Library for Fans of Performing Arts

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This is the entrance from inner Lincoln Plaza. 

I didn’t know the New York City Public Library system had a Performing Arts library until my cousin Carrie got a job there. I was curious to see it.

I met Carrie in the lobby and she gave me a behind the scenes tour where she works helping to digitize the card catalog. The library has an amazing collection of video of Broadway shows, Playbills, and miniature scene models. I have no idea what else they have but I was thrilled to know that someone is keeping all of this in good order.

IMG_2277The Library also has special exhibits. I saw a portion of the Hilary Knight tribute and then in the gallery, “Radical Bodies: Anna Halprin, Simone Forti and Yvonne Rainer California and New York.”  I am not a huge fan of the theater, but I LOVE libraries and this is a fine one.IMG_2283

 

Penguins at Central Park Zoo

IMG_2288The Central Park Zoo is small but beautifully landscaped. It provides plenty of places to pause and enjoy sea lions or watch a grizzly bear snoozing. I didn’t realize they had penguins until I saw an article about places to stay cool in NYC in August. One suggestion was the to check out the Antarctic House and see the penguins. I noted that the penguins were fed publicly at 10:30 and 2:30 p.m. I realized when I left Lincoln Center that if I hot-footed it I could just make it there by 2:30.

IMG_2290It was $18.00 for a ticket to get into the zoo for one adult. As a penguin lover it was worth it–although at feeding time it is crowded and as you can see the windows get steamy. It is hard not to be captivated by the birds swimming and jumping back on the rocks. IMG_2297

I spent a bit more time looking at other animals and admiring the flowers and shrubs. I really needed ice cream. I stopped at the cafe where they had the usual sort of packaged and reheated food. The gift shop was a little more original.

This is a great place to visit with children. You can save 10% on tickets by buying on-line.

Pause for a Drink at Bemelmans Bar

IMG_2304I love Manhattan. I’ve been to New York City numerous times and I always have a great experience. Never the same either. I’ve done most of the tourist must-dos: Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Metropolitan Museum of Art and even stood outside the Today Show with a sign. One of the things I’ve longed to do but wasn’t able to until this summer is see the murals by Ludwig Bemelmans, the author and illustrator of the Madeline books. They are in a cozy bar in the Carlyle Hotel at 35 E 75th Street (not far from the Metropolitan Museum of Art).

IMG_2303I’d been walking since 10 a.m. with a couple of stops but plenty of time in the hot humid summer sun. A gin and tonic sounded fantastic. It was only about 4 and food service isn’t available until 5:30 p.m. Good thing I might have ordered a charcuterie plate and been doubly shocked by the $37 price tag. As it is my drink (excellent by the way) was $22. I spent a good while enjoying the ambiance and air conditioning. I will definitely bring my Mom here when we next visit NYC.

IMG_2302On Sunday and Monday nights they have jazz music starting at 9:00 and there is a cover charge. It was Monday, but I called for a Lyft ride and returned to the hotel to refresh before dinner and to find a bookstore. There aren’t as many independent bookstores as there used to be but I found the Strand and got lost in the stacks on a bit of a shopping spree, then enjoyed a delicious and almost normal price steak dinner at Phebe’s at 361 Bowery.

A Colbert Experience

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We were told to arrive by 4:15 p.m. for the Late Show with Stephen Colbert taping. We arrived early, scoped out the line we were meant to stand in and then went across the street to get a Starbucks drink. We returned to the VIP line with our tickets, which my son confirmed well in advance. Our names were checked off the list and we were given wristbands. Our group was one of the first to be let in.

We were asked to wait in the lobby and allowed to use the restrooms. Go even if you don’t feel the need because the restrooms are closed once the taping starts and not reopened afterward. (We were among a dozen or so people who rushed back across the street to use Starbuck’s bathroom.)

There are several admonitions: mainly no phones, or photographs. A comedian came out and warmed up the crowd. He was very funny and I’d tell you his name but I had no way to write it down or text it to remember! He also taught us how to laugh so it would make the biggest impact on television. Several times a stage manager or Mr. Colbert came out and thanked us and mentioned how much our participation helped to keep all of the performers pumped up.

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Waiting in the lobby before the show.

Stephen Colbert came out before the taping began and answered a few questions. Then the band came out and played for us. Then the show began. We laughed spontaneously but more heartily than normal. We were a little hoarse by the end.

After Colbert’s monologue when we had booed a couple of lines about Trump, he came out and explained that he’d have to retape a section of the monologue because our booing, while understandable, stepped on his next line. He reminded us, “You cannot laugh and be afraid at the same time, and the devil cannot stand mockery.” 

It is fascinating to watch a taping of a comedy show. The guests sometimes make a different impression than they do on television. Our evening we had Andrew Dice Clay and I believe we saw how ambivalent Colbert was about Clay’s “comeback” and he seemed more positive on the television show.

I loved the puppy adoption segment because those puppies were so darn adorable. It was also fascinating to see how the team with the puppies, the set, the lighting all worked without a hitch. I’d go to another taping but I’d get my tickets by stalking the website and getting them 2 months in advance. I believe those folks get to sit on the main floor. We were in the balcony. Either way, there are no bad seats.

IMG_2343Tickets to a taping of the Stephen Colbert Show was the impetus for our trip to New York City. My son “won” them in a charity auction after making a generous donation. The prize included two VIP tickets and a night at the Benjamin Hotel on 50th and Lexington. Both were gifted to me for Mother’s Day. I wanted more time in New York and the hotel management was very cooperative in extending our reservation and getting us into one room for the stay, even though I’d upgraded for the extension. This and many other great staff moments make it easy for me to give two thumbs up to the Benjamin Hotel.

Finally Watched the Bats on Yolo Causeway

This blog is reposted from BayDeltaTourist.com.

IMG_2627Most of us are afraid of bats at an almost instinctual level. Unlike snakes and spiders though, I am hardpressed to name a species of bat. The other night I learned there are more species of bat of any other type of mammal except rodents. I might have known at one time in Jr High biology that bats are mammals, but it was good to be reminded.

I wasn’t prepared for the bat expert, Corky Quirk, to have live bats on display in small plastic carriers. They were fascinating to look at up close and watch as they stretched a wing or moved about. However, I was still pretty creeped out. Corky gives a great presentation including playing a rap on echolocation. She uses a camera to give us an larger than life view of the bats eating.

After a quick last bathroom break and a chance to buy a…

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Swatch: Fine Fiber in Camden, Maine

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I have plenty of knitting projects, especially after shopping in New York City, but that does not mean I can resist a beautiful wool shop. The Cashmere Goat is definitely one of the prettiest and full of tempting yarn. I mooched around looking when a little girl’s sailor jacket by Sublime caught my eye. This led me to squeeze the Sublime baby cashmere silk DK. Mmmm.

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Gail and Wren apologized for the Sublime pattern book #688 being out of stock at the moment. I decided I shouldn’t buy yarn for the project until I got hold of the pattern. After returning to Sacramento I checked with Babetta’s and it wasn’t in stock. The Cashmere Goat made such an impression I am going to order it from them rather than one of the many on-line sources. Afterall, we can’t expect the lovely shops that provide lessons, give us the chance to feel the cashmere and wool, and offer advice and troubleshooting, if we don’t actually purchase our project supplies from them.

Night Out on Broadway: War Paint

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My son surprised me by requesting to go to a Broadway show, preferably a musical, on the first night he joined me in the City. My cousin Carrie is my go-to on all things Broadway and the theater. First I looked up what was playing in the New Yorker magazine and what tickets were on sale on TodayTix. I came up with a short list of possible shows that I had not yet seen: The Play That Goes Wrong, War Paint, and Waitress. Carrie had already seen Waitress and wasn’t bowled over. She had friends who said pass on The Play That Goes Wrong. She could get discount tickets to War Paint through her theater union. We were set.

Carrie has a go to before the Theater dinner place that is in the district. We met up at the Hourglass and had a delicious meal at a reasonable price for New York City. The service ws speedy and luckily the cousins Tevis and Carrie and slight enough to share the tiny table with me.

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We got to the theater in plenty of time to use the restroom and find our seats on the first level. The Nederlander Theatre on West 41st Street is large enough to be called a Broadway venue and have the musical considered for Tony awards–just big enough.

We didn’t tell Tevis that the plot was about two make-up mavens who defined 20th Century beauty for women. He gave us a hard time about it at intermission and admitted that there was enough fireworks over their business rivalry to make it interesting to all.

Christine Ebersole as Elizabeth Arden has the first big number and her voice is strong and assured. I settled back in my chair knowing that once again the raised bar of Broadway was going to be met. This was confirmed with each subsequent performance and especially Arden’s nemesis Helena Rubenstein played by Patti LuPone.

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Reminded of Steve Martin’s short story “Cruel Shoes”

Ironically, at my age you’d think I’d know the dangers of placing beauty above comfort. Alas I wore new shoes rather than ones that might clash with my outfit and paid the price. After walking to dinner and the theater from our hotel on 50th and Lexington I was in some pain. We took a cab back to the hotel. The rest of the trip I was reminded of the lessons I took away from War Paint: don’t accept unquestioningly society’s idea of beauty–look with your own eyes; don’t fall for marketing gimmicks that get you to pay three times more for “horse liniment” because it’s in a pretty package; and make peace with aging and change because it happens to everyone. And don’t wear uncomfortable clothing just to look good.