Friday, December 31, 2010

Top Ten 2010 #5


Six of the pictures that made my top ten of 2010 I loved the minute I took. I remember knowing they were contenders for a spot on the list as soon as I saw the result, six miracles that perfectly captured what I was feeling and seeing in that exact moment. The other four…well choosing them from the 4,567 images that remained was a bit more of a debate, and only time can tell if I got them correct. What I notice when I scan all the images is my instinct. Every time I reached for my camera I was experiencing a feeling, object, person, place, food or landscape that I loved so much I wanted to put it in my pocket and take it home. Exploring a years worth of pictures does underline the cliché fact that time moves faster as I get older. It also gives me a pictorial view of the moments that mattered.

#5 - Not Quite Midnight

Taken on no particular evening of importance and capturing nothing monumental, except a pleasant walk home, I found this picture beautiful for its ordinariness. New York may not sleep, but it does slow down. Noticing the beauty of the city when it’s slower is why I loved this moment.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Top Ten 2010 #6

Six of the pictures that made my top ten of 2010 I loved the minute I took. I remember knowing they were contenders for a spot on the list as soon as I saw the result, six miracles that perfectly captured what I was feeling and seeing in that exact moment. The other four...well choosing them from the 4,567 images that remained was a bit more of a debate, and only time can tell if I got them correct. What I notice when I scan all the images is my instinct. Every time I reached for my camera I was experiencing a feeling, object, person, place, food or landscape that I loved so much I wanted to put it in my pocket and take it home. Exploring a years worth of pictures does underline the cliche fact that time moves faster as I get older. It also gives me a pictorial view of the moments that mattered.

#6 - Ode du Martha

If I ever had a chance to get into any Martha Stewart publication I thought this photo was it. The color palette, the light, the properly placed chipped paint on the wall, this scene looked so styled it was hard to believe it wasn't. I love random perfection. I don't want to have to make perfection, because I can't, but to stumble on perfection and notice it - that is this moment and this photo.

Top Ten 2010 #7


Six of the pictures that made my top ten of 2010 I loved the minute I took. I remember knowing they were contenders for a spot on the list as soon as I saw the result, six miracles that perfectly captured what I was feeling and seeing in that exact moment. The other four...well choosing them from the 4,567 images that remained was a bit more of a debate, and only time can tell if I got them correct. What I notice when I scan all the images is my instinct. Every time I reached for my camera I was experiencing a feeling, object, person, place, food or landscape that I love so much I wanted to put it in my pocket and take it home. Exploring a years worth of pictures does underline the cliche fact that time moves faster as I get older. It also gives me a pictorial view of the moments that mattered.

#7 -
A Museum of The People

One of the best places to take candid pictures of people are museums because no one thinks they are the subject of a photo when there is Pollock on the wall. Wandering around MoMA, one night after work, I concentrated on capturing the process of viewing art, not the art itself, and I thought this image said it all. Yes, the MoMA, MET and all the other mega museums are cultural amusement parks with snack bars, gift shops and commemorative t-shirts. Most the time people are there to check
Starry Night off of a to-do list. This fact upsets many art snobs, but not me. I don't care why you go to any cultural activity, as long as you do. As long as you are curious to see what could be...that's all that matters. I own museum t-shirts, and not every work of art on a museum wall is good, but what matters to the art world, past and present, are the people experiencing it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Top Ten 2010 #8


Six of the pictures that made my top ten of 2010 I loved the minute I took. I remember knowing they were contenders for a spot on the list as soon as I saw the result, six miracles that perfectly captured what I was feeling and seeing in that exact moment. The other four…well choosing them from the 4,567 images that remained was a bit more of a debate, and only time can tell if I got them correct. What I notice when I scan all the images is my instinct. Every time I reached for my camera I was experiencing a feeling, object, person, place, food or landscape that I loved so much I wanted to put it in my pocket and take it home. Exploring a years worth of pictures does underline the cliché fact that time moves faster as I get older. It also gives me a pictorial view of the moments that mattered.

#8 - A View From Queens

This shot made the cut because it’s not about a pretty sunset. I like this picture because of the people it represents. I love the detail of the fire escapes and I wondered who was still in their office in the ESB as the sun was setting. But most of all, this picture reminds me of all the people who see this point of view of Manhattan, the view of an outsider. With its historic grandness far enough away to be separate, but close enough to be attainable. When I see this view I hope that everyone else in the vicinity sees the opportunity that is in front of them and realizes that they have the power to succeed in this crazy town.

Top 10 2010 #9

Six of the pictures that made my top ten of 2010 I loved the minute I took. I remember knowing they were contenders for a spot on the list as soon as I saw the result, six miracles that perfectly captured what I was feeling and seeing in that exact moment. The other four…well choosing them from the 4,567 images that remained was a bit more of a debate, and only time can tell if I got them correct. What I notice when I scan all the images is my instinct. Every time I reached for my camera I was experiencing a feeling, object, person, place, food or landscape that I loved so much I wanted to put it in my pocket and take it home. Exploring a years worth of pictures does underline the cliché fact that time moves faster as I get older. It also gives me a pictorial view of the moments that mattered.

#9 - Welcome to Chelsea

Google just bought a block of my neighborhood. You don’t get cooler then that. So goes the story of Chelsea and its evolution. I never intended to stay in Chelsea (or my little dumpy apartment) when I moved in fifteen years ago. If I had, I may have painted the walls or got personalized stationary. But I have stayed, and I’m not ready to go thanks to buildings like this one. I walked by the construction of this wavy condo every day and watched it grow from an empty parking lot to contemporary status symbol. I love the way the world reflects off of it and I see a bigger story about my neighborhood every time I pass by.

Top 10 2010 #10

Six of the pictures that made my top ten of 2010 I loved the minute I took. I remember knowing they were contenders for a spot on the list as soon as I saw the result, six miracles that perfectly captured what I was feeling and seeing in that exact moment. The other four…well choosing them from the 4,567 images that remained was a bit more of a debate, and only time can tell if I got them correct. What I notice when I scan all the images is my instinct. Every time I reached for my camera I was experiencing a feeling, object, person, place, food or landscape that I loved so much I wanted to put it in my pocket and take it home. Exploring a years worth of pictures does underline the cliché fact that time moves faster as I get older. It also gives me a pictorial view of the moments that mattered.

#10 - Central Park In Fall

Speaking of clichés this photo almost didn’t make the cut. Not because I don’t love it, but because I really debated with myself if I wanted to highlight Central Park in fall – YES IT’S BEAUTIFUL – it felt like a “well, duh” type of picture. But as the image came on and off the list of contenders I kept returning to this moment. I was noticing the first colors arrive from upstate and felt the first warm cloths fresh from the closet. Wondering in Central Park, sipping coffee, after visiting the Whitney to see the Hopper exhibit on a Sunday, it’s all a cliché, but that does not stop it from being perfect. Blue sky, cool breeze, Upper East Side kids playing catch with their nanny’s – my love of this picture reinforced the fact that I am not done with this city and it’s not done with me.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Friend Bobby

Lady Gaga's meat dress at the VMA show Sunday made me hungry. Animal rights didn't cross my mind when I saw her wrapped in beef, but puff pastry did. Beef WELLINGTON!! yes, that's what I want!

When I think of beef wellington I immediately envision Gordon Ramsay (wellington is always on the menu at Hell's Kitchen) and Bobby Van's. I am a regular at Bobby's or BV, as I call it, and while I usually have a glass of Red Red at the bar and devour all the olive loaf sourdough bread they have, on Monday night it was raining, and I was not in a hurry to get anywhere...so I had dinner.

My first pass at the menu tempted me because they had black bean soup - I LOVE their black bean soup and my affinity for it is so well known among the staff that I actually get a call at my office when they have it. They know I will come running and they always save me a bowl, but with Gaga fresh in mind I was not dreaming of soup - I was thinking of meat headdresses.

Initially I was disappointed because wellington was was not on the menu - but like I said, I'm a regular - so I mentioned that I was craving wellington and the top notch staff made it happen. Only the visitors order from the menu :) I'm part of the BV family.

It is hard to review BV, it would be like reviewing a favorite Aunts dinner she made just for me, so if your experience with BV is anything but wonderful its because you have not yet joined the inner circle, but once you are there - look out! Not only will your every meat fantasy be fulfilled and your wine glass never empty but you will get to know a great group of hard working staff that gets to watch finance guys throw their money around and have the amazing ability to seem impressed by people they really are not impressed by.

Bobby's is a steakhouse - you don't eat at a steakhouse by the stock exchange unless you have a desire for a power trippin' ego (hello I'm there). But Bobby's is not exactly current. It's not new money it's old money or the mid level money (which is still rich by my standards) the Gordon Gekko wanna-be or has-been's fill the tables. This is the original Wall Street, not the sequel. But stop by and watch the power lunch at noon or power drinks at five. You can have a man meal of slab bacon and the salad is not healthy. I'll be there with my Red Red watching the dynamic and enjoying the fact that while I am not a finance wiz who attends the Robin Hood Foundation gala, I am treated like one by Bobby.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Yesterday was Broadway on Broadway and as the annual live theatre commercial commences in Times Square a show from last season comes to mind. It comes to mind because I’m still disappointed by it. Come Fly Away should have been my favorite theatre experience; it had all the ingredients that I cherish – dance, great music, a sexy cast and a vintage look. When I bought the ticket I remember anxiously placing it on my mantel positioned to be seen every time I walked in the door. Music by Sinatra, dance by Twyla – this is a woman who made Billy Joel songs make theatrical sense - I could not contain my excitement thinking about how powerful the show was going to be with songs already ripe for the Broadway stage.

Come Fly Away ended up being an example of a great idea on paper that never lived up to the concept. What was it, what has left such a bad taste in my memory? I still feel the disappointment in my theatre/dance fan soul.

The story – was there one? Lets first acknowledge that dance is the hardest medium to communicate story because without words the clarity must come from exposed inner emotion and physical presence and that is…well…on the verge of impossible. It is easy to say; “I love you”, but try and dance “I love you” so clearly that an audience watching can see and feel and essentially hear “I love you”.

Thinking about this show and pondering the disappointment it left me with I’ve come to believe that it went wrong with the very songs I was excited to hear. Twyla leaned too much on the songs to tell the story and not enough on the dance.

Sinatra music is not cryptic. His songs mean what they are saying and say what they mean…much like the man himself. His catalogue is not ripe with metaphor rather it’s as sharp as a pinpoint. And that may have been the problem. Mixing songs that define themselves by their clarity with modern dance that is inherently obtuse is a noble challenge but the dance must be so competitive with the music that it can match all the familiarity a popular song automatically brings otherwise the song will naturally out perform or at the very least out entertain the movement, which happened.

Sinatra gives you meaning on a vocal silver platter where Twyla’s style is to be more of an artistic challenge, giving the audience the control to interpret meaning. Sinatra does not like to be interpreted he likes to be complemented.

Sinatra and Twyla would only have come together after his death. I can’t imagine her artistic nature and lifestyle jiving with his women, fame, drinks and play. They both worked hard, but their process to art is opposite and that difference is evident even though Sinatra was long gone long before this show came to life.

I hope that in the future Twyla or whomever gets the rights to work with the Sinatra catalog can enhance the legend rather then bow in reverence to it. Sinatra liked people who could keep up…keep that in mind when you work with him.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

To enjoy the Paley Center for Media you need to be the type of person who would pass up a perfect blue-skied summer Saturday to watch TV pilots. You need to have memories from childhood where you would turn down trips to the zoo because Hello Dolly was on A&E (they used to play arts and entertainment on that channel). Did you get a subscription to TV Guide for your 12th birthday and think it was a great gift? Did you cry for hours when your Dad canceled the cable? If so, come join me at our temple the house of worship for all things television (ok, now it’s media, but when I started going there it was a television and radio museum).

I am this type of person and for me and my fellow TV junkies this is our club house our home to congregate and discuss the varied television acting career of Bill Smitrovich and the hits and misses of Jim Burrows. We are people who bought Alan Alda’s biography (it was in the bargain bin, so sue me it was good) and are willing to sacrifice an entire weekend watching every single Oscar nominated documentary for a given year. We are the nomads going from channel to channel in search of greatness!

We are a crazy but dedicated bunch, dedicated to the American art form of television. To laugh track or not to laugh track – that is the question.

I retreat to the Paley Center when I want to feel enveloped by history, story or culture. I guess you could say it’s my security blanket – always comfortable and inviting. It is darkened screening rooms, big chairs and a library that you have to experience to believe.

I recommend visiting the Paley Center because most of the time television is bad, but when it’s good it is magical and this center is dedicated to preserving and showcasing that magic.

At the Paley Center there is always something good on TV.

Monday, August 9, 2010

6 Places to Celebrate National Friendship Day

It’s time to call the pal who sees you at your best and understands your worst - your Gayle King, your fellow Rat Pack members, don’t forget your Joey Bishop. No matter if you are Thelma and Louise or Matt and Ben grab your best bud and spend today celebrating the relationships that last through life’s drama and triumph - your friendships. Before Clarence reminded George that “no man is a failure who has friends” the US Congress had already proclaimed the first Sunday in August National Friendship Day so leave the spouse at home, they don’t count. Today is BFF day best celebrated with one of these six (save brunch for Mothers day) ideas that will keep you smiling, and shining, knowing you can always count on them, for sure.

Wave Hill – if you and your friends are the chatty kind who can keep talking all day long then Wave Hill is the perfect mini get away location. For every type of conversation there is a nook. With gardens, art exhibits, a café and lawn chairs positioned under trees with views of the Hudson River this public garden and cultural center in the Bronx is a jewel and has a spot perfect for the friends who like deep, rich, long conversation.
INFO - http://www.wavehill.org/home/

Woodbury Common Outlet Shopping – who better to share a bargain with then your BFF? For the shopping friends who can find each other the perfect shoes and pride themselves on never paying retail join the Japanese tourists and spend the day at outlet Mecca.
INFO http://www.premiumoutlets.com/woodbury

Kittatinny Canoes – nothing says friendship like outdoor survival. Rent a kayak and experience the river or get a canoe and see if friendship can translate into synchronized paddling ability. If you are sporty or just craving some time outdoors, bring the sun block and a change of cloths, you’ve already got the person who will pull you out if you fall overboard.
INFO http://www.kittatinny.com/

Visit a senior citizen home – studies have found that nearly 60% of senior citizens are lonely contributing to illness and premature death. Your lucky to have a friend to spend the day with, celebrate that fortune by sharing your friendship with people who need it.
INFO http://www.nyc.gov/html/dfta/html/home/home.shtml

Comedy Cellar– friends laugh together and if you are already a giggly crew then add a two-drink minimum and laugh even louder with the pros.
INFO http://www.comedycellar.com/

Visit StoryCorps Booth – make a reservation and put down on tape why your friendship is important to you. Forget the greeting card say it in person.
INFO http://storycorps.org/

Thursday, July 29, 2010

BRAVO! No.

You know it's hard to slam something when they do it for you. I was all set to opine on the fact that my arugula salad was filled with spinach or mention that the shortcake in the strawberry shortcake was so hard I thought of a hockey puck. I could have mentioned the dirty fork caked in old cheese or the mediocre wine (well, no I like all wine, even mediocre). I could have told you about all of the minuses I experienced while visiting BRAVO Cucina Italiana, but then I checked their website (a yelper must get her facts straight) and I understood so much.

Their website actually boasts that they have "a chef in every kitchen".

Yep, I'm not kidding it says it on the dinner menu page. That notice gave me such pause that I instantly understood why the food was so bad. If the people/person or conglomerate that owns BRAVO thinks that it is a bonus point to have a chef in every kitchen in a RESTAURANT well then how much could they possibly care about the food or its quality? Guess what BRAVO you need a chef in every kitchen, it's not a bonus and maybe if you didn't think of it as a point of pride rather then an essential ingredient to a RESTAURANT...well then maybe I would get arugula in my arugula salad and a cake that is...oh I don't know...soft like cake. I'm just saying, you may want to change that.

Oh, and that second star you got - thank Eric our dashing young waiter. I liked him so much I didn't complain and that says a lot about his ability.



2 stars out of 4

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Le Cirque Féerique (The Fairy Circus)

Le Cirque Féerique (The Fairy Circus) by Company XIV closes today. If you have not seen it, well...maybe you should not read on because you will want to kick yourself for missing it.

Company XIV is one of the most evocative mixed media dance/theater companies in NYC. Their theatrical flair and storytelling are so captivating the audience of young and old is sucked into their fantastical cave and I for one was not looking for daylight.

This is the second time I ventured to the Bond Street Theatre in Brooklyn just to see this company and it was well worth the weekend subway drama to get there. A re-telling of seven favorite childhood fairy tales The Fairy Circus delivers a rewarding connection to all forms of live theatre.

In ninety minutes I experienced dance, opera, Lady GaGa, creative costumes, wigs, sets and props plus, most important, drama that the Sun King would be proud to have performed for him. When I left I was wowed by the spectacle this small troupe was able to muster but what I came away with was the spirit and heart shared by the entire team that created the show. I felt like I had been a welcomed guest in their opulent world that demands I enjoy glitter and magic while also experiencing style and technique any dance critic would appreciate.

Yes, this company can be cheeky but they care very dearly about all the rules of dance, so much so they can break them and get away with it. They are original, fun, sexy and talented and their work lets every quality beam as bright as the MAC VIVA GLAM red glitter lipstick that glistened from the lips of the Baroque Opera Trio.

Watch out for the name Austin McCormick, the choreographer and director – plus I think he is in the show as well - because I think he and his Company XIV are a force of artistic nature. You will be hearing from them on a bigger scale in the future, but for now you have a 2pm and 5pm show today as a last chance to catch them.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Charles Street Inn

Like Countess Olenska in The Age of Innocence the man I loved married another and I could not show the world my heartbreak. Condolences towards my grief were not to be offered or appropriate to accept. I had to watch and celebrate as the bride and groom danced under a perfect night sky: smiling at their wedding knowing that their happiness could only be achieved through my hurt.

Surviving that night with put-on joy depleted my soul and I needed a place to mend. Someplace special, private and pretty to retreat and refill my will to live passionately – I found it at The Charles Street Inn.

When I stepped into the Edith Wharton room, tired from sadness, the irony of the theme made me gasp but I stood strong in the entrance way and passed the first test that let me know my healing had begun.

The Inn saved me, it was the warm private hug I needed. I spent my time there cuddling with the pillows in the large soft bed as the shadows of fireplace flames entertained me with their dance. I soaked for hours in the warm bath adding soap for bubbles and being soothed at the idea of bath jets muting the sound of my crying. I felt the morning sun from the bay window and watched as the changing light through the day altered the shade of yellow that covered the walls. It was a perfect room, a feminine cocoon in which to heal.

The staff smiled whenever they saw me and if they detected my sadness they left me alone to feel it only occasionally checking in gently while delivering pots of hot tea with scones and jam.

Years have passed since I was at the Inn and in such sadness. Looking back, I smile because I now have the perspective of time that makes such memories refreshingly ridiculous. Healing did take longer then a weekend but I know my time on Charles Street was my first step on the path to my ability to smile today.

I am grateful to the Inn and congratulate it on ten years of service to its guests. The Charles Street Inn is a beautiful place that gave me the room to heal in, and the next time I visit I will experience it through happy eyes.


This essay was the 2nd Place Winner in the Charles Street Inn Celebrating Our Tenth Anniversary Contest.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

I’m Making Deviled Eggs Part 1

I don’t cook. I don’t boil. I sometimes steam, occasionally nuke, and I do chop (I make a great crudité) but what I do is order or visit friends who do cook.

So, when I was invited to Easter dinner and my contribution to the meal was assigned as deviled eggs, also known as eggs mimosa (even if I have never heard them called eggs mimosa I like that name) I new I was either going to succeed, end up ordering them from a restaurant, or hopefully be forgiven as the source of the food poison.

I looked up the basic recipe and as simple as it seemed I immediately saw my first problem - I don’t have a pot to boil these eggs in. No worries, the deli around the corner (and even my gym café for that matter) sell hard boiled eggs to the protein packing patrons of Chelsea. So I will forgo the pot and buy the eggs already hard boiled…or will I? That seems like cheating. No, I will MAKE from beginning to end deviled eggs. It’s not near the accomplishment of making every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking but I’m committed and I would be happy if Amy Adams played me in the movie.

So first step – find a kitchen. I made an emergency call to one of the few people I know who has a kitchen with things like counter space and ovens. The bonus is it’s luxurious enough for more then one person to fit in at a time. I explained my predicament and I bribed her with the promise of an afternoon of cheap wine and all the left over deviled egg ingredients she could eat and with that a bargain was struck and the time set for my arrival – well lets be clear…I also asked if she had any ground dry mustard, I only need a ½ teaspoon. The other ingredients on the list I could possibly…maybe…occasionally see actually using in the future, but not the mustard. Lucky she has some (I told you her kitchen was great).

And with a kitchen and pot secured I headed to the grocery store. I was there less then 30 seconds when I remembered why I don’t go in grocery stores. Is there ever a time of day when its not packed? Or is it simply that the isles are so narrow and the place so stuffed with twelve versions of everything that it feels crowded? No matter, I will rant on the nutritional value of chocolate cheerios another day. In this moment I tell myself to take a breath and ask myself, if I were white vinegar where would I be?

Vinegar – found. Salt and pepper – I can steal my roommates so I don’t need to buy that or maybe I have enough of those little packets that come with take out, I’ll have to check my junk drawer? Paprika, I had a fleeting memory of seeing paprika once in my cupboard, behind rice cakes and numerous boxes of tea. I wonder, how long has it been there? I never bought it. I suspect my previous roommate bout it but that may have been sometime in the 90’s. Either way, I think I have that. Eggs, the recipe called for eggs that are a week or two old, so I proceed to annoy every single person in the refrigerated section by pulling out and looking at the dates of every carton. Ya, the poor stock guy was watching me as I undid what he had probably spent most of the day doing - sorry. I thought the older eggs would be to the front, but nooo I found just one carton buried in the back and it’s only a week old so they will have to do, (note to self: I need two weeks lead time the next time I try this, if there is a next time, or I have to garbage pick when the grocery stores toss the expired stuff, maybe that’s why these eggs are called deviled?).

Then I notice the item next on my list that I suspected may be my downfall – mayonnaise!!!

I hate mayonnaise. What is mayonnaise? If eggs are involved why is it not refrigerated? The smell, yuck. The texture, hello snot! The color, should a food be that white? I do not like mayonnaise and there I was starring at jar after jar of it. Plus, I had no idea how expensive that stuff is. I’m glad I don’t like it, buying it would take away from my wine fund.

I was not going to buy Hellmann’s I wanted to punish Hellmann’s for ruining all those great potato’s over the years. I love pasta, I love potato’s I never understood why drenching either amazing carb in white, sour smelling goo was considered tasty. But this is NYC and there is always a very expensive alternative and I found it: All Natural, Garlic & Herb Lemonaise! Ta-dah! It even says on the front “Instead of Mayonnaise” and that is exactly what I wanted something instead of mayonnaise. So I paid $6.24 for a small jar but I thought the extra cost was worth the mental comfort of knowing I would not be consciously consuming mayonnaise.

Ingredients purchased I am now in prep mode. A trick my deviled egg recipe outlines is for me to rest the eggs on their sides over night, it will allegedly center the yolks which in turn makes the egg whites sturdier to pick up and handle. Really, who took the time to notice that? But alright, I will make a little bed for the eggs in the fridge and tuck them in on their side for a good nights rest – maybe I should have also gotten an baby monitor just incase the eggs wake up in the middle of the night and need a soothing rub to reassure them the monster is not in the crisper drawer. These eggs are already getting more love and attention then I get on dates.

Day Two - time to transport the eggs and ingredients to my borrowed kitchen. Right, how am I going to do that? If I put them back in their carton my yolks wont be center. And I have gone through all this trouble I want centered yolks damn it! I’m no heathen with insecure egg whites. So I need to make an egg carrier.

Remember in Jr. High when you were given an egg baby and you had to make it a carrier to keep it safe, the lesson being if your egg baby broke you clearly were not fit for the responsibility of children. Ya, well I made egg baby beds for my tuned yolks. Snuggled together in take out containers swathed in paper towels I had batches of sleeping egg babies ready for the journey to grandmas.

To be continued…

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I Know I Can’t Spell!

I would like to thank all of you that have corrected my spelling over the years. I am so glad I have humored you with my ignorance. No really, I do hate it when it’s pointed out that I can’t spell. And the message is always delivered in the same tone, the tone you use when telling a friend their zipper was down during their entire presentation or a booger was hanging from your nose on a first date. The message is delivered as if my inability to spell is a gentle secret that I don’t already know, but they want to spare me further embarrassment. It seems like people want me to respond (in a whisper) “oh, really I can’t spell? Well golly, thank you for telling me I will start getting every word correct from now on.” I WISH it was that simple.

I usually want to say something in reply along the line of, “do you think my complete inability to spell words beyond a basic few is a fact that has escaped me over my thirty plus years on the planet?” But I don’t, because everyone is just trying to be helpful, and I know that.

In all seriousness, I’m thankful and simultaneously embarrassed when someone pulls me aside and tries very nicely to tell me that I am using the wrong word. I always know what I mean - even if the page doesn’t always reflect that. I try and use words that I know I can get correct but I get frustrated because my vocabulary is bigger then my ability.

I don’t know where my spelling education went wrong but it was early on. I remember being petrified in third grade at the class spelling bee. The top five finishers got a lollypop from the lollypop tree. I will now admit that once in a fit of frustration knowing my goal was just to survive the first round - let alone allow myself to dream of a top five finish - I took a lollypop after class. The lollypop was rootbeer flavored and that was my first conscious “fuck you” moment. Fuck spelling, I didn’t want to spell their stupid words anyway (insert stomping foot like a small child). Funny, I always knew how to spell fuck – thanks dad – but that word was never in the bee.

My biggest issue is I have no idea when the word is wrong. In my brain it’s correct. I know what it’s supposed to say…my problem is I don’t always know what it says. I admire all you lovers of words out there. You know who you are. The people who enjoy the nuance of silent letters and find it charming to see the Latin root of a word alive in the current English, oh please. Well you all can start a meet up group and enjoy it together because I am going to start my own meet up group. I am going to find others who got screwed by experimental education and we are going to get loaded and blame our mothers for not running our flash cards often enough.

I learned to sound everything out but I somehow missed the lesson about that method being a completely ass backward way of teaching a language as complicated as English. Oh and don’t even get me started on conjunctions and hyphens, I really don’t want to go there (or is it their? – I don’t know they sound the same to me).

Now, I don’t want you to think I don’t want your help. If you see something that is more then a typo please let me know, all I wanted to do is let you all know this is not a dirty little secret. I own it. I know it, and I am grateful every day that spell check exists.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Three Old Friends


I visit the Three Musicians every now and then. Pick a random day and stop into the MoMA and say hello. This painting is a story I have always understood and it impacts me every time I see it. The size, color and characters fell like a party. A deconstructed party, but aren’t all the best parties deconstructed? I first saw it in an art class when I was in 5th grade. I remember the image illuminated from an old slide projector in a classroom with window shades that did not keep out the light. I remember it being faintly on a screen, but I saw it very clearly. We have been together ever sense.

I don’t know why it stuck, I could not point out one other image from that slide presentation, and I certainly never imaged being able to see it in person, but the Three Musicians has always been mine - a work of art that hits me in all the right spots. It makes me feel happy or it lets me be sad. It is calm, but also frenetic. It is serious and whimsical. It is a mess of contradictions but in the end makes perfect sense. When I stand in front of it, as close as Picasso once was, I feel comfort in the idea that art can be everyone’s friend.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

This is Me?

I don’t claim to know what is going to happen to me when I die. The heaven idea sounds really good, but not too realistic. The hell idea sounds really bad and completely realistic. Purgatory, well that just sounds like a version of how most people live. There is the whole – nothing happens but death theory, which does not bother me in the least. And then there is my favorite idea about life after death – reincarnation!

What is not great about that? The idea that we are all just recycled souls getting a new go time after time - that sits very well with me. One lifetime I’m a Japanese farmer during the Ming Dynasty and the next I’m a cowboy settling the old west who’s shot in a bar brawl, no matter where I land in the history of time I get another chance to live again.

I think about this every time I see the painting Bohemas au café from 1885 by Jean-Francois Raffaelli. I distinctly remember the first time I saw it in 2005. I turned a corner at the Monet museum is Paris and there I was. It popped into my brain instantly, “that’s me”. I had never seen the painting, I had never heard of Raffaelli but I was looking at a picture of myself from 1885. It sounds completely hokey, I understand. But I believed in that second reincarnation was possible and I had been a pipe smoking fat man with a cane and top hat outside a café in Paris. Great!

Really, I don’t know. But this is the type of stuff that comes to mind when I am out and about seeing what the world has to offer. Maybe I was just seeing me now, switch the beard and pipe to a glass of red wine and lipstick and you got Kristen circa 2010 New York. No matter, I still like the idea that I come back over and over. I just hope my past and future selves enjoy their life as much as I am enjoying mine.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

IN MY LIBRARY

Reading about people from a new perspective is fun to me. Which is why I rarely miss the Sunday NY Post and the “In My Library” column.

Each week a “name” of some sort (actors, politicians, authors, scientist) choose four books from their library and let us know why they love them. I choose to believe some publicist didn’t make the selections for them however there have been a few I highly suspected. It is one of my NY fantasies to be the feature of this column before the printing of newspapers completely disappears but since I don’t have a life worthy of a publicist to get me featured I’ve decided to feature myself this week.

IN MY LIBRARY - Kristen Kentner

I was not a reader growing up I was a TV watcher. I never had a love of words and was extremely intimidated by any book over one hundred pages or with no pictures. Knowing this is how my life with books began it makes me happy that I now own more books then anything else. When I was nineteen I donated the 476 VHS videotapes that had made up my movie collection and I started to read. I had to. If I was going to make it through college with a bunch of people that had been reading their whole lives I had to make up for a lot of lost time. Since that time I've covered the classics, business books, children’s literature, romance, biography…you name it, I’ve tried it. Along the way, I’ve discovered a love of history that I didn’t know I had and have made friends with characters I only new from their movie persona. I could list hundreds of books that have made an impact on me but lets start with four.

Where the Sidewalk Ends

by Shel Silverstein

One of the books I did read as a child and it has always stayed with me. I don’t know anything about poetry but the characters in this classic are so alive that I never cared what this book was characterized as. The illustrations are witty and wonderful and the poems cover nose picking, pancakes, garbage, deserted homes and most poetically childhood.

This I Remember

By Eleanor Roosevelt

Biography and memoir are two of my absolute favorite genres and choosing one to highlight is not easy, but Eleanor Roosevelt and I connect when I read this book. What puts this story ahead of the others is the complete honesty she shares about how hard she had to work to become the Eleanor Roosevelt history recorded. She may have been born into privilege, but nothing came easy for her and I admire that. This is not a gossip filled biography like the ones popular now. This is a memoir of a journey.

America

By Charles Kuralt

Could you imagine taking a year off to spend one month in twelve different places you love? Well, add that to my lotto dream list because I can and the idea first entered my mind thanks to this book. Travel books are very special to me because I don’t get to go many places, but they can be brought to me. Charles Kuralt is the master of travel writing and even if I never considered going to Ely, Minnesota he makes me want to pack up and hit the road. Charles Kuralt had the ability to find the most special thing any place had to offer and the even better ability to perfectly capture that thing with words.

The Most Beautiful Libraries In The World

Photographs by Guillaume De Laubier

Text by Jacques Bosser

Forward by James H. Billington, The Librarian of Congress

One day I am going to own a coffee table to display all of my amazing coffee table books, and this one will go on top of the pile. This book reminds me that all books used to be so revered that their homes were built with as much care and spectacle as a cathedral. I want to live in every photo and travel to every library featured…a book about how beautiful books are…and I look at it over and over.


Friday, February 19, 2010

John Adams on a Friday Night

I’m thinking of the John Adams portrait by Gilbert Stuart from 1826, not your normal Friday night thought – I understand that. But that portrait is one of the paintings that pops into my mind every so often.

When I think of that picture I think of accomplishment, I think of acceptance, I think of openness. Stuart painted Adams before, and while good, the earlier portrait is not hypnotic like the later one. Stuart’s technique was the same but the person sitting was not. At the end of his life what I see is contentment of choices. I see a person who failed in some ways and succeeded in others. He is a man not afraid of opinion or history’s record of him he is looking straight into the future knowing he did his best.

I first saw the portrait as a reproduction and I loved it then, but when I saw the original it got saturated into my soul. It did what good portraits do - depicts the message within the person as well as the likeness. The John Adams is a perfect example of that in my opinion. He is old, his hand curled around the top of a cane, he’s sitting a bit canted but looking forward. He looks at me and lets me know that he may be close to death but his life is not over. There is precision in his look and experience in his manor and Stuart captured it all, I suspect because Adams let him.

I’ve always wondered what Adams was thinking as he sat there and Stuart painted. Was he remembering his life or thinking of summer? Was he thinking of nothing and maybe just being. That feels right…he’s just being.

Maybe this picture comes to mind when I need some time to be.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Kristen's Top 11 Romantic Comedies*


Nora Ephron has inspired me. She published her top 11 romantic comedies (11? Ok, whatever I’ll take the extra slot). Her list includes His Girl Friday, The Apartment, Charade, It Happened One Night and Splash (I did not see that one coming) all very deserving classics, but would they make my list of great romantic comedies? I’ve been pondering that question in honor of Valentines...love and all the ways movies have made a boy gets girl ending. I offer this refute:

Kristen’s Top 11 Romantic Comedies*

1. Pillow Talk – Rock Hudson, Doris Day, Thelma Ritter, Tony Randell, split screen technology, a party line, great cloths and romantic hijinks that cultivate in a fertility goddess and a display of the most un-sexy pajamas every worn on screen. It is what you get when you have perfect casting up against an airtight comedy script (which won the Oscar, by the way).

2. The Philadelphia Story – The ultimate love triangle - Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart all in one movie! Directed by George Cukor this film brought Hepburn back to Hollywood but more importantly it perfectly captures the high-society mating dance. I’d also like to give a special mention to Ruth Hussey as photographer Liz Imbrie, the girl who waits for her guy to figure out she was in front of him all along.

3. Moonstruck – There are so many great lines in this movie instead of quoting it it’s easier to recite the whole thing. Cher sparkled, Nicholas Cage was not desperate for money, Olympia Dukakis stole every scene she was in and Toronto actually looked like Brooklyn. I have watched this movie over and over and I can watch it again.

4. Bridget Jones’s Diary – I love this movie because Renee Zellweger as Bridget had to gain weight to play a “normal” girl and Hugh Grant is perfectly cast as Hugh Grant (I mean Daniel Cleaver) and lets bottom line this really…it’s because of Colin Firth as Mark Darcy, he’s Mr. Darcy again only in suits. It is a modern day Jane Austen telling, and I never get tired of Jane Austen.

5. Working Girl – That stupid song gets me every time. I admit I hear it in my brain the minute I step onto the Staten Island Ferry and I LOVE it. Which is better - the random coked up Kevin Spacey or the young and thin Alec Baldwin? Joan Cusack as Cyn should have won the Oscar and I haven’t even mentioned the lead actors yet, that’s how great this movie is - every bit part is memorable (Hello Ricki Lake at the wedding!!). When Jack packs Tess’s lunch I sigh and when Tess walks into her own office (with a window) I want to cheer. It has it all.

6. Casablanca – So many people think Casablanca is just a romance, but it is a comedy I assure you. The best lines are between Rick and Captain Renault. They riff off of each other so well you can miss it. I have to agree with Nora on this choice.

7. The Princess Bride – It is a fairy tail, it is an adventure it is a perfect romance with laughs that keep coming even into the culminating kiss being interrupted by Peter Falk and Fred Savage. Where else can you find such romantic enchantment wrapped up in a land of crazy characters and not have it animated?

8. When Harry Met Sally – I get that Nora could not put her own movie on her list, but you know she thought about it. A classic friends to lovers story with an amazing shelf life, you can only tell it’s not current because Meg Ryan’s lips are normal size.

9. What’s Up Doc – The first time I saw this homage to 30’s screwball comedy I laughed until I cried. Barbra Streisand, Ryan O'Neal, and Madeline Kahn (in her first movie) are so funny you forget they are movie stars – well you never forget Streisand is Streisand – but everyone else is believable. It is madcap fun and a romance that succeeds in honoring what came before it.

10. Something’s Gotta Give – The best grown up romance on screen, Diane Keaton is so sophisticated and sexy that you never question young hot Dr. Keanu Reeves going after her and Jack Nicholson finally does what he can’t seem to do in real life – date age appropriate women. It is the ultimate fantasy where every home is perfect, every life is filled with creativity and wealth and two men chase the lady to Paris.

11. Richard Curtis - the man behind Notting Hill, Four Weddings & A Funeral, Love Actually….I could not choose between them so I am honoring the man. His stories of romance and the obstacles on the path to the happy ending never get old. He has a formula that mixes crazy best friends and roommates with movie stars and chic American strangers, but why he’s great is the infused heartbreak in every story. He turns down the saccharin levels with reality and that’s why his stories are believable. For every happy ending there is also someone hurt; remember Fiona telling Charles she loved him; or Emma Thompson getting the CD? Even Notting Hill had the hurt of a failing restaurant. He tells the whole story of love and we can all relate.

*This list is subject to change because I will remember a movie as soon as I hit publish that I won’t be able to believe I forget.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Can Opener that Changed My Life

I’m not a cheap person except when it comes to one thing – household stuff. I don’t have a household I have a room with a small space that a relater would call the kitchen, but I call the hallway. So when the occasional household need presents itself I cringe. First, because I don’t know where I would put it no matter its size or purpose and second because my place is so small I must prioritize what physically comes in. This priority is usually reserved for books, shoes and cloths (in that order). Even my shower routine I’ve outsourced to my spacious gym with complementary Kiel’s products.

My resources go towards the other aspects of my life. My life outside my room and it bugs me when something slips through this pattern. Its like having to buy a wedding gift for someone you barely know; you resent it. Which is where my can opener comes into the picture.

On 911 I started a canned goods collection. I dealt with my fear that day by acknowledging for the first time ever that I had no food in the house and with the masses I headed to the grocery store. No one had a clue what was coming next and…well it was something to do besides panic. I was not alone in dealing with my fear by stocking my cupboard. The guy behind me had nothing but cookies and beer in his basket (looking back I should have introduced myself to him) and the woman in front of me had about 50 cans of cat food and five bags of litter. I had a cart filled with water and canned goods. Beans, soup, and vegetables it was a selection that any bunker supplier would have been proud. Plus my two-dollar can opener. In that moment, facing uncertainty and starvation, I could not be bothered to purchase the five-dollar deluxe can opener. I guess the fact that this device was going to give me access to my only food supply didn’t cross my mind. I imagined my immediate future being that of Greer Garson in Mrs. Miniver and she had a can opener, so I got one, but I was not going to spend five dollars on it.

Thankfully the restaurants and deli’s of Manhattan were not closed for long and Happy Wok never closed at all so my bunker in the making was as necessary as all those Y2K stashes. Over time I did eat all of my emergency provisions. There were moments when I enjoyed some home warmed soup or found the desire to make a three bean salad but what kept driving me crazy was that damn can opener. It worked so badly it would sometimes take me twenty minutes to get my white beans.

Every single time I tried to open a can with it I had the thought to replace it, the thing barely worked and it drove me batty. The problem was there was not enough regularity to my using this cheap tool to remember to get one that worked, so the cycle continued for years. Every six months when I found the need to open a can I would go through the same drama of feeling like getting to my condensed food product was about as easy as breaking out of Shawshank State Prison.

Its been nine years of can food frustration with that stupid opener, but no more. I found myself in Williams-Sonoma yesterday buying a wedding gift and there it was – the Kuhn Rikon can opener, designed in Switzerland, in red. I grabbed it not even caring about the price. I needed a can opener that worked. Yes, the long path of frustration and blaming the can is over. I have a can opener and not just any can opener but an amazing can opener, its European, it works and I have been joyfully opening cans all weekend with a smile on my face. I can get to the beans in enough time where I still want to eat them by the time they are out of the can. I'm going to finally look forward to the annual Shop-Right Can-Can sale. It’s a whole new world.

I paid top dollar for this can opener and I don’t care! I LOVE it, even if I only use it once every six months it’s going to be worth every penny.