1. Free = good. Last weekend, I was foiled twice. First I tried to get into the Turner Classic Movies free screening of The Manchurian Candidate (1962 version). Angela Lansbury was on hand to introduce the film and take questions from the audience. I thought I’d left plenty of time, but the line got cut about 40 people in front of me. (My friend, who’d gotten to the theater before me, got in!) At least I was in front of the pretentious snobs who loudly told everyone within earshot that they are good friends with “Angie.” You know, they’ve had dinner with her. Several times, in fact. At her swanky pad, don’t ya know. (Then why are you behind me in line? I wanted to know.) A two-hour odyssey for naught.
The very next day a friend and I tried to go to a food festival in Chelsea. We thought we’d load up on free snacks and swag from the dozens of vendors. But it started looking grim as we approached the building to find the line wrapped around the block. It wasn’t moving. Estimates were about two hours from the back of the line. People had to come out of the building before the festival organizers would let more people in. “If it’s like this outside, imagine how crowded it is inside,” my friend said. I love me some free stuff, but that’s not my scene. So we turned right around to head home with empty bellies…
2. But all was not lost. My friend and I found ourselves at City Bakery. Oh, yes we did. We were not there to rub elbows with the uber-chic brunch crowd. Nor were we there to try to find lightweight food at the $22.00 per pound food bar. (That’s not a typo.) We were there to get pretzel croissants. It’s everything you imagine it to be and more.
3. I was home from work with a terrible migraine this week. I awoke from a nap to the faint sound of a smoke detector beeping. This in itself isn’t cause for alarm when you live in an apartment building. Maybe the battery had run down and it was giving its alert while the person was at work. Or maybe someone got overzealous while cooking. I decided to check in with the ladies of The View.
Then an acrid smell wafted under the door. I peeked into the hallway. There was no commotion or even anyone milling about. But there was a thick haze coming up the stairs and the smell was strong. The beeping stopped. All right, whatever was going on was under control. Then the smoke detector started up again. At what point was I supposed to grab Reggie and get the heck out of dodge? What could I reasonably take with me? The computer, definitely take the computer. Take the box of mementoes. Leave the painting. I had visions of trying to negotiate down the fire escape with him and everything I owned strapped to my back like a sherpa in reverse. I did some investigative work and discovered that an apartment is being renovated, but I never did find out what the workers were doing to create that kind of smoke. Sort of makes you realize how unimportant most of our “stuff” really is. What would you take with you if you had to grab and run (not in a shoplifting sort of way, but in a home emergency sort of way)?
4. This is the best part of my day.
5. I just had the chance to see the movie 127 Hours, which had been nominated for several Oscars including Best Actor for James Franco. Even if you haven’t seen the movie, you’ve probably heard about the incident that inspired it, so I’m not giving anything away by telling you that it’s the story of Aron Ralston who goes hiking in the Utah canyons and gets pinned by a boulder in a deep crevasse. He’s stuck there for – you guessed it – 127 hours until he frees himself by cutting his own arm off. It’s natural to think, I could never do that. And that’s the brilliance of the movie. By the time the situation comes to pass, co-writer and director Danny Boyle makes you realize there is no other choice. This is what has to be done. It is inevitable. (Such is the mark of any good novel as well, if I may slip that in here.) The movie is “nearly flawless,” as The New York Times put it. It’s a tricky movie to make – for a good 45 minutes James Franco is stuck in the crevasse alone. How to engage the viewer without resorting to melodrama? This is even more challenging than Tom Hanks in Castaway. At least in that movie, Hanks could move about the island. Here, Franco is literally between a rock and a hard place. But thanks in part to Franco, who was fantastic, the introspective never crosses the line to vapid naval gazing. You know I heart Colin Firth, who ended up winning the Oscar for Best Actor, but after seeing this movie, maybe it should have been James Franco.