Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Visiting Kathy and Bob!

So excited to see Kathy and Bob again!  It has been too long.  Since we were in NYC anyway, I tacked on a bus ride to Maryland and was fortunate to have several days catching up with my friends.

Kathy took a day off from work so we could go explore DC.  Her excellent suggestion was to check out the Renwick Gallery, which is currently doing an exhibit about Burning Man.  Very cool.  A neat way to get a glimpse of this crazy desert festival, but without all the dust.

We adored the large room built out as a wooden temple, so pretty and peaceful.  Yay for friendship!

It was neat to imagine finding something like this in a Nevada desert in the middle of nowhere:

You could write a note on a thin piece of wood and place it anywhere in the temple (not sure if this version gets burned like the one at Burning Man, though):

Mushrooms that open and close when people stand under them:

Intricate latticework:

The amount of time and effort that goes into Burning Man art is pretty amazing:

As are the costumes:

And the vehicles:

One other item of note at the Renwick - a "Before I die" board, which I always enjoy reading (we've seen them in New Orleans and Austin):

We tried to get tickets to the Museum of African American History, but the early a.m. ticket release happened a few minutes late so I missed the very-short window for grabbing some.  We stopped by to check out the 1 pm last-minute afternoon line, but it was long - too long for the number of tickets they still had available.  It was great to see how popular that place is!  Eventually we'll find a way to get in.

Instead we went for a walk.  It wasn't far before we found an advertisement at the American History Museum for a film we thought sounded good.  So we popped in there, checking out the Batmobile on the way to the theater:

Ready for a movie!  It was about music in America, starting Aloe Blacc and featuring John Batiste who I had just seen at the Late Show a few days before.  Quite enjoyable.

Getting a tour of Kathy and Bob's trailer, love it!  Someday Howie (our trailer) will get to meet it too and we can all hang out together at a campground.  Can't wait!

Monday, April 9, 2018

New York City part 2

Hello.  Hello.  My name is Marcy Beard.  Have you seen the Book of Mormon show, it's on Broadway?

Yay!  Kip decided (with lots of enthusiastic encouragement from me and John) that he'd like to see a Broadway show, and this would probably be the one to try.  Even though the theater isn't actually ON Broadway, it's on 49th Street.  Are any of the theaters - besides Ed Sullivan - actually on Broadway?

We were stoked, and it was awesome:

The show was a matinee, the middle portion of another fun-filled day of exploring.  I don't have photos from the morning because we were running and I was already carrying notes about movie locations plus my phone to help us navigate Central Park.  Hmm, one photo with the phone would have been nice.  Kip, we have to go back to NYC and get a selfie with Alice.

Suffice it to say, there have been a gazillion movies filmed in and near Central Park.  It was super enjoyable to focus on that concept for the run.

We had some Adventures in Transit that day trying to figure out how to work around the subway being closed for weekend construction in the area of our AirBnB.  Good for learning more about the Queens bus system...

Happily that didn't stop us from getting to the show on time.  Afterward we continued the walking tour, starting with Sardi's where The Muppets Took Manhattan (wow, that's a lot of reflection for one photo):

Nice walkthrough of the huge public library (Ghostbusters, Thomas Crown Affair):

What is this thing that gives me only a small bit of information at a time?  A "book" you say?

New York pretzel, check!  A good sharing snack (and a lot cheaper than the hot dogs outside the Eugene O'Neill theater earlier):

I love walking through Grand Central Terminal (not sure why I didn't get a photo this time), so beautiful and iconic.  And warm.  And with bathrooms and water fountains.

Beautiful Easter decorations at Rockefeller Center:

Giant green bunny:

The Rock is a filming location for Elf, Home Alone 2, Saturday Night Live, many others.  The skating rink was open, always fun to see:

From the intro to the show 30 Rock:

Yay, we made it to the Roosevelt Island tram finally:

Spiderman, Die Hard with a Vengeance...  and great views:

Next up - our last day in the city, with a bit of time before needing to catch a bus or plane.  We decided to check out the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens.  Neat place, I recommend a visit.

The top floor had some interactive video games, which would have been more interesting if more of them were functioning.  We played around with a couple but mostly decided they need a better IT guy at the museum.

Much more interesting was the Jim Henson exhibit.  Muppets!  Sesame Street!  Stories and videos and history from our childhood.  I loved it.

John was inspired to add a bit of Star Trek flavor to the "build your own muppet" station:

Hello Big Bird, Oscar, and Elmo:

Another section of the museum had several interactive displays where you could learn how to make a movie, including stop-motion video recording, dubbing a scene from a movie, and adding sound effects.  We could have spent a lot more time on that floor.

Hey, more Star Trek!

That was a fun way to finish up our whirlwind tour.  Kip and John headed to the airport for a flight back to California, while I returned to Manhattan to catch a MegaBus to DC:

More adventures to come!

Sunday, April 8, 2018


Several months ago we were watching The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, casually wondering what it would be like to be in the audience.  Wouldn't that be amazing?  I wonder how you get tickets.

We convinced Kip that it might be a fun trip, got tickets, booked travel, and we were on our way to New York City!  I love trying to turn "what if" into reality.  And having it actually work out.

Redeye into JFK airport, then train + bus to Flushing Meadows to kill some time before we could check in at our AirBnB.

Kip hadn't explored this city before, so I decided to work around the theme of "movie locations".  The idea started in my brain with the Unisphere (from the Stark Expo in Iron Man 2) so it was appropriate that we also started here in person:

New York State Pavilion observation towers - the ships the first aliens used to visit Earth in Men in Black:

Walking over to the metro, we realized it was opening day for the Mets - we offered to take Kip to a baseball game but he didn't think the weather would be optimal (let's go sit inside the Ed Sullivan Theater instead) - good choice.

Just a small part of the tailgating before the Mets game:

After a much-needed nap we were ready to "tackle" Manhattan.  Stephen Colbert, here we come!

The first part of waiting in line, happily it wasn't raining and happily the part on the sidewalk didn't last very long:

Our friend Ron joined us for the show!  Yay Ron!  Perfect time to catch up as we waited quite a while in the inside hall.  It was warm and there were rotating bathroom breaks and there were a few diversions.  Kip spotted a woman signing a release form and theorized she had been picked to be brought up on stage (he was right).

No photographs allowed inside the theater - and I wouldn't dream of doing anything that might get us kicked out - but you can see the theater and the show itself on TV or YouTube.  It's every bit as amazing and fascinating and fun and full of energy as you might expect.  Stephen is super nice and "present" all the time.  Jean Batiste and the band are fabulous, and we finally got to hear all of their music instead of the commercials.

I especially liked watching the logistics of putting on the show.  It was almost real-time, no breaks for redoing/editing, as fast-paced as it appears, with a couple stage managers constantly coordinating with Stephen and the cameras, and one specifically instructing the audience occasionally.

It was fun watching Stephen when the cameras weren't on him.  It seemed like he hadn't seen the opening bit, so he watched it the same time we did and had similar humorous reactions.  Tossing props back and forth with the stage guy next to the camera during the monologues was hilarious.  During commercials he was calm and focused, working on what would be happening next.

We specifically picked a Thursday night show in order to see two monologues - Thursday and Friday (because there is no live taping on Fridays).  That was super special, double of the best part.

We had guessed that the Thursday taping also did the entirety of the Friday show, but that's not right - they must have taped Friday's guests earlier in the week.  Which was the only little bummer, because Bryan Cranston and JIMMY CARTER were on the Friday show.  Oh my gosh we almost ALMOST saw Jimmy Carter!

The guests we did see were great.  Emily Blunt was funny, a couple folks from the political show The Circus did a neat interview, and Kacey Musgraves sang a lovely song.  John Bolton made an appearance (not live but hilarious).  The Keebler Elf had some tricks to play, and Stephen can ad lib with the best of them.

We were so stoked about the whole experience.  If I lived near NYC I'd be trying for tickets every 6 months (I believe that's the limit for how often you can go).

Super awesome, thank you Stephen Colbert!

(Note - in the above photo, that's my "selfie concentration" face, I need to work on that.  Also, that's my "we missed Jimmy Carter!" face, no not really)

Stepping back outside into the fog, I was reminded that one of the city's monikers is "Gotham":

Friday was walking tour day.  We started at Google's Chelsea location and Kip was able to get visitor badges for us.  Nice!

We made a beeline for the "Panorama Cafe" and were rewarded with this awesome view from the 14th floor patio:

Google has the coolest toys.  We've never seen a practice slackline before, we were all over this idea:

Callback to a recent cruise:

Heading toward the High Line, we spotted what looks like a delivery bike (?), although we're not sure what's in there:

Love the High Line!

A large complex being built on the north end of the trail:

Some kind of new art center... that stands out between the skyscrapers:

Subway to the south end of the island for a view of the Statue of Liberty (where Daryl Hannah shows up in Splash):

The theme turned into a fun quiz, with me giving clues about movies and Kip coming up with many of the titles and actors and bits of trivia.  Here we are discussing the Staten Island Ferry, as seen in Working Girl and Spider-Man: Homecoming:

There are many more, I won't go through the whole list here, suffice it to say we had fun walking and looking and talking about movies.

Fearless Girl is still standing in front of the Charging Bull, wonderful!  So glad we got to see her.

One of the ticker tape parade commemorations:

George Washington where he was sworn in as first president at Federal Hall, our nation's first capitol - also where Patrick Swayze convinced Whoopi Goldberg to make a $4 million donation to the homeless in Ghost:

John and Broadway:

The new transit hub at the World Trade Center - a place to explore further next time (when I'm not starving for lunch and still a few blocks from Little Italy):

New York County Supreme Court, a key location in many movies including where Santa Claus stood trial in Miracle on 34th Street and where Charlie Sheen was put on trial in Wall Street:

Someone added a face to Crosswalk Man:

John and I had never been to Katz's Deli, so this seemed like a good day to check it out.  It fit our theme of the trip, with the famous "I'll have what she's having" scene from When Harry Met Sally:

Wow, inside the deli was kind of crazy.  Lots of people, a bit of work figuring out how to get to the spot where I could order an egg cream (for dessert after our pasta lunch).  Here it is, the counter where you can get beer, wine, & egg creams:

And then we waited in the line to pay, which snaked around the whole place.  While at the far end we saw some employees sprinkling a bunch of stuff (?) on the floor and heard one of the diners say "What the hell?"  We decided the whole thing was about the experience.  We finished the egg cream (yummy but too sweet for me to drink much of it - thanks for the help, Kip and John), made it to the register to pay, and finally got out of there.


We were getting tired, topped off by the Katz's experience, so when it started raining we decided that was a good sign that we should head back to Astoria where we were staying.

With one little detour to a fun bar called Blend to try some interesting drinks (mine was supposed to be lit on fire, but it was only dry ice - still entertaining):

And one last quick stop at the hardware store for a screwdriver and WD40 to fix a couple minor things at the apartment.  Then it was back to the AirBnB where I slept 12 hours straight... yep, we sure had a couple incredible days!