Friday, September 12, 2014

Once the Musical

Holli and I went to see Once.  I loved the movie and being an folk musician with a focus in Irish traditional music, we decided this would be the one to see.  The show starts with a very casual "session" feel.  Members of the audience can wander up if they like.  Members of the cast played tunes in a circle, therefore, some of them had their backs to the audience.  While I could certainly tell that some of the musicians were not well versed in Irish style, they were good and I did appreciate the shout out to the way a session works - music for the sake of music, not necessarily for the sake of the audience.
I love the storyline because it is not your typical boy meets girl, boy or girl conquers the other, and they live happily ever after.  In this story, girl meets boy.  There is certainly love, but even greater than love is their respect.  In the end, love and music has mattered more than happy endings which makes for the greatest love, that love which includes respect.
In this production, Broadway does have a presence, as it should.  There is choreography and a bit of over-dramatization, and some tongue-in-cheek accent usage.  The choreographed numbers added what you expect to pay to see on Broadway.  The biggest negative I have is the accents.  Surely, in the big city of New York, there are Irish persons an actor can listen to and hire for coaching.  The greatest positive was the addition of some of the characters adding a bit of breadth to the overall scene that the main story is woven rather than the way the story is portrayed in the movie.  You can only know of what I speak if you see the show and the movie.
Overall, I loved it.  I enjoyed seeing a live performance, a live Broadway production cast with people who have made their way through the masses to perform this show.  It was a treat.
One badly shot photo to prove I was there!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Holli took me on a subway.  I don't know how long it would take me to get used to the many different routes that go here and there.  232 MILES worth of travel.  The first underground sections were put into use in 1904.  Those numbers blow my mind.  Every time we turned a corner or I thought about how old the tunnel was, just wow.
Felt a bit like a gopher in a series of tunnels.
The Staten Island Ferry is a staple for resident commuters and tourists. Even though we were there on a pretty gloomy day, these photos explain the appeal.  You can't see NYC without seeing the Statue of Liberty or the city sky line.

Just one more thing.  After exiting the ferry, I walked from there all the way up to Columbus circle.  Go ahead, look that up.  It took me hours and I walked / hiked fast.  I love city hiking.  Everywhere you look there is something interesting to see.  NYC did not disappoint.

I don't even remember what door frame this was...

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The Cloisters

Yesterday, I woke up to my first morning in NYC.  I slept amazingly well.  Holli's flat is on the first floor on the street side.  There was some noise but none that was too startling.  There is a huge streetlamp which kept the room fairly well lit, but that also did not seem to bother me.  Maybe it was my bed buddy that kept me peaceful and safe:
Jack-Dawg smiles just like I do in the morning!
Alan and I met for brunch at a sweet cafe with outdoor seating behind the restaurant.  If you didn't know that seating was there, you would never find it.  We walked down a narrow hall past the kitchen and out onto a lovely patio.  Alan ate a normal person brunch.  I ate pasta.
By foot, we went to the cloisters which wasn't very far by bird standards, but by creatures-with-feet standards, we had to hike up a monster "hill."  The trees and hills were an unexpected site for this city with a reputation for concrete.  The cloisters at the top of the hill is a Medieval tourist's dream.  Every other item caused me to say "wow."  Alan probably thought I had some sort of low vocabulary tourette syndrome.  It was truly amazing.
Ah!  So THAT's how you play that thing.
Sing it!
Of course, I looked for the music things. I took about a million photos.  At the end, there was a small coffee shop where we sat down with a couple who were in town for the birth of their granddaughter.  They had to get out of the house and chose this fantastic destination.  If I make it back to NYC, I will visit the Cloisters again.

Monday, September 08, 2014

New York City

I have never been to New York City.  I drove through NYC once to get up to Connecticut, but I did not stop except for the toll booths. This year, I was determined to go to the big city.  I have turned down the opportunity for many years.  I have friends who live there who know their way around, but I just could not bring myself to navigate driving into a city with such an insane reputation.  This year I was driving a Smart car.  This is both fantastic and a bit scary.  I can fit into traffic and park much easier than in anything larger, however, if I misjudge and get hit, the damage will be complete.
I made a plan.  I would drive into town on Sunday evening when traffic would be a little calmer.  This turned out to be good.  It was, in fact, calmer, but that did not solve all the problems. I had my phone GPS set to Holli's house.  I drove up the interstate from Maryland.  Then the interstate began peeling off.  I did not know what exit I would be needing or how long the "local" lanes would go.  I gave up trying to have the perfect drive and went with letting the GPS re-route me if it had to.  As I expected, I missed my exit as I was in the through lanes at the time.  The GPS re-routed me and I just kept following directions the best I could.  I did finally, magically arrive at Holli's street.  The street was busy but obviously calmer that it would be at 8AM.  There was no where to park. Many vehicles were double parked with hazards flashing.  I called Holli and she made a few suggestions, but there were no parking places to be found.  She called our friend Alan who lives about 6 blocks away.  He looked outside and saw several spots directly across the street.  I drove over there and parked.  There were openings because cars were not allowed to park there in the morning.  Alan took my keys so that he could move my car in the morning when other places would be open as people went to work.  I walked the six blocks to Holli's and breathed a huge sigh of relief.  The rest of my week would be on foot or public transportation.  I made it!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Ted's Bulletin

Oh, Key Lime Pie Adult Milkshake....
When I travel, I am very interested in local flavors.  Ted's Bulletin was an absolute treat.  Our waiter was a delight, one of those that I wish I remembered his name.  First on my agenda was an adult milkshake.  I chose Key Lime Pie which had rum in it and was absolutely amazing.  Second on the agenda was a beer cheese dip served with soft pretzel sticks.  I was not shy with the cheese, but I still ran out of pretzel.  The waiter said it was a new item so he begged a few more pretzel sticks for me.  Lastly, I took home some of their famous homemade poptarts.  I got blueberry cheesecake and it was quite a nice breakfast treat the next morning.  I would definitely return although something tells me this place could get packed at busy times.  Good thing I kind of like 4:00 meals.
Poptarts for later consumption.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

The Library of Congress

My friend Kelli got me hooked on tours of the Library of Congress.  This building is just spectacular.  There is something to look at and notice in absolutely every inch of wall, ceiling, and floor...  and that doesn't even include the books!

Tours are free and tour guides collect their tourists at a specific starting point.  Find the help desk, sit through a short video and take a tour.  The reason I like to go every year is that each guide has different knowledge, expertise and focus.  They all love this place and most of them have a sense of humor and really enjoy pointing out the details.

EVERY inch of this place is amazing.
I have no explanation for this turtle spitting at a naked woman riding horses...