Sunday, February 27, 2011

And the Oscar Goes to...

For the first time, our Oscar pool came down to the final category, Best Picture. We were all tied up. One of us chose The King's Speech; the other The Social Network. Envelope please....

And for the first time ever, the winner is Dan!

I have to say, I was a little surprised...and not in that Melissa Leo, "I can't believe I won even though I took out full page ads asking for votes," false-modesty way. When The Social Network won for Best Editing, Yvonne took a two-point lead. And since Best Editing and Best Picture often go together, I had an awful feeling that The Social Network was going to pull off the big upset. But Randy Newman and Tom Hooper got me back in the game, and The King's Speech came through for the clincher.

Now for the thank yous. I have to thank, of all places, Gawker. Their "Guide to Winning Your Oscar Pool", seemed only half-informed (then again, maybe that's just the jaded Gawker style), but it came up totally clutch on Documentary Short and Animated Short (they did screw me on Best Makeup).

I must also thank Kim and Nien, for hosting us and filling us with tasty snacks and sweet parting gifts. And to my wife, the all-time Oscar champion, Yvonne, who is gracious enough to have already purchased my prize: the 1975 album "For the Whole World to See" by the Detroit proto-punk band Death (!!!).

I love the Oscars!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Countdown to the Oscars

As you know, Yvonne and I have our own Oscar pool. And while this should be statistically impossible, Yvonne wins
every year. She's 7-0. I think I almost tied her once, but then stupid Hobbit movie won all the awards that I needed to go to other, better movies. But I digress...

Some years, I do research at the theater. Some years, in the magazines. Most years, I try to parse through previous results on IMDB to look for trends. And usually I declare certain victory.

This year, I haven't really paid any attention or done any homework. So there have been no confident declarations. But maybe that inattention is going to be the key to my victory.

(If you want to help me seal the win, and you know for sure what movie will take home the Oscar for those categories that we all just guess at every year -- sound editing, sound mixing, etc. -- hit a brother up!)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Darren Criss is my new crush

Go here to get the full HD screen effect.

I have always loved a song-and-dance man.

I wish scenes like this happened in my actual life.

My dream: One day, I will learn how to sing and dance and everyone around me will be dressed in pleasantly corresponding costumes and join me.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Greeking Out

Remember that "100 Things" list, the one we started in October of '09, and which was supposed to last us one year? Yeah, well, slow but steady wins the race.

I don't know how many we've got left, but it's still enjoyable to do them together and cross another one off, as we did last night by dining on Greek food in Astoria. I'd never set foot in that nearby part of Queens, and Yvonne hadn't been there since 2003, when she went to check out the apartment of a work acquaintance who thought it might be a desirable place for Yvonne's then-new boyfriend who was moving from LA. So, it was good to acquaint ourselves a little with this part of the city, even on a night where the wind was howling at 60 mph (no joke).

We went out with my work friend Andrew and his wife Sarah to a little spot called Ovelia. Since having a baby 18 months ago, they said they've only gone out together on a Saturday night like four times, so we felt pretty special to get invited. It was a meat-heavy night -- apps of fried meatballs, rotisserie pork and homemade sausage, and then pork chops for Yvonne and lamb chops for me. Super tasty. And then there was dessert. Sarah was talked up as a fiend for sweets; she ordered cappuccino. Thankfully, we could count on our Yvonne, who polished off a deep-fried Snickers bar (it actually looked more like two, and drizzled with chocolate on top and whipped cream on the side, to boot). I had this bowl of "loukoumades" (fried dough balls) topped with Nutella and ice cream. It came served with four spoons -- I guess this was the warning that most people would want to share it. Well, I'm not most people.

Sorry folks no pictures.

(Also, we just saw The King's Speech. I highly recommend. Considerable emotion, and not in the schmaltzy ways you'd expect. And Colin Firth is out-of-this-world good.)

Friday, February 18, 2011

I Swear

For some reason or another, I was very cranky yesterday to the point where I was muttering obscenities to myself (yes, I am talking craaaaaazy cranky....step away!) To get myself to snap out of it, I wandered along the East River with my tripod and camera and my mostly inadequate-for-landscape-photography 50mm lens and my completely inadequate-for every-reason cheap lens that came with my camera (all, which contributed to more swearing). It was an unseasonably warm evening so at least I wasn't f-ing freezing.

59th St Bridge with the Roosevelt Island gondola and the Citi building in view.

Inspired by Woody Allen.

My co-worker Kara suggested the full moon was the cause for my horrible disposition. It's very possible.

When I came home, I made some cookies. I rested my head in Dan's lap and we watched the Larry Sanders Show. I don't know if was the photo expedition, the warm chocolate chips, Gary Shandling or the hair smoothing, but I went to bed feeling mostly better.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tell Me What I Need to Know

I'm feeling a little disconnected from the modern world lately. A little too shrouded in the past. I make no apologies for liking what I like -- some people are meant to be on the cutting edge, and some people are meant to be historians; the history I like to study just happens to be the LA / canyon music scene of '65-'71, i.e. the high point of America's pop-cultural achievements -- it's just that lately the only TV I watch is The Larry Sanders show, circa 1994 (one exception: Archer), and musically, I've turned from the '60s to the '20s as I've been immersing myself in a biography and music theory book on Gershwin, something I've wanted to do for a long time. And so I have this strange sense of living in an alternate reality, or like I'm not really living at all. As though if I continue like this, 50 years on, I'll be grief-stricken, thinking I've wasted it all, and regret not having tasted the fruits of the now.

Yvonne likes to joke that the '80s completely passed me by -- and for that I can say THANK GOD. (It's pretty true: I think I once counted a total of 15 songs from the '80s that I remember actually hearing in the '80s [yeah, Toto!], and I've still never seen Stand by Me, Top Gun, Sixteen Candles, Rambo, Teen Wolf, Uncle Buck, Say Anything, Red Dawn, Young Guns, Footloose, Lucas, The Terminator, Pretty in Pink, Weekend at Bernie's, Coming to America or Revenge of the Nerds). Can I afford to let another decade pass me by?

So, dear Hamsters...what am I missing? What totally of-the-moment comedy-music-TV-Internet sensation should I be drinking in to confirm my status as a fully living, 31-year-old humanoid in the year 2011? Catch me up! Give me your recommendations!

Just don't expect me to like them.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Dan never fails to remind me what a romantic he is. A few days ago, I asked him to name the most romantic spot in New York City. His answer: "I don't think New York is a very romantic city."

Hmm...Woody Allen (and every single other artist out there) must have been wrong.

To my husband and your romantic ways, I love you.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! In the spirit of this day of love, enjoy this touching photography series by Lauren Fleishman on couples who have been married more than 50 years. This is my idea of true romance, and I think even Dan would agree.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Post About Nothing

It's no secret that I love Seinfeld. It was a huge influence on me in high school when I harbored dreams of doing stand-up comedy, and it is -- still -- the greatest sitcom ever. No contest. In addition to bringing the funny, it literally changed the way we talk. The reason it doesn't seem so revolutionary today is that it influenced so many shows that came after it -- they all started to feel a little like Seinfeld. (A separate branch of sitcoms also owe direct lineage to The Larry Sanders Show, which Yvonne and I have been digging into lately via Netflix, but more on that another day.)

It amazes me that I've been watching Seinfeld pretty much continuously for 20 years (!) -- and it's amazing (to some of us, anyway) that I still find it funny no matter how many times I've seen a certain episode. And I've thought a lot lately -- just how many times have I seen some of those classics?

I took a few minutes at the office to try to ballpark it.

There were 180 episodes. At just one showing a night, 5 nights a week, a single channel can show the entire series in 36 weeks, or 9 months. So in 15 years of syndication, a single episode will air on a single channel 20 times.

Figure that you only tune in at the same Bat-time, same Bat-channel for 40% of those broadcasts might expect, then, to see a single episode (e.g. "The Puffy Shirt") eight of those 20 times.

Of course, on my cable, I get an episode on TBS at 7:00, another at 7:30, and one on Fox at 11:30 and another at 12:30 -- and Fox affiliates have been showing an hour of Seinfeld as far back as I can remember -- but, again, let's assume for right now that I'm only watching during one timeslot and for 40% of the airings, or two nights a week.

Now let's talk about TBS. They've been airing Seinfeld since 1998 (!) when they started doing back to back episodes. Figure two episodes a night, five nights a week for 50 weeks a year....multiplied by 12 years.....and you're looking at 6,000 airings. I can safely say there were four years in there where either I didn't have a TV, I worked nights, or I needed a break. So we knock it down to 4,000 airings. And if I only caught 10% of those broadcasts, that's still 400 broadcasts....more than enough to see every single episode two more times.

Realistically, though, the multiple airings typically operate on different loops -- bad late era (e.g. "The Frogger") at 7:00, classic era (e.g. "The Chinese Restaurant") at 7:30 -- and I'm only gonna watch the ones I really like, which eliminates about 60 of the 180 episodes. So, if I sit down for 400 broadcasts of 120 episodes, we're talking about having seen a single one of those 120 (e.g. "The Junior Mint") not two, but three times.

So, using completely arbitrary, yet, I feel, conservative, estimates, we can safely assume that any episode worth watching has been seen ELEVEN TIMES.

And yet my mom thought we watched too much Seinfeld.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Year of the Rabbit

On Sunday, I headed down to Chinatown with my camera to see and photograph the Chinese Lunar New Year Parade. I love Chinatown because it really feels like you have been transported to another country and yet it is smack in the middle of Manhattan. It's not just the Chinese street signs, the smelly fish stands, the faux Rolex/luxury handbag dealers, the zillions of Chinese people milling about--it feels like there is a sense of lawlessness there. Perhaps Chinatown is one of the last places in this city where there are some crazy shenanigans going on, and we don't even know the half of it.

When I got out of the subway at Canal Street, there was absolutely no indication where this parade was taking place.  No signage, no nothing. Again, are we in America? Everything is labeled in America. A web site indicated that the parade was happening on "the main streets of Chinatown." Okaaaay. Finally, I walked in the direction of Little Italy, and that's where I found the crowd. I nestled myself into the third row and then pushed my way to the second row. I almost made it to the front, but a little Asian lady elbowed me in the stomach and got ahead of me. She was four feet tall and her child had an eye patch and so I thought they probably deserved the front row more than I did. I was jealous of all the press cameramen who had access to walk around on the streets, but I don't think I did too bad from the third/second row, given that there were lots of heads (and elbows) in my way the whole time!

After the parade was over,  I was hungry so I found this street cart that was selling fried everything on a stick. (You want something fried, they had it!) It looked completely dirty (I could have sworn I saw breaded raw meat just sitting there in a bucket. Was it chilled? Who knows?) For $1.50, I bought myself a fried chicken leg. The man wrapped it in a little piece of paper, and I stood at the sidewalk and ate it up. Seriously, it was one of the best pieces of fried meat I had ever had. The crust had just the right amount of crunch, and the meat was juicy and tasty. It made me think about all those hip places in NYC right now serving overpriced fried chicken because it's the cool thing to do nowadays, and I smiled at my delicious discovery. Chinatown--it's where it's at.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Mom's Birthday

My mom's birthday was on Groundhog's Day, so this weekend I went to NJ to celebrate. On Friday night, Mom and I baked a raspberry swirl cheesecake together and on Saturday, Annette joined us and we spent pretty much the entire day sitting at the kitchen table and eating. Annette and I were supposed to make a special meal for Mom but she beat us to it. We had quiche (from Annette),  tea sandwiches, fruit, seafood salad, punchki (Polish donuts) (all from Mom) and of course, raspberry cheesecake (from me).

Since it was a special occasion, Mom let me take some pictures of her (after she put her lipstick on, of course).

We laugh at my mom because she often makes a lopsided smile whenever she gets her picture taken, so she tried her hardest to keep a straight face here. I think she looks beautiful and regal, like she belongs on a the back of a coin.

My mom is 64 years old.

Since my sister and I were both in town, my dad stopped by to say hello. He agreed to pose for pictures, too, even though he was sick with a cold.

Dad told me that I seemed more happy now than he's ever seen me. (Perhaps marriage suits me?) He also said he's ready for another grandchild. Hmmm...I told him Dan and I would keep that in mind.

And then there was Annette. What would a family photo shoot be without Annette?

When the parents went away, we played with the drapes. It is pretty challenging to take a portrait straight into the window like this without making the subject very dark, so it took a few tries to figure out the right exposure, but I think I got it! The trick is to underexpose one stop. It washed out the curtains a bit, but I liked the effect.

As for the rest of the family, Ted would rather have a cigarette than get his picture taken. My brother and the rest of the family couldn't make it today, so they will get their photo shoot some other day.

As for Annette, I think she will somehow make her way into every family shoot no matter what. And I absolutely love her for it.

It was a fun day. Happy Birthday Mom!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Night Vision

The other day, when the chicken stock simmered on the stove and Dan napped on the couch, I ducked out of the apartment for a photo shoot. It was around six 'o clock, already dark outside, so I walked over to the East River to take some night shots. This was my first time out with the tripod, which turned out to be a lot of fun since it's nearly impossible to get pictures that look like this by holding the camera. Some guy and his daughter stopped to watch me. "Are you a photographer?" the little girl asked me. Yes, yes I am.