Thursday, March 31, 2011

My FRIENDS and I Will Have What She's Having

This past Sunday Eric and I set out to cross a couple of things off my New York To-Do List: hunt down (and take a photo in front of) the apartment building used in exterior shots of Friends, and eat at Katz's Deli.

Our first stop was the Friends apartment building, at the corner of Grove and Bedford in Greenwich Village. As those of you who know me already know, I am a HUGE Friends fan. You know that I had my bridal party introduced to the Friends theme song at my wedding, and gave out Friends-inspired favors. You know that I nearly died of sheer joy when I got to sit on the actual Friends couch on the Central Perk set in L.A. last May. Basically, Friends is my all-time favorite television show and how I have lived in New York City for over two and a half years and had not until this point sought out the Friends apartment building will remain one of life's great mysteries.

But hey, better late than never, right? We found it with no trouble, and took way too many pictures of it. Of course, Friends was not actually filmed in New York, so this is only the building they used for exterior shots, but I was quite excited. Not to mention, that whole neighborhood is ridiculously cute. I could definitely live there.

There it is! I recognized it immediately.


It's practically like we're on the show!

From there we walked across town to Katz's Deli on the Lower East Side. This destination was on our NYC To-Do List because it was a featured location in my most favorite movie, When Harry Met Sally. Remember that infamous "I'll have what she's having" scene? Katz's Deli, baby!

VIDEO: That classic scene! (Side note - did I really post two sex-related videos in one week? Yikes. Sorry, parents!)

We also heard some of their meats are amazing so hey, sounds like a good lunch stop. There was a line out the door waiting to get in, but it moved quite quickly. We were inside before we knew it.

Katz's Delicatessen

See the line along the side of the building?

Waiting to get in

Inside, it was kind of pandemonium. People EVERYWHERE. Super crowded. Also, they give each person a little ticket when you walk in the door, and whenever you order from the counter, they mark your ticket. Then you present your ticket and pay on your way out. And don't lose that ticket - it will cost you $50 if you do!

Inside Katz's

Salamis hanging behind the counter

People waiting to order at the counter

That circular sign hanging from the ceiling points to the table used in When Harry Met Sally and says, "Where Harry Met Sally...hope you have what she had! Enjoy!"

There were some tables with waiter service, but we made our way to the counter and placed our order. They will let you sample two meats before you order, so we sampled the hard salami and the pastrami (they are reportedly known for both, and even advertise you can "send a salami to your boy in the army"). Oh my goodness, both were AH-MAZING. The pastrami, however, was the most awesome. I had never had pastrami before in my life, but I am now a believer. We ordered one of their famous frankfurters and one pastrami sandwich with a side of steak fries, then found a table and chowed down. It was awesomeness.

Placing orders at the counter

Ready to eat!

It was soooo good.

Our tickets, with the remains of our pastrami on rye

After our delicious lunch we stopped off to pick up our packets for the Five Boro Bike Tour, which is coming up way too fast. It's time to really kick the training into gear!

So, that was our fun day that involved both my favorite TV show and my favorite movie, and crossed two things off our to-do list. So productive!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

It's An Honor Just To Be Nominated...

While we're on the subject of awards shows, Monday night the Shorty Awards were also held here in NYC. What are the Shorty Awards? Why, they are the Oscars of Twitter, designed to "honor the best people and organizations producing short-form, real-time social media content." How do they decide who is "the best," you ask? Here's a brief synopsis from the Shorty Awards website:
The community is invited to nominate Twitter users for excellence over the past year. Each award recognizes each content creator's entire body of work, not just an individual tweet. Nominations are made by sending a tweet, whether it's through this site or on Twitter. 
In February, the nominees will be narrowed down to six finalists in each category.

Well my friends, this year I was one of the six finalists (out of thousands of nominees!) in the category of Real Time Photo of the Year. This category is described as follows:
The ubiquity of cameraphones combined with real-time distribution offered by Twitter has changed the world of photography. When something happens in one part of the world, people can now see it all over the world almost instantly -- if someone with a cameraphone and Twitter account is nearby. 
To be eligible, all photos must have been taken in 2010, shot on a cameraphone, uploaded to a social media (e.g. Twitpic, Instagram, Yfrog, Tweetphoto, Facebook or Flickr) and distributed via Twitter. 
The photo was judged on how newsworthy, interesting, and provocative it is, and how well it makes use of the real-time nature of the medium.

Wow! Little old me, a finalist for a Twitter Oscar! Apparently, I was nominated for this picture of a guy skiing up 10th Avenue taken (and posted to Twitter) the day after the December 26th snowstorm:

I never even knew the Shorty Awards existed until they tweeted to let me know I was nominated! Needless to say, I was surprised. And honored, of course.

As I mentioned, Monday night was the awards ceremony. I didn't make it to the ceremony, but they live-streamed the show online so I watched from home. Eric came home from work early, we ordered sushi, drank champagne and basically had our own little awards party. We had fun with it!

Drinking champagne and watching the Shorty Awards

The highlight of the ceremony was a performance by Amanda Palmer, in which she sang the most entertaining tweets of the year to the tune of Rebecca Black's "Friday" (link here if you've been living under a rock for the past two weeks). Very entertaining!

VIDEO: Amanda Palmer's performance

As for the actual award presentations, my category was one of the very last ones. I was up against a photo from the Haiti earthquake aftermath, a sleeping Toronto transit worker, flooding in Sydney, Kevin Smith on an airplane, and a photo of the moon taken by an astronaut from space. Needless to say, I did not win. The moon photo (by Astro_Wheels) won. How do you even compete with a photo TWEETED FROM SPACE? I mean, NYC is cool and all but it's no space. Still, it was fun to see our photo up on the screen at the awards show and hear them announce my name as a nominee. Yay!

Lousy screen grab of our photo during the award presentation (the one on the left)

VIDEO: Presentation of the award for Real Time Photo of the Year

In the spirit of Twitter, winners were asked to keep their acceptance speeches to 140 characters. That didn't always happen, but it was a good thought! Obviously I didn't get to give an acceptance speech, but I now give you my 140-character graceful loser speech:
Congrats @Astro_Wheels! It's an honor just to be nominated. Thx for nomination, & thx to my husband for taking a great photo! God Bless!
(That's actually only 136 characters. Considering how verbose I normally am, you wouldn't think I'd be good at Twitter, would you?)

Shorty Awards down. Next stop, Grammys.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Comedy Awards

Saturday night I got the opportunity to do something very cool: attend the first annual Comedy Awards as a seat filler! You know how at awards shows they always show the celebrities in the audience, right up front by the stage? Well apparently, sometimes those celebrities get up to go to the bathroom or visit at the bar, or possibly leave altogether. When that happens, they bring in seat fillers to take their places, so the audience always looks full. And Saturday night, I was one of those seat fillers!

Eric and I heard about this event through 1iota, a website that offers free tickets to all sorts of events that need a live audience. Eric thought the seat filler thing sounded AMAZING, but unfortunately, he didn't get chosen. I did, however, so I went without him. It was a black tie event, and we were instructed to wear classy black cocktail dresses with no sequins. I got myself all gussied up and Eric went with me out to the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan. I quickly found my line at the rear entrance, and Eric left me there to go off in search of the red carpet.

Line of seat fillers at the back of the building

Showing off my seat filler ticket while I wait in line!

At first, being a seat filler was just an awful lot of waiting around for things to get started. We waited in line outside for a bit while they checked tickets and IDs (my bare legs were not thrilled with this arrangement), then we went inside to a little hallway where we waited FOREVER to go through security. Once we got through security, we were taken up in an elevator to a large ballroom used as a holding area. We stood there for decades, it seemed. Waiting, waiting, waiting!

Meanwhile, as I was standing around waiting for something to happen, Eric was outside enjoying the red carpet experience. He got to see tons of people! The set up for this red carpet was excellent, and many of the stars came over to greet the fans. And oh my goodness, guess who was there? The Tina Fey stalker girl we met at the Megamind Premiere! Dude, she means business. If Tina Fey will be somewhere, this girl will drive hours to get there. She is dedicated.

The Comedy Awards red carpet

Craig Robinson

Andy Samberg

Jon Stewart

Will Ferrell

Ty Burrell

Stephen Colbert

Kristen Wiig

Tracy Morgan, who we always used to run into at our grocery store

Red carpet with that lovely ESB behind it

What a successful red carpet!

Back inside, things were finally happening for me. Just a few minutes before show time, they moved all the seat fillers into the balcony level to wait in case we were needed. As it turned out, we were not needed. Everyone seemed to stay put in their seats. So, I didn't get to sit next to any fun people. Bummer! But, I did get to watch the whole show from the balcony (for free!), which was quite fun. I had great seats, there was an open bar, the crowd was super enthusiastic and the stars were very funny.

We were told not to bring cameras or cell phones to the event, and we would not be allowed inside with them. I am a rule-follower so I did not bring any photo-taking device. I was probably the only one though, so there are lots of photos/videos floating around in Internet Land. I stole this picture from Katiecat on Twitter. This is about what my view was like!

I got to see so many people: Alec Baldwin, Kristen Wiig, Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Andy Samberg, The Roots, The Lonely Island, Akon, Eddie Murphy, Will Ferrell, Ty Burrell, Jon Cryer, David Letterman and many more. Honestly, I can't even remember everyone that was there! The best part was The Lonely Island's live performance of "I Just Had Sex." If you are not a Lonely Island/Saturday Night Live fan, you can check out the original video below. It premiered as a digital short on SNL back in December (I think) and became HUGE (like, over-70-million-views-on-YouTube kind of huge). I must say, the live performance was epic. It alone will be worth watching the show for when it airs!

(WARNING: This video contains mature subject matter [obviously] and adult language. Please view with discretion!)

VIDEO: "I Just Had Sex" by The Lonely Island featuring Akon

The Comedy Awards will air on Comedy Central on Sunday, April 10th. Be sure to check it out!

It was definitely a very fun evening, and a new experience! There are just so many cool things to do in this city.

Update, 4/12/11: Did you all watch on Sunday? I loved reliving the whole thing on TV! Now that the show has aired, you can check out the live performance of "I Just Had Sex" on YouTube here. Man, it was even more fun than I remembered. I always laugh at the "I'm On a Boat" interlude, and then the choir comes out...musical comedy gold, I tell ya!

Monday, March 28, 2011


Whew! We just finished up one fun weekend! We did lots of great things in the past few days, so I have lots to tell you about. But first, I want to take a quick moment to wish my little sister Heather a very happy birthday! She is 26 years old today and I wish I could be there for her awesome party, but I will see her later this week. (And remember to check her out in Songs for a New World at the New American Theater in St. Pete!) HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HEATHER!

Also, a big CONGRATULATIONS to my cousin Beth and her husband Kevin on the birth of their baby boy! Alexander Stephen was born yesterday, March 27th. Welcome to the family, little one!

Now, back to business. Let's start with Friday night, when Eric and I kicked off our weekend with a preview performance of Wonderland on Broadway. As you may recall, I saw Wonderland in Tampa in January. It originally premiered in Tampa in 2009 and returned to the Straz Center for two weeks (when I saw it) before making the move to Broadway. When I went home to visit my family, my dad treated us to the show. I very much enjoyed it, so when I saw that awesome $25 preview ticket deal they were offering on box office opening day, I was all over it. I was glad Eric would get a chance to see it, too.

So, Eric and I met up in Times Square Friday evening and walked over to the Marquis Theater together. I had never been to that theater, but it is fun because it's right in the heart of Times Square. Actually, it's on an upper level of the New York Marriott Marquis, better known as the hotel into which I chased Tim Tebow.

The theater marquis in the heart of the Times Square action

Our seats for this show were awesome. Because we are usually discount ticket buyers, we don't usually get awesome seats (Example A: very, very tippy top back row seats for Anything Goes). And that's fine, there usually are very few bad seats in the house. But this time, we were in the center of the orchestra level, row M. Hooray!

I snuck this photo from our seats with my Blackberry. Shhh, don't tell.

The show was great, as I expected. However, I did not expect it to be so different from what I saw in Tampa! I figured they were still tweaking it as they prepared for Broadway, but the script was drastically changed. The main character's career, the entire opening number, the premise of how Alice gets to Wonderland, the Mad Hatter's plot, the final fight scene, and the overall "lesson" were all different. The music stayed the same and the whole story still worked, but I was so surprised at how much they changed!

Overall though, I do recommend this show. As I said before, it was a fun new take on the classic tale of Alice in Wonderland, and it's very funny with a good overall message. Last time my favorite characters were El Gato (the Cheshire Cat, with a little Latin flare) and the Caterpillar, but this time the White Knight really won me over. He (along with his backup Knights) was just hysterical. He was definitely a crowd pleaser!

The White Knight

So, another great night at the theater under our belts! Do you know that this was the 20th show I have seen on Broadway? Actually 21, if you count Chicago twice (I saw it once with Eric and once with my sister). If you add in off-Broadway shows, I'm up to 23. And I don't plan on stopping any time soon!

Outside the theater after the show

After the show we were feeling very nostalgic, so we stopped at the Hard Rock Cafe for a drink. You see, when Eric was a summer associate here, I would come up from D.C. to visit him whenever I could. We usually tried to catch a show during my visits, and afterwards we always went for drinks at Hard Rock before catching a cab back up to his tiny apartment on W. 116th Street. I don't know why we never ventured out from Times Square for our post-show cocktails; I guess just chalk that up to still being tourists. (Also evidence of our tourist-ness: we took a cab home instead of the subway because it was night time. We've gotten a bit "braver" in our 2.5 years of NYC life!) But regardless, we always had a great time on those fun summer nights, so for old time's sake we stopped back in to Hard Rock on Friday.

Hard Rock in Times Square

Eric waiting for his name to jump to the "now seating" side of that board

Rows of guitars at the entrance

Cool lights over the bar

During my most memorable post-show Hard Rock visit with Eric, we sat in that lower level there. I remember having probably one too many Washington Apple martinis and being rather giggly. I just felt happy to be with Eric (we were about to get married in a month or two) and excited about the prospect of living in NYC someday.

Back at Hard Rock for old time's sake

After drinks and a shared appetizer, we headed back to the PATH train. Along the way, we passed Macy's, where they were setting up for the Flower Show that is going on now. They always do an amazing job decorating the interior and window displays with flowers around this time of year. It was kind of fun to get a sneak peek as they were still setting up!

Flower Show time!

Setting up inside

One of the window displays, featuring a model of an awesome rooftop deck with an Empire State Building draped in flowers behind it

Flowery Eiffel Tower window display

This window display is meant to look like the ocean floor. Beautiful!

All in all, it was another fabulous New York evening! I love this city.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Burying Things Is Not His Strong Suit.

My dog sucks at burying things.

He has the motion down. He knows he should use his nose to push stuff over the item that needs to be buried. The problem is that he does not seem to recognize that things like hard wood floor or carpet may not be ideal to "push over" the item. The result is pretty funny (and somewhat sad) to watch.

I took this video of Achilles trying to bury a treat on the day we moved to Hoboken. In his defense, the apartment was empty, so he didn't have much to work with. The sad part, however, is that even with all the blankets and clothing piles and what not in the world available to him, this is still what would happen. (At least in this case, he did try to use his stuffed frog a little bit. Progress!)

VIDEO: Oh, brother.

So, is this normal? Or is my dog just burying-things-challenged? He's obviously not dumb, as we have seen from his Crate Escapes (Evidence 1 and Evidence 2). One time I even gave him a dog IQ test and he scored in the "genius" range (really!). Ah well, I guess everyone has a weak spot.

Stick with it, Achilles! You'll get it eventually! And in the meantime, you can just rely on your adorable good looks to get you new treats when your bad burying skills fail to protect the old ones:

Have a nice weekend, everyone!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Shameless Sister Promotion

It's that time again, folks! My sister is in another new show and I'm here to shamelessly plug said show. Any of you in the Tampa/St. Petersburg, FL area, this post is for YOU!

This time around Heather will be singing in Songs for a New World at the New American Theater in downtown St. Pete, at Baywalk (map here). Here's a little synopsis of the show for you, courtesy of the theater website:
This show is about one moment. It's about hitting the wall and having to make a choice. With an emotionally charged score of contemporary pop/rock, gospel-driven ballads, funky R&B and twisting love songs, the audience is transported from the deck of a 1492 Spanish sailing ship to a ledge 57 stories above Fifth Avenue. Songs for a New World features an array of characters ranging from a young man who has determined that basketball is his ticket out of the ghetto, to a woman whose dream of marrying rich leaves her in a soulless marriage, to the woman behind the man behind Christmas. These are the stories and characters of today; the Songs for a New World.

And a little more elaboration (taken from a full overview/analysis you can read here):
One of the characters in Songs for a New World says, "I don't want to philosophize. I just want to tell a story." And that line describes Songs for a New World perfectly; in fact, it tells a whole collection of stories. It's not a book musical - there is no over-arching plot and no consistent characters throughout the evening. ...And yet it has a very strong sense of unity about it.  
... It accomplishes this mainly because every song in the show is essentially about the same thing: those moments in life when everything seems perfect and then suddenly disaster strikes, in the form of the loss of a job, an unexpected pregnancy, the death of a loved one, the end of a marriage, imprisonment, even suicide. But it's even more about surviving those moments. It's about the way we regroup and figure out how to survive in a new set of circumstances - a new world - even against seemingly overwhelming odds. These are songs about that new world, a world in which the definitions of family, distance, money, technology, the very nature of human contact is changing every day, a world in which rules don't apply as often as they do, a world in which the solutions our parents found dont' work for us, and a world in which today's answers probably won't apply tomorrow. For someone who has lost his job or lost a spouse, our everyday world becomes just as frightening, just as dangerous, just as uncharted as the New World to Columbus.

Doesn't it sound like a great show? I had never heard of it before, but the concept sounds really interesting. We can all relate to that feeling of "what do I do now" that you are faced with when you deal with change in your life, your "new world." I can hardly wait to see Heather perform in this show! I will be going to the matinee performance next Sunday (April 3rd) when we are in Florida.

And now for all the info you need:

Tonight is a preview performance of the show at 7:30 p.m. After tonight, the show will play on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for THREE WEEKENDS ONLY (March 24-27 & 31, April 1-3, and April 7-10) - so don't delay in checking this show out! Showtimes are at 8:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 3:00 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets cost $27.50 for Thursday and Sunday performances, or $32.50 for Friday and Saturday performances. They also offer a $3 discount for students and seniors. Get your tickets HERE!

So, if you live in Tampa/St. Pete and you're looking for a nice evening out over the course of the next few weekends, please consider checking out my beautiful and talented sister in Songs for a New World at the New American Theater! I am sure you will not regret it!

And if you go, be sure to cheer loudly for this girl! She rocks!