12.18.2010

Me vs. Santa

Let's see... how best to set up the story... 

Last Saturday, Husband was working, so the Little One and I were on our own.  Ya know, just a couple of gals out on the town, footloose & fancy free.  In the late afternoon, we ventured out to the Kettle of Fish in the West Village, where friends were hosting a turducken (turkey + duck + chicken = yummy goodness) party.  Looking for more space, they chose this neighborhood bar because it happens to have a side room that's great for groups.  Kind of the perfect, mellow setting to have some food & drinks with friends.

I knew something was up when, nearing our destination, I crossed paths with a couple guys dressed up as Santa.  Baby S, strapped to my chest in her carrier, had her first Santa sighting and I didn't even have my camera handy, I thought.  Bummed for 2.5 seconds, I rounded a corner and all of a sudden it was like the North Pole exploded in the West Village.  There were elves & Santas aplenty, most scantily clad and looking, umm... a little worse for wear.  Santa Con had descended on NYC.

Here is what I know now: Santa Con is an international event that occurs all over the US and in 25 countries.  On one established day in December, everyone & their brother who feels the urge to don a Santa or elf costume can dress up and walk around town.  Think of it as the Halloween of the holiday season... a time to dress inappropriately because you can, to drink yourself silly and to, most likely, regret it the next day.  Ah, good times.

This would have been entertaining if I had been on my own, but seeing as Baby S was with me, I quickly went into protective mode.  Entering the bar, I felt a cross between Moses parting the Red Sea and a mama bear protecting her young.  I kept my hands in front of me to make sure not a single St. Nick bumped or nudged us as I searched for my group.

Quickly finding the hostess with the mostess, I settled in with the party for some delicious food & holiday cheer with friends.  Sure, a couple Santas eyeballed the turkducken, but I think they knew better than to try and crash our little festive event.

Drunk Santa, don't even TRY and cross a mama bear.

12.10.2010

tribeca gallery puppet show & exhibit for kids

R Gallery (82 Franklin St.) is hosting a puppet show this Saturday, December 11th. Come see Liz Joyce of Goat on a Boat Puppet Theater perform "Little Red Riding Hood" for your Little One. Husband, Baby S and I caught the show last month and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Joyce performs all roles, bringing each character to life with gusto, and throws in enough present-day references to keep parents chuckling (The wolf has a thing for Billy's cupcakes, for example). I have to admit the show filled me with nostalgia for my childhood... I mean when was the last time you actually saw a puppet show? Lotsa fun.

While there, check out R Gallery's exhibit, Renate Müller: Toys + Design. As I mentioned here, this display of the German toy maker's designs is her first ever solo exhibition in the United States.

Per R Gallery's website:

Conceived in the early 1960s during her student days at the Polytechnic for Toy Design in Sonneberg, Germany, Renate Müller's exceptional, uniquely whimsical toy animals and shapes have been designed and hand-made in exactly the same way since 1967 and hotly collected by design enthusiasts for years.

Photo credit: R Gallery
We got a chance to see the exhibit last month when we attended the puppet show (you will, in fact, be in the middle of the exhibit during Red Riding Hood's trip to Grandma's). And while Baby S is still a bit small to appreciate modern & innovative design (she's a little genius, of course, but lets cut her some slack), the older children present were having a blast. This is not your typical "look, don't touch" art show - from a sturdy seal & teddy bear family to detachable seating & bird mobiles hanging from the ceiling - Müller's toys are meant to be taken off the shelf and enjoyed.

If nothing else, this show gives children a unique opportunity to embrace art in a way that they've probably not yet experienced -- Müller's exhibit demonstrates that art can be functional, approachable and FUN. Think of it as Art 101 for the kindergarten set.

Goat on a Boat Puppet Theater presents Little Red Riding Hood
R Gallery
82 Franklin Street
Saturday, Dec. 11th @ 12pm
(earlier performance is already full)
RSVP Required: 212.343.7979 or r@r20thcentury.com

12.06.2010

big apple books

The House on East 88th Street
by Bernard Waber

"This is the house.  The house on East 88th Street.  It is empty now, but it won't be for long."

First published in 1962, this children's classic marks the beginning of a series of books featuring the adventures of one bright green & lovable Lyle the Crocodile.

Set in a brownstone on Manhattan's Upper East Side, The House on East 88th Street is the story of the Primm family, who, upon moving in to their new home, discover a crocodile soaking in their bathtub.  They soon discover that Lyle is quite useful at all sorts of things, from taking out the trash to entertaining them with acrobatic tricks.  Before long, he is happily ensconced in their family.  In this delightful tale, Mr. Waber makes the idea of a pet crocodile not quite so scary (well, not really).

The exact address on East 88th Street has been debated, but according to an article by Randy Cohen of the NY Times, the mystery address can be found inside the book:  "The clue comes in an illustration: the amiable reptile stands on his front stoop looking at a house to his left marked No. 234. That puts Lyle's own house at No. 236. Alas, a visit to the block shows not the charming brownstone where Lyle lolled but an ordinary tenement. Lyle's house, like Lyle, is fiction."

While I must admit I find this news a bit disappointing (I had hoped there'd be a romantic tale of Mr. Waber living in the brownstone, or admiring the particular address from a distance) the imagination is a wonderful thing, no?  To step inside the world of this eccentric reptile-loving NYC family never fails to disappoint.

12.03.2010

thanksgiving eve: an affair to remember

As I mentioned here, I first fell in love with NYC through the movies.  I grew up watching musicals like Singing in the Rain and Easter Parade with my dad, utterly transfixed by the palpable energy of the city.  Another Fred Astaire film, Band Wagon, is one of my very favorites.*  I loved to sing and dance around our living room, pretending I was waltzing down Fifth Avenue.  As a young adult, films like Barefoot in the Park and An Affair to Remember cemented the deal.  I was in love with all things big city.

Husband, always the keen observer, knew this about me early on.  Fortunately for him, he missed my tap dance/voice/acting lessons phase.  *See musical adoration above.  Tip of the day: marginal talent will get you all of nowhere, but if you're having fun, by ALL means, indulge your hobbies!  And hey, if you take a tap dance class with a bunch of 7 year olds who are doing shuffle ball changes so fast it makes your head spin, try not to step on their sweet little toesies.  True story... sad, but true

Thanksgiving Eve, 2005
When it came time to propose, Husband picked a NYC landmark only a movie buff like me could truly appreciate.  On Thanksgiving Eve, five years ago, he popped the question atop the Empire State Building.  What can I say, it was the perfect, romantic spot for a gal who can quote An Affair to Remember and Sleepless in Seattle on demand.  The building, flanked in history, will always be a special place to us.

This Thanksgiving Eve, five years later, Husband semi-surprised me
(I was on to him from the get go) with another visit to the famous skyscraper.  While the magic of NYC might not be as obvious anymore (especially when it's so easy to get caught up in the daily grind), moments like these are incredibly special.  Peeking out over the city, lit up from end to end, I was reminded once again of why I live here... why it's special, and why I don't take it for granted.  The same goes for Husband, who (I'll admit) doesn't get enough credit for being the thoughtful guy he is, but who is never, ever taken for granted.

Thanksgiving Eve, 2010
Clearly, things have changed a bit in five years... I have better taste in hats, for starters.  There's a cranky yet adorable little munchkin in the photo with us (the nostalgia & panoramic view were lost on her, unfortunately).  We've decided that this will be a new tradition for us - to go back to the Empire State Building every 5 years.  The visit brought back a little magic that I'd been missing, and I was reminded of the little girl who used to dance around in her living room, dreaming of bright lights and excitement.  To be able to share this city with a pretty fantastic guy, and now, our child, well... I forget how lucky I am sometimes.

PS:  Am I really wearing the same coat?  Good grief.  Time to go shopping.
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