July 29, 2006

Pink Shirt

I'm sad to announce that my pink shirt met its end yesterday against some X-14 mildew spray.

I wore it on our bike ride yesterday, after which I used the X-14 to clean the grout between our bathroom tiles. The spray kicked back on to my pink shirt and navy blue sweatpants, leaving little bleach stains in a random spray pattern.

But not to worry. I'm going to buy another one.

I'll save old pinky for future workouts.

Judy Kaye Plays Mrs. Lovett

Up until this past Thursday, I'd watched 16 performances of Sweeney Todd starring Patti LuPone as Mrs. Lovett. Patti LuPone does a great job. After seeing her in so many performances it was hard to imagine anyone else playing the role and doing as well.

Thursday night, Judy Kaye played Mrs. Lovett in her place.

It's like comparing apples and oranges. They both bring something different to the role.

Judy Kaye brings a consistently good Cockney accent. And a dash of humor lacking in Patti LuPone's tartier and slightly more goth performance. I actually almost prefer Judy Kaye's performance. She sings the lyrics more clearly and she plays it a little more camp which works for this show because it is, as after all is said and done, still a Broadway show. The only thing I don't prefer is Judy Kaye's singing voice which is not to say she's not a good singer. Of course, Judy Kaye is a beautiful singer but Patti LuPone does things with her voice that makes her singing seem more emotional than Judy Kaye. Also, Patti LuPone plays the tuba better.

And of course, I recommend you see the show with Judy Kaye. She gets a lot more laughs than Patti LuPone and reminds the audience that Sweeney Todd is actually a funny show. And it's nice to hear Ms. Kaye singing those brilliant Sondheim lyrics instead of Ms. LuPone occasionally mumbling them. And did I mention she has trouble with the Cockney accent.

But then there's the on-stage chemistry between Patti LuPone and Michael Cerveris. Wow. You'd think these two were really sleeping together with all the passion they share on stage. And it really is enjoyable to watch them. Their chemistry is worth every penny of the full asking price per ticket. Their amazing relationship probably comes from having performed the show together for so long which is not something Ms. Kaye is going to be able to recreate in three short weeks.

If you've never seen Patti LuPone in the role, you would never know the chemistry between Cerveris and Kaye was missing.

Go see it. It's very good.

July 28, 2006

You Can't Over Love Your Underwear

So. I was watching a rerun of Charmed (Episode #67 from Season 4) on TNT this morning and this commercial came up.

It's the Fruit of the Loom Guys singing their hit You Can't Over Love Your Underwear.

Here's the link.

And if you don't feel like linking are the genius lyrics.

Daddy wears his T-shirt in the cool Kentucky rain.
While a boy in pure white briefs looks out the foggy window pane
Even though his hamster died he finds comfort and this I swear.
You can't over love your underwear
'Cause comfort ain't just found in teddy bears
There's no labels hanging anywhere
You can't ever over love, over love your underwear.

And now Jon and I are going bike riding.

See ya' later alligator.

July 27, 2006

Freckles All Over

Sunday, one of the male patrons at Sweeney Todd asked me if I had freckles all over my body.

Here's how the conversation went, as best as I can reconstruct it.

Old Guy:
"Can I have a headset?"

"Yes. I'll just need a driver's license please."

Old Guy:
"I love freckles. Do you have freckles all over your body?"

At this point, I wasn't aware that this was the beginning of a creepy flirtation between a very old man and his younger unsuspecting victim so I answered:
"Just on my face, shoulders, elbows and knees."

Old Guy:
"Do you have a boyfriend?"

"Even better. I have a husband."

Mercifully, at this point another customer showed up and the gentleman went on his merry way.

After the show, the flirtation continued.

Old Guy:
"So you said you have a boyfriend."

"No. I have a husband and here he is."

That was the day Jon came to see the show and he was hanging out with me until everyone turned in their headsets.

The old guy said something complimentary to Jon and then he left.

On one hand I'm flattered because I can still turn a head but on the other hand, this reinforces the problem I was having when I was single that I could only turn a man's head if we was over 70 years of age.

I'm glad Jon was there and not only that. I'm glad he's in my life.

My New Bike

I love my new bike.

When we bought it last week, the weather was pretty bad so I couldn't take it out until this week.

Monday, Tuesday and today, Jon and I rode over to Roosevelt Island.

It's a nice ride because on Roosevelt Island there isn't a lot of car traffic meaning less chance of getting run down by a road-rage driven driver. City biking is much different than riding in the suburbs. Less cars.

Today was brutally hot and humid but I survived.

And now I feel pretty good.

I love my new bike.

July 26, 2006

My Pink Shirt

I have a pink shirt bought several months ago from the GAP. It's my favorite shirt.

I wear it all the time. I wore it last night.

It's a little too tight and the color isn't quite right for my complexion but its' still my favorite.

It's soft and stretchy and looks great under jackets.

I'll probably wear it again today because it was only on for a few hours last night.

People who work with me probably think I'm crazy but I don't care.

Because I love my pink shirt.

July 25, 2006

Sondheim Was There Tonight

The theater was more crowded than usual tonight. The tickets for Sweeney Todd are available through TDF for $29.95.

Orchestra was unusually full. I had to go upstairs and watch from the mezzanine. I was wrong about when Patti LuPone was leaving this week. She's in until Thursday and then she'll be out for three weeks doing Gypsy somewhere or the other. But there was a substitution in tonight that kept the show interesting for me.

Jessica Wright got to stand in for Diana DiMarzio as the Beggar Woman and she was wonderful. DiMarzio is so good I didn't think anybody else could do as well but I was wrong. Wright brings some thing a little different to the role. And Lauren Molina was back in tonight after a week's vacation. Not that Elisa Winter wasn't good in the role of Joanna but Molina is fantastic.

Stephen Sondheim was in the theater tonight. He sat in the back row of the orchestra section somewhere in the middle. I did not see him. Another usher told me he was there. Thought, I did see John Doyle walking around the theater with a note pad. John Doyle is the director of this production.

I wonder if Sondheim and Doyle are going to be hanging around the theater all week.

That would be cool.

July 24, 2006

That's What Makes the Gravy Grander

"What's my secret? Frankly, dear, forgive my candor!
Family secret, all to do with herbs!
Things like being careful with the corriander,
that's what makes the gravy grander!"
- Mrs. Lovett (God, that's Good!)

The above song quote is from Sweeney Todd - the opening number of Act II where Mrs. Lovett celebrates her recent success from selling meat pies made from humans to her unsuspecting customers.

I bought Jon a ticket to see Sweeney Todd on Sunday because that's where I was working and I really wanted him to see the show before it closed. Speaking with ushers I learned that the show is scheduled to stay at the Eugene O'Neill theater until December. From observation I learned that the show may close earlier than that because the show isn't selling out. There are some nights when the theater isn't even half full.

This is a shame really because it's such a good production, you want it to run forever like Chicago (featuring Usher as Billy Flynn) or A Chorus Line (which is coming back to Broadway in September).

Go see it. If you've ever thought about seeing Sweeney Todd or if you are looking for something good to see, this production is the cat's pajamas. You will most certainly be able to buy a ticket for any section of the theater you wish because there's always plenty of room.

This show has really penetrated my psyche. I constanly have tunes from the show running through my head and I've been reading an awful lot about the history (or the alleged history) of the actual (or the allegedly actual) Sweeney Todd.

I've been learning interesting things like the fact that for about 200 years barbers were barber-surgeons and studied corpses so they could perform minor operations, tooth extractions, amputations and bleedings in addition to their shaving and hair trimming responsiblities. It's believed that the first stories of Sweeney originated in Victorian fiction zines called Penny Dreadfuls. The stories are based on a real man who committed gruesome murders in his barber shop and the legend grew more horrible as the years went on feeding on public fears based on the barber-surgeon bailywick.

Regarding the music, I'm excited to have a chance to see Sondheim's work in context. In the past, when I've heard his works performed it's always been on a PBS broadcast of some concert featuring Broadway bigwigs belting out highlights from various shows. The performances are great but there's no continuity.

Watching this production, I feel like I finally understand why Sondheim is considered one of the greats of musical theater. I may have read somewhere that this is his best show but I don't know if that's true or not. I can tell you that the music and lyrics are genius and are a pleasure to see performed - especially by the likes of Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris. Of course everyone in the cast is really, really great.

I can't emphasize enough how much I think you absolutely need to see this show.

I'm fortunate enough to be working on it again next week. This past Sunday was my 16th viewing.

As much as I love the show, I may be getting a little oversaturated. I might actually bring a book with me to the theater next week although I am curious to see how Patti Lupone's replacement does. I overheard some ushers saying that Patti Lupone is taking a short leave to do Gypsy somewhere and that Judith Kay was coming in to subsititute.

I'm excited to see someone else in the role of Mrs. Lovett. And I think that's how Broadway gets you to keep coming back to see shows.

Usher appearing in Chicago is a perfect example of that. As many as I've seen that show, I want to see it now with Usher to see how interprets the role of the sleazy lawyer and opportunist, Billy Flynn. Will he be able to pull it off? Can he sing Broadway? Will he fit in to the show? Will he suck? Will he be great? The producers of Chicago are constantly putting in big names to keep that show alive - most recently Rita Wilson, wife of Tom Hanks. I wasn't too excited about her. I just assumed she's not that great. How can she be as good as Karen Ziemba or Bebe Neuwirth or Ann Reinking or Rachel Hess or Uta Lemper? I don't think it's possible.

It's late and I'm rambling. I've gone on longer than I wanted to about Sweeney or have I?

Has The World Gone Mad?

(Front page of The Independent from July 21, 2006 via Vidiot)

July 20, 2006

Project Runway Season 3

Okay. I know. You can't believe I'm getting involved with another reality show but I just can't help myself. I watched Project Runway's second season and now I'm hooked. The queenie and bitchy personalities, the bizarre and unrealistic challenges, plus the seemingly endless barage of endorsements and celebrity cameos all add up to one successful hour of weekly entertainment.

I wasn't going to write about. I swear. But then I read my blog friend's post on the new season and was inspired to write my own take on the show.

The first episode of the show was absolutely ridiculous which is probably why I didn't write about it. The contestants had to take stuff found in their hotel rooms and turn it into fashions that reflected who they were as designers. When in your life will you ever have to do that to prove yourself on the job? Never. That's like someone telling you to go to the 99 cent store and make a dish that reflect your true waitressing personality. It's unfair.

Last night's episode featured the first of many ridiculous cameos, I'm sure.

The "client" was Tara Conner and their assignment was to design a dress that she will wear at the Miss Universe pageant. (Vera Wang showed up later in the episode to judge the final dresses). They had two days and three hundred dollars to come up with something. Again . . . if these designers were truly bidding on a job like this, they would probalby spend weeks designing and constructing something but in REALITY TV world, they had two days.

Some of the designers came up with very beautiful skteches within the thirty minute deadline. One genius, Andrea, came up with nothing and in her one on one interview with Miss America asked how she felt about Empire waists.

The idea was that the seven designers that impressed Tara the most with their sketches would then pick a partner from the remaining seven designers to assist with the execution of their design. It was painful to watch the designers picking team mates because no one wanted to partner with Angela and with reason I think. She admittedly has no experience with gown design and no one wanted to be saddled with the weight of her inexperience.

She ended up with Vincent.

So the highlight of last night's show ended up being Vincent arguing with this strange designer who doesn't sketch. Vincent is a disaster but what a fun disaster. He's a fine designer I'm sure, but he's really bad at communicating with others. It's hard to understand what he's saying from one moment to the next. He's also surprisingly straight. He talks like a gay guy from New York City but he's married with a kid. So I learned again that I shouldn't judge a book by it's cover or it's affectation for that matter. Angela criticized Vincent while he excluded her from doing any of the work on the dress.

The other designer who stands out for me is Jeffrey Sebelia - not because he's a good designer but because he's got words tattooed on his neck in script. I guess he's a good designer. His stuff looks like he ripped dresses apart and sewed them back together. I don't get it.

Anyway, the best personality they ever had on the show was eliminated last night.

Malan Breton was really cool. He is self-taught and from Long Island City so I was rooting for him. He has an eclectic background and an interesting accent be it real or affected. I liked him and I was sorry to see him go. Especially since he took a risk and designed something to be judged while that crow Angela didn't even draw a sketch.

It didn't seem fair.

I think the person who didn't even try should have been eliminated and that was Angela.

Thursday Already?!?

Is this week going by quickly or is it just me? It must be because I'm working a full part-time schedule this week as opposed to a partial part-time schedule. I was able to secure 8 shifts at Sweeney Todd, much to my happiness. Great show.

Monday, after we got home from the beach we hung out in the coolness of our air conditioned apartment because it was very, very, very hot on Monday.

That night, we went with Jonathan to The Brick Cafe for a nice dinner before moving on to our final destination for the evening. I can't say that the food sucked. I had the fettucine with shiitake mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, garlic and olive oil. Jon had the black linguine with fruits de la mer and Jonathan had chicken paillard with grilled vegetables.
Brick Cafe

Then we picked up our friend Eric and headed out to The Last Exit in Brooklyn for some Monday night trivia.

We missed some key answers like the fact that Artsy Smurf wasn't the name of a real smurf and that Wild Smurf was. We missed that Oedipus solved the riddle of the sphinx and not Odysseus like I insisted. We also missed that the bartender joined S.A.G. that day. Why that was considered a trivia question still baffles me. I found it in infuriating that another one of their questions had to do with the age of the Last Exit bar. The age of the bar in which you are playing trivia is not a legitimate trivia question. Nor is asking about props that were present at the previous game.

For the most part, the Last Exit pub quiz is good fun but I HATE WHEN THEY ASK SELF REFERENTIAL QUESTIONS.

We came in third place.

Anyway. . .here is a picture of Eric and me at the bar.
Last Exit

In other exciting news Jon bought me a new bicycle today. It's a TREK 7000.

July 17, 2006

A Day At The Beach

SeaweedJon and I went to Long Beach this weekend to visit my parents who live near the beach. My mother and I woke up early Sunday morning and around 7:30 we walked over to the bagel store. By the time we got home the temperature had already reached about 80 degrees.

After breakfast my mom joined us for a short visit to the beach. We set up camp and headed into the water which was wet and cold at first. We splashed around a bit then I set up a chair right at the water's edge and spaced out for a while. Jon broke my reverie by taunting me with seaweed.

It was hot. Very hot. Extremely hot.

My mom and I did our best to avoid getting sunburnt by hiding in the shade of the beach umbrella.
Valerie Beach

Just to give you an idea of how crowded the beach was getting, here's a shot of my mom and Jon keeping cool.
Jon and Mom

And here's a shot of the beach in general.
Beach Day

StripesLater in the day we headed out to the north shore of Long Island to visit my brother. Here's Jon in the back seat of my mother's car. There's a weird shadow on his face from the rear window.

Here is my nephew looking cute as ever. He was playing with his water table and running around in the sprinkler while we all just watched him and laughed at his cute antics.
Belly Flop Champion

July 15, 2006

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - Reprise

Lucie Arnaz has taken over the role of Muriel Eubanks formerly played by Joanna Gleason. She is great. She does a better job in the role and that's hard to do. For every performance I watched by Joanna Gleason, I never thought she was hitting her jokes.

As lovely as Ms. Gleason was as the rich and lonely divorcee, as well as she sang and danced and as charming as she was, she was dropping her jokes. You couldn't hear them. She either mumbled them or they got lost in her delivery.

Lucie Arnaz hits every joke and does everything that I thought Joanna Gleason should have been doing.

I enjoyed her very much. And I had NO idea at all that she's SUCH a good singer.

What a GREAT singing voice!!!!

July 13, 2006

A Super Flaw

Another flaw in the movie Superman Returns.

The story line suggests that Lois Lane's son is the product of the romantic union between Lois and Superman that took place in Superman II.

That's proven when their son exhibits super human strength in order to save his mother.

But if Clark Kent turned himself into a regular, power-free human being in order to consummate his relationship with Lois Lane, then he wouldn't have passed on any powers to his progeny.


Baby-Face Finster = Little Man

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed the similarity between the latest Wayan's family movie Little Man and that classic Bugs Bunny cartoon Baby Buggy Bunny?

Little Man is about a diminutive thief who poses as a baby to avoid the law -- much like Baby-Face Finster.

Do the Wayans ever have an original idea?

July 12, 2006

NYC Scenes from a Rainy Day

Bway Matinee Exit
Bad Weather Coming At You

American Girl Place

Yesterday I joined my cousin for an afternoon tea party at the American Girl Place cafe. We were there to celebrate her daughter's ninth birthday. Have you been to American Girl Place? It seems that while I was busy wallowing in the life of 30-something adult, the most amazing doll store in the world sprouted up on the corner of 49th St. and Fifth Avenue.

The concept is similar to Cabbage Patch dolls. Each doll has her own name, hobbies, activities, characteristics, furniture, toys, etc. The store three floors of doll heaven. On the first floor you have your regular dolls - Marisol, Becky, Helen what have you. They ice skate, do rhythmic gymnastics, play flute, go to the beach, etc. and the races of the dolls vary widely enough that everyone can find a doll to represent themselves if need be. Even better, on the first floor you can find clothes to match your daughters' doll(s). So if you like that little teal sparkly top that Becky was wearing in the guitar playing display, you can pick one up for your little girl.

Here is a picture of the main showcase on the first floor. An army of dolls awaits adoption by the happiest 8 and 9 year old girls I've ever seen.
American Girl Place - Dolls

The second floor has period dolls. For example, Felicity. Felicity "lives" in Colonial America. And she has the clothing and the accoutrements to prove it.

Here she is modeling her tea set. Note the clothing, furniture and tea set are all for sale.
American Girl Place - Feclity Teaset

Here is Felicity posing with her canopy bed. Note that her night shiftand sleeping bonnet are for sale in real child sizes just around the corner from this display.
American Girl Place - Felicity Bedroom Set

Here is the Samantha display. She's a plucky girl from Victorian times. In addition to clothing, furniture and accessories, each doll also has a series of books based on her life.
American Girl  Place - Samantha

You can even buy your American Girl Doll her own doll. This display case had little tiny American Girl Dolls for that purpose. And each little tiny doll has her own book too, in case you were wondering.
American Doll Place Dolls

The combination afternoon tea/birthday party was a lot of fun. The wait staff use special chairs to seat the American Girl dolls at the table. All the little girls in the place were dressed in frilly little dressed and displayed the most gentile table manners.

In a cynical world where people losing more and more faith in today's children it was nice to see 8, 9 and 10 year olds getting exciting over the simple pleasure of doll ownership. Granted it's doll ownership on steroids and crystal meth but still. It was nice.

July 11, 2006

Back in the Swing of Things

Now that I'm back in my regular life, I find myself longing for our vacation which ended over a week ago. As Jon pointed out earlier today, we've been home longer than we were in France.

I didn't have any work the week we returned but I did pick up some theater shifts this past week.

I started with a Wednesday matinee of The Color Purple and then worked The Drowsy Chaperone Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights. That's a fun play.

I can't explain the show properly. It's best of you go to the website or read the reviews to get an understanding of what the play is about and how it's structured. Oh well. Maybe I can. Let me give it a try.

The show is narrated by a lonely, seemingly gay man from an arm chair in his sparsely decorated apartment. What he's talking about is a musical called The Drowsy Chaperone. He explains the show to the audience while playing the cast album and a very talented cast acts out the show. It won the Tony for best musical. I thought it was a lot of fun. The costumes are fabulous and the show tunes are catchy. You'll feel good when you leave the theater. And the fact that there is no intermission reflects the philosophy of our narrator (who is also the playwright) that intermissions take you out of the moment.

One of the most fun things was running into Sarah and her mom before the Friday night performance. It's the first time since I've been distributing headsets for last 7 years or so that I've run into someone I know while on the job.
Saturday night
It was great running into them on Friday night because we were scheduled to meet for dinner and a show on Saturday night.

Pig FarmThe show we saw - Pig Farm by Greg Kotis who is most famous for penning Urinetown. I had great hopes for the show because Urinetown is pretty brilliant, making fun of musical theater, regular theater, literature , politics and society at large in general.

While watching the characters struggle through the purposely mundane yet ironic yet alliterate dialogue, I kind of got what the playwright was attempting to do in Pig Farm - emphasis on kind of. He was either making fun of the recent rash of plays about working class Irish life or he was making fun of the straight play genre or he was just taking a piss on the institution of theater all together.

By that I mean, maybe he wrote something bordering on bad just to see what he could away with with Broadway audiences - much like a two year old putting a banana in a VCR to see if his parents will stop him.

If that's the case than I say we need to stop him before he tries something even worse. Not that I didn't have a good time. It was great seeing a show as a patron for a change in an assigned seat near the stage rather than standing in the back of the theater. It was also great going out with Sarah and Michelle and for that I'm very grateful. But honestly, it's not like theater tickets are cheap. If serious money is going to spent on a show, then the show should be worth spending money on. And the childish antics of an over ambitious playwright should not be tolerated.

You could tell Kotis knows how to write though. Technically, the play was well structured. The dialogue was just too much and the humor was spoon fed - the play tried too hard. If Kotis had dialed it back a bit, it could have worked.

July 06, 2006


I told you that my cousin's marriage was held in an old church in Pulligny. I know the correct spelling now and found some information on the web but not in English.

Anyway, there is one story that was told to Jon and me about the town - a legend that an archaeologist has been trying to prove is real. The archaeologist believes that Joan of Arc was not burned at the stake as believed, but instead a young woman was burned in her place. He also believes that Joan of Arc lived the rest of her days in the town of Pulligny and is possibly buried somewhere in this grave yard where my family is pictured below waiting for the bride and groom.
My family

July 05, 2006

A French Wedding

The churchOn the day of my cousin's wedding, the weather was exceptionally warm. That makes me glad that I was wearing a nice light linen outfit bought for the occassion. This is actually my cousin's second wedding to the same woman. About a year and a half ago, they were married in a civil ceremony. The wedding I attended was the religious ceremony.

 The ceremony beginsThey were married in a beautiful old church (and yes I'm still Jewish) in the small village of Puligny (sp?) It's in the edges of the Alsace-Lorraine region, going into Burgundy but it's kind of in the middle of nowhere. Now I think, because of the white stone in the interior, that the church is probably as old as 14th century but I haven't been able to find too much information about it. (It's not the same Puligny as Puligny-Montrachet.)

The soccer teamThe ceremony was moving, of course. Afterwards, my cousin's soccer team dressed up in their uniforms to form an arch for the couple to walk through when leaving the church. The wedding carIf you look really closely at the photo, you can see little grains of rice thrown by the guests - me included. Usually, afterwards everybody would march together in a procession to the celebration hall but the hall they chose was too far away so we drove together in a procession to the celebration hall in the nearby town of Frolois. The bride and groom were taken there in style. My cousin hired an antique Deux-Cheveaux. Jon and I however walked back down the hill to where my parents were waiting in the air conditioned car. We drove to Frolois and we found the hall surrounded on three sides by fields of wheat.

This little boy playing in the wheat was a guest of the party.Wheat

Here, my Uncle Pierre is explaining to Jon a trick he learned from Remy, my youngest cousin. Apparently when wheat is ripe for picking, you can crack the grain in your teeth.

Here I am in a tearful reunion with my goddaughter/cousin Elise. I hadn't seen her or my other cousins in over 8 years. She's really cute. She works with a group that brings circuses to poor countries that have never seen one before. I'm very proud of her. She's very Bohemian. Those are happy tears, by the way.
My god daughter

And here is a series of portraits with various members of my family. Cousins mostly except for the one you already saw of my grandmother and me.
Valerie and Jean FrancoisValerie and Celine
Valerie and DavidValerie and Grandma

The party went on until the wee hours of the morning. . Here are some shots of people having a good time.
My parentsParents of the bride
My cousin with his wifeA very nice woman having some fun.
The groom dances with his auntMy uncle with his life partner Annie

My aunt came home around six. We weren't as hearty and left the party around 2 a.m.

But it didn't end there.

The next morning, we went back to the celebration for a small brunch and after celebration clean up. Everybody pitches in and I had great time drying dishes in the kitchen with the different women in my family. It was a nice bonding experience. We could work together toward one goal without verbal communication. It's times like those I really like.

Anyway, to add to the charm of the affair, the bride's uncle was playing an accordion. Here's a shot of my cousin's aunt and uncle dancing in the hall the morning after.
Serge and Jeanette

Everyone was happy to see us and the wedding was a good opportunity for Jon to meet everyone because of course they were all there.

We had a memorable time.

July 04, 2006

The Old Val Returns with Superman

Yesterday was a big laundry day for me. Since we've been back from France, I've been on a real domestic kick - cooking, cleaning and now doing laundry. It's the influence of my aunts and cousins in France. They are such strong women and reinforce for me the ideas of womanhood I picked up from them as a child. (That's me with my grandmother. She's 80 years old and doesn't have one grey hair on her head - naturally.)

I've been cooking more than ever because we felt so good after 10 days of home cooking. Recreating French meals has kept me from missing my family less because of the connection. It's hard when half your family lives across the ocean. In spite of the distance, my brother and I still know them fairly well and share a level of closeness as if they lived around the corner.

Anyway, it gives me great pride that Jon's shirts are ironed for possibly the first time since our holy union in a temple on Long Island. It took several hours - six to be exact - to get everything washed and ironed. Don't get me wrong, it was hard work but it was also relaxing. You can be rest assured that I ironed my clothes as well. Consider the fact that they were harder to iron than anything because in my last shopping adventure I picked up some items made entirely of linen which wrinkles very badly when washed or when worn or when looked at for that matter.

It also means that I'm connecting more to the person I was in my early 20's. That person used to be a lot less lazy when it came to domestic matters. So, I'm feeling better all around. My life gets better every day and if you've known me my whole life, you know what I mean.
Yesterday's hard work was punctuated with a night out. Jon took us to see Superman Returns the latest in Hollywood's attempts to make superheros accessible to everybody instead of just to those of us that live vicariously through their comic book adventures.

I'm going to attempt to review it. (spoilers follow)

If you can suspend your disbelief for some of the more improbable scenarios created by the writers, this is an excellent film. But if you are analytical and expect something for the asking price of $10.50 like I was the film is merley enjoyable.

After 5 years in outer space presumably to visit the ruins of Crypton, why would Superman need to return to earth in a space ship that resembled the one he arrived in as a baby? He's Superman, damn it, can't he fly? But no. In the beginning of the movie he comes crashing down to earth in a meteor.

Also, if that little boy is indeed Superman's son, believed to be the son of the fiancee that is not Superman, then shouldn't he be a little older? If he is believable as this other guy's kid, Lois would have had to meet and have sex with this guy the moment that Superman disappeared on his five year hiatus. The idea of Lois Lane could sleep with someone immediately after that kind of heart break doesn't jibe.

Of course this would be the heart break that caused her to write her Pulitzer Prize winning article "Why the World Doesn't Need Superman." It wouldn't be the heart break of her learning the truth about his true identity and their sleeping together because Superman erased her memory to spare her the heart break.

And is her kid's asthma psychosomatic? Once he throws the piano across the room in a later scene, his asthma seems to evaporate. If the asthma was a device to throw the audience off of that trail, it didn't work. I knew she had Superman's child the minute that Clark Kent started looking on her desk at the Daily Planet after his return.

Parker Posey is completely wasted in this movie as Lex Luther's moll. It's not her fault. She's a great actress but the character of Kitty Kowalski isn't really that flushed out. She's there as Luthor's conscience occassionally asking him if what he's doing is the right thing to do. As an actress, there wasn't really anything for her to sink her acting teeth into.

Regarding Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor I was disappointed - not in Kevin Spacey. If a director told Mr. Spacey that he was playing a flag in his next movie, you can guarantee that he would probably win an Oscar for it if the part were well written enough. But you can't bake a delicioius cake with sour butter and rotten eggs. You need good ingredients. And in spite of Kevin Spacey's dedication to this part, Lex Luthor was not well written. It's not entirely clear what Lex Luthor intends to do and considering he's a mega genius, his evil plot could have been better executed.

Oh and then there's the notion that Lex Luthor could somehow sail to the Fortress of Solitude and steal Superman's crystals. And that somehow (which I doubt) Jo-rel hadn't designed the place so that only his son could use it. If so, then Jo-rel isn't really much of a god figure. Somehow Luthor finds the fortress and steals all the crystals so he could bring knowlege to man like Prometheus brought fire to people. Except as Kitty points out Lex is not a god. Apparently he thinks that Superman is like the gods keeping the knowledge away from human beings that would improve their lives. So if that's the case wouldn't that kind of make that an honorable intention?

Luthor's not honorable. He's a crook. It makes sense that he would sell the information but he wouldn't give it away like Prometheus so why make the Prometheus comparison at all? This right here is why I sometimes have trouble enjoying films. This is another example of where you really have to suspend your disbelief and forget everything you know about mythology relating to both ancient times and to Superman.

Also, Superman is a kind of soft in this movie. Not physically, I mean the guy is gorgeous as you would have to be, but they made him really human this time around. There are a lot of shots of him gazing at Lois with love and regret. I blame the Spiderman movies. It worked in Spiderman because they did that right from the beginning with the first movie. They made Spiderman someone easy to connect to like you and me. And now they are trying to do it with Superman except in this instance they are making him like Jesus Christ, here to save and protect mankind - the human incarnation of a God we can't see or touch until he comes to earth as a man. They really do lay the Christ imagery on pretty thickly.

The other thing I didn't like is that Lois Lane seems to have reverted in age. The powers that be should have cast an older actress. As I was watching I couldn't help thinking that was a mistake. Kidder was 30 when she played Lane in the other movies and the character is supposed to be 5 years older. Kate Bosworth on the other hand is 23 and looks like she's 17.
It's not believable that the little boy is hers. If you've only seen Superman Returns and don't know anything at all about Superman you would have to concede that Lois Lane was a hard-boiled reporter with her own by-line by the tender age of 18.

Go ahead. Suspend your disbelief. I dare you.

There are other examples of inconsistencies both great and small but in spite of all these problems, the movie is fun to watch. You just have to shut off your brain for two and a half hours which do go by quickly in case you were wondering. I didn't find out the movie was that long until I started reaing other people's reviews.

July 02, 2006

At the Louvre

Louvre Jon & ValThursday, Jon and I went to Paris by train to visit the Louvre. We had a lovely day. That's us in front of the Louvre. You can see the gathering masses and the gates in front of the museum but unfortunately you can't realy see that we're in front of the Louvre.

We didn't see too much of the Louvre so we wouldn't be overwhelmed. We focused mostly on the 17th & 18th century Italian painters. It's in that section that you can see the Mona Lisa. Things have changed since I'd been there 18 years previously. The first time I saw the Mona Lisa I remember people taking pictures. This time around, no one was allowed to take pictures of the Mona Lisa or of any other painting for that matter.

The museum's collection is remarkable. You wouldn't believe the paintings they have. I love Renaissance art because often the subject is religion and there were many religious paintings to be found in this section. I don't understand my attraction to these tableaus which generally depict stories from the new testament.

We also visited the gallery which featured giant paintings by French painters. You just can't go wrong.

We were able to take pictures in the various sculpture galleries. Here are some of my favorites from the Greek and Roman collections.
Louvre Statue 6

This sculpture really made an impression on me. It's a man butchering an animal and it shows incredible detail as he reaches in and disembowels the beast. I can't get over how specific the artist was in explaining a butcher's vocation.
LouvreLouvre detail