Sunday, November 3, 2013

November 2, 2013: CANstruction 2013 in New York

Date: November 2, 2013 (though this goes through 11/13)
Event: CANstruction 2013 in New York
Location: Lower Manhattan, New York City
Summary: It's art! Made of food! Then donated to charity!

Tis the season of some of my favorite events. October 31 and the Halloween Parade is quickly followed by a myriad of other New York events that mark the end of the year and the Holidays. And many of those events are charity benefits of one kind or another. This is one of those: it’s called CANstruction

I first discovered CANstruction back in 2008 and have attended the event every year since then. What is CANstruction you ask? Well, their website states, “Canstruction, Inc. is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that holds annual design and build competitions to construct fantastic, giant sized, structures made entirely out of canned food. In each city after the structures are built and the winners declared the creations go on view to the general public as giant art exhibits. At the close of the competition all of the Cansculptures are dismantled food used in the structures is donated to the local food banks for distribution to community emergency feeding programs.”

It’s art. It’s engineering. It’s free to view. It helps feed the hungry.

It’s win-win-win-win.

Of course I go every year!

This year wasn’t the biggest exhibit they’ve had, but I must say I truly enjoyed the sculptures. Every year so inventive and imaginative and impressive. I love the creativity and appreciate the engineering.

In encourage everyone that can to look it up in their city – this isn’t confined to New York. Go. Enjoy. Take some canned goods to donate. A morning well spent. :) (remember, it's open through Nov 13 in New York!

Below are pictures of my favorites of the 27 sculptures they had.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October 29, 2013: Elementary filming on the streets of New York

Date: October 29, 2013
Event: Elementary filming on the streets of New York
Location: Lower Manhattan, New York City
Summary: It's a Sherlock!!

Woo! I finally got to see one of my new favorite TV shows filming! And I saw my second Sherlock live this year (though both times it was from afar). Still, Elementary filming, woo!!

I was fortunate that I had a break in meetings mid-morning and was able to slip out into the streets of New York for a brief set visit (thanks to OLV for the location info!). I got there as they were putting on the final touches to the set and then as they started filming – with Sherlock and Watson and Det. Bell, woo! The viewing wasn’t great and because of lighting they soon moved a massive white screen in place which blocked the view completely. Still, I enjoyed the short amount of time there. I never tire of all the behind the scenes stuff or watching the actors work, I really don’t. :)

Below are a few pictures (both behind the scenes as well as of the actors).  Please do not take or repost without permission.

Friday, October 25, 2013

October 24, 2013: Going to see a new Banksy art work

Date: October 24, 2013
Event: Going to see a new Banksy art work
Location: Hells Kitchen, New York City
Summary: I've been swept up in the Banksy hype and I love it!!

So, I’ll admit, I’ve gotten completely swept up in Banksy. It’s SOOOOOOO New York and it’s also art. Of COURSE I’m going to get swept up in it. For those that don’t know who Banksy is, he is a graffiti artist based in the U.K. who is spending a month in New York. Every morning he posts something on his website ( indicating what that day’s art is and its general location. Many of the works have been destroyed or removed already. Also, the NYPD is after him since what he’s doing (graffiti) is technically illegal. So seeing a new work as quickly as possible is key.

Sadly, I have not been in New York for most of October so I haven’t been able to actually go *see* any. So, yesterday, I decided that the moment the new work was revealed, I’d go see it, no matter where it was.

This is my little treasure hunt for the elusive Banksy art. :)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

October 20, 2013: Pumpkin Carving w/ Ray Villofane at NY Botanical Gardens

Date: October 20, 2013
Event: Giant Pumpkin Carving with Ray Villofane at New York Botanical Gardens
Location: Bronx, New York City
Summary:This guy does incredible things with pumpkins!  It's truly art!

Despite the fact that I was far from recovered from yet another West Coast swing, I had to rouse myself from my desire to spend all of Sunday on my futon to attend what is going to be a yearly event for me: going to see Ray Villofane carve giant pumpkins at The New York Botanical Gardens.

I met up with my friend, L, in a not-so-well-thought-out-plan-to-meet-on-the-subway-platform then we headed up north to The Bronx. I must admit, the sculpture itself was not quite as terrifying or (at least to me) impressive as last year. But it was still flipping amazing! And unlike last year, I got to see Mr. Villofane give a few interviews for TV as well as do a Q&A session with visitors of the garden, all of which was *very* interesting.

The idea of this carving was that a carnivorous plant was wrapping its vine around this huge pumpkin and squeezing out pumpkin wasps, which were then attacking the plant while the plant was trying to eat them. And remember, this entire scene is CARVED FROM PUMPKIN MATTER. PUMPKINS.


October 18, 2013: Nikki & Nora Premiere in Hollywood

Date: October 18, 2013
Event: Nikki & Nora Premiere in Hollywood
Location: Hollywood, California
Summary: Being a funder/supporter for a new webseries based on an old pilot, I was invited to its Hollywood premiere.  :)

I’ve been doing much traveling for work of late which has taken me away from home a little more often than I’d like. But at least on this trip out to the left coast I was able to combine business with pleasure, ending my week attending the N & N Files premiere in Hollywood.  Oooo, yeah!

This description is just one fan’s / one supporter’s experience, to be shared with other fans/supporters who couldn’t be there (and I hope it’s clear it is all said in good fun!). I apologize for the utter crappiness of the photos. My camera let me down (and maybe it had something to do with the wrong ISO setting I had it on; poo on me!) Anyway, here goes.

Friday, September 20, 2013

September 19, 2013: Subway Musician made of win

Date: September 19, 2013
Event: Subway Musician
Location: New York City, Union Square
Cost: FREE (well, except for the cost of one subway ride)
Summary: There are a lot of subway musicians, some better than others. This guy? Loved him.

So I was running just a minute or two (or three or so) behind schedule on my way to take the subway to Grand Central then an Express Bus to LaGuardia airport. But as soon as I swiped my metro card and maneuvered my carry-on suit case through the narrow turn-stiles of the MTA, I knew I had to pause and appreciate the site and sounds before me.

Setting up shop was a 'One Man Band', Jeffrey Masin, with sing-a-long tunes, completely genius/outrageous-contraption-of-musical-cacophony-producing-instruments, energy, joy, and little self-deprecating one liners like, "I'm Jeffrey Masin, One Man Band, otherwise known as 'A Whole Lotta Noise" and "If there are any musicians in the audience, I apologize."


I would have loved to stay for an entire set and even sing along with a few songs (I had to leave just as he was starting up a Beatles song, dang it!) But I had to mosey. Maybe next time.

Still, I wanted to thank him anyway for brightening up a few moments of my hectic day. :)

(click the read more for a couple more pictures)



Never stop amusing me, New York, please never stop. :)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

September 18, 2013: Commuting to Work

Date: September 18, 2013
Event: Commuting to Work
Location: New York City, Union Square
Cost: FREE (well, except for the cost of one subway ride)
Summary: It was a wee crowded on the subway this morning

I don’t often take the 4-5-6 train at rush hour. I’m fortunate that I can just as easily work at home as in the office so I’m pretty flexible as to when I actually go into the office. But today it so happened that I was ready to head to the office just before 8:00 am.

And MAN, was I reminded just how crowded the platform (and trains) on the 4-5-6 line get during morning rush hour. Now, don’t get me wrong. I actually don’t mind it. Not really. I mean, in New York you can choose to find such experiences as annoying or fascinating. I choose the latter. :)

With this subway line in this station, you can get a kind of ‘preview’ of what you’re going to face when you head down the stairs and onto the actual platform from which you’ll catch the train. So when I saw what I saw in the picture below, I decided to just stop for a moment, pause amongst the hustle and bustle, and actually *enjoy* the little bit of insanity, even marvel at it.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

September 11, 2013: Tribute In Lights from the Brooklyn Bridge

Date: September 11, 2013
Event: Tribute In Lights from the Brooklyn Bridge
Location: New York City, lower Manhattan
Summary: Remembering

I wasn’t in New York on 9/11; I was still living in Seattle at the time. But since I moved here I make a point of memorializing this day in this city that I now call home. A trip to lower Manhattan to see the Tribute In Lights, a stop at Ground Zero to reflect upon the past and feel the push towards the future as the new tower stands at its full height and the rest of the buildings at Ground Zero continue to be built.

I wasn’t in New York last year so I wasn’t able to make my way south. But I did this year. I decided to view the Tribute In Lights (the twin lights that shine straight up from near Ground Zero) from the Brooklyn Bridge, something I hadn’t done before.

It was a hot and humid night but the breeze out near the center of the bridge was nice. And there were a lot of people out taking pictures and seeing the lights.

Overall it was a beautiful night to be out. More pictures on the “Read More” link below.


Friday, September 6, 2013

September 6, 2013: FDNY responds to a fire in Midtown NYC

Date: September 6, 2013
Event: FDNY responds to a fire in midtown NYC
Location: New York City, midtown
Cost: FREE (unless you count my tax dollars at work)

Maybe in some past life I was either a firefighter or I was saved by a firefighter. I don’t know. All I know is that I ship fire trucks and me. Yes, yes I do. And also, I know I <3 the FDNY.

And today provided an opportunity to see a whole lot of the FDNY and many of their super cool trucks. I sincerely hope that no one was hurt – I mean there was a *significant* response and there were people out on the sidewalk that had been evacuated from at least one building and the FDNY twitter feed indicated that it was a sub-basement fire:


(four hours later they tweeted it was under control, so that’s good).

So, I will show my appreciation of their work by posting pictures of all their coolness and awesomeness. :)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

August 17, 2013: A Day Immersed In San Francisco

Date: August 17, 2013
Event: A Day Immersed In San Francisco
Location: San Francisco, California
Cost: $24 for transportation to SF and a day pass on the transit system
Summary: San Francisco is a place I want to spend more time

In the middle of August, I found myself back in California for business. It was supposed to be a fairly short trip – just three and a half days. However, a few things came up that would require me to be in California the next week, as well. So I had a choice: fly home to NYC for a weekend then fly back to SFO. Or, just stay in SFO. I was really torn but ultimately decided to stay.

Best Decision I’ve made in a long time!


As I described it to friends: The bad news is I had to stay over in San Francisco for an extra week. The good news is I had a weekend to spend in San Francisco!

And while I only spent one out of the two days in the little city, I FILLED IT UP. Originally, I just googled walking tours in San Francisco. So many of them involved walking certain staircases (especially around Telegraph Hill). Intrigued, I started Googling staircases in San Francisco. And once that search started I was all, who knew there were so many and so awesome?!? But there ARE so many and they ARE so awesome! So the plan for the day was: seek out and walk up and down and see and photograph the best staircases in San Fran. But, the day turned into so much more. I actually only did about 60 to 70% of the itinerary I had planned for myself and while it was dominated by staircases, I added in so much more.

The details of the day are contained in these three posts:
Part 1: The Cable Cars are as fun as you hear and Lombard is as pretty as you hear.

Part 2: You might think climbing staircases would be a terrible way to pass time in San Francisco. But you'd be wrong.

Part 3: Street Cars, Rainbows, Wild Parrots, and Murals, oh my!

Below is the summary…

August 17, 2013: A Day Immersed In San Francisco, Part 3

Date: August 17, 2013
Event: A Day Immersed In San Francisco, Part 3
Location: San Francisco, California
Cost: $24 for transportation to SF and a day pass on the transit system
Summary: Street Cars, Rainbows, Wild Parrots, and Murals, oh my!

This is post three of four posts about my one day in San Francisco (yes, just one day, lol). See these other posts if you’re interested.

This post has photos and descriptions from the third section of my day which involved mostly a disjointed self-guided trip (including three transfers) on San Fran’s street cars, a tour of the Castro District (this was mostly unexpected happenings that I was delighted to have seen), a couple smaller but still unique staircases (with wild parrots – wild parrots!), and an alley filled with murals.

Here’s the territory I covered in this third section.


August 17, 2013: A Day Immersed In San Francisco, Part 2

Date: August 17, 2013
Event: A Day Immersed In San Francisco, Part 2
Location: San Francisco, California
Cost: $24 for transportation to SF and a day pass on the transit system
Summary: You might think climbing staircases would be a terrible way to pass time in San Francisco. But you'd be wrong.

This is post two of four posts about my one day in San Francisco (yes, just one day, lol). See these other posts if you’re interested.

This post has photos and descriptions from the second section of my day which involved both book guided as well as self-guided stairwalking tours of various stair cases on Russian Hill as well as Telegraph Hill.

Here’s the territory I covered in this second section (after getting to San Fran).

August 17, 2013: A Day Immersed In San Francisco, Part 1

Date: August 17, 2013
Event: A Day Immersed In San Francisco
Location: San Francisco, California
Cost: $24 for transportation to SF and a day pass on the transit system
Summary: The Cable Cars are as fun as you hear and Lombard is as pretty as you hear.

This is one of four posts about my one day in San Francisco (yes, just one day, lol). See these other posts if you’re interested.

This post has photos from the first section of my day which involved getting to San Fran, riding the old time trolley car in San Fran, and walking up Lombard Street (the most crooked street in America).

Here’s the territory I covered in this first section (after getting to San Fran).

Sunday, August 11, 2013

August 11, 2013: Yosemite National Park from 30,000 ft.

Date: August 11, 2013
Event: Flight from JFK --> SFO
Location:  Somewhere High Above Yosemite National Park
Cost: FREE (though you have to be on an airplane)
Summary: "Ladies and Gentlemen, if you're on the right side of the aircraft, take a look out your window..."

I was headed back in the direction of California again (back and forth and back and forth and back and forth). And while the flight (all 6 hours of it) can get tedius, on this trek across the country, those of us on the right side of the aircraft were handed a bonus, a wonderful little bit of sight seeing: Yosemite Valley from 30,000 ft.

It was a crystal clear day and even from 5 miles up, the sheer face of El Capitan and rounded side of Half Dome were clearly visible and recognizable. I've been to Yosemite once and I have to say I've never been anywhere more beautiful. If the world were a different place and Greek Civilization had been born in the U.S., Yosemite Valley would be Mt. Olympus; it's definitely where the Gods would live.

This is the second time I've seen this national treasure (albeit from a far different perspective). And now I want to go back. So spectacular.


Just a few more pictures below.

Friday, August 2, 2013

July 30, 2013: Reception on the floor of the NYSE

Date: July 30, 2013
Event:  Reception on the Floor of the NYSE
Location:  New York City, Wall Street
Cost: FREE (though I had to get an invitation)
Summary:  I knew this was probably a once in a life time chance to see this place, to walk into this building.  I enjoyed every moment of it.

This was something I was super duper excited about. And it did not disappoint. Last week I got an email at work that said my company was hosting a reception for New York based employees -- on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Yes. ON THE FLOOR OF THE NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE. I could scarcely believe it was true. I mean, *on the floor* on the floor? Really? And I'm invited?  I RSVP'd immediately.

See, my company (I suspect you'll be able to guess what company that is based on the pictures that follow) recently switched from being listed on NASDAQ to being listed on the NYSE and this was a reception to celebrate that. And for me and many other employees, this was a once in a lifetime experience that we'll be grateful to our employer for!

Coolest things about the night (as well as pictures, of course!) below:

Friday, July 26, 2013

July 26, 2013: Fun on the Subway: Sketching Man

Date: July 26, 2013
Event:  Fun on the Subway:  Sketching Man
Location:  New York City Subway
Cost: FREE
Summary:  Sometimes subway rides are horrid.  Most of the time they're just the best way to get from point A to point B.  And then there are the times that make you smile.

Today I got on the 6 train to take me from 33rd St to 14th St.  Not a long ride for sure, but I saw this:  a man sitting on one side of the train and randomly offering to and then drawing strangers sitting across from him, then signing and giving them the quick sketches.  I love this city to death.

Drawing on the Subway
Drawing On The Subway

July 24, 2013: Set Stalking: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Date: July 24, 2013
Event:  Set Stalking:  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles near Wall Street
Location:  New York City, ~Wall Street
Cost: FREE
Summary:  My previous encounter with TMNT was completely by accident.  This time, not so much.

Thanks to (they're awesome!) I knew that TMNT was filming in around the Wall Street area for several days during this particular week in July. After my encounter with it in Times Square and having seen some pictures of the Turtles out and about in NYC on other sets, I had high hopes of an actual Turtle encounter. Sadly, while I saw their trailers, I didn't see Turtles. I did see Megan Fox, though. That's something, I suppose. And, let's be honest, I love seeing ANY filming, whether I know anyone actually filming or not! So, here was the experience.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

July 21, 2013: Accidental Set Stalking: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Date: July 21, 2013 
Event: Movie filming: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 
Location: Times Square (New York City) 
Cost: FREE 
Summary: I have no idea if any of the stars were on set. It didn't really matter, though, because all I know is I loved watching the extras throw themselves to the ground over and over.

After watching Body Painting (see previous post), I was walking home talking to my mom about it and I literally stumbled upon this movie set. I mean *literally* stumbled upon it:  I about tripped over one of their wires as I was directed by an assistant to please stay on the other side of the island. I guess I should pay attention to what I'm doing.

And what I was doing was, apparently, watching / walking through an active movie set. When asked "what are you filming?" the answer was always, "4 Square". However, I have reason to believe those answers were little fibs (or at least a code).

In any case, I got there just as they were filming what appeared to be a major disaster / explosion / crash / building collapse. While there were not *actual* explosions, there was (fake) wreckage everywhere, (fake) cops everywhere, a (fake) firetruck and crew, and extras were throwing themselves on the ground and pretending to only painfully pull themselves up. In short, it was awesome!!

July 21, 2013: Nude Body Painting Near Central Park

Date: July 21, 2013
Event: Body Painting
Location:  New York City (near Central Park)
Cost: FREE
Summary: The human body is beautiful; this artist uses it as a canvas...(also, let's be honest, who can deny the draw of seeing someone nude in public?)

Last year I saw this artist, Andy Golub, do body painting in Times Square.  Nude body painting.  It was wonderful all around -- the painting itself that was laid down on the model's skin, the atmosphere of creating what really was a bit of a spectacle, the various reactions from the people in the crowd from aghast to leering to enthralled to giggly, and just the feeling of freedom that surrounded it all.

I became a fan.

And I knew I wanted to see him perform again.  I missed him a week earlier but was happy to see that he'd be performing today (July 21) on the corner of 5th Ave and 60th St (essentially one of the corners of Central Park).

The experience was so, so different than in Times Square!  Whereas in Times Square a crowd gathered and watched; there was a constant circle of people looking on.  But in this location?  People seemed to not know what to do...they looked, their eyes widened, they laughed, they grabbed the person they were with and pointed, they might take a few pictures, and then they moved on.  Very few people stayed to watch for any length of time, and rarely was there much of a crowd.

Further, there were problems with the Central Park police (unlike Times Square where the police hovered at the background but never interfered).  It appeared that the Central Park cops didn't like the performance.  At all.  And they made Andy Golub (the artist) and the model move off of official Park property after about an hour.

I was torn -- on the one hand, what Mr. Golub was doing was legal (he's had several legal battles with the city which were decided in his favor from what I gather) and he'd notified City Hall of his performance ahead of time.  On the other hand, Times Square (as opposed to the entrance to the Central Park zoo) does seem like a more appropriate place for this kind of performance.  The model, after all, was nude.  I could go on and on about this but it's not really the point so I'll just settle on, I could see both sides of the argument.  I'll also just say that I didn't like how the original park police officer on scene handled the situation, but the Sergent that eventually asked the artist and model to go was utterly professional about it.

Anyway, Mr. Golub simply moved over to outside the Apple store (which for some reason just made me giggle -- this nude painted guy and an artist working right outside this super geeky nerdy place -- it was kind of perfect in that way).  And even there, people would walk by on the sidewalk and gawk and stop for a picture (usually with an iPhone, of course, adding to the perfectness of it) but, again, a crowd didn't really gather.

Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed watching this performance.  Again, there was this feeling of liberation and freedom by osmosis almost, via this model's nudity.  I heard more than one person voice their admiration for what he (the model) was doing.  And every comment I heard was positive.  There was nothing sexual about this performance, nothing salacious.  It was just art, with the human body as an integral part of that art.

Pictures below... there are one or two that do have male nudity.  Nothing you wouldn't see by looking at pictures of Greek statues, however!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

July 19, 2013: Walking Across the Golden Gate Bridge

Date: July 19, 2013
Event: Walking Across the Golden Gate Bridge
Location:  San Francisco, California
Cost: FREE
Summary: It was overcast, foggy, windy, and cold.  And I loved it.

Work took me back to the west coast again for a week in the San Francisco Bay area.  When I spend a week there, I usually try to get a very early morning flight on Friday back to New York.  But this trip I ended up booked on a 4:00 pm flight Friday.  I was very grumpy about that.  Until I came up with a plan:  use the extra time in SanFran on Friday to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge.

This plan made me less grumpy.

The weather, however, didn't exactly cooperate.  It was overcast.  It was foggy.  And I was there early (6:45 am) before any of the fog and clouds were burned off.  But you know what?  That's okay.  It made everything very moody but I still loved the walk and I loved the pictures.

A couple impressions of Golden Gate -- it's loud.  You're walking right next to the road deck where cars and trucks are whizzing by at 45 to 50 miles an hour.  Also, it's windy and cold.  Take a jacket.  It's might be a bit scary for those who don't deal well with heights, but not too bad.  The railing along the majority of the bridge is not super high but you certainly couldn't accidentally fall off or anything, and the bridge does move a bit (shakes and rumbles) as bigger vehicles go by.  But, as someone who does have issue with heights, I was able to make the walk without any problems.

But it is worth the effort.  The bridge itself is spectacularly beautiful, of course and an engineering marvel.  The walk is really pretty easy -- 3.5 miles round trip to go all away across and back.  And it's just wonderful to get outside and do something different!

And best yet -- I was able to get standby on the 11:20 am flight.  So I got to walk across the bridge AND get back to NYC at a not completely unreasonable time.  Win-win!

Okay, some mysterious and moody pictures...

Saturday, July 6, 2013

June 29, 2013: Apples On Parade

Date: June 29, 2013
Event: MLB Apples on Parade for the All Star Game
Location:  New York City
Cost: FREE  (well, except, ahem, for any props you might want to buy...)
Summary: 34 apples, 8 hours 40 minutes, 15 miles of walking,12.5 miles on the subway, 10-15 flights of stairs, sighting numerous landmarks along the way

A number of weeks ago I saw this big huge painted apple in Grand Central on the way to work. Curious, I went over to see what it was. Well, it was part of the lead up to the MLB All Star Game. I looked it up on line to find that there were going to eventually be 35 of these apples spread throughout the city.

An idea was born: go visit all 35 apples in one day.

A friend, Leigh, was going to be in town and I asked if she wanted to come. She was game. And then we got it in our heads that not only did we want to get our picture taken with each apple, but we wanted to do something special for each one – have a prop or a pose or something that was fitting for that particular apple. THAT spawned a hunt around my apartment for possible props and then a dash to Party City for more and then a realization that to carry all these props I’d need a suitcase. A SUITCASE.

But we were not daunted. So, on June 29 with the promise of decent weather, we met at The Apple Store (we thought that was fitting) at 59th and 5th. At 11:10 am we took our picture in front of the Apple Store and with a map and an Excel spreadsheet of the order we were to go in and what prop we were to use at each apple, we were off on our way.

Monday, June 24, 2013

June 22, 2013: 24 Hour Plays LA Benefiting Urban Arts Partnership (sponsored by Monte Blanc)

Date: June 22, 2013
Event: 24 Hour Plays LA
Location:  Los Angeles, CA
Cost:  Ticket prices ranged from $100 - $200
Summary: And with this, I become a bi-coastal supporter of 24 Hour Plays.  :D

If you know me, you know that The 24 Hour Plays benefiting Urban Arts Partnership (sponsored by Monte Blanc) is one of my favorite favorite favorite things to do in New York.  Favorite!  I have attended the 24 Hour Plays six times in New York, but this is the first time I've gone to the LA version of it.  It just so happened I had to be in California for work the following week so I wasn't about to miss the opportunity to come down to LA a couple of days early to experience this!  And I wasn't disappointed.

Now, why do I love it so much?  Well, why do any of us love anything so much?  It's hard to pinpoint.  But I can say that it was the very first Broadway show I ever saw after I moved to New York, so it holds that special place in my heart for that reason.  Second, I feel very very strongly about the organization that benefits from the show -- Urban Arts Partnership ( or @UrbanArtsNYC on twitter) -- which brings arts education to under-served students in New York (or LA).  And, third, you seriously just never know what you're going to get.  And that makes it

For those that have never heard of 24 Hour Plays, here's what it is:  in short, it's a show in which six 10-minute plays are written, produced, and performed all in the span of 24 hours.  The writers, directors, and actors meet for the first time at 10:00 pm the night before, then the writers write the plays all night, then the actors come back and rehearse with the directors all day, then they do lighting and such, and at 8:00 pm it's curtains up, and the performances end at approximately 10:00 pm, 24 hours after their very creation began.

As I said above, as an audience member, you honestly have no idea what to expect.  Will they be comedies?  Dramas?  Who will play what roll?  Will I laugh?  Will I cry?  Will the play make any sense at all? (admittedly, the answer to that last question is frequently 'no', but again, that's part of the fun.)  And also, it's clear every year, and this year was no different, that the actors love what they're doing, they believe in what they're doing, and that translates on the stage.  The audience can feel it, and we're brought along on the ride with them, we're part of this creative process, and it' I said, it's just plain fun.  (if you’re on twitter, search on the #24HRLA hashtag to see some of the shenanigans)

As for the actors, kudos to them.  They give of their time to this and their name (and for some, their dignity, heh) and they do it for an amazing cause, one I feel strongly about as I said.  I'm an engineer by training, a scientist by nature.  I’m all about numbers and the laws of physics.  But I know that I would not be a complete person, professionally or personally, without the arts (if you've read previous entries in this blog, I think you can see I do love artsy stuff), and I believe we need to continue arts education in our classrooms -- it's not just a 'nice to have', it's a requirement.  And that's what Urban Arts Partnership also believes and that's what they do -- bring arts back to the class rooms, both for the sake of arts but also incorporating it into the core curriculum.  Helping kids stay interested, helping them learn.  And more of them are graduating because of it.  As I said, it’s not just nice to have, it’s making a real impact on kids’ lives.

And so that's what these actors lending their time to this cause does.  And I'm not just speaking theoretically:  at this year's performance, the person on my left was there specifically to see Sasha Alexander perform and the person on my right was there because she wanted to see Sklar Astin.  And I’m sure these two cases were not unique.  All of these actors, their names, their presence was putting butts in the seats and bringing money to UAP.  So, as I said, kudos and props to the actors.  Respect.

Continue reading below about the individual plays from this year.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

June 22, 2013: Hiking to the Hollywood Sign

Date: June 22, 2013
Event: Hiking to the Hollywood Sign
Location:  Los Angeles, CA
Cost:  FREE
Summary: If you're in LA -- do this!

Catching up on some blogging here – that’s what I do with long holiday weekends, I guess. This one is part of my two-day adventure in LA in late June. On Friday I went to Paramount Studios (I may or may not get a post up about that). On Saturday, I hiked to the Hollywood sign in the morning and went to 24 Hour Plays LA in the evening. I’ve already written about 24 Hour Plays; this post is about the first half of the day: Hiking to the Hollywood sign.

All I can say is that if you have any time in LA, somehow get this on your itinerary. It was so much fun, great views (albeit through haze/smog) of LA, little bits of nature to keep you company, and an up close and personal view of one of the most iconic signs in the world. Do it!

My only warnings would be that nearly the entire hike is exposed to the sun – no shade to speak of what so ever. So, very exposed. Go early in the morning to avoid the heat, wear tons of sunscreen, and take at least one bottle of water (at least). Also, read up on which trails to follow – they aren’t marked – but also know that you can ask the numerous other people making the trek which way to go. In terms of difficulty, it’s about 6 miles round trip and while there is a steady incline on the way out there, it’s pretty mild.

But, all that being said, I can’t tell you how much I recommend this for anyone who wants to add a little something different than the regular tours and sites of LA. You won’t regret it. I sure don’t!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

June 16, 2013 Sing for Hope Pianos at Lincoln Center

Date: June 16, 2013
Event: Sing for Hope Pianos at Lincoln Center
Cost: FREE
Summary: 88 uniquely and artistically decorated pianos staged in the plaza at Lincoln Center with the public invited to come to enjoy them and play them.  A feast for the eyes and the ears!

For a couple of years now I’ve heard of this "Sing for Hope" pop-up Pianos (  Essentially, 88 differently painted pianos scattered throughout NYC, left in parks or other public places for people -- anyone, everyone -- to play.  The theme:  art for all.  I had always meant to try to go see some in their native locations but never quite got to it.  So I was thrilled to hear they were doing a closing ceremony of sorts by gathering all 88 pianos at Lincoln Center for all day Sunday.  After a morning bike ride and a quick breakfast, I grabbed my camera and headed to Lincoln Center.

And it was even better than I had expected.  So much better.  There are times when I just want to throw my arms out and hug an event and laugh in pure enjoyment.  This was one of those times.  I'm not sure I can fully explain why but it just was.  I had expected to fall in love with the pianos themselves, the colors and creativeness of each.  But I hadn't expected the pure cacophony of sound -- people playing pianos located right next to each other but playing different music.  Yet it wasn't noise, it wasn't dissonant, it was just so many different musical notes coming at you much like each piano was something different visually.  So I loved the pianos and I loved the music.  But I think what struck me the most, the thing that really made me want to hug the entire scene was the people.  The different races, ages, gender, types of dress, types of style that each person had.  It was a cross section of New York.  Not of high society New York (which one might think when one thinks of 'piano playing at Lincoln Center') but of all of New York.  Everyone coming together to just enjoy some music.

When I looked through all my pictures (I won't admit exactly how many I took), I would have expected that most would have been of the pianos.  But no, the biggest block of pictures were of the people playing the pianos.  The people, the players, they were what really captured my imagination.

Sadly, it is impossible to impart through pictures the audio aspect of the experience (even harder than imparting the taste and smells of the food festivals), but I hope the pictures at least tell a story you can understand....

Saturday, June 15, 2013

June 14, 2013: Leonard Nimoy's Vincent

Date: June 14, 2013
Event: Leonard Nimoy's Vincent at Symphony House, with Q&A afterwards with Mr. Nimoy
Cost: $35 for a general admission ticket
Summary:  I readily admit I knew little about Vincent van Gogh; this was an amazing way to gain some knowledge and insight.

I will be the first to admit that not only did I not know much about Vincent van Gogh (other than what we learned in art history class and getting my picture taken with Stary Night at MoMA), but I will also admit that I pretty much went to this play because of the Q&A session afterwards with Mr. Nimoy (*cough*yes I'm a trekkie*cough*).

But, it was such a wonderful surprise.  The actor (singular, for it was a one man show),  Jean-Michel Richaud, was amazing!  Amazing!  The pace was good, the material was interesting, and the length was perfect.  I left with a desire to know a little bit more about Vincent van Gogh (and about his brother Theo, who was the narrator in this play).

And, of course, the Q&A was wonderful.  No mention of Star Trek other than a passing comment when asked why he wrote Vincent.  Mr. Nimoy's answer was he was tired of talking about the things he was talking about -- something about a TV show he did once (at which point the audience laughed appropriately and knowingly) -- and that there must be more out there he could do.  So he wrote this play.

Lots more about the play and Q&A (as well as pictures) below the cut.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

June 8 & 9, 2013: Big Apple Barbecue Block Party

Date: June 8-9, 2013
Event: Big Apple Barbecue Block Party
Cost: FREE (unless you want to actually EAT the barbecue, at which time it will run you about $9 each)
Summary:  Open flame, smoke, sizzling, sun, barbecue sauce, meat.

This weekend's adventure? The Big Apple Barbecue Block Party ( -- a huge BBQ festival in Madison Square Park. Pit Masters (I'm learning the lingo) from around the nation come to share their wares with the fine citizens of New York City.

So, yes, since this is a BBQ Festival, you are about to be treated to more PICTURES OF FOOD. More specifically, meat. Lots and lots of meat. And there was lots of it. What I loved the most, though, was that it really was a giant cookout. Open flames everywhere, smoke filling the air, feeling the heat of the smokers if you got close, the smell of grilling ribs infiltrating ones nose, and everyone seeming to be having just a very relaxing and nice time -- truely like a giant back yard barbecue, but surrounded by the sky scrappers and cabs that are NYC.

My only complaint is that dishes cost $9 and they were generally meal (or half a meal) sized -- I wish they'd have a sample for $2-3 that was really just a few bites. Then one could sample a bunch without spending a small fortune and without throwing a ton of food away. Of course, I guess this just means I need to make more friends so 4 or 5 of us can go and each get something different and then share. (As an aside, I'm auditioning friends...anyone want to apply? ;) )

The festival was both Saturday and Sunday. I went on both Saturday and Sunday and loved it. Loved taking pictures, loved the sights and sounds, loved watching the unabashed love affair with cooking meat over flame, slathering it with messy red sauces, consuming it, going "OMG this is soooo good!", then getting back in line for more. Sadly, I didn't come away with pictures I really like. Oh well, it was still fun. And next year, I might actually partake in the tasting! :)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

June 4, 2013: Breakfast Briefings at Bryant Park with Bobby Flay

Date: June 4, 2013
Event: Breakfast Briefings at Bryant Park with Bobby Flay
Cost: FREE (well, an hour of sleep so I could get to work early so I could take an hour off)
Summary:  Beautiful morning, beautiful weather, free coffee, and Bobby Flay talking about barbecuing.

I was checking my twitter feed last night and lo and behold, Bryant Park (@BryantParkNYC) tweets about the first "Breakfast Briefing" (sponsored by Wall Street Journal) of the year -- a one hour discussion with Bobby Flay, click here to register.  Why, I think I *will* click there to register, thank you!

So, about 14 hours later I find myself at Bryant Park on the most gorgeous of spring/summer mornings.  And soon after that, found myself in this wonderful little outdoor seating area listening to Bobby Flay talk about cooking, his restaurants, Iron Chef, an upcoming book of his, and barbecuing.  All the while enjoying the weather and sipping coffee while the city goes on around us.  Mornings like this is just one of the things I love about NYC.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

June 1 & 2, 2013: HOWL Festival

Date: June 1 & 2, 2013
Event: HOWL Festival
Cost: FREE
Summary: It's like they are making an art museum right before your eyes.

I had never heard of the HOWL Festival.  Or maybe I had but hadn't really thought much about it.  But as I was looking for something to do this weekend, this looked interesting.  It is an arts festival encompassing music, dance, visual art, poetry, etc.  Pretty much everything.  It's probably easiest if you read about it at their website here:  About HOWL.

While there was lots going on on various stages and locations in Tomkins Square Park, I most went for Art Around The Park which the festival website describes thusly: "A live action weekend-long event involving 140 artists of all ages turns an 8 foot high, 900 foot long blank "canvas" encircling the exterior of Tompkins Square Park into an explosion of color and creativity."

And let me tell you, it did NOT disappoint.  AT ALL.  It was amazing.  Awesome.  The creativity, the creation, the colors, the controlled chaos, and all the other things that don't begin with 'c'!  Seriously, each artist used their canvas so differently and seeing each style, each bit of invention, some thought provoking, some very much not, all of them interesting in their own way.  Loved them all.  Some more than others, of course.  And to be there to watch them being created -- not just to see the finished product but to *watch* them being created.  It was wonderful.  It really was.

And if you're in New York during HOWL, I highly recommend going on Saturday to see it all happening.  And then if you've got time and if you're curious, head back on Sunday to see the finished product.

LOTS and LOTS (and lots) of pictures under the cut.  :)

June 1, 2013: Name Tag Day!

Date:  June 1, 2013
Event:  Name Tag Day
Cost:  FREE
Summary:  Volunteers with the Awesome Foundation hand out thousands of name tags to New Yorkers so that we can say hi to each other by name as we pass each other on the side walk.  What's not to love?

Pretty much, the summary says it all.  What a fun idea.  I got my name tag while I was out at the Howl Festival (post on that to come) and managed to say 'hi' to two other people.  "Hi Terrance!" and "Hi Jenny!".  This resulted in smiles and waves.

Then, as I was headed back to my apartment, I was at Starbucks near Union Square (one of the locations where name tags were being handed out) and just as I was leaving these two women were coming in and I heard one say to the other, "What's with all the name tags?"  That also made me smile.

And finally, as I was headed across Union Square, I heard this, "Hi, Jill!" I turn and look and it's the person who gave me my name tag.  How he remembered my name I have no idea.  But we both waved at each other frantically.  And I smiled the rest of the way to my apartment.

Thank you Awesome Foundation.

Just a couple pictures after the jump.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

May 25, 2013: Manchester City FC vs. Chelsea FC

Date:  May 25, 2013
Event:  Soccer at Yankee Stadium:  Manchester City FC vs. Chelsea FC
Cost:  $120 (for the ticket, $4 for the terrible coffee I got at half time because I was freezing)
Summary:  Soccer at Yankee Stadium?!  As in Yankee Stadium Yankee Stadium?  Clearly this is something I need to check out!

So, yeah, the summary pretty much is it.  A friend of mine tweeted me asking if I was going to this game at Yankee Stadium and, to be honest, I hadn't even heard that it was taking place.  But once I looked into it, it was something right up my alley.  I mean, I'm not a huge men's soccer fan (I far prefer the women's game) and all those leagues and cups and stuff the Europeans have confuses me to death.  But, you know, I'd *heard* of both of these teams and, well, I wanted to experience some European football.  And, I'm finding I love doing sports photography, so this was a perfect opportunity to indulge in that as well.  So off I went!

Friday, May 24, 2013

May 23, 2013: Rain Storm in Union Square

Date:  May 23, 2013
Event:  And Then This Happened:  Rain Storm in Union Square
Cost:  FREE (and included a pair of soaking wet socks!)
Summary:  When life hands you a massive passing rain storm, take pictures.

I had an umbrella at work.  I try to keep one there in case it, you know, rains.  And while it was threatening when I left the office, no one outside was carrying one so I decided I could go without.  And I made it from the office to Grand Central just fine.  It was when I got to Union Square that I found I'd perhaps made the wrong decision.

Though, with how hard it was coming down, I'm not sure an umbrella would have made much difference.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

May 18, 2013: 9th Avenue International Food Festival

Date: May 18, 2013
Event: 9th Avenue International Food Festival
Cost: FREE to get in; cost of food varied depending on what you got
Summary: A Feast for the eyes as well as the stomach.

This week. I’m telling you, this week. Amazing just kind of New York day on Tuesday, TNT upfronts Wednesday, USA upfronts Thursday, then Saturday brought the first day of a two-day huge street food festival. It was 15 blocks (from 42nd St to 57th St) on 9th Avenue lined with booths of food and other vendors (though mostly just food), with many of the restaurants along 9th Ave participating.

For more official information, you can check out their website here: 9th Ave Int. Food Festival

For my own experience, read on. For it was true feast for the senses. Most of the food was prepped right on the street so there were smells and sounds of sizzling, the food itself looked marvelous, the cookie I had *tasted* marvelous, everyone was out walking and eating all sorts of tasty morsels, the NYPD were out keeping us safe and everyone seemed to be having a yummy and fun time.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

May 15, 2013: Turner Broadcasting Upfronts 2013

Date: May 15, 2013
Event: Turner Broadcasting Upfronts 2013
Cost: FREE
Summary: In short, SQUEE!!!  (also, best time you’ll have standing outside a methadone clinic. Ever.  No, really.)

Let me just start this off with OMG OMG OMG SQUEE!!!

*deep breath*





There, now that I got that out of the way, I can give you a run down on what the hell I’m squeeing about.