Friday, January 28, 2011

a date with myself

Note: I was going to blog about Christa McAuliffe and the anniversary of a friend's death tonight.  Happily for all involved, I'm not in the mood for somber reflection.  Onward to happier topics.

A date with myself is nothing new.  In fact, it's the norm.  However, it's not typical for one of these self-dates to leave me feeling...well...blessed.

But tonight some combination of things worked out. 

Perhaps it was feeling marginally healthy after being sick for 4 days.

Maybe it was the skirt/boots combination that I wore to work today, that got me the usual "wow, Jodi, you're wearing a skirt" comments - great inspiration to slim down so buying cute clothes is easier and more fun. 

Maybe it was the 60 degree temps that meant I could walk the dog for miles in jeans and a light sweater.

It might have been the results of that walk:

Or my very happy (though not really healthy) choice to eat leftover Annie's macaroni and cheese for dinner, with the promise that I'd have fruit on my frozen yogurt later that evening. 

Or how that frozen yogurt carried me down the street toward the theater, keeping me company as I waited for the train to pass by. 

Maybe it was the smiles on people's faces as they watched the train; everyone seemed to be in a good mood tonight. 

It might have been the delightful elderly lady who sat to my right in the theater, or the quiet, yet chatty gentleman to my left.  They were both genuinely interested to know that I worked there, and asked me a series of intelligent questions that led to a pleasant evening of pre-show and intermission conversation.

I suppose it also could have been the sublime music emanating from violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Sam Haywood.  It's cliched, I know, but their music brought tears to my eyes more than once.  And I found it just perfect that I got to meet, and shake hands with, the less famous (but no less talented) of the two, Sam, who was chatting backstage while Joshua Bell signed autographs out front.

Or maybe it was the kind gesture of a colleague, doing something special for me after the show when he really was under no obligation to do so.

Who knows.

Like I said, I'm on dates with myself all the time.  And more often than not, I have fun, but come home with that vague feeling that I'm failing somehow, in not either a) finding a man or b) being so glamorously fabulous that I don't need a man.  But not tonight.  Tonight, I feel content in my plain solitude, in the knowledge that I talked easily to strangers, saw amazing music played by virtuosos, and looked kind of cute in my skirt and boots. 

What fun.  Here's hoping for more nights like this. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Movies that don't (?) suck

Yesterday I stumbled on a previously unheard of movie channel on my U-Verse cable, and came upon a movie lineup ingeniously titled "Movies that don't suck".  Bonus, I thought.

Except that they were playing Broken Arrow.  You know, the one about missing nuclear weapons, starring John Travolta, Christian Slater and Samantha Mathis (and Howie Long - let's not forget that gem of a performance). 

Broken Arrow is a terrible movie (Thus the reason I love it). It's directed by John Woo, with his trademark cheesy dialogue and ridiculous characters/caricatures.  And lots of guns and explosions.  A perfectly delightful/awful movie.   Right up there with Armageddon, The Core and Face/Off.

It most definitely sucks.

And yes, I own the VHS version and am now rewinding it because I want to watch the "uncut" version.  I mean, if the best line of the movie is "I say God Damn, what a rush!!!", and they edit it out of the TV version, one is obliged to restore the movie to it's former, completely sucking glory. 

Excuse me while I go remember how to fast forward through the credits.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Onion headline of the day

Administration Officials Announce New Economic Stimulus Plan: Increase Prediction of Snow Storms

By Jodi Beznoska
Posted January 20, 2011 - 5:30pm

Federal officials today announced a sweeping economic stimulus plan based entirely on predictive weather models.

"In partnership with television networks and grocery stores throughout the nation, we are pleased to announced this new program, unofficially dubbed "There's No Business like Snow Business," said one economist. "By ensuring that meteorologists predict more snowstorms, especially in Southern and Mid-Southern states, we can virtually guarantee a major increase in spending at your local Walmarts and grocery stores.  It's a win-win for the nation, especially when you factor in that kids love snow days as much as teachers do."

As part of the program, meteorologists and television producers will receive incentives to predict more inclement weather.  "It's worth noting that it's not just snow storms that will help us pull our economy out of this slump," said a head of a local CBS affiliate.  "We'll be receiving tax breaks for predictions of ice, heavy rain and extreme cold.  Ice in particular is a great sales driver, but when temperatures are predicted to drop below 35 degrees, our retail partners see a definite increase in sales of down parkas, thermo-insulated overalls, and space heaters."

Not all businesses greeted this news with enthusiasm; many executives have cited dramatic decreases in productivity due to weather predictions.  "When snow is predicted, I lose half of my staff the next day, guaranteed, regardless of whether the prediction comes true," said one CEO.  "If we did a study about the time lost, I'll bet you it would be worth the cost of a few more snowplows, or better predictive models, at any rate.  But hey, I get to wear jeans and a sweater to work, so I'm not really complaining." Parents, too, have expressed reservations, but video game and movie retailers say the increased traffic is welcome.

The ultimate veracity of predictions is not included in the plan, according to officials, who cited a need to let the frenzy play out in a natural and organic way.  "We really don't want the actual weather events to interfere with this system," said the economist.  "The success of this program is based entirely on the power of viral networking and mob mentality.  If we let rational ideas like small accumulations or incorrect predictions make their way into our thinking, we won't see the spending results that this country desperately needs."

Pilot programs in Arkansas and Kentucky have exceeded expectations, as grocery aisles have been stripped of their bread, eggs and Pop Tarts in advance of several snow events in the past few weeks.  "It's been super," said one Walmart manager.  "We've run out of product before the snow even gets here, so I can send all my staff home to go sledding.  All they need is 1/2 an inch and they're good to go!"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The people we meet

Disclaimer - this entry isn't funny, or even marginally amusing.  If you're not in the mood, don't read.  I won't be offended.  

Have you ever counted the number of people you meet, and then forget?  Or that you meet, think about fondly for a few moments and then forget?  There must be hundreds.  I sometimes catch myself accidentally meeting someone's eye in an airport or on the highway, and wondering what their story is.  Would I like them if I knew them better?  Would our paths ever cross in our daily lives, or do we move in different circles?  Sometimes, I selfishly wonder how that random person could advance my career or make my life better; rarely do I wonder the same about how I could help them.

I try not to take these meetings for granted, but of course I do.  Sometimes, one of the meetings evolves into something impactful.  For example, I pretty much owe my current career path and current job to two random meetings. One happened over the phone, the other over a lecture in grad school.  Neither lasted more than a few hours.  But my life is vastly different, and better, because of them.

Last week, at the APAP conference, as I enjoyed a presentation by one of the speakers, I thought "I'd like to know this guy".  Coincidentally, he turned out to be the man with whom I and several of my colleagues were scheduled to have lunch later that day.  We ate Japanese and talked about building new theaters.  He seemed like one of those people whose brain is going in 20 directions at once, and sometimes, I hadn't the faintest clue what he was saying.  But I liked him.  He had a great smile, huge enthusiasm and was clearly very smart.  I was glad when he gave me his card, because I had a feeling he was one of those "meetings" that I shouldn't let pass.

Yesterday, I sent him an email that said I hoped we could keep in touch.

Today I learned that he died on Monday.

It's unclear why, but he fell 14 stories from a hotel roof to his death.

He was 48 years old.  He had two sons.  And though I only spent a few hours in his company, I know he adored them; it was obvious in how much he talked about them. 

I'm not sure what lesson to take from this, beyond the cliched "tell your loved ones every day how much you love them." I feel sad for his family and friends, and I suppose I feel some of that eerie sense of mortality that we usually manage to keep under wraps. 

But most of all, as crass as it sounds, I feel cheated. I'm pretty sure he would have returned my email.  Maybe we would have stayed in touch.  Beyond that...who knows.  

I'm left with a lingering sorrow, and guilt that I have no right to feel that sorrow.  What a strange thing it is to wrestle with sudden, unexpected death.

RIP, David Taylor.  I'm glad I got to hear you speak and share lunch with you.  It's clear you're missed already.  I hope those who knew you better than I find comfort in the days and weeks and years ahead.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Why didn't I blog more last week????

Jeez.  7 days in NYC - I really should have paced myself better and spent some time blogging during the trip. Then I wouldn't have cast my tired brain back over the craziness of our journey to the Big Apple, which began two Thursdays ago.

Anyway, 6 of my colleagues and I spent a week (give or take) at a major conference of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, fondly known as APAP (and it wasn't until this trip that I started to wonder how strange we must all sound saying we're going to a conference who's acronym is a girly medical procedure).

You wouldn't think it, but APAP is a pretty big deal.  More than 4000 delegates attend from dozens of countries.  It's a booking/trade show for the arts, which is appalling in some ways, and invigorating in others.  For example, you get to have meetings with inspiring artists like David Michalek and see great new bands like Red Molly, but you also spend hours haggling with agents and wondering how you can balance the budget and do amazing projects that are free or low cost for the audiences.

But I get ahead of myself.

We (my colleague and I) arrived on Thursday morning...and had time to wander the streets, visit 5th Avenue, and in my case, buy some much-needed black boots.  We wandered in St. Patrick's Cathedral, the Lego Store, and saw Rockefeller Plaza, still decked out for Christmas.  I was reminded how my home town in Arkansas needs more cool funky lunch places like Chop't, where you can get amazing salads mixed up and chopped to order.  I spent a cold hour in line at the TKTS booth, and that night, we saw the mighty James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave in the stage version of Driving Miss Daisy. I was ten feet from Darth Vadar's voice for nearly 90 minutes.  Awesome.  Later that evening, we went to a barbeque joint to see a fun band called Hot Club of Cowtown a "modern western string band".  Barbeque in NY?   I know, that's weird.

The next day, session hopping began.  The most interesting part of the day for me was the astounding varieties of ugly carpeting that decorate the floors of the Hilton. Actually, I did enjoy the session on Cultural Diplomacy, and am starting to wonder if that's my next career area.  We'll see.  That night we saw the Tony Award winning Broadway show Memphis.  It was great.  It was exciting to see a new original show be so much fun.  We tried to go see a Second City showcase, but were waylaid by the need to gossip with our coworkers. 

Saturday began with the inevitable Starbucks line, where I ran into my good friend Betsy from grad school.  The morning's session was the best at the conference, in my humble and clearly unbiased opinion - it was done by students in my graduate degree program at the Bolz Center for Arts Administration.  They're so smart.  They make me feel less smart.  :)

'Scuse me a moment, I have to check my twitter feed to remember what I did that day.  Hold please.

Ok.  Thanks to twitter, I now know that on Saturday I attended a so-called "lightening session" where the presenters were supposed to speak for 8 minutes each about their respective topics.  Naturally, being arts people, they couldn't keep it brief, but it was interesting.  The best quote:  "Young people have an increasingly short attention span for boring things." - this from David Taylor, arts consultant. 

Pardon me.  We must pause for a moment to note that Chris Colfer just won a Golden Globe, and told all the kids out there who have been bullied or told they can't be who they are "Screw that, kids!"  Hear, hear, Chris. 

Back to Saturday, where I can remember having drinks with Bolzies and seeing my good friend Sarah, founder of the awesome Four Seasons Theatre, and realizing that the assassination of an Arizona representative was actually real. I realize now this is partially why I was a such a grump during a great performance by Marc Cohn. Then back to the Hilton for a few showcases, including Dala, who will be appearing at the WAC this spring, and several other showcases that made me realize I am able to distinguish good from bad.  

Sunday morning brought showcases; Trout Fishing in America and Ball in the House, among others - man, do I feel for those artists having to perform in the morning.  Then a "town hall" meeting, then lunch at a booking agency.  Then began the "Day of Loss" as I managed to lose my gloves, scarf and badge at showcases, which included the Martha Graham Dance company and the Midtown Men (the 4 original Jersey Boys).  But the day ended on a high note, as we noshed on some chicken and rice from the alleged best food cart in NYC.  

Monday brought time wandering the Expo room and a plenary lunch featuring David Hyde Pierce, who somehow found a way to call all arts presenters crazy.  Then more expo time, then meetings, then a super lame dinner followed by a botched attempt to see a film.  So I subwayed my way down to a showcase where I saw, among others, the fabulous Patti LuPone.  That, I won't soon forget - the highlight was hearing her do "My Way."  I finished the night with a jazz show at the famous Blue Note in Washington Square. I tried, I really did, but I don't get jazz.  That was a LONG 90 minutes. 

Tuesday (good grief, this is a long conference!) featured an inspiring closing plenary session with author Azar Nafisi (I had never heard of her, but will definitely download her book Reading Lolita in Tehran soon) and some excellent shopping sandwiched among meetings and much panic/changing of flights as a large snowstorm loomed.  We had dinner at Orso (I had quail) followed by Million Dollar Quartet and shakes at the Shake Shack.  We walked home and had a magical moment in Times Square as the snow fell. 

Wednesday (1/11/11) should have been a travel day, but due to a falsely inflated snowstorm it was a bit of play day, and play we did, in Central Park, in our new rain boots.  Lunch at La Bonne Soupe followed, then a surprise gem of a show, Lombardi, and then an amazing dinner at Carmines, followed by Mary Poppins, blintzs and packing.  

Finally, home on Thursday.  Whew.  Despite my incessant complaining about the length of the trip and missing my dog, it was pretty awesome.  I'm a lucky gal.  

PS: I'd like to thank the good people at facebook, twitter, outlook calendars and the Hollywood Foreign Press for helping me reconstruct my life.  I love you all. 

Central Park, 1/11/11

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The New Year's resolutions I wish I could make...

This year, I wish I could resolve to:
  • Sleep until I want to wake up...every day.
  • Cease all saving and increase my spending exponentially.
  • Eat nothing but bagels, Thai food and pizza.
  • Drive 10 miles above the speed limit...always...and see if I'm on time more.
  • Always say what I think, no matter how snarky-New-England-sarcastic-inappropriate-guaranteed-to-get-me-fired the thought is.
  • Buy a 100-acre plot of land that contains lakes, mountains and adirondack chairs.
  • Simultaneously live close to the following (not necessarily in this order): my parents, my brother, my friends, the New York and/or London theater districts and a city with Indian restaurants. 
  • Tell people when they are being stupid/mean/annoying.  Immediately. 
  • Leave my house in the messiest state possible.
  • Spend every other weekend in Hawaii.
  • Leave every light on in the house...during the day. 
  • Never vacuum my car. 
  • Ignore the dozens of hot men who seek my favor, instead focusing on some quality "me time." 
Alas...I will have to stick with drinking more water, walking the dog, and seeking happiness in the moment.  Not nearly as much fun.

How about you? What resolution would you really, really like to make, consequences be damned?