NYC Trip Day 3: An American in Paris

Day 3 of my New York trip was pretty simple. I had a rough time getting to sleep the night before because my cold was coming on strong and I normally have a hard time sleeping. Well, I slept in ridiculously late which Megan was kind enough to let me do.

Then we enjoyed a leisurely walk down the Manhattan streets.  It wasn’t too cold during our trip but it could be quite windy which made it feel colder. Given the winter they’ve had we certainly brought some good luck with us because at least it wasn’t snowy and freezing. P1050863 My favorite thing in New York is all the flower stores.  They are so beautiful and I love how they have different than just the ordinary boring flowers I can get in the suburbs and at low cost.

flowers

We then had delicious New York bagels! Nothing quite like them and we talked about books and movies and had a lovely time.

2015-03-13 13.00.05 Megan had an appointment with her editor that afternoon and I rested at the hotel.  My only regret on the hotel is that it didn’t have a hottub or pool.  That would have been very nice especially on my poor feet which got the beginnings of an ingrown toenail I had to work on.  Ouch!

toeLater that we went to an Italian restaurant that was reasonably priced and yummy.  I got chicken Parmesan and Megan got gnochi.

italianThe big event of the day was going to Times Square

2015-03-13 19.30.40 2015-03-13 19.32.54 2015-03-13 19.33.00And seeing the opening night premiere of the new Broadway musical An American in Paris!

an-american-in-paris-large-643x441It was an amazing show full of incredible Gershwin music. The story is minimal and sometimes it was a little hard to tell the actors from each other but I really enjoyed it.

an american in paris3 An American In Paris an american in paris2It’s probably the most dance heavy Broadway show I’ve ever seen.  Just like in the old Gene Kelly/Leslie Caron movie there are long stretches without any dialogue and just dance.  I don’t pretend to be an expert on dance but I really enjoyed watching it.  To me it seemed exceptional with choreography that really popped.

The sets were minimal but effective and the costuming was simple but it all worked.  There is also a very small cast with only 6 leads and a few ensemble performers but it had a big feel.  I think the music is so grand that it can hardly help but feel big.

At first I was worried because our balcony seats were so steep looking onto the stage below but it actually worked out great and we could see everything just fine.

2015-03-13 20.01.38 2015-03-13 19.57.19 So that was our Day 3.  It was a lot of fun and featured a show I won’t soon forget. Sometimes the simple days are the most fun!

The Oddness of Modern Community

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned on this blog I am going to be in New York next week! On Tuesday night I am taking the red eye to the Big Apple and going to be visiting until Saturday!  I am so excited because I love New York, get some time off work, see a show, visit with my sister and meet up with a bunch of friends I’ve never met before in real life.

Let me explain that last one for a second.  It’s an interesting situation.  You guys know I like the show Survivor.  I find it fascinating to look at the choices men and women make in the game and how every game is different with a different style of win (except for Sandra who won twice).  It’s now going into Season 30 and we have a very promising season with a lot of super fans after season 29 was a super snoozefest.

I would say I was a big fan at the beginning of Survivor and then picked it up again in spurts when there was a Utahn on the show and then with Heroes vs Villains I started watching again regularly.  I missed One World and Philippines but got the rest of the seasons but nobody I know is into the show, which is frustrating because it is the kind of show you want to talk about with others. 
In fact, I miss the social aspect of movies and TV.  In my 20s it was quite common for me to gather with friends and watch American Idol, Survivor, Lost or The Office.  Now that never happens.  Same thing for movies.  Most movies I go to by myself these days.

But around Season 26: Survivor Caramoan I stumbled on a podcast where former Survivors Rob Cesternino and Stephen Fishbach were talking about the show each week and I loved it!  A lot of people don’t care for Caramoan but I love Dawn and Cochran and it was my introduction to the podcast and the Rob Has a Podcast Planet.

I think someone could enjoy Rob’s podcast even if they didn’t watch any of his shows.  Kind of like I enjoy Car Talk and I hate cars.  Rob’s just so personal, funny and engaging.  Plus, it was so much fun to get involved on the chatroom and talk about the episode.  Again, it reminded me of those times in college when media was a group experience.

Well last year Rob made a proposal to his little planet that if we would support his podcast for .25 cents an episode he would give a monthly patroncast where we could ask questions and set up a patron group to further discuss the show.  Wanting to support Rob I decided to become a patron and so I joined the facebook group at the same time.  I believe I was in the first 100 patrons in the group.  Now I don’t know how many hundreds of us there are but it is an active vibrant group with patrons from all around the world.

rhapWe even did a secret Santa last Christmas where I came up with a gift for a woman named Ana from Brazil and I received maple syrup and some bacon bowl makers from a patron named Rebekkah from Canada!  Each week we talk about whatever reality show is on (Big Brother, Amazing Race and Survivor being the big 3) but also scripted shows, movies and occasionally other silly news.  There have been a few cantankerous souls in the group and some people are too sensitive about spoilers IMO but for the most part its been great!

It sounds crazy but I really feel like it is a community of friends and it seems amazing to me something as silly as a podcast about reality TV could bring people together in a community.  It shows it really doesn’t take much to gather people together, especially in the world of social media and the internet.  But I think even in real interaction if you can find something you have in common with another person, it can be the silliest thing and yet that is enough to start a friendship and get people talking.  I’ve seen it a 100 times that a shared love of dolls, books, Judy Garland, musicals, whatever it is, it’s all it takes to get the ball rolling and create a relationship.  Get enough of those balls rolling and you have a community. Kind of amazing!

I’ve seen it with my open water swimming- how a love of the water and being outdoors brings people who have little to nothing else in common together and fast friendships are formed.  It seems to me sometimes all it takes is finding that one thing you have in common with someone, no matter how stupid, and you can make it work.

Anyway, when Rob announced they were doing a live podcast in New York on March 11th I initially dismissed it.  Who flies across the country after all to listen to a podcast?  That’s crazy talk!

But then the rest of the community kept talking about it and it sounded like so much fun. A few weeks ago I decided to look at plane flights just out of curiosity and to my surprise they weren’t half bad, and then I found a hotel which was reasonable and in a safe neighborhood.  The idea kept germinating and I finally said

“What the heck!  Why not! I’m a super predictable person and for once I’m going to do something strange and fly across the country for a podcast!”

So I got my ticket and it turns out my sister is going to come down the day after the show and we are going to spend a couple days in New York together!  It should be a ton of fun!

There is a side of me which still thinks I am nuts for going to a podcast and meeting strangers but another side is really excited (and nervous) to meet all these people I’ve interacted with over the last year.  I’ve heard their voice when they call into the podcast.  I’ve read their posts, sometimes surprisingly personal and I feel like they are friends.  I really do.

I just hope it is a good experience and people aren’t too rowdy.  I normally don’t go to places like bars or comedy clubs but it is 300 people and the girl I am sitting with doesn’t drink and there are other dry members of the group so it should be good.

I love being a part of this strange modern community so I hope it is a lot of fun.  At the very least it will be something new and different and that is a good thing.

(Plus I get to meet a whole bunch of famous Survivor contestants which I am very excited about!!!).

Have you ever been a part of a community that was unusual or strange?  Maybe played bunco with girlfriends for years or have a group of online chess players or something like that?  I’d love to hear about your experience.  Do you agree sometimes all it takes is finding the one thing you have in common with another person and a friendship can be built?

Well, I look forward to sharing the week with all of you.  Take care!

Thoughts on Backlash

smilingldsgirl:

A little post I wrote on how being a fan used to be a little bit more fun. Now backlash comes so quickly it can be a bummer.

Originally posted on Reviewing All 54 Disney Animated Films And More!:

backlashLately I’ve been thinking a lot about fandoms and backlash.  When I was growing up (back in the old days of 1980s…) most kids got a lot of their identity from the things they liked and didn’t like.  I loved The Little Mermaid.  I knew every scene, song and wished I could be like Ariel.  Then in high school I loved Les Miserables.  I saw it in New York, watched the 10th Anniversary Concert special over and over again. It was great! I loved Jewel, Simpsons, REM and Clueless. I saw Jurassic Park 6 times in the theaters. My friends all saw Titanic over a dozen times and I was annoyed by it but it wasn’t a big deal.

In college it was Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Pixar, Jane Austen, Norah Jones, romcoms and Jane Eyre that caught my attention.

Back then I may have gotten a little bit of backlash…

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The Christmas Without any Presents

“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents”

That my friends is the opening line to one of my favorite novels and the first big book I remember reading- Little Women.  In the story the March sisters have been told by their Mother they should forgo Christmas presents because “it is going to be a hard winter for everyone; and she thinks we ought not to spend money for pleasure, when our men are suffering so in the army. We can’t do much, but we can make our little sacrifices”

little women2 As the story continues they decide to spend the dollar they have on themselves but unselfish Beth convinces them to instead buy a present for their Mother.  The girls get as much pleasure selecting gifts for their Marmee (Mother) as if it had been for themselves. They even end up giving their Christmas breakfast to a family in need rather than enjoy it alone.

littlewomen1While I am eventually getting the desire of my heart for Christmas, and the March girls went without, I found myself thinking about this classic scene today as I kind of had a Christmas without any presents.

I’m not complaining at all as I had a great day but it was an interesting experience to have a Christmas with one present to open (an awesome book from my sister! Thanks Meg).

le creusetSadly even the gift to myself was a bust as my Le Creuset pot had a giant crack down the side (both sides).  I can return it of course but that was a bit of a letdown.

My siblings and I didn’t exchange gifts this year and my parents are bringing me my gift on Monday (so again don’t feel sorry for me by any means).

I’m not going to lie to you and say my experience was perfect and I didn’t miss opening presents on Christmas.  Of course I did.  That’s part of the fun of Christmas is opening presents and seeing what people have thought to get you.

But on the other hand it did force me to focus on the day in a new way.  I know this will sound cheesy but I found myself as excited to see the reactions of the presents I had sent as I would normally be for my own presents.

Particularly my gifts for my nieces were a big hit.  I had found a lady on facebook who made bow and arrow sets for kids and sent one to all 5 of my nieces and they loved them!

archery archery2I was also excited to see what my Mother thought about the knitting book I got her or my Dad the Beethoven set he had requested.

I also looked at my life for the many gifts I have and tried to focus on those.  I got invited to my friends The Porters for Christmas day breakfast this morning and what a lovely way to start off the day.  I’m so blessed by good friends in my life.  I got to see the sister missionaries and think about the gift my mission was. I’m so grateful my favorite mission comp Julia Graves is coming to visit on Tuesday.

I woke up to snow on Christmas when we had none up to the 24th.  I don’t know if I have ever had a true White Christmas out of nowhere like that before.  It was really fun.

snowI put together a version of our German Christmas Eve meal and thanked my Heavenly Father for the food I have and the bounty in my life.

christmas dinnerI looked at my tree and felt grateful for each of the memories captured on my Memory Tree. The travels, smiling faces and love that abounds in my heart.

I thought about the joy art, music, theater and film give my life.  Yesterday I went to see It’s a Wonderful Life on the big screen and had a tremendous experience (probably causing me to be extra sentimental today).

http://54disneyreviews.wordpress.com/2014/12/25/bonus-holiday-review-its-a-wonderful-life/

Aside from the breakfast, I have basically spent Christmas day alone.  I know people who would find that idea incredibly depressing, almost unimaginable.  And yet today I felt gratitude for the overwhelming blessings of my life.

Mostly I felt grateful for the gift of Christ’s birth and atonement in my life. For my knowledge of His goodness and love and that when I am alone he is always there to buoy me up and I mean ALWAYS.

for unto usSo yes Jo, I can confidently say ‘Christmas is still Christmas without any presents’.  It is what you make of it and in the end we all have many presents just being an America and living a life with a witness of Jesus Christ in our hearts.  That is what this Christmas taught me.  While I missed opening presents (I’m not a saint!) I realized its a tertiary joy of Christmas not the primary reason to celebrate. Sounds cheesy but it’s true.

And as Clarence told George Bailey- ‘no man is a failure who has friends’. Thanks to all of you for being my friends this holiday season.

failure

RIP Tom from Car Talk

car-talk-banner

I don’t normally get overly emotional when a famous person or celebrity dies but every once in a while someone who has touched my life, celebrity or not, will pass away and it makes me feel sad.  Today my Saturday morning friend over on NPR, Tom Magliozzi, passed away from alzheimers and it made me feel very sad.

He and his brother Ray were the hosts of NPR’s Car Talk and were better known as Click and Clack the Tappett Brothers.

Here is a tribute done on NPR today.

The thing is anyone who knows me knows I hate cars.  I hate driving.  If I could live in Manhattan and never own a car I would be a happy lady.  They are a necessary evil in my life and a royal pain in the neck.  As my Dad knows I even hate cleaning cars.  I just don’t care about cars.

And yet I liked Car Talk.  I first discovered them around 2006.  At the time I was very unhappy working as a receptionist where I would do long stretches of data entry, sometimes days of data entry.  One regular project I had was 35 pages of data for the monthly car account.

That was just one of the mindnumbingly boring chores I did for that job.  When there wasn’t a call I could put an ear bud in one ear and play some music or a podcast, so I downloaded just about everyone I could put my hands on. That is also when I started my audible account so I’ve had that for 8 years!

In fact, I preferred podcasts to music because it was less distracting and made me feel like I was having some human contact in my cubicle cell.  I could be doing the most boring task imaginable and listening to a podcast on books or science and feel like my brain was getting some aerobics in the day.

In all those podcasts I discovered Car Talk and the first episode that really made me laugh was when Tom told the story of Tanya the Trainer.  I posted this on my blog years ago and it still makes me laugh every time I read it.

I was hooked.  Tom and Ray were the embodiment of cheerfulness and joy.  Every Saturday I would turn in and laugh and smile and then I would listen to the podcast again a couple of times throughout the week.  Just a few months ago I tweeted during stopped traffic ‘thank you for Car Talk. It makes traffic liveable”.  Joyfulness and a love of life will have that effect no matter what they are talking about.

Another funny bit that was a favorite of mine is the operation vowel drop.  I’ve listened to this about a hundred times and it still cracks me up.

A recurring bit on the show was that Tom could never remember the puzzler from the previous week.  Little did we know for at least some of the years he literally could not remember.

Here was a bit where the two laughing at dementia and foreign accent syndrome.  Even though I didn’t know him his laughter was infectious and I’m sure he would want to be remembered for it.

It’s interesting that I would find Car Talk when I was so unhappy at work and listening to all those podcasts while grinding through all that data entry because Tom was somewhat of a crusader of anti-work.  He said he had an epiphany one day after commuting 45 minutes to work and almost being in a dangerous accident:

“He had a revelation that he was wasting his life. Upon arriving at work, he walked into his boss’ office and quit on the spot. He hated putting on a suit and working in the 9-to-5 world.

“He actually hated working in any world,” says his brother Ray. “Later on, when we were doing Car Talk, he would come in late and leave early. We used to warn him that if he left work any earlier, he’d pass himself coming in.”

As Tom once described his own attitude to his listeners, “Don’t be afraid of work.  Make work afraid of you. I did such a fabulous job of making work afraid of me that it has avoided me my whole life so far.”

I love that. Just when I was so miserable in my work I found a joyful spirit in someone who had found freedom from it.  Do what you have to do and do it with joy and ‘work’ in it’s 4 letter sense will leave you be.

This is another caller I love who they talked off the edge from destroying her car.  They just made you happy when you listened to them.

A friend of mine told me she didn’t like their show and I found it astounding because they are so cheerful and happy.  It’s like not liking a babies grin or dimples on a little girl.  They are so joyful.

Anyway, I just wanted to put my thoughts out there and say thanks to Tom and Ray for cheering me up all these years.  RIP Tom and my comforts to Ray and the entire Magliozzi clan.

It just shows what good a human being can do when he or she finds their calling.

They were immortalized by the Pixar folks with Ray a Volkswagen van and Tom his fabled Dodge Dart.

 

Utah Symphony

I’m so grateful to live in Utah!!  It is such a fabulous place to live in so many ways including a wonderful history of cultural arts including of course the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the top 6 ballet company Ballet West and the world renown Utah Symphony.  They perform at Abravanal Hall which is an art deco masterpiece of a building with fabulous acoustics and have had top rate directors such as Keith Lockhart over the years.

Symphony-WideWebEarlier this year I went to a Bravo Broadway performance of Rogers and Hammerstein classics that was fabulous and tonight I went to a show called Cirque de la Symphony with circus acts performing along with the orchestra and it was fabulous.

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My friend Emily came with me and we had a lovely time.  And for 3rd row the tickets cost $18 each!!! Pretty remarkable I think.  I don’t know anywhere else in the country where you could see that kind of quality on a regular basis for that price.

symphony1 symphony 2It was fantastic and I’m so awe inspired by people and the talents God has given them.  What amazing gifts we all have.  I’m so grateful to live in a place where I can see so many wonderful performances at reasonable prices with a family values theme.  It is a great blessing.

For my Utah readers- have you been to the symphony? What have you enjoyed?

Next up I’m going to their Messiah Sing-in.  It is a tradition of mine but I am usually out of town for the symphonies version but this year I am staying put for Thanksgiving! What a treat that will be.

They played Night at Bald Mountain which was really fun as it is featured in one of my favorite segments of Walt Disney Classic Fantasia!

Final Disney Rankings

disney-kisses

http://wp.me/p4VRGy-wi I finished my initial project and have posted my rankings of the Disney Canon worst to best. Enjoy and please add your comments! Thanks!

Here’s the list first to worst but check out the link to see links and short explanations of why I rated where.

1 Beauty and the Beast
2 The Little Mermaid
3 Cinderella
4 Tangled
5 Fantasia
6 Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
7 101 Dalmatians
8 Frozen
9 The Jungle Book
10 Sleeping Beauty
11 Alice in Wonderland
12 Dumbo
13 Lion King
14 Mulan
15 Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs
16 Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad
17 Rescuers Down Under
18 Great Mouse Detective
19 Aladdin
20 Emperor’s New Groove
21 Atlantis: The Lost Empire
22 Lady and the Tramp
23 Robin Hood
24 Pinocchio
25 Melody Time
26 Tarzan
27 Hercules
28 Winnie the Pooh
29 Lilo and Stitch
30 Bambi
31 Peter Pan
32 Princess and the Frog
33 Fox and the Hound
34 Wreck-It Ralph
35 Treasure Planet
36 Meet the Robinsons
37 Saludos Amigos
38 The Black Cauldron
39 Make Mine Music
40 Oliver and Company
41 Bolt
42 Sword and the Stone
43 Fantasia 2000
44 Hunchback of Notre Dame
45 Pocahontas
46 Fun and Fancy Free
47 The Aristocats
48 The Rescuers
49 Three Cabelleros
50 Home on the Range
51 Brother Bear
52 Chicken Little
53 Dinosaur