Alarming News

December 28, 2007

A very Jew-y Christmas

Is it just New York Jews who have some sort of movie-going/Chinese-food-ordering tradition on Christmas? I don’t Jew it up that well, though. We opted for Thai and the movie (Persepolis) was sold out.

Other than a last-minute passport renewal panic (great success, I leave for Aruba on Sunday), this week has been a whirlwind of wine, food and movies. Some quickie reviews are below. Please add your own recommendations in the comment section.


Eat:

Olive oil, spices, wine, bread

Ilili-I mentioned this restaurant in my “things I want to do in NY” list (though I’ve only done #4 so far, I have a bunch of new things to add to a future such list). We checked it out on Christmas Eve and I liked it a lot. I recommend the Kubbeh and the brussel sprouts.

Stone Park Cafe in Park Slope, Brooklyn- This was merely ok. It’s a little overpriced for Park Slope, and the menu isn’t all that exciting. The risotto appetizer was pretty good, though.

Earthen Oven- Is it just me being an Anglophile or does Indian Food in America pretty much suck? Earthen Oven is my favorite Indian Food in NY, and therefore the country. It’s consistently delicious; almost as good as the Indian food in Britain.

Atlantic Grill, Brooklyn- This place used to be competitive with the powerhouses of Russian dining, Tatiana and Rasputin. Not. No. More.

Balthazar- I haven’t eaten at Balthazar in forever, because I think their food is pretty mediocre, but I stopped by their bakery today and picked up their signature chocolate bread as well as a baguette and a couple of tarts. They are incredible. I wonder if they still do that thing where they give away all of their unsold baked goods at the end of every evening. I used to have a friend who lived on that.

See

Juno-This movie was funny and cute. And I think the pro-life movement should appreciate a movie like this which has a pro-life theme without beating you over the head with it.

Beautiful Girls- I’ve seen this a million times and I just love something about the “coming home to figure things out” plot line.

Devil Wears Prada- Awful. Really, really awful. Worst of all,a guy made me watch it.

Cymbeline at Lincoln Center- Cymbeline is one of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays. And now I sort of understand why. It had a good cast, with Phylicia Rashād and Martha Plimpton, it just wasn’t that compelling a story.

Cymbeline at Lincoln Center

Drink:

Mille Una Notte

Mille e Una Notte- My father gave me this bottle which translated means “A thousand and one nights”. It’s a little fuller than I tend to like my reds but it’s a great wine.

Massaya Lebanese wine

Massaya- I thought this Lebanese wine was pretty good. My date, a wine snob, did not.

Siete Leguas Tequila- In general, I despise tequila. I’ll drink it in Margaritas or other mixed drinks, but it takes a lot to convince me to do shots of Petron when they’re being passed around. Leguas, though, wow. It’s so good it’s sipped!

La Zollo Barolo- I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say this is one of the best wines I’ve ever had. I randomly picked it up at the wine shop across the street from my apartment and I got an approving comment from the owner. Even the aforementioned wine snob enjoyed it.

Again, please leave your own recommendations on things to eat, drink and see in the comment section. I love the suggestions.

Posted by Karol at 07:21 PM |
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Comments

The Drowsy Chaperone
Basically a sendup of musical theater, starring Bob Saget.
I saw it the second night after Broadway reopened post-strike, which was fun.
The play doesn’t really pick up until the second act, but overall it’s a very entertaining musical.
Saget is brilliant, as always.

Posted by: Gerard at December 28, 2007 at 11:54 pm

Some great-and good-documentaries I saw over the past year, which you should check out-if you haven’t already.
The message of the director was diluted-to a certain extent-by the peaceniks who were overseeing the production-at least, that’s the impression I got after speaking with her-but it’s still a compelling film.
The Making of a Martyr
One of Brooke’s friends-and my favorite documentarian-also has a spectacular film covering the same ground.
Suicide Killers
Another great documentary, which I had the pleasure of watching at a Manhattan screening hosted by Frank Gaffney,
Islam vs. Islamists
And this film I can’t recommend highly enough.
If you loved Adrienne Shelly’s work as an independent film director or actress you need to see this movie.
Waitress
It’s a lot more conventional than Shelly’s past work, but worth watching nevertheless.
She was a wonderful actress and director, but more importantly, mother, wife and daughter.

Posted by: Gerard at December 29, 2007 at 12:16 am

Theatre:
Spring Awakening
Food:
Eatery – especially at brunch
Film:
I am an Animal – documentary on PETA

Posted by: Dorian Davis at December 29, 2007 at 12:33 am

I don’t want to post spoilers to prove it, but I think it is a stretch to call Juno pro-life. I’d say its closer to what many of my peers seem to be: pro-choice but not sure that they’d actually be able to exercise that right.
Movie to skip: Kite Runner.

Posted by: Charles at December 29, 2007 at 1:28 am

What’s so bad about it?
Debbie Schlussel was raving about it on her blog recently.

Posted by: Gerard at December 29, 2007 at 10:31 am

“does Indian Food in America pretty much suck?”
It’s your not driving to New Jersey.

Posted by: someone at December 29, 2007 at 12:47 pm

I don’t know how anyone who isn’t East Indian can hold down that type of cuisine
I remember having dinner with a few friends at an Indian restaurant. One of them kept insisting that the wait-staff bring her “hotter” spices.
*prolonged eye roll*

Posted by: Gerard at December 29, 2007 at 1:20 pm

Of course Mille e Una Notte is great – it’s Sicilian! Reds from southern Italy, especially the heel, are big and rustic. Think about the sauces that simmer for hours and the wine that they make in those same regions.
Also: Rosso del Salento, Notarpanaro (any vintage at four years old works for me), and… white wine from Sicily made from Insolia grapes is also very good.

Posted by: michael parker at December 29, 2007 at 2:16 pm

Also, try Barbaresco, made from nebbiolo grapes like Barolo. Not all are created equal and they age differently, so get help from a pro. They can be very elegant without all the power from a typical Barolo.

Posted by: michael parker at December 29, 2007 at 2:19 pm

“Atlantic Grill, Brooklyn- This place used to be competitive with the powerhouses of Russian dining, Tatiana and Rasputin.”
There is another powerhouse of Russian dining named Tatiana. This Tatiana is Siberian.

Posted by: PAUL at December 29, 2007 at 4:20 pm

Debbie Schlussel??
Mmmmm, frequent trips to elite restaurants, Caribbean vacations, and gambling junkets….
Our neocons live well.
Meanwhile, the working class gets higher subway fares for filthier stations and lousier service…
a simple can of evaporated milk costs $4.39 at the C-Town on 18th Avenue…
In Williamsburg, every child of ten on WIC that lives in Section 8 housing has a $400 coat, and every apartment has an Italian chandelier and Hunter Douglas window treatments…
And Kevin McCullough has a daily radio show in the number one radio market, with no discernible audience…
Yep. This all sounds fair and rational to me.
It would be completely irrational for we evil leftists NOT to be blamed for the decadence, the misplaced priorities, and the coarsening of our culture!
Of course, we are HAPPY to be subsidizing all of these high-minded values, to which we are happy to work towards…
Just saying.
Carry on. This is fascinating.

Posted by: hashfanatic at December 30, 2007 at 4:11 am

The people subsidizing Section 8 housing, and your welfare checks, are taxpayers, Bongie.
Something I’m sure you know little about.

Posted by: Gerard at December 30, 2007 at 11:32 am

Having never collected public assistance in my life, I wouldn’t know, Ge-rahd.
If you haven’t learned to at least have some sort of grip on the fact when addressing your betters disrespectfully, I guess it’s too late for you to be schooled now, though…
Carry on in mediocrity. Our city has come to thrive upon it…

Posted by: hashfanatic at December 30, 2007 at 2:14 pm

Having never collected public assistance in my life…
Good to know you’re only blowing your trust fund killing your few remaining brain cells.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand-before Bong Hit interrupted us with his stream of consciousness stupidity-the rest of you who haven’t already seen “The Pursuit of Happyness” should get the DVD, notwithstanding Will Smith’s weird fetish for the Third Reich.
Thandie Newton is fantastic-as usual-as his wife, and the kid is adorable. Plus, there’s also a lot of great subsidiary character actors who turn in compelling performances.

Posted by: Gerard at December 30, 2007 at 5:57 pm

Nails, Charles, nails. That’s a very powerful pro-life image.
Hashfanatic, you’re new so I’ll let you in on a secret: It’s not possible to shame me with your class warfare tactics. I LOVE MONEY. I love living a good life. I know how lucky I am to be in America and have the opportunities that I have. I would live even more lavishly if I could–and someday I will. Also, your comment makes very little sense. At first you seem to be all caring about the poor and then you accuse WIC/Sec 8 people of living, what, too well with their $400 coats and window treatments!? And then some random Kevin McCullough reference. So, whatever you’re “just saying” isn’t exactly understood.
And again, “neo” conservative means “new” conservative. I’ve been conservative for most of my life, nothing neo about my beliefs.

Posted by: Karol at December 31, 2007 at 1:49 am

“Nails” was a joke in the context of the movie and wasn’t actually germane to her decision. The attittude of Ms. Lip Piercing had a lot more to do with it.
As with Six Feet Under, I don’t think the message was conservative so much as anti- self-satisfied-liberal. I get the sense that the author shares the politics of her left-leaning characters but is a bit stunned that they can be so cavalier about important things.
That isn’t to say that in the spectrum of Hollywood treatment of the abortion debate it almost seems like one for the pro-lifers.

Posted by: Charles at December 31, 2007 at 12:30 pm

Alan Ball isn’t a conservative, and I have a hard time believing he’s pro-life-I’m sure there are gay men who are pro-life, but I doubt that there’s many gay Hollywood screenwriters who are-but Six Feet Under is still a great series.
I just think that anyone in Hollywood-unless they’re a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood or NARAL-is going to shy away from explicitly endorsing abortion.
Even Fast Times at Ridgmont High conveyed an ambiguous message with respect to the abortion of Stacy Hamilton’s unborn child.
The only major feature film I’ve seen that departs from this approach is The Cider House Rules, and I’m sure John Irving insisted that they keep the vehemently pro-abortion theme intact before they adopted his novel.

Posted by: Gerard at December 31, 2007 at 12:54 pm

Vehemently pro-abortion? Abortion is treated as very morally problematic in the novel Cider House Rules. Have you actually read it or are you going by Cliff’s Notes? The one character who could be described as “pro-abortion” is Dr. Larch, and he is depicted as a drug-addicted old man with no family except the orphans he takes in. He isn’t shown as a Bad man, but he’s certainly not someone any reader would aspire to be. The other main character, Homer, has his coming-of-age moment when he rejects Dr. Larch’s belief that abortion is acceptable. Homer does ultimately perform an abortion himself, but only for a victim of incest, and only after a great deal of soul-searching.
Hollywood is like the majority of America: in favor of abortion’s being safe and legal, but mostly doubtful that women should choose abortion. Look at Dirty Dancing: it isn’t clear that Penny *should* have chosen to have an abortion, but it is very clear that her abortion shouldn’t have been illegal, which meant it was hidden, expensive, filthy and nearly killed her.
Juno is about a teenage girl making the right choices after making one wrong one, with the word “choice” underscored. Her having unprotected sex at a young age isn’t shown as a good idea — her father, the male character most positively portrayed, says to Juno when she informs him of her pregnancy, “I thought you were a girl who knew when to say when.” And Juno, who normally has a smart-ass response to everyone and everything, has no answer. She knows that she was irresponsible and she is shamed by her father’s disappointment in her. But even this wrong decision is one she clearly made: she wasn’t some nubile innocent misled by a man, or a drunken sorority girl, but instead a young woman curious about sexuality who consciously decides to explore.
But aside from that one wrong choice about unprotected teenage sex, she does everything else right. She considers her options and *chooses* to complete the pregnancy instead of having an abortion. She *chooses* a couple herself, based on her values. She *chooses*, when the situation seems to be crumbling, to make the adoption still happen. And although I’ve heard conservatives criticize her for seeming cold and unfeeling toward the baby she carries, she *chooses* sensibly always to regard the baby’s as the adoptive mother’s, not her own, so that she will abide by her choice and not abruptly change her mind about the adoption.
That the movie is about choice is only further emphasized by the scene at the ultrasound, where Juno, her friend and her step-mother ream out the technician for saying, “Thank goodness” that Juno is having the baby adopted, instead of raising it in a “poisonous environment” as a teen mother. The step-mother, who also is depicted very positively (I frankly would have been tempted to slap a kid as bratty as Juno), stands up for Juno here instead of agreeing with the technician.
The step-mother asks Juno if she has considered “the alternative” of abortion, and when Juno says no to it, praises her as doing a brave thing by going through pregnancy while in high school and having the baby adopted. Again, I’ve heard conservatives say that what Juno does is not morally praiseworthy, because abortion is morally intolerable, so Juno is merely fulfilling the bare minimum of her duty by completing the pregnancy, and is really escaping her appropriate responsibilities by having the baby adopted instead of raising it herself. (I agree that if one considers a woman who has an abortion to be downright evil, a woman who doesn’t have an abortion can hardly be seen as particularly good, merely “not-bad.” I just don’t see women who choose abortion as being evil.)

Posted by: PG at December 31, 2007 at 4:19 pm

I’m not referring to the novel.
This is a discussion about film, remember?
I have no idea what stance Dirty Dancing takes with respect to Roe v. Wade or Doe v. Bolton-having thankfully never been subjected to that film.
Also, I don’t see how “safe” you can make a procedure whose specific intent is to kill.
Planned Feticide
Safe, legal and rare?
Where are people accusing women who’ve had abortions of being “evil,” just out of curiosity, since I haven’t seen it come up in this dicussion?

Posted by: Gerard at December 31, 2007 at 5:02 pm

Anyway, back to the subject at hand-before Bong Hit interrupted us with his stream of consciousness stupidity

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Bong Hit is undoubetedly one of the anencaphelics screaming loudest that the jews must accomodate Islam even more.
Karol are you down the Caribbean yet (I’m going at the end of the month)?

Posted by: Radical Redneck at December 31, 2007 at 8:17 pm

Gerard – my point exactly. Alan Ball most certainly was not a conservative, but the shrill, self-righteous characters he created could only (to me) be reflective of some ambivalence about what he thought about the personalities of some liberals even though he clearly shared their politics. I had that same feeling during the Women Now scene.

Posted by: Charles at January 1, 2008 at 6:06 pm
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