The books we read are as much a part of our identity as the clothes we wear and the music we listen to. They inform our worldview, build our vocabulary and shape our sense of humor. My father tried to cultivate a love of reading in all his children at a young age. Book stores and literary festivals were common stops. We were initially nudged towards popular kids’ titles, reading lots of Enid Blyton then favorites like Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. But once we recognized the wealth of material out there, we started to gravitate towards books that interested us personally. I went through an embarrassing teen romance phase (Sweet Valley High, anyone?) then thankfully moved on to a wide variety of literature.
Long ago (before the invention of the wheel, it sometimes feels like!), we were just a young couple in love. And when we first started dating, during that universal period in a relationship when everything is about connection and shared interest, we discovered with a great amount of satisfaction that we both had a mutual passion for film, from foreign gems to esoteric indies to cult comedies. We re-watched some of our favorites films together. There was Cinema Paradiso, The Sweet Hereafter, The Shipping News, Young Frankenstein, Dr. Strangelove, and, of course, The Princess Bride. The Princess Bride, in particular, became a rich source of our inside jokes.
Often, in those early days, I would muster my best (awful) impression of Fezzik (Andre the Giant, RIP) and drop this line at an absurdly incongruous moment:
“Why do you wear a mask? Were you burned by acid, or something like that?”
It never failed to crack us both up. Lynn’s favorite, one she still occasionally employs to this very day, was Inigo’s (Mandy Patinkin’s) response to Vizzini’s (Wallace Shawn’s) repeated use of the word “Inconceivable!”:
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
And we’re not alone in our devotion to this film or our continued admiration for the brilliant dialogue and its flawless delivery by its brilliant actors. A quick Google search will produce endless memes appropriating its lines. I found this posted on a co-worker’s cubicle:
True story: a few years ago on a late December evening, we arrived in Grand Central after visiting with some friends in Connecticut. We needed to pick up desserts for a friend’s party and Bouchon Bakery was a favorite, so we thought we’d make a quick run to Rockefeller Center. Well, we collided with the holiday-loving mob, and it took us an hour to navigate the tiny Plaza. So now, like all other New Yorkers (well, except Mary Lane at New York Cliche), we avoid Rockefeller Center in December.
Unless it’s late in the season and/or it’s late at night, and it looks like this.
But, now that the holiday madness has subsided, Rockefeller Center is actually a great place to visit. Come for the skating rink, the television show tapings or Top of the Rock. But stay for the history, design and amazing art.
“I haven’t got the slightest idea how to change people, but still I keep a long list of prospective candidates just in case I should ever figure it out.”
Before he became a contributor at The New Yorker or a best-selling author, I discovered David Sedaris where so many of his other fans have, on National Public Radio, and through Ira Glass’s spectacular radio program and podcast, This American Life (you can find many of his past contributions here). From there, I went on to read his essays, all of his books and attended live readings (read: performances — because, undoubtedly, that’s what they are) on what are now three separate occasions.
We walk through these streets every day, on our way to work, on our return home, but above the roar of street traffic, the glaring lights, the high tide of daydreaming tourists and jaded daily commuters, we hardly notice that it’s lined on all sides by an imposing steel, stone and concrete forest. These brownstone row houses, brick tenements and glass and steel skyscrapers are the trees of our great city.
The common expression is “couldn’t see the forest for the trees”, but in our case, that’s not the dilemma. All we see is the forest. So what’s it like to break the treeline, to venture into the woods, to examine a grand Methuselah up close and personal? Well, Open House New York offers an answer to that question.
Open House New York follows in the footsteps of a program pioneered in London, in which participants are offered “unparalleled access to the extraordinary architecture of New York and to the people who help design, build, and preserve the city”. This incredible opportunity is available through programming throughout the year, but also during the annual Open House New York weekend.
Four years and twenty-six days ago, I lost my cat Felix. Everyone thinks their cat is special, but calling Felix “special” would be doing him a huge disservice. He was uncannily shrewd. He figured out how to open doors and drawers. He manipulated timed feeders into futility. And he orchestrated cover-ups: he’d once gained access to a large bag of food in the pantry, but continued to pretend he was hungry at feeding times so we wouldn’t get suspicious. Felix gave me fourteen years of laughter, frustration, pride, annoyance, and lots and lots of love.
I’ve never shied away from the “cat lady” moniker, but it turns out maybe I should have. The term is often used in a derisive manner, with images of unattractive women destined for eternal singlehood attached. So Fresh Step set out to dispel the negative connotations with its first ever Fresh Step Feline Fashion Lounge and Adoption Event during New York Fashion Week. In a space located just off the High Line, Fresh Step and actress Katie Cassidy (of Arrow, Gossip Girl and Melrose Place fame) played host to a Hot to Adopt event, where models walked the runway in fabulous fashions and the hottest accessory in town: a cat.
I love movies. From the classics to the contemporaries, the small indies to the big blockbusters. We’ve been pretty open about that here on the blog where we’ve covered a film festival (here), attended an opening week screening (here), or most recently, just waxed poetic about one of our favorite directors (here). So when the weather warms up, it should come as no surprise that one of our favorite things to do is catch an outdoor movie screening.
New Yorkers are fortunate that there are numerous free outdoor movie screenings offered in many of the city’s amazing parks throughout the summer. You could watch The Omen at Bryant Park, Purple Rain at Hudson River Park, American Graffiti at Brooklyn Bridge Park or The Royal Tenenbaums at McCarren Park. But we’re not the only ones who love movies in New York City, and we’re definitely not the only ones who love free activities. City dwellers wait in anticipation for the schedules to be released at the beginning of the season and appear en masse for showtime. In order to find a spot most of us have to turn up hours earlier, often with blankets and refreshments in tow.
When I was younger, our family would spend the Christmas holidays visiting family in Singapore. My uncle was a fan of musicals and often had the recordings playing during our stay. I’d grown familiar with the scores of Cabaret and Jesus Christ Superstar, but had never actually seen a production. Then during the Grammy Awards in 1988 they featured a performance from Phantom of the Opera, and I became obsessed. When I finally made it to New York City, watching Phantom of the Opera was at the top of my to-do list, and it was the perfect culmination of my Broadway dreams.
Since then I’ve added somewhat to my Playbill collection. But Justin and I haven’t figured out how to become independently wealthy (tips welcome!), so we hem and haw, then judiciously try to pick shows that have something unique to offer. We’ve gravitated towards less conventional musicals — Fun Home’s deep material drew us in, while American Psycho’s promise got us there (you can find our post on that one here). When we heard about raves for She Loves Me, we were a little skeptical. It seemed too… basic. But boy, did it prove us wrong.
American Psycho the Musical is the latest iteration of Bret Easton Ellis’s 1991 novel about Patrick Bateman, a young Wall Street executive obsessed with appearances, and his murderous activities. The musical follows the successful 2000 movie starring Christian Bale in the lead role, of which, admittedly, I am a big fan. I enjoyed the commentary about materialism as well as the concept of the villain, though highly exaggerated, who lives among us. As the tale unfolds, we eventually come to learn that some of the murders didn’t take place, leading us to question if any of them did — the realization that we are dealing with an untrustworthy narrator is a nice plot twist that alludes to the inner workings of a disturbed mind.