Friday, July 7th, 2006 | All Things, Film, Friends

M met me for lunch downtown this afternoon, freshly bronzed off her trip to Mexico. Over yellowfin tuna salad, she regaled me with lavish tales of poolside shenanigans and $60 Don Julio Real shots.

Later that evening, I met S, SC and CS for an outdoor movie in Hudson River Park, the 550-acre greened refuge spanning the five mile stretch between Battery Place and West 59th Street, and the largest open space development in Manhattan since Central Park. Since breaking ground in 1998 — and still ongoing — the city has rebuilt the formerly dilapidated far West Side into a series of docks, boat houses, lawns, beach, walkways and granite bike paths. Quite a massive undertaking, if like me, you recall the scene here from the Crack ’80s.

But the best parts are the public piers, some of which extend up to 1,000 feet into the Hudson River, offering unimpeded views of the water and… well, Jersey. Pier 46, where tonight’s screening was set up (while the Tribeca pier used in years past is undergoing reconstruction), is located in one of the first segments of the park to open to the public (Spring 2003). Hard to believe that this prime real estate was condemned and sitting unused just five years ago.

“Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” was the first of the Friday night RiverFlicks this summer. I’d somehow missed this movie in its original theatrical run in 2005, so was very much looking forward to finally seeing it, and happily, Nick Park did not disappoint. Inexplicably, I found the “Bun-Vac 6000” sequences [Check it out: QuickTime or Windows Media Player, courtesy of Dreamworks] with the absurdly twirling bunnies, particularly hilarious. As one would expect, the screening was well-attended by the stroller set.

River Flicks


The low-tech stop-motion clay animation stood in interesting counterpoint to Disney Pixar’s “Cars,” which I saw last Sunday evening with B and TR, in all its CGI glory.

After the film we stopped briefly at West Lounge, just up the block from the pier. Only briefly, because the music inside was being blasted at distracting and ridiculous levels… though I did get to hear Echo & the Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon” for the first time in ages. Yes, the original and not the Pavement cover. Maybe in honor of the group’s sold out(!) appearance at Irving Plaza last week, 20+ years after that tune first made its mark?

“Faaaaate. Up against your wi-ill….” I still love it.

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Thursday, July 6th, 2006 | All Things, Film

After picking up and dropping off my weekly haul of vegetables from Stoneledge Farm, I headed down to the IFC Center to catch the 9:00PM screening of “Worldplay,” the documentary about the colorful subculture of hardkore crossword aficionados.

The IFC Center opened in 2005 in the space years-abandoned by the famed Waverly Theater in the weeks after September 11. It’s actually a rather depressing and still gritty (for the Village) stretch of Sixth Avenue — flanked by tattoo parlors and adult video stores — but the space, to me, is vastly more charming than the megaplexes in the Squares — Union, Times and Lincoln. Clean, intimate screening rooms with well-cushioned seats, pre-feature shorts, real butter on the popcorn, an above average theatre cafe, and no commercials mixed in with the trailers. Well, no corporate commercials… the theatre is actually rather relentless in their self-promotion and IFC-branding.


The film itself was fun (and humbling!) — and inevitably called to mind 2002’s Spellbound, another film I enjoyed.

Besides the expected ensemble of gloriously word-nerdy characters, one of the most interesting segments in the movie focused on the (in)famous New York Times crossword that appeared on Election Day morning, Tuesday, November 5, 1996. If you are not familiar with the story of this puzzle – or would like to try your hand at solving it before reading further – check out this link.

The controversial combination of clues asked for the “Lead story in tomorrow’s newspaper (!)”, which seemed to require the puzzler to predict the outcome of the 1996 presidential election. Many were shocked that the Times would be so reckless and bold (albeit in the crossword) as to call the election while the polls were just opening that morning. The amazing — and truly brilliant — twist was that both “CLINTON ELECTED” and “BOBDOLE ELECTED” were valid answers, fitting within the grid. So clue #39-DOWN (“Black Halloween animal”) could be eitherBAT” orCAT”; #35-DOWN (“Trumpet”) could be “BOAST” or “BLAST.”

Wow. Will Shortz called it the most amazing crossword he’d ever seen, and I would be hard pressed to argue. I tip my hat to you, Professor Jeremiah Farrell!

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Live long and prosper

Wednesday, July 5th, 2006 | All Things, Friends

Yesterday’s staved off rains poured out of the sky this morning. By afternoon, the storm had passed.

Whitestone  Bridge

Stepped into the conference room for a staff meeting at work today and found that my co-workers had arranged for a surprise (belated) birthday lunch. Sweet! SK baited the new interns by introducing a discussion on comic book heroes and science fiction. I think the new boss was both amused and slightly alarmed by the flagrant fanboyism on display. I later assured her that one need only a passing acquaintance with the twin pillars of geekdom (Star Trek and Star Wars) and a scant familiarity with the DC Comics/Marvel Comics catalog to get by. But just not to mix up the latter two, lest fisticuffs ensue.

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