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When I was young, my father would take us to these book warehouse sales, where mostly outdated and oddball titles were peddled on the cheap.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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The Moth StorySLAM



I’ll confess: I’m a planner. I download maps and menus. I read reviews.  But you know that Yiddish proverb, “You plan, God laughs”?  That’s what this city does too.  You’ll be walking through Central Park on your way somewhere and be mesmerized by a group of a cappella singers.  Or you’ll be heading to a favorite dinner spot and be pulled into a small little cafe you’d never noticed before.  This city seduces you with its endless possibilities.  And Moth StorySLAMs very much embody this sensibility.

For those of you who may not be familiar, The Moth is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the art of storytelling.  They host competitions all over the country where, similar to an open-mic night, people get on a stage and tell a story.  Each event is assigned a generic theme (for example, “betrayal” or “joy”), and the stories are tied to the theme.  The stories have to be true, and they have to be yours.  And boy, some of them are fantastic.  

Moth Story Slam - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

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