Good Timing. Sometimes.

Timing can be good, or bad. Usually, at least for me, it is bad. Last night, though, there was that exception to the rule, when timing was perfect. A welcome exception to the rule, I must say.

The plan was to see two movies at the Independent Film Festival Boston at the Somerville Theatre, “The Way, Way Back” at 7:45pm and then at 9:45pm the documentary “The Punk Singer” about Kathleen Hanna. There was also a free ticket available for me to see Josh Rouse live at the Sinclair. The Man, had won two tickets and he was going to be at the Sinclair before me. He was going to ask if he could leave the second ticket at the box office for me to pick up, and text me the details. Rouse was going up at 10pm, so there was the chance I could catch his full set.

“The Way, Way Back” started 15 minutes late, at around 8pm, which meant it would go until 9:45pm. That was cutting it close. At 9:30pm there was still no text from the Man. The movie was almost ending, but not quite yet. At 9:38 I got the text, that he had my ticket and I would text him when I got there, so he could meet me at the door to hand me my ticket. A couple of minutes later the movie ended, and as the credits started rolling, I rushed out (which by the way, is something I hate doing, I always want to see the credits. Also, the movie is hilarious, I recommend it).

There was a gazillion people in the lobby, but I had to be quick. It was 9:45pm, the exact time “The Punk Singer” was supposed to start. It looked like there were seating people, and I had heard that it was sold out. I went to the rush line outside, where five or so people were standing. I asked if anyone wanted a ticket to the Punk Singer, the first two people were together, so they wanted two, the third one, a woman, needed one. I sold her my ticket, and the seconds it took her to find the $10 bill in her wallet, felt like 10 minutes. I was sorry I was going to miss the documentary, but I hope it will be shown again at some point in my area, so I can eventually catch it.

With the ticket sold, I ran to the T station right next door, tried to get through the gate, but I didn’t have enough money on my Charlie Card. It sounded like a train was coming, I added value, went through the gate, and as I was running down the stairs the inbound train was opening its doors.

I got on the train and sat down to take a breath. OK, good timing, I thought to myself. Harvard Square is only two stops away from Davis, so it was a quick train ride, and at that moment I thought how great it was that all the cool things I wanted to do were so close to each other and so close to where I live. North Cambridge, I love you!

I got off at Harvard, went up to the Church Street exit, walked down Church Street. At that point I realized I had never been to the Sinclair before, so I didn’t know exactly where on Church Street the entrance was. For some reason I thought it was next to the Fire+Ice. I went in through that door next to the Fire+Ice, and it looked like an office lobby with elevators at the left side. OK, not the entrance to the club, I thought. Through the doors straight ahead and to the right, I could hear music, but the doors weren’t labeled or anything, they looked more like exit doors. Nevertheless, without thinking much, I went to one of the doors ahead of me, I pulled, it opened, and just like that I found myself inside the Sinclair, with a couple of surprised people looking at me. OK, that surprisingly worked, I thought. The stage was ahead, and no one was playing, so that was good, I hadn’t missed any of Rouse’s set. I went to the right, where the bar is, and then I saw the entrance next to the bar. Good to know where the actual entrance is, for future reference.

Josh Rouse was still not on stage, I texted the Man to see where he was, but the text wasn’t going though. I started looking around, I saw him standing by the bar, and I went in front of him and went “BOO!” He was like, “What, how did you get inside, I have your ticket?!”, and I told him the whole story. It was like I went to that show for free twice, not only did I have a free ticket, but I had also made it in with no ticket at all. Which could very well mean that I used up my free-entry-to-shows quota on the same show, but what can you do.

We got beers, settled closer to the stage, and in a minute Josh Rouse and his band came on stage and started playing. It was a great set. We took the T to head back to Davis, and as we made it to the platform the train was pulling in to the station. We got on the train, sat down, and there was a quarter on the seat right next to mine, like a tiny goodbye gift concluding a good day. Perfect timing, or what?

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2012 Year In Review

Here we are on the last day of 2012. A year that went by fast, and looking back, it was a mix of good and bad. Now is the time I am looking through my notes to see what happened in the year expiring soon. Here’s a summary of what fun things I did, what I liked and didn’t like, and the notable things that happened in my life in 2012:

Movies: I counted them all, in 2012 I watched 83 movies, that is an average of 1.6 movies per week. During the Independent Film Festival of Boston I would see up to three movies a day, but generally I go to the movies at least once a week. It turns out this year I saw plenty of classic and old movies at the Brattle, and finally did the wise thing and acquired a Brattle membership, which saves me some money. The movies I liked best this year were ‘The Kid With A Bike’, the Belgian movie by the Dardenne brothers; ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ a documentary about the Japanese sushi master Jiro Ono; Wes Anderson’s ‘Moonrise Kingdom’; the offbeat, different ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’; the heart breaking ‘Take This Waltz’; the tough and incredibly moving ‘Oslo, August 31st’; the touching ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’; and the fascinating documentary ‘The Imposter’. A quick note to mention ‘Lincoln’ for the superb acting by Daniel Day-Lewis, and Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘The Master’ for the visual beauty. I also liked a lot Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’. The movie that creeped me out the most, made me feel extremely uncomfortable and wish I had not seen was Pedro Almodóvar’s ‘The Skin I Live In”. Oh, and I am not seeing ‘Les Miserables’ because I absolutely hate musicals.

Music: I went to 18 live shows this year. Some shows stood out, like the Radiohead show, the Mogwai show, which finally happened after two prior cancellations, and the Saint Etienne show at the Paradise, where everyone was dancing happily away. I saw the most interesting lighting and staging at the Grizzly Bear show at the Orpheum. The worst show? The Jesus and Mary Chain, no contest. The Paradise still remains the best venue in the area to see live music. I just wish it was located somewhere in Camberville. I can’t say there was a band or album this year I adored, but I did listen to some music I liked a lot, like Tanlines, Alt-J, Beach House, Lower Dens and Beach Fossils. After seeing Frank Ocean and the Dirty Projectors making everyone’s best music of the year list, I tried to listened to them, but I find them unbearable. Frank Ocean’s music is plainly boring, and the Dirty Projectors singer sounds like your friend who keeps singing along to every song he hears, and he is always off-key.

UPDATE: I can’t believe I forgot to mention this but my favorite song this year was Japandroid’s ‘The House That Heaven Built’. Yeah.

 

Theater: Not too much theater in my life this year. I mostly went to plays my friend TMB was in, like ‘Measure For Measure’, ‘Waiting For Lefty’ and ‘Anne of the Green Gables’. I also saw an interesting production of ‘Uncle Vanya’ at the Apollinaire Theatre in Chelsea, and David Adjmi’s ‘Marie Antoinette’ at the ART, a play I found was trying too hard to be witty.

Art: I visited the ICA and the MFA a couple of times each. I liked the exhibition Degas and the Nude the best, because I really, really like drawings. Really. Also at the ICA I saw Sam Green’s live documentary ‘The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller’ with live music by Yo La Tengo. And I love Yo La Tengo.

Food, Drink: I liked Casa B in Union Square in Somerville, a space with unique and pretty cool interior design and delicious tapas. I finally made it to Santarpio’s where I discovered the best pizza in town. I also liked Strip T’s in Watertown, West Bridge, and Belly Wine Bar in Kendall Square. I was impressed by the food at the Garden at the Cellar, which might be Cambridge’s best kept secret. The food is amazing, how come I didn’t know? I also paid many visits to iYo the new frozen yogurt place in Davis Square. The square will soon be fro-yo central, as a second fro-yo place opened, and there are plans for a third. I had some very good cocktails at Stoddard’s downtown, and at Brick & Mortar in Central Square.

Travel: Nothing extraordinary travel-wise. I spent three lovely days in Provincetown, I love this happy and laid back place, and the amazing beaches. Speaking of beaches, I discovered Duxbury beach this year (the best beach area is south of the bridge), pretty much one of the best beaches around Boston (sorry, North Shore beaches, no comparison, really). I went to Greece for a couple of weeks to see family and friends, eat well and swim in the Mediterranean, and that’s always pretty neat and relaxing. I also visited my brother and his family in Germany. I finally got to meet my nephew, who is a very cute baby, and got to see my niece again, who is a very cute toddler.

Exercise: In the beginning of 2012 I found myself ten pounds overweight, and ten pounds is a lot for a person of my size. I had a hard time shedding off the extra pounds just by eating less. So, I started eating less and exercising more,  the magic combination that always works. After hating running for as long as I remember, this year I followed a 5k training program, and after eight weeks I was pleasantly surprised to see I could comfortably run 3 miles. I participated in my first 5k race in December, and completed the race in 28 minutes. I also started taking tennis classes, and I loved it. I can’t wait to start new classes again. I biked a lot, as usual, and I took a bicycle repair class at the Broadway Bicycle School.

A couple of other notable things from 2012: I refinanced my mortgage and once again discovered how inept the people who work in this business are. After twelve years of living here I finally decided to apply for citizenship, and became citizen on September 11. I voted for the first time, and was happy with the results. I got to meet Elizabeth Warren, the new senator from Massachusetts, so now I have met both Senators from MA in person. Oh, and being a citizen means I can now run for office, but don’t worry, I don’t plan to.

In 2012 I experienced some disappointments, but no reason to talk about that now. I do not have any major new year’s resolutions, but I will definitely try to do certain things different: I will try to visit places I haven’t been to before. I would love to have someone willing and able to travel with me, but I am also willing to travel by myself. I will try to read more, and after many years I have cancelled my New Yorker subscription in order to free up time to read the untouched books in my bookcase. I will try to get back to creative things I used to like, like drawing.

Above all, in 2013 I will do my best to find time for all the small and big things that make happy. Happy New Year.

HONK! Festival 2011

This past weekend HONK! invaded Somerville. It was the once-a-year crazy scene with awesome brass and marching bands flooding Davis Square. It was the time of the year when young and old glow joy. HONK! is the festival of activist street bands, and the crowd is invited to participate and show support for the message. What is the message? You can read it here, but by just looking around I could see support for democracy, peace, sharing, the environment. It’s also about participating in the fun, and that’s not really a tough one to do.

It was fun wandering around. By the end of the day Saturday the square was overcome with the smells of HONK!: sweat, multiple varieties of body odor, pot. And then Sunday was the great parade when the bands joined by various groups, march down Mass Ave from Davis Square in Somerville to Harvard Square in Cambridge. You see policemen, Mayors, cross-dressers, people on stilts, people-wheels (you know, like a hamster-wheel but with people instead of hamsters). You see weird, you see crazy, but it is all fun and it is all good. HONK! is just another thing that make me love my neighborhood.

I took some photographs, you can see the full set here.

‘Pearl Jam Twenty’

The new Cameron Crowe documentary ‘Pearl Jam Twenty’ was showing tonight at the Brattle Theatre. I decided to go to the 7:30 show. When I got in Harvard Square,  I saw a huge line forming outside the Brattle, which I didn’t expect. Everyone in line had already bought their tickets beforehand. I asked at the booth and was told that the 7:30 show was “completely sold out”. (I think that sold out does not really take any adverb of this kind, was it completely sold out as opposed to partially sold out? If something is sold out, it is sold out, and that’s that.) The 10pm show was not sold out, that was two and a half hours away.

I lingered outside the theatre until everyone went in. People were still picking up tickets from will call. Then a couple came, and a guy asked them if they needed one ticket, because he had one extra. The couple said OK, but when they asked for another ticket, the person at the booth told them it was sold out. “I don’t want to wait around 10”, the guy said. But he already had bought the other guy’s extra ticket. “I can take it off your hands”, I offered. “Oh, yeah? That’d be great”, he said, so I got my ticket.

I found a seat on the fourth row center. And nobody came to sit in front of me. No gigantic head of a seven-foot tall person in front of me. I am the woman who manages to find a ticket to a sold out movie and then watch it with unobstructed view. Sometimes.

Oh, and how was the documentary? It was good, but not great. It felt like there was something missing. It was lingering over things and situations that were already shown, like the band’s early days. I disliked the filmmaker’s presence in the documentary: the voice over in the beginning, the shot of himself doing an interview of the band for a magazine. It felt like a summary of their career –it’s been twenty years already– but the components (mainly highlights of their career) were put together in a somewhat disjointed way. The interviews come off as very polished. The shots from the live shows are great, the music is great. If you like Pearl Jam’s music, if you are a fan, you will definitely love it.

I Predict Songs

Lately, it seems that at least one morning a week the following happens: I’m going down the stairs singing a certain song, I get in my car, turn on the radio and station I’m tuned in is playing that particular song. Sometimes is happens slightly differently; I wake up with a song in my head, turn on the radio and that song is playing.  I remember last week it was ‘Will Do’ by TV On The Radio, this morning it was ‘Options’  by Gomez.

This morning actually when I realized I was singing ‘Options’ my next thought was “I bet when I get in the car and turn on the radio WERS will be playing it”. And that’s what happened. But instead of feeling that the whole thing was peculiar, it felt normal. Like it was bound to happen, and of course, it did.

May 21, 2011: The Rapture Snubbed Us, The PorchFest Rocked Us

Saturday May 21, 2011 was supposed to be Judgement Day. The day when the world as we know it was going to end. But it didn’t. The Rapture completely snubbed Harold Camping’s prediction. We woke up on that day happy to see that is was, in fact, a glorious day. After a week of cloudy and rainy weather we were ready to have our faces and bodies warmed up by the sun. At some point I thought that the Rapture might have happened indeed and I ended up in Heaven: the gorgeous weather and the hot shirtless guys running around were a proof of my transition. Alas, I was still bound by gravity and my own imperfections.

And that was alright. That same day PorchFest was going on around Somerville. PorchFest is a decentralized celebration where musicians play on porches. Turns out there are lots of musicians residing in Somerville, which meant that there were many little parties happening all over the city. The weather was perfect and the ideal way to check out as many porches as possible must have been to bike around the city.  Due to a late start I didn’t visit many venues, but reading the bands/musicians named I decided I had to check out The Rapture Day Ramblers. How aptly named for the day! They were playing on a porch across the street from the Nave Gallery. When we got there they had just starting playing a lovely unplugged set of bluegrass music. People starting coming by to listen. Interesting crowd, families with young children, hipsters, bikers. The guy next to me sat cross-legged on the sidewalk. He was wearing a bow-tie, button down shirt, bermuda shorts, boat shoes, and sported a modified fauxhawk. At some point he took a beer bottle and a glass out of his messenger bag and started drinking. I got a little jealous. Another guy was wearing a ‘Worcester: Paris of the Eighties’ T-shirt. The scene in Somerville was definitely rocking the Rapture.

San Pedro by Mogwai

I was looking forward to the live Mogwai show at the Paradise scheduled for April 23. Then, a couple of days ago I received an email saying that

“due to an unforeseen delay in their visa processing, Mogwai must postpone these shows: April 19 Washington, DC 9:30 Club
April 20 Philadelphia, PA Starlight Ballroom
April 21 New York, NY Webster Hall
April 22 New York, NY Webster Hall
April 23 Boston, MA Paradise Rock Club

Dates will be rescheduled for Oct TBA.”

A major bummer. Last I saw them playing live was two years ago at the Wilbur. This time I was looking forward to seeing them at the recently renovated Paradise, a small venue with superb sound. I could clearly see myself up front rocking out to the sounds of San Pedro. Well, I guess I have to wait until October. Until then, I will have to settle for some mild rocking in my office chair.

UPDATE: Mogwai rescheduled their postponed US shows and they’re playing Boston on October 1 at the House of Blues. Which, compared to the Paradise, simply sucks. FML.