Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cirque du Soleil - Alegría

Today was my birthday present. Desney had bought us tickets for Cirque du Soleil for all of the family for my birthday. Tonight was the night.

We had all gone to see Saltimbanco a few years ago, also for my birthday I believe, and we all found it to be one of the greatest theatrical experiences of our lives. The circus aspect is, of course, breathtaking. But the lighting, the costumes, the makeup, the characters, the language and the simple level of quality throughout were all remarkable. We loved it.

I was a bit worried that tonight's performance of Alegría wasn't going to live up to our rather high expectations. Memories of a good show tend to make that show seem even better in hindsight and I was worried tonight would be a disappointment. Needlessly so. Tonight's show was just as breathtaking, just as amazingly perfect and just as impressive. We all left feeling like we had just lived through something special and I got a wonderful evening out sharing a special experience with my family. What better birthday present could there be?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Daddy needs a new pair of shoes

Most people who know me personally have seen me walking around in my saddle shoes. These are my favourite shoes and the ones I wear most often. They're not easy to find and I have to keep ordering more and more to replace them as they wear out. They don't reshine that well so as they get really dirty they get replaced. I think they last me about 6 months or so. I order them from a specialty store which specialises in saddle shoes: Muffy's. I get them shipped to my mother in Brooklyn who then either ships them to me or brings them on her next visit to France.

For a long time now I have been looking for two-toned wing tips. I wish I can say it was entirely my idea, although it is to a certain extent, it actually comes from seeing Johnny Depp wearing them at some event. I tend to quite like the guy's style. I couldn't find them anywhere in Europe and finally I found some of them online in the States. But I was not willing to pay hundreds of dollars for a pair of shoes. I just am not that much of a fashion victim.

While I was here in America I thought I'd check out Amazon, amongst others, to see if I needed anything that I could have delivered here and take back with me. There they were on the Amazon site and on sale. I had to get 'em! I ordered the shoes last week and had them shipped to my mother with the faint hope that they might be delivered before I left. If not I would have to wait until she could ship them or come back to France. I got the phone call today. Arlene called me to tell me the shoes had arrived. Although I had obviously been planning on somehow seeing her this evening that synched it. We had to have dinner! I am now the proud owner of a pair of two-toned wing tips which I will be wearing in France. This, as usual, will be to the great embarassment of my wife and kids.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Michel Camilo Live at the Blue Note

Just got back from my first night at a jazz club in New York for over 20 years...

My mother and her friend, Hilary, got tickets for the Michel Camilo trio at the Blue Note downtown in the West Village.

The concert was just plain amazing. The kind of night when you come out of the club feeling uplifted. Just plain excellent. The combination of latin jazz, classic foundations and origins, an amazing rhythm section and a pianist that just doesn't stop made for an incredible evening.

The strangest aspect of the evening was there was absolutely no smoking in the club. I have never been in a jazz club without smoke. It was actually quite strange. The lighting was just all wrong and everything was just all too clean. It doesn't go along with jazz...

But it was a wonderful night of great music and great company and an enthralling performance. I left with a Blue Note t-shirt, a Blue Note torch (flashlight) and Michel Camilo's latest disc: Spirit of the Moment.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

3D Printer

I was reading on of my favourite blogs (Life of Dave) and found an entry about the 3D Printer.

This is something I have dreamed about for over 30 years and had even started designing the possibilities of such a device back in the mid-80s (along with the PostScript Sewing Machine --- I think someone actually created that one). It's a tad bit science-fiction and to see it actually work is one of those paradigm leaping moments I so love about technology.

In this article from The New York Times they describe the machine which can create three-dimensional physical objects via the computer. The article focuses mostly on the price aspect and the concept that this will one day be affordable to families and homes. I personally am just amazed that the thing exists and works. I especially like the concept that you can replace that little bit of your machine (coffee, toaster, skateboard, ...) by downloading the print output for it and the 3D printer creates an exact replica in plastic.

I so want one!!!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Another double feature

We have so many movies to watch and only one night left so tonight became a double feature.

We started with The Last King of Scotland which is probably one of the best acted movies I have seen in a very long time. Excellent!

We then topped that off with 21 Grams which was directed by the same guy (Alejandro González Iñárritu) who directed Babel which we had seen and loved the other night. This was an earlier film of his and it's easy to see how he evolved and made his flashback, present, flashback style much smoother in Babel than in this film. This was another actor's movie but again with beautiful cinematography.

Not exactly an "upbeat" evening but excellent movies.

I ended the evening by finally hooking up my mother's DVD Recorder in the kitchen. I only did the cabling part, as it was already about 1 AM, before heading off to bed. I'm sure everything will work tomorrow...

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Shop till you drop!

I knew today was going to be my only real shopping day. After a very leisure morning I took the subway in to 34th Street and started at Macy's. This major department store on a Saturday when the weather is nice was obviously going to be a mad house and it certainly was. It took me hours to get jeans, polo shirts, knickers and belts. At one point I had to wait 40 minutes to try on a pair of jeans and 20 minutes to try on one polo shirt. I finally gave up after the belts and got out of there.

I decided to head uptown to see if I could find somewhere I could get the necessary cables for my mother's DVD Recorder. Her TV is HD but is old enough to not have an HDMI input so I needed component cables.

I walked from 34th and 6th up and around to 45th and Broadway and back again. I had forgotten how touristy the neighbourhood was and how many "attractions" there were around. 34th Street is full of 'em: Madison Square Garden, Penn Station and, of course, The Empire State Building. Heading uptown was, of course, Times Square and the Broadway Theatre District which felt very much like home. I stopped off and had a Sabrett's hot dog at a stand and about 10 minutes later stopped at another Sabrett's stand for another hot dog (mustard and sauerkraut as always). Although I found hundreds of stores open, and crowds in the stores and on the streets, I could not find a store which sold televisions and audio equipment and such. Eventually, when I had just about given up, I found the Manhattan Mall and in there I found a Radio Shack where I could get my cables.

I practically crawled back to the Subway to take the Q back to Brooklyn where I could finally lie down...