Monday, January 31, 2011

The King's Speech

I finally joined the rest of the country this weekend, and saw "The King's Speech" - a flick which, I must say, I very much enjoyed. Granted, I'm a sucker for English accents, love visits to London, and am a general Anglophile, but all that said this was a truly enjoyable movie. Having ever-endearing Colin Firth in the cast was a bonus, watching the ever-talented Geoffrey Rush was as mesmerizing as ever, and seeing Helena Bonham Carter play so loving and dedicated of a wife just made for a terrific afternoon spent ensconced away from the cold and damp outside. If you haven't seen it yet, I definitely recommend you do so. Happy Monday!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Snow Day!

No I didn't really get a snow day. Come on people, this is New York City. My office didn't close for an actual blizzard, you think they're going to close for a few measly inches of snow? Rather, I took yesterday off from work in order to play host to a friend visiting from San Francisco, and what fun we had!
 Wednesday night we watched the snow fall in ever-increasing amounts, it really was incredible and I was so happy that I didn't have to get into bed at a reasonable hour, and instead could just watch the snow fall, fall, fall. Thursday we roused ourselves and went for pork soup dumplings and a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge - made significantly more exhaustive by the inches of snow packed all across the bridge. All said, 19 inches of snowfall (if that is the accurate amount...hard to tell, really) is nothing to scoff at, but it was fun to wander through for a time. And now, Happy Friday, and may everyone have a cozy, dry weekend!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Dead Poet

I'm embarrassed to admit that I've never seen "The Dead Poet's Society" - I feel like I always intended to watch it, but I'm very unreliable when it comes to flicks and generally unless I'm spontaneously seized by a decision to rent or go to a movie, I'm not going to actually tick any "must-sees" off a list. However, last night I experienced (for the second time, it turns out) the wonders of a bar by the name of The Dead Poet on the Upper West Side.
I met up with some newbie-friends - this city is just full of people eager to get to know each other, so long as you're willing to go the distance, get up off the couch, and into the snowy nights - at this bar, and loved it. Or, I should say, loved it even more after recognizing that I'd been there once before. This bar is a lovely excuse to head up to the UWS - with quotes by poets lining the walls, televisions for those who are sports-inclined and an amazing selection of beers, this is a fun bar with a casual vibe that I will be happy to return to!
 {Photos via Yelp}

The Dead Poet is located at 450 Amsterdam, New York, NY 10024

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

71 Irving Place

When I told a friend of mine about my New York move, she mentioned her love of finding a New York coffee shop in which to squirrel away for hours, reading. Personally, I'm not much for this - I am well aware that patrons who take up a table and chair for hours while purchasing only a cup of tea, can very easily be the death of an independent coffee shop. Add to this the fact that I cannot spend $50 for an afternoon of reading and drinking coffee, and I assumed I would never follow in her footsteps. Or so I thought.
All that nay-saying changed last night when a friend and I popped in to 71 Irving Street for a hot beverage and sweet treat. I instantly swooned, this space is so charismatic and inviting - perhaps not moreso than on a particularly frigid winters night - and the hot cider and carrot cake we got were delicious (although the hot cider was much closer to tepid warmth...I can only hope it's because we arrived a mere hour prior to closing?) Even better? This is an independent coffee shop. Hallelujah!
 The space was pretty packed, and I can definitely see myself returning, book in hand, to happily spend some hard earned money and some well-earned time off to enjoy a cozy afternoon in this space. New York, with each of these little stumbled-upon-treasures, you just keep making fall deeper and deeper in love.
{Read about the space, and all photos credited, here}

Monday, January 24, 2011

Magic Tee-eeth!

Yes, that title was a play off "Magic Foot" from "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." Anybody out there get it?

Anyway, I have found my New York dentist, and the office was a hoot. Straight out of the 60's, the utilitarian chic of every dentist's office all across America was punctuated with clear acrylic tables, and round "futuristic" gray pleather couches and chairs in the waiting room. Sort of shabbily psychaedelic - or at least I could see how at one time it would have been quite in line with the aesthetic of the patients streaming through the doors. Yet, it was a little stack of pamphlets that truly caught my attention.
It would seem my dentist fancies himself a magician. Enough so that, when his practice opened up, he surely wanted to present to the children of Manhattan, the amazing, magical ways one could care for their teeth, and as an added bonus, I wonder if these same children, beaming with whiter smiles and healthier gums upon leaving their appointment, were handed these pamphlets as a means to show off to their friends at school the next day. Truly, these pamphlets tickled me pink, and I just had to take one.

My apologies that these pictures are rotating themselves incorrectly...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Oh New York

I've decided I don't want to keep anything from you guys: New York and I had a little tiff this weekend. Basically, I hit a point where I could no longer handle the cold and The City refused to warm up for me. I lamented that if I were still in California, I could be lying out on a beach, soaking up imperative Vitamin D and delicious warmth rather than the frigid temperatures presented to me here. The City simply shrugged its shoulders and continued to shine weak winter sun, and send cold breezes whipping down the Avenues. The weather wasn't it's fault, that's just the way things were at the moment. It would change, things would warm, eventually. I had to give it time. I still refused to be cooperative and The City and I (with whom I have been nearly inseparable for a full 5 months) did not see each other for almost a full 24 hours. Finally, at 5 pm I was coaxed outside by the invitation of a friend, and The City was there, waiting for me patiently as ever. It refreshed my heater-flushed face with a cold wind, pinked my cheeks by the same, provided all levels of human neighbor on the subway, and presented a convenient bodega from which to purchase chocolate chip cookies to bake with friends. And I admitted my annoyances, and The City brushed aside my disgruntled morning and kept me company as I walked home that night. And now, we're good again. Today, because I am a lucky, lucky girl, The City decided to give a little snow again last night, and walking in to work this morning, I saw a lovely cluster of balloons snagged in the bare branches of a newly snow-covered tree. The City always gives the best gifts.
PS - Sorry Mom and Dad, I know the thought of helium-filled balloons slated to drift into the atmosphere and further destroy our already-quickly-weakening environment, is infuriating. I too am torn between my own irritation with the carelessness of things like non-biodegradable balloons, and the fact that I really did find the sight very pretty. I guess, if they're already up there, already set to do what harm they can, then at least I can see something more positive than only the disheartening side of the situation? It's a rather tricky struggle...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mike the Knife Guy

I had seen this truck once before, whilst passing through Brooklyn with a friend of mine, but when I saw it again this past weekend after taking in the Norman Rockwell exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, I became newly enthralled. It just seems so quaint to have a knife-sharpening truck, should it not consistently be followed by the milkman and the ice truck?

Thankfully, as is ever the case in the world of blogs, the back story of the Knife Truck can be found, thanks to Hither and Tither. A family business of sorts, Mike's son took over the route and has driven through Brooklyn for 50 years, clanging his bell and sharpening the knives and scissors of chefs and barbers who come running for his services. Fabulous, no?

These are the little things about New York that I'm slowly beginning to see as I settle more and more into the realization that I do indeed live here. And I just love it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Oh Natalie

I finally saw "Black Swan" last night, and while I don't know if it is an Oscar-worthy film (no judgements of me here! This is a Safe Space for me, people! See how that works? I just decide things in the best interest of myself. You're welcome.) I did very much enjoy it. I love a little homo-eroticism as much as the next Literature major with a strong interest in film studies, but I do agree with a few criticisms I heard regarding character arc (or a lack thereof...)

Still, the film made me remember just how much I love Natalie Portman, even with her sometimes off-putting little-girl-mumbling way of speaking. I am just enthralled by her finely boned face and her figure, even more petite in this film than ever before. I find Natalie Portman to be a very pretty girl, highlighted most, perhaps, by her delicacy and frailty in both speaking and physicality. This film, obviously, only served to emphasize these viewpoints, but the girl is definitely prettily dainty.
Oh, sorry, were you confused about the strange diatribe on my love-hate relationship for sometimes-girl-crush Natalie Portman? Yeah, it just came on, stream-of-consciousness-style after I saw this post on TheShortandTheSweetofit. And you thought that was strange and out-of-the-blue? Let's not even get me started on her surprise pregnancy thing...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Happy Tuesday!

I hope everyone enjoyed a day off yesterday and took some time to think of the man behind the holiday. I did get my museum excursion this weekend, and thoroughly enjoyed it prior to waking up this morning to "freezing rain" and an entirely new understanding of the ways in which winter can be cold in the northeast. Regardless, the Norman Rockwell exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum proved endlessly interesting to me. I went with a friend who preferred to chat through it, I'm coming to the conclusion that I prefer to do museums solo so I can meander through at my own pace. The things we learn. Still, I would recommend popping over to Brooklyn to check out this exhibit while you can, I found it visually satisfying and pretty interesting to boot!

Side note, on this cold - it's ridiculously awful when it's cold and wet. When I walked outside it looked like a light dusting of snow had settled over everything, but it was all a facade. Slushy, icy, mush was all that awaited me, leaving me with wet feet and soon-to-be-salted pant hems. The rain that came from the sky was not rain, was not soft enough to be snow, though thankfully was also not hard enough to be hail. I literaly was dealing with slush raining from the sky and plopping itself onto the ground for my morning commute. rather unpleasant. Ah well. While I warm my feet, you all have a wonderful Tuesday and stay dry!

Friday, January 14, 2011


Well friends, we've made it to Friday. Of a long weekend, no less. I have no set plans this weekend but am rather hoping to pop into a museum for the day, just because I haven't done it in so long and doesn't that sound like a perfect way to spend a cold winter afternoon? I thought you'd agree.
Regardless, I hope you all have a truly fabulous long weekend, and Happy Martin Luther King  Jr. Day to all! And yes, this really is it for today's post. I'm spent. Apologies for my dullness.

photo via

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"John Gabriel Borkman" at BAM

Last evening, I saw a Henrik Ibsen play. "John Gabriel Borkman" to be precise, playing at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). Ireland's Abbey Theater produced the show and the story was brought to life in a new version written by Frank McGuinness. Starring Fiona Shaw, Alan Rickman, and Lindsay Duncan, and boasting James Macdonald's direction, the life of the arrogant power-hungry bank manager and the people inexorably intertwined within his life was showcased wonderfully.
Playing surprising lines to humorous bent, McGuinness' dialogue, coupled with Macdonald's direction brought a refreshing amount of lightness to what could be a very heavy show. Yet the ridiculousness of the characters within the story was showcased blithely with deft pauses and superb emoting, rather than by cheeking side-glances to the audience.

Nuanced, as such, performances by Rickman, Shaw, and Duncan made for an incredible night out, especeiallly when coupled with Tom Pye's minimalist set design and Jean Kalman's stark lighting. Both aspects of the staging brought an isolation and frigid air, perfectly cushioning the self-involved means of the characters parading across the stage. There seemed to be some reverberation of lines, but surely this was no fault of Ian Dickinson's sound as the music weeping softly in the background of this production was a fitting addition. Joan Bergin's costumes, as well, were elegant in the traditional garb for the era, their dark, brooding colors highlighting the social dire straits in which the Borkman name languished.

"John Gabriel Borkman" plays at the Brooklyn Academy of Music through Feb 6, 2011. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30pm, as well as Saturday at 2pm and Sunday at 3pm

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Let it Snow!

I am still thrilled to pieces about this snow. Everyone I know who hails from the East Coast is grumbling and moaning about every inch that falls - presumably because they foresee the impending gray slush and ice - but I am still wide-eyed with wonder at how lovely it all is. We had another "storm" last night, and this time I was lucky enough to spend a few minutes watching flakes fly before I fell asleep. Then this morning, I woke up to the prettiest commute I've had yet. Enjoy these few snapshots while I eat my warm oatmeal with flax seeds and sugar (Hi, yes, still a little bit hippie) and muse the fact that my snowshoes have become far too worn out now that they must actually be used for their intended purpose...I may have to shell out as I'm not sure how effective galoshes with wool socks will be...though I did see a slew of this very solution on my walk in to work... Regardless, still a perfect start to a cozy day!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Scintillating Scents

I never was much of a perfume girl. (Admittance: I'm pretty sure I did douse myself in various Bath & Body Works vanilla-strawberry-cotton-candy-pomegranate-caramel flavors throughout all of middle school) I didn't purchase my first true perfume until well into my college years but after that first buy, I went a little mad. My favorite ever former-boss purchased me my first bottle as a gift - Marc by Marc Jacob's. Then I went on a  binge and bought myself Dior's Miss Dior Cherie, and Gucci's Gucci II. I know. But I imagined myself spritzing on one of my three perfumes everysingleday, changing between them depending on my mood - Marc Jacobs for day-to-day, Dior for romantic, uber-feminine days, and Gucci for a night out.
HA!  I still have all three of those bottles, and am only close to finishing off one.

{Marc by Marc Jacobs}
{Gucci II by Gucci}

However, while on a pre-move trip to Manhattan, I purchased a bottle of Betsey Johnson's Betsey Johnson body lotion; and instantly fell in love. Well, I put some on this morning, and now every time I make a quick movement (it's me, I'm sort of flaily) and catch a whiff, it makes me so happy. So I really just posted all this to let you know that I'm being incredibly, positively affected by a scent I put on this morning. It really is the little things that can make all the difference in enjoying every day.
{Betsy Johnson Body Lotion by Betsy Johnson}

Monday, January 10, 2011

Web Wonders

On this chilly Monday morning, I have a craving for some pretty things from around the web. Enjoy and good luck kicking the week off right!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Snowy Friday!

Due to the fact that I am a SoCal girl born and raised,  the concept of walking to work through the snow still delights me (first time of actually doing it was today - and 'twas fabulous!). I simply had to post these comparison pictures between my "normal" view from the windows on my floor to just how snowy it is outside right now.
{standard view}
{current view}
And this is just from very light snow. Can you imagine how incredible it must have looked during the blizzard?!


In the ups and downs of dating, it can be really easy to get either A.) jaded or B.) timid. But you have to do what you can to keep a clear head, be honest with yourself and others throughout the dating process, and risk giving or receiving some hurt, which undoubtedly is the hardest part. But C.S. Lewis said it best, as writers so often do.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable.
Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.
If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

c.s. lewis
And please, no alarm regarding this post - I am not in the throes of healing from a failed crush - I just thought the quote was a very good thing to remember. Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

"Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson"

All right, the promised third in my series, and yet another show that has already closed. But I really loved it, so I have to give my feedback anyway. Maybe one day it will tour.
Without a doubt, this show deserves all the accolades it received. This cast, led by Benjamin Walker in the lead role, worked wonderfully as an ensemble to tell the story of Andrew Jackson's life from his upbringing to his role as President of the United States of America, and all the bloodshed and genocidal tendencies that he held throughout his life. Cleverly stating an opinion without throwing it in the face of the audience, Alex Timbers' writing and direction - along with Walker's portrayal - created a man struggling through life and with what he held to be right.Michael Friedman's music and lyrics were catchy and toe-tapping, bringing palpable righteousness to life with a full-blooded rock sound. I will surely be purchasing this show's soundtrack.
The simple entrance into the theater was enough to take your breath away, Donyale Werle's set design extending all the way through the theater. Strings of red lights, antlers and animal carcasses hanging from the rafters provided the frontier ambiance familiar to our lead character, while Justin Townsend's lighting - from before the show began and continuing throughout - colored the bloodthirsty view of one Andrew Jackson. Emily Rebholz's costume design furthered the ferocity with which this show brought sexuality to the world of politics, using a sort of frontier-chic in leather, short skirts and tight bodices to draw out not only physicality but also the determined youth of this angst.
Yes, I'm wholly sorry that this show has already closed, because I assure you it was a tremendous night of theater. The musicians/actors who made up this cast truly took my breath away and I left humming tunes I presumably never would have heard otherwise. May musical theater continue to be created in so refreshing a way for a long time to come.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ah, Love

No, I'm not in love. Except with my new life in New York City! (Like how I did that?) Really, I would just like to take a quick minute today to say that it is my cousin who is so in love, and he is so much in love, in fact, that he has become engaged to his long-time girlfriend! And this is exciting not only because he is the first of these cousins to take the plunge, but because we really like her. So the whole family pretty much feels like this for the two of them. (Except for the play part. In spite of how I turned out, a performance family mine is not.)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"Next To Normal"

Don't look surprised to see two of these in a row, I warned you yesterday. Added to the fact that I essentially wandered into this show horribly ignorant of how long it's been playing and the accolades it's achieved, and you can only imagine how blown away I was by this incredible musical.

Telling the story of a family's struggle to contend with a mother's bipolar disorder, coupled with paranoia, and any myriad of her additional personal demons, "Next To Normal" won a handful of Tony Awards in 2009, including one for Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theater. In addition, this musical won  the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. I know, what'd I tell ya?
The cast is this show is nothing short of breathtaking. yes, I'm seeing it at the end of its run and yet most theater goers in New York and in Los Angeles - where the show plays simultaneously - already know everything that I am saying. But, truly, I was thrilled with these actors. Marin Mazzie's portrayal of "Diana", the mother/wife trying to hold together her family and her life, is absolutely stunning, as was Jason Danieley's portrayal of father/husband "Dan". The children of this family, portrayed by Meghann Fahy and Kyle Dean Massey were equally exquisite. All possessed voices for days, and brought their characters to life with seeming ease and understanding.
Granted, these singing chops could have easily fallen flat had it not been for music and scoring by Tom Kitt. This is a moving and electric soundtrack - contemporary without a doubt, and requiring of actors whose singign abilities are as strong as their acting chops. Brian Yorkey's story and lyrics weave together an emotionally-wrought and heartbreaking story that is set to beautifully to such music.With a clever three-tiered design created by Mark Wendland, an occasional rock sentiment created by Kevin Adams' lights, it took a director as talented and experienced by Michael Grief to bring this show to life, but surely he could not have done so without such an incredible team.

For once I am posting a review while there's still a little time to see the actual show, so get down to the Booth Theater at 222 W 45th Street, and check it out for yourself! I got an SRO ticket for only $26.50, and the show was so mesmerizing that standing was a non-issue, I assure you.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Promises, Promises

Apologies for abandoning you all on Friday. I had just seen the thoroughly enjoyable "Promises, Promises" the night before so I certainly had something to post on, but alas, I simply refused to do any work. Instead, I laid around in my room, enjoying the sunshine and a new Weepies CD, until I left to start my New Years Eve festivities. A tremendously relaxing way to prepare for the New Year. And now, onto the show at hand!
"Promises, Promises" may not be known to some of you, but it is where Burt Bacharach favorites like "I Say A Little Prayer" and "I'll Never Fall In Love Again" originated, and the songs stood up to the test of time in this musical revival. I won't lie to you and say that I would have seen this show even without the superstar cast, but let it be known that they did not disappoint.

While Kristen Chenoweth's turn as "Fran Kubelik" is, unfortunately, one I was unable to see, Sean Hayes' "Chuck Baxter" was tremendously entertaining. Hayes' singing voice stronger than anticipated and his physical comedy skills - called to action most prominently in his role of "Jack" in TV's long-running "Will & Grace" - were excellently captured in this role. I was also lucky enough to catch Molly Shannon's turn as "Marge MacDougall" which did not disappoint. Dick Latessa's "Dr. Dreyfuss" was truly delight to behold in all his scenes, and Tony Goldwyn brought "J.D. Sheldrake" to life with a lovely voice and smarmy charm. There truly was no weakness in this cast, and all should be proud to have been a part of such a show.
Creating the stage on which these actors shined, Scott Pasks' set design was excellent. A delightful combination of "The Flintstones" with every 60's game show imaginable, the backdrops and furniture were simple but perfectly created the necessary locales. Couple these physical sets with Bruce Pasks' costumes and this show easily took the audience back to 1960's New York.

I am sorry that the show has now closed - these little reviews of mine seem to come at the very worst times! And they will continue to do so, as I rang 2011 in by treating myself to 2 shows this weekend. Sorry, I can't see a show and not share my glee with someone. Now that my theater buddies have been left across the country, you guys are it.