Sunday, September 26, 2010

"I didn't mind you blaming me for your mistakes, I just held you in the doorframe through all of the earthquakes." ~the antlers

Today was one of my favorite days of the year, the Broadway Flea Market. It was so much more enjoyable than last year (when it was moved inside because of rain). I spent way too much money and bought way too much stuff, but it's once a year, I love owning special Broadway memorabilia from my favorite shows, and the money goes to BC/EFA (a charity that I support), so I felt okay about my splurge. I went in the morning before it technically opened and most booths were already selling stuff, so it was nice to be there before the crowds arrived and before the best stuff was sold. Here's what I bought in the morning:
I love having actual drumsticks used in American Idiot (and they're definitely used; the ends are really worn out), the prop letters from A Little Night Music are pretty cool, and the Boeing Boeing bag was only $5 and came with a bunch of stuff inside (keychains, luggage tag, mousepad), so I thought it was a good deal. Nothing in the above photo cost more than $10.

I went back later in the day, when the prices were dropped. At one table you could fill a bag with as much stuff as possible for just $1 total. I got a few window cards, a Behanding in Spokane script, an opening night playbill from Long Day's Journey Into Night...there were lots of goodies. I also got a big reasons to be pretty poster for $1. My biggest splurge of the day was a hat from the recent revival of Guys and Dolls signed by the entire cast. That was the only thing that cost more than $10. My biggest problem now is figuring out what to do with all my acquisitions. I've already updated the wall above my bed:
As you can see, the top row is devoted to my favorite playwright, Martin McDonagh. The wall is probably too crowded, but I don't care. I love looking at these.

I'm already excited for next year's Flea Market.

ETA: I'm testing a .gif here (Claire taking a watermelon in the face on the season premiere of The Amazing Race).


Saturday, September 25, 2010

"I'm gonna run to the river, kiss my hand and wave. Gonna run to the river, gonna throw a blue bouquet. 'Cause they're gonna be cool happy genius heroes, I'm gonna miss them so much." ~the national

Tonight I planned an evening for three of my teacher friends and I to see Waiting for Superman. It was great to hang out with them because I'm the only one left at our school so I don't see them much anymore (two of them aren't teaching anymore and one is at a different school). We all hated the movie, though. It made us really angry. So get ready for a rant. It's incredibly biased. And political. And one-sided. In promoting it's own agenda, it completely ignores important factors in education. It blames the teachers and the teacher's unions for all the problems in our country's education system. The main problem is not the teachers. Why not examine the fact that education has been turned into a bureaucracy? School districts are run like companies. Principals are given all the power. The film never once mentions the importance of strong leadership. What about schools with principals who can't lead? Who don't know how to run schools and train and inspire teachers? I know that there are some bad teachers out there, but that's not the biggest problem we face and should not be a reason to completely strip unions of their power. Teacher's unions are necessary to protect teachers because of unfair treatment that they face. Trust me, if the unions didn't exist, a lot of teachers' lives would be ruined. I've seen it happen to great teachers even though the union does exist. The union is necessary because of the way that our education system is run. I wish it weren't necessary, but it is.

The film also fails to address the issue of parental involvement. It follows the lives of some students who are applying to charter schools. All the students followed in the movie have parents who deeply care about their kids' education. Unfortunately, those parents are not the norm. I have a feeling the kids who didn't get into the charter schools to which they applied will still be okay, even if they go to regular neighborhood public schools, because their parents will push them. Parental involvement is SO important. Some parents of my students don't even know where their kids are at 11pm. I've even had parents tell me that they've given up on their kids. What about those kids, the ones who don't have someone at home telling them to do their homework and inspiring them to succeed and emphasizing the importance of a good education? Yes, that's the teacher's job as well, but it needs to be a joint effort. It's not fair to place all the responsibility on the teachers.

Another issue I have with the movie (and I realize this might make me some enemies) is the promotion of the idea that all kids should go to college. I believe that all kids should have the opportunity to go to college if they so choose, but I don't think that college is for everyone. Society is made up of an incredibly diverse group of people who complete a variety of jobs, all of which are necessary for the society to run smoothly. What's wrong with becoming skilled in a trade? Why do we place such an emphasis on white collar jobs? Not everyone can be a doctor or a lawyer (society couldn't function properly), and not everyone wants to be, and that's okay.

I don't know, I was just really angry while watching the film. I felt like I was being attacked. It was promoting a very specific political agenda, and I don't agree with it's message at all. Sure, I felt for the kids in the movie, but there has to be a better way to improve the public education system. I'm a teacher, I'm proud to be a teacher, I care deeply about my students, I want to give them the best education possible, and this movie made me feel...I can't think of the right word.

I just wrote this immediately after returning home from the movie and I may come back and edit it once I've sorted my ideas out a little more. Anyway, here's the trailer:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"Yeah you got a piece of me, but it's just a little piece of me, and I don't need anyone." ~counting crows

This is a crazy-good weekend for new movie releases. So here are my reviews for three of them.

Easy A
It was a fun, clever movie with some great performances. Emma Stone establishes herself as a verifiable leading lady, and Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson are hilarious as the coolest parents ever. It's a "teen" movie, but I think it's a good enough film that anyone would enjoy it. I particularly like how it tips it's hat to some classic 80's films that I love. It was obviously quite different from the other two films I saw this weekend, but I appreciated it's lightness.

The Town
Gone Baby Gone was not a fluke. Ben Affleck can direct. In fact, he's really, really good at it. I can't decide which of his movies I prefer (Gone Baby Gone or The Town), but I know that Mr. Affleck knows what he's doing. Is it too much to say that he has the potential to become for Boston what Martin Scorsese is for New York? Anyway, I loved this movie. It's well-paced, suspenseful, well-acted, and an overall solid film. I watch Gossip Girl and I don't like Blake Lively's character on the show, but she's wonderful in this movie. Her performance is so refreshing. Rebecca Hall is solid as usual. I have a soft spot for her because I've seen her give a fabulous performance onstage. Jeremy Renner is pitch-perfect as Affleck's angry, unpredictable best friend. I definitely recommend the film.

Never Let Me Go
I have to begin by saying that this is based on one of my favorite books. If you enjoyed the book, you'll love the movie. I did; it's a very loyal adaptation (loyal to both the story and the tone). Of course it's depressing, and it made me cry like I haven't cried during a movie in quite some time, but I expected that and relished in it. It's beautifully made and beautifully acted. Carey Mulligan (whom I believe should have won the Oscar last year for An Education), will hopefully be nominated for an Oscar again this year. She's charming and heartbreaking. Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield are also stellar. Kazuo Ishiguro is one of my three favorite authors (and you can imagine that's not easy for me to say because I read a lot), and it was great to see another wonderful adaptation of one of his books. If you haven't, go read The Remains of the Day (it won the Man Booker Prize) and then watch the movie (it was nominated for eight Oscars). And then go read and watch Never Let Me Go.

Friday, September 17, 2010

"Well, I dreamt I saw you walking up a hillside in the snow. Casting shadows on the winter sky, as you stood there counting crows. One for sorrow, two for joy, three for girls and four for boys, five for silver, six for gold, seven for a secret never to be told. There's a bird that nests inside you, sleeping underneath your skin. Yeah, when you open up your wings to speak, I wish you'd let me in." ~counting crows

I survived the first full week of school!

Just look at what I got. I'll be busy for the next few days reading the last two books. It won't take me more than a few days. These are too good to stop reading.

Recently I talked about going back and listening to my bootlegs of the Bruce Springsteen final Giants Stadium concerts. I love going back and listening to recordings of shows that I attended; it's really special knowing that you were there. My favorite live act is Counting Crows. I can't listen to their studio albums anymore; I have to listen to bootlegs. I was at one show where "Goodnight Elisabeth" was over 17 minutes long (I think it was a record for that song). "Round Here," "Rain King," and "A Murder of One" rarely clock in under 10 minutes. They're always epic. Each time you hear CC perform one of their songs live, it's different from any other time they've played it. I can't even tell you what an experience their concerts are. For the past week I've been stuck on their most recent Central Park show. It might just be my favorite concert ever. Actually, it was a Saturday Night Rebel Rockers Traveling Circus and Medicine Show concert. They were made up of Counting Crows, Augustana, and Michael Franti & Spearhead. And the lovely actress Emmy Rossum. So here are some videos I recorded at that show:

"Rain King" (an absolutely brilliant version, which unfortunately got cut off around 10 minutes because I ran out of space. But seriously, you have to watch this, it's just too good for words):

And my favorite CC song, the song that inspired my tattoo, "A Murder of One:"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"We beg rebirth to take us up, parade our souls out by the back gate. Some claw the ground, some cut the air, some warm the seas, but what will you be and when?" ~freelance whales

Oh my goodness. Covert Affairs, Covert Affairs, Covert Affairs. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. You have a strong, intelligent female protagonist who is incredibly layered and likable, largely due to the talents of Piper Perabo. I've seen most of her work; I've seen her onstage, I've seen her movies, and trust me, Perabo is at her very best in this series. Her character Annie is a witty, vulnerable, confused, determined, stylish, physically strong CIA agent whom viewers can't help but love. You have a fabulous cast of supporting characters, the best one being Auggie, played by Christopher Gorham (probably best known for Ugly Betty). He's funny and charming and sweet and conflicted and he and Annie have amazing banter. You have Peter Gallagher. (Need I say more? I'm in love with Peter Gallagher.) And Sendhil Ramamurthy (Heroes). You have action and comedy and heart and you make people think. You're definitely the best show of the summer and I cannot wait until you return for a second season.

The finale? Wow. First of all, Anna Chlumsky played a big part, and I love her. To me, she will always be Vada Sultenfuss, the heart of My Girl. Oh, how i love that movie. I need to go rewatch it. I cry every time. In Covert Affairs I recognized her easily even though she's grown up now, but what surprised me was her voice; her voice sounds different to me. What else to say about the finale without spoiling anything? It made me sad. Really sad.

Chuck returns in five days! Season four premieres Monday, September 20th, 8:00pm(est) on NBC. Seasons one through three are all out on DVD so you can catch up if you need to! NBC finally aired a promo (don't even get me started on how crappy NBC is for not promoting this show). This season will be awesome, trust me.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"Some hurt bad, some really dying. At night sometimes it seemed you could hear the whole damn city crying." ~bruce springsteen

Today's post is totally a collection of random, unimportant tidbits. I've got 9/11 on my mind, but I don't know what to say about it. What is there to say? My heart goes out to those who lost their lives and those who lost loved ones and this beautiful city in which I live.

I'm continuing the Chuck promotion today. Tell all your friends to watch it when it airs on TV. Especially your friends with Nielsen boxes. Monday, September 20th, 8:00pm.

Chuck vs. the Podcast - Comic-Con 2010 (full Chuck panel)

TV is getting exciting. Summer shows are having their finales and fall shows are beginning. I'm really looking forward to the finales of True Blood tomorrow night and Covert Affairs on Tuesday.

Last night I saw Mrs. Warren's Profession on Broadway. It stars Cherry Jones and Sally Hawkins, both of whom I like very much. Cherry Jones is a Tony-winning stage veteran (most recently winning the Tony for Doubt), and she's also known for playing the President on 24. Seeing her onstage is a revelation. If you haven't seen Happy Go Lucky starring Sally Hawkins, go rent it now. She won a Golden Globe for her performance. I love that movie. And she's fabulous in it. The performances of both ladies in this play are wonderful, and the final scene between them makes the show worthwhile, but I was a bit disappointed with the play. Sorry, George Bernard Shaw. Anyway, I suppose the production is a step up for Roundabout, who has churned out a bunch of disasters recently.

I'm excited about the U.S. Open. I like both players in tonight's women's final, so I'll be happy no matter what.

I'm really loving The Hunger Games. I'll finish the first book today, so I think I need to go out and buy the next two.

Aaaannnndddd that's all I've got for now. My brain isn't really working.

Friday, September 10, 2010

"The hungry and the hunted explode into rock'n'roll bands that face off against each other out in the street, down in Jungleland." ~bruce springsteen

I've been listening to recordings of the Springsteen concerts I went to that shut down Giants Stadium last year. Those shows were absolutely magical.

Where to start? School, I suppose. I think it'll be a good year. I'm back in sixth grade and I'm thrilled about it. They're so tiny! I'm a fan of munchkins much more than kids who tower over me. It's amazing how young they look compared to my seventh graders last year. Some of them are really, really sweet. Of course some of them won't be easy to work with (especially my all-boys class), but I feel positive. Yesterday I spent a few hours working on my classroom and I think it looks good. Not perfect, but good.

Nic and I went to the U.S. Open on Tuesday evening, and I had so much fun. I just love being there. My family used to go every year and it feels so familiar and comfortable to me. We saw Clijsters play Stosur and Nadal play F. Lopez. The women's match went to three sets and it was very entertaining. I love both women so I didn't care who won; I just wanted to see a good match, and I was satisfied. The men's match wasn't even close, but just seeing Nadal play live is special. I love him. I liked the fact that it was a match between two lefties. I'm a fan of fellow lefties. It was the night session and I didn't get home until 3am, so getting up at 6am for the first day of school was not easy, but it was worth it. Here are some bad photos (shots of people moving really quickly are impossible for me):
Samantha Stosur:
Kim Clijsters:
Rafa Nadal:
Feliciano Lopez:

So I've finally started reading The Hunger Games. I know, I know, I'm two years late. I finally realized I needed to get with the program and see what all the fuss is about. Better late than never, right?? Jasper likes it, too.
Finally, now that the fourth season is approaching, I'm starting to advertise Chuck again. I've converted quite a few people, and I'm proud of that. Here's a fun video made by the very talented Callie. Catch up on the first three seasons (they're all out on DVD), and then watch season four, premiering on Monday, September 20th at 8pm on NBC.

Monday, September 06, 2010

"Summer has come and passed, the innocent can never last. Wake me up when September ends." ~green day

I haven't posted in awhile and I know I have so much to write about, but I've forgotten most of it.

I had a friend stay with me about a week ago (or was it two weeks?). Another friend was visiting the city from Italy. It was great to be able to spend time with them. I love having visitors. I got to feel like a tourist for a short bit of time. We went to the Guggenheim and we saw the movie Manhattan on a big screen in Central Park and we watched the Emmys in my tiny apartment and it was a really great weekend.
Manhattan in Manhattan:

I ushered at the off-Broadway play Trust recently. It has the most amazing cast (Sutton Foster, Bobby Cannavale, Ari Graynor, and Zach Braff) so you'd think it would have to be amazing. Unfortunately you'd think wrong.

I love that the Broadway season is heating up. I'm seeing some shows in the near future and I'll report back on them. I also have tickets to some concerts that are coming up soon (The Gaslight Anthem, The Hold Steady, The Avett Brothers, Frightened Rabbit), so be on the lookout for goodies from those. I need fun things to keep me sane during the school year.

One good thing about having kittens is that they've made me take better care of my apartment. I have to keep it clean and neat because of them. I hate doing the work to make it happen, but I love having a clean apartment. I just did a ton of laundry, vacuumed, and straightened up and my apartment and it's so nice to be able to relax in it now.

Jasper was sick for awhile and I was worried about him, but he's gotten better. He was down to 1.6 pounds (that's really, really, tiny, and it's especially worrisome because he weighed two pounds three days earlier). He's gained weight, though, and he's much more playful. Both kittens have colds, and their coughs are pretty scary too, but they should get over them soon. I love them so much. Casey is a maniac, and it's adorable. He has so much energy. He loves running around the apartment, starting on the bed and sprinting onto the couch and then into the kitchen and back to the bed again. He also loves chasing his tail. He fell into the toilet yesterday (he actually leaped into the toilet, not realizing I had just flushed it and therefore hadn't put the seat down yet). With him around it's impossible to get bored. Jasper is more cuddly; he climbs onto my lap whenever I'm sitting on the couch and loves to stick his nose in my nostrils. They both do that, actually. I sleep flat on my stomach, and they've both fallen asleep on my back. They also like sleeping on my pillow, right next to my head.

I had a great birthday on Saturday. Nic took me to the movies and we saw The American. I love Anton Corbijn. Of course he's best known as a music photographer, shooting U2 for decades; he's done amazing work for them. I was really excited to see him try his hand at directing, and I was not disappointed. Every shot in the movie is just gorgeous. It's visually stunning. The cinematography was definitely the best part about it, and I was completely fine with that. The story was very predictable (at least to me), but I didn't even care. I did like George Clooney's performance. And it made me want to go to Italy.

That evening I went and spent the night with my cousin Bess. She worked hard to make a cake for me, and it was great to spend time with her. We watched movies and relaxed and I always love being over there.

Yesterday my friend Roseann took me out for the best fries in the city and it was good to see her. We hung out for six hours and didn't run out of things to talk about. That's always how it is with her; we can't have a phone conversation that lasts less than an hour. I'm going to miss her at school this year.

I go back to school tomorrow. It'll be interesting to see how it'll be different this year. We lost a lot of teachers with whom I'm close. I do still have friends there, though, and it will be good to see them.

Tomorrow night Nic and I are going to the U.S. Open, and I'm excited about that. My family used to go every year, and I miss that. I don't even care who plays tomorrow night; just the thrill of being there will be enough.

I'll leave you with a couple shots of the babies.