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.

 

Swatch: Midtown NYC Yarn Adventure

IMG_2325I set off in search of yarn stores close to my hotel at 50th and Lexington. The closest stores on Google maps were on 39th and 37th Streets in the garment district. I’d seriously injured my toes in new shoes on my night at the theater, so I was a little nervous that I’d be stuck a dozen short blocks from my hotel. Lyft was my insurance policy.

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Not all of us have as great a coat as my Granddog Dozer, some of us need a sweater.

My list of shops included The Yarn Maven, Color Corrections People, and the School Products Yarn Shop. I sought out and found the Yarn Maven only to learn that it is not a retail outlet. I was a little daunted and I looked up the Color Corrections People on my phone and it turns out it is also a specialty shop for the fashion industry. I didn’t hold out much hope that the School Products Yarn Shop would turn out to be what I was looking for because the name suggested it would have yarn and felt for classroom crafts.

I found 13 East 37th Street and was encouraged by the sign that states “Oldest Yarn Shop in New York City.” I went to the elevator to get to the 6th floor and couldn’t figure out how to operate it. Then I remembered the guy sitting just outside by the sidewalk. Sure enough he was a elevator operator. Soon I was walking into a lovely shop full of cashmere and specialty yarns.

IMG_2326.JPGThe proprietor, Berta Karapetyan, is also a designer of sophisticated sweater patterns. Her book Runway Knits is beautiful. I first fell for the Yak Yarn, then the cashmere for a very cute baby sweater pattern. Oops! I didn’t intend to buy so much yarn.

Excellent Speed Walk through New England Aquarium

I recommend you spend much more time than I did at the New England Aquarium

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The New England Aquarium is located on the wharf, not far from City Hall and Fannuil Hall

in Boston. I was walking to get knitting supplies at Newbury Yarn and found myself just 11 minutes from the aquarium. They close at 5:30 but I’d promised to be at an event in the Back Bay by 6:00 p.m. It might seem silly to some to pay $27.95 for about an hour of walking around. But I saw they had rockhopper penguins! And this is the home of the Pacific Octopus that Sy Montgomery befriended in her book Soul of An Octopus!

I was not disappointed. They have three types of penguins living separately on the first IMG_2376floor:  African penguins, Rockhopper penguins, and Little Blue Penguins. It was fascinating to see the Little Blue penguins molting. I also saw a woman with my dream volunteer job: cleaning penguin poo off the rocks in their enclosure.

Call me crazy but it would be a kind of zen thing to do and allow me to get to know them better as individuals.

IMG_2390The aquarium is built on multiple levels all spiraling around the deep sea aquarium tank in the middle. It was crowded the day I was there. I finally had to ask someone working at the tidal pool where the octopus resides. All the way near the last possible tanks in the Vancouver bay exhibit. This octopus had camouflaged in all white with coarse bumps and then slide into the far left corner. I overheard little boy who had clearly been searching for him, exclaim his frustration at not seeing him at the other side of the tank. I tapped him on the shoulder and pointed out the octopus to him. He was probably 5 years old and he began to share octopus facts.

IMG_2392His dad confirmed how smart they are. I showed him a circle about the size of a quarter with my hand and said, “Can you believe that big fellow could squeeze through a hole that size?” His eyes got big. It was lovely to stand gazing at the octopus with someone as enthusiastic as I am.

I found a book for my grandson called Octopuses One to Ten by Ellen Jackson in the gift shop. “Octopuses in disguise have four ways to fool your eyes.”  They can squirt a cloud of ink, or change their skin color or texture to blend in, or detach an arm if a predator grabs it, or disappear into his or her den until danger passes. This is why they have survived in our world so long. (Plus mankind is still not able to navigate underwater easily.)

The gift shop was not well stocked when I was there. However, I appreciated the more limited space devoted to commerce. Monterey Bay Aquarium could learn from them, they seem to favor the Disneyland approach. They also have dozens of activities to participate in for adults and children. For slightly more admission you can also watch films at the iMax theater next door.

The New England Aquarium is an easy walk from the T station at Government Center. I took the green line to the Back Bay and was at Tevis’ home within 30 minutes for just $2.75.

 

Eureka Zoo a Delightful Surprise

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Entrance to the petting zoo where we saw a tame skunk!

 

I enjoyed learning more about Eureka, California on my last visit to Humboldt County. My friend teaches at a school near the zoo, so after we dropped some supplies off at her classroom we circled back to Sequoia Park Zoo. Harriet mentioned that they have an award winning otter exhibit and I was ready to faff around the zoo for an hour or two.

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The zoo is about the size of the Sacramento Zoo, and a fraction the size of the San Diego Zoo, but still maintains a good variety of animals and does an exceptional job with the enclosures and displays.

We had fun and I’d go again, perhaps when I am not so tired.

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Thank you WatLovs for making my weekend getaway so much fun!