Sunday, March 31, 2013

Nick Cave's Heard NY in Grand Central

Nick Cave, Heard NY, Grand Central

A bit of advice if you're going to one of the final performances of Nick Cave's Heard NY in Grand Central today: get there early. It seems like everyone in town wants to attend, and with good reason. The show is a whirling burst of color, a delightful way to ring in spring. 

Colors

Nick Cave, Heard NY, Grand Central

Nick Cave, Heard NY, Grand Central

Nick Cave, Heard NY, Grand Central

Nick Cave, Heard NY, Grand Central
  

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Room 237 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center


"Crazy wasn't a yardstick we used." Producer Tim Kirk's quip, in response to a question from the audience about whether any reading of The Shining was too off-the-wall to be included in Room 237, the documentary that Kirk and Rodney Ascher made about interpretations of Kubrick's film, gives you a good sense of the inclusive spirit of the movie. Ascher gives equal time to everyone, whether they are offering perfectly sensible remarks on motifs in The Shining (like those by Bill Blakemore, who joined Kirk and Ascher for the Q-and-A), providing interesting demonstrations of strange but probably unrevealing continuity errors, or passionately declaiming that Kubrick made The Shining to express his anguish about being involved in the faking of the moon landing. The rationalist in you may wish that Ascher would adjudicate between these theories --- surely some of the claims people make (like that Kubrick must have lied about why he changed the number of the hotel room because the original room number doesn't exist at the Timberline Lodge) are either true or false --- but the cineaste in you will revel in the no-holds-barred debate, which demonstrates the power of good movies to sustain a staggering array of interpretations.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Flights to Russia, Mongolia, and China

So, it's taken almost as long for us to wade through our photos as it did to travel from St. Petersburg to Beijing, with stops in Moscow, Ulaanbaatar, and the Mongolian countryside, which we did via the Trans-Siberian railway in February and March. A selection of photos follows; many more here.
 
Carriage, Trans-Siberian Railway
St. Petersburg from St. Isaac's
Sunrise, St. Petersburg
Ancient Siberian, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
Muzeon, Moscow Avtovo metro station, St. Petersburg
Ten-layer honey cake, Gosti, St. Petersburg
Babushkinskaya, Moscow
Monument to the Conquerors of Space, Moscow
Lenin, Muzeon, Moscow
Ovoo, Mongolian countryside near Hustain Nuruu
Mongolia from the Trans-Siberian / Trans-Mongolian Railway
Takhi (wild horse), Hustain Nuruu National Park
Temple of Heaven, Beijing
Great Wall at Mutianyu
Donkey meat sandwiches, Beijing
CCTV Headquarters (Big Underpants), Beijing
Beijing National Stadium (Bird's Nest)
National Centre for the Performing Arts (the Giant Egg), Beijing
 

CBS New York: NYC's Five Best Lamb Dishes

Hey everyone, we're also writing about New York for CBS New York. Periodically we'll link to content here that we produced there.

Lamb breast with cumin and lime, Do or Dine

Have we arrived at the "out like a lamb" part of March yet? Herald the start of spring with five of our favorite lamb dishes [read more].
 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Shining at IFC Center



In preparation for the release of the much-buzzed-about Room 237 tomorrow, IFC Center has been showing the complete oeuvre of the best director to come out of the Bronx, Stanley Kubrick. To better understand the crazy (or so crazy they just might be true?) theories on display in Room 237, we went to a screening of The Shining, a movie we own but had never seen on the big screen.

In the theater, the movie's unsettling oddities become even more powerful: the hypnotically glacial pace, the unmotivated screeching strings on the soundtrack, the impossible architecture, the discomforting low and wide photography, the bizarre inconsistencies (just what is Grady's first name? or are there multiple Gradys?), and the famous Steadicam tracking shots of Danny on his big wheel. Everything combines to give the film an unheimlich feel that is difficult to shake. They also let you see that the movie is really about second-wave feminism. Or the mind-body problem. Or the unreliability of all narration. Or . . .

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Singularity & Co.

Singularity & Co.

If you have both nerdy and nostalgic streaks, you need to get to Singularity & Co. at warp speed. Situated on a somewhat forlorn street where Dumbo meets Vinegar Hill, this shop specializes in vintage science fiction, fantasy, and pulp, with some espionage titles thrown in for good measure. Novelizations of Star Wars movies, Cold War killer robot stories, and yes (God, yes), the Choose Your Own Adventure Series. (We're now the proud of owners of adventure #73, Beyond the Great Wall.) (Also, be sure to ask the friendly, enthusiastic staff to show you the most mindblowing CYOA of all, in which you cannot choose the successful ending.) But the store is just part of the story: every month the folks behind Singularity & Co. identify a deserving out-of-print title and republish it. So go and support these guys --- you'll blogon us for it. 

Singularity & Co.

Unearthly Neighbors

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

CBS New York: NYC's 5 Most Interesting Churches

Hey everyone, we're also writing about New York for CBS New York. Periodically we'll link to content here that we produced there.
 

Rose Window

St. Patrick’s Cathedral might be the most well known, but New York City boasts several churches with interesting histories. Here are five worth visiting [read more].
 

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Hijacking at New Directors / New Films


A Hijacking tells the story of a hijacking. Somewhere in the Indian Ocean, in the recent past, Somali pirates have captured the MV Rozen, demanding $15 million in ransom. Back in Denmark, the shipping company's CEO must negotiate for the safe release of ship, cargo, and crew. It's a tight, incredibly tense movie.    

Pilou Asbaek (above, right) plays a cook who just wants to get home to his wife and tiny daughter. As we learned during the Q&A with director Tobias Lindholm, Asbaek gained 20 kilos for the role, then starved himself on set, losing 16 kilos in the process, so that his body would literally demonstrate the physiological stress of the kidnapping. But that wasn't the movie's only attempt at verisimilitude.

As it turns out, the ship used on screen had been hijacked several years ago, and the crew served as both extras and experts, advising the professional actors. Speaking of professionals, the man who plays the expert negotiator is a negotiator in real life, and many of his lines weren't scripted. The Somali pirates were actually Somali refugees in Kenya, whose clan leaders wanted them to participate in order to teach the young men about the evilness of piracy. And, finally, to create an especially fraught atmosphere, the lead actors were locked in a room, with no sense of when filming might begin. On stage, Lindholm, somewhat gleefully, mentioned that he would occasionally open the door to let in hundreds of flies. 

So we left the theater astonished, wondering how one becomes a negotiator (note to bosses: no, we're not interested in a career change; we're just curious), talking about the way the movie marries the two interlocking, increasingly similar story lines. Most of all, we buzzed about New Directors / New Films --- this series does exactly what film festivals should do: it brings the audience a movie it might not see otherwise, and the experience is often unforgettable.
 
Photo: thanks
 

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Color of the Chameleon at New Directors / New Films


Just when we thought we could forget everything we know about both the failure of communism and the Cyrillic alphabet, we went to see The Color of the Chameleon, part of this year's New Directors / New Films series. This Bulgarian movie uses a gorgeous, super-stylized palette to explore the act of informing in the period around the fall of communism.

Orphan Batko Stamenov (Ruscen Vidinliev, above) is good at two things: lying and masturbating. His talent at the former gets him recruited by the secret police, who want him to tattle on a campus book group. He does, but not well enough, so he gets fired. Undeterred, Batko becomes his very own secret agent, complete with a web of kinky informers and a phony agency, acronymed the Department of SEX. He also learns to etch and falls in love with a young woman with a bad limp. 

As writer/producer Vladislav Todorov emphasized during the Q&A, it's the anti-Lives of Others, another movie about what people will tell in order to stay alive another day in an authoritarian police state. Here, people inform willingly, delightfully, with no compunction or hesitation. Intellectuals aren't excluded from scorn simply because they're smart or know a lot about books, and Batko becomes more, not less, debased as the movie goes on. It's absurd, not realist. It's angry, not conciliatory. And, unlike The Lives of Others, The Color of the Chameleon features zero sex scenes. But don't let that stop you from seeing it.     

Photo: thanks
 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Centre-Fuge Cycle 7

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

CBS New York: Five Delicious and Unusual Chocolate Bites

Hey everyone, we're also writing about New York for CBS New York. Periodically we'll link to content here that we produced there.

Rose hip chocolate, Xocolati

Enliven your Easter basket, cupboard, or handbag with one of these unusual treats [read more].

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

New Wonjo

Budae jjigae, New Wonjo

Upon entering New Wonjo, you're given two choices: upstairs, for barbecue, or downstairs, for everything else. We went with the downstairs option and, unlike seemingly everyone else, did not place our order in Korean. Oh, we tried to say "budae jjigae" (top photo) and "nakji bibim bop" (bottom photo), but we stumbled some. It was easier to simply say "kimchi, sausage, tofu, and noodle stew" and "spicy octopus with rice."

"Dumplings" we have down pat, but so does everyone else, and nothing on that plate moved us. The other two dishes, in contrast, we've been practicing. Since we fell in love with their spicy, salty depths, their hearty, warming properties, their seemingly bottomless bowls of goodness, we need to know how to identify them beyond just "more of this delicious thing, ma-nyo."

Dumplings, New Wonjo

Nakji bibim bop, New Wonjo
  

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Malai Marke

Tangra chili paneer, Malai Marke

Like its siblings Chote Nawab, Dhaba, Chola, Thelewala, Bhojan, and Singapura, Malai Marke strives to show off a few aspects of a country's cuisine in an thoughtfully decorated setting. It succeeds. Shiva Natarajan's restaurant group has found a winning formula in slapping common objects on the walls (pans, movie posters, records) and authentic regional recipes on its menus.

We were particularly happy with our tangra chili paneer (top photo), cheese tossed in a slick, spicy sauce with green and red peppers, as well as our chicken xacuti (bottom photo), a Goan specialty with poppy seeds and chilies. Ginger and chili paste helped elevate aloo and gobi (middle photo, aka potatoes and cauliflower).   

Urban legend has it that all the Indian restaurants on East 6th share the same kitchen. If true, then the other restaurants on the block would do well to let this newcomer take the lead. While they're at it, they might also tone down the sitar music and dim the blinking lights.  

Aloo gobi ghar ki, Malai Marke

Chicken xacuti, Malai Marke
  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

LNY Mural on East 2nd Street

LNY

LNY

LNY
  

Monday, March 11, 2013

Rock Hill Bakehouse

Cinnamon rolls, Rock Hill Bakehouse

Perhaps there are better ways of curing jet lag and dealing with daylight savings, but none is as sweet as a pair of oversized cinnamon buns from Rock Hill Bakehouse from the Union Square Greenmarket. We're already brainstorming rationales for buying them again next Saturday, including celebrating St. Patrick's Day and commemorating the ides of March.    
 

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