Tag Archives: woody allen

Lame Adventure 190: Before and After Math

On the Friday before the Saturday that the world was scheduled to end, my sidekick Greg and I saw Bridesmaids.  Although I am a lifelong Woody Allen devotee, and I was equally dying to see his latest film, Midnight in Paris, I was also eager to see Kristen Wiig’s silver screenwriting star turn.  Therefore, I decided that a hilarious film about sisterhood written by two women should be the last film I see before the world falls off its axis.  Plus, I had the added pleasure of attending this yuck-fest with someone that shares my loathing of insipid, vapid, predictable, I-want-to-gouge-out-my-eyes-and-make-this-torture-end, chick flicks.

Greg and I both had a very positive feeling about Bridesmaids and Bridesmaids was indeed very positive.  It was wonderful.  We both liked it so much that Greg almost forgot about his sinusitis that had transformed him into a mucous factory.

The laughs were plentiful; the site gags memorable (my two favorites involve a bag of frozen peas and a defaced storefront).  The script was excellent.  At its core the narrative is very honest about women.  It’s both a hilarious and intelligent story that’s essentially about friendship.  It also has a nice balance of humor and heart with the added bonus of depth.  It’s refreshing to see women being genuinely funny and likeable instead of being ball-busting obstacles to the glut of idiot guys that are having lame brained fun behind their bitchy backs.  I look forward to seeing whatever Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo write next.

Fast forward to Monday.  After surviving the non-Rapture Coco and I bolt the grind, hop on a 1 local heading uptown to Lincoln Plaza Cinema where we finally see Woody Allen’s latest, Midnight in Paris.  Coco has an affection for Woody that she inherited from Grand-pappy Coco who was Woody’s transportation captain until he bought his rainbow in 1983.

We arrive early to score good seats, but shortly before the trailers start, a man the size of a Douglas Fir sits in front of me.  His massive bulk completely obscures my view.

Coco (whispering for she does not have a death wish):  Is that the Brawny paper towel guy?

Stay where you belong Buddy!

The seat to her right is empty.  I move.  I notice the next day at work that she is towering over me.  I feel reduced to the size of a lawn gnome.

Me:  How high are those heels you’re wearing?

Coco:  Five inches.  Sitting behind the Brawny man last night gave me the urge to be a giant.

Woody’s film is an exquisitely directed, shot, and art directed fantasy about Gil Pender, played by Owen Wilson.  Gil is a successful screenwriter of formulaic Hollywood fare who is miserable in the present and struggling to write literature about a nostalgia shop.  After a dinner engagement, Gil passes on going dancing with his shallow fiancé and her blowhard friends in favor of wandering the streets of the city of lights solo.  At midnight a vintage limousine picks him up and transports him back in time to the Paris of his dreams, Paris during the Jazz Age.  Then, the film soars.  Gil encounters a host of legendary artists and writers and also discovers a kindred spirit in Adriana, an artist’s muse.  During his time travels, Gil has the time of his life.  The audience shares his thrills every time he runs into a legend.  I particularly liked Corey Stoll’s deadpan Hemingway.  Coco thought the one slight misfire was Owen Wilson, but overall we were both delighted that Woody made another gem.

Upon leaving, there was a crush of people crowding the exit.  We noticed a side door that no one entered.  Coco shoved the door open and I followed her into the night.  We realized that we were the only ones dashing up this hidden staircase.

Coco (elated):  We’re time traveling!

Me:  I hope we enter the era where the rent’s cheap!

We reached the top of the staircase where the world looked exactly like May 2011. To drown our disappointment, we visit our favorite hole-in-the-wall underground Moroccan watering hole, where we order a bottle of a $44 French red, specifically the 2009 La Vielle Ferme Cotes du Ventoux Rouge.  The label is decorated with a hen and a rooster.

Talk dirty to me, Baby. Why did the chicken cross the road?

Our server confides:

Server:  This wine is from the lower regions of barrels where the wine at the top sells for $300 a bottle.

Coco:  You’re telling us that we’re ordering the bottom of the barrel.

Upon trying the wine Coco delivers the verdict:

Coco:  It tastes okay … it tastes better than okay.

Two glasses of better than okay.

We also order food, a number of appetizers.  Coco states:

Coco:  Let’s avoid the Lamb Cigars.  I don’t want to repeat the Snausages incident.

A few months earlier, at a downtown establishment, we ordered a disappointing tube-shaped meat appetizer that Coco forever refers to as Snausages.  At our Moroccan watering hole, we order the Lamb Meatballs.  Our server showers them with praise and then we’re served … the Lamb Cigars.  But … We didn’t realize this until the next day, when we are both at work and I share my epiphany about why our Lamb Meatballs were torpedo-shaped.  Coco beats her head on her desk.

Coco: Why did I not think twice about the lamb balls being shaped like lamb turds?  We weren’t even drunk!  There’s no excuse!

Me:  And another thing … About our $44 $300 bottle of wine … I found a place online in Staten Island where we can buy it for $6.99 a bottle or $83 a case.  That’s less than the cost of two bottles at our Moroccan watering hole!

Big deal.

Coco (fashion on the brain logic):  If the waiter didn’t know the difference between balls and cigars can we trust his statement that old cock wine is the leftover crap of Chateauneuf de Pape?  That’s like saying the fabric that’s leftover from a Valentino dress becomes an Old Navy dress!

Me (water on the brain logic):  Do you realize that’s more than a 650% markup?  Have you ever been to Staten Island?

Long pause.

Coco:  Time to go for a ferry ride!

Lame Adventure 80: For the Birds

In my next life, I want to be a bird, specifically a New York City based pigeon.  Some might scoff, “Why in the world would you want to come back as a rat with wings?”  Please note that “rat with wings” is a name for our feathered nemeses Woody Allen coined in 1980 in Stardust Memories when perchance, actually per script, a pigeon flew into his apartment via an open window.  Just another typical bit of forgotten WA-style urban neurosis, but that phrase has deservedly entered the lexicon.

I want to return as a pigeon in the Big Apple because there’s always plenty to eat lying around, there are millions of other birds so I’ll never be without a date, I can roost rent-free in the toniest neighborhoods, flying beats riding public transportation, and best of all, I can crap wherever and whenever I want, including on annoying New Yorkers like the short, fleshy young woman in her early to mid twenties that I noticed on my way home from work Monday evening as I walked up Broadway in the West 70s.

"Hurry up, take your picture. It's been almost a minute since I last ate. Hey! Do you have a pretzel on you? I'm in the mood for one."

The street was crowded with rush hour pedestrian traffic, as well as vendors selling their wares lining one side and the jazz musician I see every weeknight playing his saxophone on the other.  A tall, slender bun-head, fresh from ballet class, wearing iPod headphones, who was about the same age as the short squat woman – a woman that bore a distinct resemblance to the fruit of an illicit romance between a fire hydrant and a table leg, brushed against each other.  Fireworks exploded.

Short Squat One:  You bumped into my bag!  Don’t you know how to say ‘excuse me’?

Bun-head (removing headphones):  Huh?  What?

Short Squat One:  You’re so retarded!  Forget it!

Short Squat One furiously stomps on as Bun-head stands bewildered asking, “What’s her problem?” If I were Lame Adventures Pigeon, I would have dive-bombed SSQ’s head with my Mickey D-bagel-pizza-Dunkin’ Donuts lunch.  Pigeons have the power.

A bit powerless here but ...

Flaunting power atop William Earl Dodge statue in Bryant Park!

Lame Adventure 34: Blooming and Sneezing

Next weekend’s forecast in the tri-state area is looking dreary, lows in the 40s and highs in only the 50s.  It might even rain both Saturday and Sunday.  The past two weekends the weather has been lovely.  When the weather is warm and sunny, I like to go outside and enjoy it.  Even if I’m just running my usual weekend errands, foraging for food and skin searing cleaning supplies, it’s much nicer doing so under warm sunny skies than when it’s 27 degrees and icy snow is piled everywhere.  One of the downsides of spring is that the tree is blooming outside my window so I’ve been sneezing thunderously.  A few times I think I’ve come close to tearing some upper body cartilage I’ve been sneezing with such ferocity.  Just as I typed that sentence I sneezed.

Tree outside my window starting to bloom and making me sneeze.

At work, Elsbeth’s been dry coughing frequently, Ling’s been phenomenally congested, Elaine, Greg, and I sneeze often, and even the Quiet Man in the back of the room made a sound today that prompted the following exchange while we were sitting at our desks feigning consciousness:

Ling:  God bless you, Quiet Man.

QM:  Thanks Ling.

Me:  Did he sneeze back there?  It sounded to me like he dropped something.

Ling:  No, that was a sneeze.

Me:  Really?  It sounded to me like a falling glass or anvil.

When I sneeze, it’s definitive.  Windows rattle, animals howl and children cry.  But I digress, back to basking in warm weekend sun.  When I stalk the streets of New York, I usually carry a camera.  Two weekends ago, people were photographing the dogwood trees blooming all over the Upper West Side, and I thought, “Yawn.”  Here are my shots of springtime.

Dogwood trees on Broadway. Snore.

Why? When I want a beer, I want a real beer.

The Pink Flamingo of the Upper West Side.

Garden in a can!

Come to the UWS and adopt a vacuum cleaner.

It was gone within an hour.

Last weekend, my errands included trying to exchange a bottle of Kiehl’s Tea Tree Oil shampoo for my preferred variety, Protein Concentrate Herbal, but unfortunately, the scent I like still had not arrived and the Tea Tree Oil is okay.  It only smells slightly like embalming fluid.  Upon leaving the Kiehl’s store, I was walking up Columbus Avenue and then at the corner of 67th and Columbus I thought of my friend, Roz.

Twenty years ago, Roz and I were walking on this same street when we saw Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, pushing two strollers with their kids, Satchel and Dylan.  They were standing at the corner waiting for the walk signal.  Roz starts whacking me repeatedly on the arm with the back of her hand murmuring urgently through gritted teeth, “Do you see!  Do you see!  Do you see!”

Roz is also twice my height and bears a striking resemblance to French actress, Fanny Ardant.

Fanny Ardant channeling Roz.

I have always looked more like a dung beetle, albeit with glasses.

A relation of mine with 20/20 vision.

Of course, I was completely aware of their presence, but Rule 17 in The Cool New Yorker Handbook dictates: under no circumstances will you betray a glimmer of recognition when in the presence of celebrity, and this includes while in the company of spastic close friends.  Back on Columbus Avenue in 1990, Roz is so frustrated with my apparent indifference to this A-list sighting, she is almost pummeling me, indirectly creating a scene.

Woody Allen notices us.  He giggles.  We walk past him.

Roz (exploding):  What the hell is wrong with you?  Do you know who we just walked past?  Are you blind?  I don’t believe you!

Me (uncharacteristically calm):  Thanks to you, we just had the honor of amusing Woody Allen.  How many people can say that?

Now, twenty years later as I cross that corner, I recall that Roz’s birthday is approaching and I have to get her a card.  And, this year, try harder to remember to mail it.  As I continue to walk up Columbus Avenue, I notice a middle age woman in cuffed skinny jeans, a shabby looking double-breasted brown corduroy coat and wraparound tortoise frame sunglasses.  She is trying hard to look inconspicuous and that’s when it dawns on me that this is actress Joan Allen, or the winner of the Joan Allen look-alike contest.  I half want to channel my inner paparazzo and photograph her, but I remember Rule 17, keep walking and respect her privacy.  This was probably for the best since I then sneezed vociferously prompting a car alarm to activate.

Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons on Broadway in Impressionism in 2009. Good cast, mediocre play.