Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Just to Clarify

I don't really think that was Tom Hanks the other day (my hotel is good, but not that good), though maybe it was his brother.

T-Bone Benefits

After my theatrical fare, I needed something a little more full-blooded and headed to Gibson's Steakhouse on Rush Street. When the Grim Reaper comes for me (and, after that meal, that'll probably be a lot sooner than might otherwise have been the case), at least I can say I've had some good steak in my time. Certainly my 20 oz blue T-bone qualified as a good example.


The Last Act of Lilka Kadison

On holiday, must do theatre!
Tonight I got my head-in-the-way seat to see Lookingglass Theatre's "The Last Act of Lilka Kadison", a story about an old Jewish woman in America dealing quite literally with the ghosts of the past as she nears death. Naturally this involves facing WW2. Mix in a Pakistani health care worker with musical aspirations and...well, you can barely see the stage for all the cosy, liberal tears in your eyes.
Of the four strong cast only Usman Ally (from TV's 'Damages') was a little too 'theatrical'. Nora Fiffer as young Lilka was fine, if not outstanding. Instead the main acting kudos were divided fairly equally between Marilyn Dodds Frank, playing a sly old Lilka with a constant wink to the audience, and Chance Bone as Lilka's early love interest and upbeat mensch.
It was all too sentimental for its own good, but entertaining nonetheless, and nicely produced. The one fly in the ointment came at the end as the Ark of the Covenant was rolled out. It was not Brechtian distance that was being invoked when it hit a door very noticeably, shattering the suspension of disbelief the show had up to then carefully nourished. A small glitch, but an unfortunate one.
All in all though, a nice evening's serving of chicken soup, even if the main ingredient was schmaltz.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Out to Pasture

I checked into a hotel in downtown Chicago today. Going down in the elevator, a man, woman and small child (a boy of around 4) got into the car. It was crowded and I didn't look twice, but then the man said to the child, "Come over here and stand by me." There was something very familiar about that voice and when I looked, I couldn't be sure, but it did look like Tom Hanks. Grey haired, tall and pudgy, he got out of the car before we got to the bottom, so I really couldn't be sure.
As it happens Hanks is in Chicago today, but if it was him I'm not sure who the kid was as his family are grown.
Well, he's not the only 'star' in town. Glen Hansard is here supporting Eddie Vedder, and today supported Low in a free gig in Millennium Park. Thankfully I missed the pompous git, but I did get to hear Low. I have heard their music in the past, but am not that familiar with it. As it was, there were some similarities between Hansard and them, but not enough to ruin it for me. Instead they came across as a mix of Yo La Tengo and Mogwai. Rock minimalism, and not very sophisticated on the lyrics front (though 'take your baseball bat and knock those bitches out to pasture' did have a certain poetic ring). Enjoyable, from a free point of view at least.
Following an online recommendation I went for sushi in Friends Sushi on Rush Street. Rush was the appropriate term. I got there around 9:40 and they seemed to be closing at 10 (though I only found this out after I ordered). First they put me by the door away from everyone despite there being tables in the restaurant proper. At least I had a couple of flies on the wall for company. Then they forgot the miso. Then they gave me a dish with a good deal of the sashimi missing (I went for the delux platter and got a minor bowl). The fish wasn't even that great. Very disappointed. I left by 10:10, voluntarily.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What a Campus!

It's a measure of the campus that Stanford is that there is a grand piano in the lobby of one of the student residences. I got home from a wonderful meal of teriyaki steak in Nola's of Palo Alto to find a guy playing Chopin on that piano. I couldn't get the elevator. I just sat down and listened. Then I mentioned the Nocturne in D Minor and after a little searching (he had the scores on his iPad) he played that. I frowned appropriately at the loud idiots barging into the building while he played, but hell, it was great stuff. He wasn't familiar with the Wittgenstein left hand commissions, but we chatted about them nonetheless. I mean what a place where you can top off a wonderful meal (thanks Nigel!) with live classical music. I love Stanford. Love it!