Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A touch of Something Rotten with a bit of Misery

The biggest challenge in creating a new blog entry, for me, is how to begin.  Do I just dive right in or do I write this like one of my college essays, where I provide an overview of what this post will be about?  I guess, since it's my blog and I have total editorial control, I can do what I want (it's my hot body (thanks to "South Park," I can never make that statement without invoking Cartman))!

Back in September, I saw the musical "Something Rotten," which told the story of a playwright who was in competition with William Shakespeare, much like how Harvey Weinstein is in competition with everyone else in Hollywood for the consumer's dollars.  It was a really funny show, portraying Shakespeare as a super celebrity who spews soliloquies like a rock star, skewering current and past Broadway musicals, and proposing the idea of an entire show based on an Omelet (due to a mispronunciation of Hamlet).

Brad Oscar as Nostradamus and Brian D'Arcy James as Nick Bottom
There was nothing extremely profound about the show, but it did address the idea of being who we are no matter what society says we should be, and accepting and celebrating that.  Which, on second thought, is pretty profound for a comedic musical, especially in the tumultuous times we are currently living in.  Do what you love, not what money or outside influences tell you!

That brings me to the play I saw just last night, "Misery."

Thanks must go to my sister, Faith, for the ticket!  Being able to catch Bruce Willis' Broadway debut was pretty exciting and this was a book and film that I really enjoyed, so being able to see it live on stage was something I didn't want to miss.

Like I said, the story was familiar, so I had an idea of what to expect before it began.  I was impressed I was able to put my preconceived notions aside once Laurie Metcalf came on stage.  She owned the character of Annie Wilkes, pushing away the iconic image of Kathy Bates from the film.  Annie's psychosis is revealed subtly, as Bruce's character of Paul Sheldon goes from being thankful for his rescuer to the realization that she may not be what she seems and he may have to find a way to escape before his "number one fan" completely loses control.

Bruce as Paul Sheldon, attempting to escape the confines of his room
What initially struck me about the play was how good Laurie Metcalf was; this was the first time I've seen her on stage, but she's been in several plays and earned multiple Tony nominations.  She seemed so comfortable on stage and it was easy to fall into the story as she slowly unraveled and became more obsessed with Paul and his "Misery" books.  This being a predominantly two-person show, a lot fell on the shoulders of the leads; Bruce can be forgiven for chuckling a little after he flubbed a line and tried to recover it while Laurie was staring at him maniacally (who wouldn't laugh at that?).  Of the two, Laurie really pulled it all together with Bruce following along for the ride.

Once I slept and thought about the play more this morning, there was another level to the experience that struck me and it wasn't what happened on stage, but how the audience reacted to it, with much laughter throughout.  At one point during the show, I thought, 'Are we at a comedy?'  Granted, several of Annie's lines are funny, but when you consider that she's mentally unstable and homicidal, these same lines become more sinister and frightening.  Is the reaction to laugh, because we're uncomfortable with what's happening to Paul at the hands of Annie, could it be because we're used to seeing Laurie Metcalf in comedic roles on TV, or is it because Laurie's portrayal of Annie mirrored the clerk (in appearance and perceived personality) we saw in the media from Kentucky recently, Kim Davis?  It made me wonder what the reaction would be if Annie had been played by a man and/or someone who wasn't Caucasian.  We see so much these days how people are treated differently based on their race, gender, ethnicity, religion, etc.  If Annie had been Muhammad, I anticipate the audience reaction would have been far different, which makes this play so relevant today.  What scares us more about people; their actions, their appearance, their comments, their mental state?

I guess "Misery" sparked a little more thought than I anticipated and that's never a bad thing......

Monday, May 25, 2015

It's been a long time coming....

How long has it been?  Two months?  Hmmmm.....a lot can happen in that amount of time.  In my case, that would include four trips to the theatre, one dance experience, and my first half marathon!  So, before I start rambling about how nice the weather has finally turned, let's get started with the recap.

This one wasn't necessarily high on my list of "must see" shows, but the opportunity came along, so I took it and dragged Von along for the ride.  Those who know me well, know that I'm a huge fan of the TV show, Frasier, so seeing this musical with Kelsey Grammer was kind of exciting.  He was a big draw for many people it seemed, from the rousing applause he received when he came on stage.  He had the role of theatre producer to Matthew Morrison's JM Barrie, and he was a big presence in every scene he was in.  This was definitely one of the lighter shows I've seen and, maybe I'm remembering this incorrectly, but I seem to recall the movie version of this story being fairly dramatic.  Some of those elements remained, but rather than leave the audience with an effectively dramatic moment, they decided to provide an epilogue that tied everything up in a tidy box.  I left feeling like they had missed an opportunity.  The show was entertaining, but nothing to leave a lasting impact.

Now, another musical I saw definitely provided those dramatic moments I relish when I see a stage production.  Fun Home is the story of a graphic novelist who is looking back at her life and how her father's hidden secret, which he wasn't really all that great at hiding, impacted her youth and adulthood.  While Finding Neverland used child actors that were dripping with saccharine, Fun Home found young actors that were able to convey confusion, curiosity, and longing.  The stage was in the center of the theatre space, with the audience surrounding the action.  This made it a much more intimate experience and helped to draw me into the story even more.
A lot of times, the songs tend to pull me out of the action of the show and they can make the story feel less impactful, but that wasn't the case with this one; it really seemed to enhance the experience.  I saw this one with an old friend of mine, Thom, who I hadn't seen in over 15 years!  He's quite the theatre guy, which could help to explain the why I appreciated this one so much; he could look at the story critically and explain why it worked so well.

The next two shows I saw, in no particular order or preference, were comedic plays that brought the humor, but with one also bringing some thought and insight about the subject of death.  Before we go dark, let's start in the light.  The 39 Steps is a farce from the unlikely brain of Alfred Hitchcock.  They throw a reference to every Hitchcock movie in some way or shape, and they definitely bring the laughs in a story that isn't as important as the characters' interactions with each other.  Each scene is like a one-act play and can stand alone as a comedic ribbing of noir films and 50s era thrillers.  I've seen this one a couple times before, but it just doesn't get stale to me.
Hitchcock even makes his typical cameo in the play, yet in a very un-typical way.  There's no point to the story, it's just a lot of fun and, sometimes, that's why I go to plays or movies.  Does it always have to have a point?!

That brings me to Hand to God.  The title would suggest something pretty conservative, but this is anything but that!  The playbill recommended no one under 13 see this one without a parent, but I'd have to say this was more like an R-rated movie, so I would think anyone under 17 might need to be with their parents.  Because, this one will bring up lots of questions......  Like, how do two puppets have sex?  Can they make little puppet babies?  If you've seen Avenue Q, you'll be fairly well prepared for what's taking place in this one.  Although, this show is more about the impact the puppet has on the humans in the story.  It's used as a device to deal with death and actually becomes more sinister as the story continues.  Is the boy with the puppet on his hand possessed by an evil spirit or is he so broken from losing his father that he can no longer relate to people without using the puppet as a buffer, albeit a cursing, rude, and violent buffer?
The puppet says things we'd all like to at times, but refrain from because people would take offense.  The puppet doesn't care, I mean, why should it?  It's really a lifeless bit of fabric until someone sticks their hand up its butt and makes it talk.  I digress....

Ultimately, these four shows are vastly different, but, considered together, they really are what Broadway is all about.  They encompassed the traditional musical, envelope-pushing courage, and dynamic story-telling.  While one was a bit of a disappointment, all four are why I am continuously drawn to seeing live stage shows, they're engaging and being that they're live, each show can be vastly different from night to night, so you never know for sure what you're going to get.

Speaking of not knowing what you're going to get, I have to mention this show I saw last month, called Flexn (that's right, don't get your spellchecker out, that's the way it's spelled).  This was put on at the Park Avenue Armory, where I've seen a couple other shows before.  This one was all about dance and how it can be used to communicate stories and convey conflict and challenges we face in our lives.  I'm a big So You Think You Can Dance fan and Flexn had the potential, for me, to be an exciting night showcasing some fantastic dancers.  I was not disappointed.

Before the show, there was a panel discussion about minority youth and education, specifically about how those who don't have the same opportunities as those in more affluent areas have their only choice being go to school or go to prison.  Nothing was solved in the hour-long discussion, but some consciousness was raised and, hopefully, more action can take place as a result to help those who need it avoid the destructive path to incarceration.

Once the dancing began, that theme continued as the stories the dancers told reflected on their cultures and their daily experiences as they try to survive in their urban homes.  They told tales of violence, drugs, and seemingly little hope left, but ended the evening celebrating their lives and how their choices have brought them to this place, where they can show people another way.  It's no surprise the group behind Flexn is called The Dream Ring Experience.  They provide young dancers with the opportunity to follow their dreams and realize they can shape their lives however they want to, they don't have to fall into stereotypes.

Maybe that thought of how we can dream bigger and accomplish more than we expect of ourselves is what pushed me to do something I would have thought impossible, even two years ago.  Two weeks ago, I ran my first half-marathon in Brooklyn; this was 13 miles of mental olympics that ended up being something I'm truly proud to have accomplished for myself.  While training for this was a challenge in itself, the fact I finished has been the validation of the journey I started when I moved to NYC.  I started off just wanting to lose weight, but I'm becoming more interested in what running can do for me from here.  I guess you can say I've caught the running bug, which I find pretty funny, since I used to see runners and think they were crazy for doing it!  "Who wants to work that hard?!"  Now that I've got my first big run under my belt, I'm on the lookout for other challenges to tackle.  I've just completed the Color Run this weekend, and next month I've got two more runs on deck.  There's no stopping me now!
AirBNB Brooklyn Half
Color Run 2015

 I hope it won't be too long before I write again, but I can't make any promises.  Til then.......

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Gyllenhaal and Wilson Dance, While a Thief Finds Redemption, and Whiskey Flows on the Lower East Side

Central Park

This is what I feel like most of this Winter in NYC has looked like and I'm just about at my limit!  On those days when the sun does come out, you can see people trying to pretend Spring has finally arrived, wearing lighter jackets and, in some cases, shorts, even though temperatures have barely started to reach 50 degrees.

During this cold, frigid, pain inducing season, though, we can still find ways to laugh, spend time with friends, and experience some beautiful moments.  My personal joy during the Winter months comes from going to dinner and seeing live theatre.  Fortunately, there are a wide array of both here, so all I have to do is walk down the street (while stopping at regular intervals at Starbucks to get warm along the way).  With the added bonus of the twice yearly occurrence of Restaurant Week, the choices become even more plentiful.

At the end of February, my trusty companion, Von, and I made our way to Crossroads American Kitchen and Bar.  The best that can be said for this place is they have really nice decor and lots of space.  We didn't actually get to eat a full meal there, because there was a problem in the kitchen (they lost our order) and by the time they had our entrees ready, we had to leave to make our curtain time a few blocks away.  I did get to try their wedge salad, which was tasty but hardly gave me a good idea of what their food is like (how can anyone really mess up a salad, unless there's some kind of insect or band aid hiding in there).  Von's appetizer of lobster mac-and-cheese was quite good and I was a little jealous I didn't make a different choice when I ordered, especially since this course was the only one we were getting.

With that disappointment behind us, we headed over to the Imperial Theatre to see Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson in "Constellations," a play about a couple's relationship, but with a twist.  They showed us the different ways events can play out based on the "infinite possibilities" that come from the choices that are made and each one's reaction to the other.  It played with the idea of parallel universes where every decision we make (and don't make) exists, but we are only conscious of the one we live in.
Jake and Ruth in one version of their dance
Jake and Ruth would perform a scene, then very quickly reset (literally) and do the same scene again, but with different emphases and responses.  The physicality alone of having to perform this way was impressive, but even more so was how the actors had to instantly change from crying, for example, into being joyful.  It felt a little schizophrenic at times, but was fascinating to watch and note how the least little thing we do can have a great impact on our lives and the lives of those around us.  I left thinking about many of the choices I've made in life and wondering, "what if....."

The following week, I decided to be an awesome brother and take my sister, Faith, out for the evening.  It was still Restaurant Week, so we tried E&E Grill House.  I had a little anxiety about the timing, because, once again, we had a tight curtain time to meet.  This experience was far better, though (we actually got to eat a full meal!).  They had a great staff and the food was really good.

From there, we made our way to the theatre, just in time for the show, Les Miserables, to start.  Now, this was never a show I was dying to see; it just wasn't one that was on my radar.  The only time I'd seen it all the way through was when I went with Faith to see the movie starring Hugh Jackman.  But, I knew Faith was a big fan and she hadn't seen this version on Broadway yet.  It was suggested that I could have just dropped her off after dinner and said, "see ya," but that would have brought down my awesome quotient, don't you think?

The show started with a prologue to set up the story and I have to say, rarely am I caught up in a live musical within the first 10 minutes.  It usually takes some time for me to suspend reality and get immersed in the story, but this time I was grabbed from the beginning by the music and the emotion and that's all because of one person.......Ramin Karimloo.  His voice is outstanding, but besides that, his grasp of the character of Jean Valjean had me believing everything that came out of his mouth.  Once this prologue ended, I leaned over to Faith and just said, "whoa."  The whole show was that way and for anyone who loves musical theatre, and this show in particular, this new version is one you should see.  It was raining when we left the theatre, but I didn't really care too much; I had just experienced something that was truly beautiful.

Ramin Karimloo as Jean Valjean
I'll end this entry with an event Von and I tried for the first time, the Time Out New York Whiskey Walk.

Oh, but before that, I have to give rave reviews to the last restaurant Von and I visited for Restaurant Week, Perry St.  We had, what seemed like, five different servers looking after us.  We never had to ask for anything and the food was beyond good.  They are truly all about providing exceptional service.

Now, back to Day Drinking on the Lower East Side, I mean the Whiskey Walk.  It was really more of a tasting, as most of the places we visited gave us a shot of Irish Whiskey to try.  Like Restaurant Week, this was a great way to see some new places that we might not otherwise find on our own in a part of Manhattan we don't often get to.  The highlights were The Copper Still (good food), Mama's Bar (fun atmosphere and great bartenders), and Thunder Jackson's (reminds me of New Orleans).  The biggest lowlight was Shades of Green (get a bartender who's not in such a bad mood!).  The most unusual place we went to was Libation, which is a full-on night club.  Once you get past the velvet rope, you can't tell whether it's light or dark outside and everybody is having a party (all at 3:00pm in the afternoon!).  Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon overall!

Finally, I want to give a shoutout to Mr. Von and a film he helped bring to life, Allure.  It's making the rounds at film festivals all over the world and recently premiered in New York.  It's a great piece of filmmaking and tells several intertwining stories of women from other countries and their lives in NYC.  If it comes to your area, check it out!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Time for Queens, Hawkes, and Poe

I have to start this edition by promoting the new issue of Time Out New York, because, well, it's promoting the best borough in NYC, which happens to be where I live (I'm not, really).

Thanks Time Out New York!
It seems like Queens started this upward trajectory soon after I moved here...........I'm just saying.....

One more thing about this issue, then I'll move on.  They have a section called "Word on the Street," which contains quotes the writers overhear regular New Yorkers saying as they pass by.  I thought I would highlight a few, because they're just too funny not to share:
  • "I can de-lint my own boobs, thank you."
  • "This morning, I took my bra off and confetti poured out."  Now, this situation I'm familiar with.  No, I don't wear a bra, but I've been to enough raves to have confetti and glitter pour out of various garments I've been wearing.
  • "Would you rather lose the Internet or your foot?"
  • This has to be the best one, though.  "I thought Ariana Grande was a font until yesterday."
Okay, enough free advertising for Time Out New York.  But seriously, if you're planning a visit, it's a good resource for what's happening in music, events, shows, and restaurants.


Next up is a play I saw a couple months ago with Von, called Lost Lake.  It starred Tracie Thoms and John Hawkes, both of whose work I have greatly appreciated and enjoyed over the last few years.  It was a play about two people who come together because he wants to rent his lakeside house for the Summer and she is the willing guest who agrees to take it for a couple weeks.  They aren't fast friends, by any means.  In fact, he's constantly dropping in and making her uncomfortable, while also not making repairs to the largely dilapidated house, much to her frustration.

What brings their connection, as the story unfolds, is that they're both harboring secrets that will ultimately alter the trajectory of their lives and they find they can each be a confidante to the other, which is highly unexpected for Tracie's character.

There was no huge revelation made during the show, it was more a character study of two people who are having a difficult time with no real happy ending to look forward to, much like real life can be.

The biggest takeaway I received was in understanding that with all the crap and challenges we experience, what we need are people we can talk to and commiserate with; they won't make our problems go away, but they can help us through our trials by not allowing us to go through it alone.  There's nothing worse than having bad things happen and be unable to reach out to someone for comfort or solace.  Even if it's through a phone call or an encouraging text, we all need someone we can unload on, who will understand us.  I know there are times when I've needed that for sure; I don't often seek advice, what I'm most interested in is just having someone hear me.  In many ways, this play reminded me that as much as I enjoy my "alone time," I shouldn't use my independence to hold people at arms' length.


Finally, there was the play Faith and I saw just this week, called Nevermore.  It's described as "the imaginary life and mysterious death of Edgar Allen Poe."  Their website also calls it a theatrical experience and it definitely fits that bill.  Most of the dialogue is sung, but to call it a musical doesn't do justice to what the show is trying to achieve in its telling of Poe's life.

Poe's mother and father
The story is that Poe comes across a group of theatre performers on a steamer and they share with Poe stories from his life that he has forgotten.  It comes across, at first, as a kind of farce, but as the show goes on, it becomes darker and darker, with tragedy upon tragedy occurring in his life.  Throughout, we see tidbits from Poe's writing and the whole thing has a strong dreamlike quality.  By intermission, Faith and I were both exhilarated by the experience and we couldn't wait to see what happened next.  I won't give away too much of the ending, but suffice it to say, he dies, and we're left to wonder how much of this was real and how much was imagined, much like Poe's character in the play.
Poe and one of the loves of his life, Eliza
It's funny, before the show, Faith and I were talking about how there are so many revivals of plays and musicals, and we don't hear about truly original work as much (the same can be said of movies, too).  This was wholly original and the actors involved (a small cast of seven) took on their roles and performances with abandon, not holding back an ounce of emotion.

What we were left with was an intriguing story about a complex man, and we were drawn into his world of macabre imagery, where we couldn't trust what we were seeing, but nonetheless didn't want to look away for fear of missing something vital to help us understand Poe evermore (see what I did there?).

The dreamy feeling lingered on as we left the theatre and I don't know if it was that or the lateness of the hour, but we certainly had a challenge getting to the right subway to get us home afterward.  When we went underground, it seemed that everywhere we looked, every sign led to trains headed downtown, when all we wanted was the train going uptown.  It's a good thing Faith was around, because at one point I almost threw my arms up in desperation, thinking we would just have to live in the subway station from then on.  It would have been comical had we not wanted to get home to bed so badly.  Fortunately, we made it to the right train and finally got back to our apartment, where I had the weirdest Tim Burton-esque dreams of my life.  Poe's influence on Mr. Burton is quite clear when you experience it in dreams, let me tell you.

Until next time........

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Phew! A New and Exciting Year Lies Ahead!

It's been a couple months since my last post, mainly because I was looking for what commentary I could make as 2014 ended and 2015 loomed ahead.  There are all kinds of posts out there about the past year and what we should focus on as the new year begins; why should I add to the din?  So, after much consideration and focusing on getting through the holiday season over the last few weeks, I feel like I can finally write down some thoughts, which may or may not matter to the population at large, but are still thoughts I'd like to share.

2014 was quite a year.  There were a lot of memories made, new experiences to be shared, and new friendships established.  This year, New York felt even more like home and as I continue to explore it (it seems never-ending at times), I look forward to putting down even stronger roots.

Tiki pub crawl
Roberta and I giving the tongue

Our neighborhood, in sight of the Empire State Building (it's closer than it appears)
A uniquely NYC event!

Cruising around the Hudson River with Faith
My first Comic Con!

Sunset over our little borough and the train that (sometimes) gets us where we want to go.

2015 looks to be an even more exciting journey!

Starting off the year celebrating my mom's birthday back in Denver!  I can't wait to see my Colorado family and friends; I only wish there was time to see everyone.  Thankfully, there's technology that can keep us together throughout the year and whenever anyone wants to come to the Big Apple, you have a free place to stay!

I'm looking forward to attending more plays, visiting more museums, and trying out some of the events I keep hearing about, like Governors Ball Music Festival and the Jazz Age Lawn Party.  I'm hoping, too, that I can put on my dancing shoes a little more often (before my bones/joints tell me to stop) and get around to going to the MoMA PS1: Warm Up and the Mister Saturday Night/Mister Sunday parties.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying the frosty winter of the city, with the smell of scorched street food always reminding me I'm in New York (in case I forget).  That's far better, however, than the smell of urine we always get during the warmer months, so I'll take it.  The cold seems to have no effect on the people that need to push their way along the sidewalks or onto crowded trains to get to wherever they're going.  As challenging (and smelly) as it is, I still love it!

I guess my point is, wherever I am, there are challenges and happiness in equal measure.  There's really no way around it.  But, I'm learning to overcome the challenges more quickly and enjoy the happiness that comes along the way.  I've found ever more positive people to surround myself with and I'm beginning to understand why they're so freaking joyful all the time!  I'm still a little grumpier than some, but not as grumpy as I used to be (I think my cold black heart might be brightening up a bit) and much less grumpy than many New Yorkers.  Who would have thought living in a city this size, with so many obstacles, I could find such strength and joy?  (Ok, sappy emotional moment over)

Happy New Year everyone and here's to another year of life, learning, and letting go (now you'll have that Idina Menzel song in your head; will it ever go away?)!

Can't wait to see Mexico in the Fall!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Fun in the Sun! A not-so-brief side journey from NYC to Mexico

For the first time ever, I took an exotic vacation to beautiful Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  I had to actually get a passport in preparation for this trip and that's another first!  My partner in crime, Tubbs (it's a "Miami Vice" thing), I mean, Von, came along and we did not hold back from making the most of the time we had.  I rarely take vacations that are a week long, so this seemed truly decadent, not to mention that we were going to an all-inclusive resort, the Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta, which made us feel even more like we were doing something pretty self-indulgent.  But, hey, we're worth it, right?  Don't hate us because we're beautiful!

The flight was pretty uneventful, although it was one of the longer ones I've taken, so by the time we landed we were definitely ready to get off the plane.  Neither of us knew what to expect really.  We had seen pictures of previous resort vacations the group we booked through (Atlantis Events) had done in the past, so we knew there would be lots of beautiful people frolicking on the beach and laying by the pool, but that was pretty much all we knew.  We caught the shuttle bus with everybody else from our plane and made our way to the resort.  I knew we were in for a good time when we passed a restaurant along the way called Sofa King Good (one of my sister's favorite phrases), so my excitement grew as we got closer.

View from a beachfront restaurant in downtown Puerto Vallarta
We pulled into the resort and as we exited the bus, we all got hugs of welcome (ain't that sweet?).  We were told to leave our bags and they would be brought to our rooms later.  This made me a little nervous since the airport always tells you to keep your bags under your control (what if this was all a big scam to get me busted on my return trip with some illegal contraband??  I wouldn't make it in a Mexican prison!).  The line to check in was long and sloooooow (thank goodness they were handing out trays full of drinks; Von was pretty happy by the time it was our turn to check in).  We got to our room and there was the luggage; all was well (no Mexican prison for Glenn!).  Once we got the lay of the land, it was time for.........a drink!

And the drinks just kept on coming.....

Have you been to an all-inclusive resort?  In one word......pampering!  All the food and drinks were included in our stay, so our biggest decisions were when to start drinking and what we were going to drink each day.  The best part was being able to stay put while a member of the hotel staff waited on our every need.  So, sitting on the beach as the sun set, reading a book, was made even better by the steady stream of bourbon I received.

That's not to say that all we did was drink, there was food involved, too, and we certainly maximized our options, trying every restaurant and eating at all times of the day/night. I haven't eaten that much food in ages and I've got the extra five pounds to prove it!

But, more important than the food and the drinks were all of the people we met during the trip.  Everyday seemed to bring someone new across our path and everyone was extremely warm and welcoming.  Being an introvert, it's always been a challenge for me to meet new people, but with Von by my side, it just didn't seem so tough down in Mexico.  We met people from all over the world and there was an ease to conversations that I just don't see all the time.

We got to celebrate Shaw's 40th birthday with him at a great party in his suite:
Shaw's the one hugging Von in front
There never seemed to be a lack of companionship on this trip and we made fast friends with several people who we hung out with almost everyday.  The social events Atlantis planned throughout the week helped with this, too: a Halloween party; a dance almost every night, including my favorite: 80s night (you forget how good Lisa Lisa With Cult Jam and Full Force really were); there were excursions to all parts of the area (Von and I trekked to the downtown area and had nachos and quesadillas on the beach); and tons more.  So, it really wasn't possible to NOT meet people during the week.  Von remarked once that when he first met me, he didn't think I could speak (very funny, Von), so being able to have some great conversations with the wide variety of people we met was fantastic.  Here's just a sampling of all the great friends we made:
This crazy, fun pair from Vegas!

Nick and John from New York

Eric and Tim from Dallas

Joe and Tony from nearby PA

This group dressed as the Real Housewives of Atlantis for Halloween

I could go into all the details of what we did each day, but I don't think a play-by-play of events would be of interest to everyone reading and it would take up far too much space to talk about our trip to experience the nightlife in downtown Puerto Vallarta with all the "dancers" wanting to share their talents with us in the back, private area.  "The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club.  The second rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club."  Suffice it to say, a good time was had by all and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything in the world.
Until next time, Mexico!
One last note, I have to express much love and gratitude to the entire staff of the Hard Rock Hotel who worked long hours and put up with a lot of shenanigans, all with smiles on their faces and an eagerness to help with whatever we needed.  And, to the Atlantis crew who were at every event all day and night and made sure everyone had a good time, their boundless energy was contagious and I won't soon forget them, especially Ellen's performance of "Nowhere Fast" from Streets of Fire.  Can't wait to be able to order another drink from Rosie!

Check out this short video of photos Von put together of the trip!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Comics! Role-Playing! Fantasy Adventures!

My birthday was quite awhile ago, but the best sister in the world made it last just a bit longer than usual.  She knows I love sci-fi/fantasy stories and she knows I've wanted to go to Comic Con for several years, so she put those two things together and got me a ticket for this past weekend's big event!  Unfortunately, she didn't realize she bought tickets for the same day she was supposed to go see the Broncos beat the Jets, so she had to bow out (more on that later).  Fortunately, Von was ready to step in and guide me through this world of cosplay, panel discussions, and sneak previews.

The first thing I noticed was, of course, the crowd.  There were thousands in attendance (total attendance for the weekend was over 100,000.....go NYC!) and moving around was not going to be a fast process, not even a little bit.  But, that did offer plenty of opportunities for people watching and vendor shopping.  In fact, I might have missed this photo op if I would have been moving at my normal NYC pace:
This goes well with my Doctor Who t-shirt
This stop in our journey also alerted me to all of the Doctor Who memorabilia being sold just a few steps away from this replica of a Dalek (good marketing people!).  I found my very own Sonic Screwdriver, albeit one small enough to fit on my keychain (but it still lights up when you press a button, so it's almost like the real thing!).

We didn't get a program of the day's events, so we were flying blind for awhile.  Once we sat down to eat something, a guy in some type of military gear, complete with plastic guns, gave us his so we could figure out where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see.  We found a panel discussion was about to start about Doctor Who, so we headed out into the masses of people to try to get there in time.  Being naive about this event, I didn't think they wouldn't have room for everyone that wanted to check out what's up-and-coming in the world of the Tardis, but, alas, they didn't get my psychic message to save two seats for us, so we were turned away to hang our heads low in shame.......  Okay, that last part isn't true, but the rest happened just like that!  I thought I could wash the sadness from my mind by attending the "Lost" reunion just a few rooms away, but they had canceled!  Was I never going to experience the wonderfulness of a Comic Con panel discussion?!  I had to find out some spoilers at this event that no one else on the outside knew!!

So, off we went to try to attend the "Gotham" panel, but that one was even closed by the time we got there.  Hmmmmmm, we had to think of a different strategy.  We figured we would have to get in line at least an hour in advance if we even hoped for a shot at getting inside one of these evasive shrines to nerd-dom.  We walked through the vendor area a bit longer, nabbing a couple shots of creatures from "The Hobbit."

Of course, no trip to Comic Con would be complete without a sighting of Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers!

After a couple more purchases, a Heisenberg action figure for me (he came with a bag of cash and a small bag of blue meth, how cute!) and a Daryl Dixon figure for Faith, we made our way to the panel for "Sleepy Hollow."  Now, this is a show I've never seen, but Von is a big fan, so I figured at least one of us would be happy (once I found some popcorn, I got happy, too).  We were more than an hour early, but there was already a line and it grew quickly:

The security people had to reassure the crowd they didn't need to run, that they had plenty of time to find a seat, but that didn't stop these costumed hoards from rushing in to get as close to the stage as possible.  We chose our seats rather calmly and, once I had my previously mentioned popcorn, we were good to go!  We got to see the first half of the newest episode of the show (not a huge spoiler since we were finding out only 24 hours early, but still) and three members of the cast and two executive producers talked about what they go through in bringing the show to the screen.  Orlando Jones was the most entertaining of the group, interjecting funny comments throughout the conversation and even putting a couple audience members in check who needed to calm the heck down!  In the end, I left fully satisfied with my first panel discussion and thinking I might just check out this show about headless horsemen and pied pipers....

With that, we decided we'd gotten everything we wanted out of the Con and headed out onto the streets of NYC.  I could tell you about the intersection on our way to the train where hundreds of pigeons were sitting all over the light posts, looking at us with hate in their eyes, but that's another story for another time.  Suffice it to say, the birds are going to rise up and we are ill-prepared!

Comic Con 2014 is over and I have to say it was quite an experience; lots of people sharing common interests across all walks of life and ethnicities.  Not a bad way to spend a Sunday!  Can't wait for next year!

Oh, yeah, and getting back to Faith at the Jets/Broncos game, she was having her own cosplay experience:
Don't you just love her!