Monday, December 31, 2007

"If I was a flower growing wild and free, all I'd want is you to be my sweet honey bee. And if I was a tree growing tall and green, all I'd want is you to shade me and be my leaves." ~barry louis polisar

That song opens Juno, my favorite movie of the year (I've seen it in theaters three times already and it gets better each time). I love the music. Kimya Dawson does most of it.

So I made my list of the best movies of 2007 and the best albums of 2007, but I haven't posted a list of the best theatre shows of 2007. So here it is! Because 2007 was my first year as a Manhattan resident, and because my best friend works in the theatre industry and got lots of comp tickets, I was able to see more shows than ever before. Which was awesome. This list is made up of Broadway and Off-Broadway plays and musicals. 2007 was a crazy insane amazing year for new plays. I'm usually more of a musical person, but this year I was able to appreciate straight plays more than I ever have before. In fact, only one single musical made my list of the top 10. The plays were that good. Here's my list:

Best Theatre Shows of 2007:

1. August: Osage County
This is the front-runner for the Pulitzer Prize this year, as well as the Tony for best play. It is absolutely brilliant. If you are anywhere near New York, go see it now. It is a 3.5-hour marathon play that will knock your socks off. I cannot say enough positive things about it.
2. Rock 'N' Roll
A sweeping, epic, dense, intelligent play about the power of music.
3. Mauritius
Alison Pill and Bobby Canaavale give solid performances in this tense, exciting thriller about stamp collecting.
4. The Seafarer
Great writing (but of course you'd expect that from Conor McPherson), great ensemble acting, great production in general.
5. Pygmalion
I heart Claire Danes.
6. Speech and Debate
I'm so glad this Off-Broadway play is doing so well. It sold out its run and then extended, and it totally deserves all the success it's getting. A touching and hilarious look at three high school outcasts finding themselves through their unlikely friendship.
7. Is He Dead?
Norbert Leo Butz made Mark Twain's witty farce come alive.
8. 110 in the Shade
The only musical on my list! I am so thrilled that I was able to see Audra McDonald, a Broadway legend in the making, live on stage.
9. Cyrano De Bergerac
Kevin Kline was fabulous as Cyrano, and Jennifer Garner also shone in this production.
10. The Homecoming
I'm still trying to figure out Pinter's absurdist play. Ian McShane and Eve Best got it onto this list, though, because I loved them in it.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

"Words are falling from your lips like Christmas, to my hips, so dangerous, the strangest feeling of being." ~leona naess

I discovered Leona Naess a long time ago through Counting Crows. Adam Duritz often raves about her. She sings background vocals on "Black and Blue." She has a beautiful voice. I really like her solo music.

Some Christmas photos:

My adventure into the Gulf of Mexico:




The fam:

Josie, in her Christmas antlers and with her new toy, Sandy (who also has antlers):

Josie and Sandy napping:

Friday, December 28, 2007

"It's almost everything I need." ~counting crows

There is a conversation I had with one of my college roommates, who is admittedly clueless about popular music (although she is a music expert in general), that I think of every time I listen to a few certain songs. One of those songs is a particular version of Counting Crows' "Sullivan Street." My roommate said that she doesn't like songs with electric guitars. Which I cannot fathom. Because the electric guitar that opens this version of "Sullivan Street" kills me. It makes me want to cry every time I hear it; it is so beautiful. Sometimes when I listen to it I'll keep playing the intro over and over before I listen to the whole song. The electric guitar creeps in and out of the song, but it's most prominent at the beginning (in the first minute and a half). I absolutely love it. Anyway, I'm continuing with my experimenting. Hopefully you'll be able to hear the song ("Sullivan Street"). And not some random song that started playing the first time I tested this post.

ETA: Crap. It's not working. I'll try to play around with it later.

I'm home from Texas. We were on Padre Island, just off the coast of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico. I went swimming in the ocean twice. The water was pretty cold, and I was the only one brave enough to go in. I'm a swimmer, so I can't pass up an opportunity to be in the water. We had a good trip. It was nice to see my grandparents. I feel bad for them; they must get lonely. They don't really have much to do, and my grandpa can't move around much because he has a bad foot. They seemed to really appreciate having us there. Pictures to follow. Pretty soon my mom and I are heading out to see Juno. This will be the third time I see it in theaters. It just gets better every time.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

"These lines of lightning mean we're never alone, never alone." ~counting crows

This will be my last post before December 27th. Tomorrow morning we're leaving for the coast of Texas, where my grandparents from Iowa are living for the winter (they don't have a computer, so I can't post from there). It should be warmer there than it is here, which will be nice. Today the four of us (my parents, my brother, and I) are celebrating Christmas on our own. This morning we did stockings (mine was full of lots of yummy chocolate, Sea Wolf's amazing CD Leaves in the River, and a Jamba Juice gift card) and tonight we're having a nice dinner and opening presents. Celebrating two Christmases isn't bad.

Last night I met my parents, brother, aunt, uncle, and cousins for dinner in the city; it was a lot of fun. I love my cousins. I came home to NJ with my parents last night. This morning I took my mom to see Sweeney Todd (finally). I loved it. Johnny Depp was fabulous. Helena Bonham Carter and Alan Rickman were also very good. Tim Burton definitely deserved the Director of the Year award he got from the National Board of Review. It was a faithful adaptation of the stage show. I did miss the songs "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd" ("Attend the Tale") and "Kiss Me," but I realize that a lot more of the music could have been cut. It was very bloody and gory, but I agree with Tim Burton that the blood and violence are necessary. I love the juxtaposition of the heartbreakingly beautiful music and the throat slashing, especially prominent during my favorite song, "Johanna." The movie wasn't as good as John Doyle's Broadway revival, but nothing can touch that production to me. Tim Burton did a pretty darn good job.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"You spent the first five years trying to get with the plan, and the next five years trying to be with your friends again." ~lcd soundsystem

There was an article on page 2 of the New York Post today that mentioned my school and principal.

I cannot express how ready I am for Christmas break to begin. Two more days. I really hope I can make it without throwing a kid out the window. Don't worry, I'm kidding. Sort of.
In the past two days I've had two interesting conversations with them that further demonstrate why my job is so difficult. We just have such different ideologies. Yesterday I had the following conversation with one particularly difficult student, who thinks she can talk (loudly) all the time, even when I'm talking (that's only one of the problems I have with her):
Student: It's a free country.
Me: That doesn't mean you can do whatever you want.
S: Yes it does!
M: No, it doesn't.
S: Well then what does it mean?
M: It means that people have certain rights. And that all people have the same rights.
S (talking over me): No, it means you can't tell me what to do.
M: There are laws that control how people can act, and a school is allowed to have its own rules.
S: No, sorry, it's a free country. You can't tell me what to do.
I didn't want to waste more time on that debate because she wasn't even listening to me, so I moved on and kept trying to teach my lesson (not very successfully).

Here's a conversation I had after school today with one of the boys whom I was keeping for detention. I was trying to explain why it's not okay to hurt someone or destroy their property, even if they do something wrong towards you:
Student: Ms. B., you don't understand. You were raised differently. Where were you raised? Were you raised in Orange County? (He was totally serious when he asked that, btw.)
Me: I was raised in N.J. But that's not what this is about.
S: No, you don't get it. You weren't raised like us. It's different here.
M: In the classroom, that kind of behavior is not allowed, no matter what. If you have a problem with someone, you come tell me and I'll deal with it. You'll just get yourself into trouble if you try to fight back.
S: But that's just the way we do things. You can't change that.
M: Well, I'm in charge of this classroom, so I make the rules here.
S: If someone slapped you, wouldn't you be upset?
M: Yes, but I wouldn't slap them back. That would just make the fight continue.
The conversation kept going, with neither side making any progress. And this student is very perceptive, because he's right. We were raised differently. They've grown up thinking that you have to be tough and defend yourself. And that way of thinking is not something I can change, because it's ingrained in them. It's part of who they are.

I really needed to unwind when I got home today, so I watched one of my favorite movies, Junebug. Amy Adams is the main reason it's such a good movie. She's absolutely charming and hilarious and just altogether awesome. I really wanted her to win the Oscar that year (she got beat by Rachel Weisz, whom I'll admit was very good in The Constant Gardener). I'm glad Ms. Adams is now becoming more well-known thanks to her performance in Enchanted. Ben McKenzie is also great in Junebug. The character he plays is pretty different from the role he's best known for (Ryan on The O.C.), and he demonstrates his versatility as an actor. Here are some of my favorite quotes from Junebug:

"God loves you just the way you are, but he loves you too much to let you stay that way."

"Where would I be if I was a screwdriver?" (opens fridge)

"I was born in Japan."
"You were not!"

"I even bite my toenails."
"You do not!"

"It's better than Christmas!"

"I don't want your water breaking, I just had that upholstery cleaned."

"You wouldn't put a baby girl in a brown cradle. You just, you just wouldn't."

"Well, she's got...lovely hands. I'll give her that."

I'll leave you with a song I can't stop listening to right now, quoted at the beginning of this post. Except the version I'm posting is Franz Ferdinand's cover.

free music

Monday, December 17, 2007

"Hold ourselves together with our arms around the stereo for hours, la la la la la la la. While it sings to itself or whatever it does, when it sings to itself of its long lost loves, I’m getting tied, I’m forgetting why." ~the national

I listed my top movies of 2007, so now it's time to list my top albums of 2007. This is a completely subjective list. And it was nearly impossible to narrow the field down to five. But I did my best.
For my list of the best films I couldn't place them in order. For some reason, that's easier for me to do with this list. I can easily say that Boxer is the best album of the year. No contest in my opinion. Here's my list:

The Best Albums of 2007
1. The National - Boxer
2. The Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
3. The Shins - Wincing the Night Away
4. Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger
5. Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

The only band on that list I haven't seen live is The Shins, and hopefully I'll get to see them sometime soon.

I'll leave you with Boxer, which I believe is by far the best album of the year. Have a listen. Or a few listens. One thing I love about this album is that it gets better every time I hear it. There were a few songs that I wasn't crazy about the first time around ("Squalor Victoria" jumps to mind) but that I absolutely love now. That's the best kind of music, the kind whose brilliance slowly sinks in. "Apartment Story" is my favorite track, and I didn't think it was anything special at first, but now it blows me away (it provides this post's opening quote).
free music

Sunday, December 16, 2007

"Closing time, time for you to go out, go out into the world." ~semisonic

Because 2007 is drawing to a close, I feel it is time to assess the year in films. I have put together my list of the best films of the year. Obviously I can only include movies that I've seen, so I'm probably missing some worthy contenders that may cause me to change my list soon (Sweeney Todd, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, There Will be Blood, etc.). My top five are listed in alphabetical order, as are my five honorable mentions (it's too difficult to actually rank them).

Best Films of 2007:

No Country for Old Men
The Savages

Honorable Mention:
Charlie Wilson's War
Knocked Up
Michael Clayton

Actually, I'm not sure if Frost/Nixon counts. It's not even up on rotten tomatoes yet and it doesn't open until next year. But I saw it this year, so I'm including it.
I've written about most of those films in this blog, but maybe I'll put together a compilation of mini-reviews. If I have time. Or feel like procrastinating.

Today was a busy (but good) day. This morning I went to see Atonement, which I loved. I thought it was a very good adaptation of the novel. I loved all the period details in the film. And even though I knew the outcome, I cried harder than I've cried during a movie since Million Dollar Baby.
This afternoon, Nic and I went to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. She got comps. I haven't been since I was eight years old, and it was a fun experience. I wish I had the legs of a Rockette.
Tonight Christin and I went to a Christmas concert at a church; one of her friends was singing in the choir. The music was beautiful, and afterwards we went to a party at her friend's apartment. I met some new people and had a very good time. I got home after midnight, though, and now I'm starting to get tired. It's off to bed I go.

Friday, December 14, 2007

"My friend assures me its all or nothing, but I am not really worried, I am not overly concerned. You try to tell yourself the things you try tell yourself to make yourself forget, to make yourself forget, I am not worried..." ~counting crows

So. That Sweeney Todd screening? Most poorly organized screening ever. We waited in line outside the building (while it was snowing) for awhile, were sent inside, were sent back outside, were brought in again, waited in the lobby upstairs packed like sardines and blocking the escalator coming up, stampeded to get in line outside the theater in which the film was being shown, and basically dealt with complete chaos for a couple of hours. The order of the line became completely rearranged in all of that chaos, and I didn't get in. I was pissed. After wasting well over two hours (including travel time), I decided I might as well see another movie (not a free screening) while I was there. So I went to go see No Country for Old Men, which I've been wanting to see for awhile. It won the season's first major award for best picture (from the National Board of Review) and received absolutely fabulous reviews, and all the accolades it's being granted are wholeheartedly deserved. It was fabulous. It was incredibly violent and sometimes scary and very suspenseful, and I'll probably be having nightmares about Javier Bardem for months. He gave what I think is the best portrayal of a villain I've ever seen. He terrified me (which is a good thing, because he completely embodied his character). He's the one to beat in the Oscar race for best supporting actor, and this is the movie to beat for best picture. Considering that this (in my opinion) is a season with an unusually large number of great movies, that's saying a lot. If you don't like a lot of blood and violence, be prepared to cover your eyes a lot, but if you can stomach it, the movie is well worth your time and money. The Coen brothers are amazing, and they strike again.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

"We heard Richard Nixon say, welcome to the USA. The common sense I sometimes lack has opened up a seismic crack. We've fallen in and I can't pull back, and I guess we'll have to stay." ~elton john

I just got home from an advance screening of the movie Frost/Nixon. It was a very advanced screening; the movie doesn't open until some time next year. It was a workprint, which means it wasn't finalized. We had to fill out surveys afterwards that they may use to make changes. I saw Ron Howard (the director) there, which was pretty cool. I'm not a huge fan of his, but he's still obviously a very important figure in the film industry.
The movie was very good (that's the option I checked on the survey for my overall opinion, 'very good'). I wanted to see the movie because it's based on the stage play. The play got great reviews and multiple awards, but I never got the chance to see it, so I wanted to see at least some version of it. Frank Langella (who won a Tony for his performance in the play) and Michael Sheen reprised their stage roles. They were fabulous. The acting made the movie for me. I'd imagine that their characters have become ingrained in them by now after doing so many live performances; they truly embodied the characters. Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, Oliver Platt, and Matthew Macfayden made up a strong supporting cast. The movie is about post-Watergate interviews that David Frost conducted with Richard Nixon. It was interesting, well-directed, and well-paced. I recommend it.

Tomorrow there's a Sweeney Todd screening that I'll try to get into. I don't think I have to tell you how freakishly excited I am to see it. It's the most anticipated movie of the year for me. Actually, it's probably the most anticipated movie ever for me. I'm seriously crazy about Sweeney Todd. And supposedly Tim Burton & co. did a pretty good job with it. I cannot wait. There are song clips on the website and they're pretty good. I'm not crazy about the orchestrations, but I'm relieved to say that the singing is surprisingly strong. If I get in tomorrow, of course I'll post a review.

Monday, December 10, 2007

"Now I hardly know them, and I’ll take my time. I’ll carry them over, and I’ll make them mine." ~the national

I can't wait until Christmas.

Tomorrow I'm going to a professional development workshop, which should be interesting. I hope it will be useful. I think it'll be a nice change of pace from being in school.

I'm trying this new widget that plays music. The song selection is limited and it's not letting me upload my own right now (and it's being very finicky), but we'll see how it goes. I'll kick it off with a track from The National, with whom I became obsessed last summer.

free music

Thursday, December 06, 2007

"I'm dying to know, do you do you like dreaming of things so impossible, or only the practical? Or ever the wild or waiting through all your bad bad days just to end them with someone you care about..." ~dashboard confessional

My kids are driving me absolutely insane. I nearly lost it today; I got so mad at them. I hold detention after school every day (today I had more than half the class), and it doesn't change anything; the classroom is still like a zoo combined with an insane asylum. You can't even imagine what this job is like. You really cannot imagine.

Grey's Anatomy is continuing to piss me off. First of all, are they just filling it with blood and gore to shock us and try to defer our attention from the crappy storylines? It's not working on me. The only good part about tonight's episode was the Mer/Lexie development in the last thirty seconds. Screw McDreamy, Mer's got a sister now and hopefully their relationship will continue to develop (although with Shonda & co., I wouldn't count on it; they like to throw blow after blow at Meredith). Gossip Girl was really good this week, though. I loved the Rufus/Lily moment.

I meant to post these videos a long time ago but forgot. I took them with my camera at the Dashboard Confessional concert I went to.

So Long, So Long featuring Adam Duritz:

Rain King featuring Adam Duritz and Augustana:

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

"I'd be so pleased to see you out of the classroom wearing the smile that I'll bring you." ~dashboard confessional

I'm just popping in to direct you toward the New York Times review of August: Osage County, one of the best plays I've ever encountered. The play opened tonight and got raves across the board, but I particularly like Isherwood's review. Highlights:

"It is, flat-out, no asterisks and without qualifications, the most exciting new American play Broadway has seen in years....

It’s theater that continually keeps you hooked with shocks, surprises and delights, although it has a moving, heart-sore core. Watching it is like sitting at home on a rainy night, greedily devouring two, three, four episodes of your favorite series in a row on DVR or DVD. You will leave the Imperial Theater emotionally wrung out and exhausted from laughing, but you may still find yourself hungry for more....

Mr. Letts’s antic recombination of soapy staples is so pop-artfully orchestrated that you never see the next curveball coming, and the play is so quotably funny I’d have a hard time winnowing favorite lines to a dozen....

I’ll leave you with one that neatly expresses the bleak spirit of the play, which nevertheless manages to provide great pleasure by delving into deep wells of cruelty and pain. Recalling a night of youthful high spirits in sad contrast to the gruesome present, Barbara seeks to wise up her daughter to the decay of hope and happiness that often comes with the passage of time.
'Thank God we can’t tell the future,” she observes, “or we’d never get out of bed.'"

I really hope it wins the Tony for best play next year. It seems to have a very good chance based on the reviews. I am so in love with this play.

I went to a free advance screening of Charlie Wilson's War tonight. I enjoyed it. Aaron Sorkin's writing is great; it's very clever and satirical and the dialogue flows well. The movie is a great mix of humor and drama. Tom Hanks was good and Julia Roberts was fine, but Philip Seymour Hoffman stole the show for me (not that that should surprise you; I'm pretty vocal about my love for him). As always, he's hilarious. Amy Adams and Emily Blunt, two of my favorite actresses, are wasted in supporting roles.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

"Sleep with all the lights on, you're not so happy, you're not secure. You're dying to look cute in your blue jeans, but you're plastic just like everyone, you're just like everyone. And that face you paint is pressed, impressing most of us as permanent, and I'd like to see you undone." ~dashboard confessional

I know I already posted a long post today, but I have to post again to tell you how frakkin' fantastic August: Osage County was. It's now one of my favorite plays ever. It was written by Pulitzer Prize finalist Tracy Letts. I wasn't expecting anything else this weekend to be able to top Rock 'N' Roll, but August sure comes close. I might like it as much as or more than Rock 'N' Roll; I can't decide. They're very different. Rock 'N' Roll has an epic feel to it. It spans decades and continents and deals with broad social and political issues. It's long, intellectual, and dense. August: Osage County takes place over the course of a few days inside the same house. It's about one family's issues (and they have quite a few). It's over 3.5 hours long, which is a marathon for a play, but it's so watchable that the time just flies by. The dialogue is sharp and witty and harsh and real. It's funny and heartbreaking at the same time. The acting is strong. Jeff Perry is in it and it was hard for me to shake my image of him as Thatcher Grey in Grey's Anatomy.
This year's Tony race in the non-musical category is going to be extremely competitive, and I think I saw the main contenders this weekend. So now you have multiple plays to read. Start with August: Osage County.
"The snow's coming down, I'm watching it fall, watching the people around..." ~u2

Y'all are so lucky that I'm a clumsy loser who is so desperate not to write lesson plans that she will do anything to put it off. Actually, I'm not sure who 'y'all' is, because it doesn't seem like I have any readers, so I suppose this is mostly for my own amusement, which is fine. I have a few things to write about today.

Nic and I have made it through 4 of our 6 shows, and we're holding up well. Here are my reactions:
1. The Lion King (on Thursday evening) was entertaining. I've already seen it and it's not one of my favorite shows, but the costumes are very impressive and it's fun just because of the visual spectacle. And the music isn't bad.
2. Rock 'N' Roll (on Friday evening) was amazing. I almost cried a couple of times. It's so dense and confusing and requires such a great deal of concentration and thought that I'm still processing it, but I loved it. I will echo the command of one reviewer and tell you to "Beg, borrow, or steal tickets," because it really is fantastic. It further proves how brilliant Tom Stoppard is. Or, if you can't make it to the Broadway production, at least go read the play. It spans decades and continents and generations, and everything is tied together with rock 'n' roll. There was an insert in the Playbill about Czechoslovakia in the 1960's and Marx and Communism, and I was glad I read it before the play started because otherwise I think I would have been pretty confused.
3. Trumpery (on Saturday afternoon) wasn't bad. It focuses on Darwin around the time he wrote The Origin of Species. It was a little slow at times, and I'm not too interested in the subject matter, but the performances were good. Whenever Manuel Felciano spoke (he played Wallace), I couldn't help but picture him as Toby in Sweeney Todd (he was amazing in that role). His appearance has changed, though.
4. Is He Dead? (on Saturday evening) was great. It's a play written by Mark Twain in 1898, but it was never produced until now (it was just recently discovered). It's about a group of struggling artists who stage the death of one of them to raise the demand for his paintings. Norbert Leo Butz plays the main character and he is absolutely hi-larious. He is such a talented comedian.
Norbert and I (obviously not taken yesterday; this is from after a performance of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels):
Norbert Leo Butz

5. This afternoon we're going to August: Osage County, so I'll report back on that later.

It is snowing right now. I woke up to see the ground covered with snow. Of course I had to do laundry today. I really was out of clothes, and I couldn't put it off any longer. So at 10:00am I ventured outside to walk 8.5 blocks to go do laundry. It was still snowing hard, and the sidewalks were not shoveled for the most part. I had my granny cart filled to the brim with laundry, and I slowly pushed it along through the snow. I nearly made it to the laundromat with no problems. About a half a block away, I hit a bump. My cart fell forward, and so did I. I ended up spread eagle on top of my cart, with some of my laundry spread all over the snowy sidewalk. Of course this happened directly in front of a store where a group of men were hanging around outside and a bunch of kids had just stepped outside. I had quite an audience. I just lied there for a few seconds in shock. Then I started to laugh. It was just too funny. So funny, in fact, that I decided to reenact it when I got home to show you what I looked like (I was wearing my pea coat, a hat, and my Uggs as well). Picture this in the middle of a snowy sidewalk, with clothes falling out of the cart and a huge group of people standing to the side watching and trying to hide their laughter:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
I mean, you have to laugh, right? One of the men asked me if I was okay and if I could get up, and I answered in the affirmative to both questions. I clumsily got up, pulled my cart up and loaded it again, and slowly continued to plow through the snow with as much class as I could muster. Oh, how I dislike snow.

Friday, November 30, 2007

"Broadway is dark tonight. A little bit weaker than you used to be. Broadway is dark tonight..." ~the goo goo dolls

Broadway is definitely NOT dark now, and I'm thrilled about it.

Nic and I are going so show-crazy it's ridiculous. We're making up for lost time during the strike. Check out this schedule:

Thursday: The Lion King
Friday: Rock 'N' Roll
Saturday matinee: Trumpery
Saturday evening: Is He Dead?
Sunday: August: Osage County

That's FIVE shows in FOUR days. And I'm only paying for one of those (my $25 Rock 'N' Roll ticket). We'll also see The Seafarer on Tuesday or Wednesday, so it'll be 6 shows within a week (for a grand total of $25). Pretty crazy. I'm very lucky.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

"Hope dangles on a string like slow spinning redemption, winding in and winding out, the shine of which has caught my eye. And roped me in, so mesmerizing, so hypnotizing, I am captivated. I am vindicated, I am selfish, I am wrong. I am right, I swear I'm right, I swear I knew it all along. And I am flawed, but I am cleaning up so well. I am seeing in me now the things you swore you saw yourself." ~dashboard confessional

I loooove that song. They played it at the concert I went to a couple of weeks ago and as I keep listening to my recording of the concert (which turned out really, really well), I'll play that song over and over. The lyrics are great.

My life has been insane lately, I haven't had any time or energy to write. There have been both good and bad insane things. I now feel like unloading, so get ready for a long post. I'm going to start with the bad and end with the good, because I like to end on a happy note.

The bad things:
1. On Friday night (I was at home with my family), actually I guess it was early Saturday morning (around 2:00am), my dog had a seizure. I can't tell you how much Josie means to me. We've had her for 14 years and she's a part of our family. I love her to death. Luckily most of us were still up and hadn't gone to bed yet. I was upstairs but heard her barking/squealing/making strange noises and ran downstairs. She lost control of her bowels, was drooling, and shaking uncontrollably. It was one of the scariest things I've ever seen. I'm crying right now as I'm typing just thinking about it. My dad told me to stay away from her, thinking she could have rabies and might bite me or something, but I ended up just holding her, not caring about getting her poop and drool on me. It finally stopped and she seemed scared. She was hyper and couldn't stop running around the house, stopping occasionally to jump on someone. We called the emergency vet number and my mom and I drove her to the animal hospital. So around 2:30am on Saturday morning I found myself sitting in the backseat of my car, crying as I held Josie as close to me as possible (of course she struggled the whole time). She stayed at the animal hospital that night, and she had another seizure while she was there on Saturday so she had to stay the next night as well. She came home on Sunday night, after I had already left to go back to NYC. They don't know exactly what's wrong with her. Worst case scenario, it could be brain cancer or a brain tumor. There's not really anything they can do to find out. She's on some kind of medication right now (I'm not sure what it does; I think it's like codeine). My parents say she's doing okay, but I'm still terrified. I can't lose her. I would be devastated. She means so much to me. I know she's old (14), but she still seems like she has a lot of life left in her. So that really shook me up.

2. I was observed this week at school. That's a serious thing. The principal can either give you an S (satisfactory) or U (unsatisfactory), and if you get a U you're in serious trouble. You have to meet with the principal ahead of time to discuss your lesson plan, which we did on Tuesday, and mine needed some changes. On Tuesday night I spent 6 hours working on it. 6 Hours for a 90-minute lesson. How crazy is that? And that was just 6 hours of revising what I already had done. Total it was like 10 hours. So I was very stressed this week because of that. I didn't sleep at all last night. I was observed today and luckily I got an S.

The good things:
1. I can now relax a little bit (nerves-wise, not work-wise; I still have tons of planning to do) because I have my S.

2. I got to spend lots of time with my family last week. Thanksgiving was fantastic, as usual. My aunt and uncle's new apartment is beautiful, and we all managed to fit into it rather nicely. We had lots of family staying with us over the weekend and I loved seeing them.

3. There was a free run-through of the Broadway play The Homecoming on Sunday night. Because of the strike (which just ended!), they couldn't begin previews when they were supposed to and they wanted to perform in front of an audience. It was their first time doing it in front of people, and they performed it at a small off-broadway theater because they couldn't use their own. Raul Esparza joked that apparently the setting of The Homecoming is now Cuba (because the set for Celia was up). Despite those obstacles, they did a good job. It's a bizarre play, though. I think it's one of Harold Pinter's most controversial. The actors, although they still need some time to become accustomed to their roles, gave strong performances for the most part. Ian McShane was particularly hilarious. I adore Raul Esparza, I think he's one of the strongest (if not the strongest) musical theater actors working today, but he seemed nervous and he needs to work on his accent. Eve Best was wonderful. Anyway, it was a great evening of theater and I was very glad to be able to go. They collected money for BC/EFA, a wonderful organization that's been suffering because of the strike, which was very smart and kind of them.

4. On Monday night I went to a free advance screening of The Savages. Go see it. Now. Seriously. It's wonderful. Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman give Oscar-worthy performances (I'd really love to see Laura Linney win an Oscar; she deserved to win for You Can Count on Me). The Savages is brilliantly written, directed, and acted. It's funny and sad and hopeful and touching. I really expect and hope to see it do well when awards season rolls around. My great-aunt has dementia, and my mom keeps joking that she should take her to see it. I don't think she would understand the connection to her at all, because she doesn't realize she has a problem.

5. The Broadway strike is over!!! Nic and I are going to see Rock 'N' Roll on Friday and I can't wait. I was supposed to see it last week but of course it was canceled because of the strike. We're also seeing one or two other plays this weekend (she has comps).

That's all for now. I think. I need to start planning lessons for tomorrow.

I'll leave you with my baby:
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ETA: Just got a call from Nic, now I'm going to see The Lion King on Broadway for free tonight! The comps are rolling in for Nic right now. Never mind that I have no lesson plans completed for tomorrow. I'm not crazy about The Lion King, but I'm not one to pass up a free show. And I think I know the kid who's playing Simba. Ah, the perks of living in New York. And having a best friend who works in theatre.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"As we lie in the shade of poison trees, are we as safe as we let ourselves believe?" ~dashboard confessional

After school yesterday I got to stick around for five hours of parent-teacher conferences. Five hours. That was fun (can you sense my sarcasm?). When I finally got home after 9:00pm I just collapsed on my bed. It was an exhausting day. I did have a nice dinner with some other teachers, though. We went to a Dominican restaurant near the school. Victoria and I had cheeseburgers and fries (for $4!); we were surprised and relieved to find that on the menu at a Dominican restaurant. We've both tried Dominican food a few times, and although some of it's good, we haven't entirely warmed to it yet. Today was a crazy day. My students assumed that they were on vacation already and were even wilder than usual.

I am soooo glad that tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It's definitely towards the top of my list of favorite holidays. Every year a bunch of my family members (sometimes up to 50 of us) cram into my aunt and uncle's Manhattan apartment. I can't wait to see everyone. It's crowded and busy and noisy and chaotic and absolutely wonderful. They just moved less than a month ago from the UES to Chelsea, and I know they've been working insanely hard to get settled in time to host Thanksgiving. They've hosted it for as long as I've been alive, so they're not going to stop now. Their new apartment is really nice, too, and bigger than their old one. This year I'm excited because I'll have a really easy commute; I just have to take the 1 train downtown. My parents are driving in and I'll ride home with them. My great-aunt, my grandparents, and my uncle and his family (who live in Maine) are all staying at my family's house this weekend, and my brother and I will both be home, so our house will be full (there will be 12 of us). It's like an extra-long Thanksgiving. I love my family, so I'm thrilled that I'll get to spend time with them. I do have work to do, but I'm trying not to think about that. I'm afraid I'll be going crazy Sunday night trying to get everything ready for school next week.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Friday, November 16, 2007

"You have stolen my heart." ~dashboard confessional

I'm very lucky; I've been to some really, really amazing concerts. Wednesday night was another one to add to my list of indescribably amazing nights. Nicole and I went to the Dashboard Confessional concert. It was absolutely fantastic. It was the last show of the tour, and Chris was really on fire. It was at the Blender Theatre, where I got to see Counting Crows a few weeks ago. It's a great, intimate venue. I was in the second row and had a perfect spot. Augustana was one of the opening bands and they were good. I have their album and I like it. It seemed like most of the crowd only knew the words to "Boston," though. Heh.
Dashboard was superb. Chris played all of my favorite songs, and it was a good crowd. There were lots of sing-alongs; it's always fun when the performer lets the crowd get involved. Adam Duritz was at the show, in the crowd during the main set. During the encore he came onstage and sang "So Long, So Long" with Chris (they sing it on the album version together). It killed me. I loooove that song, and their voices are just so beautiful together. They also did "Angels of the Silences" and "Rain King" together (some members of Augustana came back onstage and joined them for "Rain King"). It was so incredibly cool. I hoped Adam would show up because I know he's good friends with Chris, but I never would have expected him to sing two Counting Crows songs along with the Dashboard song. And Adam's spot onstage was directly in front of me, which made it especially exciting. I took some videos, and I'll post them next week (I can't upload them on my Mac). I also recorded audio of the entire show; let me know if you want a copy. It's definitely my best recording so far; I'm really happy with it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

"Fear of the dark, fear of the dark, I have constant fear that something's always near. Fear of the dark, fear of the dark, I have a phobia that someone's always there." ~iron maiden

I went to the premiere of the movie The Mist tonight, thanks to my awesome friend Christin. Wow. I'm having trouble condensing my thoughts, but I'll do my best to get them out. First of all, some background info: it's based on a Stephen King novella. It was adapted for the screen and directed by Frank Darabont, the same guy who made The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. Obviously the guy's an expert at making movies based on Stephen King books. He introduced the movie, which was very cool. Bob Weinstein also spoke. I saw Stephen King there, which was pretty freakin' awesome. I couldn't believe I was sitting in the same theater as Stephen King, watching a movie that began in his head. The premiere was at the Ziegfeld Theatre, which is a beautiful theatre with a fantastic history. The movie features a very strong ensemble cast, including Academy Award winner Marcia Gay Harden, Toby Jones, Laurie Holden, and Thomas Jane. Marcia Gay Harden is awesome. Seriously. She has the best lines in the movie and kills with them. She plays a crazy religious fanatic and does an amazing job at it. All the performances were great. I thought the film was beautifully shot. It was made in six weeks, which is very impressive. The premise is totally unrealistic, and there wasn't nearly enough explanation to make it believable, but I guess you're expected to suspend reality while watching or reading a Stephen King creation. It's gross and scary and very disgusting at times, but it's also funny. Of course the theatre was full (mostly with people who helped make the movie), and the crowd really got into it. There was "eeewwwww"ing and "oooohhhhh"ing and screaming and gasping and laughing and clapping and cheering. It was fun to be surrounded by other excited viewers. I have to talk about the ending (don't worry, I won't spoil it). It's one of those endings that knocks you over. My jaw dropped. People walked out of the theatre saying things like, "Wow," and "Holy crap," and "I don't believe it." I love endings that shock. I thought that it might end that way but then I kept telling myself they wouldn't actually do that, but they sure did. And it had people talking. which is great. Here's a good review of the film. It claims the movie features "the ballsiest ending in horror cinema." The reviewer also says, "Darabont expands on King’s ambiguous finale and delivers an emotional gut punch so shocking it’s a wonder it ever escaped through the studio system." I love controversy.
Overall, despite the grossness and the unbelievability, it was a good, very well-made film. If you like horror movies, this is definitely not one to miss. And even if you don't like horror movies, you might give this one a shot.
ETA: Trailer:

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

"This is the hardest story that I've ever told, no hope or love or glory, happy endings gone for ever more. I feel as if I'm wasting, and I've wasted every day." ~mika

That's another example of how Josh Schwartz puts the most amazing music ever on his TV shows (earlier this week it was Chuck). That song was on Gossip Girl a couple of weeks ago and it's been in my head ever since. It's so freakin' beautiful it makes me want to cry. Seriously. Josh Schwartz=genius.

Tonight I'm going to another screening of Juno. There are a bunch of screenings in NYC this month and I'll probably keep going back because I love the movie so damn much.

Tomorrow night I'm seeing Cyrano de Bergerac on Broadway, and I can't wait. Kevin Kline and Jennifer Garner are in it and are supposedly fabulous (especially Mr. Kline). I'll report back after I see it. For an expert opinion, here's the New York Times review. Ben Brantley liked it. Actually, all of the critics pretty much loved it.
Young Frankenstein officially opens tomorrow, so I'm anxiously awaiting the reviews. I hope it gets panned. I'm such a terrible person. I really didn't like it, though.
"Fading everything to black and blue. You look a lot like you'd shatter in the blink of an eye, but you keep sailing right on through." ~counting crows

I have a new computer! My poor old Mac, which I've had for almost five years, was on its last leg. Half of the display was broken off from the keyboard, so the screen would randomly go black (at the most inopportune times), forcing me to restart. There were other issues as well. I really needed a new one. My parents were going to get me one for Christmas, so they agreed to give it to me early. I just picked it up today. It's name is Marty and it's beautiful. It's a MacBook Pro, and it came with Leopard!

AD's most recent blog entry is really good. He talks about going to Jerusalem when he was fifteen and searching for God (and himself). He sure is long-winded, but he's also absolutely brilliant. He should write a book or something. This entry is really long, like many of his entries, but it's totally worth the read. Have I mentioned that I want to marry him??

Monday, November 05, 2007

"Sometimes it all looks so familiar, and sometimes it's just so fuckin' strange. Can't you hear me? 'Cause I'm screaming, and I did not go outside yesterday. Don't wake me, please don't wake me 'cause I was dreaming, and I might just stay inside again today. Yeah, I don't go out much these days. Sometimes I stay inside all day." ~counting crows

They sang those alternate lyrics to Perfect Blue Buildings at the concert I went to a couple of weeks ago. It was the best version of that song I've ever heard; it was freakin' awesome. I had tears in my eyes at the concert and I tear up when I listen to the recording (which is all the time). AD just gets so emotional at the end that it's impossible not to feel anything.

I had another fight in my classroom today. And this time it was worse, complete with blood and tears. A really big 14-year-old in my class fought a really tiny 10-year-old. The little one was C; I've written about him before. He's the class clown and a troublemaker and he makes me want to pull my hair out most days, but I love him. He can be really sweet and adorable. The big kid threw him around and hit him and C was fighting back but couldn't do any damage because he's so much smaller. I couldn't stop them so I stood in the doorway and yelled for the dean. When the fight was broken up, I looked at C and my heart broke. He stood there looking back at me with his huge puppy eyes filled with tears as he tried (and failed) to stop himself from crying. It's my job to keep my kids safe and I failed him. I know it took the two of them to fight, and I know C wasn't blameless, but I still feel awful about it. It started so quickly, though, and I don't think there was anything I could have done to prevent it. It was at the end of the day when they were getting ready to go home and I was dealing with some of the other crazies who were misbehaving. And of course it had to happen on the day that I got four new students in my class. Their parents are going to ask them how they like their new class, and I know the first thing they're going to say is something like, "There was a fight and a kid got beat up and he was bleeding and crying...." I really don't need parents thinking I'm incompetent.

Tomorrow the kids have off and the teachers have professional development. Another teacher and I were trying to decide which we'd prefer, having to teach and deal with the kids or sit in PD all day. I'm still not sure; it's a toss-up.

I'm watching Chuck and I love it when stuff like this happens! They just played a really long clip of Oasis's "Don't Look Back in Anger." I've had that song stuck in my head for a week, although I have no idea why (I haven't heard it in forever up until just now when it played on Chuck). I love that song. And it's like I had it in my head in anticipation of hearing it on Chuck. Josh Schwartz is freakin' awesome at making shows with great music (The O.C., Gossip Girl, and Chuck, his three shows, all stand out because of it).

Friday, November 02, 2007

"This love won't let me go. So long, angel of Harlem. Angel of Harlem. She says it's heart, heart and soul..." ~u2

I'll be Bono's Angel of Harlem any day. I love living in Harlem. I love walking out of my apartment and being able to see the Hudson River. I love walking up and down Broadway or Amsterdam and just people-watching. There are some pretty interesting people up here.

Lately I've been thinking about my life. And I'm fairly happy with it right now. One of my best friends from New Zealand recently wrote on my facebook wall, "I was happy to see some photos, you're not the same!" That was especially interesting to me because it seems to imply more than a change in appearance. It made me think, because I'm not aware of being very different from who I was then. But maybe I am. I'm immersed in a culture that's completely foreign to me, and I think it's changing me. I'm a minority at work and in the neighborhood where I live. I'm learning about people who are so incredibly different from me, but whom I am starting to understand better. The kids I teach are worlds away from who I was when I was their age. They curse like nobody's business. They throw around the N word like stereotypical valley girls throw around the word 'like.' I seriously hear it about 50 times a day. They even call me the N word. Here's an exchange from Friday:
A student speaking to me: Yo, you gotta be playin', my n****r!
Me: Excuse me, what did you call me?
Student: Um....Ms. B.
Me: That's what I thought.
That's a common exchange. The language they use was astounding to me at first. Now I'm used to it. The art teacher, who's a young, very liberal, very artistic guy tried to talk to one girl about using the N word. Here's an excerpt of their conversation:
Mr. F.: D, have you heard the Civil Rights Movement?
D (looking at him like he's absolutely insane): Um...NO.
Mr. F: Well, it was here in America and a bunch of people of color stood up for their rights and tried to stop other people from discriminating against them and from calling them offensive names like that word that you use all the time.
It went in one ear and out the other. The kids are just following the example of the people around them, though. They really don't know any better. And they don't like school. They don't see it as important. They're just about the exact opposite of who I was at their age.
I'm getting 5 new kids next week. I'm afraid it will be difficult to integrate them into our class smoothly. We'll see how it goes.

This weekend two of my friends from high school, Kim and Betsy, came to stay with me. We had a good time. I'm not much of a partyer, but Kim is, so she dragged us out on Friday and Saturday nights. On Friday we went to The Joshua Tree, a fun bar where they play 80's videos all night, and XII. We didn't get back to my apartment until about 5:00am. Then on Saturday night we went to Prohibition, which I really liked (they had a great band) and 420, which wasn't so great (I wasn't crazy about the music and was exhausted by the time we got there). I was glad to gain an extra hour because of Daylight Savings. On Saturday afternoon we went to see a free screening of the movie Bella, which was very good. It won the Toronto Film Festival. Afterwards, the executive producer and Manny Perez, one of the stars, spoke and answered questions. It's about Latinos living in NYC, and the producer and actor talked about how there are hardly any Latino characters in movies and TV who can be looked up to as role models (they're usually the bad guys, the pimps, the gangsters, etc.). This movie was great because it showed them in a more realistic light; it's the kind of movie that my students and other Latino teens need to see.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"Boys and girls of every age, wouldn't you like to see something strange? Come with us and you will see, this, our town of Halloween. This is Halloween, this is Halloween. Pumpkins scream in the dead of night. This is Halloween, everybody make a scene. Trick or treat till the neighbors gonna die of fright. It's our town, everybody scream. In this town of Halloween." ~the nightmare before christmas

At school the kids were wired; they seemed to be anticipating the sugar high that they're going to get tonight. Fortunately, Wednesday is one of my easier days so I didn't have to put up with them for too many periods. And luckily I managed to escape at the end of the day without being egged. I was warned by my students, the dean, and some other teachers that there was a strong possibility of eggs being thrown at teachers as they left the building. I walked out with another teacher who's very cool; most kids like him a lot. I was hoping his presence would offer me protection (and maybe it did). The police officers outside were also doing a good job of closely monitoring the kids hanging around the building.

Participation time: what's the scariest movie you've ever seen? Mine has to be Alien. I was absolutely terrified when I saw it for the first time (and I think I was in ninth grade, so it's not like I was really young).

Monday, October 29, 2007

"Oh, it's time to let go of everything we used to know, ideas that strengthen who we've been. It's time to cut ties that won't ever free our minds from the chains and shackles that they're in." ~patrick park

I just got back from a free advance screening of Juno, the best movie I've seen all year. Seriously. This has Oscar for Best Original Screenplay written all over it. It is fantastic. The writing is superb; the dialogue is sharp and funny and realistic (btw, why is spell check saying I spelled dialogue wrong??). Ellen Page is going to be a star; her performance is wonderful and definitely deserving of an Oscar nom. She reminds me of Linda Cardellini circa Freaks and Geeks (aw, I miss that show). The movie also has a strong supporting cast (including Michael Sera, Jennifer Garner, Alison Janney, Jason Bateman, and J.K. Simmons) as well as a killer soundtrack. I've run out of synonyms for "amazing," so I'll just tell you to go see the movie when it opens. Unfortunately it doesn't open until December 5th, so you'll have to wait awhile. There's another screening next week and I might go to that one as well because I loved it so much. They gave out free Juno t-shirts at the screening, and it's actually a t-shirt that I would wear, which is cool. Here's the trailer:

Sunday, October 28, 2007

"So cover this warm night in a blanket of starlight, and I'll follow this freeway out into the air. In case you should wander and wanted to find me, I'm traveling homeward to Washington Square." ~counting crows

There was a great article in the New York Times this morning celebrating the release of My So-Called Life on DVD this Tuesday. Some good excerpts from the review:
"To claim that My So-Called Life is great, watershed television is to say something so firmly ingrained in the conventional wisdom that it hardly bears repeating. The series brought us the experience of adolescence outside the bounds of artifice, peril and pathology that had provided the context for nearly every other depiction of teenagers on television....

Television gives us teenage lust exercised or teenage lust repressed but rarely does it evoke the way young people translate their carnal urges into something they understand as a deeper abiding affection. My So-Called Life is essentially a study of a young mind processing desire into something less terrifying and more easily justified — substantiating it with false hopes — and in that regard it is more than a good TV show, it is a good TV show that attains the dimension and complexity of literature. The great postwar novels of adolescence deal with innocence lost; My So-Called Life deals with innocence sustained, but it offers a no-less-illuminating view of what it is to be young because of it....

My So-Called Life appeared only 13 years ago but leaves one feeling nostalgic for a time when teenagers still communicated with pauses and half-thoughts, and were not perceived solely as an amalgam of their accomplishments....

As the touchstone examination of adolescence in the ’90s, My So-Called Life rejected the Clintonian ethos of ambition: striving, perhaps, wasn’t better. And at the same time it linked itself closely to the feminism of the period, one that prized interiority, self-help and revolutions from within. It was a diluted notion of female advancement, but at least it was a modestly dressed one. Angela wore late-grunge-era flannels and baggy shapes. So there is another way, finally, that My So-Called Life looks like no other teenage series that succeeded it: We never saw our heroine’s bellybutton."

The article offers very high praise, but that praise is wholeheartedly deserved. Kudos to Claire Danes, Winnie Holzman, Ed Zwick, Marshall Hershkovitz, and the entire creative team behind the show for putting together such a superb example of how wonderful a television program can be.

I had a good weekend at home, despite the bad weather. Joy, Kelly, and I had a roommate reunion in Princeton; we missed Michelle, but we got to catch up with each other and I loved getting to see them. Kim dragged me and Betsy shopping for her Halloween costume. I haven't been feeling great lately, so I did some relaxing. I didn't get enough work done. The marking period ends on Wednesday, and it really snuck up on me. I have work to grade and grades to organize and calculate, and there's just not enough time. I'm not excited about going back to school tomorrow.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

"Tell me again what constitutes good hair, and tell me how the guns and bums unbraided your deep dread of reason in Comikbuchland." ~the negro problem

Adam Duritz, my hero/future husband (I wish), got me hooked on Stew and The Negro Problem. Here's what he says about the above lyrics:
"'Unbraided your deep dread of reason'? C’mon. I would kill to have written that. Now that is some seriously funky metaphorical double-meaning shit right there. THAT…is not for beginners."
I couldn't have said it better myself. Stew is freakin' brilliant. Almost as brilliant as Mr. Duritz himself.

Last night Nic and I went to see Things We Want, a new play from The New Group. Ethan Hawke (who attended my high school) directed it, and he was at the performance. He looked goood. I refrained from bothering him, but I enjoyed observing him. Paul Dano (probably best known as Dwayne in Little Miss Sunshine, until There Will Be Blood is released, that is) is in the play, and I absolutely love him. He gave a great performance. Peter Dinklage and Josh Hamilton were also wonderful (Peter Dinklage was particularly hilarious). I was not impressed with the performance of the fourth cast member, Zoe Kazan. She brought down the scenes that she was in. I preferred the first act to the second act. Overall, though, thanks to the male cast members, I thought it wasn't bad. It just started previews this week, so we only saw the third performance ever, and hopefully they'll make some changes to improve upon it before it officially opens in a couple of weeks.

I'm going home this weekend to collect some warm clothes, because I really have nothing with me right now and I'm going to freeze because it's starting to get cold. It'll be nice to see my family.

Monday, October 22, 2007

"I was out on the radio starting to change, somewhere out in America it's starting to rain. Could you tell me one thing you remember about me, and have you seen me lately? I guess I thought that someone would notice. I guess I thought somebody would say something if I was missing. Can't you see me? Come on, color me in. Come on, color me in." ~counting crows

I'm still on a Counting Crows high. I think I'll be on a Counting Crows high for months. And hopefully by then they'll have another concert to pick me right back up again. I seriously can't put into words how much that concert meant to me.

I'm wary of writing this because I'm afraid I'll jinx myself, but I'll write it anyway. I think school is getting better (knock on wood). The kids seem to have gotten used to me. The girl who called me an ugly fucking bitch last week is slightly more tolerant (she'll actually let me come within ten feet of her now). The other two girls who were causing the most trouble and were very offensive and defiant have also seemed to settle down a little bit. Now the boys are causing the most problems (they cause different kinds of problems than the girls cause). Things are far from perfect, but I feel like I've made progress with a few students. And I still have some great kids who do their work and try hard and seem to like me. I'm more aware of the fact that middle school is a really, really hard time for kids, so I guess my expectations have changed slightly, which causes me to become frustrated less easily.

Tonight Kristen Bell joins the cast of Heroes. Hooray!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

"And I dream of Michelangelo when I'm lying in my bed. I see God up on the ceiling, I see angels overhead. And he seems so close as he reaches out his hand, but we are never quite as close as we are led to understand." ~counting crows

Friday night was one of the best nights of my life. Counting Crows played at the Blender Theatre, a really small concert venue. They announced the show on Tuesday and tickets went on sale on Thursday (the day before the concert). I was hoping that because of the short notice it wouldn't be that difficult to get tickets, but I couldn't have been more wrong. Nicole and I couldn't get tickets when they went on sale. They sold out in seconds; it was impossible. The venue only holds 600 people, which is insanely small. Tickets were selling on ebay for $1000, which is absolutely crazy. I'm not going to pay more than a month's rent for 90 minutes of music, even if it is Counting Crows, the best live band in the world (in my opinion). On the night of the concert I went down to the venue to see if anyone was selling (they laughed at me), and I checked craigslist and the CCMB nonstop for affordable last-minute sales. Finally, at 8:00pm (the doors to the concert had opened at 6:00pm but Counting Crows weren't scheduled to go on until 10:00pm), I got a ticket from a really, really nice guy on the CCMB who was willing to sell it to me at face value. I met him and his friends at 9:00pm and we went into the concert, just in time to see the last opening act (there were 3 opening acts), Wild Sweet Orange. (They were really great, by the way. The fire alarm went off towards the end of their set, forcing them to leave the stage for awhile, and some people were speculating that someone from Counting Crows set it off because they were worried about being upstaged by the opening act.) As Wild Sweet Orange was playing I stood directly next to Adam Duritz, who was in the crowd watching. I nearly died. I cannot even tell you how crazy I am about him. I resisted the urge to bother him because he was enjoying the music, but I couldn't keep my eyes off of him. He didn't stay in the audience too long, I guess because he had to get ready to go onstage.
Counting Crows were absolutely amazing. It was honestly one of the best experiences of my life and definitely the best concert I've been to (yes, even better than seeing U2 live and being inches away from Bono). We made our way up to about the third row; I just couldn't believe I was that close. It's such a small, intimate venue, which is perfect for them. They played four songs from their new album that's being released next year, and they did lots of old favorites. The crowd was very enthusiastic, which made it fun. We all knew all the words to all the songs, even the new ones. It was the kind of show where it seemed like only die-hards made it in because it was so hard to get tickets; only the people who really, really wanted to be there managed to find a way in. It's cool to be surrounded by people who care as much as you do. They played my favorite version of "A Murder of One," the version that makes me cry. It was 14 minutes long on Friday. That perfect version of that song is my absolute favorite piece of music ever, and to hear it live was unbelievable. Being so close to the stage made it even more special. I swear Adam looked directly at me during part of it (during the line "There are girls in North Dakota..."). A couple of other highlights for me were the acoustic version of "Miami" and "Perfect Blue Buildings" with "Sometimes it Snows in April" alts. I recorded the show but I had some mic problems and it's not the best recording. Luckily there was another taper, and his recording is great. For the random bootleg collector who may happen to stumble across this blog, here's where you can download his torrent. And here are some pictures I took. These are two of my favorites of AD:
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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

And the setlist:
I Dream of Michelangelo
Have You Seen Me Lately?
Mr. Jones
Pefect Blue Buildings (Sometimes it Snows in April)
Anna Begins
Miami (acoustic)
Hard Candy
Hanging Tree >
A Murder of One (Doris Day> I'm Sorry> Feathered> Been to Paris)
Washington Square
Meet on the Ledge (Fairport Convention cover)
Come Around
A Long December (new piano intro, slow first verse)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

"This is how it works, you're young until you're not. You love until you don't, you try until you can't. You laugh until you cry, you cry until you laugh. And everyone must breathe, until their dying breath." ~regina spektor

So. Young Frankenstein? Sucked. And I was so excited about it, too. The funny thing is that most audience members paid such exorbitant amounts of money for tickets that they seemed to be trying to convince themselves that it was worth all of that money by laughing and clapping as much as possible. I only paid $25 (for the best seat in the house; dead center, front row orchestra) and would have been very pissed if I had wasted more money than that. It just wasn't that funny. Most of the "jokes" were vulgar and pointless. Roger Bart, the star, seemed to be phoning in his performance; he seemed completely disinterested. Sutton Foster, Megan Mullally, Christopher Fitzgerald, and Andrea Martin seemed to be at least doing their best with the material (although poor Megan Mullally had to suffer through wearing the most awful costume in Act 1). The music was uninspired and unoriginal. Nic and I spent the whole subway ride home mocking the lyrics by singing bits of the songs, most of which seemed to be mostly made up of one line repeating over and over. The show wasn't the worst Broadway show I've seen (cough*LittleWomen*cough), but it definitely wasn't the best.

Tonight I went to an advance screening of the movie Dan in Real Life, which was fabulous. It was sweet and simple and moving and funny. Steve Carell proves that he's a very talented dramatic actor as well as a comedic one. Alison Pill, an awesome stage actor (currently starring in Mauritius on Broadway; go see it if you can), is great as his oldest daughter, but the middle daughter steals the show. She's hilarious. Dane Cook is freakin' hot. Norbert Leo Butz, another Broadway star, gets the chance to show off his vocal chops by singing a side-splitting duet with Dane Cook. I haven't laughed that hard in a long, long time. Another great, hilarious moment: Steve Carell dancing with Emily Blunt. So go see the movie when it opens.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

"I'm driving a stolen car, on a pitch black night. And I'm telling myself, it's gonna be all right. I drive by night, and I travel in fear that in this darkness I will disappear." ~patty griffin

I started this entry days ago and never finished it. So I'll add to it/revise it. It'll mostly be theater-related.
Christina Applegate was on Leno last week; she was funny. She made me love her even more when she said that she's really interested in Edith Bouvier Beale. It seemed like no one in the audience knew who she was talking about. But of course I did. I agree with her; I think Edith Bouvier Beale and her mother are fascinating. I love that Christina Applegate is a Grey Gardens fan. Her stint on Broadway obviously just wasn't a whim; she really loves the medium. Her new show, Samantha Who?, debuted this week to good ratings. It's on Mondays at 9:30pm; watch it. Or tape it while you're watching Heroes (Kristen Bell joins the cast of Heroes next week!!!).

On Sunday Nic and I went to see Speech and Debate. I loved it. It has a small cast of four actors and all of them are very talented, although Sarah Steele definitely stood out to me. I like her. She made the movie Spanglish bearable (she played Adam Sandler and Tea Leoni's daughter). The play is about three high school students whose secrets bring them together as they form a Speech and Debate team at their school. It's very interesting and relevant, dealing with the issues of journalistic freedom, sexual relations between adults in power and minors, teen pregnancy, and sexual identity. It's in the Roundabout Underground theatre, which is incredibly small. We sat in chairs set up right in front of the stage (which wasn't actually separated from the audience), and Nic and I were in the front row so it felt like we were part of the play, sitting in the classroom with the characters.

Tonight we're going to see Young Frankenstein, the hottest and most expensive ticket on Broadway. Nic is awesome and won coveted $25 front row seats through the lottery. I am SO excited. A Mel Brooks show starring Sutton Foster, Megan Mullally, Roger Bart...pretty cool to say the least. I'll report back about it.

Friday, October 12, 2007

"We're out looking for astronauts, looking for astronauts. We're out looking for astronauts, looking for astronauts. It's a little too late, too late, too late for this. Isn't it a little too late for this, little too late, too late for this? Isn't it a little too late for this? You know you have a permanent piece of my medium-sized American heart." ~the national

Claire Danes is frakkin' awesome. And I am a bumbling idiot (but what else is new?). That is all for today.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Thursday, October 11, 2007

"I think this place is full of spies. I think I'm ruined. Didn't anybody, didn't anybody tell you, didn't anybody tell you, this river's full of lost sharks? I know you put in the hours to keep me in sunglasses, I know. And so, and now I'm sorry I missed you, I had a secret meeting in the basement of my brain. It went the dull and wicked ordinary way. It went the dull and wicked ordinary way." ~the national

Earlier this week we had our first teacher quit this year. She didn't last very long. I feel bad for her. This was her first year of teaching, and she was really sweet. I think she was Teach for America. Apparently there was a secret pool on who would be the first to quit. Mr. C said I wasn't anybody's pick, which made me feel relieved. Today was a bad day, though. It wasn't bad enough to make me quit, but it was bad enough to make me break down in tears multiple times (never in front of the kids, though). After teaching my last class of the day I walked into the teacher's lounge, and another teacher took one look at me and asked me what was wrong. I promptly burst into tears and let her wrap her arms around me. I got two hugs from the dean, a large, sturdy man who looks tough but is incredibly sweet and supportive. He told me if I think about quitting he's going to show up at my apartment and drag me to school. I had calmed myself down by the time I talked to him, but he made me start crying again by being so nice. He said I can break down and cry on his shoulder any time. I had three periods to compose myself before end-of-the-day homeroom, which I managed to do. I'm very lucky to have a strong support system at school. The other teachers are always willing to give advice or to listen or to just give me a hug. Today I didn't know who to go to first because I had so many potential people to talk to (I chose Mr. C, who is pretty much always the first person I turn to).
Today and tomorrow, we have "big shots from downtown" visiting and reviewing our school. It's very important, and we've been focused on getting ready for them for a long time. A negative review would cause very significant changes in the school. So everyone is stressed out. They didn't visit my room today, so they'll visit tomorrow. I have to be prepared to answer questions and to show them my lesson plans and the data that I've collected and I'm not at all excited about it.

On the bright side, Grey's is on tonight. Let's hope it doesn't suck.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"It barks at no one else but me, like it's seen a ghost. I guess it's seen the sparks a-flowin, no one else would know." ~radiohead

Today is Universal Radiohead Day. Celebrate by going to and buying In Rainbows, their new album that was released today. You get to name the price that you want to pay, which is a pretty original idea.

I'm watching Pushing Daisies right now and it's not so bad. It's not my favorite show or anything, but it's funny. Best moment so far: Kristin Chenoweth singing "Hopelessly Devoted" while closing down the pie shop. Absolutely hilarious and sad at the same time (and I'm glad to see that they're taking advantage of her vocal talents). I have a soft spot for Cheno because I won an essay contest that she judged. I never get anything done on Wednesdays; it's my new TV day. Next is Gossip Girl and then Dirty Sexy Money.
Picture time: me and Cheno
Kristin Chenoweth

Monday, October 08, 2007

"Standing at the punch table swallowing punch, can’t pay attention to the sound of anyone. A little more stupid, a little more scared, every minute more unprepared. I made a mistake in my life today, everything I love gets lost in drawers. I want to start over, I want to be winning, way out of sync from the beginning." ~the national

Gah! They played The National during Chuck tonight! And I was waaay too excited about it. It was "Slow Show," a really good song from their album Boxer (one of my favorite albums ever), and they played a good, long chunk of it (during a really cute moment). That made my night. Chuck was good tonight. One of my favorite moments (besides hearing The National): Chuck dancing the tango with Captain Awesome. Priceless.

It is way too frakkin' hot for October. Today it reached record temperatures for NYC in October and I don't like it. I want fall to be here. It's supposed to cool down on Wednesday, though.

I went movie-crazy over the long weekend. Yesterday I saw The Darjeeling Limited and The Jane Austen Book Club, and today I saw Michael Clayton.
The Darjeeling Limited
was good. Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman played well off of each other, and they're all hilarious. I don't think it's Wes Anderson's best film, but it's still worth seeing.
The Jane Austen Book Club was very enjoyable. It was one of those rare movies that didn't piss me off by destroying the book on which it was based. The strong cast held it up. Emily Blunt, Maria Bello, Hugh Dancy, Kathy Baker, Amy Brenneman, Jimmy can you go wrong with them?
Michael Clayton was the best film of the weekend. George Clooney is frakkin' brilliant. His acting is superb; he's at the top of his game. And even though he looks old and tired, he still manages to look gorgeous. Right now I think he's the one to beat in the Oscar race. The writing and directing were also very well done. It was suspenseful and well-plotted and clever and I wanted it to keep going once it ended.

Back to school tomorrow. Ugh.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

"And we'll all float on. Alright already, we'll all float on. Alright, don't worry, even if things end up a bit too heavy we'll all float on." ~modest mouse

I saw the Broadway production of Mauritius this afternoon. It's a suspenseful play about two half-sisters who inherit a stamp collection and fight over it. Three shady men get involved in the fight. I'm sorry, that's an awful summary, but that's basically what it's about. It's filled with power struggles and physical fights and excitement and yelling and cursing and anger and tears and drama. I loved it. The New York Times wasn't crazy about it, but this is not the first time I've disagreed with Ben Brantley and I'm sure it won't be the last. I agree with him that the acting is one of the play's strongest suits. Alison Pill is fantastic. I'm a big fan of hers. She was great in my favorite play ever, The Lieutenant of Inishmore (she was nominated for a Tony for that), and her performance in Mauritius is just as strong in my opinion. Bobby Cannavale also does a great job with his character (a role that's perfect for him). And he's definitely easy on the eyes. Overall I thought it was a very good production and I'm glad I got to see it.
After the show I walked to a store on 9th Ave. to pick up Nic's birthday present and then walked back towards 8th Ave., and I passed Alison Pill, Bobby Cannavale, and Katie Finneran walking down the street away from the theater. I love it when I pass famous people. I didn't say anything, I just smiled at Ms. Pill as our eyes met and I kept walking.
I'm now in an Alison Pill mood so I'm going to watch my Pieces of April DVD tonight. She looks so young in that movie. I guess she was. She still is, actually (she's only 21 now). She's changed a lot, though. After the show Nic commented that she was afraid the girl was going to topple over because she looked so tiny. She has gotten really skinny.

Friday, October 05, 2007

" Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd. His skin was pale and his eye was odd. He shaved the faces of gentlemen who never thereafter were heard of again. He trod a path that few have trod did Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of fleet street." ~sweeney todd

I've written about my anxieties regarding the movie version of Sweeney Todd before. I absolutely love Sweeney Todd. It's one of my favorite musicals ever (easily in my top 5). I cried (during "Johanna") when I saw the most recent revival. So I really don't want Tim Burton to screw up the movie version. I recently became even more concerned when Sondheim said that the movie is only an hour and 45 minutes long (that means they cut out waaay too much) and that they cut out a good deal of the score. The trailer was released yesterday and I'm still not sure what to think. There wasn't enough singing in the trailer to appease my greatest fears, which have to do with the music and the singing abilities of the cast. But visually it's very impressive. I frakkin' love Alan Rickman (Prof. Snape to you HP fans), who plays Judge Turpin in a brilliant bit of casting. Johnny Depp's acting is strong; I'm not so sure about the singing. Helena Bonham Carter certainly looks perfect for the part of Mrs. Lovett. So I'm keeping my hopes up. Here's the trailer.

Today at school was one of the worst days so far. It was fine in the morning, but in the afternoon the kids went crazy. In the middle of class they shoved one boy in a locker (we have lockers in the classroom), wouldn't stop running around the room chasing and pushing each other, and basically acted insane. On the Friday afternoon before a long weekend I suppose I should have expected chaos, but it still wasn't fun. After I wore my voice out from yelling at them to pay attention to me as I tried to teach them about latitude and longitude, I finally just passed out the worksheet they had to do and told them I was grading it as a test. Of course none of them knew how to do it because they didn't listen to me when I was trying to show them. I hoped it would teach them a lesson. We'll see how they react when they get their scores back. The sad thing is I'm afraid most of them won't care.
On the way home from school, though, one kid made it all better. We left the building at the same time (he had stayed for detention with the dean), and we walked about 6 blocks together. This kid, C, is one of my favorites, but he's also one of the most difficult students. First of all, he's absolutely adorable. He's tiny and still just a kid and most of the time I want to scoop him up and hug him (don't worry, I restrain myself). He has so much energy, though, and I usually spend most of the day yelling at him because he's always chasing someone around the room or being chased around the room for annoying someone. He's the class clown. He's loud and cannot sit still. He has two phrases that he constantly says. Whenever I'm trying to teach, he'll keep saying, "Yo, Ms. B., are you serious?? Are you serious??" after everything I say. Sometimes I ignore him and sometimes I'll tell him yes, I'm serious. He also likes saying, "Yo, you're funny, Ms. B" whenever I ask him to do something that he refuses to do (like do his work). But I can't stay mad at him for too long because he's really a sweetheart, even though he makes my day impossible most of the time. Anyway, we were walking down the street together and we talked. He said he felt bad for me today when the class was going crazy and that he's going to try to be better. He asked me if another student, D, made me cry when she cursed me off. I told him no, but then admitted that sometimes I cry once I get home. He said it must be really hard when I'm trying to teach and they won't let me. I wanted to hug him. So that conversation made my day all better.

I'm so glad I have a long weekend (we have Columbus Day off). Tomorrow Nic and I are going to see Mauritius, a Broadway play that looks really good has an amazing cast. Last night we say A Feminine Ending, which I enjoyed for the most part. We were in the front row and it felt like we were sitting on stage because it's such a small theater and the stage is almost at ground level and very close to the seats. Right now I need to go collapse.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

"Saw the world turning in my sheets, and once again I cannot sleep. Walk out the door and up the street, look at the stars beneath my feet. Remember rights that I did wrong, so here I go. Hello, hello. There is no place I cannot go, my mind is muddy but my heart is heavy, does it show? I lose the track that loses me, so here I go. And so I sent some men to fight, and one came back at dead of night. Said he'd seen my enemy, said he looked just like me. So I set out to cut myself, and here I go..." ~james blunt

That's from "Same Mistake," one of the stronger tracks on All the Lost Souls.

The fact that I don't speak Spanish just keeps posing more difficulties. I had to deal with my super today, but he doesn't speak a word of English. Not a word. He's very nice and we managed to communicate through hand signals, but it wasn't easy. I asked him to drill a hole in the wall between my room and the living room so I could hook up my TV to the cable. I kept trying to signal 'drill,' but he didn't understand. We worked it out eventually. And we bonded as we fixed the toilet and cleaned up the water that flooded the floor. He taught me a few Spanish words and I taught him a few English ones.

I'm very upset that Andruw Jones won't be returning to the Braves next year. When I found out I cried. I'm seriously pretty distraught about it. I love Andruw. The Jones boys are my favorite players. Chipper Jones is my absolute favorite, and he's still on the team so that's something, but it won't be the same without Andruw. I don't deal with losing good, loyal players very well. There was an article in the New York Post today arguing that the fans care more about the game and the outcome of the season than the players do. I'd like to believe that's not true, at least for the Braves. A lot of fans are pretty intense, though. Right now tons of New Yorkers are devastated because of the Mets' unbelievable collapse. I mean devastated. On the cover of the New York Post the day after they lost was a picture of a little kid at Shea Stadium with tears flooding down his face. A lot of fans who attended the game just stayed in their seats at the stadium, processing the whole thing, until they had to be asked to leave. I understand how they feel. If it had been the Braves I would feel the exact same way. I would cry and scream and just feel awful. But the more invested you are, the greater the payoff is when your team does well. It can be such an amazing feeling that's worth all the frustration that you sometimes have to suffer.

The third episode of Gossip Girls and the second episode of Dirty Sexy Money air tonight, so I need to finish my lesson planning before they start. Wednesday has replaced Tuesday as my big TV night.