Sometimes Connecticut is the best place. PART ONE

Image

After a crazy busy summer filled with a massive overhaul of my novel for my agent, house managing a sold-out run of an Off-Broadway show, and spending three weeks playing war for Army, a vacation was in order. 

An acquaintance of my gal Becca just bought a house in Fairfield, CT right by the beach and was going to be out of town for the month of August.  Take it, she said.  Use my beach pass, she said.  Have a good time, she said.  

Thank you, we said. 

So one Wednesday evening we rented a car, packed it up with our belongings, and drove north.  We knew that her son, a twenty-something who is normally off in school somewhere, was going to be present for the duration.  Oof, I said.  Human interaction.  Easy, Becca said.  It’ll be ok. 

When we arrived late that night, the son was not at home.  He had left the key under the mat for us, however.  So we grabbed our bags and went up to the door. 

We were a few feet from the front door when we heard a meow.  Suddenly, out from the bushes, springs a mangy cat.  Oh dear, I said.  Must be a stray.  Its fur was matted and scraggly and its meow was deep and scratchy.  

Image

This cat is more well-groomed than our Connecticut cat.

As we tried to open the door, the cat tried to go inside.  Hey there, I said.  Don’t go in there.  We shooed it away.  It didn’t move.  I walked away and called it so that Becca could at least get inside.  It didn’t move.  We set down the leftovers from our fast food dinner on the other side of the driveway.  It certainly appreciated our offering but came right back as soon as we went to open the door. 

Is it their cat, I asked.  It can’t be, Becca said.  She said nothing about a cat.  It must be a stray.  It has no collar and no tag. 

Finally we managed to get inside and slam the door in the cat’s face.  Thank goodness, we said.  Then we set about exploring the house, which was lovely.  We were offered the master bedroom on the third floor, which we gladly took.  We settled in for a good night’s sleep. 

In the middle of the night an incident occurred to which I was not privy, as I was sound asleep.  There was a knock on the door and a shadowy figure opened it up.  Hello, it said.  Becca, sleepily, responded in kind.  Did you feed the cat, it asked.  No, Becca replied.  OK, it said.  Have a good night. 

SO IT WAS THEIR CAT!  The epiphany may not be as profound as it was in person, but you get the idea.  We basically just told a cat to go screw itself because we weren’t going to let it in its own house or feed it either.  C’est la vie. 

The next day was a bit overcast, but we had already decided to do the beach.  It’s our vacation, darnit, so let’s start it off right.  After quietly taking the beach chairs from the garage (since the son’s bedroom was right across the hall from the garage), we loaded up our rental car and set off to find breakfast. 

Find it we did.  Siri, ever helpful, suggested Home On The Range, a small café in a quaint downtown area.  It had, without a doubt, the absolute best French Toast I’ve ever eaten.  The sweet little old lady that runs the place works there all by herself, taking the order, cooking up the grub, and clearing away your plates and serving as cashier when you’re through.  We would spend two more mornings savoring her wares. 

After we were stuffed, we went to the beach.  And there was nobody there.  Oh sure, there was a lap-swimmer.  And a couple strolling.  And an old man sitting on a beach chair.  But that’s it.  It was deserted.  The ominous-looking storm clouds may have had something to do with that. 

Image

Still, we were determined to have a good time.  Let’s not take the chairs, we said, as we may not be here long.  It’s a good thing we didn’t.  After frolicking a bit in the waves, Becca set out to carve words in the sand while I took pictures. 

Image

Artie plus Becca plus Rising-Tide Cat.

Then, after about ten minutes of watching the tide come in ridiculously fast, we skedaddled.  It was no more than a few seconds after we got back into our car that the clouds burst open and a monsoon began. 

What does one do on vacation in Connecticut at ten in the morning when it’s raining?  Why, go to the movies of course!  Eating popcorn and drinking soda for brunch, we sat with one other couple in a giant movie theater and watched The Butler (which I highly recommend, by the way). 

Back outside, the sky was no longer angry, but it wasn’t too happy yet, either.  What to do?  Go to the Barnum Museum, of course!  It’s so close, after all, in Bridgeport, CT.  Let us away, I said. 

Unfortunately, the Barnum Museum was hit pretty hard by a tornado a few years ago and is still not open to the public.  Sigh.  Back to the house to regroup. 

Upon arriving, we were met with a shirtless, skinny, tattoo-covered young man sitting on the front stoop smoking a cigarette.  The son, we guessed.  We guessed correctly.  After exchanging pleasantries and learning that the cat did, in fact, belong to the family, we scooted upstairs to plan our evening.

 We decided to venture north to New Haven, to The Original Frank Pepe Pizza Napoletana.  It’s this amazing little pizza place for which people line up down the street to get a table.  It’s been around since 1925 in the same location and owned by the same family.  Check is out at pepespizzeria.com.  It was scrumptious.  Certainly different than our usual New York City pie, but amazing nonetheless. 

Image

Only slightly tipsy from the entire bottle of wine we drank, we decided then to stroll the campus of the Ivy League member Yale University.  We imagined ourselves in more scholarly pursuits than our art schools offered us.  We dreamed of singing in the Whiffenpoofs and eating in the Spoonery.  And we watched all the kids move into their dorms for the start of the semester.  None of them looked smarter than us, we decided, so we totally should have gone to Yale. 

Because Becca had never been, and because there was one right by the entrance to the highway, and because we had nothing better to do and because we were on vacation, gosh darnit, we went to IKEA.  This activity needs no greater explanation.  It was pure, unadulterated, built-it-yourself furniture bliss.  We didn’t buy anything, but boy howdy did we make some I-want lists.

Full of pizza, popcorn, French Toast, and tired from a fun-filled day, we made our way back to the house to sleep.

It was a good first day of vacation. 

Stay tuned for PART TWO in my next post!

Advertisements

Sometimes there can only be one.

Image

 

But sometimes that’s one too many…

Yesterday, on the Fifth of July, Anno Domini Two Thousand and Thirteen, I watched HIGHLANDER for the first time.  

I’m not sure why I had never seen it before, since it’s one of those movies that’s famous just for being famous.  It’s referenced in movies and television, it’s sparked lines and jokes that I never even knew were from the movie until I actually saw it, and it’s got Sean Connery fighting with an ancient Japanese sword to the music of Queen.  Sounds like a fantastic afternoon on Netflix, no?  

I have to admit something:  I didn’t like it.

I know, I know, it sounds like blasphemy coming from a fan of science fiction, fantasy, and the eighties in general.  But I just couldn’t get on board.

Here are my thoughts (and as I seem to be into lists of late, I will continue in said fashion):

1. So, who exactly ARE these Immortals?  WHY do they exist?  WHY do they need to kill each other off?  Also, the Prize for killing off everyone else who’s exactly the same as you is you get to read mortals’ thoughts and then become mortal yourself?  And everyone is really into this lame prize?  If you say so…

2. Are there really only four left at the beginning of the movie?  (The guy that Connor kills at the wrestling match, Connor’s friend who gives him booze in Central Park, Connor, and Kruger)  We are really starting late in the game here…

3. When did the Immortals stop being born?  Was Connor the last one back in the 1500’s?  Also, why are some of them young guys in their twenties (Connor, Kruger) but other ones are older (Ramirez, the guy Connor beheads in the parking lot)?  How is it determined when they’ll stop aging?  Are there any eighty-year-old looking Immortals out there?  Hmm…

4. So, they’re all pretty old.  You would think that after living for so long, they would have learned more about how better to do their business.  Why do they only try to hack off their opponent’s head?  They should try to cut off some legs or arms, then it would be easy to cut off the head, right?  Or why don’t they use a numbing agent?  Or why don’t they seek each other out when they’re sleeping and take care of it when they’re in bed?  You can’t tell me that Kruger couldn’t have figured out where Connor lived…

5. Ramirez is a Spaniard who’s really Egyptian.  But Sean Connery is really just a white guy. With the most recognizable Scottish accent in the western world.  With intense eye liner.

I dunno.  I guess I was expecting something a little more…… amazing.  

Maybe I just need to watch the sequels.  Or the television series.  
Or something else entirely.

One thing I can give it, though – a ridiculously fantastic tagline.  And sometimes that’s all you need.  🙂

 

 

Sometimes you list all the things that this post isn’t about. Like community theatre, Hershey Park, Frances Ha, hiking on the Hudson River, hating interpersonal communication with strangers, and loving your family to death.

This post is not about any of these things:

Image

1. I took a trip home to small-town America to watch a community theatre production of THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE that featured several friends and family members.  It was a ridiculously good time and the show was super fun.  Also I learned how to spell “floxinoxinihilipilification.”  For all those times I need to remember how to spell it.

Image

2. During said trip to small-town America we spent a day in Hershey Park, where I have gone almost every summer of my entire life to ride roller coasters and eat chocolate in the Sweetest Place On Earth.  It rained thrice during the day, but only for about fifteen minutes each time, so by the end of the day everyone had been scared away and we had the run of the place.  I think the best way to experience roller coasters is to walk off them and walk back on three times in a row.

Image

3. The trip to Hershey Park included admission to ZooAmerica, which only has animals that exist in North America.  (So really – only animals you can already see outside your back door.)  But my brothers are fun.  We were bears.  Which is helpful.  When you need to be bears.

Image

4. I saw FRANCES HA last night.  It was quite good.  I’m totally on board with this burgeoning genre of showing how awful and terrible and wonderful and frightened and crazy and ridiculous and amazing young people actually are as they haphazardly make their way through their poverty-stricken twenties.  Good on you, Lena Dunham.  Good on you, Greta Gerwig.

Image

5. My girlfriend and I went on a kick-ass hike today.  North of the city is Mount Taurus in the Hudson Highlands region.  1400 feet elevation, 7.5 miles roundtrip.  Sometimes more rock-climbing than hiking.  Gorgeous views.  Also the ruins of an early twentieth-century estate by a former president of the National Lead Company (which sounds like a super fun job, by the way).  So that was amazing, completely un-ironically.

Image

6. I learned (or rather, verified) that I hate communicating with other hikers as they walk past me.  No sir, I do not want to discuss the difficulty of the trail.  I do not want to speak about the weather.  I left the city to get away from people.  Let me live in my I’m-living-two-hundred-years-ago-and-there’s-only-deer-and-badgers-and-raccoon-and-slugs-and-birds-and-squirrels-and-newts-hiding-behind-all-that-nature fantasy.  

Image

7. Apparently my family went hiking today too.  Because they’re awesome and we all think alike.  We were hike buddies from two hundred miles apart.  I love them.

8. Also, this post is 100% NOT about how sometimes you just can’t think of enough about one subject for a weblog post, so you just detail several things that come into your head.  Not at all.

Instead, this post is about Independence Day.
Happy Fourth of July everyone.  🙂

Sometimes you learn things from Jungle 2 Jungle.

Image

I watched Jungle 2 Jungle today.  It was the first time since I first saw it in theaters when I was a kid.  Here are the life lessons I took away:

1. The stock market is difficult.  Also, they wear bright colored jackets and nametags so people know who they are.  They’re like costumes, and they even have a coat check dressing room adjacent to the trading floor.  So basically the stock market is like a big play.

2. Mimi-Siku means “cat piss.”

3. Fruit increases flatulence, according to Tim Allen.

4. The 90’s were a very different time, when a thirteen-year-old boy could fly on a plane and walk through the airport shirtless, shoeless, and carrying a bow and arrow.  And nobody gave him a second look.
Also – You could crawl out one of the windows of the crown on the Statue of Liberty and nobody would try to stop you – they’d just take pictures.  Also, you could get released from the police within hours of committing this act.

5. No one in big cities carries a bag or has anywhere to go ever.  They’re just always completely bagless and purseless, totally game for some impromptu dancing in front of a street performer who doesn’t look like they have a license.

6. I miss the original Game Boy.  And the cool light/magnifying glass you could get with it.

7. Unconscious cat humor is always effective.  Especially when it is paired with tranquilizing blowguns.

8. David Ogden Stiers is amazing.

9. It’s always funny when someone says “That’s gotta hurt” after watching someone else get kicked in the crotch.

10. If you live in Lipo Lipo and you give a girl a pot, it’s like friending someone your crush on Facebook – things are gonna get real.

Sometimes you have a night that’s all about MAGIC.

Image

There are several different kinds of magic in my life today.  Please find them listed below:

1. First and foremost, I discovered that I can post pictures in my weblog posts.  This is magic of the highest degree.  Please note the above picture and be amazed and awed at the twenty-first century’s technology.  This is the world we live in, folks.

2. I figured out how to link my weblog to profiles I have on various sites.  If you go to Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6562198.Artie_Sievers) or Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Artie-Sievers/e/B0078N7SH0/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1), you will now be able to see RSS Feeds (I don’t even know what that means) of my weblog posts there!  Again, I request that you express enthusiasm and veneration at the things that can be done on the Interweb.  This is magic of the second highest degree.  Goodness gracious!

3. I bought a new pillow today.  It is of the down persuasion.  It was $20, but was marked down to $8.99.  This is magic of the monetary degree.  I tried it out already.  It’s a pretty sweet ride.  For my head.

4. I’m making pizza tonight.  I would be remiss if I wrote a post about magic and did not include my friend and yours: yeast.  Can we give it up a little for yeast, folks?  I mean, he’s just sitting around in its little packet, tucked away in the baking aisle, so nonchalant, so unassuming.  Heck, he usually even comes in packs of threes, with the little perforated edge between he and his compatriots.  Paper packaging, mind you.  Certainly this can’t be anything that important, the uninformed consumer tells herself as she places the trio of yeast brothers into her cart.  Once at home, he asks so little of you.  He agrees to sit ever so politely on your pantry shelf, taking up no room at all.  Perhaps you put him in that little plastic container you have for all of your paper packet-ed pantry items like marinade and taco seasoning.  “Don’t worry about me – I’ll be here whenever you need me,” he says with a grin.  And it could be months.  But as soon as you get him down off the shelf, and let him do its magic, hot dog!  He actually changes the size and shape of dough!  He becomes a veritable David Blaine of the culinary world and creates a whizzbang levitation illusion.  Nothing will ever be the same.  This is magic of the natural degree.  I shall witness this magic this evening, and I will be enthralled.

5. There will be a movie night this evening in The Duncraggen.  The theme?  Magic.  The films?  The Illusionist and The Prestige.  Remember those guys?  Poor things, they came out at the exact same time and had practically the exact same subject matter.  Say what you will, but I believe neither got their fair share of appreciation.  Tonight I will relive the wonder, the drama, and the excitement of seeing world-class magicians in high-tension, life-altering situations that I experienced when I first saw both oh those many years ago.  This is magic of the cinematic degree.  And it shall be spectacular.