Monday, December 11, 2017

Designed By Nature

This is not a black and white photo - it's a shot of the first snow of the season in Hamilton, New Jersey.  

Ed and I spent some time over the weekend at Grounds For Sculpture, a 42-acre sculpture park and museum.  We went in the late afternoon, while it was snowing, and walked around for about two hours before it got too dark to take pictures.  The snow was steadily falling, covering the art and the walking paths.  
This place was amazing and we'll definitely be visiting again, when the weather is better.  I'll be posting more about this great find soon, so be sure to come back for a look!

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The Last Mile

2015: Off Season Surf Shop
2014: Two Full Weeks Of Shopping Left
2013: Team Daily Rant Makes A Pitstop In Florida
2012: An Apple A Day
2011: California Sunshine
2010: A Star (Or Two) Is Born
2009: Modern Road Warriors And Their Weapons 
2008: Holsteins On Display
2007: Listening And LOVING
2006: Unfortunately Synonymous
2005: The Gays Are The Ritziest

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Thrill Of It All

Last night I saw a re-run of the Late Late Show with James Corden and I saw this carpool karaoke segment featuring Sam Smith.  I don't really know a lot about this artist but I realized listening that I did know, and like, two of the songs.  I never heard the other ones they sang but I loved those, too. 

I'm going straight to iTunes to buy his latest album, and browse through the rest of his stuff to see what else from him I can't live without.    

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It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Catmas

2015: The Waffle King Of Ozark
2014: Chocolate Covered Memory
2013: I Found A Few Gifts To Flip For
2012: Barely Surviving
2011: In And Out In A Peachy Keen Flash
2010: Yo, I’m All Over The Place!
2009: Morning On The Willamette
2008: Stupidity Threat Level: Orange*
2007: It’s Like Playing A Record Backwards To Hear The “Real” Meaning
2006: In The Desert, The Clouds Look Like Cotton Candy
2005: Chinky By The Ramada

Saturday, December 09, 2017

George In Situ

As Ed and I were driving home last night from Palmer Square in Princeton, we passed this monument.  It was spotlit and since it was late, the area was vacant.  There were no signs telling us what it was so I did a quick Google search and found a Wikipedia page on it - that's where this information came from:

It's called the Princeton Battle Monument and it's located adjacent to the Morven Museum & Garden at 55 Stockton Street in Princeton, New Jersey.

It's a Beaux-Arts style sculpture commemorating the January 3, 1777 Battle of Princeton and depicts General George Washington leading his troops to victory and the death of General Hugh Mercer. It stands 50 feet tall and was inspired by carvings on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

It was carved on site (in situ), out of Indiana Limestone, by the Piccirilli Brothers - who also carved the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC - and was unveiled in 1922.

2011: Breakdown = Extra Nap Time
2010: Dr. Lettera Said The Very Same Thing, She Just Wasn’t Qualified To Write The Prescription
2009: The First Snow I’ve Seen This Season
2008: Not That There’s Any Reason To Park Here
2007: A Game You Wouldn’t Want To Play If You Were Say, IN The Witness Protection Program
2006: Companionship Is Just A Phone Call Away. Beauty Is Another Story.
2005: Who Stole My Cheese?

Friday, December 08, 2017

Where Broken Hearts Reside

I've passed this cemetery at least 100 times in my life and it always amazes me.  It's huge.  To see the vast expanse of the cemetery with the Manhattan skyline in the background is quite a sight.  You can get a pretty good view from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, it just goes by too fast.  Well, unless you're stuck in traffic.  I'd love to visit one day and walk among the headstones. 

From Wikipedia:  The Calvary Cemetery covers 365 acres and has about 3 million burials, the largest number of interments of any cemetery in the United States.  Established in 1848, it's also one of the oldest cemeteries in the United States.

The cemetery is divided into four sections, spread across the neighborhoods of Maspeth and Woodside, Queens. The oldest, First Calvary, is also called "Old Calvary." The Second, Third and Fourth sections are all considered part of "New Calvary."

The first Calvary Cemetery burial occurred on July 31, 1848. The name of the deceased was Esther Ennis, who reportedly “died of a broken heart.”

By 1852 there were 50 burials a day, half of them poor Irish under seven years of age. In the early 20th century, influenza and tuberculosis epidemics caused a shortage of gravediggers, and people dug graves for their own loved ones.

The entire number of interments from the cemetery's opening in August 1848 until January 1898, was 644,761. From January 1898 until 1907 there were about 200,000 interments, thus yielding roughly 850,000 interments at Calvary Cemetery by 1907.

At more than 3 million strong, they're still accepting customers.

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2006: Border Town

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

A Superlative Example

When we're in the New York area, we park at a rest area in New Jersey that provides easy access to New York City by train, but getting to the train station means hailing a cab.  That's not really a problem because the train station is close and they always have cabs available, but on this trip we decided to use Uber.

When I first heard everyone talking about Uber, I didn't really understand how it worked.  "We'll just call an Uber." they'd say.  What's an Uber? What?  Really?  You just call a stranger to come pick you up?  In their own car??  It sounded weird.  But Ed downloaded the app and used it a few times without me, getting to and from the truck a few times.

Turns out, it's really convenient.  You get on the app, tell it where you want to go, and it shows you the closest driver to your location.  And you can see in real time where that driver is and how far away they are.  So far, all of our experiences have been great.  Nice drivers, nice cars, very affordable, and the best part - you don't have to pay in cash, everything goes through the app.  No awkward moments handing a cabbie cash.  I hate that part. 

The door-to-door service is totally worth it.

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Sandwiches Fit For A King

2015: Rollin' With A Little Christmas
2014: Waterfront Biz
2013: My Boy And I Love Us Some Cheese
2012: A Visit To The Island Plantation of Hibernia
2011: Now They Are Heard And Not Just Seen

2010: By Request
2009: The Reason My Ass Is Not Getting Any Smaller
2008: Out Of This World Outport Life
2007: Max Says To Go Placidly, As It Is Still A Beautiful World
2006: Dangerous Beauty
2005: Big Bad Cherry Peppers

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Capitol Truck Stop

We spent one night at Plaza 23 Truck Stop, a little no-name non-chain truck stop located on the banks of the Hudson River, near the Port of Albany, a mile and a half from New York's state capitol building.

The truck stop vibe was old school. 

The truck stop burger wasn't worth nine dollars.

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Uh, The Patio Was Nice

2015: Ten Transcendent Tannenbaums
2014: Cascade Of Reading Material
2013: Easy Money
2012: Keeping Tabs On The Industry
2011: Trucker Love Notes
2010: We Need A Little Christmas Right This Very Minute
2009: Sorting Out The Details
2008: Eddie On A Cliff Friday
2007: Christmas Meme!
2006: ”O” My God
2005: Five Already???

Monday, December 04, 2017

Rock Solid Christmas Decorations

This fantastic snowman is the creation of our longtime family friend, Craig.  He's insanely creative and has been self-employed for years, making one-of-a-kind pieces for anyone lucky enough to hire him. 

When he and his oldest son discovered their giant inflatable snowman from last year was dead, they came up with this idea.  It's perfect for Tucson! 

And, he'll never melt.  

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Illuminated Mystery

2015: Getting In The Holiday Mood
2014: A Door To Another World
2013: Beaver Exploitation In Texas
2012: Perfected And Built By Italians
2011: So THIS Is What We Look Like!
2010: Just Because
2009: Plastic Is A Sure Thing
2008: The All Purpose Swab
2007: Jump The Weeds
2006: Forty Dollars A Gallon
2005: Off With Their Heads!

Sunday, December 03, 2017

The Military Capital Of The American Revolution

Mannheim Steamroller onstage at the Mayo Performing Arts Center
We delivered our load on Friday in New Jersey and didn't find another load which meant we'd be sitting for the weekend.  Ed doesn't like to spend the entire day sitting in the truck so he looked for something to do in the area.  We weren't close to public transportation and we don't have our bikes with us so we decided to use Uber.  We've used the service a few times now and it's actually pretty great.  Affordable, door-to-door service. 

So yesterday Ed bought tickets for us to see Mannheim Steamroller at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, New Jersey. 

Mannheim Steamroller is a neo-classical new age group known for its Christmas music.  In fact, Chip Davis, the founder and leader of the group, is the number one Christmas music artist in history with over 28 million record sold.  The second highest selling Christmas music artist is...Elvis Presley.

I can't say I loved it.  It's a much talked about group, people love them, they're played all over the place during the holidays, and I remember when I worked in the music department of Barnes & Noble almost 20 years ago, how their CDs would fly off the shelves during the holiday.  The new-age composition is just not my cup of tea.  Too much electronic sound, too much recorder, too much pied-piper sound.  Not to mention the weird video accompaniment they had with the show.  It looks like they're still using stuff filmed in the late seventies early eighties.  I'm glad we got to see the show, but now I'm sure I won't ever be buying the CD.

After the show we walked to The Green, a historical park in the center of Morristown, which has been called "the military capital of the American Revolution".  It was cold and crisp, in the high forties, which is perfect weather for me.  I was in heaven.  And what a cute little town!  The streets were lined with restaurants and shops, The Green was decorated with Christmas lights, and the area was filled with people walking around and kids waiting with their parents to take a picture with Santa.  

The Morristown Green in Morristown, NJ
After spending about an hour walking around, Ed's stomach was telling him it was time to find food.  We looked at a few places, which were all busy since it was Saturday night, and finally decided on Nunzio's Dolce Vita, which wound up being right next door to the performing arts center.  The place was busy but they were able to squeeze us in.  The food was good and we left satisfied.
Arancini - our appetizer at Nunzio's Dolce Vita.
We hailed an Uber back to the truck and had tea and dessert there while watching a new Redbox movie. 

It was a great night and as always, I'm glad Ed pushed for us to do something instead of sit around all night.  Who knows what he has up his sleeve next? 

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2016: A Perfect Companion
2015: A Tony In The Making
2014: Collecting America
2013: Approaching Flag
2012: He Didn't Even Need Duct Tape
2011: The Epitome Of Desolation
2010: Eddie Lobster On The Brain, Listening Skills Disengaged Friday
2009: Privacy Issues
2008: It’s Crazy That I’m Crazy For Keanu
2007: Gifts That Keep On Giving
2006: Classic Las Vegas
2005: Off With Their Heads!

Saturday, December 02, 2017

West Side Lights

Ed took this picture from the top of the Empire State Building.  The view is looking west, straight down 33rd and 34th Street, toward the Hudson River.  On the other side of the Hudson lies New Jersey.  The circular building in the center is Madison Square Garden.

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Paw Prints On Our Heart

2015: The Incredible Portable Egg
2014: Bric-à-brac
2013: Bidding Adieu
2012: Rushing To The Mine 
2011: Ari-Snowna
2010: It’s In The Air
2009: Wish List
2008: He Must Have Learned It From TV
2007: When Pizza Is Involved, Jesus Is Always In Charge
2006: Sexier Than The Rockettes
2005: $3.99 A Minute 

Friday, December 01, 2017

Kicking It Up For Christmas

The Christmas tree chandelier in the lobby of the Radio City Music Hall, which opened to the public in December of 1932.  They gave out Santa hats to everyone attending the Christmas Spectacular, hence the sea of red hats in most of the photos.

We had great seats in the first mezzanine.  We were going to buy seats closer, in the orchestra section but two employees said the view was better from the raised mezzanine area. It was. 

Ed took this photo, trying to capture the Rockettes were on stage.  It was hard to get a good photo with our phones, but you can definitely see the lineup of all the girls.  
 Another scene taken by Ed:
Here are 23 Facts about the Christmas Spectacular and the Rockettes.  I've copied the text from here to make it easier to read.  It's pretty interesting!

There is no better place to be during the holidays than at the Christmas Spectacular getting into the yuletide spirit with us! Between our iconic dance numbers (“Parade of the Wooden Soldiers,” anyone?!) and ice skaters swirling across the stage to Santa spreading Christmas cheer, it’s the best of the season in one spectacular experience. As you can imagine, this annual tradition is full of rich history—after all, it’s been more than 85 years since the show’s inception! From the Rockettes being inspired by a British dance troupe to the amount of rosy red cheeks wardrobe goes through each season, we’re giving you a look into the lesser-known tidbits about us and America’s most beloved holiday family show:

1. The Rockettes were inspired by John Tiller’s “Tiller Girls.” The Rockettes began kicking up their shoes since Russell Markert, the Rockettes’ chief choreographer, image-preserver and resident “father figure” of the famous troupe until he retired in 1971, founded the exemplary American chorus line—an exciting precision dance company with great style, flair and glamour—in 1925. Inspired by the British dance troupe formed by John Tiller (“The Tiller Girls” performed in a 1922 Ziegfeld Follies production), Russell wanted to achieve absolute precision and ultimate uniformity in the movements of the dancers.

2. We weren’t always called the “Rockettes.” The dancers known as the “Missouri Rockets” made their show debut in St. Louis. That same year, the troupe traveled to New York City to perform in the Broadway show Rain or Shine, and were discovered by showman S.L. “Roxy” Rothafel. The “Missouri Rockets” were such an instant hit that Rothafel was loath to let them leave after their performances at the Roxy Theatre. Rothafel pleaded with Markert to form another line to replace the departing “Missouri Rockets.” While there were three separate dance troupes performing in New York City at that time, Rothafel moved two of the troupes to Radio City Music Hall for its opening night on Dec. 27th, 1932 where they performed a routine to the song “With a Feather in Your Cap.” He dubbed the chorus line the “Roxyettes.” Two years later, the “Roxyettes” officially became the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes.

3. The Christmas Spectacular was originally 30 minutes. The original 30-minute live Christmas Spectacular, which debuted on Dec. 21, 1933, featured elaborate sets, sparkling costumes, performances from the Music Hall’s Corps de Ballet and Glee Club, novelty acts and of course, us Rockettes. Today, the show has evolved into a 90-minute extravaganza celebrating the holiday season to the fullest.

4. Two iconic numbers have remained nearly unchanged. Two of the most cherished scenes in the show, the “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” and the “Living Nativity,” have been a part of Radio City’s holiday tradition since they were first performed on the Great Stage in 1933. Our costume for the “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” number has remained nearly unchanged (the trousers used to be starched!), and is specifically crafted and sized for each of us.

5. Over 3,000 women have performed as Rockettes. Since the Christmas Spectacular’s opening night in 1933, more than 3,000 women have shared in the legacy by performing as a Rockette. It’s the ultimate sisterhood!

6. Millions (and millions!) have seen the show. The Christmas Spectacular has been seen by more than 75 million people since the New York holiday tradition officially began in 1933.

7. It takes more than 250 people to stage the Christmas Spectacular. There is a cast of 150 that includes us Rockettes, singers, dancers, musicians, figure skaters (and more!) and a cast and crew who “loads in” the production weeks before opening night.

8. Those animals walking across the Great Stage are real! During the eight-week run of the show, the real-life camels, sheep and donkey in the “Living Nativity” number drink 450 bottles of water, eat 340 bales of hay, munch on 560 loaves of seven-grain bread and exercise daily with early morning and late night strolls on the streets outside the Music Hall—an occurrence that has surprised more than a few New York night owls and midtown commuters.

9. There’s a morning and afternoon cast. There are a total of 80 Rockettes—40 Rockettes in each cast, and only 36 of us perform onstage at a time. Each cast has four “swings” who can fill in the spots for nine of the women on the line.

10. We Rockettes need to be a certain height. Each of us has to be between 5’6″ and 5’10½” and must demonstrate proficiency in tap, jazz, and ballet.

11. Your eyes are deceiving you! The illusion of our uniform heights has always been maintained by having the taller dancers in the center of the line and placing dancers of gradually decreasing height on either side, with the less tall women at both ends of the line.

12. We do our own hair and makeup for performances. We wear a signature red lip (either MAC Red or MAC Russian Red—both are blue-based tones that pop under the bright lights!), false eyelashes and a French twist.

13. Wardrobe goes through 30,000 cheeks every season. Those rosy red cheeks we wear during the “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” and “Rag Dolls” numbers aren’t makeup, they’re red felt circles that we fasten to our cheeks with double-sided tape or Vaseline.

14. Our shoes are mic’d up. This is so the entire audience can hear us dance the “12 Days of Christmas” and “Rag Dolls” tap routines. Wardrobe removes the heel and sole, and inserts a custom leather sole that attaches to the bottom of the tap shoe. A new heel is made that allows a special cavity within the heel for the sound transmitter to be stored inside—this helps pick up the sounds of our taps (14,096 AA batteries are used throughout the run of the show!).

15. We can kick up to 1,200 times in one day. We do about 300 kicks per show and perform in up to four shows a day during busy periods!

16. Over 1,100 costumes are worn by the cast in each show. More than 1,100 colorful costumes are worn in the Christmas Spectacular—from us Rockettes to the ensemble and singers.

17. We’re pros when it comes to changing costumes. The quickest change occurs between the “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” and “New York at Christmas” numbers, where we have 78 seconds to change in the wings of the Great Stage—with the help of our dressers, of course!

18. Our wardrobe department does loads (and loads!) of laundry. Over 350 loads of laundry are done per week, for 16 hours per day during the week and 20 hours per day over the weekend. The cast’s shoes, laundry and costumes are stored in 180 laundry baskets backstage for each show.

19. There are over 1,100 pairs of shoes worn in each show. Between us Rockettes, the ensemble and Santa Claus, over 1,100 pairs of shoes are worn per show.

20. The ice rink in the “New York at Christmas” number isn’t real! The Christmas Spectacular features an “ice” rink built on a movable platform that’s used during the “New York at Christmas” scene. It’s made from an artificial surface with the same properties as real ice, with professional skaters wearing real ice skates to glide across the surface.

21. There are 11 large digital projectors used to project imagery. Radio City Music Hall is one of the largest indoor theaters in the world. During the Christmas Spectacular, there are 11 digital protectors that project imagery onto Radio City’s proscenium arches, creating visuals from Bethlehem’s starry night sky in the “Living Nativity” to Santa’s whimsical workshop in the North Pole.

22. More than 1,100 Stage Door Tours that are guided through Radio City Music Hall during the busy holiday season. Approximately 23,000 people tour the Music Hall in November and December. This tour allows visitors to learn about the architectural history of the Hall, while experiencing the grandeur of the refurbished landmark. A sneak peek into the costume shop and the famous Roxy Suite (did you know this was Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel’s apartment?!) always proves to be a popular tourist draw.

23. Over one million pairs of 3-D glasses are handed out. Each season, over one million pairs of 3-D glasses are handed out to audience members so they can experience the 3-D animation when Santa flies to New York.

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2016: Testing Ed's Giant Brain

2015: Practically A Cardinal Red Sin
2014: Drink And A Movie?
2013: Leaving The Blue Skies Behind
2012: One Special Request
2011: Body Language
2010: Move Along, Not Much To Read Here
2009: My Favorite Geek Scores Two Bargains In One Day
2008: Your Beating Heart
2007: All I Want For Christmas Are My Two Front Teeth
2006: Eddie Opens An Eye In Vegas Friday
2005: You’re Giving Me Agida

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Monday, November 27, 2017