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.)

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