Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"My blue Manhattan, she's angry like a child, but how sweet. Fire and rain on the street. It's you against me most days, it's me against you, doll." ~ryan adams

On Sunday TV on the Radio played a free concert at McCarren Pool, so of course I went. I thought the rain would deter other people from going, and I'm sure it did deter some people, but there was still a huge crowd. I guess when a band as popular as TVOTR is playing for free, a little rain (or a lot of rain) isn't going to stop music fans. I got there really early, though, and ended up in the front row. I was extremely lucky. The stage was covered, and the awning extended enough so that the people standing in the front row were mostly covered by it, so I didn't get too wet. And the rain stopped around the time that TVOTR went onstage. There's a good review with tons of fabulous pictures here. It was a really good concert.

I've been waiting for the movie Stardust to come out for a very, very, long time, so I searched around online and found a bunch of contests offering tickets to free advance screenings of the movie. And I won one of them! So Nic and I are seeing it tomorrow night. I'll post a review afterwards. It opens in theaters on August 10th, so mark your calendars. I'm so excited. In case you haven't noticed, I'm a huge Claire Danes fan (it is probably most obvious from the fact that my blog is named after her amazing tv show). She has a pretty cool name, too. ;-) When you throw Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert DeNiro into the mix, you've got a pretty great cast. And it looks like a great story.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

"If I could open my arms and span the length of the isle of Manhattan, I'd bring it to where you are, making a lake of the East River and Hudson. If I could open my mouth wide enough for a marching band to march out, they would make your name sing and bend through alleys and bounce off all the buildings." ~death cab for cutie

It's so incredibly hot in my apartment that I don't like spending any more time there than I have to. I've been pretty successful at finding stuff to do. Yesterday afternoon I walked down to a free outdoor concert at the East River Amphitheater. Three bands played and they were pretty good. It was a nice venue, too. The stage is right in front of the East River, so you can watch all the boats go by as you listen to the music. I also sat outside yesterday and reread the first Harry Potter book. It didn't take me very long. I think I'll move on to #2 today. I'm planning on going through them all in a row now that they're all out.

Last night Christin, her sister, and I went to this really cool dueling piano bar called Sweet Caroline's. It was so much fun; Christin and I both said we wanted to go back there again. They played some great songs and the whole crowd got really into it. I learned that Long Island Iced Teas are very dangerous, though. While I was there I was great. I ended up standing on top of my chair singing along at the top of my lungs (many other people were doing the same), and I had a blast. But when I got home I didn't feel so great. Anyway, I definitely want to go back.

Friday, July 27, 2007

"Oh we're just people-watching on Third and St. Marks..." ~joe purdy

I live about fifty feet away from the intersection of Third and St. Marks. It definitely is a good place to people-watch. St. Marks is such an awesome street. Have I mentioned that I'm in love with my neighborhood?? Living in Greenwich Village is amazing.

I've been trying to take advantage of living in the city as much as possible. Last night I went to this awesome (free) event in Central Park. Two of my favorite authors read from their most recent novels and then participated in a round table discussion. Jennifer Egan read first, from The Keep. I've read all of Jennifer Egan's novels (she's only written three) and I absolutely love her. I think The Keep is my favorite of the three. It was so cool to hear the words of the novel coming directly out of her mouth. I wrote a little bit about the book here. Then Marisha Pessl read from her debut novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics. I was so excited to hear her read and speak because this novel blew me away. If you haven't read it, go do so now. Seriously. I think it's brilliant. The New York Times (among many other publications) named it one of the ten best books of 2006. Pessl is especially skilled at creating dynamic, interesting, realistic characters, and I love her use of allusions. The book is filled with "thousands" of references (according to amazon.com) that are wonderfully woven into the text. During the discussion she talked about outlining the plot on an Excel spreadsheet before she started writing, which I thought was so interesting (and necessary for her novel, because there's a lot going on and she had to keep track of what Blue knew at what time). Listening to Pessl read was such an enjoyable experience. She's very dramatic. At one point during the discussion after the readings she mentioned that she was in plays, and it didn't surprise me at all because she seems like a natural-born actress. She did different voices for the different characters and was very theatrical. When I was reading the book I found it hilarious at times, and it was even more funny listening to Pessl read it out loud. So I'm very glad that I had the chance to hear those two brilliant women speak. I highly recommend both of their works.

Monday, July 23, 2007

"It's a strange thing, but when you are dreading something, and would give anything to slow down time, it has a disobliging habit of speeding up." ~j.k. rowling

This post is about Harry Potter. There are no spoilers in the main post; I just talk about the series in general. I'll write about book 7 in the comments section, so DO NOT CLICK ON THE COMMENTS SECTION IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS IN THE FINAL BOOK.

Harry Potter is over. I can't quite believe it. After ten years, the story is complete. I have nothing to look forward to anymore. It's an incredibly sad, empty feeling. It didn't take me too long (less than a day) to read the last book, but I tried to savor it as I read. I was torn as I got towards the end; I wanted to know what would happen, but I didn't want it to end. And now it has.

The Harry Potter series is a phenomenon unlike anything else the literary world has seen. Its mass appeal is unprecedented. It got so many people excited about reading who ordinarily wouldn't have voluntarily picked up a book, and I think that's fantastic. It appealed to all ages as well. I know both kids and adults who couldn't wait for July 21st so they could drop everything else and read. As I was reading, I stopped to wonder how many people were reading the same book as I was at that very moment. I'm sure there were millions of us. That's such a cool feeling.

I know that future generations will continue to read the series, but it won't be the same for them as it was for those of us who read the books as they were released. For me, much of the excitement came from the anticipation. A book would be released, I would read it in a day, and would then eagerly wait for the next book to be written and published. Everyone was in the same boat, so we could speculate together and analyze the details of the books in order to make predictions. Harry Potter brought people together like no other work of fiction has, at least in my lifetime.

So thank you to J.K. Rowling for creating that magical world and allowing so many of us to escape to it.

Go on to the comments section if you want to know what I thought of book 7.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

"New York City, such a beautiful disease. New York City, such a beautiful, such a beautiful disease." ~norah jones

Last night I had a great dinner with my new friend Jenny. She's from Melbourne and she just arrived in NYC a couple of weeks ago. We walked around the Village and ended up at a nice restaurant where we sat outside on the patio. There was a breeze blowing and it was a perfect night to be outside. We ate and talked for two hours. I guess we're in somewhat similar situations, both being new residents of the city, and we had a lot to talk about. I had fun. And I love living in Greenwich VIllage; there are so many good restaurants to choose from, there are always lots of people walking around, and it just has a really cool atmosphere.

I'm going home for the weekend. Kim, Elizabeth, and I are seeing Hairspray (the movie) on Friday night. I absolutely cannot wait; I'm a big fan of the musical. I saw it on Broadway with the original cast and loved it. It's such a fun show. And the movie is supposedly fantastic. On Saturday we're going to Six Flags. I haven't been there for awhile, so I'm excited about that as well. I'm sacrificing some precious Harry Potter reading time to go; now I won't be able to start it until Saturday night. I'll read quickly. I don't want to be spoiled before I finish it. Supposedly the ending is leaked online already, but I'm staying far away from that info.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


"So just wear your hair down low, don't let anybody know, that it's hard to live, it's hard to live in the city. Yes it's hard to live, so hard to live in the city." ~albert hammond jr.

I moved into my new apartment over the weekend. I don't really have that much to do here, though. I've done a lot of walking over the past few days. Like I'll walk 100+ blocks a day. I guess it's good for me. I've also been reading (I'm in the middle of Prozac Nation right now) and watching my DVDs. It's incredibly hot in my apartment, though; I've probably sweated off 5 pounds already. I've spent time with some friends, which has been nice. I had brunch with my friend Colin one day, and I've hung out with Nicole. Tonight I'm meeting up with a girl I know who's from Melbourne. I don't have the internet or TV in my apartment, and it's going to be really difficult for me to survive without those things. I looked into getting the internet set up in my room, but it's really expensive just to get hooked up and I don't think it's worth it. I'll probably only live here for 3 months before I find another place (that's what my initial lease is for, and I think I'll want to move on when that time is up). So it looks like I'll have to survive without TV and internet. When I start work it won't be so bad because I'll probably be able to go online at school, but for now it's annoying. There's a bench a block away where I get (spotty) wireless access, so I'll have to make do with that, but it's not exactly convenient to walk down 3 flights of stairs and a block away with my laptop just to check my email.

For a graduation present to myself I bought recording gear, and this week I recorded my first bootleg! It actually turned out very well considering it was my first time, I don't have the best equipment, and I wasn't even in the concert venue. The concert was The Decemberists at Central Park Summerstage. Nic and I go to the Summerstage concerts and sit outside; you don't have to pay, and you can hear everything just as well as if you were inside the venue (it's open air so the sound carries, and you can even see part of the stage). There are always hundreds of people sitting outside. It's fun; everyone still claps, and a bunch of people were dancing tonight. The only Summerstage concert I've paid for was The Killers, and that was definitely worth it (I ended up in the front row mere feet away from Brandon Flowers, and it was an amazing concert). But for other acts for which I don't want to shell out $40, it's perfect to sit outside and listen. Anyway, I'm very pleased with my recording. But Nic and I talked through the entire concert (we could because we were sitting outside), and our conversation is very audible on the recording. It's absolutely hilarious to listen to. I have the most obnoxious voice ever, though; on the recording I sound much different from what I sound like in my head. If that's how I sound to other people, I'm terribly sorry.
There is one song during which we don't talk at all, and it happens to be a really good song. Here's a link to download my recording of "Sons and Daughters." I converted it to an mp3 so it's a smaller file.
Give it a listen if you like; it's good (but the link expires within a week, so download it now if you want it).
Download "Sons and Daughters"

And here's a link to a good review of the concert.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

" In New York freedom looks like too many choices. In New York I found a friend to drown out the other voices. Voices on the cell phone, voices from home, voices of the hard sell, voices down the stairwell. In New York, just got a place in New York.
In New York summers get hot, well into the hundreds. You can't walk around the block without a change of clothing. Hot as a hairdryer in your face, hot as a handbag and a can of mace. In New York, I just got a place in New York. New York, New York..." u2

You'll probably be subjected to NYC-related lyrics here for awhile.

Of course my last day as an official WW resident required a trip to the emergency room. Sigh. Just my luck. And it's going to take me forever to type this entry because my right arm is in a plaster splint-thing (it's like half a cast) and a sling for good measure, so it's useless for typing (and pretty much everything else). At least it's not my left arm (I'm left-handed). When I broke my left arm in middle school I felt like it was impossible for me to do anything for two months. Anyway, yesterday morning Josie bit my hand. She's 14, she's the sweetest dog in the world, and she's never bitten anyone before. She had a very sore leg, though, and she couldn't get down the deck's steps to get outside, so I picked her up and it must have hurt her leg, so she bit me (hard). It got infected; when I woke up this morning I couldn't bend my fingers at all, my whole hand throbbed, was red, and was incredibly swollen. So, as per the orders of Josie's vet and my doctor, I was off to the emergency room where I got to deal with a tetanus shot, x-rays, and lots of waiting. Actually, the hospital visit wasn't so bad. I'm a very strange person in that I like hospitals. I think it's because I worked in one for six years (the same one I went to today). The fact that I'm obsessed with Grey's Anatomy might be a contributing factor as well (or maybe I like the show because I like hospitals, I'm not sure). Hospitals feel safe and familiar to me. I didn't mind being back there today. Now I'm home, though, and I have to start packing for my move tomorrow (which was going to be difficult enough with the use of two arms). Ugh.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"And take a minute to reflect in your own way. Take your time and connect in your own way. I know it's good to be alone some days, but you got a long face in your own way, baby. I know you got a big heart in your own way. Independent and smart in your own way. And even though you get along somehow, you're missing out now in your own way, baby." ~caleb cane

I'm obviously a huge music fan, and I go through phases where I listen to the same song nonstop for days. "In Your Own Way" is my current song. I hadn't listened to it for awhile until it came up on my iPod on shuffle recently, and now I can't stop playing it.

I'm moving into my new apartment on Sunday. I'm ready. I had another draining teacher placement fair yesterday and now my mom won't get off my case (she was on my case before, but today she kicked her nagging up a few notches, which I didn't think was possible). She won't let me run this job search by myself; she feels it's necessary to tell me what I'm doing wrong and what I should be doing and making me feel guilty for not throwing myself at principals. I finally told her to back off because I was close to snapping, which started a big argument, and now we're barely speaking. We're the only ones in the house during the day and it's tense. So I feel ready to leave. She doesn't seem to get that I am guaranteed a job; if I don't find one myself it's not the end of the world because I'll be placed somewhere. She means well and cares about me, but she doesn't understand that I need space right now.

On a more exciting note, Harry Potter 7 is quickly approaching. Damon Lindelof (the creator of Lost) wrote an opinion piece about the book for the New York Times on Sunday; it's interesting. I agree with him. I think Harry should die, but I don't know if Rowling has the guts to kill him. I still cannot wait to read the book. I'm also excited to see the newest movie. My brother went to last night's midnight showing. I'll definitely go sometime in the next few days.

Monday, July 09, 2007

"I want to raise the sails with these strings and send the melody soaring. I want us to disappear in a wave and drift on a song until morning." ~the last town chorus

Tonight I dragged Nic to see The Last Town Chorus perform in Borders. It was a free in-store performance and Megan sang 6 songs. There were red leather lounge chairs set up in front and then rows of folding chairs behind. We got seats in the front row (in the comfy chairs) right in front of the stage, so we had a perfect view (it even felt a little weird to be so close). It was short, but I loved the concert. She sang "Boat," "It's Not Over," and "Modern Love," which are three of my favorite songs from Wire Waltz. I wish she had done "Huntsville, 1989," but overall I thought it was a strong setlist. Afterwards I got her to sign my CD, and she was so incredibly nice; she made an effort to talk to me and ask me questions, even though I was slightly starstruck, shy, and not all that eloquent. I can't wait to go to a full-out concert of hers, and she said she has some gigs planned in NYC later this summer, so it seems like I won't have to wait too long.
Here's a picture I took during the concert:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
And one of my signed CD:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
I highly recommend you watch the video for "Modern Love;" she completely transforms David Bowie's song, and it's absolutely beautiful. Then go out and buy Wire Waltz.
If the video doesn't show up below (youtube is being stupid right now), here's the link.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

"Welcome home, baby!" ~my new roommate

No, My New Roommate isn't a band. I know I always open with a song lyric, but I decided to go with a quote from a person this time. I finally found an apartment, and I'm soooo excited about it. Nicole and I were looking for a 2 bedroom apartment together, but we looked for 2 months (we probably saw about 50 apartments) and couldn't find anything good. It's incredibly slim pickings out there. So we decided to start looking individually at shares (people with apartments who are looking for roommates). And I found one today. It's a 2 bedroom apartment that I'll be sharing with a friendly, funny, Frenchman in his 40s. I'm thrilled about the location; I honestly can't imagine a better place in the city to live. I'll be on Stuyvesant Street, which is in the East Village a block away from Astor Place. It's incredibly convenient for taking a variety of subway lines (4, 6, N, R, W, F, V, L). The apartment is 2 blocks away from the MTV office where I worked last summer, so I'm familiar with the area and I can go back and visit my MTV buddies all the time. The apartment is nice. My bedroom is big considering the location, and it comes with a captain's bed (that has drawers underneath it). Marc, the guy I'll be living with, is very friendly; we seem to get along well. He got over 60 responses to his ad and I was the last person he met with, and after we talked for half an hour he offered me the apartment. He said he'll help me work on my French (as well as my French cooking). It's an immediate move-in, which means I could have moved in today. I think I'll start bringing stuff in tomorrow. I've been looking for so long that I can't believe I finally found a place. I'm thrilled. Now I just need to find a school....

Friday, July 06, 2007

"I am colorblind, coffee black and egg white. Pull me out from inside. I am ready, I am ready, I am ready, I am...fine, I am.... fine, I am fine." ~counting crows

There might be some typos in this post because I can't see very well. I think I'm allowed to use the computer by now, and even if I'm not, I don't care. I'm way too dependent on it. I got Lasik surgery yesterday. The doctor said my vision will keep changing slowly for up to 2 months. Yesterday after the surgery I could hardly see anything. When I woke up this morning, though, the change was amazing. My vision is nowhere near perfect yet, but it's so much better than it was before the surgery. I was practically blind before. For those of you with contacts/glasses who know what this number means, my eyes were -8. That's pretty bad. I'm so glad I got the surgery, but it was slightly scary. They gave me Xanax, which didn't help my nerves much (it made me sleep after the surgery, though). They also gave me a squeeze toy to hold during the procedure; I got a panda, which is my favorite animal. One of the nurses said a lot of patients decapitate their toys or tear them apart, but I kept mine whole, so I guess I wasn't as nervous as some patients are. I was shaking, though. One of the technicians in the room asked me if I was cold; I wasn't cold at all, it was nerves. It was such a strange experience. First the doctor cut a flap in each eye. I could see him doing it, too. Then he lifted the flap of one eye at a time and used a laser to shave off part of the cornea (the laser only lasted about 50 seconds per eye, but I had to stay completely still and keep my eye focused on one spot during that time). When the flap of my eye was cut open and lifted up, I could still see, which was an unreal sensation. I couldn't see well, but I could see even without the top layer of my eye. How cool is that?!? The laser created a loud noise and a burning smell that was terrifying. When the doctor finished with the laser, he put the top of my eye back on again and smoothed it down with something that looked like a sponge, and I watched him. It's really impossible to describe, but it was very weird. The doctor had a video camera on his head or on the machine or something, and it was hooked up to a TV in a waiting room where my mom watched the whole thing. The nurse waiting with her was impressed; she said hardly anyone likes to watch. My mom saw the whole thing, though, and was completely unphased. She said the doctor held the flap of my eye open with a pointy object that looked like a needle (seeing the needle coming towards my eye was one of the scary parts for me) and she asked the nurse what would happen if the end of it pierced through the piece of eye that it was holding up; the nurse's only reply was, "That would be very, very bad." Hehe. Anyway, I survived and my eyes did as well. Hopefully they'll improve to the point where my vision is nearly perfect and I don't have to have any touch-ups.
That's all for now. I have other stuff to write about, but I'm not in the mood. I didn't sleep at all last night. I have to wear this ridiculous-looking shield over my eyes while I sleep for 10 nights, and it is incredibly uncomfortable. It also forces me to sleep on my back, which I really can't do. So I'll probably be sleep-deprived and crabby for the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

"So come down now, remove your bandage so I can see your damage more than the law allows. So come down now, remove your bandage so I can see you’re damaged more than the law allows. " ~the negro problem

I'm back, in a slightly better mood, to tell y'all about the amazing musical Nic and I saw last night (it was a great end to a disappointing day). I would tell everyone to go see it but it closes today. It was a limited run and it extended through June, which was great because that allowed more people to see it, but I wish it would extend again so that it could touch even more people. It's called Passing Strange. It's Stew's musical; he wrote the book and lyrics and cowrote the music (and he's also in the show). If you don't already know who Stew is, go buy some CDs by STEW or The Negro Problem (they're basically the same band; they pretty much just switched their name from The Negro Problem to STEW and then back to The Negro Problem). Adam Duritz (Counting Crows' frontman, one of my favorite singers ever) raves about Stew here (beware; this rave goes on for what amounts to something like 20 pages). Here's a quote from Adam Duritz in case you don't have a few hours to devote to reading his entire article:
"I’m not gonna lie to you, and let me get this out of the way right here at the top of this article, he (Stew) is flat-out unquestionably no doubt in my mind whatsoever the finest songwriter working today. He is so far and above my favorite that I can’t even think of anyone working in the same stratosphere as him, at least not off the top of my head."
Stew's band has had Entertainment Weekly's Album of the Year multiple times. They've gotten much critical acclaim and they're insanely talented. And they decided to write a musical, which I think is totally awesome (in case you haven't noticed, I'm obsessed with musical theater). They pulled it off, too. Passing Strange is wonderful.

Here are a few pull-quotes from some reviews:

“STEW tweaks the received wisdom of racial identity as cannily and wittily as any playwright since George C. Wolfe when he unleashed The Colored Museum in 1986.” ~Eric Grode, The New York Sun

"Not since Stephen Sondheim introduced a kind of Jewish skepticism and irony to the Broadway musical, in the nineteen-fifties, and Tony Kushner revolved his 2003 show, "Caroline, or Change," around the ways in which class intersects with race have we had such a finely crafted, ethnic-minded American musical as Passing Strange (at the Public). "Passing Strange" is a brilliant work about migration--a geographical migration but also its hero's migration beyond the tenets of "blackness" and toward selfhood. Unlike Sondheim and Kushner, the musician and singer Stew, who created Passing Strange, which is an autobiography of sorts, doesn't distract us with exoticism or nostalgia; his story centers on a young black man who discovers his own Americanness while growing up, first, in Los Angeles and, later, in Europe. The Youth (Daniel Breaker) is a rock-and-roll Candide--a wanderer whose innocence is never entirely corrupted." ~Hilton Als, The New Yorker

Passing Strange introduces an exciting new voice to contemporary musical theater. Part concert, part book musical with driving rock music and a tart satiric tone – Passing Strange defies generic categories. It dares in its playful way to honor those big questions that have set adolescent souls yearning for centuries. How to discover and be true to your convictions, how to live a meaningful life, and still pay the bills, how to find the understanding you need with out throwing away the love you’re offered.” ~Charles Isherwood, The New York Times

So if Passing Strange ever returns to the stage or if you come across the cast recording, check it out. And, in the meantime, go buy some albums by The Negro Problem and STEW.