Saturday, November 3, 2012

Money

When I was little, I was taught that there are some things money can't buy. The Mayor of NYC obviously doesn't believe that, but after the events of this week, I know it's true. For many people here on Staten Island, money can't buy enough gas to keep a generator going or get their families across or out of town, away from the sewage in the streets. Money can't buy a meal or warm socks or a cup of coffee from stores that have no electricity. I know a lot of marathoners got stranded here, and that sucks, but everyone should know that the fault for that lies squarely with the mayor, who is so blinded by greed that he foolishly entertained the idea that this race should happen, not only for a fleeting moment, which should be the lifespan of a foolish idea, not only for an hour, but for FOUR DAYS. If he had been sensible enough to say, on Tuesday, "Hey folks, sorry about the marathon, but the whole idea is ridiculous," then those runners could have changed their plans. Instead, they're stuck here, because of one man's greed. I know many people would disagree with my premise, and say it's the mayor's money that keeps him above the fray, but I would love to see him stuff his pockets with cash & try to walk through Midland Beach or South Beach or New Dorp Beach right now, and see how far it gets him. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Girl Date with Bern

Bern & I went to the Met today, & for some reason she seemed to find half of everything I said brilliant. I was dropping eloquence like mad, yo. So here is the official list of my quotable quotes from our outing. 1) I was never that interested in Gertrude Stein, but as someone who feels like my only talent is liking stuff... I mean, she made a career out of it. She's an inspiration! 2) I love Seurat, but it's clear he had OCD or something. 3) Saw a ton of medieval shit in France. Brittany was lousy with it. 4) You can't go wrong with Impressionism. If you meet someone who doesn't like Impressionism, cut their head off, because they're a devil. 5) I love having crushed macarons in my bag. It's so refined & trashy at the same time. Honorable mention: Bern gets the credit for "Float like a duck." You had to be there. Finally, and possibly the greatest thing I have ever said or will ever say in my life: We went to P. J. Clarke's, not realizing that on a Friday evening it would be jammed, so we squeezed our way back to the dining room & took a table even though we really wanted to drink (we had munched on macarons all morning & eaten a healthy but overpriced lunch at the Met). So when the waitress asked to take our order, I said: We'll have a bottle of prosecco and a shrimp cocktail.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Wherein I Am Forced to Drink the Kool-Aid Known as The Hunger Games

I'm not going to bother with a fancy review. This is just me typing up the notes I made on post-its while reading. Yes, I am that much of a dweeb. I won't even insult you with a spoiler alert; everyone and their mother has been there and back already. And if you haven't read it, you've at least seen the ads from the movie, not to mention internet memes, and from those you can pretty much figure out anything that might have been remotely spoilery. I've indicated page numbers where I bothered to write them down.

1. Hey honey, we make bread; let's name our son... Peeta! I hate stupid names. That's why I don't read fantasy. Also because I hate multi-book series. So this is 0 for 2 already.
2. Why is it officially called the "Hunger Games?" Isn't that bad for P.R.? Shouldn't they call it the "Happy Fun Time Games?"
3. Did they have stylists just so there could be a movie without people saying "Why does their makeup look so good while they're hunting each other?"
4. Do they literally have no drivers on the chariots? Doesn't seem possible. I'm seriously having a hard time picturing this.
5. I didn't get the "Rue" thing till she pointed it out. Had to cram some Ophelia shit in there, didn't ya?
6. Why does she agree to train with Peeta (89)? I find it strange. Only reasons I can think of (1) She wants to see how tough Peeta is (2) She wants to max her training time
7. Yeah no shit the Gamemakers scored her high. How stupid are we supposed to be?
8. Rue is clearly Black. I can't believe people had problems with the casting.
9. End of Part One. WHAT? Peeta's crush is... Katniss? I hate when these moments end chapters, like they're supposed to be big revelations, even though the reader has known them from page four.
10. I feel like I've been hating on it a lot, but there are features and moments that I find endearing. I like how in some ways she's a typical YA heroine, except she has to kill kids. It's pretty amusing.
11. Pretty cool how that kid blows up in her face right off the bat (150).
12. Was Peeta comparing Katniss to his harpy bitch of a mother when he said, "Give my mother my best?" I'm not blaming. Just curious.
13. They collect the dead during the game? In Battle Royale they wait till it's all over, which makes more sense to me.
14. Exactly what advantages do they get from sponsors? I feel like I'm missing something.
15. Peeta joining the Careers pack. I freely admit I did not see that coming.
16. There are cameras, but are there mikes? Why does no one ever fuck with them?
17. With the Gamemakers and sponsors, I feel the Hunger Games is to Battle Royale what reality television is to reality. I may flesh this idea out in a Goodreads review. Or not.
18. Wow. Kinda shitty that she's letting her rivalry with Peeta overshadow helping her family (189).
19. God, when was the last time I tasted a honeysuckle?
20. I want Rue to turn out to be a psycho killer that destroys them all. Is that wrong? (200)
21. Why can't the Careers just get more supplies from their sponsors?
22. More Ophelia shit (237).
23. Rule change?! Why the fuck would they want to do that? And... aren't they the only pair left?
Okay, no, the pair from District 2 is alive, but the reason still doesn't make sense.
24. I hate this kind of stuff (261). When she won't let him finish "If I die..." It's bullshit. Even if you say "Don't talk like that," or whatever, you still let the guy finish that sentence, if only for your poor reader! And then how is she going to feel if he does die, and she can't even do whatever the fuck it was that he wanted her to do? Stupid.
25. Why do the Gamemakers send so much rain, when the result is no one killing each other?
26. Isn't this a kind of prostitution (302)? It's creeping me out.
27. All this kissing - how gross is their morning breath?
28. I like what she says about Foxface dying from Peeta's ignorance (324). It's kind of a mindfuck.
29. The mutts being the dead tributes struck me as incredibly stupid.
30. Would it really have fucked up the Capitol if they had gone out in double suicide? I have my doubts. If the point of the Hunger Games is to show their power by taking the children, why not just kill 'em all?
31. I really don't want there to be a Twilight-style rivalry between Peeta & Gale... and why do they both have such girly names?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ides Eve

I didn't watch Jeopardy yesterday, but apparently the final "answer" was a Shakespeare question; "something about Ophelia." I heard this from one of my Juniors, who was pleased with himself - and a bit surprised - that he was able to get it while none of the contestants did. He said, "I did process of elimination: I read Romeo & Juliet, I read Julius Caesar, and I read Macbeth, so I knew it wasn't any of those. I said, What's left? Hamlet!"
To paraphrase the Bard himself, I haz a happy. Enjoy those Ides of March!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Do I think Gatsby is a hero?


John Green has a great video about the first 6 chapters of The Great Gatsby. He calls for viewers to answer the question "Is Gatsby a hero?" in the comments section. Boy did I run out of space on that fast.

Long answer: Gatsby is most definitely on a quest. Nick at one point says he "found he had committed himself to the following of a grail." The Holy Grail is an interesting symbol for the American Dream, as is Daisy: the Grail is of course an object of spiritual value, (Hello! it's "Holy"), but it also holds great monetary value (at least it was believed to be all gold & jewelly until Indiana Jones’ Last Crusade came along). Similarly, Daisy can be seen as a valuable object (she's filthy rich, & every guy seems to want to possess her with the possible exception of her cousin), but there is also an intangible something about her that transcends all that. 
The knight who would seek the Grail had to be pure of heart. Nick makes this comparison because he sees something pure & innocent in Gatsby, even though that innocence might just be his incredible naivete in believing that he could ever be part of that “old money” society. I think Gatsby & Nick both saw something spiritual in that dream, the way the American Dream is so often talked about in noble terms (no matter where you come from, you can achieve greatness if you try hard enough) when on another level it’s just as Eddie Izzard described: get all the money in the world, stick it in your ears & go PHTHHHHHH!!
So the question really is: Do we agree with Nick?
I think I do. It’s really hard for me to argue with a narrator, no matter how hard I try.

Short answer: Yes. I should have said that first & saved you the TL;DR.

Counter question: Did The Catcher in the Rye make oblique references to Gatsby? (Hint: the answer is yes. Because I think so, and I’m the teacher. Nyah.)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Greatest Song Ever?

This one has been a long time coming, at least a week or so. I thought if I sat on it awhile the mania would pass and it would come out less hyperbolic. Let's see if that worked.
This is something I experience very rarely, but it happens: a song that has always been around, in the background, in bars, at parties, maybe even department stores, I couldn't possibly estimate how many times I've heard it in almost 20 years, but it's definitely more than a dozen, and somehow in all those times I heard it, it never registered that THIS IS THE GREATEST SONG ON THE PLANET.
Okay, that may be pushing it. But it is definitely a PERFECT SONG.
Scroll down if you want to know which song I'm referring to. Otherwise, stay with me and see if you can guess.
It's a love song, and one thing that makes it a perfect love song is the music. It's ebullient, euphoric, utterly poppy, just three and a half minutes of unbridled joy.
But hey, I had heard the music for years & never realized it was the perfect love song. My theory is twofold: partly that there are other songs by the same band that sound pretty similar, and partly that I never listened to the lyrics.
Now that's just weird for me. I'm all about words. Every song that I ever loved, I loved for the words. Why oh why didn't I just listen to them?

Tell me this isn't a love poem to rival Shakespeare or E. E. Cummings:

when i see you sky as a kite
as high as i might
i can't get that high
the how you move
the way you burst the clouds
it makes me want to try

when i see you sticky as lips
as licky as trips
i can't lick that far
but when you pout
the way you shout out loud
it makes me want to start
and when i see you happy as a girl
that swims in a world of magic show
it makes me bite my fingers through
to think i could've let you go

and when i see you
take the same sweet steps
you used to take
i say i'll keep on holding you
my arms so tight
i'll never let you slip away

and when i see you kitten as a cat
yeah as smitten as that
i can't get that small
the way you fur
the how you purr
it makes me want to paw you all
and when i see you happy as a girl
that lives in a world of make-believe
it makes me pull my hair all out
to think i could've let you leave

and when i see you
take the same sweet steps
you used to take
i know i'll keep on holding you
in arms so tight
they'll never, never let you go

I know, right?

So I've been listening to it over & over & over again. I sing it when I'm riding the bike sometimes, although Poe's "Amazing" is still my favorite for that :)


Monday, August 1, 2011

37-Mile Sunday

We've had a number of days that threatened and/or delivered rain lately, so I've been going through a bit of bike withdrawal. Yesterday I definitely got my fix.
This might be the most straightforward route we've followed on one of these long rides. Rode the 5 miles to the ferry, and started out on the other side by skirting Battery Park and setting off on the Hudson River Greenway. There is still one slight detour near the beginning, but we're very used to it by now. We rode the whole thing to the top, but not nonstop; we used the bathrooms at the Pier One Cafe & had a picnic lunch in Riverside Park, then filled up our water containers at the tennis courts. Around the GWB we actually had to do some walking with the bikes because the hills there are practically vertical. If my bike could talk, it would have said, "What are you trying to do, lady? You gotta be kidding me!" (My bike has an old-school Brooklyn accent in this story for some reason.) We rode the Greenway to the top of Fort Tryon Park, where it ends just below Inwood Hill Park.
Then we rode down Dykman Street, and Paul said, "Don't you feel like the bikes have transported us back to 1978?" Dykman led us to Harlem River Drive, which was beautiful and creepy at the same time. We saw a few people here and there out barbecuing with their kids, but compared to the West side it was pretty much deserted.
The HRD bike path got weird at 155th Street, so from there we took St. Nicholas Place, and at 151 St. we got onto St. Nicholas Avenue. This was our second time riding past St. Nicholas Park; everyone there always seems to be having a great time. Took that to 120th Street and rode past gorgeous brownstones to Second Avenue.

We rode Second Avenue all the way down to Houston Street! Ran into some construction along the way, so it got a little hairy, but there was very light traffic and we were able to ride in the bus lanes until the bike lanes appeared on the other side of the street. Cool moment: the Roosevelt Island tram came down right in front of us.
At East Houston we zipped over to Allen Street to get us to South Street and back to the ferry. Again, all that is old hat by now. Unfortunately, there are few worlds left for us to conquer on the island of Manhattan, at least until all the bike paths they're working on are finished.
Discovery of the day: one of Paul's pedals broke! He's noticed it sticking in the last couple of weeks, but it wasn't until we were getting on the boat to go home that he noticed it was severely bent. Hopefully he's finding new ones right now.