Sunday, August 31, 2008

A few sights from today

The three of us were in the lower end of Manhattan today. We met Rachel at one of the NYU dorms--she had spent the night there with her friend Katie, who is an R.A. this year. We wanted to take her to a good luggage store we had read about on the Lower East Side, called Altman's. While we love our Rick Steves and Red Oxx bags, we also thought she needed a larger one for her semester abroad. So off we went to find Altman Luggage.

We made our way through the streets of Chinatown and Little Italy, stopping to see a few sights along the way--mostly food related! Here are a few shots for your viewing pleasure, including: a shopkeeper putting a live, squirming crab into a bag for someone; the pizza Mary ate (yum!); the cannoli Mary ate (double yum!); and some gorgeous dried fruit. Oh, and don't forget the bra in the window ... good advertisement, huh?

We ended up buying Rachel a rolling duffel-type bag made by Eagle Creek for a very good price. Nice service in the store, too. Combined with her backpack-style bag from Rick Steves, she should be able to bring most of her worldly belongings with her to Paris next week. (That's her, lookin' tough ;-) in Little Italy.)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

It's always just a short subway ride away ...

One thing that still amazes us is the fact that NYC--that Gotham City metropolis that forms the center of the U.S. universe, that teems with people and arts and culture, that is featured in about every other movie made in America--is just a short subway ride away from where we live.

OK, technically we live in one of the five boroughs of NYC. But we still feel a bit removed from it in Riverdale--which is a good thing, because it's very quiet around here. We have slept with the windows open for weeks, which would be tough to do in midtown Manhattan.

The fact that we can go to the Met or the Guggenheim, or to the Statue of Liberty or Ground Zero, or to Central Park or 42nd St. any time we feel like it--it's still kind of unbelievable.

So suffice it to say, we feel like we're just getting started living here. Plus, we have many weekend trips we would like to take once we have taken care of a bit more Paris business: Boston, D.C., upstate NY, just to name a couple.

And come visit us! It's always fun to show people where we live. (Rachel's friends from Calif., in particular, have been having a good time here in NYC!) Our door is always open.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mary's back from California!

Here are a few photos from my trip; Blogger won't let me re-order them very well, so try and follow along :-). Or, watch them in a new window in an audio slideshow Jeff made and follow along with the text below.

Monday night I enjoyed a family dinner with my father-in-law Glenn, his wife Sharon, my sister-in-law Marcia and her son Nick (Sharon is wearing the purple shirt). My sister Carolyn and her husband Ted also joined us at Glenn and Sharon's home in Paso Robles (Carolyn is in a blue top). Glenn and Sharon, thanks again for loaning me your car for the week. And Carolyn and Ted, I really enjoyed staying in your RV. Like camping, only a LOT nicer!

Tuesday I visited my friend Trisha (photo is of her younger son, Sean, sucking his finger). He's a cutie pie! Afterwards, I went to Pismo Beach and took a quick dip in the Pacific (just my feet!). Took a nice coastal drive ... photos of boats are from Morro Bay.

Tuesday evening I had the pleasure of a beer with my old pal John (also known as Mackey)--no photos to document that one, but we had a great conversation and kicked around old times at the "new" McCarthy's in San Luis Obispo.

Wednesday we celebrated my dad's 90th birthday at The Apple Farm, a SLO landmark. Photos include my dad, his wife Maryann, my brother Tom, Tom's daughter Jennifer and Jennifer's son Nolan (my great nephew).

Wednesday night was a blast, as some good friends and I gathered for a memorable dinner at Angela's home in Santa Margarita. Angela, Linda, Helen and I have been friends for many years, and our dinners are always SO much fun! Topics range from politics to doctors to books (always books!) to the latest San Luis Obispo gossip. (From left in photo, Helen in green, me, Angela, Linda)

Thursday I spent most of the day with my good friend Jen and her kids, twins Charlotte and Griffin and older son Owen (see Owen buckling the twins into their car seats). Also got to see her husband Doug for a bit--as I write this blog entry, he is readying to swim from Alcatraz to the shore. Good luck, Doug!

Thursday evening, my sister and brother-in-law and I went to the best event in SLO County: farmers' market in downtown SLO. If you want REAL BBQ, that's where you gotta go. It's really an amazing event that happens every Thursday throughout the year, except on Thanksgiving when it's held on Friday. I spent the night at Jen and Doug's (thanks for the comfy bed in the casita!), then flew back to NYC on Friday.

It was a wonderful trip, and I thank everyone for their hospitality and hugs. I love you all very much and miss you already.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

"Tropic Thunder": I laughed. So sue me.

(This is Mary.) For people who know me, it might come as a surprise that I would go see "Tropic Thunder." I tend to like more sophisticated humor, like Woody Allen in his prime ("Hannah and her Sisters," "Manhattan," "Annie Hall" -- though I do love "Sleeper").

But I laughed my head off during "Tropic Thunder." It's not a perfect satire, and many of the jokes misfire. But it's funny! Please, do not think less of me because I laughed at the "retard" jokes. I laughed because the joke wasn't on people with disabilities, but on those in Hollywood who think the disabled make good fodder for Oscar-worthy movies. THEY should be ashamed of themselves, not Ben Stiller for making a mockery of Hollywood excess and ego.

PC: Yes, I get it. But satire: I get that, too. It seems to be lost on many people these days, apparently (either that, or they simply haven't seen the movie). Jeff recommends you see the silly "controversy" explored on this CNN spot provided by YouTube.

If for nothing else, go see "Tropic Thunder" to watch Robert Downey, Jr. And can I just say, for the record, that I'm glad he's still alive and working? The guy is in a different league, and it's nice to see him on screen and having a good time. Let that be a lesson to all of us: It's not a crime to have a good time and laugh! (Especially when the joke's on Hollywood. I hope Ben Stiller gets another job after this ...)

Friday, August 15, 2008

California, here I come

Mary will be winging her way to California on Monday for a week visiting family and friends and celebrating her dad's 90th b'day. Will post photos!

In the meantime, Jeff and Rachel will fend for themselves here in NYC. Rachel is getting ready to depart for Paris soon (poor thing). Actually, Jeff is doing the same! He'll be in Paris for a week in Sept. taking care of business related to our new apt. there.

What else ... Rachel's cousin Tiffany is coming to NYC for a visit at the end of next week. Lots of events planned, like a Broadway show, a visit to a Manhattan jazz club, and beaucoup de shopping, no doubt.

This weekend, we plan to enjoy a movie--we like the theater near Lincoln Center. May do a little photography if the weather clears up. If it's still rainy, a museum might be the order of the day Sunday. A trip to Macy's is on the tentative schedule, as well, to look for a jacket for Rachie.

Speaking of Lincoln Center, the whole area is undergoing a major renovation. Can't wait to see what it looks like when it's done. It is such a nice venue--although Rachel and Mary attended a free rehearsal one day at Carnegie Hall and think the acoustics there are better.

We have lived here for about 18 months now, and we are nowhere near taking all of this for granted. Sometimes we take the subway into the city on weekends and step onto Broadway near Lincoln Center and think, We really live here? How bizarre!

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Dark Side

(This is Mary.)

I just finished reading The Dark Side, by Jane Mayer.

Let me preface this by saying that the book is extremely well researched and well organized, and the writing is clear and concise.

But it was one of the most difficult books I have ever read.

Difficult, but essential.

I urge everyone within the sound of my blogging voice to read The Dark Side.

More than once, I had to stop reading for awhile to simmer down my blood pressure and/or prevent myself from throwing up--literally.

No, this isn't a vampire novel or a Stephen King best seller. It's a book about how our president and his crew managed to make torture "legal" and how and ostensibly why they have been using torture during this so-called war on terror.

If this book doesn't make you ashamed of this president and perhaps the United States, in general; if this book doesn't make you mad as hell; if this book doesn't slap you upside the head with the reality that is the Bush administration agenda of an imperialistic presidency, then you are ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL.

Wake up and read this book. Please.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Preparation time!

Seems like we have been caught up in "preparation time" for one thing or another these days.

Right now, it's Jeff's trip to Paris in mid-September (for the co-op board meeting there and probably some shopping for the new apt.--linens, etc.) as well as Rachel's semester in Paris (she leaves Sept. 8).

As far as Rachel is concerned, most of the major tasks have been accomplished, notably the student visa and the NYU-related paperwork. But there are still some technological dealy-bobs that need to be handled, like a couple of minor computer challenges (overheating Mac, for example), buying adapters, getting a cell phone to use over there, etc. etc. etc. We're keeping a to-do list, but every time we cross something off, two more tasks appear!

We just have to trust that by the time she gets on the plane, at least MOST of these little things will have been taken care of.

Mary is traveling to California on Aug. 18 to see family and friends. Mary's freaking out a little bit at the thought of having to drive everywhere. After literally not driving a car since March of 2007, it's tough to imagine being forced to do so in order to get anywhere. What a ridiculously inefficient and expensive mode of transportation!! Why can't California get with the program and put in better mass transit?!

Monday, August 4, 2008

A few more photos from Saturday's House Hunters shoot

Courtesy of Chuck, the audio guy. Thanks, Chuck!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Saturday, August 2, 2008

House Hunters International ... in the Bronx!

All three of us were involved in the shoot today at our apartment in the Bronx. Here are a few photos. The crew, left to right, is Michael (production assistant), Chuck (audio), Kate (camera), and David (producer, who was also with us in Paris).

It was a rather long day, but it was a lot of fun ... except that for part of the day, it was raining REALLY HARD! Like, can't see your hand in front of your face, it was raining so hard. We were out shooting scenes in Riverdale at the time, so we ducked into the Riverdale Grill for some lunch. When we came out, it had cleared, but only for a short time. Then it really started to come down in buckets. We ended up having to call a cab for about a 3-minute ride to get us home!

But all things considered, everything went very well. Our little place actually looks kinda cute on high-definition video!

Try as we might, though, we were all upstaged by ... Chelsea. Somehow, she knew where the camera crew was going to shoot and managed to become the center of attention in every room. No doubt, she will definitely be in the episode, that little kitty cat. Sophia was pretty involved, too, while Emma was her usual reserved self--she played it cool and stayed out of the way most of the time.

We're getting pretty excited about seeing the finished product. We were able to watch ourselves for a few minutes, and we were pretty pleased with how we did--especially since being in front of the camera is not something we do every day. (Improvising for several hours is exhausting, too!)

It's amazing how much work goes into a 22- to 24-minute program. All we can say is, Wow.

Friday, August 1, 2008

House Hunters invades the Bronx tomorrow!

We have been cleaning like mad to get our little place TV ready. It's going to be a fun day as the crew follows us through Riverdale and watches us cook dinner (a tight squeeze in our tiny kitchen!). Rachel also will be in on the action, at least briefly. It's gonna be a blast!

We'll post photos!