Sunday, June 29, 2008

Movies I plan never to see

include, among many others, "The Love Guru" with Mike Myers. But one line jumped out at me from Nathan Rabin's review in The Onion:
"silly names aren't just the foremost weapons in Myers' comic arse-"
It's really funnier to read that phrase than the whole sentence, but feel free to see if you can fill in the rest.

Typo of the Month

From an article entitled "First Same-Sex Weddings in Greece," as published in the New York Times online on June 4, 2008:
"Gay activists [in Greece] have warned that they may now begin to sue any of the country's municipalities if civil authorities resist requests for similar sax-sex unions."
Perhaps the civil authorities prefer sax and violins.

Friday, June 27, 2008


He who hesitates is lost, as they say. But it is equally true that he who is lost, hesitates.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

NY Philharmonic in Central Park

The vibe was different in Central Park, somehow, than in Prospect Park. Maybe it's just that people were just more aggressive about staking out their turf (note the pink tape outlines extending beyond the blankets):

In addition, we were further from the stage - or at least felt further without the giant screens to show us the orchestral details:

Our crowd was relaxed and happy, with three bottles of wine to share:

Maybe some of us were even too relaxed:

The people next to us were tremendously well-organized. They staked out a huge area with four matching blue plastic tarps, and they fenced their space on the back with a row of 6 or 7 coolers filled with food and drink. Very impressive. But some of them found it necessary to rest from their labors as well:

I particularly appreciated that they included the 1812 Overture in the program - it features what Bill Watterson's character Calvin called an "interesting percussion section." Of course I also love that it gives me an excuse to tell people about the justly-neglected 1712 Overture (a beautiful spoof, with balloons popping instead of cannons).

The fireworks afterward were nice - that's always a favorite. I have some video clips of them, and might upload them later if I'm not feeling too lazy.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Metropolitan Opera in Prospect Park (rev)

There was apparently a threat of rain on the summer solstice, but the evening was clear and bright. (In fact the rain held off until we were hiking back from Slide Mountain on Sunday, but that's another story.) Audrey and Jai set up plastic linings for a picnic blanket:

The process of preparing the plastic lining turns out to be surprisingly long and complex, a delicate operation indeed. Meanwhile, my Indian tablecloth (sans lining) is held down with a pitcher of homemade sangria:
Jai, Ryan and Audrey in the warm glow of the setting sun:
Patricia puts on a brave face after walking down from Grand Army Plaza:
A small child is perhaps not entirely sure he/she wants to be big sister's doll:

Stella has her priorities right - she is amazingly well prepared and sitting pretty:

Finally, after ample speeches from politicians proclaiming Brooklyn to be the crown jewel of something or other (New York City? the United States? the universe?), and Prospect Park to be the crown jewel of Brooklyn, etc., etc. (after all, it is an election year), Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna made their appearance. They were large as life and twice as natural on screen:

Ms. Gheorghiu went through numerous changes of outfits over the course of the evening -- reminding me of a Hindu wedding I attended -- but her closeups always featured the same two musicians. (I think they were harpists, but I won't swear to it.) The one on the right chewed gum pretty much the whole time; I'm not sure if he realized he would be so immortalized:

The music was lovely, in any event, and the screens were wonderful - you can get a lot out of seeing the expressions of the singers. It meant, in effect, that we had much better views for free than we did after laying down the big bucks ($15.00) for Family Circle tickets at the Met. Plus, the screens meant you didn't have to be right near the stage; screens dotted the meadows far behind us, even out of sight of the stage. (It would be nice if the NY Philharmonic would use screens too for its Central Park concerts, but I guess they give us fireworks instead.)

Yes, another outfit:

Five of the 12 selections were Verdi, which pleased me tremendously. (I saw Ryan annotating his program after Verdi's "Vedi, le fosche" from Il Trovatore -- that's certainly a fun one.) There was a Donizetti as well, from Lucia di Lammermoor. One aria was by David Alagna, and the story is an interesting one. Mr. Roberto Alagna told the Playbill interviewer: "I read the book [Victor Hugo's novel The Last Day of a Condemned Man] in 1996, ... and the words inspired something musical in me. So I called my brothers and asked them to try to write an opera. They said that I should write the libretto first, which I did. I sent it to Frederico, who rewrote it in a much better version, and then David composed the music." I realize musical talent does run in families, a winning convergence of nature and nurture, but it's amazing to have a family where you can call up your brother and say, hey, this is cool, write an opera for me.

In any event, the 12 selections on the program were apparently just to whet our appetite. The singers and orchestra were prepared for encores. And not just 1, 2, or even 3 encores. I think I lost count after the fifth encore.... They were clearly having a blast. It was so nice, and very exciting, but my thoughts started to turn to preparing for my backpacking trip the next morning. It would take me a while to get home, and I had (ahem) not yet begun to pack. Ultimately, I slept for 4 hours and then threw everything together at the last moment before heading up to the West Village to meet Bryan and Mark... each of whom were also somewhat sleep-deprived.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Croton Point Park and Ossining Ferry

Croton Point Park is a hop, skip and a jump away from the Croton Harmon train station. Given time constraints, however, I took a taxi there and then ended up hitching a ride back after I took a wrong turn into a gated community.

This area is great for bird-watching, especially if you have binoculars.

I took Metro-North from Croton Harming to Ossining. There's supposed to be a hiking trail from Croton Dam to Ossining (or vice versa), but I left that for another time. It was a great day to wait for the ferry.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Signs of the Times (Rhinebeck Aerodrome)

Rhinebeck Aerodrome

The highlight of the trip was a visit to the Rhinebeck Aerodrome. We saw plenty of old planes (some originals, some reconstructions) and took a ride in an open-air biplane.

It will take me a while to load all the photos that I want to, but here are three video clips.


Banking over the Hudson River:


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Great Place to Work

Although The Firm was (in my opinion) inherently incompatible with the limbic brain, nonetheless there were many partners - including the managing partners - who sought to transform the institution into a great place to work. This involved many initiatives, surveys, etc., as well as high salaries and window offices for all attorneys. The effort to improve morale and retain talented associates was never particularly successful, even on its own terms.

Even if The Firm's efforts at cultural transformation had been fully achieved, however, there is simply no comparison with my current workplace. Today, there was a retirement party down the hall from me for someone who'd been with my current employer for 30+ years. Balloons marked the doorway to the large conference room. Sustained clapping and cheering could be heard throughout the entire floor. And it wasn't just a "thank God you made it out of here alive!" party either. Two employees got up and started a call-and-response chant praising their employment:
We work hard from 9 to 5! [Name of employer] is the place to be! Sound off! (1, 2!) Take it on down! (3, 4!) Cadence count! (1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2 ... 3, 4!)
I've never seen anything quite like it, particularly in a work setting. It is far beyond anything The Firm could ever dream of: people genuinely and extravagantly loving their colleagues and their workplace, and almost bursting with pride in their work.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

FAPC Softball 2008: Game 6 (June 1, 2008)

FAPC's Next Ministries puts together a softball team every summer to play against other Presbyterian churches. Sometimes things get a bit heated, but game 6 was pretty civilized. I think we made a good showing in this game.

Bryan at bat, with (from left to right in the background) Max and Abby in the bleachers, Dan about to send off a practice throw, and coach Kevin overseeing the process:

Bryan rounds the corner, headed to home base, as Steve (background center left) gives guidance at third base:

Bryan speeds up on the straightaway:

Abby at bat, focused on the pitch:

Good eye! Ball one.

Abby follows through on a powerful swing as Pablo and Matt look on:

Dan meditates as he prepares for the first pitch:

Starting to swing:
Head down, Dan sprints for home plate (he's in mid-stride, both feet off the ground here):

Jonathan hits:
Scoring another point for the good guys!

Another hit -- the bases may be loaded since Bryan, Matt and Abby are keeping their eyes on second or third:

Jacki hits (and it looks like Julius in the background keeping the dugout in good order):

And she's off!

Kevin swings:
Running for home:

Up at bat again:
And another hit under Bryan's watchful eye:

Matt at bat:
... and casually nabbing home plate.

Laura at the ready...
...bat back...
...and good follow-through:
Max at bat:
And on his way home:

Pablo is calm and confident:

Starting for first:
Margaret does some fancy footwork:

At bat again:
Put away that glove, catcher, she totally nailed this one:

Margaret safe at first:
Steve at bat:
Nope, not in my strike zone:

Bryan sprints to first:

Matt seems to find that softball is thirsty work as he rounds to home plate (Julius and Steve in the background):

Max sprints out of the frame: