Nice Fish at St. Ann’s Warehouse

I really enjoy theater. Always have. I was captivated the moment I first attended a stage performance. It must have been A Midsummer Night’s Dream or Our Town or The Crucible, though, for the life of me, I can’t recall which.

During my time at university, my exposure to the myriad facets of theater were broadened appreciably. I spent countless hours reading, analyzing and writing about plays, and throughout, my enthusiasm for the medium never waned. I took in the occasional blockbuster and maintained a healthy acquaintance with the standards, but it was the small, experimental productions that captured my fascination most.

Nice Fish St Ann's Warehouse

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Hot Chocolate Festival at City Bakery

Have you had that experience where you were positive that you hated something, then you tried it again years later and discovered it was absolutely, mindbogglingly delicious?  That’s my story with hot chocolate.

Most of my life I struggled to find a relationship between chocolate (which I worship) and the watery, sickly-sweet, pale liquid that shared its name.  Then we made a trip to France (part of our first trip together as a couple, coincidentally), and on a chilly evening when I desperately craved a warm drink, I decided to give it a try. I was amazed — it was as if someone had taken a rich, chocolate bar and melted it into a cup. I’m not sure I drank anything else the rest of the trip! And mind you, we weren’t at the Ritz Carlton. I ordered hot chocolate at small cafes and restaurants all over Paris and the South of France, and they were all similarly rich and delicious.

Unfortunately, the American palate has no room for such extravagances. Milk and Hershey’s syrup make up most hot chocolate offerings here, so I returned to a hot-chocolate-free existence. Until I discovered City Bakery.

Hot Chocolate Festival City Bakery

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Zoolander 2, Kiehl’s and the DZCFPWDAG



Living in New York City is not without its challenges: sky-high rents, overcrowding and a consistently manic pace. But those who suffer it do so for the trade-offs: great art, great food and great entertainment. Besides its 8 million residents, visitors also pass through here in droves, making it a great market for… just about anything. Enter Zoolander 2 and Kiehl’s cross-promotional stunt: The Derek Zoolander Center for People Who Don’t Age Good (or DZCFPWDAG to those in the know).

Zoolander Kiehls NYC

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Heart of Hearts in Times Square

When I was young, my father would take us to these book warehouse sales, where mostly outdated and oddball titles were peddled on the cheap. On one of those trips, I stumbled upon a book about the zodiac which introduced me to the world of astrology. The notion that the supermarket clerk and I could share similar traits based on our birthdates captured my juvenile attention, and when I reached the section with compatibility charts, I quickly looked up the only couple whose birthdays I knew: my parents. Appalled by my findings, I rushed over to my mother and exclaimed “You shouldn’t have married Dad! You’re not compatible!” My mother calmly replied, “If you’re not compatible with someone it doesn’t mean you can’t marry him, it just means the two of you might have to work harder.”

Heart of Hearts Time Square NYC

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Koneko Cat Cafe

It’s a sobering moment when, as an adult, you realize the magnitude of the sacrifice your parents made for you.  I used to think my father was unreasonably strict and purposefully withholding, but I realize now that he was, quite simply, a practical man trying to do what was best for his family.  He made us take piano lessons to teach us discipline.  He banned desserts in the house to help us maintain healthy diets.  And he prohibited pets because he knew the responsibilities of caring for them would eventually fall on my poor mother, who already had three children to chase after.  But my love for animals was inexplicably strong, so I would find different ways to scratch that itch.  I would fish my dad’s goldfish out of his pond and pet them, as if they were slimy, squirmy miniature dogs.  I would linger any time we found ourselves in the vicinity of a pet store.  And I would drop by my neighbor’s house four doors down, ring the doorbell, and ask if I could borrow a cat.  She would smile, grab one of her adorable little fur babies, and let me sit in her driveway with it.  I would spend hours playing with the loaned animal until it was time to hand it back and go home. So you see, I’m the OG cat café customer.

Koneko Cat Cafe NYC

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Titanosaur at the American Museum of Natural History

Like the children who came before and after me, I, too, went through a dinosaur phase — an obsession with toys, comic books, movies, novels and archaeological journals related to the clade of vertebrates Sir Richard Owen established as “Dinosauria” in 1842. Theirs was an entire alien world that could coexist simultaneously in the past and the present, the imagination and reality. And what better place to be immersed in the irrefutable, fossilized evidence of the Mesozoic Era than the cathedral of “Dinosauria” devotion, the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side of Manhattan?

Titanosaur Museum Natural History

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Celluloid Heroes: Cinema Paradiso

Even New Yorkers with the most rugged, indomitable constitutions know when to shrug their shoulders and concede. Whether it’s a blizzard or a weekend where the MTA decides to re-route all the subway lines you actually use, there are just times when you need to say, “New York, right now, I’m just not that into you.”  For those evenings, weekends, weeks or months that you’d just rather spend holed up at home (we won’t judge), we’d like to introduce what we hope will be an ongoing segment called “Celluloid Heroes”, where we’ll pick a movie — preferably an old favorite — and pair it with something fun you can make at home.

To kick off the series, we decided on Giuseppe Tornatore’s cherished and award-winning 1988 masterpiece, Cinema Paradiso.  

Celluloid Heroes Cinema Paradiso

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Building Tour at New York Public Library



“Please, no…Wait! Wait! Wait!” I shouted at the top of my lungs, slapping the side of the bus with enough force that the bones in my hand would gradually stiffen and the skin of my palm would radiate a dull, throbbing ember of pain late into the evening. In New York City (or anywhere else, for that matter), bus drivers don’t have a reputation for being especially empathetic creatures. Maybe it’s the nature of the job: long hours, miserable passengers, impossible traffic and a lot of repetition. But the driver of this particular bus—the final one to depart from the gate at ten o’clock—must have won twenty bucks on a scratch-off or had the weekend off, because instead of tightening his sphincter and stomping on the accelerator, he applied pressure to the brakes. And so began the silver lining at the end of a brutal week of work that would extend from the long commute home and through the weekend to come.

If you abruptly shook me awake at eight o’clock the following morning and asked me where I’d like to go and what I’d like to do with my day (WARNING: I wouldn’t recommend doing so without espresso at the ready), I’m absolutely positive that the very last thing that would spring from my lips would be, “Let’s take a building tour!” But then again, I had never visited The Steven A. Schwarzman Building, the flagship of New York Public Library’s four magnificent research centers and eighty-eight neighborhood branches residing in the boroughs of Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx.

New York Public Library Tour

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Fairy Tale Fashion at the Museum at FIT

Growing up as a fashion-crazed girl in Malaysia was like being a bread lover with celiac’s.  So when I moved to the United States to go to college, I couldn’t wait to indulge my fashion proclivities.  I happily rocked plaid miniskirts with matching sweaters a la Clueless (I realize I’m probably dating myself here), when one day I overheard a classmate snidely remark, “So nice of her to dress up for class.”  Then I started working, and the whole idea of an office wardrobe beckoned, so inspired by the power suits of Dynasty and Working Girl (okay, dating myself again here), I enthusiastically traded my plaid miniskirts and sweaters in for pencil skirts and tailored jackets.  A colleague rolled her eyes and stated, “I don’t understand why people dress up for work.”  

Time and again I was made to feel like the girl in the ballgown at the ballgame.  I understood that for most people, clothing was simply meant to be functional.  But for me, it always felt like an opportunity to be creative, albeit on a different type of canvas.  I was enthralled with the myriad colors, shapes and textures to choose from.  I was enamored with the way a piece of clothing could take you to a different place and time.  I marveled at the designers who created wearable art, and I yearned to bring a piece of that world into mine.  Fashion was aspirational:  it was a bridge between the the life I wanted and the life I had.  

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Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King at Cherry Lane Theatre

Standing in the small bend on Commerce Street in the West Village, waiting for the doors of the Cherry Lane Theatre to open, I take a quick glance around and note that Hasan Minhaj’s demographic is mostly what you’d expect: young and ethnic (myself included – well, definitely ethnic, young, not so much) .  And unsurprisingly, he starts out his performance acknowledging the “brown people” in the audience.  I cringe a little, fearing we’re in for a stale series of immigrant jokes that panders to a growing minority.  Thankfully, it pulls out of that treacherous territory quickly.  

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