September 29, 2006

What's the Deal?

I don't get "Deal or No Deal" ... the UK version with national treasure Noel Edmonds. I haven't seen the US version with national trinket Howie Mandell. I expect it's the same but with more bells and whistles. And I've seen something about the US "Deal or No Deal" having girls who touch their boxes.

England doesn't have the girls, just Noel and his 22 contestants. It's like watching people flip a coin for 45 minutes.

That said, I've accidentally found a great use for the program. Turn it on, with the volume very low. Stretch out on the sofa and close your eyes. As you drift off, you won't hear the banal conversations and contestants' hemming and hawing. But you will, every now and again, hear a smattering of applause.

It's like your getting an ovation for having a lie down.

That's quality telly.

September 28, 2006

Stick to Your Knitting


It hasn’t officially opened, so I suppose it would not be kosher to review last night’s production of Cabaret at the West End’s lovely Lyric theatre.

Suffice to say, it is every bit as compelling and original as its poster design. If it doesn’t get any better before the official 10th October* opening, there will be every reason to knit, read, and sweep floors this fall.

Spoilers and impressions after the jump.

* Hmmmm. Why did I have it in my mind that it was opening the 2nd of October? Have they delayed a week?

Okay, then you’re still with me. Good.

It was just so flat. If you're going to restage something that's been fairly recently done, then you should darn well do it right. And you should have a new, or at least inspired take on it. As much as I like gratuitously naked boys, especially the taut bubble-ishous buttocks of dancers/gymnasts, it's not inspired theatre.

So what went wrong? It’s a solid show. They’re all talented, strong actors. Could it be direction? Or could it be that they’re all just too busy trying to hit their mark, find the proper ladder rung to hang on, or get in (or out?) of a costume, that their performances have been put on the back burner. Can they pull it together in less than 2 weeks?

I think the director, Rufus Norris, got the play down, but missed the boat on staging/integratoing the songs. The choreography was rubbish. Junior high school writhing with an extra dose of fake spankings. The Kit Kat Club dancers looked like something we’ve already seen at any number of Madonna and Kylie shows … except in black instead of Gucci or D&G. Oh, and there's an oh-so-edgy gimp mask. But indeed, they’ve got hot bodies. And at least one nice penis.

James Dreyfus hasn't found an engaging emcee yet. Maybe before it opens (remember Bernadette and Mama Rose) he’ll come through. From the get-go (within the lens of a camera … geddit? … I Am a Camera), he looked stiff and uncomfortable. It's like he's playing too hard against his camp type and trying to be menacing. But he's not really dark or scary ... just an overly-medicated Dr. Frank N Furter.

Actually, the entire show has a Rocky Horror feel to it. If they’d only put Herr Schultz in a wheelchair …

"If You Could See Her" is a complete pig’s muddle. I guess they were trying to find a different take from Alan Cumming dancing with a gorilla. They went for a cheap vaudeville trick that’s been done a million times, or at least twice in Victor Victoria and La Cage. It’s totally ridiculous that it couldn’t be staged without the cheap, clumsy substitution of a stunt dancer. Shameful that the artistic team couldn’t find a better way to use Dreyfus’ talents.

Anna Maxwell Martin does the best she can with Sally. She’s charming and bubbly and neurotic and very well acted. She’s a little wobbly as a singer (but not as bad as my colleagues thought) … but then again, if Sally was really a talented singer, would she be at the Kit Kat?

I really liked her.

It’s just that she gets nothing to do in the numbers. Except in her second first appearance (the first first is flying by on a rolling ladder, which is a waste of time, since the emcee re-introduces her 5 minutes later). She’s dressed as a Maddona-esque, oversized cross-wielding nun to sing “Don’t Tell Mama.” She strikes a crucifixion pose more than once in the number. Are they really trying to make a cultural nod to Sally as Madge? It just doesn’t work. And then with all the aforementioned Madonna/Kylie dancing boys … ugh.

The whole thing needs to be stepped up several notches. Look at Sally's "Cabaret." She she starts the song way too happy (and not the coked-up* happy that would have been logical from the previous scen), with no sense of irony. If she'd started the song at the emotional place she'd found half-way through, then played it against all the "life's not a cabaret, Cliff's leaving me, the Nazis are coming, and I'm getting an abortion right after this number" angst ... well maybe it might have had an impact..

They gave her *nothing* to do with "Maybe This Time". It can be either devastating or an anthem, and he had her sit on a bed and sing a nice community theater safe version. Flat as a chorus boy's stomach.

The Fraulein Schneider / Herr Schultz subplot is best summed up in Sheila Hancock’s lackadaisical (with equally tired German accent) “So What.”

“But she’s an institution,” my local pals informed be. So what? I saw Blair Brown play the same role and felt her angst, brief happiness, and ultimate despair. Last night … notsomuch.

The stage combat was inexcusable. Cliff punching Ernst was completely telegraphed and fake. Those two need to stand in a room for 2 hours with a fight choreographer and get that sorted out. But then again, if he’s gonna throw such a pansy punch, it makes sense that the ensuing “Nazi fight ballet” has a Hitler youth doing cartwheels in between kidney punches. Nazis doing cartwheels? Oh, he’s a swastika. I get it.

One thing i can't figure out ... what's with the ladders? They make no sense, unless Sally needs to climb out of the Kit Kat Club. Stupid design ploy that allowed for a couple more crucifixion poses.

And then there’s the ending of Act One and the naked asses hanging off ladders, all facing the fiery red backdrop promised by “Tomorrow Belongs to Me.” And the very in-your-face slamming of scenery (because nobody’s really chewed it yet) finale, which leads to more naked dancers heading to the inevitable

All in all, it wasn't the worst thing I've ever seen (Hello Steel Pier) and it had more merit than the recent Mack and Mabel. It's just But like I said, it doesn't open till 10 Oct, so maybe they can find their pace.

In the meantime, go see The Last Five Years. It's much more compelling (and much better sung).

* What’s up with British shows lately, having an actress snort coke on stage for dramatic, edgy effect and then not play coked out? Mabel did the exact same thing towards the end of Mack and Mabel.

September 27, 2006

Learning from Art

Here are some things I learned at the Tate Modern's Kandinsky: The Path to Abstraction exhibit yesterday.

  • No matter where you stand, someone will inevitably walk right in front of you and block your view.
  • Odds are, this person will either be a pensioner or from the Far East.
  • The Tate Members Room doubles as a newborn mother's club. Screaming children and breast feeding are compulsory.
  • School is back in session, and everyone's on a field trip to the Museum all of a sudden.
  • Some of the schoolgirls have to wear the WORST uniforms. They look like the dresses that women put into mental institutions in the '50s would be forced to wear.
  • If you have a 7-year-old blonde dwarf in your house, you simply MUST pierce his ear shove a much-too-large diamond cubic zirconium in it.
  • Art teachers are the coolest.
  • For every kid sitting on the floor sketching his heart out, there's another one slumped onto a bench wishing he could sneak out for a fag.
  • No matter how cool the exhibition is, the people in the gallery are the real art.
  • When standing in a room watching all the people, try not to stand with your back to the painting they're all trying to look at.
  • When you find a really compelling person to look at, try not to stare.

Oh, and I guess the most important lesson of all ... no one will think your elaborately planned pun is as funny as you do.

September 26, 2006

Tuesday 200 – #12

Benny and his three mates were in the hospital. There’d been a bobsled accident. A myriad of minor fractures, pulled tendons and twisted vertebrae. Nothing critical, Benny swore, but everyone was wrapped in casts and bandages, limbs hoisted and stretched by an intricate series of weights and pulleys.

Benny’s assistant, Dinton, was frantic. Those four barely got along anymore under the best of circumstances. He needed to get there and keep a handle on things. And to keep the paparazzi away.

A mile from the hospital, a policeman lumbered in front of a roadblock. “Sorry sir, blizzard’s closed this road,” said Officer Tate.

Din explained the urgency of situation.

“Didn’t there used to be a trail from here to there?” he asked, pointing to the cross-country skis he had strapped on his 4x4.

“Might work. Sven was out there yesterday. My shift ended before he got back. Lemme check.”

He pulled out his phone and started pressing buttons.

“Can’t you just radio,” Din asked, clearly in a rush.

“Sven’s deaf, gotta text,” said Tate. “Good thing we’re modern. Hmmm … this oughta do it,” he grinned, and showed the message to Dinton.

“Can Din ski the path to ABBA’s traction?”

:: :: ::

Last week's Tuesday 200.

September 25, 2006

Top Telly Tonight

Network: UKTV G2

Program: "Bottom"

According to my "Sky Guide" – Following a nasty incident with three children and a pitchfork on Halloween, Eddie and Richie realize the cash potential of trick-or-treating.

:: :: ::

My question is who had the nasty bottoming incidient with 3 kids and a pitchfork, Eddie or Richie?

So I tuned in and heard the following dialogue:

Richie: Where's the cattle prod?

Eddie: I've got it.

Richie: So give it to me.

Problem sorted. Seems Richie's the bottom.

Getting Blown on the Ground Floor

I'm walking home from the Baker Street tube. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a shirtless blonde man, reasonably fit, behind the window of a brightly lit ground floor living room. He's only about 4 yards away from me.

One can't help but glance.

He's holding a plastic bendy tube in his hand, a vacuum hose I imagine, and is waving it all around a brunette woman. Her blue plaid flannel shirt (or perhaps it's his bathrobe) is flapping about, like laundry caught in a gale.

I think about slowing down to get a better handle on what's was going on. Blondie and I make eye contact and both quickly look away from each other.

Step away from the voyeurism op.

You'd think they'd put up curtains before playing their kinky Hoover sex games.

September 24, 2006

Falling into (the) Autumn (of my life)

I found myself on the sofa this afternoon with Morgan's Passing resting open and upside down on my chest. A fresh cool breeze was comng in off the garden across the street. I'd just woken up from an unintended nap and a Mahler symphony was on the hi-fi digital sound system. One of the cats was sleeping at my side and the other was on the arm of the couch, resting against my head.

It was kinda perfect.

When did I become content to be someone's grandpa a boring middle-aged man? Bring me some knitting needles and call me Aunt Bea.

I'm looking forward to starting a new workshop tomorrow afternoon. Have an interview with a headhunter on Tuesday morning for a "real" job that is compelling enough to lure me back into the suited and booted world. Eeek. Do I even have a suit anymore?

You know what will happen next, right? This Monday afternoon writing course will be the best thing that's ever happened to me and just as I get into it, they'll offer me a job that will create a scheduling conflict.

It's the same theory that if you really want a cab, light a cigarette (preferably your last one). The taxi will arrive by the second puff.

Ring Any Bells?

"Post Illness Attention Deficit Syndrome"

This cracked me up.

Note: "HMB" = Hysterical Mum Brenda

September 22, 2006

Breathing in the Big Smoke

Even after I lived in New York for a decade, every now and again I'd catch a glimpse of the Empire State or Chrysler Buildings and be struck by the fact that not only was I *in* NY, but I actually lived there.

So tonight, it's Friday evening and I'm watching Jonathan Ross interview Sophie Anderton*, rolling my eyes at her vapidity ("I once ate so many donuts"), and waiting to watch Wossy interview Brenda Blethyn**.

And it all just sort of seems normal.

And during all this I just realized, hey ... I live in London.

* Who? She was on "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here" -- her cause célèbre seems to be a 10-year cocaine addiction, getting paid to have sex and a second-rate modeling career.

** Who I totally want to have a long lunch with, including several bottles of wine.

September 21, 2006

Mr. Blue Sky

I just spent the last few hours in Hyde Park sitting under this balmy blanket of blue, reading and writing and watching shirtless joggers trot by.

Nice work if you can get it.

I found myself in the middle of an eccentric family, all warm-hearted and quirky and just trying to understand their own worlds. Wondering why Morgan Gower can be a doctor one day and a shoe-repair clerk the next, just blending in to whatever character he decides to inhabit. He’s so different from me, who overanalyzes much too often and worries about people thinking I might be a fraud.

But then again, he's a character ... can fictional characters be role models? Some might say no. But those are probably people who never wished Atticus Finch was their dad.

Ah, the things you ponder when reading an Anne Tyler novel. Funny, I never had those thoughts last week when reading about necrophiliac serial killers. Maybe that's the distinction between fiction and literature. One you plow through on a plane, one you savor in the park.

September 20, 2006

Show Me, Show Me, Show Me, How You Do that Trick


At some point last week, someone came up with the idea to have '80s-themed snacks for tonight's meeting of the salon drinks at ours.

I have no idea what that means.

But I do know that I've just purchased Singstar '80s. So if nothing else, people can sing along to Blondie, Belinda Carlisle, Katrina and the Waves, and/or Kate Bush.

My prediction: everyone will bitch and moan and say there's no way they will sing into a PlayStation microphone. Then there will be drinking. Then there will be complaints from the neighbors.

See, the game scores your performance. And I have competitive friends.

Heaven is a place on earth, and we're all running up the hill before we walk on sunshine.

Whoo hoooo.

Oh, I've got Twister as well (but that's kind of '70s, eh?).

September 19, 2006

Tuesday 200 - #11

The knife went in so much easier than I’d expected. A little force to make the initial puncture, an almost indiscernible “pop”, and then it just slid in right to the hilt.

It didn’t hurt at all. I suppose my shock that she actually did it, combined with the nervous system’s natural delayed reaction, blocked any pain. Like when you slice your finger and it doesn’t hurt until you see the first drop of blood.

“I warned you,” she hissed. A ribbon of crimson flew out of my chest and I passed out.

Two days later and I’m in Mercy Hospital, just released from ICU. She punctured my lung, but the surgeon says I’ll be fine. Could have been worse. And the morphine is nice.

She kept saying my snoring was driving her mad. We joked that she was crazy long before she met me, but that was all in the past. She had been a cutter in college. She swore she’d been taking her meds.

I got a note from her yesterday. She’s three floors below me, in the psych ward.

“The girl in the bed next to me doesn’t snore,” she wrote. “I can’t sleep for the silence.”

:: :: ::

Last week's Tuesday 200.

September 18, 2006

Madonna on "Ta-Dah"

Go have a look at the people in the elevator on the Scissor Sister's new CD.

Doesn't Madonna look great in age-appropriate clothes and her natural hair color?

Peter Peter Jordan Eater


Shut up. He did not really name his book All About Us: My Story.

Wouldn't that be "our" story? Or perhaps simply, "Katie: My Price to Fame" ...

Maybe he's just schizophrenic.
I am legion. We are many.

Oh well, so what – he and his ghostwriter couldn't get the pronouns right. Wonder how they did on subject/verb agreement?

September 16, 2006

Roman History

Did you know that, back in the day, rich Roman women would spend large sums of cash to enjoy an evening of carnal delights with Gladiators?

And sometimes, when the woman was epecially attractive, as he went back to the Coliseum on the morning after such a paid encounter, the strong, virile, athletic Roman warrior would be glad he ate her.

Thank you. Thank you very much, I'm here all week. Try the veal.

September 14, 2006

La Bagnata Vita

SD8.5 Agent Update

Hmm, I need a code name for my encrypted radio transmissions. Any suggestions?

Best thing about today was the meal I just ate at a hole-in-the wall dive in Rome, Osteria del Rione as recommended by Time Out Rome. 5 courses, plus all the red wine I wanted for 16 euro. And the very adorable Scottish lad (who came in with his awful Channel Islands girlfriend) was all the grappa* I needed.

Worst thing about today was the 30 minute walk in a typhoon to get there. Umbrella helped for the waist up, but that's about it. Jeans are soaked and my Merrils will never recover.

That sadi, I am in Italy and probably can find some shoes tomorrow if I sniff around.

Hotel is lovely, but we're in a single room and the bed is smaller than a fold-out sofa. Ugh. Will try to get moved tomorrow. No sign of L (I'm truly a banking widow these days), but the bellman is delicisoso.

Maybe that small bed won't be such a curse after all.

Also, any rumors indicating this yet-to-be-codenamed agent was sitting in Heathrow with boozey tequila sweats this morning are surely exagerrated.

Interesting conversation with Italian counter-agent on 2nd leg of journey this afternoon**. He pretended to sleep then grilled my about my evening plans. He claimed to be returning home from a 3-month assignment in Philadelphia (he must have been very bad to receive that punishment) after spending a year in Havana.

His cover is "electrical engineer". You know he rewired Castro. You just know it.

He's indicated a hit on Ricky Martin next. Something about waiting for a long-term Puerto Rican assignment.

Over and out.

(cue static-like sound effect)

:: :: ::

* Grappa being the code word for the preliminary data I was sent here to collect.

** How come that Bristow bitch got the chartered jets all the time and I'm stuck in coach on Alitalia?

Après le Déluge

Thanks to everyone who made today very special; be it through phone calls, emails, cards, blog comments, buying another round, going out of your way to visit a new restaurant, or that extra friendly touch in the loo.

Walking home from Mestizo tonight, along the rain-washed New Cavendish Street, I was mentally composing a big long post about how happy I was with tonight’s celebration.

But that was over an hour ago, and I’ve since had a really funny phone chat with my sister*, which is the perfect capper to any evening. So I think I’ll forego downloading all the pictures of Marisol's margarita madness until another time.

Besides, SD8.5 has me on an early flight to Rome tomorrow for a top-secret reconnaissance mission and I need to arrive early for a wig fitting. That last Eva Gabor mop they gave me was rubbish. So it’s off to bed.

But now that I’m typing ….

For the past year or so, I’ve always said the one main thing I miss about New York is my circle of friends. How they intersect and how cool it is to be in the shaded center part of the multi-ovaled Venn diagram that represents parties we’ve thrown.

The London Venn got a little bigger tonight. In fact, it more than doubled in size from last year’s birthday dinner, and has as least twice as many groupings. Just imagine what next year’s will be like.

I’m not sure if I’m excited or concerned that Doctor Who is the thread that’s weaving everyone together, but if it gets me a trip to Cardiff ... who cares? Ah, the “perils of assimilation”. Now which season was *that* episode?

Lee summed it up best when, during the middle of dinner, he leaned over to me and whispered, “You have the best friends.”

Indeed, I do. And he only saw a fraction of them tonight. Of course, by the end of the night, he could only see a fraction ... but that's for him to recount on his own bandwidth.

Again, thanks everyone for the flood of good wishes.

And remember, the salon reconvenes next Wednesday at my place. Maybe we'll even get Larry to show up.


:: :: ::

* Who, when I answered the phone at 11:30 yelled to her husband, "Bobby's home from his bithday dinner before midnight and he doesn't even sound drunk!"

Nice. You can feel the love too, can't you?

September 13, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me


Shut up, you're not ...

No you shut up, I am.

Two fours.

You craps fans (hi Mark) will know that's a hard eight. It's one of my favorite bets, especially when I'm on a roll. And, you know what? All things considered, I'm kind of on a roll right now.

So for the next year, it's all about the hard eight, with a very nice 9:1 payout. And a fiver for the dealer.

:: :: ::

Speaking of eight ... a slew of us will be at Mestizo tonight about that time. Come have a margarita with us.

September 12, 2006

Tuesday 200 - #10

“Daddy’d let me have one,” Lola whined. “It’s not fair.”

The back of my hand cracked against her cheek before I realized I wanted to slap her.

“Well Daddy’s not here, is he? And believe you me, he’s more worried about fucking his Portuguese whore than getting you a goddamned iPod. Now march.”

I grabbed her arm and bee-lined out of the mall, ignoring the staring shoppers. It was getting late and the last thing I needed was another ticket for driving with no headlights.

So I probably shouldn’t have clocked her. Especially in public. And now I’d have to make another frickin’ orthodontist appointment to get her headgear unbent.

I passed the whore at the Grand Union the other day, in the spices aisle. She looked me right in the eye, lowered her head and whispered, "pesarosa.”

Like she’s one to call me names. “Right back atcha, bitch,” I said and spit at her.

More stares. Fuck them. They can’t see the bank account he’d emptied to move in with her. Or the eviction notice in my purse. Or the hunting knife that will soon live in her home-wrecking back.

Just wait lady. We’ll see who’s the pesarosa.

:: :: ::

Last week's Tuesday 200.

September 11, 2006

I Remember ...

It was the most gorgeous morning, remember?

It had poured the night before, and I’d been out drinking in the Village with Dr. Duncan and his new beau. The storm passed and the morning was a little crisp with the most amazingly clear blue sky. Remarkably, my head was just about as clear. I grabbed my new blue zafu, wiped as much cat hair off it as I could and placed it right on the railing of the sliding glass door leading to our balcony. 30 minutes every morning to center myself. It was a new habit that had taken me awhile to settle into (and one I should settle into again).

I just sat, soft focus on the blinking red light atop one of the towers … I don’t remember if was the north or south. Counting breaths. 1, 2, 3, 4, … repeat. The cats would rub up against me and then plop down on the warming cement, which was beginning to soak up the morning sun. We lived on 23rd street and the balcony faced south. From all our windows, we could see just the top few floors of the World Trade Center, as well as the white aerial spikes that rose above.

My meditation timer went off and I was in a really good zen state. It was about quarter to nine and promised to be quiet day at the office. Cool. Off to the shower.

The phone started ringing just as I was toweling off. “Hello?”

“How fucked up is your back yard?” my sister asked.

“Um, whaddya mean? I was just out there and it’s beautiful …” I walked to the living room and saw the smoke.

“Is the Tower on fire?” I asked, interrupting myself.

She told me she’d been watching Today and it looked like a plane had crashed into one of them.

I switched on the TV and found a very solemn Katie and Matt, with an image of the ripped tower in the background. “Oh my god.” I was expecting maybe a little hole from a tiny commuter plane, or maybe a helicopter, clipping its wing against the side of the building. Not an open gash that ripped across most of the building. “I’ll call you back.”

I pulled on some clothes and ran upstairs to the roof. We lived on the 9th floor of an 11-story building. From the top you could see the damage.

Totally surreal. It looked like a matte painting for the backdrop of a disaster film. Like somehow the folks at Lucas Entertainment dropped a huge scrim in front of the Towers. And then I looked down towards 9th Avenue and could see people running north.

I went back downstairs to check on the reports. I hadn’t been there very long when there was an explosion in the second tower. That’s fucked up, I thought.

Katie and Matt were all stoically aflutter (in hindsight, they were no doubt shittiing their pants on national TV and yet trying to look cool, calm, and collected) and started showing replays of the 2nd explosion. That’s when we realized it was a second plane. The video replay made it clear … a jet plane had flown directly into the tower.

“This is on purpose,” I said out loud to no one. I lit a cigarette and started crying.

Smoking and crying. Pretty much how I spent my day.

Larry was in Toronto on business, scheduled to fly home that night. I called his cell, which he never has turned on (it runs down the battery), and was surprised to hear him answer.

“Have you checked out of your hotel yet?” I asked.
He had, and I told him to find a new one or call friends/family, ‘cause there was no way he was flying home tonight.

“What’s going on?” he asked. “People are hearing all kinds of stories and we’re trying to find a television.”

I told him all I knew. I it looked like two commercial jets had flown into the WTC and there were reports of others in the air. I was fairly certain that more were coming to Manhattan (none of us really knew what the hell was going on, did we?).

“Just stay up there where it’s safe.”

“No, I want to come home. Are you okay?”

I said I guess and lit another Marloboro Light. What’s a little lung cancer when the world’s ending?

I remember going back up to the roof. By then you could barely see the gash for all the smoke. The WTC had turned into a factory of billowy grey clouds, blowing up and to the left. I just stood there, watching in some sort of suspended animation. It was real, and yet this

All of a sudden there was a huge upward burst of smoke and what looked like a huge cloud of dust. I couldn’t see the tower anymore for all of the smoke. Was it even still there?

“Oh god, did the building just collapse?” I thought, maybe even said out loud. I ran downstairs to check what the TV said.

The tower had collapsed.

As we all know, the second one followed suit not long after.

The rest of the day is pretty much a blur. Phone calls to the office. Trying very hard to get hold of friends who worked downtown. So much fear. So many what-ifs? Phone calls to and from friends and family. Service was sporadic, but it seemed I could get lines out more than people could get lines in, so every time the phone rang and I answered I was greeted with an “Oh thank God.”

My next clear memories were that evening. I was in group therapy at the time. I figured it’d been cancelled, but hadn’t heard to I walked down to the Village anyway.

Eight Avenue had been transformed. There were handmade signs in almost every window. “Give Blood”. “Call the Red Cross at xxx xxx xxxxx”. “God Bless NY”.

Most everything was closed, but the places that were open had throngs of people standing outside. Talking. Consoling. Hugging. I was pretty much cried out from the afternoon, so I just took it all in and kept wandering down to 5th Ave and 9th St. Nobody home at the shrink’s, which wasn’t too surprising. I hoped everyone was okay, but would have to wait to find out. Turns out they were.

I walked around and found myself on the southwest corner of 7th Ave and Greenwich. Diagonally across from St. Vincent’s. It was the most horrific thing I’d seen all day.

The street outside the hospital was lined with gurneys. Perfectly made, pristine white gurneys. Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals were at the ready. Just standing there. Under the bright lights. Next to all the empty gurneys and beds.

They’re not bring anyone back. There’s no one to save.” was all I could think.

Fuck. Just when you think you’re all cried out.

I ran into some friends heading back up north on 8th. In the two hours since I’d been there, more signs were up, a couple bars/restaurants had opened and people still needed to be fed. They asked me to join them, but I said I’d just been at the tragically quiet St. Vincent’s and needed to go home and have a nice, quiet meltdown.

:: :: ::

I woke up the next morning. Surely that was just a dream, I thought (knowing better). I rolled over to look out the window and saw, as I expected, the towers of gray vapor, reminding me that this was in fact, the new real world. Seems the wind had shifted overnight. Now I could smell it. The remnants of a very ghastly barbeque.

:: :: ::

Turns out we were very lucky. Larry got home a day or so later via a series of taxis, rental cars and trains. Nobody in our immediate circle was too badly involved. Michaud the journalist had been on a stalled subway train, underwater, when the tower went down. He felt the rumble. How scary would that have been?

He emerged somewhere near Wall Street where they told him to “run” as he got off the train. He was chased by a wall of smokey debris from the second tower collapsing. He was supposed to be covering a fashion event.

Another friend, who worked down the street, saw a wall of glass come crashing towards him. I still don’t think he’s over that, bless. I don’t think he’s quite over that yet, bless him.

I don’t think any of us are. I just wish I didn’t have to be force fed the photo images over the past few weeks, and especially today … and I’m not even in NY anymore.

Condolences and blessings to anybody out there who lost someone, or who still hurts from the day’s events.

Never forget, they tell us. How could we?

September 10, 2006

Mother-of-the-Year Award

(thanks Ben)

September 9, 2006

Bellyful of Laughs

Recent news, on both sides of the Atlantic, has had its plate full of the "obesity epidemic." What can we do to save our children from this plague-like curse?

Oh sure, there's making them eat healthier. There's getting their asses of lard exercising instead of sitting in front of the tv or playing with their PSPs. That would be too easy. And how come nobody "reports that the new generation has the most dexterous opposable thumbs in history?

Besides, it's sexy to be overweight. Just ask the bears. And Starrrrrr Jones didn't look near as scary before she did (or didn't) have her stomach removed to create a new line of leather-ish Payless Shoes (the Haggis collection ... wrap your feet in the lining of Star).

And today, the cover The Guardian's Weekend magazine reminds us it's funny to be fat.


I don't get it. One minute the media's telling our kids that being overweight will kill them. The next minute it's saying hey, put on a few ... you'll make us laugh, be popular, and maybe get rich.

Seems to be more standards than Johnny Vegas has chins.

:: :: ::

The best joke in the series of interviews that go along with the pictures comes from Meera Syal ...

"A woman walks into a bar and asks the barman for a double entendre, so he gives her one."

September 8, 2006

Taking the Pzizz

Last night I gave some good thought to making a GP appointment and getting a short course of Ambien. I need to back on a normal sleep cycle. Not that there’s anything wrong with the 5am-1pm thing I’ve fallen into, I’m just tired of being tired during the day and not tired at night.

In a spasm of web-surfing synchronicity, I found Pzizz. We all know that Bobby likes a good gadget, so I tried it out. I put a 30-minute sleep nap onto my iPod and crawled into bed around midnight. Wasn’t really that tired, but thought I’d give it a go. It’s a smartly produced compilation of NLP suggestion and soothing electronica, with some peaceful bird chirps and waterfalls. I liked it. Didn’t drift off to dreamland, but I did become really relaxed.

Once it was over, I gave myself 30 minutes to fall asleep. That’s my rule … otherwise I toss and turn and get aggravated that Larry can blissfully snore while I can’t get my mind to slow down and quit obsessing over all the things I should have done with my life. And what to do tomorrow? And did I leave the iron on? And when was the last time I actually ironed?

I got up to read something that I thought would be boring (that’s what all the insomnia books say to do … and no television, so I can’t even find out if Starbuck is going to find the Arrow of Apollo). The first two chapters of Crime and Punishment are more engaging than you’d think, and the quiet breeze coming in off the square was really beautiful. I thought about putting on some clothes and going for a walk. But then I thought I might find an old pawnbroker and kill her, so I moved on to A.N. Wilson’s London: A Short History, where I learned that the now underground Fleet river mirrors the development of London.

And now it’s nearly 3am. Not sleepy yet, despite the chamomile tea I’d sipped while reading. I created a new 60-minute sleep nap, put it on the pod, and went to try again. At some point during that, I fell asleep. Woke up around 10 this morning.

Baby steps. Without pharmaceuticals. We’ll give the Pzizz a week or so. If I’m not back on a reasonable schedule by then, it’s better living through chemistry.

:: :: ::

And for those of you worried about Apollo's Arrow, I’ve found Mr. Bamber and sheathed it nicely.

Actually, it's on the floor of the museum, not too far from a whooped Number Six. Starbuck's just a little freaked that there's a Baby Boomer* behind Helo, the President's in the brig, and the Old Man just took two to the chest. Ouch. Didn't see that coming.

I guess I better find Season Two, eh?

* Come on, that's funny, innit?

September 7, 2006

Blame it on the Wind

It’s easier to accept the unexpected when you come from a village known for its crazy.

What happens when we talk to the dead … whether those people have actually passed or are mere memories of those sent to our own individual purgatories?

And what happens when they do talk back? Do we listen or turn our backs in disbelief? Maybe it takes a ghost in the trunk of your car to get your attention.

Almodóvar’s newest film, Volvér, tells the story of a mother’s return to the family of women she left behind, nearly 4 years after her death. While not as over the top (Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down or Women on the Verge) or darkly clever (All About my Mother, Bad Education) as some of his previous works, it’s full of his signature dysfunctional passion, humor and warmth.

It's understated, and a little campy (especially the Hitchcockian score in the first reel), but a far cry from the movie-within-a-movie and giant vaginas of his last last couple of movies.

That said, it’s really lovely. Penelope Cruz usually annoys me, but not today. Today she was, well she was just shy of spectacular. She was beautiful and driven, eyes full of repressed emotion. She should never be allowed to act in, let alone speak, English again. The rest of the cast was superb, especially Carmen Maura (Irene), Lola Dueñas (Sole), and Blanca Portillo (Agustina).

Sometimes I caught myself looking at my watch, but that could be accounted to the 30 minutes of ads and trailers they showed before rolling the feature. That said, once it was over and I’d left the theater, the more I thought about Volvér, the more I liked it. Very, very much. Usually it’s the other way around.

I think it’s Almodóvar’s Secrets and Lies. Go see it tell me what you think.

In the meantime, forgive your ghosts … they might not even know what they did wrong.

September 6, 2006

Rhythm and Snooze

I feel like I lost a day somewhere. Let’s see what actually happened.

Went to bed Sunday night about 12:30am EST, after the wedding (which was a perfectly cast and performed Movie of the Week … more on that in another post).

Got up at 5am Monday to head to the airport for an 8am flight. Made it to LGA with no problems and hung out with MAK and K for a few hours. Caught up on Weeds. Walked through a street fair. Avoided fried dough ... well, most of us did. Bought way too many bags of candy corn and Tootsie Rolls at the Rite-Aid.

Headed to JFK for our 6:45pm flight to London. Again, no problems (except for the Admiral’s Club still being bollocks compared to BA’s lounge). Boarded. Got drinks, menus, and film choices. Wheee ... a week of fun almost over and time to head home.

Ooops, co-pilot found a glitch on his final walk around. Engineering needs to examine the hydraulics. Should be fixed in a jiffy. Much waiting.

You see where this is going, eh?

Plane was taken out of service. Disembark. More waiting. Will we fly or won’t we?

New equipment’s found but needs to be cleaned, catered, etc. Frenzied rush of all passengers to a new gate. Everyone has to go through security again. Queue at the new gate for awhile until a later-than-necessary announcement is made saying if you have a boarding pass you’re already checked in and it’s the same configuration as before. We’ll board as soon as possible.

An hour later, still no sign of boarding. Finally get on around 9:45. We finally took off around 10:30. Didn’t take the Xanax that we’d scored off the sister-in-law. Watched X-Men III and was disappointed. I dozed but never slept. Landed about 10am yesterday UK time. Waited a year for luggage. Got home and laid down about 12:30 for a quick nap. For some reason I felt a little worn out. Woke up six hours later in the exact same position I remember being in when I started my snooze. Couldn’t sleep last night and finally fell asleep around 5am, waking up around 1pm.

And now it’s Wednesday, but it feels like Tuesday. I think.

So, in a nutshell, my circadian clock is … how do the Batttlestar Galactians say … totally fracked. But the Tootsie Rolls are really good.

September 5, 2006

Tuesday 200 - #9

A tide of people swells outside the doors leading to immigration. Hired drivers hold signs for otherwise anonymous businessmen. Somebody’s mom clutches 3 Mylar “welcome home” greetings. She keeps looking at her watch, making the balloons bob up and down like buoys.

Stragglers from the last flight drip through the double doors. Those still waiting crane their necks, but nobody recognizes 9-year old Sarah. Her fresh, freckled face belies the last 8 hours alone on a transatlantic flight, pretending to sleep so the flight attendants would stop asking if she’s afraid.

“Do you see him?” her uniformed chaperone asks.

Shaking her head, Sarah’s braids are metronomes brushing across each shoulder. The uniform says, “Maybe he’s waiting over there,” and points to the mini-strip mall of newsagents and Starbucks. “Do you want to walk around?”

She pulls up the zipper on her Hello Kitty jacket. The smell of fresh coffee warms her, but she knows better than to ask for some. She’d tried that on the plane, but the stewardesses just laughed. “You’re too young for that,” they said through fake smiles. “How ‘bout some hot chocolate instead?”

Daddy will let her have some coffee.

If he ever shows up.

:: :: ::

Last week's Tuesday 200.

September 2, 2006

Retox Ahead

Ah, Chez Berkeley -- keeping Betty Ford in business for over 20 years.

Last night was no exception, and it was good to see so many of the messes lovely people that we've gotten to know over the years.

Wombling off to the norhtern suburbs this afternoon for tomorrow's booze fest wedding. Not sure if there will be interweb access there (not really sure if they have electricity there), so this might be over and out till we get back in London on Tuesday.

Happy Labor/Labour Day y'all.