I am in Manhattan again for a few nights, stopping off on the way to a conference in Utah - where the university I'm going to be at apparently has banned coffee.
It's been very cold here, and I caught a headcold on the way to the airport, so have been holed up in the hotel for most of it, venturing out for the odd trip to Starbucks, the cinema or the shops. The nice thing about Manhattan is that everything is close and there's plenty to do, even if you're ill. We've booked to see lengendary jazz singer Annie Ross tomorrow night - you may have seen her in Superman III - she got turned into a robot at the end
(this was one of my most disturbing viewing experiences as a teenager)
... or Short Cuts where she played an emotionally dead jazz singer with some of the most jaded song lyrics of all time - one of her songs, I recall involves the recollections of an ageing lady who spends her time watchin the daytime soaps - "all the most villainous men, can be found on channel 10!" Her lyrics tend to be very rambling and a bit crazy - another of my favourites is one she is clearly mad and deluded, boasting that "On Broadway I danced for that Senator" and claiming improbably "They know me in London and they know me in Paris!" At least they know her in Lancaster!
I have seen a lot of films in the last few days - including the very disappointing Diary of the Dead. I am fed up of bad zombie films. The only two zombie films I actually liked were the 1970s Dawn of the Dead and the 1980s Day of the Dead. All the other ones are stupid. I couldn't even finish watching the recent "remake" of Day of the Dead - it was so bad. Diary of the Dead thinks it has something socially interesting to say about our relationship with recording things, but it doesn't. And the budget seems to have all been spent on spatter effects rather than acting lessons and script writing. Give it a miss. On the other hand, I enjoyed The Other Boleyn Girl - partly because it brought back memories of History class 1985 when we did The Tudors. Eric Bana is rather interesting as Henry VIII - obviously playing the man before he swelled up to 300lb and got a massive gouty ulcer on his leg that had to be drained nightly.
I do love a good period drama, even if a lot of it is based on conjecture.
Something seems to have happened with the renowned American good service since my last visit. Shop assistants seem to have started ignoring me, chatting about nothing with their co-workers, then packing my things slowly and sulkily. I said "thanks" to a clerk yesterday and instead of a robotically cheery "you're welcome", I instead got a very sarcastic sounding and drawn out "mmhmm..." I'm not sure what it meant - it was possibly the equivalent of "I'm not interested in engaging in polite rituals with you, go away." I used to find the American "you're welcome" to be eerily odd, always fake, even disturbing. Now I miss it. British service is comparatively awful - shop assistants hide from you, look down on you, act too busy, don't look you in the eye etc - but I've never had an "mmhmm..." from them. It's beyond passive-aggressive. It's aggressive-passive.