Saturday, April 28, 2012

NY Grammar Nazi

I couldn't help myself.  Even in New York.  When I see an obvious mistake I have to take a picture of it so I can fix it at home.

Upon further investigation I actually found three mistakes in two of the signs and two in another!

Can you spot the problems?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Last Day In New York (Thank You YMCIA!)

Allen and I woke up early Thursday morning with many plans to take full advantage of our last day in this crazy, busy city that never sleeps.  We jumped on the tour bus and took it to the South Street Seaport to buy tickets for Dialog in the Dark.  We had some time to kill before our scheduled tour, so we bought fruit smoothies from a street vendor (so tasty!) and walked down Wall Street through the financial district, saw the New York Stock Exchange and explored the beautiful Trinity Church.

I was amazed at the details in the intricately carved front doors.

I was fascinated by the cemetery and the beautiful script on some of the ancient headstones.

We did not get tickets to enter Ground Zero but loved seeing the Freedom Tower growing closer to its eventual height of 1,776 feet.

Then it came time for our eye-opening (no pun intended) tour of Dialog in the Dark.  The exhibition took us on a walking tour of a simulated New York City (we went through Central Park, to a grocery store, hopped on a subway, strolled down and crossed a busy street and found seats at a restaurant) but, as the title infers, it all happened in complete blackness.  We had our visually-impaired guide, our canes, and our senses to lead us through the dark city.  It made me think about things I hadn't before (how does someone who can't see go grocery shopping?) and gain a greater appreciation for how blessed I am to have the gift of sight.

Our next stop was John's Pizzeria on Bleecker Street to feast on some real New York style pizza for lunch.  

 It really is as delicious as everyone says.

Just a few blocks away was the Magnolia Bakery where Allen and I each got a piece of thick, rich caramel cheesecake (and a few other treats to tide us over until dinner).

We strolled through Washington Square Park

where there were all sorts of things to feast our eyes upon.  Chess matches, various performers, a play area packed chock full of kids, students studying on a patch of lawn.  We found a bench and sat there to enjoy our cheesecake as well as the various sights.
It was now about time for us to get back to the hotel so we could catch one last bus tour before seeing Wicked that evening. We hurried to the subway, actually had a stranger strike up a conversation with us on our ride (this was rare - most of the time no one even looks at you) then found our tour bus.  However, we had missed the last bus run for the day by minutes.  We decided to just walk to Central Park instead.

Let's play a little name-that-movie game, shall we?

What movie features this bridge/tunnel in Central Park? (Or one like it.  There were a few of them.)

In fact, it could have been this bridge/tunnel. 

But either way, can you name the movie?

How about this view of the Plaza Hotel from Central Park?

Our kids got both of them right off.  But no pressure.

One thing we did not do in New York was ride in a taxi.  Mostly because the cabbies drove like lunatics and seemed really angry.  I was amazed we hadn't seen any taxi accidents - and then we witnessed one.

It was very validating.

We found a bunch of other fun, well-known places as well - but I'll let a friend of mine tell you all about them next week.

Before we knew it, the time had come for a Wicked-ly good time.

I had seen Wicked once before and was excited to see how this show compared to my previous experience.

I was definitely not disappointed.  What an awesome performance!  It was fun to see how different actresses can portray a role in a way that brings out new facets of their characters' personality.  It was Allen's first time seeing it, which was the most exciting part for me.  Kind of like going to Disneyland with someone who had never been there before.  (He loved it, of course!)

Once the show was over we headed for Rockefeller Center to catch a view of the city at night from the Top of the Rock.  Unfortunately, we had missed the last elevator up.  Instead, we went to the Stanton Island Ferry terminal and caught one last glimpse of the Statue of Liberty off in the distance

before calling it a night.

The next morning we packed our bags, and my favorite YMCIA agent and I

headed back to the best destination of all - home, sweet home.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The YMCIA (Part 5)

Wednesday morning we slept in a little longer than we'd planned.  Allen and I had come up with a list of things we wanted to see and do while in the Big Apple and we had a long day ahead of us!  First off we went to the Empire State Building.

One of my favorite parts of this place was actually the waiting in line.  So if you ever go, don't let one of the outside ticket-sellers convince you to pay extra for a ticket to bypass the line.  The line was what New York City is all about - diversity.  I'm pretty sure that Allen and I were in the minority as English-speakers, as every person near us was talking in a different language.  There were people dressed like they were ready for a long hike, a family wearing their Sunday best, a priest accompanied by two nuns sporting black New Balance tennies (not sure why this fascinated me), and even a group of businessmen.  I couldn't understand a word anyone was saying but I loved listening to the rise and fall of the voices surrounding us and just observing everyone - these strangers who are really my brothers and sisters on this planet.  The realization hit that I am a part of a much, much larger universe than I can ever really comprehend.

Like I said, don't fear the lines.  Embrace them.

The view from the observation deck was spectacular. *whistle*

Oh... and the view of the city was pretty spectacular, too.


Next on the agenda was a trip to the Museum of Natural History, best known at our house as The-Night-at-the-Museum-Museum.  It was fun to walk in and see Rexy right off.

And of course I had to go find the Easter Island statue (affectionately nicknamed 'Dum-Dum') so we could get a picture to show the kids.

Next up was a ride on the Circle Line Cruise to get a view of the NYC skyline

and see Lady Liberty up close.

She was amazing.

I could imagine what the immigrants of long ago felt upon seeing her for the first time, standing there so majestic and beautiful, welcoming all to the Land of the Free. 

We got back to shore with just enough time to grab a quick bite to eat (we did this a lot, actually) and walk to the Neerlander Theater where Newsies was playing.  On our walk to the theater the excitement began to really hit me.  I was going to see Newsies performed on stage.  I wanted to run, skip, do cartwheels and backflips down the street.  I wanted to throw hundred dollar bills from the top of a building.  I wanted to hug every person I passed.  I think I contained it pretty well, though.

Once we got into the theater and I saw where our seats were - oh my goodness.  Even typing about it now I can hardly stand the happiness and excitement.  I kept reaching over and patting Allen's leg (really hard, apparently) and saying Ican'tbelievewe'rereallyhere! with a huge, goofy perma-grin on my face.

When the lights started to dim, and the opening notes of the score floated up from the orchestra just in front of us as the curtain slowly rose, I thought I might explode into a million happy-faced bouncy balls.  The energy in the theater was so palpable - I couldn't help but wonder how many other people were feeling just as I did.

I'll have to write a separate post just about the show and all of it's awesomeness.

But once we left the theater on a total euphoria-induced high, we walked to the most gorgeous library I have ever seen in my life, the New York Public Library.

And then we went to admire Grand Central Station (they aren't kidding when they call it Grand!)

 before calling it a night.  Oh, and did I forget to mention the last step in my midlife crisis intervention?

Tickets to Wicked.  Thursday night.  I am so in love with this YMCIA, I can hardly stand it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My Newsies Addiction

 photo here

I feel like I need to take a quick break from my posts about the YMCIA's awesome intervention in my life to explain the significance of my seeing Newsies on Broadway.

First there was Newsies, the movie.  It came out in theaters in 1992, a few months before Allen and I were married (20 years ago!) and I was super excited to see it.  It didn't have a very long run in theaters because there are too many people who can't appreciate awesomeness.  This was good news for me, however, because I got to see it at the dollar theater.  Repeatedly, with whomever would accompany me there, and at least a few times all by my lonesome as well.

When I went home to work for the summer before we got hitched I bought myself a VHS copy of Newsies and enjoyed it as often as I liked.  Which was pretty often.  Most of my friends were not fans of the movie, which was somewhat bothersome to me.  I was undeterred by those around me and blared my Newsies cassette from the tape deck of my 1976 Dodge Aspen everywhere I went.  I became a bit obsessed with the story in the movie and how it compared to the real Newsboy Strike of 1899.  Because the internet was pretty much unheard of I researched the true story behind the movie at my local library.

Once I ran out of research options I watched the scene where Jack sings Santa Fe repeatedly and memorized his dance number on the streets of New York (it starts at 1:43, just sayin') so I could bust the same moves along with him as he sang.  

I also became a huge fan of two of the actors in the movie, Christian Bale and Bill Pullman.  Christian Bale because - well, hello, he's Christian Bale. (And Batman.  And smokin'!)  And Bill Pullman because he has a great smile and was always playing such great nice-guy characters.

I decided that Disney would have to eventually make Newsies into a stage play and I would make it a priority to audition for it.  At first I wanted to be Sarah with her one-sentence solo (Think about seizing the day!), but I realized that I would be getting too old to play her part so I thought I could try out for Medda... but had a better chance of getting the 30-second part of Patrick's mom (and have a nice little solo).  As time went on and no stage production was happening I eventually resigned myself to the fact that I would have to be one of the nuns in the opening number.  And I was okay with that.

Once I got married my obsession died down quite a bit.  This was probably a good thing.  However, I did continue to listen to my cassette tape enough that it needed to be replaced a couple of times.

Throughout my life I have met many (okay, most) people who had not seen Newsies and I'd lend them my VHS tape with the promise that they'd love it.  The feedback was mixed, but mostly people didn't share my enthusiasm for the show, which continues to baffle me.   Because COME ON!  How can you go wrong with Christian Bale's hotness, Bill Pullman's niceness, a whole cast of guys who can sing and dance, and a little bit of history thrown in?  I was so in love!

When Newsies came out on DVD I was excited to purchase a copy and see what special features would be included.  It was grand.  This is one of the few movies that I do not keep with our family stash - it has a special place in my cupboard and none of the kids are allowed to touch it without permission.

Well, once the internet became popular (yeah, I'm old) I started doing periodic searches on Newsies there.  I found out little tidbits about the actors of the show, where they are today, that sort of thing.  And then, last November, all of my dreams came true.  I did my typical search and found this article stating that Newsies would be on Broadway.  Oh, be still my wildly beating heart.  It finally happened!  They turned my beloved movie musical into a full-fledged stage production at the Paper Mill Playhouse and it was so amazing (of course it was!) that it was going to Broadway.

The only problem with this whole situation is that there was no guarantee of an extended run or eventual touring company.  This meant that in order to see Newsies on stage I would have to somehow get from Utah to New York City.  How could I make this happen?  Allen and I are not big travelers unless we take a vacation with our family or a quick jaunt to Salt Lake City for our anniversary.  It seemed purely selfish to even suggest that we make a trip to New York just for me.  Think of the cost and time involved, too.  It was all too much.  I mean, sure, it would be fulfilling TWO of my life's dreams, but I still had a hard time believing it was possible.

I satisfied my renewed obsession for all things Newsies by checking daily for new Newsies postings on YouTube and the internet in general.  Through the magic of the online world I met much of the Broadway cast, saw a few of their (AWESOME!) song and dance numbers, listened to the entire new soundtrack, read raving reviews and found out about the major differences in the movie and the stage production (which meant that two of the roles I had dreams of auditioning for were gone.  But my youthful dream of being on stage again is also gone until I'm like 60 and have no more kids at home, so whatever.  I'll totally be a nun in the touring company.  Newsies the Musical 2032, holla!).

All of this, my friends, is what made getting those Newsies tickets so heartstoppingly, fantastically awesome.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The YMCIA (Part 4)

Our flight to New York was the longest I have ever been on.  Not only time-wise, but because of the happiness butterflies fluttering inside me in a well-contained explosion of surprise and anticipation.  At around 1:00 pm on Tuesday afternoon, we arrived.  I was in New York!  Once we gathered our things and entered the main terminal of the airport, Allen handed me my next envelope.

Sweet!  Now to get to the hotel.  I asked if we were renting a car.  Allen told me that there was no need for a car in New York City because public transportation was plentiful and could get us anywhere we needed to be.  We boarded the air-train to Jamaica Station, transferred to the Long Island Railroad

and got off at Penn Station, just below Madison Square Garden.  When we surfaced from the underground station I was not disappointed.  The streets were filled with all of the sights and sounds that I expected - masses of people, honking taxicabs speeding through traffic and street vendors galore.  I snapped a couple of pictures of Allen at Madison Square Garden

and we headed toward our hotel.  Allen asked if I wanted to take a bus, ride the subway or walk - I had to choose walking.  It seemed the best way to soak in what the city had to offer.  And I was IN NEW YORK!!  We purchased hotdogs from a street vendor and made our way to the Hotel Edison.  As we walked we passed the venues for all sorts of productions and I realized we were staying in the heart of the theater district - also just a short walk from Broadway and Times Square.

(the view from our hotel)

After we checked in to our room on the 18th floor Allen told me that we should do everything we possibly could in the next 3 days (we would be heading home Friday morning).  We talked about the extensive list of things we would like to see and do and Allen suggested we get passes for a tour bus that could take us uptown, downtown, and everywhere else while informing us about the city along the way.  After a quick and simple dinner we boarded the open-air tour bus and took the night tour of New York City.

The lights, the skyline, the bridges, the architecture - so. awesome.

Once we returned, we just walked the city and found all sorts of great places.

 Rockefeller Center

 Saint Patrick's Cathedral

 Radio City Music Hall and the NBC Studios

 And just when I thought it couldn't possibly get any better...

Newsies on Broadway.  Wednesday night.  Amazing seats.

Goodness gracious.  NEWSIES ON BROADWAY!!!

This was almost too much happiness for one day. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

The YMCIA (Part 3)

With my bags packed in an unsure but anxiously excited manner (Where am I going? How am I getting there? What am I packing for? When is something going to happen?!) we finally crawled in to bed somewhere close to 2:00 am.  At precisely 5:00 am last Tuesday morning, Josh Groban entered my dream to sing me a lullaby.  I quickly awoke, disoriented, and realized that the music was actually coming from a small DVD player at the side of my bed.  When I reached over to silence it, I saw that the YMCIA had left me another note.

I was suddenly not so sleepy as flipped on my closet light, cracked the door open and read my next letter:

I handed Allen his envelope, watched him open it, and asked if I could see what was inside.


We hurried to ready ourselves, put out some cereal for the kids, loaded our suitcases into the suburban and headed north.  Finally, the suspense was killing both of us enough that about half way there Allen handed me his envelope from the YMCIA.

Inside was a boarding pass (we were flying!) and it said the plane was going from SLC to JFK.

JFK... JFK... I had to think.  Where was an airport called JFK?  I scanned over the rest of the boarding pass and wanted to laugh and cry and scream all at the same time.

New York.  NEW. YORK.  (insert crazy-woman combined laugh/cry/scream here)

Going to New York City has been something I have wanted to do since I started performing 20+ years ago in high school.  Can you imagine the emotions I was experiencing?!  NEW YORK!!  

We parked, ran through a beautiful morning downpour to the airport shuttle, effortlessly passed through security, and boarded our very full airplane.  But of course it was full - it was bound for New York!  Who doesn't want to visit New York?!  I was continually incredulous that in just a few hours, I would be in NEW YORK.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

The YMCIA (Part 2)

Late last Monday night there was another knock on my door.

When the kids ran to see who was there, all they found was this:

I opened my newest envelope and read the next step in my intervention.

Life is grand, indeed!

I needed to pack in anticipation of a... TRIP?!

To say I was excited at this point would be quite an understatement.