June 2011


They’ve made it over the .500 mark for the first time since they took 2 of 3 against the Marlins to open the season.  Last night, they humiliated the Tigers at Comerica by the tune of 14-3.  They hadn’t had a Grand Slam since August of 2009, but last night they had 2, one each from Jason Bay and Carlos Beltran.  It was only the second time in their history that they’d hit 2 Slams in one game and, in the first one (against the Cubs back in [I think] 2006) also featured Carlos Beltran.  Jose Reyes went 4-for-4 with a walk…and he didn’t even play all 9 innings.  It was a big night for Reyes in another way too: it was his 1,000th game.  In those 1,000 games, he now has 97 triples and 359 stolen bases, and the only other player to have that many triples and stolen bases in his first 1,000 games was Ty Cobb (who was, coincidentally, a Tiger).  Pretty impressive!

Jon Niese is facing some medical issues.  It looks as if he may have tachycardia, which is a fancy way of saying “rapid heartbeat.”  I also happen to have this condition, and I take medication for it twice a day, every day.  It does not stop me from working out or anything like that.  Just the opposite — the medication makes it easier for me to work out and to get the benefits of doing so.

As for the St Lucie Mets, they lost to Bradenton by the score of 8-1. I was at McKechnie Field and saw it live.  I was NOT amused.  St Lucie made the playoffs by winning the first half of the season, but they are not starting off the second half very well.  Bradenton and Palm Beach are 5-1, but St Lucie is 3-2.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the currently rehabbing David Wright will be in town this weekend.  A girl can dream, right?

First, a little background.

Manasota has a single art house, Burns Court Cinemas, which is owned and operated by the Sarasota Film Society.  It is located in downtown Sarasota.  SFS also owns and operates Lakewood Ranch Cinemas, which is located in the (as yet unincorporated) Lakewood Ranch area of Manatee County.  Burns Court is my source for indie and art films, even though they arrive somewhat later than they do in other cities (including Palm Beach and Miami).  Recently they started to offer films that are more Burns Court types of movies than Lakewood Ranch types of movies; the program is called Burns Court at the Ranch.  These films are shown every Saturday and Sunday at 11.  I love this idea, because I live closer to Lakewood Ranch than to Burns Court and the parking more plentiful and the amenities are much nicer.  Anyway, this week’s selection is L’Amour Fou, a documentary about Yves Saint Laurent and his partner in both life and business, Pierre Bergé. (here is an interesting piece about Saint Laurent and Bergé from the NY Times.)

The film was excellent.  It was narrated entirely by Bergé, and showed film clips and stills from their life together.  We also saw workers packing up Saint Laurent and Bergé’s possessions for an auction by Christie’s at the Grand Palais in Paris.  The auction’s proceeds were used to help create a foundation for AIDS research. Bergé is proudly unsentimental about the auction, and says point-blank that it’s a good thing he survived Yves because Yves would never have been able to part with the items.  Haute couture is not my thing, but Saint Laurent practically invented the concept of prêt-à-porter, and some of those clothes are simply gorgeous.

So, why the hate?  Because at least 5 people walked in to the tiny little room after the film had started and talked in their normal voices about where they could sit, and at least twice that number continued the conversations they’d been having before the movie even started.  Maybe they don’t understand French and are content to read the subtitles while jabbering, but I would bet that even people who don’t understand French wanted to read the subtitles in peace.

Does anyone else want to petition theaters for a “no-talking section?” This behavior is rude, selfish and annoying, and there’s really no excuse for it.  I cannot remember the last movie I went to when people weren’t having conversations while the movie was playing.  If you want to talk at a movie, wait until it’s on DVD or HBO and watch it in your own living room.

So far, I’ve watched the movies for years 1, 2 and 3 and thoroughly enjoyed them.  Watching Philosopher’s Stone for the first time in ages was particularly entertaining because the kids were all so young and adorable.  Fred and George’s voices hadn’t yet changed, and Percy wasn’t quite as much of a prat as he is later in the story. It seems like so long ago.

Whenever I would come home from seeing the movies on the big screen, all I did was complain at how much was missing from the books. But watching them one right after the other, with a month or so break from having finished the last book, has served to remind me just how wonderful the films really are.  No, they are not exact re-tellings of the book, and yes, I still absolutely disagree with some of what was cut out, but overall, the  movies are just wonderful.  Even though you know the stories, you are still on the edge of your seat waiting to see what happens.

The movie opens on July 15, which is 3 weeks from this Friday, and I’ll see it on July 16 at a 9:45 a.m. show.  I can hardly wait.

No, I didn’t forget that yesterday was Father’s Day; I just forgot to wish a Happy Father’s Day to fathers other than my own, and for that, I apologize.  Fathers are good things to have, and I am very grateful that I still have mine.

 

I know I haven’t posted in a while, but I’m not so much of an exhibitionist that I feel compelled to inform the world of my every move (which is a reason why I’m not on Facebook or Myspace or Twitter, or any of the other sites that encourage such exhibitionism), so if I’m quiet it’s because I don’t have anything to say that would amaze the whole room.   But today, I definitely do have something to say.

As you know, I’ve been reading Jane Eyre, but I put it aside for a bit because Julia Quinn’s latest novel, Just Like Heaven, came out on May 31 and, of course, I had to read it.  Yes, I admit it.  I read romance novels.  I particularly love Julia Quinn, Lisa Kleypas, Laura Lee Guhrke and Loretta Chase.  I have quite a few friends and acquaintances who, like me, read “good” books most of the time, but we’re also suckers for a good romance.

I grew up reading Georgette Heyer, who was well-known for her meticulous research.  If she said that something happened, you can be sure that it did happen.  I also read a lot of Anya Seton’s novels, and she, too, did a lot of research.  If she did make a change to a real person or a real event, she let you know that she’d made the change and also why said change was made.  Unfortunately, however, far too many of our modern romance novelists don’t appear to have done much, if any, research.  I don’t mind some anachronisms, but I do mind blatant ones. I start to twitch when a character is supposedly speaking a foreign language and it’s incorrect.  It’s the same when the characters use words that didn’t exist in the period in which the story takes place or when noble titles are messed up.  In the days before the Internet, an author would have to visit the library and likely ask the librarian for assistance with the research.  But now it’s so much easier; for example, I can find information about titles in mere seconds.  It’s not hard. Honest! Anyway, I forgive some errors if the story is good, but if the story’s not good?  Well then, fuhgeddaboutit.

In Julia Quinn’s first novel, Splendid, she referred to the Earl and Countess of Worth (Belle’s parents) as Lord Henry and Lady Caroline. Nope.  They should be Lord and Lady Worth.  I asked her about it at her message board (it’s been shut down now, so don’t bother looking) and she told me that she’d made the appropriate changes for the later editions.  I was duly pleased that she’d taken the time to make sure that things were correct, but I still want to know how her editor allowed these mistakes to be put in print in the first place.  In Lisa Kleypas’ Louisiana novels, some of the French used by the characters is a little off.  But, as I said, for the most part I can live with some inaccuracies — especially if the story is good.  She used an incorrect honorific in her book Lady Sophia’s Lover (a viscount’s daughter is a mere Miss, not a Lady) but, once again, I lived with it because I adored the book.

But the book that cured my writer’s block for the time being and inspired this post is A Lady Never Tells, by Candace Camp. I’ve only ever read one other book by Ms. Camp, and that was A Very Special Favor, which was published under a pseudonym, Kristin James.  It’s a sweet little book about a lonely legal secretary who falls in love with her boss.  I adore this book and have read it to death, so I picked up A Lady Never Tells when I was at Books-a-Million because I remembered that Candace Camp was Kristin James’s real name and the story sounded like fun.  I figured anyone who’d written A Very Special Favor couldn’t possibly write something I wouldn’t like.

Boy, was I wrong.

All About Romance gives the book a “C.”  They are usually tougher graders than I am, but this time I agree completely.  The first thing I noticed is that Camp’s grasp of honorifics is very, very tenuous and it got annoying rather quickly.  To wit: the late Earl of Stewkesbury is occasionally referred to as Lord Reginald. WRONG.  The current earl is referred to as Lord Oliver.  WRONG.  The daughter of a country vicar who married a duke’s brother is referred to as Lady Sabrina.  WRONG.   The only one she got right is Lady Vivian, who is the daughter of a duke.  I had to flip back and forth constantly to figure out who she was talking about.

The plot itself had potential, but it wasn’t well executed.  The main character, Mary, is an American who, with her 3 younger sisters, flees an evil stepfather and goes to London to find her mother’s noble relatives.  Her mother married a poor younger son for love and was disowned by her father, the late Earl of Stewkesbury.  So yes, I think it had potential.  She meets Sir Royce Winslow and (of course) sparks fly. He asks her to marry him after they’ve slept together, and she says no.  She says no repeatedly.  And vociferously. Personally, I didn’t find Mary to be all that lovable — she’s very controlling and very, VERY annoying.  I could never figure out what Sir Royce saw in her.  Other characters were far more interesting, but I don’t know if I can get the bad taste from this one out of my mouth and read the other 2 books in the series. We’ll see.

I hate making such a snap judgment (well, maybe I don’t hate it, but…), but I really can’t help thinking that Ms. Camp should stick with modern books and leave historicals alone. Final grade: C-

I got back from my 7-day vacation late on Thursday night.  Outside of the fact that Delta Airlines seemed to be trying very hard to make my trip as difficult as possible, I did manage to get to and from my vacation in one piece, and (hoorah!) with all my luggage intact (they forced me to check my luggage but didn’t charge me for the “privilege”).  KC earned herself a whole lot of new friend points for picking me up at SRQ at 11 p.m. when my original arrival time was 9 p.m.

The first leg of the trip was to my 30th college reunion.  I attended a small liberal arts college in the Northeastern US — small enough that I knew everyone in my graduating class by face if not by name — and every 5th year we convene on campus to catch up, eat junk food and make merry.  We’re old enough now that alcohol alone doesn’t guarantee a good time, and that’s a Good Thing.  Some of us are married with young children, others are married and are empty-nesters (or will be soon), and others of us have never married and/or had kids.  But we still find enough to talk about every 5 years that we all leave each reunion looking forward to the next one.  One of my classmates is the proprietress of “A Book a Week.”  Check it out.  It’s really good.  It’s being added to the “Links I Like” section of this blog.

After reunion, my classmate K and I went to her house in New Jersey and hung out for the evening.  We went to see “Bridesmaids” in Princeton and laughed until we ached.  It’s a gross, vulgar movie, but it’s also hilarious.

Then, on Monday morning, I boarded a New Jersey Transit train for Manhattan.  I got off the escalator at 32nd Street and 7th Avenue and almost cried. I knew I was home.  Why I would choose one of the least attractive spots in all of Manhattan to think that is beyond me, but that’s what I did.  I savored every minute I was there.  My “New Yorker-ness” came back to me.  I navigated the sidewalk traffic without bumping into anyone. Nobody tried to get me to ride the double-decker tour buses.  Nobody tried to get me to take a carriage ride in Central Park.  Nobody tried to hand me flyers.  I was back, and it felt good.

And, of course, I did my share of “souvenir eating.”  Before meeting up with my dear friend AAEdible, I went to Kossar’s to investigate their bagels and bialys.  Mom is craving bialys and, since I’d heard that Kossar’s ships around the country, I had to go see if they were worth it. They were.  So, when Mom gets back from her summer vacation, we will be ordering some bagels and bialys to be sent here to Florida. Once AAE and I found each other, we visited John’s of Bleecker Street for their amazing pizza, and then headed off to Economy Candy for dessert. We had tickets to the Mets/Pirates game that night and, after a “for-old-time’s-sake” beer at the Pine, we walked across the street to Citifield. I’d only seen it while it was under construction, and it’s just gorgeous.  I’m not amused by all of the tributes to Jackie Robinson and the Dodgers (after all, Robinson never played for the Mets, and the Dodgers are in LA now), but it really is a nice place to watch a game. I bought a couple of souvenirs and we headed up to our seats.  It’s a good thing we were full from the pizza and beer because our seats were in the last row of the upper deck and trekking up and down multiple times was just not an option.  The Mets won thanks to a barrage of hits by players I’d never heard of before this season, and I almost lost it when we got to the subway platform and the time came to say good-bye.  It was the not the first time I got weepy during this trip, nor was it the last.

Tuesday morning involved a return trip to New Jersey to visit Where Victoria’s Angels Stitch.  I bought 2 Teenie Kits: J is for Jack-O-Lantern, and another one with the initial for my last name.  Tuesday afternoon was the Met’s “Savage Beauty” exhibit, which is all about Alexander McQueen.  The clothes were weird, but also fascinating. Some of the videos at the link above are also part of the exhibit, so you’ll get to share some of what we saw at the museum. Granted, nobody actually wears haute couture, but it’s still interesting to look at.  While it’s hard at first to wrap one’s head around the concept that the mind that dreamed up these clothes inspired the mind that designed Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, I now have an easier time doing that (as an aside, I bought these for myself at the Met gift shop — the picture does not do them justice; they are much nicer in person). After the Met, I visited Glaser’s Bake Shop, an Upper East Side institution since 1902. I’m particularly fond of their black-and-white cookies, their chocolate eclairs and their apple/cranberry pies, but pretty much everything they make is wonderful and worth the trip to 87th and First.  Being on the Upper East Side necessitated a visit to Annie and Company, the needlepoint/cross stitch/knitting shop in Carnegie Hill where I used to spend hours stitching and/or knitting with my fellow customers.  There, I bought this for myself, and another pattern that I can’t show you because it’s going to be a gift and I don’t want the intended recipient to see it.  Dinner that night was with BookishNYC who has, alas, retired from blogging about books, but who has not stopped reading them or wanting to discuss them.  So that’s what we did.  We compared notes as to what books we’ve been reading.  Between the 2 of us, the list was rather long.  She gave me some great ideas, and I hope I gave her some in return.

Wednesday was lunch with former work colleagues, followed by the only touristy thing I did all week — I bought a last-row ticket to see Harry Potter, er, Daniel Radcliffe as J. Pierrepont Finch and John Larroquette as J.B. Biggley in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”  I loved it.  So did the large numbers of adolescent girls who were in the audience squeeing whenever Daniel did something.  Here is a video with some of the musical numbers.  The play was so much fun that I decided to watch the movie with Robert Morse and Michele Lee thanks to Netflix’ streaming video.  I’ve seen it before, but it’s been ages, so it was fun to compare the play with the movie.

Dinner on Wednesday night was with Karen 2L; I’d been dying for good Indian food, so she found Taj Tribeca.  It was excellent, and reminded me once again why I love Indian food.  I walked back to the hotel (mid 30s off Park) and stopped off to buy chopsticks.  I have never seen them for sale here, so I decided to take the bull by the horns and bring some home with me.  2 packages each containing 10 pairs for $8.  Not too shabby.

Thursday morning was difficult.  I woke up in time to go to Daniel’s Bagels for breakfast, went back to the hotel, packed, read the paper and had a good cry.  My former boss took me to lunch at the Capital Grille on 42nd Street, and then he escorted me to the bus stop so I could get to the airport.  I spent the entire trip to the airport fighting back tears.  Once I got to the airport, I was angry at Delta rather than sad about leaving, so I guess that’s a step in the right direction.

No, the trip wasn’t all about food. But if I can eat foods I can’t get down here while spending time with people I care about deeply then why not do it?  One thing the trip made me realize is that I really am a city girl. I’ve thought that many times since I’ve lived here in the Land of Suburban Sprawl, but it really hit home. I don’t hate it here — I like my job and I love my friends — but despite all the things to like about this place, I still do get homesick for New York.  It’s in my blood.  It’s in my soul.  It’s a part of me. I felt more alive than I have in a while. What this trip did was to guarantee that I’ll be back as soon as I’m able. Being back at work today was tough but, despite the fact that it felt like Monday, it was really Friday, so I have 2 full days to recuperate.

I hope some of you get to try out the places I recommended.  I won’t guarantee that everyone will love them (because, after all, to each his own), but I’m betting that some of you will.