Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Best weekend ever: booze, karaoke, sushi, watching basketball all freaking day, sky terraces and the best episode of "The Sopranos" of all time

Hi. For those of you who don't know me, I'm Larry, I run a little blog called This Is What We Do Now and I'll be your tour guide for the day.

After getting maybe ten collective hours of sleep this weekend as well as the change in weather (memo to March: today's the first fucking day of Spring; time to get your shit together), I've been feeling pretty exhausted and am starting to feel like crap, so this guest post is going to be a bit scattershot. If you don't like it, too bad.

In any event, this was a pretty fantastic weekend, as I got to see a lot of people I don't see that regularly, visited a handful of new places, watched a shitload of basketball and capped it all of with an absolutely phenomenal, gut-wrenching and emotionally draining episode of "The Sopranos."

Friday kicked off with Davis' birthday dinner at JAPAS 38. Quick, name three things that go together better than karaoke, unlimited beer and unlimited sushi. Exactly, you can't, which is why it was one of the best parties ever. The remainder of the evening included appearances at Maker's in Murray Hill (horrible), Tile in the East Village (usually OK but the bartender absolutely sucked that night), Plug Uglies and Vig 27. Incredibly, 4 out of the 5 places I hit up were new, which is shocking considering when left to my own devices I always seem to end up at the same places.

Saturday was one of the most enjoyable days I've had in a long time. I met up with my buddy from work around 2 p.m. and we hit up Croxley Ales to catch the tournament. We were also joined by a handful of other friends throughout the day. It really doesn't get much better than kicking back with some of your favorite people in the world, eating burgers, downing pints of Blue Point and watching a million basketball games over the course of a lazy Saturday afternoon.

Saturday night we went to Alec's sister's birthday party at the Hudson Hotel. As expected, it was super trendy, but turned out alright. I actually bumped into the babysitter I had when I was 8 years old. Mind you, I probably hadn't seen this girl since then, making it a pretty crazy fucking conversation. At least I think it was, based on what I could actually hear during the brief interludes in which the DJ wasn't trying to bludgeon my eardrums.Sky Terrace

We also managed to break into the Hudson's sky terrace with an almost comical amount of ease (a key on Alec's keychain incredibly opened the lock), hung out in the outrageously small room Lynch had inexplicably rented, and laughed about Alec propositioning a girl only to drive her to burst into tears. The night was capped off with a retardedly crowded - at least for 3 a.m. - Scruffy Duffy's (who knew people actually went out in Hell's Kitchen?) and some random shithole called the Playwright Tavern.

Sunday it was more NCAA, this time up at Davey's. Almost every team I needed to win won, and (I realize I'm jinxing myself here) I'm actually in pretty good shape, with all of my Final Four teams and 7 out of 8 of my Elite Eight teams still intact. Thursday's Gonzaga-UCLA game could very well make or break my bracket. Gonzaga better destroy those motherfucking Bruins.

And just when I thought the weekend couldn't get any better, David Chase wallops me with quite possibly the best episode of "The Sopranos" of all time — this coming from someone who has seen every single episode and has been watching since Season 1, Episode 1. Never have I felt so emotionally spent after watching an hour of television. I know the dream episodes aren't everyone's cup of tea, but I absolutely fucking love 'em (especially since I seem to have serious sleeping issues and end up jousting with my subconscious on a nightly basis), and I don't think any show on TV more accurately or creepily portrays what our dreams look like.

Of course in this particular case it was purgatory, but even so; the scenes showing what a non-mafia Tony would've been like, while slow, were a tremendous insight into Tony's brain. There are multiple times throughout the series in which Tony has mused about how his life might have turned out had he not joined the family business, and I love that this alternative existence finally manifested itself as he nears possible death. Additionally, this was the first of Tony's dreams in the entire series that didn't feature anyone from his actual life, aside from the fake-Carmela and fake-Meadow he spoke with on the phone.

The performances were also all outstanding as usual, with Edie Falco all but sewing up the Best Actress Emmy in the ICU, and I damn near teared up at the very end with Purgatory Tony sitting on the hotel bed, no way of going home to his family and that incredibly haunting Moby song taking us into the credits.

I do hope Chase doesn't drag the coma thing out for much longer, however — as bold a statement as it would be to finish the last 18 episodes of the series with Tony making the slow march to death, it would be a tough pill to swallow due to the emotional investment I have with the character.

Interestingly enough, I also made the decision to rewatch the pilot during the day on Sunday, and I couldn't believe how many references to that very first episode of the series have been made in these first two season six episodes - Carmela makes mention of how she told Tony he was going to hell when he died, Junior talking about Pussy Malanga and even Meadow being on the volleyball team.

I've long said that a show like "The Sopranos" is that much more enjoyable when you take the series as a whole, and it's incredibly gratifying to see the writers insert references or dialogue that haven't been addressed in years. As much as I love "24," not even the nonstop action of Kiefer and Kompany can match the depth and layers of the characters on "The Sopranos" as well as the psychological themes and outrageous amounts of subtext and symbolism stuffed into every episode.

I've been glued to "The Sopranos" message board over on Television Without Pity the last day or so, and if you're as into this episode as I was, do yourself a favor and check it out. As great as the episodes are on their own, I always end up getting even more out of each show from reading what many of the very intelligent posters on the board have to say. The only thing I have trouble reconciling are the people who didn't like this episode. Maybe the dream (or in this case purgatory) episodes aren't for everyone, but if you consider yourself a fan of the show and weren't equal parts emotionally riveted and intellectually fascinated by the intense philosophical and existential explorations of both life and death, then you simply don't have a soul.

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