Great trip to NYC, as always!
We were greeted by balmy 60-degree weather and plenty of leaves still on the trees in Central Park at the beginning of our visit. By trip’s end, those leaves had withered and blew in wind-whipped eddies high in the air while we clutched at our coats and hung on to our hats. Old Man Winter is on the way.
Weather or not, the time just melts away when we’re in the city. We enjoyed visiting with family and with friends and saw a few sights. Here are some of the highlights:
Out and About in the City
I finally discovered Bryant Park (40th to 42nd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue) and its charming Winter Village. A warren of various merchants and food purveyors surrounds the park’s ice-skating rink and the New York Public Library is right next door. We enjoyed lunch at the Bryant Park Grill.
We loved the children’s book exhibit at the New York Public Library. “The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter” runs through March, 2014 and is just as much fun for adults as for kids.
We found another treasure trove of shopping treasures at Grand Central Terminal’s Centennial Holiday Fair. Lovely things to be discovered there whether you’re coming or going…
We spent a lovely afternoon at the Met with Angie where we saw an exhibit featuring Venetian glass and enjoyed visiting the American Wing.
I stopped by the Morgan Library one afternoon to peek at the Edgar Allan Poe exhibit there.
If you visit, don’t miss the small but instructive “Bookermania” exhibit, celebrating forty-five years of the Man Booker Prize.
I read Amor Towles fine New York-centric Rules of Civility while we were in the city. The author mentions St. Patrick Cathedral’s resident Pieta, which, for all the times I’d visited the Cathedral, I had never noticed. Lots of scaffolding in St. Pat’s right now, but still worth stopping by to see this beautiful sculpture:
Fifth Avenue had begun to dress up for Christmas while we were there. I loved the whimsical second-story panther at Cartier:
Fun with Friends
I cherish meeting up with friends in the city. This trip, I enjoyed celebrating Teri’s belated birthday, meeting Lori for lunch, visiting with Sunday, Josh and Marlowe of B&B Rare Books and having a meet-up with our far-flung friends Chet and Sherrill Kammerer.
And, of course, family!
So great to see all our dear ones in the city:
It made national news when the meteorologists wrung their hands and claimed that wind and weather would imperil the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Instead, the day dawned sunny and bright (although COLD!) and as nice a day as we’ve ever had for the event. One of our favorite parades ever!
On our last day in the city, we took the family and our friend, Chadd, to see The New York City Ballet’s magical performance of The Nutcracker. What a great note on which to end our visit!
Every trip to NYC is the best one ever. Can’t wait to return in 2014.
P.S. See how the dogs suffered while we were away?
There are so many “best things” about being in New York City. Among them is that we are across the street from Lincoln Center and an easy walk to the Theatre District. We have an entire drawer filled with Playbills and ticket stubs from the past four years.
We’ve seen some great performances and some terrible ones. It’s so easy to get misled into a ruinous two hours in a ratty, uncomfortable seat (first-time visitors are often surprised by how run-down many of the Broadway theaters can be). One of our worst memories was from a one-two punch several years back when we were visiting the city over Thanksgiving. We made two mistakes: 1) not getting tickets well ahead of a busy holiday and 2) trusting the hotel concierge to give us a good steer. No one in our family will ever forget the horror that was The Drowsy Chaperone
After the Chaperone debacle (the best performance in that play was our dear Angie trying to cut out during the second half of the play by claiming her contacts were “killing” her…) I started doing my own research on what to see. I’ve picked some winners (the incandescent and wholly unexpected Arcadia and the crowd-pleasing Once) and regrettably, some losers. Who would think Edie Falco and Ben Stiller could be a losing combo? And yet, there was Edie on the stage floor barking like the dog that John Guare revival was.
The Hollywood-Broadway crossover can cut either way. You can end up wondering how Stiller and Falco ever consented to that mess or you can be completely transported by a little-touted off-Broadway wonder like Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire, Revolutionary Road) in Mistakes Were Made.
There are a number of big-name driven vehicles on Broadway right now, playing to varying fates. Everyone knows Macbeth is doomed, but Ethan Hawke’s turn has been cursed in the worst possible ways: unflattering reviews and – insult to injury – the lights literally went out on the play a few nights ago.
We luckily dodged that bullet as well as the ill-fated Romeo and Juliet headlined by Orlando Bloom, which is going to close several weeks ahead of schedule.
Instead, we bought tickets to Commons of Pensacola which is playing at Manhattan Theatre Club at New York City Center. This means that it’s in the basement, but it is a new and very well-appointed venue. The play is written by actress Amanda Peet and headlined by Blythe Danner and an incredibly svelte Sarah Jessica Parker.
You would never know whether to see it from the reviews. The New York Times loved it and The New York Post hated it. We – for possibly the first time in history – sided with the NYT. Could have done without the flatulence jokes but thought the storyline – following the fortunes of a fallen family whose last name might have been Madoff – was engaging. Among the things in this world that are not fair are 1) how can Amanda Peet be so beautiful and act and write? Also, you would be wrong to dismiss Sarah Jessica Parker based on those awful Sex and the City films. She is canny and affecting in this production. Although it would be worth going just to see her snake around the stage in her green dress.
There are more high-flying celebs and poor reviews over at the Barrymore Theatre on 47th Street where a revival of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal stars husband-wife duo Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz. The New York Times savaged the production, calling it “crude and clunky” and even sniped at it while lavishing praise on the favored pair-up of Pinter’s No Man’s Land and Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. It would seem that the Betrayal camp has run afoul of Ben Brantley and his ilk because when I saw it with a friend the other night, our impression was that it is better than the reviews would have you believe.
Pros and cons of Betrayal: Pro: Daniel Craig, Daniel Craig, Daniel Craig. Whatever “it” is, he has it. He is not conventionally handsome, which is to his credit – he knows how to look like James Bond but don’t forget he was also Perry Smith in Infamous. He moves on the stage with a preternatural, panther-like grace.
Con: Less effective is the lovely Rachel Weisz. Some of that may be that she is not quite up to the task of commanding a Broadway stage. Some of it may be that she is overshadowed by Craig and the fine Rafe Spall (who you might remember from Life of Pi). And some of it might be the inherent arrogance and misogyny in Pinter’s play and psyche. Pinter got away with a lot on account of being a “genius”.
The sets for the play are inventive, effective and look terribly expensive. Lucky for the producers, even though the reviews are bad, the performance was sold out the night I was there. Bernadette Peters thought it was worth seeing; I stood next to her in the lobby before the show started. She is ageless and stunning!
One play the critics seem to agree on is the current production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie with Zachary Quinto (yes, Mr. Spock from the latest Star Trek franchise) and Cherry Jones (President Taylor in 24). There are not enough superlatives to describe how good Quinto is in this play. His soliloquies at the beginning and end of the production are transcendent. The CE was more smitten by Celia Keenan-Bolger’s portrayal of Laura. And yes, Cherry Jones is excellent, but maybe she plays the part of the meddling Amanda Whitfield too well because she drove me a little crazy.
Not on Broadway, but off, off, off, we sat next to the brilliant Bobby Cannavale (Glengarry Glen Ross, Nurse Jackie, Blue Jasmine) at dinner at Landmarc Time-Warner the other night. He was doting on his son, Jake, (Charlie Cruz, Cannavale’s character’s son on Nurse Jackie) and current love interest Rose Byrne (Damages). They looked like a normal, albeit much-better-looking-than-the-rest-of-us family and seemed to be having a great time. Someone should cast that threesome in an ensemble piece.
Last night, Daniel convinced us to trade Broadway for Hollywood and we went to see an IMAX presentation of Catching Fire. I am one of the five remaining people on the planet who have not read the Hunger Games books but I am now an official convert. That movie is AWESOME, a must-see and I would happily agree to be sent to a deadly kill-or-be-killed arena if my ally was Sam Claflin as Finnick.
One more performance on our schedule: we’ll see the New York City Ballet’s presentation of The Nutcracker tomorrow at Lincoln Center, then back to California where it will not be 33 degrees. Brrrrr! I guess no one ever came to NYC for the weather…
See you on the other side!
While my physical therapist was pummeling me the other day, she said “So I met someone else who has chickens.”
She said this in precisely the same tone of voice you would use if you were saying “As hard as this is to believe, I think I just met another person as crazy as you.”
She went on to describe the conversation with the gentleman, a physician, who could not stop talking about his chickens. Sound familiar? “He kept telling me about how they follow him around,” she said.
I miss my chickens. There is something about the daily interaction with a flock of hens that settles satisfyingly deep within you in much the same way as it does to sit in front of a fire. There’s a primal feel to it. The sound when they ruffle their feathers; the way they greet you with soothing low peeps that have nothing to do with food or fear or anything but saying hello to you because they recognize you as their keeper.
Right now they are greeting different keepers, while Tammy, Tom and family wrangle the CA critters in our absence:
My physical therapist remains unpersuaded about chickens and a bit wary of those who keep them. But there is no denying that chickens are having a moment. Polloplayer correspondent Tina has been updating me on the latest in poultry epiphanies coming, by the way, not from Backyard Farming or Homesteading Weekly, but from the decidedly urban New York Times.
Tina recently forwarded me a piece by eminent Times reporter Nicholas Kristof entitled Are Chicks Brighter than Babies?
The title of his piece refers to some research he includes regarding the ability of chickens to count, differentiate and multitask. I already knew that. Hey, my hens can do all that with their, um, wings tied behind their backs.
What really struck me, though, about Kristof’s piece, was his recollection of growing up on a farm in Oregon where he observed the stolid fidelity of mated geese.
Like swans, a mated pair of geese stay together through thick and thin, including, as Kristoff relates, courageous attempts to rescue a mate from the chopping block. It is touching, and it is thought-provoking. Like me, Kristof eats meat, but he is troubled by the conditions under which commercial poultry are kept. I know, I’ve harped on this before, but there may be new reasons for concern – on a different continent.
Last August, the USDA announced that four Chinese facilities would be allowed to process poultry raised and slaughtered in the United States, Chile or Canada, and then export the cooked poultry products back into the United States. You may want to read that statement over a few times, because at the very least, it involves a dizzying number of frequent-flier miles for the poultry involved and it most certainly does not give one the impression that what ends up on your plate is “farm fresh”.
This might be a good moment to mention that the avian flu epidemics that scare the wits out of contagion-wary folks tend to originate in Asia and are directly linked to the conditions under which fowl are maintained there. Or to bring up the fact that the deaths of 500 pet dogs in the U.S. this year have been linked to jerky treats made of chicken and imported from China. You don’t have to look far to find news reports that China is considered to be a country “notorious” for avian influenza and food-borne illnesses.”
The August announcement raised a ripple of concern because it was seen as a “preliminary step toward eventually allowing China to export its own raw poultry into this country” and sure enough, on November 10 it was reported that U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced his concern over “USDA plans to green-light poultry raised and slaughtered in China.”
Questions come to mind. Do we not have enough chicken here in the U.S. to satisfy our need for nuggets? Daily Finance reports that the move to allow Chinese poultry exports is tied to a scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours deal whereby “China may agree to open its markets to U.S. beef.” So let me get this straight. The Chinese will get to enjoy juicy U.S. steaks while, in exchange, we get chicken from the country where there was a recent bust for an attempt to smuggle 46-year-old “expired” chicken feet. No, I am not creative enough to make this up; it was in The Huffington Post.
All I can say is that this is not what I generally have in mind when I order Asian Chicken Salad. You know the drill: write your Congressperson and contact the USDA.
On a happier chicken note, our family friend Hannah Allen is currently the featured artist at Emerson Hospital in Sudbury, MA. Among her paintings on display is this beauty. I love it!
We are most of the time in the state of California; part of the time in the state of New York. This means I live all of the time in the great State of Confusion.
As mentioned (read whined about) last week, I am not terribly nimble around time changes. So when that 757 departs 80-degree LAX in the early afternoon and deposits me at JFK in the depths of the night and 48-degree weather, the little eggbeater inside my head where most people have brains starts spinning like a gyroscope.
State of Confusion, indeed. And did I mention my dual citizenship in the State of Congestion? Start with a prerequisite minor cold, then get on an airplane for five or six hours and voila! You emerge, hacking, coughing and teeming with bacteria in every upper respiratory passage. I don’t think this is due to the re-circulated air or the pressurized cabin. I don’t even think it was due to the woman in the seat next to me spewing toxic little droplets my way every time she coughed (about once a minute throughout the flight; you do the math.) I truly believe – and this is my scientific opinion – that every time you fly, your soul gets sucked out through your sinuses and has to catch up with you in baggage claim. Let that be a lesson to those of you who refuse to check luggage and drag those 50-lb suitcases onto the plane and try to stuff them in an overhead bin, clogging the aisles and clocking fellow passengers upside the head. You know who you are, you soul-less creatures.
Anyway, here we are in NYC, which is magnificent despite the colds and the not sleeping. The trees in Central Park are dressed in their best autumn golds and reds and those doughty Manhattanites are still dining al fresco at the cafes despite the chilling temps and the sky being pitch black by 4:45 pm.
That’s my current state of mind. But what’s yours? I found this nifty little quiz that will let you discover where you really reside. It’s from Time Magazine so you know how real the science is behind it, but hey, it’s fun:
I’ll warn you that your State of Mind can change from day to day: I was in New Hampshire the first time I took the test and ended up in Louisiana a few days later. Makes sense to me because where I really live in my State of Confusion, I’m all over the map anyway.
The CE has long called them “Kool-Aid drinkers”. He is referring to the Apple acolytes who, in his estimation, have foolishly traded off their common sense to pay exorbitant sums of money for slickly designed Mac this or that through the years.
I take the more middling view. I never particularly worshipped at the altar of Steve Jobs (frankly, he seemed to me to be kind of a jerk) but clicking and dragging always seemed to make more sense than churning through cumbersome PC commands. And there is no denying the sheer sexiness of Apple products. It’s like hating on Angelina or Gwyneth – plenty not to like but hard to take your eyes off the packaging.
But ultimately, for me, a brand is a brand is a brand, unless you are talking about Golden Retrievers, where I will never, ever deviate from 100% loyalty.
For instance, I deliriously loved my Blackberry, but I was not too besotted to see the handwriting on the wall when they faltered.
And so, I moved on. I got an iPhone. For a while, I had to endure the sneers of my beloved CE, who tried to defend the byzantine brick of a Droid he insisted on carrying around. Tried and failed – he has an iPhone, now, too. Ha ha ha!
But. Just when I would love to get all smug and declare Apple the winner of everything, they have let me down big time. Twice.
If you, like me, have a first generation iPad, I hope you are coming up with creative uses for it (coaster? trivet?) because Apple has abandoned it and you. No iOS support. It runs iOS 5 which is already two generations behind. Email still works but don’t try to accomplish much on a web site.
Proof that all that glitters is not gold, those of us who were seduced by that first iPad’s curves have been dropped cold by Apple. Faster than the apps crash on the screen. They didn’t even bother to break up with me by text – no apologies, no regrets. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
And last week, adding insult to injury, Apple’s latest iOS 7.3 update poisoned my phone camera. Here’s what I saw when I tried to take a photo:
After trying and failing to take a photo with my phone, I found a ten-page discussion on Apple Support Communities, I finally figured out that it wasn’t my eyes that weren’t working, it was my phone camera.
I rushed into the Verizon store yesterday to see what was up with that, and was blithely told by a clerk that “oh, yeah, it’s a glitch in the software update. Mostly affecting older phones.” Meaning the iPhone 4, which I’ve had for, oh, I dunno, maybe a little over a year? The implication here is that if you didn’t march right in and buy an iPhone 5 when they came out, you will be left behind. Survival of the newest.
The fellow at Verizon could see that I was taking this hard. Being broken up with by Apple twice is tough on the psyche. “Don’t worry”, he said, “they’re going to release a patch.”
“When?” I queried, thinking of all the important photos of chickens that cannot be taken while my camera phone has been taken down.
He shrugged his shoulders. It’s Apple. When they darn well get around to it, you peon.
Seriously, I thought this attitude only worked for the government.
I hated on Apple for an entire thirty-six hours over this. And then, this morning, voila! my phone camera miraculously came back into focus! They have redeemed themselves. Chicken pictures can re-commence.
So Apple and I are back together. Today, at least. But I have to admit, I’ve lost some trust.
For the moment, however. my software is up to date and all’s well with the world. Pass the Kool-Aid, please.
I used to love fall fashion. I know it’s hard to believe, but there was a time when I looked forward to a copy of Vogue arriving in the mail with the same excitement that is now reserved for Backyard Poultry.
Those were the days. The days before Anna Wintour’s haircut became boring and before I became a woman of a certain age…and size.
All the cute young things this fall are wearing leather leggings, stilettos and biker-cut boots. More power to them – damn, that looks like fun! But when your age is six or seven times your shoe size, it’s not really a look you can pull off without alienating most of your family members.
Which, I guess, is how, somewhere along the line, dress-for-success gave way for me to what I charitably refer to as pajama-day chic. Once you reach an age where you have to cover your knees and cover your arms in order to not terrify onlookers, fashion kind of stops being fun. And with winter fast approaching, I figure no one will really see me with such a few hours of daylight; let’s see what we can get away with.
I know I’ve gone too far on the days when I’ve showered and dressed, yet the CE gently asks me around 2 pm whether I’m going to get cleaned up for the day. But I’m learning to game it just short of humiliation, and for all you out there who have the courage to follow me down the road to fashion ruin, here are some of my favorites.
1. Ponte, a nice word for polyester
Polyester, that fabric from hell, is no longer the devil now that it’s been whipped up in a rayon/spandex blend called ponte. If, like me, you have body parts that might be better covered with a drop cloth than clothing, ponte is for you. It flatters, it gives and it’s great for traveling.
Eileen Fisher makes a great ponte pant. Not cheap at $200+ but the quality is there and her vanity sizing spares one all kinds of humiliation. You can get a slightly less fashionable but more affordable fit in similar pants at J. Jill for $79. Another source, surprisingly, is the Boston Proper catalog. Just skip past all the cleavage-baring pages and you’ll find their very affordable travel collection of ponte separates.
2. Comfort brands
I have a cotton knit skirt from three dots that has seen me through thin and, more recently, thick. Did I mention the expanding waistline? Simple but flattering construction. And the Splendid line has a similar talent for good quality cotton knit and is a great resource for tops that you will wear over and over.
3. It’s the little things that matter
Two words: Plush Apparel. I hesitantly ordered a pair of “fleece-lined socks” from this brand, expecting something suitably warm but probably too bulky to use for anything but chicken-coop-cleaning-wear. I was wrong! They’ve figured an ingenious way to combine micro-fleece with a slim profile and the result is comfort to the nth power.
Two more words: Enza Costa. Sounds like a glamorous Italian designer, but for all I know, it’s the brain child of some shlubby guy in Brooklyn. I don’t care. I am addicted to their dreamy featherweight tank tops. Not cheap at $66 a pop but they last forever. You can find their line of tees at Shopbop.com
One last thing to note: it ain’t cheap to look this bad. But sometimes it’s worth the sticker shock. I have a sweatshirt from Christina Lehr that cost a small fortune. But I will probably be buried in it because I wear it every day. Well, that or the pricey, worn, tattered holes-in-the-arms Allude and Repeat sweaters that I can’t seem to let go of. Expensive but worth it.
Someday, leather leggings will have gone the way of the Juicy velour tracksuit and Anna Wintour will change her hairstyle. In the meantime, I’ll be cozy here with the chickens in my latest unfashionable discovery: as horrifying as it sounds, someone has found a way to adapt the “Snuggee” for daywear. The company is called Lole and the item is a fleece hoodie dress. Almost as snuggly as a snuggee. You’re welcome!