Monthly Archives: September 2012

My Battle with Celebrity and a trip off-Broadway

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Again I find myself swooning over a man I don’t actually know. I understand that I am not the only one, but obviously the likes of Alec Baldwin, and in this case Jake Gyllenhaal, do not know I exist. It is all in vain.

This recurring theme with me and the celebrities is a constant battle. I struggle constantly with the knowledge that these people are just like you or I, but then my heart leaps at the sight of them and I must have their signature (or some such interaction. Indeed a smile would suffice). For example, I come out of a theatre and am strangely compelled to lie in wait for their exit and then what? For the empty smile as they perform their perceived duty: signatures and posing for photos? For the possibility that they may befriend me as their new BFF? Do I really believe that is an option?

Jake Gyllenhaal: my new BFF?

Yeah, I think I do. On some level at least. I honestly think that one day I will be discovered by a “celeb” and probably spend hours discussing Gilbert Grape with Leo in his Upper Westside apartment. Or go bear hunting with Maximus (and by hunting I mean finding and then running away and leaving Russ to wrestle with it for a while), as I imagine that is what he gets up to in his spare time. Or hang out with Kevin Spacey. I would call him Kev. We would go for walks discussing new plans to bring theatre to the masses.

Delusional can be cute right?

Well anyway. I know they are just normal people and Mr Jake Gyllenhaal probably doesn’t always want the crazy adoration I witnessed last night after his play off-Broadway, but when he wandered out of the stage door my heart and eyes just lit up. A rugged beard and big arms and you likely don’t need an Oscar to impress me.

PS “If there is I haven’t found it yet” is playing at the Roundabout Theatre just off Broadway. If you are under 30, as winner and I are, you get tickets for just $22 all in. The theatre is intimate and so the back row of the mezzanine offers prime viewing of that hair flicking jarhead. Boy does he have a good head of hair on him.

Now about the play.

I found the staging to be the most impressive. Water, water, everywhere.

A moat-ish pool surrounds the front of the stage and at the centre of the dry space stands a disordered arrangement of household pieces: a fridge, a bed, shelves and tables. As the play progresses, with Tony-award winning Irishman O’Byrne (George) neglecting his family, each piece is brought forth to define the space and then discarded violently in the body of water before them. Chaos is spreading.

Climate change is George’s mission. He wants to inform the public, through his book, that the world is doomed if we don’t buck up our ideas. He wants to show them the world we will be left with if we continue on our selfish path to destruction.

But in the meantime his daughter (Annie Funke) is overweight and bullied. His wife (Gomez) is lonely and frustrated. His brother (Gyllenhaal), who arrives unannounced at curtains up, attempts to warn him, inarticulately, that the world might be on a course for disaster, but there are some issues much closer to home that he probably needs to deal with.

As the play builds to its climax we see the whole stage flooded and the actors sploshing about in fun a metaphor for melted ice caps, I presume. Gyllenhaal was fidgety, aggressive and an unlikely role model for his niece. O’Byrne is wonderfully bumbling, in the way professors always are. And Anna, his troubled daughter, is brave, believable and worrying. I was concerned I was going to see something sinister as she spiralled out of control and I was not to be disappointed?

In summary: thoroughly entertaining and some great English accents on show.

My only concern is for the actors. At the end of the show’s 13 week run there is a distinct possibility of trench foot.

The Greatest Fool

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I felt a bit icky on Sunday. I was not ill per say but I definitely think I was fighting something. I had been feeling nauseated (I just looked it up and nauseous is when you make other people feel sick and so I do try to be grammatically correct since coherent is not always an option) from about Friday night onwards. And so when I woke up on Sunday, with those muscle locking cramps in my right calf, I decided my body was trying to tell me something.

It was trying to tell me to rest up and watch the final 6 episodes of “The Newsroom” while positioned firmly on my sofa. My body is very specific. I had been recommended this show by my mother, and indirectly my father too, who I was informed was a keen observer of the show on his weekend trips home. I had managed to sneak in the first 4 episodes over the past two weeks and was now well positioned to complete the first season. Horizontal in fact.

To say that this show is realistic might be pushing it. To say it has bundled me into its clutches and run away with me is the absolute truth.

As a summary and to get you all up to speed, Jeff Daniels plays Will McAvoy, an anchor for a fictional nightly news show. The season begins with him losing his composure and manners at a female student who has posed the question, “What makes the United States the greatest country in the world?” He proceeds to rant about how this country is in fact not the greatest, all the while seemingly hallucinating that he has seen Emily Mortimer in the audience.

McAvoy is allowed/instructed to take a break. To recover from his meltdown and allow the fickle US public to forget his misdemeanour so that ratings do not tank any further. On his return to the office he is greeted by his “boss” and friend whose role I didn’t quite grasp but he seems to be running the network on some level. He is a big shot, but a really nice guy with incredibly honorable morals to boot. And a bow tie, which is just too cute. McAvoy is informed that his Executive Producer has been shifted to the 10pm show and he will be getting a new EP. Hello Emily Mortimer. Hello McAvoy’s romantic past.

So now we are in the thick of it. McAvoy hates Mortimer (MacKenzie), but we all know he doesn’t really, and he is helpless to stop her rolling in with her band of journalists and her new vision to “fix” McAvoy and the news. McAvoy is a genius, we are told, despite losing his way with his greed for viewers and adoration. He has succumbed to the trash that is Justin Beiber, Kim Kardashian, anyone’s current and past weight change, anyone else’s relationships that last all but two minutes and the group of people who were not famous yesterday but suddenly find themselves so because of a Youtube clip that went “viral”. MacKenzie despises this culture. She wants to reform the news and she wants to set out new rules to achieve this. Rules where the world of Snooki/Kardashian go unreported and where global issues that affects mankind in a real way headline every night. Noble behaviour from the Brit. I for one want to be saved so let’s go.

The Newsroom is filled with a lot of gushy big statements about saving civilization as we know it and annoyingly wonderful love interests that just don’t quite get together even though everyone knows, including them, that it is inevitable. I managed to power through 6 hour long episodes of back to back Newsroom on Sunday and I was not even remotely pooped at the end of it. Although it was dark outside.

However, in hindsight I think watching 6 hour long episodes in one day is unhealthy. For one I am easily influenced by quick witted unrealistically intelligent repartee and two, I start to lose a grasp on my own reality as a result. For instance, on Monday morning I woke up thinking I worked in a newsroom and was an investigative reporter. I was so excited to go at the news and tackle the big stories that I nearly wandered over to Bryant Park to try to get in the offices (that don’t actually exist as it is Aaron Sorkin’s fiction).

It was very confusing to re-address my actual reality where I measure telomere length in double cord blood transplantation (we don’t talk about the “other” project).

Now it is Tuesday and I have slowly come down from my role as global educator and noble informer to the misguided masses. I certainly achieved a lot, in my dreams on Sunday night, and want to thank everyone who supported me and made this “World’s Greatest News Anchor/Investigative Journalist” award (fictional award) a reality. I want to thank my parents who taught me right from wrong. My sister who goes around saving the world on the front line and my teachers for versing me in the skills of thorough research and truth. I could not have got this far without every one of you. I hope to continue my role as Greatest Anchor ever known to man (or woman) for as long as you will have me, but a special mention must go out to my crew, because without them our show would just not be as award-winning as it clearly is. We just want to bring you the news people. The real life world news as it happens. And we will never rest until we do.

Thank you, and good night.

Raw Food is Gluten-Free

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The new NY?
On Thursday of this week I had a workshop. A well dressed work-related workshop where schmoosing was a must and clean braces a definite.
Cue me on 5th Avenue trying to deal with what can only be described as an Apple associated weeklong disaster. First my Macbook Baby dies in dramatic form on Wednesday and I spend about 4 hours in the most frequented store in Manhattan (the one with the big apple outside on 5th Av) trying not to cry but also sort of trying to cry to get my own way and fast. Now it is Thursday and in less than 24 hours I have managed to get my computer wiped and rebooted and also, after a Pain Quotidien brownie moment, drop and smash to smithereens my iPhone. Well the screen anyway.
Now, thursday, I have a functioning if a little sterile Macbook Pro and an abstract version of the iPhone 3S where reading texts is certainly a challenge. What does this have to do with the workshop I hear you cry, in a high-pitched squeal as you scan the rest of this post for any train of thought? Well not much, but it does set the scene for why I am again at the Apple store and the one close to Park Avenue, and the posh workshop.
Between work and workshop I have a self-assigned task. Obtain new iphone (preferably without paying anything but minimally avoiding the $400 deposit that these cheeky phone companies demand of an alien such as myself), feed myself and walk slowly, to avoid blisters due to unusually smart shoes, towards the aforementioned workshop 3 blocks south. iPhone acquisition. Fail. Walking slowly. Success. Food. Erm. Not sure success will really cut it. See what you think.
With 30 min to kill on 57th and about 5th, I began wandering in search of a healthy place to grab a snack to avoid fainting in the workshop (it was over two hours long so I didnt fancy my chances). Suddenly, out of the oasis that is urban Midtown, I saw a pop-up organic raw food store. Shelves and shelves of refrigerated raw juices and similar gluten-free alternatives to food. It was a Californian based establishment (ha) trying its luck over here (I overheard this during my browsing). I wandered around thinking “Oh lovely. Overpriced raw food. I must have some and be the healthiest.” Indeed, I passed lots of green coloured juices and some gluten free raw chocolate mousse (not sure how that works well but Novak Djokovic is definitely a good ad for gluten-free) so I plumped for a green coloured $9 mini juice and the chocolate mousse (I sort of wanted the vanilla pudding with coconut water but since coconut water was a core ingredient in most of the items and this particular mini pudding was $9.99 I went for the choc variety).
The chocolate thing was inhaled momentarily upon my exit back onto the sidewalk and was sort of pretty good but not great. Then onto the drink. Well I had assumed, incorrectly, that the green colour should be indicative of a hint or bucket load of apple. No such luck. My green goo was kale, spinach, other greens I can’t and won’t remember and coconut water (I am guessing to reduce viscosity). My goodness it was vile. I actually had to hold my nose and gulp it down because it was NINE DOLLARS worth of evil. Man alive that was some evil prep for my workshop. Plus I had chocolate mousse engrafted onto my braces. Not optimal. I had to do a strategic dive into the loos and sort myself out.
Quick Listerine moment and boom I was all ready to face the world again. And probably energised. It was hard to tell.

The Half

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In order to get back on exercise track after, you know, “the op”, I took myself and my jaw on a light jog around my island. I learned two things on this brief, red faced, slow-paced hurry.

1) My jaw seemed alright and in tact at the end of the short circuit and potentially would sustain near future exercise when I got my breath back and

2) I am rubbish at running.

So now that I am certainly back to full fitness I decided a couple or 3 months ago that running should be an aim of mine. Something I would do regularly to supplement  my game playing and gym bunny activities. So how come I have not even cantered to the shop since this vow!?

I think it is because my legs and I despise running. In fact I know that is what it is.

How then would I get my butt into gear and get out there on the roads? Like a really cool Nike ad. I probably needed to enter a half marathon. A convenient half marathon that would cost me enough that I wouldn’t back out but also would scare me sufficiently that I would pound the roads for weeks to ensure survival. Right, so as of last Thursday I am entered into a “not fun” half marathon, under the banner of “for proper runners”. Error. Now I have to run in my spare time but without the end reward of those more famous halfs. The ones where bands entertain you on the way round. The ones where at every other minute someone is offering you a digestive biscuit or some orange squash. The half marathons where Geordies line the streets giving quality banter and enthusiastic AND sincere encouragement. Where Northern legends blast music from their open windows to drag the many crowds through their individual pain.

Oh no wait that is probably just the Great North Run then.

Yep, I successfully clicked a few buttons online, provided my bank details and managed to get myself a spot in a proper run around the hilly Central Park course, which takes place in just over 3 weeks!

THREE WEEKS?! What? Why did I do that? I have run not a mile and in just over 3 weeks I will have to run 13.1 of them and mostly on a sort of agonising gradient. Good move Beth. Good move.

On Friday I began in earnest. Well I had to. Any dilly dallying on this score and I was in even more trouble than I already am. I managed a good 5.5 miles. Impressed? You certainly should be. I was. I even made myself a chocolate torte as a reward.

Now it is Sunday. And on Saturday I did not run. So Sunday sort of had to include a run at some point if I was to keep the momentum moving forward (literally). And guess what I did? I checked out where the tennis courts were relative to my apartment on Google directions and allowed it to plot me a course by foot. Yeah I ran there. I RAN to tennis. IN Brooklyn. Man I’m good. It was sunny too and I didn’t stop once. Oh no wait I did stop a couple of times actually. Just quickly though because my phone is not working very well and needed me to be stationary to skip a slow paced John Legend track. Luckily this next song came on just as my heart was beginning to lose interest:

So apt. Thanks Jackson. Really helpful. Thanks a bunch.

A ring of traffic cones and some police tape lead to dramatic conclusions

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Picture the scene. A mysterious car sits in wait. The owner of the car is constantly changing. Sometimes this man is talking quietly on the phone, sometimes another lone watcher wanders around the car trying to appease his boredom.

I must walk past this 24 hour, 7 days a week stake out on my way to and from work. The only clues as to his purpose are the yellow traffic cones and police tape that surround the tree-d area. They seem to border an uninteresting plot of land with no clear ulterior motive. As I watch boys try to use the traffic cones as ramps for their skateboards, the guard of sorts shoos them away. He wants no one lingering there. He wants to be alone with his marked tree patch. But why? I have asked everyone I know who frequents this route. At 3am in the morning why do these trees or whatever deep purpose he serves need protecting? I suspect it has something to do with CIA. It reeks of Secret Service activity because my island is a constant hive of baffling happenings. Well it probably is. When I am asleep.

I have been performing my detective work non-stop for the last month now. However, I am considering stepping up my efforts in order to once and for all solve this puzzle. Let’s recap. Yellow traffic cones, 2 sets, joined with yellow police tape. One ring circles a plot of trees, the other “protects” a machine-like totem pole resembling a parking meter but altogether too tall for that and labelled with the sign “Alarm”. And so after careful consideration I have come up with the following scenarios:

1) Are we trying to attract our neighbours from outer space? Is this a convoluted way of saving money on the Space Program by using my island as a homing station for extraterrestrial beings? Likely.

2) Is there an underground tunnel only accessed via removal of this “parking meter” that allows for rapid and efficient CIA missions into and out of the city?

Whatever it may be I suspect it is exciting and terribly TOP SECRET. And so I will continue my quest for knowledge. I will (maybe) succeed. But all I can hope for is that I will triumph before the aliens land. I know we have a bit of extra space but seriously Obama there is probably not enough room for a whole race of non-human beings on Main Street!