As the wisest of you all know, today is a special holiday because it's my Ali's birthday. [And in case you're wondering, she turned (2006 age)+1.] So we started things off with blueberry pancakes in the morning. And then she got some cake at work. And then we went to Paola's Burrito Place (1921 South Ave., formerly Big Dog's Hots) for dinner at her preference. Then she opened her gifts but we didn't have any of the pumpkin pie I made because we were stuffed from dinner. Finishing things off we went out to Solera Wine Bar (647 South Ave.) and had some wine, meeting up with a group of friends from all different places in her life. In all, she had a great day.
Since Ali was working her second job, I had the night to myself. And since she's not a fan of sushi, I decided to take the opportunity to once again give California Rollin' at Village Gate Square (274 N. Goodman St.) another try. And once again it's fine. I had a nice time talking with Giancarlo and Brenda and the meal was great. Afterward I headed over to Boulder Coffee Co. (100 Alexander St.) I picked up a copy of Nicholas Gurewitch's new book, The Perry Bible Fellowship: The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories. There was a big line of people waiting to have him sign it so I decided not to, figuring I'd probably run into him again at some point. I perused the book and was greatly amused, even though I'd already seen about half of the comics. I really like the dense, perverse, twisted style and look forward to what's new. I chatted with some people I knew then Ali came by and we called it an early night.
Oh, you know you all love it when I go on a rant. It just flows so nicely … so buckle up 'cause here goes:
Today I met up with Ali's dad at her house. She had bought a new tub and surround but it wouldn't fit up the stairs. It's a complicated 3-D geometry problem to determine just how big something is that can fit up the stairs. There's a staircase corner above the stairs (for the stairs to the attic), and the shortest distance from the upper corner to the opposite-side line of the stairs is 60 inches — so the tallest thing that fits is 60 inches. Well, if it's flat. If it's a rectangular extrusion, then you lose some easily calculable length on the staircase-side, and some other, not-so-easily-calculable length on the upper corner. I know there's a way to know for sure, but let me finish the thought that if you are intrigued, beware of nerd sniping.
Anyway, the short version of the story is that the tub surround wouldn't fit. So we went back to the big-box hardware store that-shall-remain-nameless and looked to see if they had one that had a 4-piece surround. That way, each segment would only be 3-feet wide or so and easily fit. No such luck, except for crappy adhesive ones — which would probably fit up the stairs anyway even if they were three pieces. So we're looking at a different one and it's 6 inches shorter than the first one. So I ask Ali's dad, "do you think 6 inches would be enough?" He's not sure but it was so close last time that he figured it'll work. We pick up the tub and surround — which is both more expensive and more heavier — schlep it back to Ali's house, take it out of the box, and find that the big part of the surround won't fit up the stairs. It needs to be an inch shorter.
We go back to the store and return it then stop at the other nameless big-box hardware store. The guy there almost got choked to death by me when he asked, "are you sure it wouldn't fit?" Apparently I needed food badly. Coffee, too. And I didn't need someone giving me a nice Southern insult which, translated to Brooklynese is, "what, are you fuckin' stoopid?" — clearly a chokeable offense.
By the time we get back — empty handed — it's closing in on noon. I want to get to The Rochester Public Market (280 Union St. N.) before it's too late so I decline a surely commiseration-filled burger lunch. Then to start off, a new friend of mine isn't home who lives right by the market. Then I realize I lost my mitten somewhere — and, if you don't recall, on one of the coldest days of the year so far. So I get my apples and go to O'Bagelo's (165 State St.) It's strangely quiet and I discover the door's locked with nobody apparently inside. I don't know what's going on but I figure I'd get something at Open Face (651 South Ave., right by the corner of Hickory) instead.
Finally a reprieve. The chicken dumpling soup was excellent. The brie and pear sandwich was excellent. The toasted Havarti was excellent. The coffee was excellent. Whew.
So then I headed out to an estate sale on Baird Road. I had actually stopped there yesterday, but they said everything's half-off on the second day. I picked up some neat stuff — an old Craftsman belt-drive table saw, a CB, metal thread taps, and a Smith-Corona manual typewriter which works and is also quite attractive.
The trouble was that it was a tinkerer (like myself) who had died (not like myself yet) and the family hired Hidden Treasures to handle the sale. Well, they don't know when something just isn't worth anything, so they wouldn't take a couple bucks for the electric boat-trolling motor that wouldn't work at all, insisting that the $40 base-price necessitated a better offer. I liked the 12V cooler (old-school refrigeration, not those Peltier-based ones you get these days) but I was glad to have left it behind. Well, except that I'm sure it ended up in the garbage. I'm also sad that I didn't bite on the floor-model drill-press because its cast-iron-ness would make it too heavy to move around and I don't have the space for it right now — of course, at only $50, it would have been an absolute steal and worth every penny five times over.
Oh, and later that night — at Ali's birthday dinner at her parents' house — I did get my mitten back. It was in her dad's truck.
But then my bad luck continues from there. The snowstorm had started and I tried leaving early from Ali's dinner to see if I couldn't make it to "The Bunker" to see the show there. Unfortunately, I took my time getting out of there, and then it took longer than I thought, so by the time I got to the secret location downtown, nobody was at the door to let me in. They had said the show started at 10 p.m. and since it was in a secure warehouse building, you had to be there between 9:15 and 9:45 when they had somebody hanging out by the door to let people in. Crap.
I headed out to the Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) to see The Man Who Would Be King. Despite the snowstorm, there were quite a few people in attendance — the movie was excellent and well worth the risk. Basically it tells the tale of a couple con-men. They head to a country called Kafiristan (which is a fictional place north of Afghanistan) where they intend to become kings. The plan is simple: based on the notion that the warring tribes are largely without solid leadership, bringing a bit of British army leadership would make it easy to take over tribe-by-tribe and eventually take over the country.
Well, they almost die on their treacherous crossing of the high mountains. [In fact, I wondered if they did indeed die at that point and the rest of the film is just fantasy — something to think about.] Once in Kafiristan, they get into one of the first tribes they find, get a translator, and succeed in defeating the neighboring tribe. In the battle, Danny is struck by an arrow that — by luck — doesn't even scratch him yet stays in place as he rides around, continuing to fight. The people start rumors that he's some kind of god and he quickly ascends to the status of the second-coming of Alexander the Great — Alexander's son, to be exact.
So now Danny is king and god, ruling with a commoner's wisdom and absolute authority. Danny's Earthly-anchored partner Peachy notes that they should cut-and-run: they made it to the top, and the best thing they could do is to pack up a lot of riches and quietly slide out of the country. Danny has other plans — he's realistically gripped by power. He is believing what his followers are telling him: that he actually is the son of Alexander.
I'll leave it at that in case you want to find out for yourselves how things resolve.
But the thing about the whole movie is that it's so solidly realistic. It's not like Danny becomes evil through his power — he is overcome by the power. The pragmatic man he was is swept away in the current of illusion. He becomes falsely anchored in "the now" because he's averaging between an infinite past and an infinite future. His delusion comes from his followers elevating him ever higher: an equally destructive position as to being thrown down a deep chasm. It is a lucky man indeed who can survive either fate. Very lucky.
I greatly enjoy pondering the significance of the movie. It's good and sticky … something that will continue to haunt my personal philosophy.
But then on the way out of the theater, I come upon a most peculiar scene. A man is lying on the ground on the side of the driveway with another one on a cell phone summoning help. It turns out the guy was walking home and slipped on the ice. He said he heard something pop in both his legs — a police officer with medical training suggested he probably dislocated his hip. After a few minutes an ambulance arrived and took him to the hospital. The small crowd that had formed — thankfully a few people were his friends that he asked me to try and locate — stood around impotently while experts treated him. I felt bad that I couldn't do anything to help him. It looked to hurt like hell, but rolling him around to make him more comfortable would have only made things worse.
I finished things up at home then headed out to Solera Wine Bar (647 South Ave.) for a glass of wine. There were three guys at the end of the bar and I'm listening but I couldn't quite pin down what it is they're talking about: something to do with countries all over the world, expensive things — or at least something to do with high-society, and they like it. I'm stumped. The bartender knows them and introduces me: they're wine dealers. And they brought a selection of wines to share amongst one another — and now me as well. They're all excellent. For the sake of talking about it, I wish I could recall what they were. It was fun to get my nose to work again — I was actually able to pick out aromas and relate them to other things. It was a fascinating game: cooked asparagus … burnt cherries … walnut meat … turpentine. Fine wines are the bomb.
I headed out to the Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) to see Blowup. I had not seen it before but I was glad to do so. It settles well after a few days: it's art-house and avant garde but still accessible. At least to me where I am now … I imagine it's not unusual to watch this and just not get it.
The protagonist is a fashion photographer. At first he seems a bit eccentric — like a stereotypical artist-type from the late 1960's: that Andy Warhol pop-culture variety. He doesn't seem to agree with society on what has value and what does not — in fact, he seems to have no sense of some things having value and others not. From the beautiful women he photographs to an antique wooden propeller to music to food and drink to people — nothing is any better than anything else.
That is, until he examines his own work and discovers the trappings of a murder. He's intrigued. It's voyeuristic: he works from his safe and familiar nest, observing that which is most dangerous and visceral. And here the film perfectly captures that essence: inviting the strange into your safe haven through a portal — a window, a TV screen, or a photograph.
But then it's all taken away. And in a brilliantly poetic finish, he comes to realize the balance between the real and the imagined — and through that, what has value.
So here we are, at the cusp of another end-of-year holiday season — dripping with the insidiously sticky notion that we should buy totems of love for people we can't seem to find the time to listen to for the whole of the past year. Several thoughts cross my mind.
Last month I got this "Amish Friendship Bread" recipe from Ali from someone she works with. I did some Internet research and discovered that it wasn't all that special — and probably didn't even originate with the Amish. It's basically a bread starter: a mix of yeast, flour, sugar, and (in this case) milk — a living yeast culture. The gist is that over 10 days you keep the starter alive (adding ingredients to feed it at one point) then split up the batch of starter 5 ways, make one batch of bread with one of the splits, and then distribute the other 4 to your friends along with the instructions.
My bread came out okay, but I wanted to shove the underlying philosophy back to tradition. I wanted to make it a personal experience, and an evolution. I wanted people to copy the recipe by hand then notate how they changed the recipe and what the outcome was like before passing it on.
Unfortunately, with Christmas shopping and all the frenetic activity, I didn't have the chance. I read, though, that you can freeze a bread starter. So that's what I did. I'll work on it next year sometime.
In an article titled Fuck the Cheerleader; Buy a Gift Card, Save the World, the folks at Violent Acres outline why gift cards — particularly those Visa cash-like cards you can get at the bank — are such a perfect gift. The gist is this: you can't be bothered to spend time with people you love, and everybody you know has more stuff than they know what to do with, so you'd like to get them nothing and them to get you nothing — perhaps just spend some Quality Time™ together instead. But, people get all uptight about not giving gifts. So instead of bestowing heavy politics on them about it, just get them a fucking gift card.
I have no idea what the cheerleader has to do with it.
No Impact Man is a guy — specifically Colin Beavan — who spent 2007 trying to minimize his environmental impact while living with his wife and kid in a New York City apartment. He posted an insightful piece recently titled The No Impact Dear Santa letter. I've been fascinated by Beavan's trials and tribulations, but this particular post has this poignant personal observation: "I was thinking how when I talked to a bunch of third graders a while back and I said to them, 'How many of you know the feeling of really wanting something and then when your parents finally get it for you, instead of feeling excited, you feel kind of disappointed and sad?' Three-quarters of the kids raised their hands."
Gifts, when given without the heart to back them up end up feeling hollow to me. Last Christmas I know I got some stuff. The only thing I remember offhand, though, is the scarf Ali made for me. I think that's amazing. I don't know how to knit things and although I think I can understand how it's done, I don't have the right aptitude to do the repetition right so it comes out. And she made it.
But most of all is that she backs it all up with her love. Through joyful days and trying days she's still there. It's funny that it's kind of like the scarf: stitch after stitch, row after row — before you know it, it's something meaningful. You know what else: I remember picking out the yarn colors and she wondered whether green and orange would go together, but I insisted.
And you know? Somehow it works. Twenty months to the day, in fact.
The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie(The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie) starting at 8 p.m. According to the Eastman House description, "polite society friends attempt to gather for a dinner party but find themselves curiously incapable of convening. Through spartan direction, the visionary Buñuel led his cast and crew toward the most profoundly surreal film of his career." Consider yourselves warned.
Eastman House calendar][all ages]
Over at The Montage Live Music Hall (50 Chestnut St., formerly the Montage Grille) starting around 10 p.m. is good, somewhat mellow rock-and-roll from Hinkley, solidly good punk-rock from The QUiTTERS, Greg Townson, and Ian Downey is Famous.
Carbon Records calendar][all ages]
The Bunker (see source website for details on getting the address) will be hosting the CarbonXmasJam featuring solidly good 5-piece ambient rock band Ada le O starting around 8:45 p.m.
Carbon Records calendar]
This page is Jason Olshefsky's list of things to do in Rochester, NY and the surrounding region (including nearby towns Irondequoit, Webster, Penfield, Pittsford, Victor, Henrietta, Gates, Chili, Greece, and Charlotte, and occasionally other places in Monroe County and the Western New York region.) It is updated every week with daily listings for entertainment, activities, performances, movies, music, bands, comedy, improv, poetry, storytelling, lectures, discussions, debates, theater, plays, and generally fun things to do.
Music events are usually original bands with occasional cover bands and DJ's with musical styles including punk, emo, ska, swing, rock, rock-and-roll, alternative, metal, jazz, blues, noise band, experimental music, folk, acoustic, and "world-beat."
Events listed take place during the day, in the evenings, or as part of the city's nightlife as listed.
Although I'm reluctant to admit it, it is a Rochester blog and I'm essentially blogging about Rochester events.
I also tend to express opinions, review past events, make reviews, speak of philosophy or of a philosophical nature, discuss humanity and creativity.
Oh, and it's spelled JayceLand with no space and a capital L, not Jayce Land, Jaycee Land, Jace Land, Jase Land, Joyce Land, Jayce World, Jayceeland, Jaceland, Jaseland, Joyceland, Jayceworld, Jayceeworld, Jaceworld, Jaseworld, nor Joyceworld. (Now if you misspell it in some search engine, you at least get a shot at finding it.)
It's also not to be confused with
or JakesWorld which is a site of a Rochester animator.
While I'm on the topic of keywords for search engines, this update includes information for Thursday, December 20, 2007 (Thu, Dec 20, 2007, 12/20/2007, or 12/20/07) Friday, December 21, 2007 (Fri, Dec 21, 2007, 12/21/2007, or 12/21/07) Saturday, December 22, 2007 (Sat, Dec 22, 2007, 12/22/2007, or 12/22/07) Sunday, December 23, 2007 (Sun, Dec 23, 2007, 12/23/2007, or 12/23/07) Monday, December 24, 2007 (Mon, Dec 24, 2007, 12/24/2007, or 12/24/07) Tuesday, December 25, 2007 (Tue, Dec 25, 2007, 12/25/2007, or 12/25/07) and Wednesday, December 26, 2007 (Wed, Dec 26, 2007, 12/26/2007, or 12/26/07).
indicates an event that's a preferred pick of the day ... probably something worth checking out.
indicates a "guaranteed" best bet for the particular genre of the indicated event.
links to a band's page on GarageBand.com which offers reviews and information about bands.
links to a band's page on MySpace.com which is a friend-networking site that is popular with bands.