Friday, December 27, 2013

Favortie Reads of 2013

The best books I read in 2013 in no particular order...

-Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets - By Evan Roskos

-Unwind-by Neal Shusterman

- Nerd Camp-by Elissa Brent  Weissman

-Fur Face- by Jon Gibbs

-Dweeb-  by Aaron Starmer

-Stargirl- by Jerry Spinelli

-The Hero of Ages- (last book in the Mistborn trilogy) by Brandon Sanderson
-The Maze Runner- by James Dashner

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I Burst with Pure Joy- Part 2

Since the show was at 3pm, we decided to have brunch before the show so that we could hop on the train and make our way back as soon as the show was over.  We chose Ca Va, a French restaurant, because it was near the theatre and because Waiting for Godot first premiered in 1953 in Paris, so it tied the meal and show together nicely.

The atmosphere at Ca Va could be described as classy cozy.  It was warm, casual, comfortable, and the food was yummy. 
Since it was our big meal for the day, we went with the special prix-fixe menu that came with an appetizer, entrée and dessert for $30.00 per person.
For my appetizer, I chose the chicken meatballs.
They were cooked in a sauce of truffled honey and preserved lemons, and were served in a mason jar, so for me it was already a winner. The meatballs and sauce were absolutely delicious.  The savory meatballs mixed with the citrus, and the sweetness of the honey was heavenly.
For my meal, I ordered the honey roasted chicken with a bacon-Brussels sprout hash.  I happen to love Brussels sprouts, so I was extra excited about the hash.  My chicken and the hash were very tasty. 
My husband got the seared scallops with sweet and sour eggplant.  He let me have a bite of the eggplant and it had a unique flavor that was quite wonderful.  I think I could have eaten an entire bowl of the eggplant. 
  For dessert we both chose the pear and fig tart with vanilla gelato.  It was not that it was not good, but I would have preferred more pear and less figs.  It was super figgy. 

  I should also mention that the coffee was excellent, though I would not have expected less from a French restaurant.
After our brunch, we made our way to the Cort Theatre to see the play. 
When we purchased our tickets a few weeks prior, there were not many available seats left.  There were two seats available in the second row and they were the same price as the seats in the first balcony.  We thought this was a bit suspicious and googled whatever we could find about the layout of the theatre to see if there was something like an obstructed view, but everything seemed fine so we purchased the seats.  When we sat down I could not believe how close we were to the stage. 
  I could have reached out and touched Sir Patrick Stewart and/or Sir Ian McKellen several times. They were right in front of us, together, alive, breathing, talking and dancing!!!  I think they may have even looked at me once or twice, which lead to a whimsical fantasy where backstage they said,
IM: Did you see that lovely red headed girl with the glasses in the second row?
PS: Yes I did.  She seemed to be enjoying the play immensely.
IM: I quite agree. Perhaps we should invite her backstage so she can discuss it with us?
PS: Splendid idea!
(Note: I promise that I am in no way a crazy stalker. It’s just fun to have dreams)
Just a quick synopsis of the play- Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett, is about two men who have been great friends for at least 50 years.  They meet together at a specific place (everyday? It seems like there may be some sort of infinite time loop going on but that is just my guess) to wait for Godot so that Godot can tell them what life is all about. There is no information about who Godot actually is, the characters themselves aren’t even sure.  The play is pretty much about what the two old gentlemen do to pass the time while waiting. The action and dialogue shift from being slapstick comedic, to wittily hilarious, to deep and contemplative, to downright dark and depressing.  In the end the play is up to your own interpretation as far as what it all means. 
The play by itself is fantastic, and when you add four great actors and it is absolutely amazing!  I can only describe the experience of seeing Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen live right in front of me acting together as transcendent.  The play is almost three hours long, but I could have spent eight hours or more watching those two on stage. I’m getting goose bumps just thinking about it again.  At one point in the play Patrick Stewart sings and does a little dance and they both do a little soft shoeing a few times during the play (though it is a straight play and not at all a musical). 
I also have to give credit to the other two cast members, Billy Crudup (yes Dr. Manhattan), and Shuler Hensley who also gave wonderful performances.  Out of the entire cast, I think Billy Crudup had the most challenging role to play as Lucky.  The role was quite physically demanding and I spent a good amount of time watching him intently. He never broke character once.  His character is mostly non-verbal, but at one point he launches into an insane mind boggling monologue. I’d like to get my hands on a copy of the play because I would love to see exactly how that monologue is written.
I enjoyed every nanosecond of the play, I was bursting with pure joy the entire time, and it will rank as one of the best experiences I have had ever! 

When we walked out of the theatre, it had just started snowing. Walking back to the train through Times Square in the gently falling snow seemed to be the perfect ending to an incredible day.

Monday, December 9, 2013

I Burst with Pure Joy - New York City part 1

It started with an invitation to a holiday party, my husband’s office holiday party to be exact.  It was going to be at the Hyatt in Morristown New Jersey, which is a bit of a drive from where we live.  The prospect of having to drive for several hours, attend the party, and then spend several hours driving back home did not excite us.
-But what if we stayed overnight? 
-Yes that could be fun, and if we were going to be so close to New York City, why not spend some time in the city the next day?  Then an image popped into my head.  It was the image of Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen crouched in front of a large pile of garbage, pointing and smiling. 
-Wait, weren’t they currently performing in a play, together, on Broadway?  And so was the beginning of one of my most awesome experiences of all time.
We left before noon on Saturday to give ourselves plenty of time.  We took a brief detour to hit the Crate and Barrel outlet in Cranbury NJ.  We love Crate and Barrel stuff, especially when it is on sale and discounted. 
After picking up a couple of small things, we got back on the road again. We arrived at our hotel, The Hamilton Park Wyndham, around 4:30pm.
This is the 3rd or 4th time we have used Priceline to book a hotel room and so far we have never been disappointed. 
 The hotel and room were both very nice and it was only a 5-10 minute drive from our hotel to the Hyatt where the party was taking place. After checking into our room
we changed into our swimsuits and spent 45 minutes soaking in the hotel’s hot tub. We were slightly late for the party, but the relaxing time was worth it.
The Hyatt was festive and the party was swanky and fun.

There were casino tables where you could earn chips to cash in for raffle tickets for a drawing for restaurant gift cards with limo service.  We did not win any of the gift cards (I found out later that my winning mojo was currently invested in winning a book that I had entered to win) but my husband had a good time playing roulette, and it was nice because you weren’t actually spending any real money.  The party also had the reappearance of one of my new favorite event buffet items…a mashed potato bar.  There was a live band with a rocking saxophone player and plenty of dancing.  
After the party we went back to the hotel and went straight to bed because we needed to be up bright and early.
We got to Convent station by 9am.  Due to work on the tracks, the trains were running a bit behind, which was not great because it was down right chilly and the inside of the station is closed on Sundays. 
I was excited when I saw that we would be riding on a double decker train.  The double decker trains are nicer, roomier and just more fun.
The train ride from Convent Station to Penn Station lasted an hour and then we took the subway to Times Square. Once in Times Square we still had some extra time to kill before our brunch reservation.  Since it was cold, we decided to kill time by wandering around in some of the nice warm stores in Times Square.

There were crowds, but it wasn't nearly as insane as the one year when we went to New York City at Christmas time.  It may have been less chaotic because of the snow that was coming, but we were pretty oblivious to all that. Once our clock struck 12pm, we were off to brunch.

Note: People dressed in mascot type costumes rank just below clowns and ventriloquist puppets in things that I am afraid of.  There are a lot of mascot type people wandering around in Times Square.  I told my husband that I would be fine as long as none of them touched me, which was right about the time when one of the Elmos decided to put his hand on my shoulder.  It is probably for the best that I have never been trained in the ninja arts, because I probably would have laid Elmo out.