Thursday, March 29, 2012

Theater Review: Sleep No More *spoiler free*

I’ve been debating whether or not to do a write up of the off Broadway production of Punchdrunk's Sleep No More on the blog, because frankly, I just don’t know how to put the experience into words. If you’ve already seen the show, you know exactly what I mean.

Abandon thoughts of your previous Broadway experiences, as I can guarantee that this show will be the opposite of anything you have ever seen. Sleep No More is a Hitchcockian version of the tragic tale of MacBeth with pieces of the novel, Rebecca sprinkled in. It takes place in the 100+ rooms that make up the McKittrick Hotel – a 100,000 square foot space that once housed a bunch of NYC nightclubs. The actors do not recite lines of dialogue and there is no stage to speak of. Instead, this emursive production throws you right alongside the action as the actors tell the story through movement and dancing. Patrons of the show are given Venetian style masks to wear as they explore the space and are encouraged to ‘be bold.’ At any given moment, a bloody MacBeth could be shoving you aside, Lady MacDuff could be fainting into your arms, or one of the witches could be grabbing your hand.  Or if you're lucky, you could be whisked away to a secret room by an actor to witness a private scene performed behind closed doors. With so much action happening at once, it’s impossible to see everything that happens in the three hour span. However, the show loops every hour, so you have three chances to see Banquo get murdered, attend a lavish banquet thrown for Duncan and be transfixed by the infamous witches rave.

The show is currently running through May 26, but keeps extending its stay due to popular demand. If you happen to be in NY, RUN to see this show. You’ll be haunted by it.

My tips:
  • Get there early. If possible, book a 7:00pm entry to the show. That gives you so much more time to explore. And don’t waste time getting a drink at the bar until after the show. You won’t be able to bring it in once your number is called.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. OK, so before I saw the show, EVERY blog I read said the same cultish thing. But honestly, you’re going to be doing a lot of running around and climbing stairs, so wearing heels or uncomfortable shoes would really hold you back. I’d also recommend dressing in layers because it gets HOT in there. Remember, this isn’t a fashion show – everyone has the same mask on, so who gives a crap what you’re wearing.
  • When you check your coat/purse/bags at the door, be sure to also check your inhibitions. Fortune favors the bold at Sleep No More. As soon as you put that Venetian mask on, you’re given a cloak of anonymity to go where you want and do what you please without anyone knowing who the hell you are. Be bold but don’t be a dick.
  • Don’t mess with the actors. That just isn’t cool.
  • If you see something interesting happening, stick with it. Follow actors. We made the mistake of not following anyone the first time and missed pretty much everything.
  • Lose your friends. The first two times we saw the show, Dan and I stuck together. We decided that we wanted to see the same things so we made sure we were always in the same general area. But the third time I saw it, my friend and I split up giving me complete control of the space. I saw things I hadn’t yet seen and it was a totally different experience.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fishes and Birds

I think I’ve made it painfully clear that I love birds.  One of my favorite places to view these fine feathered creatures in action is at the Dallas World Aquarium. The upper level of the aquarium is an artificial reproduction of South America’s Orinoco Rainforest.  The enclosure is pretty open and birds can fly freely around you. Just make sure you keep a heads up because some of these birds like flying close!

This little redhead was my favorite.

He watched us eat lunch from behind the glass.

There is a hummingbird here. He was just too fast to see!

The Dallas World Aquarium also houses the only display of three toed sloths in the United States. We totally were engrossed in watching these two clean each other.

I think the area we all enjoyed most was the flamingo enclosure. These guys all started squawking in the same pattern all at once and it was quite funny to watch.

To be honest, even though we were at an aquarium, I do not remember ever seeing one fish.  I actually had to consult my pictures to see if we did encounter any and I came up with this ONE picture.  My dad says he remembers floor to ceiling tanks, but me, Dan and my mom do not remember the aquarium part at all.  Oops.

The Dallas World Aquarium is located downtown Dallas at 1801 North Griffin St. Hours are 9am-5pm daily.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Alongside all of the slot machines and table games of Las Vegas, there are many places to enjoy free entertainment in the city. One of my favorite free attractions was the lion habitat at the MGM Grand. We stopped by to visit the lions this past October and enjoyed watching the lions climb around and relax. However, as I was doing research for this blog post, I learned that the habitat permanently closed this past January. How sad!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Grand Ole Opry

If you’re heading to Nashville, the one thing that you do not want to miss is a show at the Grand Ole Opry. The show began as a simple radio broadcast back in 1925 and has become a national institution, showcasing some of the best names in country music. The Opry has been called the “home of American music” and “country’s most famous stage” and every year, thousands of people make pilgrimages across town or around the world to the Opry Complex to see the show live. For those that can’t make it, the Opry is broadcast on Great American Country (GAC) and CMT Canada, radio (Nashville’s 650 AM WSM) and the internet (

Just two short years ago, the Opry House was nearly destroyed after the Cumberland River caused massive flooding in the Valley area of Nashville. The iconic six-foot circle of dark, oak wood cut from the stage of the Opry's famous former home, the Ryman Auditorium was under 46 inches of water and many wondered if it would be salvageable. Thankfully, the circle appeared to be in "remarkably good condition," was refurbished and returned to center stage when the Opry House reopened five months later.

We visited the Opry last April and were lucky enough to see country legend Vince Gill perform. Oftentimes, the performers aren’t announced until closer to the date, so when this planner bought the tickets in December, I had no idea what to expect. Even though we don’t know a ton about country music, Dan and I were pleasantly surprised and found the show to be really fun! The highlight for us was Little Jimmy Dickens who is still rocking sequin suits in his nineties.

Little Jimmy Dickens

Vince Gill
The Grand Ole Opry has performances every Friday and Saturday night at 7:00 pm (and 9:30 pm select Saturdays) throughout the year. There is also a Tuesday Night Opry from March through December 11, 2012 at 7:00 pm and Wednesday Night Opry from July 18 through August 8, 2012 at 7:00 pm. The show runs approximately 2-2/12 hours. Tickets can be purchased here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Above the Clouds?

The lack of posts in the last few days can only mean one thing - that I have been a busy worker bee.  I haven't even gotten a chance to frolic in the unseasonably warm weather happening right now in NYC.  Shameful!   But our next vacation is a little over a month away (see ticker on the right) so relief from a life behind a desk is right around the corner.

Where I would love to be right about now!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

San Francisco's Postcard Row

After reading an entry on my friend Erin’s blog, Popcorn, Pugs and Peonies (check it out if you haven’t!) I was inspired to write this post. She lives in the Bay Area and often writes about fun things to do in San Francisco. Last month, she did a feature on the famous 'Painted Ladies' of San Francisco and since Dan and I stopped there when in town, I wanted share it with my readers too.

via wikipedia
Even if you’re not familiar with the term 'Painted Ladies,' chances are you’d recognize what they are, especially if you have ever seen an episode of Full House. The phrase 'Painted Ladies' refers to Victorian and Edwardian houses and buildings, painted in three or more colors that embellish or enhance their architectural details.

One of the best-known groups of 'Painted Ladies' is the row of Victorian houses at 710–720 Steiner Street, across from Alamo Square Park in San Franciso. The houses were built between 1892 and 1896 by developer Matthew Kavanaugh, who lived next door in the 1892 mansion at 722 Steiner Street. Since these houses are frequently featured in the foreground of panoramic images of the city’s downtown area, the area is sometimes referred to as 'Postcard Row.' I loved that the skyline and Golden Gate Bridge are visible in the distance, creating a dichotomy between old and new.

Many city tours include a visit to the 'Painted Ladies' as part of their itineraries, but buses are not allowed to park, making getting the perfect picture impossible. We weren’t satisfied with just a drive-by. So we took the MUNI to Alamo Park to spend some quality time with the Ladies where I had some fun with my new camera.

Fancy, huh?
If you’re heading out to San Francisco, I highly recommend stopping there for a visit. And hey, if you really like the Ladies, you can always buy one of them. In 2010, the first 'Painted Lady' (on the corner of Steiner and Grove) in 35 years was put up for sale with the very reasonable asking price of $3,999,999. Peanuts!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Blog Events: New York Times Travel Show

This past weekend, the New York Times hosted their annual Travel Show at the Javits Center in New York City. As soon as I learned about this event (thank you, Twitter) I snagged tickets and started mapping out my plan of attack. While countries from all over the world were represented at the show, I concentrated mainly on the United States – for obvious reasons.

We had tossed around the idea of a Hawaiian vacation for our 5 year anniversary, before ultimately deciding on something a little less extravagant. After talking with a representative from Norwegian Cruise Lines, we’ve decided to start saving up to sail on their Pride of America ship. They boast that their ship is the only cruise that takes you to all 4 of Hawaii’s main islands.

I’ve been to Louisiana three times, but have never really ventured out of New Orleans. Minus that one time I went on a swamp tour, but I could not  tell you what town that was in. All areas of Louisiana were represented at the show, from Northern Louisiana, Alexandria and Pineville to Houma. The ladies from Southeast Louisiana were giving away cookbooks full of delicious Cajun/Creole recipes and I even got to catch some beads without having to take my shirt off. Score!

The folks at the Travel Alaska booth were giving away bags full of literature and I have more information than I could ever want about going to Alaska!

I never thought about taking a tour in neighboring New Jersey until I stopped by the Princeton booth. The Princeton Tour Company provided vouchers for tours of the college’s campus as well as Einstein’s house. I will be taking them up on the offer!

The giant magazine of information available at Virginia’s booth proved that Virginia is not just for lovers! I can’t wait to thumb through it to get inspiration for an upcoming trip. 

The booth I was most excited to visit was Maine’s. We have never been to Maine and I honestly don’t know too much about the area. I spoke to a lovely woman from Bethel who assured me that there was more to Maine than just lobsters! She suggested that we take a drive up through Maine’s lakes and mountains region to take in the beautiful scenery and cute mountain towns.

Southern California is one of our favorite places on Earth and we need no excuse or reason to take a visit. After discussing the wonders of Palm Springs with the representative at their booth, we certainly have a new destination to visit next time we are in Los Angeles. (Bonus points for those who remember the 90210 episode where Dylan is almost killed on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.) 

New England states Vermont and New Hampshire were well represented at the show. I was mesmerized by the basket weaver at New Hampshire’s booth – what talent! And the Okemo Valley brochures we picked up make me wonder why we haven’t been up to Vermont yet!

One of my favorite booths at the show was the Sea World booth. As soon as I heard they were bringing ‘animal ambassador’ pals with them, I knew this booth was not to be missed! The little marmosets were adorable and so was Ziggy, the bearded dragon lizard. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Sea Worlds on both coasts and highly recommend making the visit to one if you can.

The ‘Best Swag of the Day Award’ goes to Celebrity Cruise lines for offering little tins of custom spice rubs. I chose a fish and poultry rub made up of lemon pepper, oregano, allspice, seasoned salt, Complete Seasoning and garlic powder. I cannot WAIT to try this!

After we soaked up all the information we could from the United States area, Dan and I turned ourselves loose on the rest of the world. While we don’t have plans to travel abroad anytime soon, we both grabbed a bunch of literature on African safaris, Pacific islands and European vacations.

All in all, we both thought the event was a good one and plan to visit again next year!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Casa Bonita

Every Wednesday night, Dan and I make a point of clearing our busy schedules to catch the newest episode of South Park. I’ve been watching the adventures of Cartman, Stan, Kyle and Kenny since I was in college and I absolutely love that this show has stood the test of time.

In a popular season 7 episode, Kyle announces that his parents are taking him and his friends to the popular Mexican themed restaurant, Casa Bonita to celebrate his birthday. Casa Bonita is Cartman's favorite place on Earth and he is pretty pissed off when he finds out he is not invited.  Naturally, he hatches up a scheme where Butters ends up locked away and presumed dead, which leaves one open invitation for Cartman. Success!  Until the other kids realize what he has done to Butters. Hilarity ensues as Cartman tries to experience all Casa Bonita has to offer while the cops are chasing after him. “Wow, cliff divers? Awesome!!”

Of course, we had to stop here. Unfortunately, we had just eaten lunch so we didn’t get a chance to see the inside. (The waitress did offer us seats if we paid $10 for drinks and chips, but we chose to not be fat asses.) The little bit that we did experience totally reminded me of a Disney ride, so I could only imagine the epic-ness beyond the velvet ropes.

Full episode can be seen here. Trey ranks this as one of his top 10 favorite episodes because it encompasses all of Cartman's awfulness and narcissism perfectly.

Casa Bonita is located at 6715 West Colfax Avenue Lakewood, CO 80214.