On a love of Book Clubs

This past weekend was really lovely. I celebrated my one year anniversary of being back in California by going all over the Bay Area – seeing my dad’s show in Orinda, visiting friends in San Rafael, spending time in Pacifica for the gym and at Syche & Drew’s – and by doing some serious yard work with my parents. (I should probably be doing more of the latter, as I have fully enjoyed a year of living rent-free. Thanks Mom & Dad!)

As you can see in the screen shot above, I also spent part of Sunday in a Google Hangout with Book Club, Both Coasts. I love the moment that Joe caught with this picture, as we are all laughing so hard! (Does anyone remember this part of the convo? Was in reference to traveling in our minds with a Mouse God?)

This moment was an important part of my anniversary weekend, because last September I worried A LOT about my friendships – how would I integrate back into the lives of folks on the West Coast? And how would I maintain friendships with people now living far, far away?

Surprisingly, for … 97% of people it has gone well. And really, book club has helped a lot. Nothing I’m saying here is new – but  I’m a big fan of book club, or any scheduled gathering of friends. It means you get to see people you care about at least once a month, in an organized fashion, and with book club, you get to have serious conversations while still open to tangents and gossip. I know, even when work is really crazy or friends are popping out babies, I will get to see these friends once a month at the bare minimum. So, go book club!

However, as I approach year 2 of my California life, I may be at a point of critical mass. How many book clubs is too many?

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A Year Ago Today

A year ago today, I gathered with dear friends at one of my favorite places in NYC (the Frying Pan) and said good-bye. It is CRAZY to think that a year has passed, and yet, I also feel like it might have been ten or more.

I’m very happy that I moved, but I miss these people so very much. (I’m lucky that Robert moved back at the same time). Such great memories!

(And yes.. this is the first time I’m posting these photos. I’m the worst.)

A blog post in lieu of other blog posts

Friends and me at Hendry Wines a couple of weeks ago. One of many things I meant to blog about….

OK, so I have this friend, and she has a great blog.

Why is it great? Well, she writes well, has a good sense of humor, talks about interesting things and isn’t afraid to have an opinion. But, I honestly think that is only 50% of why it is a great blog. The other 50% is because she posts very regularly.  She wrote four times in July, actually a small amount for her, but still once a week. When you go to her blog, you know you are likely to see a post, and be entertained.

Now, me on the other hand? I think I have an ok blog. I am still trying to find a good balance from being enthusiastic over stuff, and talking too much, and also writing about whatever is interesting in the moment, and not just when something is amazing. But my number one problem is I do not do it enough, and I do not blog on a consistent schedule. I’m a little bit better at keeping my tumblr going, but that is mostly because of reblogs.

I’m trying to change that, but it seems unlikely.
So this post is a round up of things I have meant to blog about, basically since January.
Some may end up being posts of their own eventually, but most will not. As it is kind of a ramble, I will put it behind a tag.

2012 Things I Meant to Blog About:

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Independence Day at the McKittrick Hotel

(slightly mirrored from my Tumblr)

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog (and more than a million times in daily life), Sleep No More is on of my most favorite shows from New York. And it something I miss very much, especially because they started having special holiday-themed shows the month after I moved to California. So I missed all the Halloween, New Years and Valentine’s Day fun.

But guess who will be at the McKittrick on Independence Day?

THIS GIRL!

I’m so happy. I literally spent ten minutes dancing around the office. And I convinced two of my most favorite people to go with me. (Thanks Joe and Justin! You thought all you would have to do is house me for my trip, but no, we will also wear crazy masks and party like its 1932!)

Obviously, I’m very excited about this show. I’m looking forward to the trip in general. I desperately need a break from work, miss all the lovely people in NYC, and can’t wait to see a whole slew of shows. The list at the moment is: 4000 Miles, Newsies, Peter & the Starcatcher, Once, One Man Two G’vners, and of course Sleep No More (both a regular performance and the special independence Day show). I’m also contemplating adding either the SoHo Rep Production of Uncle Vanya or one of the Druid Murphy shows that is part of the Lincoln Center Festival.

Are there any must-sees missing from the list?

14 days and I’ll be there!!

What is the Real? – My Five Favorite Shows in NYC

I started this entry on September 12th, two days before my last day as a New Yorker and had just passed my four-year anniversary in the City on August 22nd.  These four years have been pretty amazing, crazy, hard, wonderful… really, all sorts of adjectives.

As I think of all I didn’t do, I reflect on what made my four years here what they were.  Therefore, a short series on four years in New York shall commence.

September 12, 2011 – My five favorite shows in NYC:

I came to New York four years ago to study theater. Fortunately, I was able to see a lot of it while here.  I still missed a lot of shows (Fela!, Circle Mirror Transformation, the Our Town revival) that folks spoke very highly of, but I am happy with the breadth of what I saw.

Every time the lights dimmed, I still felt the thrill of live theater.  It is a magical experience when done well.

While shlepping boxes to UPS last week, Joe and I got talking about how many Broadway shows I have seen. Eventually, we figured out it was around 55 (including Book of Mormon last night, which was awesome) and that is not counting seeing shows more than once.  Of course there are many off-Broadway shows and Columbia shows and more, but to even figure that out would be impossible.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I have ever captured the correct voice to talk about shows I really loved – it is always easier to talk about the problematic aspects of good, but not great shows.  So here is my fan-girl-ish incoherent ramblings of my five favorite shows:

Sleep No More – Punchdrunk Theater Company – 2011 (still running)

I have been holding off blogging about Sleep No More because I’m just not sure what to say.  I think it is still going to have to have its own blog entry, with many spoilers and much gushing.

But in brief – Sleep No More is a performance piece that interprets Macbeth as though in a Hitchcock hotel.  Audience members wear white masks, and explore the 100 rooms at will, interacting with the space and the actors based on each’s individual path.

Dear friend Robert had this to say, immediately following:

Captivated by the lady in red, Her smell lingers-clothes saturated; dancing with the male witch-we both led; a sweaty head-wet my leg; water dripping from her hair-the sexy witch; bruises on her leg-the bald witch; I smell Her now; and I feel Her porcelain grasp from floors above.

I really loved the experience, it was the most magical theatrical adventure I have ever had. And it challenged my personal conventions as an audience member, many times, and in different ways.  Best immersive, audience experience I have had.

To this point, I have seen it twice, and am going tonight to see it a final third time.  I greatly admire the performers, and am amazed by the production design and just heaps of work it must take to keep the show going.

I have recommended it to all my friends, and I do to you too, gentle reader. =) Tickets are available here, and the show has been extended through January.  If you do go, wear running shoes, go as early as possible (there are staggered entrance times) and enjoy!

Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson – the Public Theater – May 2010
By Alex Timbers; music and lyrics by Michael Friedman

How many people do you know who have a favorite year in history?

Well …. I do (1968, in case you were wondering). Which is just one sign of what a history dork I am.
Therefore, when you combine American History, a rock musical, and Benjamin Walker in eyeliner – I’m sold!

The Public Theater production of Bloody Bloody tells the story of America’s 7th president, from his frontier life, to his populist campaign and through his presidency. It was full of crazy intensity, smart reference, and joyful anachronism.  I laughed and was moved by the examination of the serious issues of the 18-teens that have ramifications today.  As Ben Brantly said, ‘Though its style is often as skewed as a tilt-a-whirl ride, “Bloody Bloody” takes precision aim at its central target: an impatient electorate ruled by a hunger for instant gratification.

The intricate, and over-the-top set design extended through the whole house, and in our front row seats, we could see the sweat gather as the cast worked their asses off. … I died at the De Tocqueville joke in the musical retelling of the Corrupt Bargain. … ‘Twas really wonderful.

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What Would Erin Do #1

When I was beginning to think about leaving New York, a few friends commented on that I had “sucked the juice” out of New York City.  Meaning, I think, that I tried to take advantage of all the different things that NYC had to offer.  This was aided by being a student for my first three years in town – I didn’t have a ton of free time, but I could often do random things at random parts of the day.  But, I always have been someone who loved going on adventures.

Therefore, my friend Justin recommended I create a blog called WWED (What Would Erin Do), full of all the things I would attend (slash, drag him to) if I was still living in New York.  As I can barely regularly update this blog, I figured I should just make it a segment and not a separate entity.

So here we go – Week 1 of my picks for NYC today and in the coming week:

1) Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival (Sept 16-18)

I was actually a small kickstarter backer for the Festival, created by Mirman, a great standup and the voice of Gene on Bob’s Burgers.

If you have time tonight or this weekend, and can still get tickets, head out to the Bellhouse in Brooklyn and laugh your face off. (Also, the Bellhouse is a quality venue, one of my favorite places I heard live music in NYC).

If I was there, I would attend:

Saturday, September 17
The Talent Show Presents: The Drunk Show

The Bell House / 9PM / $20
Hosted by Kevin Townley and Elna Baker
Featuring John Hodgman, Ira Glass, Eugene Mirman, Jen Kirkman, Jessi Klein, Leo Allen, Ptolemy Slocum and more!

Sunday, September 18
A Special Food-Themed Comedy Show For You
The Bell House / 6PM / $20
Hosted by Eugene Mirman w/ Sarah Vowell, Larry Murphy, Ron Funches, delicious food, chefs and the world’s first caviar eating contest!

Pretty Good Friends
The Bell House / 9PM / $20
With Eugene Mirman, Michael Showalter, Marc Maron, Hannibal Buress and more!

2) de Kooning: A Retrospective at MOMA

September 18, 2011–January 9, 2012

This is the first major museum exhibition devoted to the full scope of the career of Willem de Kooning, widely considered to be among the most important and prolific artists of the 20th century.  Bringing together nearly 200 works from public and private collections, the exhibition will occupy the Museum’s entire sixth-floor gallery space, totaling approximately 17,000 square feet. 

I always recommend going to major exhibitions early in their runs, before they get crazy.  I had insane crowd experiences with both the Tim Burton and the McQueen exhibits.

I’m not very knowledgeable about de Kooning, but the retrospectives organized by MOMA are always great, informative, and a wonderful part of getting to live in NYC.

3) The Mountaintop by Katori Hall

Previews begin Thursday, September 22nd at the Jacobs theater.

Taking place on April 3, 1968, THE MOUNTAINTOP is a gripping reimagining of events the night before the assassination of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After delivering one of his most memorable speeches, an exhausted Dr. King (Samuel L. Jackson) retires to his room at the Lorraine Motel while a storm rages outside. When a mysterious stranger (Angela Bassett) arrives with some surprising news, King is forced to confront his destiny and his legacy to his people.

I was very excited to see this play, and disappointed to be missing it.  A good friend of mine was involved in the West End production which one the 2010 Oliver for best play.  Plus, seeing Samuel L. Jackson on stage would be pretty neat!

Go see it and tell me all about it!

General Rec:

Also, if you want a great place to see basically everything happening in NYC, I recommend checking out NewYorkology: A New York Travel Guide.  I followed on twitter to see what was new and exciting each day, and the site’s calendar is very comprehensive. A great site to check out when a visitor or a local.

NYC Bucket List Update

Time for a quick update on my NYC Bucket List.
I have 9 days left in New York and a ton to do.

In addition to the list below, I have been trying to spend a ton of time with friends. Which has been wonderful – lots of lunches, movies, Trivial Pursuit, Bananagrams and more – but I am sadly unable to see everyone before I go, which is a hard realization.

Also, Hurricane Irene kinda eliminated a weekend in which to accomplish things – instead I just sat around and watched movies at J & J’s.

What I have accomplished since August 19th….

Shows I’ve seen:

  • Sleep No More (And I’m actually going again… a little obsessed)

Sleep No More: Mask, necklace, candy and playing card after the 8/18 performance

  • The Moth, Story Slam: DRIVE
  • The Judgement of Paris
  • War Horse

Visit these Sites and/or take Photos:

  • Morgan Library – Went with Joe, and it was lovely!
  • Bryant Park
  • read a book in the Rose Room reading room at the NYPL – ended up only spending a brief moment in the Reading Room, BUT the NYPL Celebrating 100 Years Exhibit is phenomenal. Go see it!

Patience or Fortitude at the NYPL

  • WD50 – Dessert Tasting Menu

Blood orange curd, thyme, swiss chard, hibiscus

Museums

  • Cloisters – Kaitlin and I explored this past Saturday. Lovely as always.

Beautiful window decal at the Cloisters

  • Met Museum – Had a great time with Alex, who had, shockingly, never been there.

Alex admiring the Temple of Dendur

Met Museum - Propaganda Poster from WWI

Things that I know, now, are not happening:

  • Bellhouse Music
  • Bellhouse Comedy show (Eugene Mirman?)
  • Carnegie Hall
  • David Letterman or Jimmy Fallon or Daily Show
  • movie at the Paris Theater
  • rowboat on the Lake – Turns out the Boathouse and Boat Rentals are on strike, decided not to cross the picket line
  • Brooklyn Museum
  • United Nations
  • Woodlawn Cemetery

If you would like to see everything else I am going to try and do – and it is WAY too much –  click here.