Saturday, April 22, 2017

Extra Innings

Baseball season has started and the Royals are in Texas! The past couple years they have made the trek to Arlington in May, but this year they cam early. The first of a four-game series was Thursday night and I made  my way to the game from Denton.

It was a nice night for baseball, even if the baseball itself was boring. There were not a lot of hits and no runs. With it tied at zero at the end of nine innings, the game went into extra innings. I decided to stay, even as it went into more and more extra innings.




In the bottom of the 13th the Rangers finally got a run. It's sad to lose, especially after so many innings.

I had Dennis, the very nice and friendly ballpark worker take this photo of me. 


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Your Name.

Today my friend Suzi texted me. This is not an out-of-the-norm occurrence, but she was texting me to say she saw an ad about pedestrian safety that the City did prior to her movie. Suzi isn't the type to see a lot of movies in the theater and opening weekend is not a big deal to her. So with the opening of the latest Furious movie and several other movies I was sure she wasn't interested in seeing, I was curious what she was seeing.

"Don't know. Something in Japanese."

I knew immediately she was seeing Your Name. Her boyfriend and his friend met in Japanese class so they were seeing this movie. I had wanted to see it and had even though about going this weekend. Suzi had thought about inviting me but didn't think I would be interested.

Previews would be starting in two minutes, so I left my home and high-tailed it to the theater right then! I arrived at the theater in a speedy ten minutes and was able to catch three previews!

I'm so glad I made it because I loved this film! We saw the subtitled version, which is just marvelous. It is the story of two high school kids in Japan - a boy living in Tokyo and a girl living in the country. The somehow inhabit each other bodies, triggered by sleep. So several times a week each will wake up in the other's body. The eventually figure it out, and leave notes for the other on what happened while the other was away.

This film is so beautiful! The animation is extraordinarily colorful, particularly the scenes with the comet and the journey to the underworld. I have never watched an anime film before so this was literally seeing something for the first time. I was fascinated in how the animation seemed "real", in that it felt like something I would see through a camera lens as opposed to drawn on a page or created in a computer. There was depth, out of focus, fuzziness, detail, background, color.

A big part of the film and its loveliness is the music. From the beginning intro song and all the way through, each song and music selection was perfect, adding to the characters and feelings of the film.

When Mitsuha is talking about moving to Tokyo I yearned with her. When she finally gets to experience Tokyo, in Taki's body, I understand her excitement at awe at the big city with its tall buildings and rushing trains and people and vitality.

I have always loved twilight, as during that time everything looks lovely. It is fleeting, though, and it must be savored in a short span. I don't think I'll be able to experience a twilight without thinking of this film. I do not want to spoil any plot points for those who might go see it, so I won't say anymore.

The film does have subtitles, but if that makes you disinclined to see it I will tell you right now to get over it. You will not be disappointed. This is easily one of my favorite films.

(My cousin Phaedra has a much better review of it).

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ivy and Tia Julie Take New York: Wicked

I told Ivy we could see any Broadway show she wanted. She hadn't yet discovered Hamilton, so she chose her favorite musical, Wicked. I thought this was a great choice, even though I've seen it three times already (Ivy has seen it, too; but I didn't realize that and thought this was her first time).

We got back to our hotel to change and get ourselves all gussied-up for the show around six. Ivy borrowed a dress from her mom and she looked so grown-up!


We walked the couple blocks to the show at the Gershwin Theater. Wicked has been playing there since it debuted in 2003, and is still one of the hottest tickets on Broadway. The girls sitting next to us with their dad were seeing it for the first time, which made me think to when I first saw it in May 2007 at the Apollo Victoria in London. I saw it again in the first couple months of living in New York. I saw it for the third time in SLC in 2014, and, honestly, wasn't that impressed by it.

But seeing it again in New York reminded me why I love this musical! Ivy and I agreed that the actress playing Galinda was fantastic. It's a slightly more showy role than Elphaba, and an actress can do things with it to make it their own. Nothing, though, is more powerful than when Elphaba belts out, "Defying Gravity" at the end of act one.

I had to take this real quick as the line was moving. 

I LOVE this photo. We look so great. 

During intermission Ivy and I discussed Fiyero, and how he didn't have much stage presence during his big, introductory song, "Dancing Through Life." It was kind of flat. The actor played the role of Rolf in the live version of The Sound of Music on NBC, and this is his first Broadway role. He was better in act two, though, and impressed me with "As Long As Your Mine."


Thanks, strangers, for taking this photo of us during intermission!

Ivy and I talked about what we liked about the show, mainly how a person can't judge another by outward things. And that being wicked can be relative, and that people can change. I like that it is a story about two females and their friendship and how they support one another. It's a great show!

Oh hey, look, it's Julie Andrews!


We were hungry after the show, and thankfully kitty-corner from our hotel was a Shake Shack. It was on Ivy's list so naturally we made our way there after the show. As we were crossing the street to get there a guy overheard us talking about the apparent long line. He said it would move quick and would be worth it (obviously; I've been there before but when you're hungry you want your food NOW). I had a hamburger while Ivy had chicken, and we each got a shake. It was delicious and the perfect ending to our night. Ivy couldn't believe that the Shake Shack was so busy at 10:30 p.m. New York is truly the city that never sleeps.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Ivy and Tia Julie Take New York: Day Two

Since rain was forecast for Tuesday, we decided to do the museums on Ivy's list today so we would be inside. This would coincide nicely with some of the other things on Ivy's list that were on the Upper East and West Sides (so no ice cream today, as they are all in lower Manhattan).

But first we needed breakfast. We went to the restaurant in our hotel for their gourmet doughnuts. We spared nothing in getting six, very large, doughnuts from coconut to lemon poppy to nutella-filled to share between the two of us. We sat by the window and looked out on the people rushing around during the morning commute hour.

We took the Shuffle to Grand Central so we could catch a green line train to the Guggenheim Museum. I loved explaining the subway and city streets to Ivy - where each subway goes, what an express line is, how streets are short and avenues are long. She caught on quickly and it made my little heart so happy.


The Guggenheim is a museum I never visited when I lived in the city, so I was excited to be able to experience this for the first time just like Ivy. She had a couple pieces she wanted to see, specifically the Picasso piece, "Woman with Yellow Hair." The Guggenheim is also home to several Van Gogh paintings as well as some Kandinsky.


We both loved the Guggenheim! Most museums are so large that they feel overwhelming and I never get to see everything. But the Guggenheim is the perfect size, and the architecture with the spiral walkway means you don't miss out on anything. It's the perfect museum.




We then walked through Central Park, since there aren't subway options for travelling cross-town. It was overcast and a little drizzly, but the walk along the Jackie Onassis Reservoir was still nice.



Now on the Upper West Side, we took the 1 train up to Columbia University. This was on Ivy's list because she wants to go to school there (or NYU). I told her about how after Auntie Em and grandma left New York after moving there, and I was alone for the first time, I came to Columbia and sat on the steps of the library so I wouldn't feel alone.

We walked around and took photos, imagining what it would be like for Ivy to attend school there. And then we were on a quest to find a bathroom. Which is always difficult when in NYC. Since we were on campus, surrounded by several essentially public buildings, we chose one to enter and look for a bathroom. We did, and liked that Ivy used the bathroom at an Ivy League school.




Since we were uptown on the west side, I decided to take Ivy up a few more blocks to see where I used to live. But first we stopped at the Hamilton residence uptown. Sadly, it was Tuesday and the National Park is closed on Tuesday. So we just took a photo before walking down 141st to my old apartment building. Oh the memories!


My old apartment building! 

My subway stop. The deli I used to love is gone, replaced by a Duane Reade. 

Then it was downtown to get lunch at Grey's Papaya! But first we made a small detour to West End Street so Ivy could take a picture for her mom of the apartment of the character Rose in the film The Mirror Has Two Faces. While walking down 86nd Street we walked past actor Mark Ruffalo. A true New York moment!

We got our hot dogs and walked to Central Park to eat them on a bench, even though it was kind of cold. But Ivy wanted to see the well-known bridge in Central Park, which we walked to after scarfing down our hot dogs and papaya juice.



Our next stop was the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and we needed to fit it in before heading Broadway that night to see Wicked. So we got on the subway and headed to the museum, with Ivy knowing exactly what she wanted to see. She knew she wanted to see "Starry Night" from Van Gogh and "The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory" by Dali. We also made sure to see Monet's "Water Lillies", which, along with "Starry Night", is still breathtaking even though I have seen it before. Dali's painting we missed the first time through, since it is a small painting. We had to ask where it was, then realized we had walked right by it!

I tried to get photos of Ivy looking at the art. But whenever I'd pull my phone out she'd also pull her phone out! 


The MoMA is cool, but it can be overwhelming with all the different levels and rooms. The Guggenheim solves those problems with its awesome structure and form.

Then we headed to our hotel to get ready for Wicked, which will be a separate post because this is already too long!



Monday, April 10, 2017

Ivy and Tia Julie Take New York: Day One

Ivy arrived in New York from Seattle on a red-eye flight at 6 a.m. That is awfully early for someone coming from Harlem to meet them at the airport. Needless to say, both of us were quite tired as we rode the subway into Manhattan. We went straight to our hotel at 8th and 44th St, planning to just drop off our luggage and head out for the day. When they told us our room was ready and we could check-in early (for a fee, obviously), I took them up on it. Being able to shower and get situated before heading out all day was well worth it.


Ivy made a list of things she wanted to see and do while in New York. I loved that a lot of items on her list included food and non-touristy things, like visiting the NYU and Columbia campuses, see Carnegie Hall, go to a movie in Times Square. But we had to do some touristy things, so after getting breakfast we started making our way to South Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty. We were originally going to do this the next day, but since it was forecast to rain Tuesday we switched things up.

Instead of taking the Circle Line cruise that goes to Liberty Island and Ellis Island, we took a cruise that departs from Pier 36, goes under the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges and sails past the Statue of Liberty. Since tickets were sold out for visiting the pedestal and the crown, Ivy didn't see any need to go directly to the island. The cruise we took was just as good.




It was a bit cold out on the water, but it was fun riding under the bridges and seeing the Statue of Liberty. We asked a gentleman to take our picture, wanting the Manhattan skyline in the background. He did this instead:

Once we docked we made our way around the Financial District for a little bit, checking out Battery Park, Trinity Church (where Alexander Hamilton is buried), and other places in the area. I showed her where I worked for a hot second, and Bowling Green park where I ate lunch a few times.



 
I wanted this photo of the date (Ivy's birthday). 

We were getting hungry, and on Ivy's list was eating at Joe's Pizza. That's where Peter Parker works. We hopped on the subway and made our way to the Washington Square Park area (I don't quite know all the NYC neighborhood boundaries and names). The pizza was fantastic, so much so that each of us had to get a second slice. Afterward Ivy experience her first find-a-clean-public-restroom-in-NYC. The girl eating at the table next to us had just used the bathroom at the gelato place a few doors down, so we did that too.


We then jaunted over to Washington Square Park and then the NYU "campus". Ivy checked out the bookstore of her maybe-future school. She's already in love with the city and I love it!

Since it was her birthday, we had to get ice cream. Luckily, Ivy had four different ice cream places on her list of things to do in NYC. We headed for Morgensterns, a lovely ice cream place with a blue facade and delicious ice cream. The workers were very friendly and let us try a few flavors. We each really enjoyed our ice cream choices.



It was nearing five, and Ivy wanted to walk the Brooklyn Bridge. So we hopped on the subway and took the green line to the Borough Hall stop. Being rush hour, there were a lot of people on their commute home, both on foot and on bike. There were also, obviously, a ton of tourists. It made for a crowded walkway, especially with those tourists that chose to stop randomly and take selfies.



This is my favorite photo of Ivy from the trip. 

It was then on to Rockefeller Center to get tickets for Top of the Rock. We got tickets for roughly an hour later, so we could be up there during sunset and so we could go back to our hotel and get warmer clothing! By the time we made it up to the Top of the Rock, the sun had set. But the NYC skyline at night is beautiful and we were glad to be up there during the evening. It was super cold, though, so we got our pictures and went back to our hotel, ready to rest our sore feet and sleep for the next day.





Sunday, April 9, 2017

Return to NYC

Last year I told my niece that for her 16th birthday - April 3, 2017 - I would take her to NYC. The date finally came, and on Sunday I boarded a plane bound for New York City. Since Ivy was coming from Seattle, literally the other side of the country, I put her on a red-eye to arrive first thing in the morning on her birthday. In order for me to be there to meet her at the airport, I needed to arrive the day before.

I moved to the city in September 2007. I left in May 2009 and haven't been back since. So I was excited to be back in the city that never sleeps. I knew the trip would be great when, at the long-term parking lot at Love Field, the shuttle bus pulled up playing '70s soul music. The driver was talkative and friendly, and we jammed to the tunes as we made our way to the terminal and then fist-bumped as I exited.

Right away I felt at home as I got on the M60 Bus and then the Subway to make my way into the city. Everything felt so natural and normal. The subway smelled exactly the same. The trains were the same. The only difference was everyone now staring at their phones.


While on the bus, I found out that I had won the lottery for the matinee performance of Cats. I had really wanted tickets to Hamilton, but did not win those. I felt pretty lucky to win any lottery tickets, and I only had an hour to decide if I wanted to purchase them. I decided to go for it. If I had known how the week would turn out, I would have given up the ticket I won and tried to see Waitress. But hindsight only works after the fact.


I found a place to deposit my luggage for the day while I roamed around and went to the show. I knew nothing about Cats, but was excited when I was shown to my seat right in the front. It is a strange show. It's more of a dance performance than a musical with a plot and story and interesting characters. Most of the time I had no idea what was going on or how the songs connected to each other (a friend later told me that Andrew Lloyd Webber based the play on a book of T.S. Eliot poems). The most well-known song, "Memories", is beautiful.


After the show I just walked around, reacquainting myself with the city. I went to Central Park, which was packed as this was a beautiful day. I went to Grand Central Station, mainly because I was in need of a bathroom. I went to Bryant Park, which was serene and lovely. I then took in the Times Square craziness as I waited for the friend I was going to stay with to text me that she was on her way home.




I stayed in Harlem with a friend. It was rather late, and I had to get up early to meet Ivy at JFK for her 6 a.m. arrival. The real adventure was ready to start!
 

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