How I Invented the Movie

A few hours ago, I was all set to get out of my apartment and go down to State Street for some coffee, a reward, and reading time at Starbucks or Colectivo or something. A minute before I head out the door, I get a Facebook notification that there’s a get together going on at Five Guys. So, I go…read, or socialize? 

Backpack with books in tow, I head out and end up at Five Guys. It ends up being three tables pushed together full of people, and I get convinced to eat some fries. Then, we head over to Blue Velvet for martinis, because there’s a birthday in the group. So, I ask myself…read, or drink?

Then we’re at Blue Velvet, a bar I’ve never been to but is actually pretty chic. People see to be having fun, and so am I. I get suckered into buying and drinking a “Mother Pucker” sour apple-watermelon martini. And it’s delicious. But, eventually, I realize that I’m in a bar, with a backpack of books, and I haven’t read much of anything today, so I pay for my drink and head over to Colectivo for coffee, a croissant, and some reading time before they close at 10 and SNL starts at 10:30.

As I’m reading, I think to myself…what if there was, like a bar where it was socially acceptable to read? Then, I thought, how about a bar where reading is required? Like, the pages of the book are under panes of glass upon which you rest your drink, then press a button to turn the page. But then, I think wait, that wouldn’t be very social. But what if everyone was reading the same book? And what if it was on a giant screen in front of them? And they could watch it together, and it could have pictures?

And that’s how I came up with the movie.


The Ballad of the Salad

It’s been four days now since the start of my latest attempt to get myself healthier. I don’t know if it’s working, but I’ve exercised every day, and I can count on one hand how many non-essential carbs I’ve had (a free sample of cake at the supermarket and a slice of banana bread before teaching my first class yesterday). Breakfast has been eggs, yogurt, fruit, and oatmeal in some order; midday foods have been tuna lettuce wraps, chicken, whole grain pasta, and salads; and dinners have been soups and salads.

I think I’ve eaten more salad in the last few days than I have in a year.

I mean…when there are all these wonderful foods in the world, who wants a boring old salad? Nothing like a hot, steaming salad.

But I’ve been attempting to jazz up my salads by adding some fun and healthy items to them. Tonight’s salad was lettuce, a quarter of an onion and half a cucumber (sliced with my Sharper Image veggie slicer), sun-dried tomatoes, and topped with pepper, olive oil, and some red wine vinegar for flavor, just like my grandmother used to make.

So, readers…how do you make your salads more pleasing to your palate?

Any suggestions considered.


How Do You Zen Out?

Zen Out.

To me, it means:

  • Being extremely focused and aware, but having a clean and clear mind.
  • Enjoying calmness.
  • Pressing the pause button on relationships and responsibilities.

It doesn’t mean:

  • Spacing out.
  • Losing track of place and time.
  • Forgetting yourself.

I do it by:

  • Listening to my own breath.
  • Eating something healthy.
  • Drinking some carbonated water.

What’s your version of Zen? How do you achieve it?


Here We Go Loop-de-Loop…

As I mentioned in my last entry, I finished reading Hollow City by Ransom Riggs yesterday afternoon in Colectivo Coffee on State Street.

I read its predecessor, the fabulous Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, a few years ago, so I was nervous that I’d need to put the book down to go back and reread the first one, but as soon as I started it, I immediately got right back into the story where I’d left off, with Jacob and crew on the sea. Not to spoil too much of the story – like my calendar did – let me just say that it is a spectacular adventure, even more exciting than the first book. I could hardly put it down. Although no great distance in traveled in this book, but the characters’ hops backwards and forwards through history is just as fun and fascinating. Some of the characters who sat on the sidelines in the first book get some more attention, most notably Horace, Hugh, and Enoch. We also get to meet a plethora of new characters, peculiar and not, from Addison the talking dog to Althea the ice girl, and travel to some new and exciting loops. The place where they ended up was exactly the place in time I thought they were going.

This book review was brought to you by Martin Luther King, Jr. Yes, Mississippi, there are plenty of Great Americans, but it’s not like we get a day off for Barbra Streisand’s birthday.


Scenes from a Coffee Shop

I was sitting in Colectivo on State Street, finishing Hollow City (which, by the way, was amazing and will be written about here, soon), and poking through some of the black-and-white photographs of odd people and things, and I realized that I never see many peculiar things in my everyday life. Well, of course, when you go looking for peculiarities oftentimes you don’t find any.

But sometimes you do.

I was a few chapters from the end, when I looked up and out of the window next to my table, and saw the strangest thing.

An Asian woman hand in hand with a toddler, wearing matching blue coats, black pants, and boots, and walking backwards. Very slowly. Everything else around them was normal, but for no apparent reason, they were moving backwards in slow motion.

Once they passed by, I saw that they were walking in front of a man with a baby in a stroller, so they were probably walking backwards for a reason.

Then, after reading a few more pages, I noticed something small and red outside the window. I didn’t quite get a glimpse of her face, but there was a little girl walking behind her mom. Nothing remarkable about the mom, but the little girl looked like she had just walked out of a 1940s MGM film. She had long, blonde curly hair and wore a poofy dress, over which was a long red coat with a belt and a tiny black bow in the black.

Maybe that look is coming back into style, but I’m not entirely convinced that she wasn’t a time traveler.


Flip the Script Friday: Oleg Bogaev, The Russian National Postal Service

Friday the 13th…spooky, but most of all cold. I think I can count on one hand the amount of minutes I spent outdoors today. At least it’s supposed to get up to 30 tomorrow. Since I’ve got a long weekend ahead of me, and I hope to fill it with reading. As for today’s play, I went online a few days ago to look up something about something for something research related…and ended up stumbling across a trove of Russian plays translated into English, courtesy of the Center for International Theater Development. One of them was I Am Me by Alexandra Chichkanova, which I saw done as a lovely site-specific traveling performance around campus by an alumna of my program. I skimmed through almost all of them, and this one sounded the most interesting and unusual: The Russian National Postal Service  by Oleg Bogaev.

Image result for the russian national postal service

Studio Theatre Production, 2004. http://www.michaelgiannitti.com


The Basics

The Russian National Postal Service: A Room of Laughter for a Lonely Pensioner, by Oleg Bogaev and translated by John Freedman. This English translation was first performed at The Studio Theatre, Washington, DC, USA in 2004. The play had its world premiere in Russian at Tabakov Theater in Moscow in 1998.


  • Ivan Sidorovich Zhukov
  • Queen Elizabeth II of England
  • Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
  • Lyubov Orlova – a Russian film star
  • Other characters from Russian history and world literature


Interior of Ivan’s apartment.