Sunday, February 28, 2010

Manhattan's "Snowicane"

The past two days snow came down hard in New York, kissing the city with what a friend of mine aptly described as "big, wet, sloppy flakes." Thursday my office shut down an hour and a half early in the hopes that we could all get home safely, and Friday it closed shop entirely, declaring an official "Snow Day." 

While not unheard of, in a city accustomed to heavy snowfall and equipped with a vast army of snow plows and stock piles of salt bags to effectively combat frozen forces of nature, a snow day is an unusual treat awarded only under the most serious circumstances. This storm, dubbed by some newscasters as a "snowicane" because of its 30-45 mph winds, was evidently quite the big deal.

I spent Friday watching the snowfall through my window from my bed, sipping on coffee and planning my next manuscript (certain to be an instant success and the start of a very lucrative writing career, I'm sure.) It was a delicious, lazy, stolen day. As long as the caffeine kept flowing and my internet connection held out, I didn't care how hard or long it snowed.

Until it occurred to me that I had evening plans -- a friend's party in Brooklyn  -- and, as it was Friday night, an event that sadly occurs only once a week, I really didn't want to cancel.  

So, I willed the snow to stop falling. That's the only possible explanation for what happened. Around 6 p.m. I hopped into the shower wishing with all my heart that the snow would just desist and, by the time I was back in my room toweling off, it had. Mind bullets, people. They're a reality. Face it. The proof is in the pudding. 

(Always wanted to say that. What does that even mean? Oh, to be in on the conversation when someone used that phrase in a context where it actually made sense... Not even sure where I first heard it. The English language has such amazing isims, most of which are entirely underutilized... but I digress.)

My plan was to meet my friends at their apartment near Union Square and head from there to the party in BK.

Within a block from my apartment it became apparent that I'd made a tactical error in my choice of shoes: seemingly sensible knee-high black leather riding boots. I thought they would be both warm and stylish. Practical, even.

At the first curb I stepped into a deceptively shallow-looking puddle and could feel my toes swimming in New York City mystery juice. Nast. I should have stuck with my initial inclination towards a pair of flower-patterned rubber galoshes and saved myself the tetanus scare. 

Making a mental note of this for my next post-blizzard outing, I leapt to the first patch of dry land my eyes could spy, nearly colliding with a tourist who I swear materialized out of the very mystery city juice I was trying to eschew. 

I mumbled "sorry," even though I wasn't. I didn't think he heard my half-hearted apology but then, I didn't really care if he hadn't. This was about snowicane survival, not winning a Miss Congeniality contest.

Leaving the somewhat disgruntled tourist behind, I pressed onward toward my goal: the 1 train. Four blocks and an avenue of puddle and snow-pile navigation away. The walk normally took me only a few minutes but under these conditions it seemed to take twenty. 

I told myself I should be grateful that the worst had already befallen. My feet were wet. With that out of the way, there wasn't a whole lot else that could go wrong. Knowing that, I could just accept my squishy socks and focus on getting to my train and enjoying the party. I was also sure I wouldn't be the only guest rocking water-logged footwear. 

Then, halfway to the station and well on my way to accepting my cold, clammy fate, something horrible and entirely unanticipated happened: I stepped on a patch of black ice. And fell. Hard. 

As comedian Jeff Foxworthy would say, "it was pandelerium!" 

I went down, my arms went up and with them the hostess gift I was carrying, a six-pack of Heineken.  The beers were fine, barring a single bottle which flew out of the plastic bag and into the air, soared over my head (thankfully) and shattered upon impact with the wall of Sbarro's Pizza, making it the episode's sole casualty.

I was back on my feet as quickly as I'd come off them, but a woman passing by robbed me the chance of convincing myself that "nobody saw that..." when she grabbed my arm and asked with such concern I'm convinced she's from a land far far away where people take care of one another, possibly the South, and asked "Honey, are you ok?"

"Yes, fine, completely fine, thanks," I said while avoiding eye contact with her and everyone else on the street who'd witnessed my acrobatics. 

I thought about making a joke of it. I'm here all week, folks. But instead chose to continue walking briskly toward the subway, ignoring the episode entirely. Nothing had happened. Don't mind that bruise pooling black with blood on your hip, I told myself. In a few days it will be a lovely shade of green/purple.

I made it to Brooklyn and back without further incident and had a great time at the party playing in over a foot of fresh snow on my friend's rooftop (don't worry, there's a high wall separating the roof from the nothingness and certain death beyond.)

That Friday night was a total blast, but, when I got home safe and sound I definitely breathed a huge sigh of relief and, to be honest, I wasn't entirely sure it had been worth the risk I'd taken with being out in that kind of weather.

The truth is, when I stepped out the door of my apartment building, I didn't think I was taking any risk at all. However, after my near-injury earlier that night, I realized suddenly that snow and ice, while nice to watch forming from one's window and fun to mold into projectiles or castles or men with oddly shaped torsos, are actually potentially very dangerous. 

As a Texan unaccustomed to snow, I'd underestimated this winter storm entirely. Next Friday night snowicane I might have to stay in and sip hot cocoa safely in warm, dry socks.

Then again-- maybe I'll just be sure to don a pair of heavy-traction snow boots and bring the host a bouquet of soft, non-breakable flowers. :)


This week's question of utmost importance on the poll to your right: What's your fave snow day pastime?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Ghost Writer Draws an Interesting Audience-- Oh, and the film was pretty entertaining, too

This Sunday afternoon I had plans with a couple of friends to see the infamous Polanski's new film The Ghost Writer. It's currently out on limited release and only showing at two theaters in New York City, the Lincoln Plaza Cinema and the Regal Union Square.
While a part of me felt that purchasing a ticket for the show was somehow morally off (a portion of my $12, albeit a small portion, will end up in the wallet of a man who was until recently a fugitive from justice and avoiding punishment for a reprehensible crime he fully admits to having committed,) the film did win him this year's award for Best Director at the Berlin Film Festival. And, I have to say, I absolutely loved The Pianist.

I guess what this means is, for better or worse, if you're a cinematic genius people will want to watch your work regardless of the infamy that surrounds it. Or perhaps, because of it.

Whatever their reason, there was no shortage of people interested in seeing the film today at Lincoln Plaza. My friend and I realized this the hard way when we showed up at 3 p.m. for the 3:15 showing only to find it had long sold out. The next one started at 5:50. We quickly purchased tickets, (cash-only, to make matters more sketchy...) and spent our three-hour wait between a Starbucks by Central Park and a sushi restaurant a block from the theater. 

By the time 5:30 rolled around we were satiated to the extreme and wanted nothing more than to sit the next two hours completely immobile, ingesting only the images on the silver screen.

The line to enter the theater rivaled that of your local DMV. Except we were very obviously not in any US Government apparatus. We could have been in an entirely different country, judging by the widely varied nationalities of my fellow line-mates. People chattered about the film excitedly in several different languages. Some languages were less favorable than others. For example, one couple in front of us insisted on speaking entirely in French Kiss all the way to their seats (directly in front of ours). From that highly visible vantage point they continued the conversation in earnest.

Scoring space at all was a struggle, and keeping it proved to be as difficult. My friends got up to use the restroom before the movie started, leaving me to defend our seats armed only with their purses and overcoats to place in their chairs. The theater's universal "reserved" sign... or so I thought.

Less than ten seconds had passed since my friends abandoned ship before a couple asked, "Are those seats free?"

"No, no they're not." What did these people think? That I was using the seat as a coat rack? 

Evidently so. The guy in the couple got all offended, as if he hadn't seen my answer coming, and said under his breath (but loud enough for me and probably our French Kiss speaking friends to hear) "You can't reserve seats..."  

Give me a break, I wanted to tell him. They aren't even great seats. You want great reserved seats you should talk to the little old lady sitting down the isle. She's got four empty seats covered in various clothing items. The place looks like a Fraternity house floor after a game of strip poker. She's the one you should have issues with.

But I didn't say those things. Instead, I pretended I didn't hear him and focused my attention straight ahead. So, basically, at the two faces pressed together less than a foot from my own. And I became engrossed (emphasis on the gross). They had such a unique kissing style. Neither party moved his/her face during the act. It looked like a picture taken of a couple in mid-kiss rather than a couple actually in mid-kiss, if you want to know the truth. It was fascinating. And a little uncomfortable. Just looking at them I could feel the drool.

I was glad when my friends returned and we could whisper-giggle about the experience middle school style until the film began and everyone, even the couple, sat up and paid attention.

I won't go into too much detail about the plot for those of you who plan on seeing it, but here's a general synopsis. It's a thriller about a ghost writer (Ewan McGregor) hired to finish former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Peirce Brosnan)'s memoirs after his previous ghost writer dies under ambiguous circumstances (accident? suicide?)

Upon accepting the lucrative assignment, The Ghost, whose name we never know [Adam simply calls him "Man." Adam's wife Ruth (Olivia Williams) tells him that's what her husband calls people when he can't remember their names] is mugged outside of his apartment. He ignores this omen completely (the job's paying $250,000 for a month's work) and heads to the airport for his expense-paid flight to the U.S. There, while The Ghost enjoys a preflight drink at the airport bar, we learn from the news that Adam's been involved in a high profile political scandal. 

Did this have anything to do with The Ghost's predecessor's death? Or with the mugging? Just who were those faceless guys in black on the sexy moped? 

Enter two very beautiful women: Adam's wife, Ruth, a white-wine chugging political activist and, truth be told, the brains behind Adam's brawn; and Adam's assistant Amelia (Kim Cattrall) who allows herself a single cigarette in times of great distress or great contentment, doesn't wear her wedding ring because "it's too big... it sets off all the metal detectors," and seems just a bit too close to her employer. 

It's safe to say that with this cast we've got quite the party.

In all seriousness though, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. This film will surprise you. It will make you laugh out loud and then sit up straight, immobile in suspense. It's highly entertaining, and nearly as interesting as the audience it draws. 

However, I'd say it falls short in shock-factor by comparison to the background of its director. And, all things considered, that's probably a good thing.

Question of utmost important on the poll to the right of the screen: Think Polanski's arrest at the Zurich Film Festival while attending to accept his A Tribute To... Award for his life's work as a director was in bad taste? Or was it about damn time? Cast your vote on the right.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Mazel Tov Coctail-- An Off-Broadway Sensation

There's this website called where you can join different meetup groups with similar interests-- say, in indie films or off-Broadway shows-- and make plans to get together for different events in the city, often for a group discounted rate and, sometimes, if the stars align perfectly and you stand on one leg and recite the alphabet backwards with a slight lisp, for free

Last Friday through a theater meetup group I was fortunate enough to score the much rumored and highly elusive free ticket to Mazel Tov Coctail. Written and performed by Jamie M. Fox, Mazel Tov Coctail is a one-woman comedy about a celebrity personal assistant who aspires to be a producer but spends her time surreptitiously reheating her boss's daily Starbucks and otherwise catering to the celeb's erratic and unpredictable whims. 

When her brother is arrested for dealing cocaine, she goes home for the court date and is bombarded with questions from her Jewish and weight-watcher dieting mom about everything from the state of her career to her lack of a boyfriend, especially a Jewish one.

The show is by turns hilarious and heart-wrenching. Jamie has more talent in her little finger than most of us have a right to expect in our entire beings. She seamlessly changes characters, sometimes within the same scene, and delivers equally convincing renditions of a personal assistant, a crazed celeb, a meth-addict in "love" (the brother's girlfriend who landed him in jail), an ex-con (in the courtroom during her brother's trial), a passive but totally endearing father and a well-meaning mother driving her daughter to the brink of insanity, and, eventually, over the edge.

I highly recommend the show to anyone in the area. It's playing through the end of February. Order tickets here.

That's basically all that was on my mind this morning. Hope everyone's having a lovely Valentine's Day. Haha, which reminds me, my amazingly thoughtful and wonderful Dad tried to send me flowers yesterday in a FedEx package, which, apparently, someone stole at 1:03 p.m. signing for them with the name E. Savinowich. (I doubt that's the guy's real name. I mean, would you sign your real name if you were stealing flowers?)

Too funny. I just know it was some man in his first or second year of marriage, or maybe his 30th, who completely blanked on a VDay gift, saw mine and thought "Yes, flowers! Perfect."

Because there aren't flowers at the bodega across the street or anything. Jerk.

On that note, I'm excited about an anti-Valentine's Day poetry reading I'm going to tonight called "It's Not You, It's Me: The Poetry of Breakup." Bored to Death's creator and author of Wake Up, Sir! Jonathan Ames is moderating it. Should be a good time. I'll let you know how much of one in my next post!

Quick yet pressing question on the poll to the right. What's your Vday gift of choice? Chocolate or flowers or, better yet, stolen flowers?!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Verizon's LOST Ad Campaign: Why I wag my finger at you, Verizon, and hiss "Tsk, tsk."

Two major television events scheduled this week made me seriously reconsider my "stick it to the man (you know the one)" decision to abstain from purchasing a TV or paying for cable. They were Tuesday's much anticipated LOST premiere, and tomorrow's Superbowl Sunday starring the New Orleans Saints and some other team whose name, myself being from Louisiana, I can't seem to remember. :P

I caught up on LOST Wednesday night on, a full 24-hours after the rest of the universe and probably, let's not kid ourselves here, the entire galaxy had enjoyed the event in HD from the comfort of couches and easy chairs.

It took near-herculean effort, but I somehow managed to avoid my coworkers' discussions about it all day, usually by sticking my fingers in my ears and yelling "Lalalalalalah!" if I heard a snatch of something that sounded LOST-esque. Sure, I got some looks, but by 6 p.m. when I finally got the chance to curl up in my bed with my laptop and home-cooked frozen potstickers, it was well worth it.

I won't get into too much of the episode's particulars here. I'll let the more talented LOST bloggers handle that. Just know that it was both wildly satisfying and confusing to the point of infuriating madness. So, basically, everything we've come to love and expect from the writers of LOST. Only it was the season premiere, so multiply the amazingness by about 100x... 

Ok, starting to gush and that's never pretty, so I'll move on to my real topic of interest: Verizon's poorly copy edited online ad campaign that premiered on ABC's website alongside the show.

I'm going to preface what I'm calling my "mini-rant" by first acknowledging that I am not, by any means, the Queen of all things grammatically correct. Don't you worry. I am well aware that while writing posts for this blog, in my own laziness or ignorance, I have committed many sins against the Gods of Grammar.

But, in the words of Ron White in his sketch about what he's doing to help the environment (eating the cows), "I'm only one man!" or woman, as it were. 

I am not an industry giant with a slew of employees and the opportunity to delegate the varying production tasks such as page design, copy writing, and copy editing to those more specialized in those areas. Additionally (and unfortunately) my blog does not get the kind of views that their ad campaign, appearing multiple times on both parts 1 and 2 of the season premiere on ABC's website, inevitably will.

I might be a bit more conscious of my P's and Q's if I knew they'd be up for the judgment of thousands. Verizon, evidently, is not of the same mind.

I present to you ladies and gentlemen the the jury, Exhibit A:


 And, a close-up of the crime scene:

This poll appears during every single commercial break throughout both parts 1 and 2 of the season premiere, which is why it stuck with me as something I couldn't take lying down. Every time this popped up, my gut reaction was what can only be described as an inward recoil. I just couldn't believe no one at Verizon saw this, and that it still hadn't been fixed by the next commercial break. And today, a full four days later, it remains.

For those of you who aren't apostrophe Nazis, let me fill you in. The copy should read "Will the island's origins be revealed?" or, if you want to get technical about it, because there are really two islands (although most people just refer to them both in the singular, as if they were one) it could read "Will the islands' origins be revealed?"

It cannot, however, under any circumstances,  read the way it does: "Will the islands origins be revealed?"

What does that even mean? I don't understand. While discussing this with a coworker who's a Production Editor with our company, she played the devil's advocate and joked "Well, if 'islands' is an adjective, it could work." At which point I snort-laughed and milk poured out of my nose while I pushed up my horn-rimmed glasses' frames held together by tape and adjusted my pocket protector.

I know that letting this single instance of advertisement oversight bother me so deeply that I went through the effort of writing this mini-rant devoted to it in the hope that someone from Verizon might come across this and make the madness stop, makes me a category 7 nerd.

But, I don't care. Something had to be said. If only for the sake of what's left of my sanity.

On a lighter note-- I've added my own (carefully copy edited) poll to this blog in the spirit of tomorrow's festivities. So, let me know who you think will emerge through the hours of unabashed chips-and-salsa consumption victorious. The Saints or those other guys? :)