Friday, July 27, 2012

Video: Road Trip USA

My friend, Kathryn posted this video and it was too good not to share. After watching this, I have a new goal - to get myself out to Monument Valley.

I must say, NYC looks pretty damn nice through this videographer's lens!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Rock: Alcatraz Island



Who says visiting an old jail is creepy? I find that there is something eerie and humbling about walking the same halls where some of our country’s most hardened criminal spent long days, stripped of their freedom, repenting for crimes committed. In the past few years, we have visited two of the most infamous prisons in the United States – Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia and Alcatraz in San Francisco.  


Alcatraz is located on an island in San Francisco Bay and was in operation between 1934 and 1963. In its heyday, it housed some of worst felons of our time including Al Capone (who also did time at Eastern State,) “Birdman” Robert Stroud and Alvin "Creepy Karpis" Karpowicz. (Rather than create a laundry list of Alcatraz facts, I invite you to check out this site which will answer all your questions about the prison.) 



Even though the island is just 1.5 miles offshore, in its 29 years of operation, Alcatraz boasts no successful escapes. However, in June of 1962, three inmates hatched one of the most brazen escapes ever designed. To this day, no one knows the fate of Frank Morris, John Anglin, and Clarence Anglin. Did they make it out alive? Or were they killed in their attempt? 





If you’re planning a trip to Alcatraz, be forewarned – ticket lines can get pretty long. My advice would be to pick up a ticket (with audio tour) ahead of time for the earliest possible entry and get to the pier with enough time to be on the first boat out to the island. That way, you can explore the space while it is sparsely crowded! 



Tickets to visit Alcatraz are available here.

*One of the stories that resonated with me most was from a narrative of an ex-prisoner. He recounted sitting in the prison and hearing the voices of New Year’s Eve revelers echoing from across the Bay. It was then he realized that there was a whole world going on that he was just not a part of.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Favorites: Broadway in Bryant Park

Yesterday marked the kick off of one of the summer’s best annual free events – Broadway in Bryant Park. Each Thursday from 12:30-1:30pm, performers from a few chosen Broadway and off-Broadway shows hit the park’s stage and belt out songs from their respective shows. My office is conveniently located a block away from the park, so I decided to spend my lunch hour soaking up some performances. The one thing I didn’t estimate was the crowd. Word to the wise, if you plan on stopping by, GET THERE EARLY!

Working in midtown does come with its perks! 

Spiderman!

Thursday, July 12, 2012
  • Stomp
  • The Phantom of the Opera
  • SPIDER-MAN: Turn Off The Dark
  • The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess

Thursday, July 19, 2012
  • Wicked
  • Memphis
  • Traces
  • Ghost
  • Sister Act
Thursday, July 26, 2012 
  • Voca People
  • Traces
  • The Fantasticks
  • Jersey Boys
Thursday August 2, 2012
  • Chaplin, The Musical
  • Mamma Mia!
  • One Man, Two Guvnors
  • Silence, The Musical
Thursday August 9, 2012
  • Chicago
  • Rebecca
  • Evita
  • Rent
Thursday, August 16, 2012
  • Nice Work If You Can Get It
  • Avenue Q
  • Bring It On: The Musical
  • Rock of Ages
  • A Christmas Story

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Theater Review: Macbeth at Lincoln Center



If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you already know that I have a slight obsession with Shakespeare’s tragedy, Macbeth. Just this year, we’ve already seen the show in two different forms – the avant garde, Sleep No More and Verdi’s version performed at the Metropolitan Opera. So, it was not a surprise that when I learned Alan Cumming was bringing his one-man show of this play to the Lincoln Center Festival, I was on board.

While I had been to the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle countless times, I had no idea that there was a theater hidden in there! Not surprisingly, the Rose Theater was really nice and much more spacious than I would have imagined for being tucked away in a high-rise. Our seats were in the last row of the balcony (trying to be economical here!) but our view was still great. 

As far as the show itself, we had no idea what to expect. How was Cumming going to play all the roles? Would it even make sense? Thanks to a pretty good understanding of the work, we had no trouble following along and discerning which character was which. This version of the play was set in modern times in a very clinical psych ward in which Cumming plays the lone patient. (This set actually reminded me a bit of the King James Sanitarium from Sleep No More – yes, all roads lead back to Sleep No More.) Within the walls of the institution, Cumming seamlessly switched roles from Duncan to Lady Macbeth to Banquo with ease. I have a soft spot for Malcolm, so I especially enjoyed Cumming’s use of a baby doll to act out that part! To add a bit of a supernatural element to the minimalistic production, the three witches gave their prophecies over three TV monitors. 

In my opinion, Cumming is an evil genius in that he made this production work. How he remembered so much dialogue, let alone Shakespearean, is beyond me. While a bit out of the box, this show was certainly a hit for me. If you happen to be in NYC this week and you want to see a different sort of show than you’d find a few blocks over in the theater district, I urge you to check it out! 

The show runs through July 14th and tickets are available here.  Read the New York Times' review here

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Top 10 July 4th Fireworks Displays


july 4th fireworks top 640x360 wblog Top Ten Cities for Fireworks

Looking to see some amazing firework displays tomorrow night? Check out this great list that ABC  posted, unveiling the top 10 cities in which to view some fantastic light shows!  How does your city celebrate the 4th?


New York City: This Fourth of July, the retail giant Macy’s will dazzle New Yorkers with a show titled “Ignite the Night.” The soundtrack will be a blend of patriotism and pop: Kenny Chesney and Katy Perry will perform in sync with the fireworks, which will launch from four barges on the Hudson River. (Steve Kelley/Getty Images)



Philadelphia: The Benjamin Franklin Parkway is the annual host of what the city calls America’s “Largest Free Concert.” The Party on the Parkway attracts 500,000 people culminates in performances by big names, with this year’s lineup including Queen Latifah, Common and Joe Jonas. After the music dies down, the party picks up with a 15-minute firework display that costs the city more than $2.1 million.(Travelif/Getty Images)



Washington D.C. : In perhaps the most patriotic location in which to celebrate the holiday, a medley of colorful explosions engulfs the Washington Monument as fireworks launch from the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. Make sure to arrive early — the roughly 500,000 spectators begin crowding up space in America’s backyard by the afternoon. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images)



Boston: The birthplace of the Revolution celebrates American Independence with the “Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular.” A concert by the Boston Pops Orchestra, with special guest Grammy-winning Jennifer Hudson, will provide the soundtrack for about half a million spectators as fireworks light up the sky above the Charles River. (Yoon S. Byun/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)



San Francisco: Pier 39 provides panoramic views of San Francisco Bay, the backdrop for the city’s 21-minute Fisherman’s Wharf Fireworks Extravaganza, which typically attracts about 600,000 attendees. (Robert Houser/Getty Images)



Lake Tahoe Fireworks: The 5,000 bursts of color in “Lights on the Lake” are doubly impressive because the streaks of light reflect off the surface of Lake Tahoe. This 23-minute show attracts about 100,000 each year. (Keri Oberly/Getty Images)



Atlantic City: Claiming roughly 200,000 annual attendees, this show is among the nation’s longest. A 22-minute display soars above the marina, followed by a 24-minute show over the city’s famous boardwalk. (Steve Maciejewski)



Chicago: Budget cuts have concentrated the Windy City’s Fourth of July celebrations at a single place: the historic Navy Pier, which juts out onto lake Michigan and provides impressive views of the Chicago skyline. (Getty Images)



Addison, Texas: This boom town’s fireworks display is aptly titled “Kaboom Town!” The Dallas suburb’s famous 30-minute show may off the beaten path, but it gets consistently high marks from the American Pyrotechnics Association. About half a million people from the region spill into the town of 15,000 to experience the musically choreographed display, which follows an air show. (Flickr/thom82)



New Orleans, Louisiana : The 236th anniversary of American independence is also Louisiana’s bicentennial as a U.S. state. This year’s “Go Fourth on the River” festival will finish with fireworks launched from two barges anchored in the Mississippi River that can be enjoyed from land or steamboat. (Don Klumpp/Getty Images)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Lions and Tigers and Bears



I’m not going to lie. I am not a big fan of the zoo. Every time I visit one, I always end up feeling sorry for the animals and walk away sad. And don’t even get me started on the circus. 

However, when I learned that the St. Louis Zoo was a) the #1 ranked zoo in the country and b) free, I was on board. (Disclaimer: Parking was not free.) At least I would get to see some birds, and we all know how I feel about birds. 

The zoo itself was quite large and we got lost in it multiple times. Personally, I felt that the signs were a bit confusing, but in fairness, that could have just been heat exhaustion setting in. Steph + Heat = meltdown. 

After watching the amazing documentary series Frozen Planet, one of my must see exhibits was the Penguin & Puffer Coast. Partly because it provided relief from the heat and partly because I am obsessed with all things penguin, I spent an inordinate amount of time in here just watching the birds. I cannot believe how still penguins can stand – they almost didn’t seem real. 


We also spent a good deal of time in the Jungle of the Apes because let’s face it they are just fun to watch, even when they are spreading their crap all over the windows.


This giraffe was a rock star. He was perfectly content just sitting there and eating whatever grass was in neck’s reach. 



It was hot out there, and this bear knew it. 



So did these lazy big cats.



For more information on the St. Louis Zoo including hours, directions and prices, please click here.