Saturday, August 20, 2005

Dolly Parton almost ruined my anniversary...

On Thursday night, we went into the city in celebration of my birthday/our anniversary. Jess took me to a fabulous dinner at Le Bernardin.

We had a wonderful three-course meal followed by a spectacular dessert. I started with a sampler of four different ceviches made with fluke. They were presented in small square dishes all laid out neatly in a diagonal line across a rectangular plate. "The chef recommends you begin here and move in this direction," the server pointed out as he presented the plate. The chef was right on target. Each presented different tastes and the complexity of the flavors escalated as I moved from one type to the next.

Then second course was soft-shell crab served on jumbo lump crabmeat, in a Brazilian muqueca sauce with lime, coconut, and dende oil. The flavors were so subtle and well-melded that you really didn't necessarily taste any of them individually; but the resulting mix was amazing.

The entrée was baked snapper in a spicy-sour Puerto Rican Sancocho broth, served with sweet potato, plantain and avocado. Again, a stellar dish.

All this was acommpanied by some of the most wonderful raisin bread I have ever tasted. The service was impeccable and intuitive. We didn't have to ask for anything.

And then dessert, a creation called "Chocolate Cashew", was a tart of dark chocolate, cashew and caramel. The plate was dotted lightly with a red wine reduction and several slices of banana that had been sugared and then caramelized with a flame, and alongside was a malted rum milk chocolate ice cream.

Okay, okay, enough about dinner. You came for the Dolly Parton headline, no doubt.

Following dinner, we walked around the corner to Radio City Music Hall, where Dolly Parton was playing. Our friend Jeff had told us about the concert a couple of months back, and we thought that it sounded like a fun evening. Jess added the Le Bernardin stop on the day of the show.

At any rate, the show started off with a bluegrass act called The Grascals. Being from the Midwest and the South, I have heard a number of bluegrass groups in my time. I was disappointed in these guys. The vocals, while okay, weren't that extraordinary, and I have difficulty understanding how they have been nominated for 13 IBMA awards, but they have. They played a 45-minute set that I sat and gritted my teeth through most of. I didn't feel they were worthy to open for Dolly Parton.

After an annoyingly-lengthy 30-minute intermission between the opening act and the show, the lights went down...but the special curtain developed for the show didn't. And that was a harbinger for the evening. Dolly took the stage and sang "Those Were the Days" which was okay, but low key. While her voice still sounded as clean and clear as ever, the tempo of the performance was disappointingly slow, never really getting off the ground. I had been so excited about seeing her, but the show felt like it needed a shot of Geritol. To top things off, it was more than a little annoying that she commercialized the show by talking about her new CD a number of times between songs, encouraging the audience to go out and buy it because she "needed the money." And of course, there was also a bit on why we should visit Dollywood. Y'know what? Unless they have been living under a rock, most of Dolly's fans know about Dollywood, and most of them don't need five or more promptings to buy a new CD. I found it tactless.

The stage set was lovely, with Dolly's "signature" as the centerpiece, lit up with LED lights that dimmed and even raced during some numbers. But on the second night of a tour, I'd expect ALL the lights to be working - I don't think that would be too much to ask. But they weren't. And it was an annoyance.

She did a number of songs that were pretty, but her backup vocalists weren't up to the challenge. I expect a roadshow to sound not quite as good as a studio-produced CD, but I had to wonder if she picked up these singers the night before she left Nashville to go on the road. They were out of pitch on several songs and it was just annoying ("Little Sparrow" was particularly hard to listen to).

When she sang 9 to 5, the audience was singing along, and so she asked us to sing at the end of the song. The audience sounded quite good! Better than her backup singers!

While I enjoyed her covers of "Turn, Turn, Turn", and "Me and My Bobby McGee", again her backup singers weren't up to them. The show wasn't over when we left; we couldn't stay for the whole thing because it dragged out too long. And it did drag. We missed about four numbers. I was sorry that I missed "Hello God" followed "He's Alive," but Jeff said they were pretty spectacular. We went home tired and somewhat unsatisfied.

Later I talked with this one who thought Jess and I were crazy for thinking the show wasn't that good. Okay, everyone is entitled to their opinion. Even if it's wrong. :P

Now I said Dolly almost ruined the anniversary...but the dinner was wonderful as was the company, so it wasn't a strikeout. I love you, hon.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Happy Birthdayversary

I would be remiss if, on this most special of days, I didn't take time out to say happy anniversary to the one person who has made such a difference in my life. Because of Jess, I was able to fulfill a lifelong dream to live in New York. Because of Jess and his wonderful mother's generosity, we were able to come up with enough cash to make a downpayment on a house, which I never dreamed I'd own, let alone a house in New York. And as a result of Jess' generosity, I have been able to do many things that most people only dream about: choose to see Broadway shows whenever we wish; shop for the holidays at Macy's Herald Square (and at any other time during the year); buy custom-tailored clothes for work; drive a great car; I could go on and on. The important thing is, it's not the things that make me's the man that makes me happy.

Fish gotta swim/birds gotta fly/I gotta love one man 'til I die/Can't help lovin' that man of mine...

I love you, Jess. Happy 10th Anniversary. And happy birthday to me!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

What movies have you seen?

Okay, so my gay nephew posted this meme on his site, so here's mine:
(By the way, nephew, I'm posting more regularly, see?)
2 Fast, 2 Furious
8 Mile
10 Things I Hate About You
28 Days Later
40 Days and 40 Nights
101 Dalmatians
2001: A Space Odyssey
About a Boy
Ace Ventura - Pet Detective
Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls
Adventures in Babysitting
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
Alien 3
All I Want
Almost Famous
Along Came A Spider
American Pie
American Beauty
American History X
American Pie 2
And Starring Pancho Villa As Himself
Andrei Rublev
The Animatrix
Anne of the Thousand Days
Annie (1982 version)
As Good As It Gets
Austin Powers
Back to the future I
Back to the future II
Back to the future III
Bad Boys
Bad Boys 2
Battle Royale
Beauty and the Beast
Being John Malkovich
Bend It Like Beckham
Benny and Joon
Better than Chocolate
The Beyond
Big Chill All TIme Favorite!
Big Daddy
Big Fish
The Big Lebowski
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
Billy Madison
Billy Elliot
The Birdcage
Black Hawk Down
The Black Stallion
Blade II
Blood Simple
Boondock Saints
Bowling For Columbine
Boys Don't Cry
Bram Stoker's Dracula
Breakfast At Tiffany's
Bridges of Madison County
Bridget Jones's Diary
Bring It On
Brother Bear
Bruce Almighty
But I'm a Cheerleader!
Captain Horatio Hornblower
Carrie 2: The Rage
Cast Away
Catch Me if You Can
Casualties of War
Center Stage
Chasing Amy
Citizen Kane
Claire of the Moon
A Clockwork Orange
Closet Land
Cold Mountain
The Contender
Cookie's Fortune
The Count of Monte Cristo
Cowboy Bebop
The Craft
Crazy In Alabama
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Cruel Intentions
Daddy Day Care
Dancer In The Dark
Das Boot
Dawn of the Dead
Dead Man Walking
Dead Man
Death Becomes Her
Deep Impact
The Delta Force
Die Hard
Die Hard - Die Harder
Die Hard - With a Vengeance
Dil Se
Dirty Dancing
Doctor Zhivago
Donnie Darko
Don't Worry, It's Only A Phase
Double Indemnity
Down With Love
Drop Dead Fred
Dumb & Dumber
Earth Girls Are Easy
East of Eden
Ed Wood
Edward Scissorhands
Empire Records
The Empire Strikes Back
Enemy at the Gates
Enemy of the State
The English Patient
Escape From Sobibor
The Exorcist
Extreme Ops
Eyes Wide Shut PATHETIC
A Face In the Crowd
The Faculty
Fast and the Furious
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Fellowship of the Ring
Fierce Creatures
The Fifth Element
Fight Club
Final Destination
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
Finding Nemo
Forrest Gump
Fog, The
The Fox and the Hound
Fried Green Tomatoes
From Hell
Funny Girl
Galaxy Quest
Gangster No
The Ghost And The Darkness
Ghostbusters 2
Ghost Ship
Girl, Interrupted
Gone With the Wind
The Good Son
The Goonies Jerry O'Connell - who knew?!
Great Expectations
Grease about 50 times - one of my faves
Groundhog Day about 50 times - Jess' favorite
Hamlet (Mel Gibson version)
Hamlet (Kenneth Branagh version)
Happy Gilmore
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Heathers Favorite line: "F**k me gently with a chainsaw!"
Heavy Metal
Hedwig & the Angry Inch
Henry V
Home Alone
The Horse Whisperer
The Horseman on Roof
The Hot Chick
The Hours
The House of Mirth
House of Sand & Fog
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
The Hudsucker Proxy
I Know What You Did Last Summer
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
I am Sam
Igby Goes Down
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Interview with the Vampire
Inventing the Abbotts
Italian Job
Jane Eyre
Jersey Girl
Josie and the Pussycats
Jurassic Park
Just Married
Kiki's Delivery Service
Kill Bill Vol. 1
The Killer
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
La Vita e Bella
Lake Placid
Land Before Time
Laputa - Castle in the Sky
The Last of the Mohicans
The Last Unicorn
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
A League of Their Own
Legally Blonde
Legend of the Red Dragon
Lethal Weapon
Lethal Weapon 2
Liar Liar
Life as a House
Life Is Beautiful
Lilo and Stitch
The Lion King
Lion King 2
The Little Mermaid
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Look Who's Talking
Lost Boys, The
Lost World
Lost In Translation
Love Actually
Love Song
The Man from Snowy River
The Man in the Iron Mask
Man with a Movie Camera
Mary Poppins
Master & Commander - The Far Side of the World
The Matrix
The Matrix: Reloaded
The Matrix: Revolutions
A Matter of Life and Death
Meet the Parents
Men of Honor
Mighty Ducks
Minority Report
Miss Congeniality
The Mists of Avalon
Mona Lisa Smile
Monster Ball
Monsters, Inc.
Monty Python & the Holy Grail
Moulin Rouge
Mrs. Doubtfire
Much Ado About Nothing
The Mummy
The Mummy Returns
Muppets Take Manhattan
Murder by Death
Murder By Numbers
Muriel's Wedding
My Best Friend's Wedding
My Girl
My Girl 2
My Dog Skip
My Beautiful Laundrette
My Fair Lady
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Mystery, Alaska
Never Been Kissed
The New Guy
Niagara Niagara
The Nightmare Before Christmas
The Ninth Gate
Not Another Teen Movie
Notting Hill
Now and Then
Nurse Betty
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
October Sky
The Odd Couple
Oliver and Company
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
One Hour Photo
Ordinary People
The Others
The Outsiders
Parent Trap
Pearl Harbor
Perfect Storm
Perfect Blue
Peter Pan (Disney)
Peter Pan (2003)
The Philadelphia Story
The Philadelphia Experiment
Phone Booth
Pink Flamingos
Pitch Black
Plata Quemada
Playing Mona Lisa
Practical Magic
Pride and Prejudice
Prince of Tides
The Princess Bride
The Princess Diaries
Princess Mononoke
Prince of Egypt
Pulp Fiction
Pump Up The Volume
Rabbit Proof Fence
Radio Flyer
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Rat Race
Rear Window
The Recruit
The Remains of Day
Remember the Titans
Remo Williams
Requiem for a Dream
Reservoir Dogs
Resident Evil 1
Return of the King
Return to Me
Riki-Oh - Story Of Ricky
The Ring
The Road to El Dorado
Road Trip
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Robin Hood: Men in Tights
The Rock
Rocky Horror Picture Show
Roman Holiday
Romeo & Juliet
Romper Stomper
The Rose
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
Royal Tenenbaums
Save the Last Dance
Scary Movie
Schindler's List
Scooby Doo
Scooby Doo 2
Scream 2
Scream 3
The Secret Garden
Sense and Sensibility
Seventh Seal
Shallow Hal
She's All That
The Shining
Shining Through
Sid and Nancy
Singing in the Rain
Simon Birch
Sixth Sense
Sleeping Beauty
Sleepy Hollow
Small Soldiers
Some Like It Hot
The Sound of Music
Spirited Away
Star Wars
Steel Magnolias
Storm of the Century
Strictly Ballroom
Sunset Blvd.
Sunshine State
Super Mario Brothers
Sweet November
Swimming Pool
Terms of Endearment
Titan A.E.
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything!
Tonari No Totoro
Toy Story
Triumph of the Will At school
Truly Madly Deeply
Tuck Everlasting
Twelve Monkeys
The Two Towers
Two Weeks' Notice
Two or Three Things I Know About Her
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Unman, Wittering and Zigo
The Unsaid
Urban Legends
Vanilla Sky
Velvet Goldmine
Wag the Dog
A Walk To Remember
The War At Home
We Were Soldiers
The Wedding Singer
Weekend at Bernie's
West Side Story
Whale Rider
What Dreams May Come
What Lies Beneath
What a Girl Wants
Whatever It Takes
White Oleander
Wild Things
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Win a Date with Tad Hamilton
The Wizard of Oz
A Wrinkle In Time
The X-Files: Fight the Future
Y Tu Mama Tambien
Zombie Flesh Eaters