Monday, March 31, 2008

February Round-Up

Another month, another last minute attempt to get a round-up written. One of these days I'll stop procrastinating. But I'll deal with that later.

Movies Seen: Thirteen, with none in a theater. My favorites were "The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford" and "King of Kong." "King of Kong" is just pure fun, so watch it already, but I can see "Jesse James" driving people nuts with boredom. However, as anyone who knows me probably knows by now, I have a high tolerance for the boring. Of course, to me, it isn't boring, but more along the lines of mesmerizing. Funniest thing about the movie, though, was what I read on an acquaintance's blog. He was talking with a coworker about his weekend, and how he had seen "The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford," and his co-worker replied, "Oh really? What's that about?"

As for the worst, that would be "Factory Girl," a movie so bad it made me want to sit through three hour Andy Warhol movies about nothing. There's bound to be more entertainment in those.

Books Read: Two. But one was over 500 pages, so it should really count as two books. Especially since the book is "The Post-Birthday World," and it essentially IS two books, telling the story or the parallel lives of one woman who either does or does not decide to kiss a male friend on his birthday. We see how her life would have played out if she did kiss the guy, and if she didn't. It was slow going at first, and actually took me two attempts to read it, but once I got over the hump, I really enjoyed seeing how her two lives played out. I probably liked it as much as I did because I have the unfortunate tendency to daydream about what my life would be like if I had only done this, or had not made such and such a decision way back when. I don't think it's a wise preoccupation--it can often lead to feelings of regret, and really, who wants to live a life full of regret? But, of course, looking at your past actions can help you make the right decisions least, that's the hope, isn't it?

The other book was "Spook" by Mary Roach. It's the second book I've read by her (the other being "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Cadavers") and she's easily one of the best non-fiction writers out there. I highly recommend anything and everything by her. Nothing beats learning something new, and laughing the entire time.

Fancy Dinners Out: Just one, at Spork, which sits in the location of an old Kentucky Fried Chicken. I think we had scallops, which were fab, and a housemade pasta, which I am always a sucker for. The only disappointment was the desserts. I think there was a brownie, and some ice cream. YAWN...

Live Shows Seen: Two. One was Was (Not Was) at Cafe du Nord, which was a last minute concert-going experience as I didn't even know they were in town until the day of the show. Fortunately, for us, it doesn't seem a lot of people were aware of it, because the show was pretty empty, which was unfortunate for the band. Regardless, it was a good show, and a definite blast from the past.

The other was "Giselle" at the San Francisco Ballet. I haven't been to a lot of ballets (one of these days I'll tell you the heartbreaking story of the time I stood in the pouring rain during high school in the hopes of getting tickets to see Baryshnikov, and was denied...TWICE) but I was kind of obsessed with ballet as a kid, and continue to love it now. Dancing is so much more tolerable when there isn't any singing involved.

I had read that Yuan Yuan Tan, the dancer playing Giselle, left much to be desired, but I was pretty impressed with her, especially this one move she made during the second act's pas de deux. I looked at YouTube clips of the same pas de deux danced by others, and none of those dancers did what she did. Unfortunately, the only clip of it I can find of her on YouTube is kind of crappy, and doesn't allow embedding, so if you're at all interested, go here, and the move happens at about the 3:45 mark, when she's being lifted. She does something that really makes it appear like she's made of something ethereal, like smoke, which is appropriate since she's supposed to be a ghost at that point of the ballet.

If you compare that moment to the same moment danced by Natalia Makharova (and Baryshinokov) you can see Makharova doesn't have the same fluidity of movement. (Clip below, and the move happens near the end of it.)

Now, one little move doesn't negate some wooden moments in Yaun Yaun Tan's performance of "Giselle," but when a dancer can do something that you've never seen before, especially in a ballet so canonical, well, I think that's pretty impressive.

Shoes Bought: NONE! But that's something I will make up for in the following month, I promise.

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