Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gettin' a Lil Tired of your Broken Promises, Promises

One of the things on my 26 things to do before I turn 26 list is "see ten Broadway shows".  It's really more "take advantage of your proximity to the Theatre District" but I felt like I needed to quantify that item before I could cross it off.  This year, I have seen:
  • "Lend Me a Tenor" with Ravi
  • "Hair" with Emily
  • "Mary Poppins" with the 'rents and sister
  • "Billy Elliot" with Nicole and her cousins

Of those, I highly highly highly recommend both "Mary Poppins" and "Billy Elliot" - mostly because they were both AWESOME and also because the other two have since closed.  Today after work, since the city was pretty empty, I decided to take myself out to another show.  Nicole's cousins had gotten the Billy Elliot tickets for half price from the TKTS booth in Times Square (47th & Broadway) so I thought I would try that out, of course, forgetting that it was 20 degrees and that, even though the city was empty, I would need to wait in line for a half hour. 

My feet eventually thawed and I ended up getting a half-price ticket to "Promises, Promises", starring Kristin Chenoweth (Wicked, Glee), Sean Hayes (Will and Grace), and featuring Molly Shannon (SNL).  I would highly times three recommend this musical-comedy as well, but you only have until January 2nd to see it, so you had better get tickets quickly.  It was really funny, incredibly performed, and had some really good songs in it.  Kristin's voice is truly amazing and you Gleeks out there might recognize the song "A House is Not a Home" is from this musical.

The "New York Moment" of the night was when I was walking home and realized people were lining up to see the stars walk out the side door.  So I grabbed my camera and decided I could stand the cold for another twenty minutes.

A blurry Kristin Chenoweth

Sean Hayes

Molly Shannon

There you go, as requested, now you know one more item on the elusive 26 list.  You can take me to the next five shows if you want to help me cross this off.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Over the Hills of Snow

Someone should probably remind me how much I hate the snow.  As early as this morning I was panicking (okay, I was FURIOUS) about the forecast for 18 - 24 inches of snow over NYC for the next few days.  But as recently as an hour ago, I was walking leisurely for two miles through Bryant Park and Times Square photographing pretty things instead of hopping in a cab or taking the subway.

Not one,

Not two,

But - THREE snow-covered lions!

Lord & Taylor, where I got my brand-new snow boots today

A clonley (cold + lonely) birdie

Tree in Bryant Park

William Cullen Bryant

Bryant's statue reads an excerpt from his poem, "The Poet":

Yet let no empty gust
  Of passion find an utterance in thy lay,
A blast that whirls the dust
  Along the howling street and dies away;
But feelings of calm power and mighty sweep,       
Like currents journeying through the windless deep.

I can only imagine Bryant is writing about the gusts and blasts of wind of NYC's current snowstorm.  Tomorrow when I am drudging through it to get to work, I'm sure I will remember my hatred of this weather, but for now, I will let it snow (but just for a little bit longer).


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Let's Call the Whole Thing Off

Although I love trying new things and finding new experiences, there is one lunch in NYC that I keep going back to, week after week after week.  I am absolutely obsessed with the tomato soup & grilled cheese sandwich (with a free ice water please) from 'wichcraft (locations all around the city).  I am estimating that I have eaten this incredible meal at least once a week for a year.  This means that 20% of my lunches look exactly like this:

This also means that I have spent about $500 this past year on tomato soup and grilled cheese.  Yes, you are calculating that correctly...this meal costs $9.74!  It sounds ridiculous, I know, but please keep in mind that for every twelve 'wichcraft sandwiches you buy, you earn one free!  This averages out to only $8.99 a lunch.  If the lovely employee who punched my card twice each time I bought a sandwich still worked there (I really hope he wasn't fired for this and instead went on to act on Broadway or to be an extra in Glee), it would average out to only $8.35.  I realize I could make my own version for a few dollars, but I am not good at resisting melted cheese and this is basically my only serving of vegetables each week.

I had a huge sense of accomplishment today as I so very proudly redeemed my completely filled-out sandwich card to get my free lunch.  And as I was eating, I felt exactly like this (with an extra Acutrim commercial for your viewing pleasure):


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Oh, Do You Know, The Gingerbread Man?

Last year at Christmas, I thought it would be a good idea to bring home a Dancing Deer gingerbread house kit from Whole Foods and make it with my sister.  I thought it would be delightfully fun and turn out beautifully and it turned out being incredibly stressful and really freaking ugly.  Proof is below.

Because of this experience, I have a ridiculous amount of respect for Le Parker Meridien and City Harvest's Gingerbread House display (56th St bt 6th & 7th).  Bakeries around the city created charming scenes inspired by movies made in NYC.  Along with making me realize my gingerbread-making skills are way below star quality, this display also made me recognize I need to up my movie game.  I have a problem watching movies because my attention span is about 40 minutes, but I think I should force myself to at least watch movies that were filmed in this fabulous city.  Some of my favorites:

Stuart Little by Rolling Pin Productions

King Kong by Norma's
A Night at the Museum by Soutine Bakery
Check this display out until January 9th.  You can also donate $1 to City Harvest to vote for your favorite scene.  Unfortunately, there is no opportunity to nom nom nom on these munchies.  I imagine they taste much better than the one Katie and I made.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Yay Holiday Visitors!

Yesterday, Caitlin, Tyler, and I played "tour guide" to some of our friends from school who came up for the day.  It was super fun and filled with lots of walking, holiday decorations, and good food (Caitlin always knows *the best* places to get special treats).  Julie had two goals of the day, 1) to get Bobby to repropose to her in front of the tree in Rockefeller Center in front of strangers (lol) and 2) go ice skating - which, if you remember, is also on *my* holiday to-do list.  Unfortunately, neither of these goals was achieved.  Bobby respectfully refused to repropose and we ran into ridiculously long lines at all the ice rinks.

Caitlin, Tyler, and I met up in Columbus Circle before meeting our visitors.  Luckily for us, Santa Con was going on that day and we were greeted with HUNDREDS of people dressed as Santa Claus, gingerbread men, and elves.  Santa Con is a giant bar crawl which appears to be pretty fun for the participants but probably requires a lot of explanation from parents of young children who see these hundreds of drunk Santas running around Central Park and the subway.

We first walked down Fifth Avenue and checked out some of the holiday windows.  Bergdorf Goodman's (59th & 5th) display this year is "Wish You Were Here" and features manikins in nautical scenes, on mythical flying horses, and in space.  They were beautiful, but not very entertaining.  My favorite windows were those of Barney's, designed by Simon Doonan, "Have a Foodie Holiday," featuring famous NYC chefs.  When I first heard of the theme, I thought it was quite strange, but these windows to me were the most fun which I have just decided is a requirement of a good holiday window.

We wandered into Central Park and stumbled upon a "roast-your-own-marshmallows" station in front of Central Park Zoo.  For $2.50, you get 5 marshmallows on a stick and are able to roast them over a fire pit.  Beware of the workers yelling at you if they catch on fire and you let them burn (like Usher) - hello?!  That is the way to make the perfect marshmallow!!

We walked over to Trump's Wollman Rink but of course, the lines were way too long midday on a Saturday.  Not a total loss as we *did* get to watch the zamboni clean the ice for a little bit.  Our visitors had already been to the Rockefeller ice rink and we later walked to Bryant Park to check out their ice rink as well.  We have decided that the best time to actually try ice skating in the city is probably at 8 am on a Thursday in early February.  Maybe I will take a vacation day then so I can check it off my list. We did end up staying for a while at the Bryant Park rink to watch half the skaters fall down, try to get up, and fall down again.  It was all pretty hilarious.

We decided to head downtown for drinks and Caitlin and I stopped into the Union Square Holiday Market to get some snacks.  I somehow missed these two booths when I was there on Thursday, but we got garlic-parsely and olive and feta pretzels from the Sigmund Pretzelshop booth and french toast, birthday cake, and peppermint bark cannolis from the Stuffed Artisan Cannolis booth.  Sigmund Pretzelshop is located on Avenue B between 2nd and 3rd Streets and Stuffed Artisan Cannolis is on Stanton Street between Clinton & Attorney Streets and I will obviously be visiting both at some point in the future.

We finished out the visit at Stand 4 (W 12th St & University Place), one of the best burger joints in the city (no, still not better than Shake Shack).  Caitlin and I split our second marshmallow treat of the day, Stand's famous toasted marshmallow milkshake.  There really is no such thing as too many marshmallows, especially on a beautiful, brisk, winter day in NYC.

See all of the fun things there are to see / do / and, most importantly, eat when you come visit me?  Who will be next??


Friday, December 10, 2010

Shopping Malls are Inside for a Reason...

I don't have any of my Christmas shopping finished yet.  I just *don't* know what to get all the wonderful people in my life!!!  I want to shower them with turtle doves and diamond rings, but I just can't find anything I really love for them.  So today I made the awesome decision on the coldest day of the year so far (is this factual?  feels like it) to go check out the outdoor holiday markets in Union Square and Columbus Circle.  BAD MOVE!  It is way too cold outside to be checking out booths and booths of jewelry, candles, and animal-shaped winter hats (which are pretty freaking cool, let's be real here).

The Urban Space Markets crew puts on both of these markets until December 24th (which is probably when I will finish my shopping this year).  I definitely suggest visiting these, but on a warmer day.  There are tons of different vendors in each market, with some of the vendors featured in both markets.  The vendors have everything from ornaments knit out of Kazakhstan wool, plastic necklaces that hold your favorite fortune cookie fortune (fortunes not included), bags made completely of zippers, reusable hand warmers, bath goodies (all of which I am unfortunately allergic to) or tea and spices that have been sitting out in the open air without covers on them every day since November.  I really wish I could have looked for longer but my fingers were falling off and I could not afford (although I wanted) cow-shaped mittens.

The cold did not ruin my evening though as I did pick up something for my mom that I think she will really dig AND I found a Wafels & Dinges booth!  They did not have all the varieties of the truck so I was able to steer myself away without eating a bacon waffle, in favor of this lovely box of Cheese Nips next to me that I am having for dinner instead.  I did pick up their fabulous Spekuloos Spread (featured in Real Simple's gift guide) which I plan on spreading on toast and crackers and apples and anything else I can find.  It tastes like gingerbread cookies and is basically the new Nutella.

I did end up warming up a little by finding a taco booth in the Columbus Circle market that had awesome hot chocolate, which I realize is a strange thing to order from a taco booth, but I needed it pretty badly.  I didn't actually need for it to spill all over my coat, but I just don't have enough balance to type out an email with one hand on my blackberry while crossing the street,and holding my other blackberry, my camera, my one glove, and the hot chocolate in my other hand.

Okay.  It is zebra-print snuggie time.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Radio City Christmas Cheese-tacular

Two weeks ago, Emily and I indulged our inner 5-year old slash 90-year old selves and went to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall.  I thought the show was going to be more like a Broadway show, with Playbills, strict 'you will get kicked out if you have a camera' rules, and an intermission, but it had a dinky little program, was actually very casual, with cameras flashing everywhere, and was a lot shorter and wouldn't have needed an intermission.

Emily and I missed the opening number so *our* show opened up with a 3-D tour of Santa's sleigh flying around NYC which was pretty cool, even though I have been openly critical of movies with stupid 3-D gimics.  When things relate to NYC I tend to give them a little more credit.  Who knows, maybe if Katy Perry comes out with a song about New York I might stop talking about how much I despise her.  (But probably not...)

The Rockettes are VERY talented.  Going into the show, because of my aforementioned obsession with the city, I thought my favorite numbers would be those where they are dancing in and around a double-decker tour bus and traveling to Rockefeller Center, Times Square, and Central Park, singing about "New York at Christmas".  While in Central Park on stage, there is a delightful "ice-skating" routine done, presumably, on roller blades, but with all the tricks of a regular ice show.  

My *actual* favorite number was "The Parade of the Toy Soldiers", which they've probably been doing since the beginning of time.  You may have seen this in commercials or pictures, but when they line up and pretend to be hit with a cannon ball and fall down onto each other, it is really awesome.  It takes them a full minute and a half to fall all the way down.

Other routines I enjoyed were a living nativity, complete with a real-life donkey and camel (any ideas on where they stay when they are in town?) and a nutcracker routine with a young ballerina and plenty of dancers dressed in full teddy bear costumes.

This is definitely something that you wouldn't go to every year, but I'm sure I will see it again in my lifetime.  Next time I would like to go closer to Christmas.  It was a little odd to be suddenly thrown into Christmas Eve when it was still 60 degrees out.  Not that I'm complaining about the recent weather at all.  The snow can stay away for as long as it wants to.  The only reason I need it at all is because it is on my to-do list to build a snowman in Central Park.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Rockefellerin' around the Christmas Tree

Here are a few ways I would recommend to watch the Tree Lighting in Rockefeller Center:
  • Perform in the ceremony on NBC (one of these days...)
  • Camp out from 8:00 am.
  • Somehow get yourself invited to a VIP party on the ice rink so you can mingle with Real Housewives, Yankees Players, and actors from"30 Rock" (I am currently jealous of a particular friend of mine who sent me the following picture of his front-row view).

      I would not recommend taking the following steps:
      1. Leave work at 6:15.
      2. Get to 53rd and Fifth Ave at 6:45.
      3. Get trapped in crowds of people shuffling to the tree for a good half hour.
      4. Pretend you work in 30 Rock and need to get to the building to finish working (not my idea).
      5. Try to use your Rockefeller card that gets you 10% off at J.Crew as an ID to prove that you work in 30 Rock.
      6. Get questioned what streets the entrance is on that you need to get into.
      7. Answer "oh um Rock center" (again...this was not me).
      8. Get laughed at.
      9. Have the same conversation with twenty different security guards and members of NYPD.
      10. Realize you are not going to get close to the tree at all.
      11. Decide to go to TGIFridays for Potato Skins and large drinks.
      12. Notice the Potato Skins have 2070 calories and that they are trying to sell cheeseburgers for $18.29.
      13. Leave.
      14. Walk out the service stairs and almost enter the dishroom.
      15. Walk back up and down the correct stairs.
      16. Walk around in circles/crowds for another hour since half the streets are closed and you aren't allowed to cross anywhere.
      As close as I got before getting yelled at to "keep walking" by NYPD.
      I *would* recommend the following steps:
      1. Walk to 54th and 9th Ave.
      2. Go to El Centro.
      3. Order the Tropical Margarita and two entrees because you can't decide which to get.
      4. Fill up on chips and salsa.
      5. Eat a few bites of each entree.
      6. Take the rest home for lunch tomorrow (okay and for the next day).
      7. Walk home.
      8. Watch Glee.
      I still had a good time and can really visit the tree whenever I want until they take it down.  The weather ended up being nice and there was plenty of "Erin walking around time" in case there were any talent scouts hanging out looking for me.  (PS - I'm right here and ready for my reality show, please don't hesitate to contact me.)


      Tuesday, November 30, 2010

      It's Beginning to Look...

      Thank you, Time Out New York, "101 Things to do this Winter" Issue. I basically have every single day (and thus, every single blog post - how exciting) planned out until your "101 Things to do this Spring" Issue comes out.

      Tonight's event was Winter's Eve at Lincoln Square. The Winter's Eve website claims to be NYC's Largest Holiday Festival and was spread out on Broadway from 58th to 68th streets. This fair involved outdoor food booths, street performances, free offerings at stores in the area, activities for kids (make-your-own elf hats!), and a 25-foot balsam fir tree, which was lit at the beginning of the festival.

      The food booths were pretty cool and gave inexpensive samplings from some of the best restaurants in the city, A Voce (a favorite of my foodie friend, Caitlin), Landmarc (where my friend from work saw Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, and the girls one day for brunch), & Atlantic Grill, to name a few. My friend who I roped into coming with me purchased a $4 spicy tuna roll from Bar Masa, an offshoot of Masa, which he claims is the most expensive restaurant in the city, at $400 a meal. For *my* dinner, I chose a a $1 red velvet cupcake (are you really surprised) from Dizzy Club Coca Cola, which is a jazz club in Lincoln Center. I could have waited a few blocks to get Magnolia, but I did not think of this beforehand, plus their cupcakes ended up being $3.25. There was also "a sculptor, sculpting a sculpture" (quote, unquote, woman behind me).

      Most of the big stores along that stretch of Broadway had cookies, hot chocolate, and other goodies to give away while shoppers spent away. After a while we wandered into Raymour & Flanigan because we heard they were giving out free wine and cheese.  The only problem with that is when you sit down on a couch to drink your free glass(es... if we are being honest) of wine, the salespeople then swarm and think you are actually in the market for a $3000 couch. After being harassed there for a while, we left and ran into some creepy puppetry performers and decided it was probably time to call it a night.

      I'm a little nervous about tomorrow's plans which involve watching the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting. Thousands of people (and some rain) are expected. But if I can't get close enough to catch the lighting, luckily I can just walk right home instead. Wish me luck!


      Monday, November 22, 2010

      What's More American than DC & Pizza?

      I have a confession to make. This weekend I cheated on NYC with another city. I know this is shocking, but I couldn't keep it hidden. I spent the weekend in Washington D.C. with my sister and our friend Jessica who lives down there. And, listen, I loved it! Please don't hold this against me. I was still able to find a little touch of NYC in DC. Check out who I found hanging out at Eastern Market:

      Two weekends in a row?!
      We had a ridiculously long day of exploring the Library of Congress, the U.S. Capitol, and Arlington Cemetery - oh, and I need to mention scarfing down a burger and shake at Good Stuff Eatery. This burger joint was started by Top Chef contestant Spike Mendelsohn (who was there and happily handed me my water cup). It was also slightly reminiscent of Shake Shack (read: incredibly juicy and delicious) so I clearly was in heaven.  After our marathon day, we went to relax at Jessica's apartment and but what, to my delight, was on Food Network but "Pizza Wars: NY vs. Chicago"! I admit that I have never been to Chicago and that I actually fell asleep during the Chicago portion of the show, but I obviously have a lot to say about NY Pizza.

      My favs (all just a tad better than Michael Scott's favorite NY Pizza, Sbarro):
      • Lombardi's Pizza - Soho - 32 Spring Street - Lombardi's, founded in 1905, was the first pizzeria in the entire country. That is a pretty big deal. I discovered this establishment three autumns ago while on rotation here for work. Since I love it so much and since it is *so* New York, it was also the first place I shared with my parents and sister the first time they came to visit me last fall. What I really like about Lombardi's, aside from obviously the taste and the history, is its location on Spring Street, one of my favorite streets in one of my favorite areas of NY. More on Spring Street another time, but I should share now that there is a park right across the street where you can eat your take-out pizza if there is no room to eat in the restaurant (very likely on a weekend).
      • Grimaldi's Pizzeria - Brooklyn - 19 Old Fulton Street - If you ever make the (really easy and beautiful) trek over the Brooklyn Bridge, you need to go get Grimaldi's Pizza on the Brooklyn side. There are also locations in Garden City, Queens, and two in Hoboken, but you've got to try the original. Yes, when Aubrey and I went on a Sunday in March we waited in line for almost two hours, but as I've explained before, long lines for food are totally worth it!
      This is my "surprised" look.
      • Lil' Frankie's Pizza - East Village - 19 First Ave (and 1st St.) - I've been to this gem just twice and both times were well past two in the morning, but this isn't actually a drunk pizza place, it is a fabulous Italian restaurant that just so happens to be open late night. If you are lucky, you might get to sit next to a couple who has just met in person after meeting online in a Harry Potter chatroom and you can listen in on their conversation. If you are *really* lucky, they will be decked out in full wizard gear.
      Other pizzas of note (from A to Zigolini's):
      • Adrienne's Pizzabar (Financial District - 54 Stone Street) - rectangular pizza and lots of handsome investment bankers in suits. 'Nuff said.
      • Artichoke Pizza (East Village - 14th St & 2nd Ave and Chelsea - 17th St & 10th Ave) which has pizza with Spinach Artichoke dip on it!!
      • Zigolini's Pizza Bar (Hell's Kitchen - 9th Ave & 46th St) - I haven't tried this yet, but I'd like to plug my friend Amanda's family's newest restaurant.  Based on eating at their other restaurant, Zigolini's in the Financial District (66 Pearl Street), the pizza has to be awesome.
      I'm not even going to mention the place near my work that has free pizza during happy hour. I can't name it because I'm pretty sure I'm no longer allowed there after accidentally stealing four slices of pizza from a party who actually *ordered and paid for* the pizza, while I thought it was the "free for happy hour" pizza. I haven't really lived that down at work yet.


      Tuesday, November 16, 2010

      Sing Us a Song

      My friends and I have decided that the new Friday night is at Sweet Caroline's Dueling Piano Bar in Times Square (46th bt 6th & 7th Avenues). Two piano players and one drum player perform song requests from tourists (and the occasional New Yorker). The song slip tells them what you want to hear, the amount of money you give with the song slip tells them how badly you want to hear it...and if you don't like a song they are playing, you can request a new one with a higher bid. The first time Mendy and I went to Sweet Caroline's, we were apparently in the wrong crowd with the lowest payments for songs being $20. This time, people were requesting songs for $2, so we were actually able to participate (and, in some cases, dominate).

      In addition to the song costs, there is supposed to be a cover charge, but the people on the street and the website say it is $20, the people on the phone when you call say $10, and we didn't pay anything somehow. There is also a two-drink minimum but they don't seem to enforce it and the drinks are not badly priced and really strong. Like, really strong.

      Don't pay money to hear the following songs - they will obviously be requested by someone at some point in the night:
      • "Sweet Caroline"
      • "Don't Stop Believing"
      • "Summer of '69"
      • "Living on a Prayer"
      • "Sweet Child of Mine"
      • "Piano Man" or ANY Billy Joel

      My favorite moments from this past Friday night...
      • Walking into the bathroom with Nicole before the show started and being confronted with four Russian women waiting and "being good friends" while their one friend was in one stall. Coming out of the stall to see three of the women pushing the other one OVER the door of the stall where their friend was so she could open the door. Seeing their friend (who they are *such* good friends to) asleep with her head (ick) on the toilet seat.
      • Passing a request sheet to the piano players during someone's (stupid) request of "Wake Me Up When September Ends" with a note saying "Wake me up when *this song* ends..."
      • Earning a free shot for being the loudest "Whoa oh oh"-er during "Sweet Caroline". (BTdubs, earned a free shot last time for this too. Don't worry 'bout it.)
      • Interrupting a group from Boston's song request of "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" with a higher bid for "Empire State of Mind" just to show them which city was cooler.
      • Mendy waiting about an hour to hear his request of "Crazy Beeyotch" (yes, I just censored my blog) and having them play the song ten seconds after he leaves to go to the bathroom and finishing before he comes back.
      • Their interpretation of "Back that Azz Up"...
      • Paying $4 to hear "Whip my Hair", the piano players not knowing it, acting like they didn't know how to play Justin Beiber, and eventually settling on Miley Cyrus's "Party in the USA". They begged the whole time for people to outbid Nicole and me to play a different song, but everyone loved it a little too much. Either that or they actually believed me when I was asked how much I paid for it and I yelled "$4...$17...$17,000!" which no one could outbid.
      • Walking out to Times Square after the show and deciding to take a horse and buggy back to our apartment instead of a cab, because "why the heck not?" Hearing the driver say it was $17. Learning that he said $70, not $17.  Taking a cab home...
      Mendy inquiring about this "luxury"

      Monday, November 15, 2010

      Comin' to America

      One of the top things on my NYC To-Do list (not to be confused with my Holiday To-Do List in NYC for 2010, my 26 things to do before I turn 26 list, or my rappers I'd like to face in a freestyle battle list) was to do an Ellis Island / Statue of Liberty trip which I finally got to do on this absolutely gorgeous Sunday! I know most people probably did this on school trips when they were in elementary school, but I grew up just two hours too far from the city for that. My sister tells me that I actually have been to Lady Lib but I just don't believe her as I have no recollection of this NYC trip.

      Clearly this isn't me...
      I really wanted to go to Ellis Island with family members so I ended up making the trip with my frousins (friends + cousins - don't worry about it, yes, again, we know how cool we are) and my frister (you can figure that one out). Katie, Emily, Mike and I met in Liberty State Park in Jersey City this morning, all miraculously within a few minutes of each other. We bought ferry tickets ($12 - two bucks more than our great-grandfather carried over from Ireland), went through airport-like security (no backpacks or large bags!), and headed over to Ellis Island first.

      There are three levels to the Ellis Island memorial and lots of cool exhibits. In "The Peopling of America", there are displays about the history of immigration and statistics sliced any way you can imagine - immigrants by originating countries, gender, job held, favorite member of 'N Sync, etc. There is also an interesting piece with faces if you look at it one way and the American flag if you look at it the other way.

      HOW can I get my face on this flag?!
      "Peak Immigration Years" has photos, passports, propaganda to come to America, photos of the ships that came over, reasons why immigrants wanted to leave their homelands, and information about where they settled once they made it here. It also focuses on the impact that immigration has had on American culture.


      "Through America's Gate" shows what the immigrants had to go through during processing after landing on Ellis Island. In addition to the exhibits inside, there is, of course, a gift shop and cafeteria (I highly recommend the Jr Ranger Chicken Finger meal) and the "Wall of Honor" outside where donors pay to have their ancestors names inscribed. Luckily, someone else in the family had done this for our great-grandfather Philip so we got to check out his celebrity status fo' free. Once we finished everything on the island, we unsuccessfully tried to deter a seagull from eating a large piece of plastic, jumped in front of the memorial, and headed back on the ferry.

      We ventured over to the Statue of Liberty with the goal of climbing up, but they stop letting people up at 3:30, "no exceptions" even though some lady was furiously yelling at one of the park rangers, so we settled for some more "jumping in front of national monuments" instead and then took the ferry back while the sun was setting. I can't pick from these pictures which I like best so please enjoy the brief but beautiful montage.

      I'm supposed to give Emily credit for this photo...

      This trip was definitely one of my favorite tourist experiences in NYC so far because it was so meaningful, being at the place where my ancestors came in over 100 years ago.  I'm pretty glad they came over so I could enjoy this fabulous city today.  I'm sure this was their end goal.


      Saturday, November 13, 2010

      99 Problems, But a Snitch Ain't One

      It's pretty obvious that one of the best things about living in NYC is that there is always something to do. It's not as obvious that one of these things to do would be to watch the International Quidditch World Cup. If you aren't familiar with Quidditch, we probably aren't very good friends. It is the game featured in Harry Potter, and while I don't have a Gryffindor scarf (Emily), I did spend a good amount of time at my cousin Claire's wedding right after the last book was released acting out spells with some of my other cousins. Yes, we are really cool and we are fully aware of this. I also have been frantically re-reading all seven books and re-watching all six movies in anticipation of HP and the Deathly Hallows (which Emily and I might go see after our Rockettes experience on Thursday).

      At colleges around the country, students have been forming their very own Quidditch teams to reenact this magical game played at Hogwarts in each book and movie. Considering it is a game played on flying broomsticks and involves magic, the rules have been well-adapted for Muggles (humans). Players must pretend that they are riding a broomstick the entire time they are playing, which means that they really are only playing with one hand. There are three goalposts on each end of the field, hoops on stands. There are four balls, two quaffles - to shoot through the goalposts for scoring - and two bludgers - if a player gets hit with a bludger, he or she has to run back to his or her team's goalpost before doing anything else. In addition to the points for throwing quaffles through the goalposts, there are points given to whoever is able to catch the "Golden Snitch". In the Wizard World, the Snitch is a ball with wings that whizzes around the field at unimaginable speeds. In the Muggle World, the Snitch is another college student, running around in yellow clothing. You can imagine the amusement this brings...

      Emily, Mike, and Kara came in to the city to check this event out. Luckily it was only a few blocks from my apartment so I had no qualms about joining (although if this had been held in Brooklyn or Ohio, I might have gone anyway, because it was THAT cool.) Oh, and don't worry, there was a stand where you could get t-shirts, brochures, official rule books, and your own broomsticks and wands. It was pretty much the best possible way to spend a 60 degree Saturday in the city. And it's not every day that Quidditch is played in NYC, so if you can make it to De Witt Clinton Park (between 11th and 12th Avenues & 52nd and 54th Streets) tomorrow for the finals, you probably should. If for nothing else but to laugh. The commentators are *almost* as good as Lee Jordan.

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