it wasn't raining.  Yes, I got wet;  8 shows a week for a few weeks.  Oh the things we do to earn our stripes!  But seriously, it wasn't that bad. 

That was one of my favorite versions of Twelfth Night.  It was set in an Ilyria that resembled a circus and Feste was a clown who played the master of ceremonies.  He would do monologues at the beginning of each act quoting a bunch of different Shakespeare plays.  But, I have seen some real weird versions of Twelfth Night probably because it lends itself to many interpretations.  While in Dublin, I saw one set int he 1930's.  At the end of the show, Malvolio came out to warn that he would take his revenge and then did a "Heil Hitler" salute and left.  The rest of cast broke into a weird, group dance.  Very odd.

Luckily, I did see some really good theater over there.  In London, I saw A Walk in the Woods by Lee Blessing with Edward Herrmann (of Lost Boys fame) and Alec Guinness; as in Sir.  Both were fantastic and to see Sir Alec Guinness on stage was something I'll never forget.  Nice to see that he didn't sell out after Star Wars.  Like he would.  It's that type of play though with that caliber of acting that makes people think acting is easy.

When I lived in Upstate New York and told other moms what I did, many told me that their dream was to act.  They felt they could just audition for a show and they would be a star.  These poor moms had no idea the years of training, heartache, and hard work the actors had to go through to make it look that easy.  One woman actually asked me, "How do I get on stage at Capital Repertory Theatre?"  This is a reputable, regional theater in Albany, NY, that casts most of it shows with New York City actors.  But I didn't want to quash the dream so I mumbled something about acting classes, agents, etc.  What I really wanted to say was:  "Who gave you the idea you could act?  You must be dreaming."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

50 Ways to be a Groupie

Brian, my husband, has done a lot of interesting extra curricular activities since we've been married.  He started as a fencer.  Yes, with the swords; his specialty was epee.   He started fencing in college and picked it up again when we lived in Virginia.  After the birth of our daughter, we moved to upstate New York.  He found a fencing group which was a good thing because he was working from home and we had no friends.  Fencing got him out of the house.

Unfortunately, it got him out of the house two nights a week and both weekend days so after about 9 months he quit.  I was home alone with a newborn during all that time so while I did try to be supportive, I was probably more like a maniacal idiot.

When we bought our house in Niskayuna, we discovered a Curling Club about 2 blocks from our house.  A neighbor belonged and got Brian involved.  Curling didn't take up nearly as much time and the place had a bar.  A win-win really.  Our daughter actually got involved as well...with curling, not the bar.

Down here in Philly, Brian started with brewing beer which is probably my favorite hobby of his.  The kids can help, he does it all at the house, and well, it's beer.  Alas, he doesn't brew anymore because he joined a band.  He has played guitar since he was 13, and had always loved it.  He met two other guys who wanted to jam and so they have every Saturday.  Now that the kids are older, I'm not such a maniacal idiot when he's gone all day.  I do miss the beer though.

Anyway, last night was their first time playing out in public.  They went to an open mic night at a bar near our house.  I went along for support; as a groupie, I suppose.  Personally, I thought they did a great job.  I called it a really great designer run.  You see, in theater, before we get on stage, we do a run-thru of the play in the rehearsal hall for the designers with do-fer props and set (do-fer, from the theatrical, meaning: it will do for now, until we get the real thing).  A really great designer run is when there are very few hitches, and you can't wait to see it on stage because it's going to be spectacular.  At the open mic, they had to use the house drum kit, amps, pedals, etc.  They only brought the guitar and bass with them, so of course there were a couple of small hiccups.  By the way, they called themselves BCJ because their names are Brian, Chuck and Jim.  I thought JCB rolled off the tongue better but no one asks the groupie.

I'm looking forward to being a groupie for their next gig, at which I will try to get pictures.  If I was clever, I would have written this post as a version of the song:  50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.  But I've only come up with 3 ways of being a groupie.  Of course, I have future gigs to inspire me and I do take requests.  Here's what I got so far:

Just smile and nod, Todd
Don't get in the way, Faye
Bop to the beat, Pete
And listen to me

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Oscar Buzz

Watching Black Swan last week made me think about this year's Oscar race.  It's a contenda.  Unfortunately, I won't be watching the show this year;  I have a 10/12 that day which means that we can rehearse the actors for 10 hours out of a consecutive 12 hours.  It also means I'll be working from about 10 am to to about midnight.  Fortunately, I love what I do.

Buzz is that Natalie Portman will most likely get a nod and maybe even the gold for Black Swan.  I hope not; she's good but I don't think it was her best work.  Part of me thinks Hollywood will vote the scabs.  What I mean is that people will look at her pulling skin off her finger or her webbed feet and consider that good acting.  I know I'm going on a limb here and I'll probably be skewered for this next statement but I think that's what happened to Tom Hanks in Philadelphia.  I never thought his character in that movie was that much of a stretch:  a nice guy who is wronged by a law firm.  Oh, yeah happened to be gay.  He definitely deserved it for Forrest Gump but in my opinion not for Philadelphia.

No, I don't think Natalie Portman should get it.  For my money, I'd like to see Annette Benning win.  She was so good in The Kids Are Alright.  Julianne Moore had the flashier part but I thought Annette Benning owned that film.  Don't get me started on Nicole Kidman.  Not only am I NOT a fan, but I saw Rabbit Hole on stage and the script is amazing.  But it's a play written for the stage; I don't see how it can translate well to a movie.  So I'm not going to see it but I'm sticking to my prejudiced, uninformed opinion.  I feel so Republican.

As for the boys, I hear that Colin Firth has it locked up for The King's Speech.  Word is that he'll get it this year because he deserved it last year for A Single Man.  I don't feel like seeing The King's Speech though:  Colin First becomes king 
  • He has a stutter
  • He meets Geoffrey Rush
  • Brilliant acting ensues
  • The king gives a speech 
  • The nation is moved. 
Let me know if I left anything out.  The funny thing is that supposedly Jeff Bridges (who won last year for Crazy Heart) should have won this year for True Grit.  Well, I didn't see Crazy Heart but I did see A Single Man and I do want to see True Grit.  So I'll watch True Grit and say I saw both Oscar winning performances.  Make sense?

It's not like anyone is breaking down the door seeking my predictions anyway.

As for supporting, I loved both Christian Bale and Melissa Leo in the The Fighter.  There is some buzz around Mark Wahlberg but I just don't think that guy can act.  Easy on the eyes, produces a great TV show but acting, not so much.  And while I do think Amy Adams can act, I didn't think her part in The Fighter was that good.  I found it rather boring: I'm with you, I'm not with you, I'm with you.  Yawn.  But oh, oh, oh, Christian Bale and Melissa Leo were soo soooooo so good.  I kept having to remind myself that Christian Bale was Batman.  

Maybe, I'm just cynical this year about the Oscars.  First, they get James Franco (who also has a chance at the gold for 127 Hours; and no I don't want to see 2 hours of James Franco pinned by a rock no matter how cute he is) and Anne Hathaway to host which seems rather vanilla to me.  Then, the movies all seem to be re-runs of films that have already won Oscars.

As a kid, my brother and I had heard that there are only 7 or 8 storylines and every film can be boiled to one of those storylines.  So before watching any movie, we'd joke:  "Oh, is this the mom has a rare disease and the daughter discovers the cure story?"  Or some such thing. 

"Is this the Academy Awards where the actor wins the Oscar for breadth of work?"

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Black Swan Club

I went to see Black Swan last night.  The Darren Aronofsky film about ballet with Natalie Portman.  Before I saw it, I thought it would be The Wrestler in toe shoes because of the previews:  Ballerina works herself to death for ballet because no one understands her.  But really it's Fight Club meets the New York City Ballet with a bit of Mommie Dearest thrown in.

I'd say more about it, but you know the first rule about Black Swan Club.  I wouldn't use any wire hangars though, if I were you.  I'm just saying.

It was pretty well acted and it had elements that I liked.  But I think I'm a bit jaded about the whole art thing.  I liked that they made reference to the ballet needing money; nothing like realism to suspend your disbelief.  Having Natalie Portman's character so insecure and off-kilter that she projects all her fears onto the new ballerina was cool.  I've lived that before.  Only with actors it's often inanimate objects that prevent them from succeeding.  "I can't possibly enter if there's a light there.  How do you expect me to go around it?  It'll mess up my timing and screw up my process."  Or maybe you just suck.  But that's the thing in my world, the most annoyingly insecure actors are the ones with the least talent.  Perhaps it's different in ballet.  Or, perhaps I missed the entire point of the movie. 

I get that you have to give yourself over to the role but you still have to know where the edge of the stage is.  It's called show business not go schizo over one role and maim yourself in order to reach perfection.  Not only is that weird, but then your understudy gets the role and you don't get a curtain call.

I took a ballet class once in college.  I find it odd that we had to fulfill a Phys Ed requirement at university.  By that time shouldn't you have figured out your own exercise regime?  Anyway, I took a ballet class and I admit I loved doing pirouettes, I felt so pretty.  My teacher, although she dressed the role in leotards, tights and leggings, did not look as if she understood the ballerina physique.  Perhaps she was a lone crusader against the pressure to be skinny in ballet or maybe she thought bulimia only meant eat all that you want.  Whatever the case, she was never without her coffee cup, which was not full of coffee, at 10 am

Now, there's a character to write a movie about:  it's Crazy Heart meets High School Musical.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

He Wrote the Song

13 years isn't a bad run.  At least, I don't think it is for a marriage.  13 and 1/2 to be exact but who's counting?  I thought we were going to last longer but I guess it's the little things that get ya. 

I blame Barry Mannilow.  I wish he hadn't written that song.  I bet even he wishes he never wrote that song.  Of course, I can't totally blame him.  How would he know that song would become so annoyingly enduring?  Or enduringly annoying?  Especially to anyone named Lola.

No, it's not fair to blame Mr. Mannilow.  It's the New York Times crossword puzzle's fault. 

Damn you Will Shortz!

Here's the scoop:  Sunday evening, working on the crossword, hanging out with Brian.  I ask him if he knows the answer to a clue:  He wore a diamond at the Copacabana.  Brian says it's Tony.

It's not Tony.  Tony doesn't fit with any other clues.  So I start singing the song, like you probably are right now.  Brian's head starts bopping and he gives me a pained look that clearly says, "Why did you put that song in my head?"  I can't help myself and I burst into the only 2 lines of the song I know which I sing over and over again.  And which are probably wrong.  Brian, head bopping, pained expression, gets up from the table and walks out the door.

I haven't seen him since.

Noooooooo.  I'm only kidding!  See, my life is so boring I have to make stuff up.  Actually, most of that did happen, including annoying Brian with the song.  He just didn't leave. 

At least not yet. 

By the way it was Rico.  Who wore the diamond.

Gosh, I sure hope Brian's not still singing that song.  But I be you are.

Before you throw anything at me, I do want to know one thing...

Oh, yeah, you know what's coming...

Just Who Shot Who?....her name was Lola, she was a showgirl, yellow flowers in her hair, lots of music everywhere...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions.  Instead, I try to think about general ideas that I want to work on.  Don't ask me what the difference is, I just know, in my mind, there is one.  This year, though, I think I want to make a few resolutions.  The normal ones:  eat better, exercise more (I'd like to run a marathon or get close), listen more and talk less (I'll never truly achieve this so I'll be celebrating everytime I decide not to talk -- won't be much).  The rest of the resolutions have to do with music:  sing better, learn piano better (I'm going to teach myself), sing with Brian, etc.  It's been difficult to do this over the holidays.  Both Clara and Brian have birthdays in December and we always have a neighborhood New Year's Eve party which takes up time.

Oh, but speaking of music, for Brian's birthday (which is New Year's eve), I got him a turntable and some vinyl.  He loved it and so did the neighbors.  Everyone brought their records over for the party and we had a great time changing albums, talking about albums, comparing notes, etc.  One thing I realized is how the "album cover art" genre has disappeared!  Now, we look at CDs sideways to see which one we want to play or we have list on an iPod or already on the computer.  But back in the day, you had to flip through the albums to choose one.  And as you mentally do that, I bet you're thinking about all that great album cover art.  I know I am.

I'm not sure if I have a favorite album cover.  Someone brought over Who's Next and I discovered that on the cover The Who is peeing on the rock.  I hadn't noticed that before but I was a really naive child.  I guess I still am because someone had to point it out to me.  And along that line, of course someone brought over Sticky Fingers.  And while, neither cover is my favorite (music is good though), they are memorable.  Some of my favorites are:  Abbey Road, The Unforgettable Fire, Pin Ups, Diamond Dogs, that's all I can think of so far.  Do you have any favs?  Tapes were becoming really big in the 1980's but I always wanted the album because I wanted the cover art and liner notes, etc.

Well, that's what we've been up to lately, and what I plan to be up to in 2011.  I would add that another resolution is to blog better this year but I think the real resolution is to have many exciting experiences so that my posts are vastly more interesting.  Watch out!

Happy New Year!