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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Alice in Wonderingland

"Who is your favorite character in Alice in Wonderland?"

This question came up recently in my art journaling group. I realize I am perhaps the only person in the Universe (yes I might be exaggerating, she says with a sigh) who has neither read nor seen any version of Alice, et al, so I am looking forward to seeing the movie. I've been told that I "should read the book first" and etc., but if I see the movie first I won't have that nasty problem of being disappointed that the limitations of film can't match the boundless flights of my imagination -- which usually happens when I read first, watch next.

So.

I know there is a cat. I think i might like a cat, done well. (Unless he is sneaky and predatory. Then he's out.) I know there is a rabbit. He looks a bit scary, as if he is about to gnaw on my nose, but could be friendly and funny.

The rest of the characters are a blur to me right now - something about Queens and two large humpty-dumpty fellows who seem goofy and unlikely to become my favorites. If you asked me the same question about, say, Winnie the Pooh characters, I'd have a ready answer. But thinking about Alice in Wonderland just serves to remind me that I have missed this entire cultural phenomenon. Or maybe the whole story just seems so darned confusing and nightmarish that I've been resisting it. Not sure.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Trains

When my kids were five and seven, we took a train ride as an excursion. I wanted them to know what it was like.


Now that I live in Manhattan, I ride on trains all the time. Subway trains are my preferred method of transport, (taxis literally make me sick) and above-ground trains are the way I get from state to state to visit my family.


I've become a conoisseur of trains. The cheapest ones -- $2 for a subway ride all around Manhattan -- are also the ones that come with the stinky smell of someone eating an everything bagel or a guy panhandling or a woman selling Jesus by the pound. The moderately-priced trains are the in-state or interstate locals that are sometimes surprisingly good but could feature the man behind you making a loud phone call to his cousin Vinny or his broker in Philly. You just don't know. The best (and most expensive) are the Acela business class trains - and I especially LOVE the quiet cars. They are roomy and have an outlet so you can keep your laptop or phone charge throughout the trip. There are curtains on the windows  and the seats surround you like a cocoon. You barely know you are on a
train. Often they are non-stop, or minimally you have a very few stops to your destination.

When I was in Italy last year we took trains around the country and loved the experience. I felt like I was in a foreign film, really. Pippi Longstalking goes Orient Express.  It's a bit like flying, as your specific seat is reserved and the train attendant comes around and serves food and beverages rather than having to go to the food car to get some burnt coffee and bagels. The first class cars are separated into little seating sections where you can face each other and actually--it's a pretty great way to travel.

Are you a train person?