Tuesday, September 29, 2015

new sushi place

Robin tells me of a new neighborhood sushi place.

I know all the local sushi restaurants, and in fact, live a block away from one of the city's best (and most expensive) — Sushi of Gari.  Most of the others are okay, not incredible, but definitely edible.

This weekend Robin and I are out, and she introduces me to her new find. It's a tiny little storefront on East 78th Street (between First and Second) called Sashimi Express. Take-out only. It's been open a week and the owner is a personable young Japanese man named Andy. "It's my real name, I changed it when I got my passport."

Andy is impressive, and seems like a smart business man. He personally goes down to the fish markets three times a week and handpicks the fish. "Most restaurants just order it, but I find there is a big difference in quality when you select the fish yourself." He then explains to me what he looks for. I have no way of knowing if what Andy is telling me is true, but my guess is that it is.

Sashimi Express does not take credit cards, does not make deliveries (fine for me as I live a block away), and no tables. And that's how Andy keeps the prices down.  Each piece of sushi or sashimi is $1. The platters look amazing and are incredibly affordable (I'm already thinking next book club).

Tonight Alexander and I try it out. We order the salmon box (4 pieces of sushi and two different kinds of salmon rolls for $9.50 plus $.50 for added avocado.

Forget the fact that the prices are low, the food is excellent and fresh

I contemplate posting this, for fear that little Sashimi Express could become the next Sushi of Gari. But Andy promises to keep his pricing as is. "I have a two year lease and the menus have already been printed."

Monday, September 28, 2015

a mess of a night

There's a scene toward the end of The Martian where Matt Damon's character says, "When things start heading south they just keep going. You solve one problem then another one pops up."

Weeks ago I confirm a screening with Fox for The Martian, followed by a Q&A with Sir Ridley Scott.  

We choose a moderator. A few days before the screening he has to cancel: kidney stones.

We find another moderator. I arrange with Fox for him to see the film today so he'll have time to prepare his questions.

Around noon I get a call from Tim in LA. Tim has a senior role at Fox and is my most favorite person that I've never met. We've been working together for maybe three years.

Tim tells me that the moderator arrives a little late at the pre-screening and is not allowed in. Okay bad, but not horrible. He'll see the film at the same time everyone else does. This should have been a warning of things to come.

I arrive at the theater early. Everyone who needs to be there is. BAFTA check-in volunteers. The photographer. The moderator. The studio rep. And 200 guests.

The studio rep is named Charlie. He's the nicest, most capable guy. We've also been working together for about three years. Tonight he has on new glasses (he usually wears none) and longer than usual hair;  I think he's someone named Andrei. I twice introduce him to others as Andrei. I even say, "I didn't know you worked at Fox," thinking he was Andrei.  And then later I ask, "So are you here instead of Charlie tonight?" He responds, "I am Charlie." He didn't want to embarrass me by correcting me in front of others.

The movie is starting at 6:30. At 6:28 the theater rep says, "There's a little problem with the film ingesting. It should be ready in five minutes." 

At 6:35 there's still no film available.  The theater tells us, "We're at 93%," (whatever that means). It should only be another five to seven minutes."

I make my little intro and tell the audience the movie should be starting within ten minutes.

7pm and still no film. I get the manager. He is in touch with the projection room. "Just a few more minutes." I make another announcement, repeating again what I've been told.

7:20. A handful of people start to leave. I apologize again as they are walking out. One guy smiles and says, "Hey, not your fault. Sh*t happens."

We convince the manager (who readily agrees) to give out free movie passes. 

I make another announcement. It's the nicest audience. Patient and understanding.

We pass out the tickets and while we're distributing them, the movie starts.

At the climax of the movie, Charlie finds me and asks me to come outside.  I'm assuming that Ridley Scott has arrived.

But outside are two more people from Fox and no one looking remotely like Ridley.  Unfortunately he couldn't wait the extra hour as he had prior commitments. Totally understandable.  

The credits roll and I have to stand before this great audience one last time and tell them now there's no Q&A.

The poor moderator. The poor photographer. The poor studio exec's. And the poor audience.

I give my final little speech of the night, and rather than the expected anger, people applaud. I think because they too, recognize that sometimes sh*t happens, and well, sometimes there's just not a whole lot to do about it.

a new york moment

Place: New York City Crosstown bus

Time: Late afternoon

Condition: Standing room only

The bus stops at Central Park West and a few people get off.  Moments later the bus driver, through his mic, announces:

"Hey everyone. Listen up.  Did you all notice that was Chris Rock on our bus?"

Passenger A:  "Really, where?"

Bus Driver: "Right up front. He was wearing a cap. You honestly didn't see him?"

Passenger B: "I can't believe that Chris Rock would take a city bus."

Passenger C:  "Hey, next time a celebrity gets on your bus, can you make an announcement?"

Bus Driver:  "I can't be telling you all who's on my bus. Ya gotta pay attention." 

Everyone goes back to their phones. I'm fairly certain they won't be paying attention next time either.

Friday, September 25, 2015


Ever since I was a little girl I've wanted to be a moviestar.

That didn't work out.

But now I've come closer than I ever have to working with Hollywood A-listers.

Recently I was going back and forth on emails with a studio exec and we were talking about Leo. Yes, that Leo.

I am working on a Q&A with Ridley Scott set for Monday.

And tonight I go to see a screening of Beasts of No Nation, and actually end up in a brief conversation with Ruth Wilson, star of The Affair, one of my favorite shows from last season.  And then later I shake hands with the charming Idris Elba. 

As a young girl, I would spend hours reading through Photoplay and Modern Screen, imagining the lives of the big stars. I guess there's still a lot of that twelve year old girl in me.

I know I won't ever be in front of the camera, but I still get a thrill meeting those who are.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

case closed

It's a cloudless, beautiful early fall day, and Pope Francis is in town.

Traffic alerts have dominated the news for the past week. Some schools and businesses are closed. And today I am going downtown for my small claims case against Con Ed, to begin at 9:30.

My case in brief:

I've been complaining about my electric bill since 1992, when I moved into my current apartment.
My bill is higher than anyone around me, even people with larger apartments, washer and dryers, and more AC usage.
Experts from Con Ed have come to inspect at least twice.
They offer suggestions — new lights, seal the door of my refrigerator,
But no one ever mentions that a decades old refrigerator could be the problem.
I get a new refrigerator in February of this year.
My bill immediately drops $50/month. 
Shouldn't Con Ed have known, and mentioned that the problem could be the old, electricity-guzzling appliance? 

I take Con Ed to small claims court. I've overpaid $50/month for 20 plus years; so suing for $5,000 does not seem unreasonable.

I leave my house at 8, in anticipation of all the Pope traffic. I arrive at Court before 8:30, absolutely no traffic.

Con Ed's lawyer, Ronald Vales refuses to arbitrate, so we go before a judge. 

It's like being on Judge Judy, except Byrd (whom I always thought was Bert until I just checked it) is played by a very surly, loud, unprofessional guy, and Judge Judy is portrayed by Judge Deborah Rose Samuels.

There are people waiting for their own cases to be heard in the audience.  I am actually nervous.

After Mr. Vales and I take oaths. I am asked to state my case and present evidence. I have a comparison of my bill before the refrigerator and after.

Mr. Vales calls a witness, a supervisor of Con Ed field inspectors.  His report is filled with inaccuracies. I point them out, feeling a little bit like Perry Mason.

The judge listens patiently and then decides.

"Well I can understand your frustration," she says to me...

And then I know I've lost the case. 

Basically, Judge Samuels doesn't want to set a precedent. "If Con Ed comes to your home to help you determine your energy efficiency, and this is done as a courtesy, they cannot be held liable for overlooking something. If I were to rule in your favor, this could potentially end the courtesy calls Con Ed makes, and this would end up hurting consumers in the long run."

Her argument makes sense.

I leave the court house not surprised, and walk out into a picture perfect day.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

lost. and...

I go to Starbucks this morning with two newspapers to read.

I so rarely go that I still don't have the names of the sizes down. I ask for "the largest" coffee with steamed skim milk and a chocolate croissant.

I hear one of the baristas call my name and I pick up my two items. I sit down and a few minutes later hear my name called again. I look up as I am sitting nearby.  "Did you forget anything?" the barista asks. "No, I have everything," I reply.  And that's the end of our exchange.

I come home, and spend the rest of the day on the phone and computer.

Around 4:30 Alexander and I decide on sushi for dinner. I am not sure that sushi is the most appropriate last meal before fasting, but we are both in the mood for it. 

I go to get my wallet and it's not where it should be. I look around, and with a feeling of dread I begin to realize that my wallet is missing. Credit cards. Money. Driver's License. Insurance Card. BAFTA ID. Loyalty cards. 16 Handles and Dunkin Donuts Gift Cards. Pictures. And of course the wallet itself. 

I call Starbucks.  

"Hi. I think I may have lost my wallet today."

"Okay, we did find one. Can you describe it."

"Sure, it's pewter colored and it's rectangular shaped." (There's a long pause as if she's waiting for more of a description. Didn't I give her enough information? How many wallets do they find in a day?).

"Yes, we have it. It's in the vault. You can come get it tomorrow."

"Oh great, thank you. No, I'll be over in a few minutes to pick it up."

"Well, it's in the safe, and we can't open it until 8 in the morning."

I ask for the manager, who turns out to be the barista who helped me earlier in the day.

It turns out that she put my wallet in the "inner safe" around 4, and it's on a timer so no one can open it before 8 in the morning.  Then she adds, "I saw you and asked if you had everything you needed and you said you did."

"But I thought you were referring to the items I had just bought. I didn't know I had lost my wallet so I wouldn't have known you were referring to it.  Why didn't you just say, 'Did you lose your wallet?"

"I didn't want to shout out that I had found a wallet because then anyone could have claimed it."

"But you could have asked for their name as verification. Plus, you had my photo ID in the wallet."

"Oh, I guess I could have done that."

"Or at the very least why didn't you call me; my phone number is on my business card in my wallet?"  

Totally ignoring my irrelevant question, she adds,

"Just  come by tomorrow morning and it'll be here."

I am sincerely grateful. 

I just hope when I go back to Starbucks tomorrow it isn't someone else's pewter-colored wallet. No one ever did ask me for my name.

Monday, September 21, 2015


So we have this new doorman. A very nice young guy I'll call Evan. He is really making an effort. 

In the beginning, everyone seemed impressed with Evan's friendliness — he's always asking, "How was your day?" and caring how you answered. But most people treat the question as a rhetorical one and typically respond, "Fine."

I come home, looking forward to a quiet night in. Evan is on duty and greets me with, "How was your day?"  "Fine," I respond and make the mistake of asking how his day was.

"Not so good," he tells me.  "Fed Ex and UPS both arrived at the same time today so it was chaos.  And then...well c'mere; let me show you."  He walks me over to the cabinet where all the dry cleaning is held. "While I was sorting through all the deliveries, two cleaners came at once. Look at all of this," he says, pointing to a closet filled with hanging clothes in plastic bags.

Evan's friendliness is now something I try to avoid.  When he's on duty, I rush past him with only a perfunctory hello. 

Yom Kippur begins tomorrow at sundown. I know I should be more tolerant of people. 

Like the food server at Agata tonight. She's working behind the prepared food counter where everything is sold by the pound. I ask for two-thirds of a pound of the grilled corn salad. She looks at me perplexed and says, "I'm not good with numbers. Is that the same as three-quarters?"

I'm not sure how well I'll do at being tolerant with people I find annoying, but I will try.

Addendum, September 22, Tuesday:

Alexander returns from being out all day. "Hey, I just heard that Ethan was fired." I sure hope it was more than friendliness that did him in.