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February 15, 2011 — Shanghai, Shanglow: A detailed report of a visit to the Far East!
Ni Hao, everyone!!! What follows is a special ledger report of my 2 weeks in China. I suspect it will be quite long and inclusive as I have 18 pages of notes, so be prepared for a novel!! In other news, I’m taking advantage of the serene ambience here at 6am to commence (editorial note: it’s now 1pm, and I still am not finished, so yes it’s long). I was up yesterday at 4am, so shifting my 2 hours a day, I should be normal by Friday. I’ve decided to break the observations into themes rather than do a strictly chronological account b/c I think that’d be more interesting. I will keep the lists in the themes themselves, chronological, however, in case you’re following along with the photo album…
Speaking of, I have posted my 694 pictures and 2 videos up on the facebook.
I guess that’s enough pre-ramble for now, so let’s dig into this.
WEB SERIES/ UPCOMING SHOWS
Before I start in on Shanghai, I would be remiss in not mentioning the following:
1. Season 1 of EVERY DAY A LITTLE SETH has been completed. Please make sure you watch all 6 episodes and forward to everyone you know – youtube.com/everydayalittleseth ! I will be working on Season 2 this summer.
2. My birthday is in less than 2 weeks.
3. We’re doing a one night only presentation of LOVE QUIRKS on Thurs, 3/31 – the 4 person version – we’re going to work out the kinks and make it more of a “show” than a “cabaret” and then the hope is to get it weekly off-Broadway and done all over the country in colleges, etc.
4. Tuesdays in April Seth’s Showcases will be all my songs in celebration of the upcoming 150th Showcase!
5. For those of you I haven’t told yet, I’m also on the twitter now at twitter.com/evdayalilseth
I got a lot of people asking why I went to China, so I figure i should start with the genesis of the trip. After Samidh’s wedding in 2009 with him moving to Baltimore and Kevin going to Shanghai after spending a year in London, I proclaimed that we should take annual trips together to renew and strengthen our friendship bond. 2010 was ebbing, and we had yet to do what we said we’d do annually. Thus, Samidh proposed that we combine our 2010 and 2011 weeks to 2 weeks in Shanghai to visit Kevin. I was, of course, a little trepidacious about taking a 15 hour plane flight around the world to a place where they don’t speak English and eat strange foods, but at the end of the day, it is a once in a lifetime journey. How often would we have free housing in CHINA? And the answer is not very.
The trip was fantastic, and I am tremendously glad to have been talked into going.
FYI, China means MIDDLE KINGDOM, and Shanghai roughly means ON THE SEA, so Shanghai is a city on the sea in the middle kingdom. It is not Beijing – it is not even near Beijing, so I did NOT see the Great Wall or the Forbidden City, but I did see modern China, and basically how China is kicking the USA’s butt in “winning the future” (or at least claiming to). Overall, the city was far better planned, cleaner and more gorgeous than NYC in almost every way, but at the expense of free thought and expression…
1. THE AIRPLANES
I hate flying. I admit it. I absolutely hate everything about it, and I’d do an episode of my show about it, but Louie C. K. already did one. It is a horrible, lengthy experience.
Going there, there was a blizzard the night before, so I woke up early making sure the flight was still on – thankfully China Eastern literally flew out during the blizzard, so the next day was not an issue. JFK opened up at 8am, unlike the other 2 airports in the NY area, so PHEW, I thought. I left super early around noon for a 3:30PM flight. The E train ran nicely (as opposed to coming home), but then I found out the Air Train was derailed b/c of the snow. I had to wait for a free shuttle bus (saved $5 though!) and that only went to Federal Circle and then ANOTHER one to the terminals – there I took the Air Train (which was running in the terminals only) around the entire airport b/c it started at 7, and my terminal was 1.
Then, I waited on a long line to get my ticket and check my baggage. Then an even longer line to get through security. Then the line to get on the plane. Then I waited on the plane for an hour, and then I was on the plane for 15 hours while it flew. Then I had to go through immigration in China and baggage claim – all in all a 20 hour commute door to door, though Kevin did send a car for me so I got to see someone holding my names (though mis-spelled). Unfortunately, the driver spoke no English, so it was kind of awkward, though I think he was making fun of me with Kevin’s doorman…
China Eastern was not my favorite plane experience – the ticket was the cheapest and for a reason. The seats were tiny, there weren’t any private tv screens – just really tiny group ones where they had only 2 English movies (really lame ones), but there was no schedule, so I missed one on each of the flight b/c there would be Chinese movies and Chinese tv shows, plus they had Chinese advertisements on for an hour, as well.
The flight there was my first experience in not understanding what anyone around me was saying. And when the pilots/ stewardesses spoke in English, it was thickly accented and really hard to understand, as well.
Fortunately, on the ride there, I ended up with a seat next to me free which made it easier to spread out, and try to nap – though, at the end of the day I only managed to sleep for an hour or 2.
My other complaints included:
-The classical musical station repeated itself after about 4 hours – seriously, it’s a 15 hour flight – they can’t get enough programming for 15 hours?
-This was the start of seeing the Chinese government infringe on everyone — the entire flight was very do what everyone else is doing or else – I napped during the wrong time and it was noisy, but then at nap time, I felt bad for having my light on – they put the lights up really high whenever it was a meal time – you basically had to nap when they said to or not at all is what I learned. At the end of the flights, there was an exercise video where they suggested you stretch out with them – it was just weird, and I found only the older Chinese patrons were following along…
-All the magazines were in Chinese
The flight home I at least knew what to expect – I didn’t have an extra seat – I tried to nap during nap time, but there were really noisy crying kids the entire way, which is how I didn’t nap enough to stay up Sunday past 5:30pm, which is why I’m still very dayshifted, but c’est la vie! My favorite moment of that plane ride was when the stewardess yelled at this American couple that had spread out on the seats and the floor — she said in her accented English “No sleep there!” Coming back, the E train was on the F line, so I had to switch to a local R, which took forever – it made me long for the Shanghai Metro (more on that in a bit)…
Speaking of airports, it was much easier to find things in Shanghai’s Pudong Airport than at JFK – also, they were much more efficient in every line – I got through the entire process including security in 30 minutes in Shanghai – it took more than an hour in JFK. Also, the tix in China have barcodes, so it’s all much faster going through lines… Also, in China you don’t have to pull out your liquids or take off your shoes!
2. THE SHANGHAI METRO
The Shanghai Metro is better than the NYC subway, and any other subway I’ve ever been on, by 1000%.
Some of the differences:
1. Cell phones work in the stations and on the trains.
2. Air conditioned platforms and cars.
3. Clear announcements for each stop (in Chinese and English).
4. Blinking lights with maps on the doors to tell you which stop is next and where you are.
5. Lights to tell you which door is opening next.
6. Clear screens to tell you when the next 2 trains are coming with a TV and a weather report.
7. TV and music – calm classical music, while the TV displays various things benignly.
8. A ride is only $0.40-$1 depending on how far.
9. Everything is clearly signed.
10. There are colored arrows on the floor to transfer between lines, along with ceiling signs.
11. They are REALLY clean – there were people cleaning up the subway every stop.
12. The subways run constantly and consistently. (Though they stop at midnight, which is lame, but they let you know exactly when the last train will be there.)
13. They have numbered exits, so you can tell people to exit out a specific side.
14. Each exit has a map of the neighboring streets.
15. Not once did I see someone try to hold a door open – probably b/c they knew another train was coming in 4 minutes – but that doesn’t stop New Yorkers!
In other news, the system is like DC where you have to keep your ticket to exit, which took some getting used to, but since I never throw anything out ever, I never had any issues – we did learn the hard way single ticket rides were only good for 24 hours.
To ride the subway, they make you scan your bag, which seems well and good, but usually the person who watches the bags go through was napping… perhaps it would beep if there was something like a gun?
3. THE MAGLEV
We went to pick Samidh up at the airport and coming home we took the Maglev train – the fastest bullet train in the world, mayhaps? It got up to 400 km/ hr, which is really fast, and it got us back to the city in no time! If only the Air Train was like THAT.
4. BULLET TRAINS/ SHANGHAI RAILWAY STATIONS
Seriously, the equivalent of Penn Station in Shanghai is at least 10 times the size – it was supreme and completely clean and glamorous. Just gigantic. For trains in Shanghai, there are assigned seats, and the popular destinations sell out fast. They have bullet trains that go extremely fast – high speed rail the type Obama suggests having here – and it was just extraordinary. We got to our destinations in 30-40 minutes even though by bus they would’ve been a few hours…
The ticket machines here were as easy to use as the subways, and everything was clearly signed. Again there were metal detectors and you needed your tickets to enter and exit – Samidh almost lost his and had to pay the full fare again, but thankfully he found it hidden in his bag…
Since cabs are so cheap ($2-3), Kevin usually cabs most places. Some weird quirks – you cannot enter a cab from the left side – very weird, indeed. We only had one cab driver who was kind of mean, most of them were quite jovial, though I’m told that sometimes they’ll take the longest way possible on purpose.
In general, as you’ll all know, I prefer walking, so I got to know Kevin’s neighborhood and surrounding area much better than Kevin since he prefers cabs. I walked all over, and I found Shanghai to be a beautiful city. The underpasses and overpasses were incredible – everything was clean – they had little parks EVERYwhere I turned. The architecture was just exquisite. In fact, they eat had fish and a turtle in a tank in this one underpass underneath a big intersection…
Shanghai is very walkable, though it’s completely inconsistent and hasn’t the nice number grid of NYC. In fact, the maps are highly out of scale – sometimes the next road is very close, sometimes there’s a really long stretch, even longer than a NYC avenue — so it becomes really hard to gauge how long it’s going to take to go somewhere – even the subways are not spaced out uniformly. However, since it’s a prettier walk, I didn’t mind once I figured out how long it would take to get to various places and could estimate better.
Another thing about walking is that cars are NUTS, as well as motorbikes and regular bikes – they just GOOO — they do not stop at all when turning right, so you have to constantly be checking when you’re in a crosswalk – but in other intersection news, most of the traffic lights have timers counting down to tell you how long they’re going to be green or red for…
1. LANGUAGE BARRIER
Announcements on the plane and subway to me were like the start of the Evita Original Cast Recording – mumbling in a different language and finally morphing into English. Though, it was accented English… In general, Shanghai was very well marked in English – or at least in English letters – all the street signs, most of the restaurants, and shops.
I picked up some Chinese – hello, goodbye, thank you… Kevin’s friend, Michael taught me some phrases – really? Really. (Jenda ma? Jenda.) and “sure we could do that” Keyi… FYI, the English letters are pronounced the same – so most people in Shanghai were aware of the English alphabet, and it was used on apartment doors, license plates, etc – the numbers, however, were spoken in Chinese for the most part, even though they used the same symbols. Oh, and the Chinese like to repeat things a lot – like no – “boo boo boo boo” or I see is “ha ha ha ha” which kind of makes them seem jovial… Sighing is like this …. IIIII YAAAA (which is surprisingly close to Miss Piggy’s HIYA!!) Also, there was the near racist chigga-n**** which means “This and that” – that made me do a double take till I figured out its meaning…
I found that very few people in Shanghai spoke English unless they worked at Western-ish restaurants/ stores, but I found a lot of kids at the zoo saying “Hello” to me – one cute 4 year old followed that up with “How are you” and then giggled. So basically, the younger generation will know English very well. Samidh and I met this 8 year old, Steve, at the Science Museum who spoke very well – certainly better than we spoke Chinese – we had a conversation with him while waiting on a queue, and he was very excited to talk to us.
However, sometimes it was really funny b/c they’d be talking in Chinese, and then all of a sudden switch to English abruptly when they would see me. This happened at museums and at the airport mostly – very few of the waiters we had spoke English except the ones at the more Western joints. It’d be like “babble, babble, babble. go to line 23. babble, babble, babble”
There were public bathrooms EVERYwhere in China. EVERYwhere. And they were all REALLY clean. Having the government be in charge of everything means they can hire lots of workers (though I doubt they pay them much), so to keep people employed there were cops everywhere, and every single bathroom had its own janitor that would just wait for you to be done, and then clean up after you. (Kind of creepy, but very clean.)
My favorite bathroom sign was in the Museum of Science & Technology where in the stall it said “use tissue frugally” as a way to save the environment, perhaps, but probably also a way of saving on costs.
Also, the toilets and urinals were both closer to the ground, as per the height differences. (See below.)
During the day trips, outside of Shanghai, we encountered squat toilets, which are basically holes in the ground – very disgusting. These usually didn’t have toilet paper, nor soap — actually, I found very few of the restrooms in China to have soap – the ones that did were in more Western joints. Thankfully, I always carry around hand sanitizer!
The number one worst thing about Shanghai was the prevalence of smokers, especially in restaurants. It’s a vile, disgusting thing to allow people to smoke inside, and I had to air out my shirts and coats whenever we ate somewhere that a smoker happened to be close. It also ruined all the flavor o the food to be inhaling it, as well. The only upside was that there were fewer smokers outside and on the sidewalks adjoining restaurants.
In the coffee shops, there were usually smoking sections that could be sealed completely with a plastic door, such that the smoke was contained. I wish they had those in all the restaurants!
4. APARTMENT ODDITIES
It is very common to have a maid (ayee) b/c there is so much cheap labor. Chinese people don’t like to do things themselves (IKEA failed) – since labor is so cheap, they’d rather hire someone to do basically everything, so they feel richer than they are. Kevin’s maid was very nice and also cooks him 2 meals/ week. Thankfully she was off for New Years most of the time I was there b/c I felt really weird having someone touch my bed and clothes and stuff.
Dryers are very uncommon in China – there were many old school clotheslines, and although Kevin has a washer, it took my clothes 3 days to dry on his balcony’s clothesline.
One of the major things different about old school Chinese apartments is the KEYS – you need a key to EXIT – it reminded me of those old films in Britain where you could actually lock a child in his/ her room — you insert the key and rotate it 2 times to lock — you cannot leave the apartment without it, so it makes it easier to not forget you key, at least!!
In terms of utilities, since most everything is dealt with and paid in cash in China, you can pay your bills at the local 7/11 type place. And if you’re late by a day, they send a bill collector to your apartment, who doesn’t speak English, btw…
When you’re staying in China, you’re supposed to register with the local police so they know where you are at all times – we didn’t actually do this, but I was told it’s fine probably partially b/c of the following header…
Also, most apartments come furnished. And all buildings are numbered, even if there is only 1 – so Kevin lived at Building 1, even though there wasn’t a 2 or 3…
5. MOST CHINESE DON’T FOLLOW THE RULES
One of my biggest surprises was even though the Chinese people are constantly told what to do, they have a huge disregard for rules. There were no smoking signs in quite a few restaurants and in most cabs, but there were always people smoking regardless in restaurants, and almost all the cabs we took reeked of previous smoke.
In addition, Chinese people cut lines like CRAZY, and whenever we were in line for anything, we had to be very careful to blockade anyone from getting in front of us.
Finally, at the zoo (more on that below!), even though there were signs EVERYwhere in all sorts of pictures and languages to not feed the animals, people were doing it incessantly!! (And I have the pictures to prove it!)
6. I AM A GIANT
While I wasn’t the tallest person I saw all 2 weeks, I was close to it. A tall person there is about my height – though, I did see one over 6 foot Asian who was probably a basketball player. For the most part, I felt huge – the seats everywhere were closer to the ground and closer together, as I already mentioned in the bathrooms, as well. Benches, little stools in parks, etc, much closer, etc.
The ceilings were lower in most places – there were mind your head signs a lot in the museums for us tourists.
7. LACK OF DIVERSITY
Let’s just say while I did eventually see dozens of white people, they were few and far between, mostly in the Ex Pat restaurants and touristy locations. Other than that, I rarely saw a non-Asian person. We saw, besides Samidh, 3 Indians, and at most a dozen blacks. Not a single Hispanic on my entire trip! On the subway ride home in NYC, it was nice to be back in a land of many colors!!
8. CROWD CONTROL
China is really crowded. That is my other largest complaint. It is mobbed everywhere. The subways were very full most of the time, the streets very full, all the attractions, etc. The elevators were jampacked! I think Chinese people are used to being squashed — the elevator in Kevin’s building which was approx. 6*6 feet claimed to hold 15 people. That’s a lot of people to squeeze in – thankfully, I never saw it with more than 4.
People wear gas masks in China if they’re sick, so as not to spread germs since the SARs epidemics, though, which I found very nice and hygienic.
9. LADY GAGA IS EVERYWHERE
Seriously, the Chinese are obsessed with her. I heard her songs everywhere, and a lot of other American pop, most of which I actually knew so it wtas only the horribly trendy stuff – maybe I should write one pop song that gets done all over the world someday…
10. ADAMANT VENDORS
III-YAAAAH, everywhere I went people were trying to sell me things – “Watch!” “Bag!” “Kite! You like kite?” This one guy even complimented my (ugly) shoes and was like “Such nice shoes – Want shine?” I was like – no thanks – I would’ve said, these shoes aren’t very nice, but I don’t think he would’ve understand me… We exited from most of the major museums and gardens and the expo into throngs of vendors, as well, all waiting to pray on us like vultures…
11. NO TIPPING
Seriously, this was something that took awhile to adjust do — tipping is not culturally acceptable in China – they will give the money back. So no tipping at restaurants, on cabs, haircuts, massages, etc – which really brings the price down, but also keeps the wages stagnant. But when in China, do as the Chinese do… Also, on the things they don’t do list – “say god bless you” at all – which makes sense, it was only started in Europe b/c of the plague… also there is very little use of credit cards – it’s mostly cash only.
Everything comes with an “official receipt” for tax deduction purposes, and there’s a lottery scratch off on each one – Kevin actually won twice (5 RMB which is a little less than $1) on my last day there – I must’ve been a good luck charm!
12. ELECTRICITY SAVERS/ RECYCLING
One wonderful thing is they had all these escalators that wouldn’t be on unless someone stepped on them, thereby saving a lot of energy! Or they’d go up slowly, and only speed up when we were there – same for those moving walk things at the airport…
Also, they had trash and recyclable bins everywhere – the entire city is dedicated to recycling.
Though, in terms of climate control, it was odd – sometimes it would be colder in the buildings than outside – maybe b/c they were so well insulated, and occasionally at museums there would be very inconsistent temperatures – some rooms really cold, some really hot… not quite sure why…
13. ILLEGAL DVDs
Seriously, they have DVDs of EVERYthing selling on street corners, in stores – completely illegal bootlegs, which are completely legal in China – they get the movies from pre-release DVDs somehow the studio sends out, and then copy them like mad — I saw full seasons of almost every show I watch (which is a lot) and it took a lot of will power to not buy out the store – each DVD was $1-2.
They also had a lot of illegal CDs for sale everywhere, as well. I guess since they don’t have as many movie theatres in China, the alternative is to bring the DVD to your own home… the best media room I saw was at Kevin’s friend, Johnson’s apartment – he had DVDs for EVERYthing – it was paradise!
14. FEW DOGS
Another thing I noticed was the lack of dogs. I mean I saw a few, which made me realize how few there were – in NYC there are people walking dogs constantly and everywhere. I don’t know if people in China just don’t have dogs, or if they don’t walk them or what… But I did see quite a few stray cats, which I took a lot of pictures of since I was missing Smee (who says MEOW btw… he’s not quite sure what I’m doing awake before noon and is kind of concerned).
Oh, another yucky thing about China is that people spit everywhere. All the parks had “no spitting” signs, and I soon found out why… in fact, there were a lot of spittoons around town, but mostly people just spat on the sidewalk or street…
16. CHINA TV
Kevin has the standard Chinese channels, which is completely programmed by the government, so it’s very pro-China. They had one English news channel for Expats, and they actually did cover the news in Egypt, though not much else while we were there. My favorite channel was the Chinese music channel – CCTV 15! They had a lot of live performances – snitbits of opera or classical pianists or singers with orchestras… There was a weird Andrew Lloyd Webber fetish, as well – Elaine Paige was on a few times singing from Sunset Blvd and Memory… there was some instrumental Cats and Phantom… so random to hear that amidst Chinese opera!
The weirdest thing on the music channel was the 2nd 15 minutes of High School Musical 2 with Chinese subtitles. What I *think* happened is that they show 15 minutes of a movie daily or once a week – b/c they didn’t have the first 15ish minutes, and then stopped after 15 minutes… it’s like the broke the movie into soap opera bits, b/c sometimes an announcer would come on in Chinese to discuss the scene – it was very Mystery Science Theatre 3000 – and very weird to watch HSM2 with captions and some guy talking over the dialogue… though not during the musical numbers…
I had pieces of a Chinese sitcom on at one point just for the hell of it, and was excited to hear “Jenda Ma? Jenda!” a few times as a comic bit…
And just like how they tell you when to sleep on a plane, all the channels shut off promptly at 1am.
So China has blocked facebook, twitter and youtube — but not b/c they care about the people having them – it’s b/c they have government run versions of all the sites – and they have one for google, as well. Basically, they have a monopoly on everything and prefer their citizens use the Chinese versions of all networking sites.
Sadly, though, sethbh.com is blocked – probably for profanity. But now I can put on the site and on my show – BANNED IN CHINA!!
We went out to a lot of different restaurants. Not being a huge foodie, I didn’t actually write down the names for them all, and I do apologize for that, but here’s some general food thoughts.
There were a lot of Starbucks around – they were completely different inside, Chinese-ified. The foods were different, but the sizes were the same, at least. There were couches, and it was more like a lounge, than the little tables we’re used to. There were NO free napkins, b/c for some reason paper products are a commodity…
I ate at Burger King twice, and KFC twice. There wasn’t much different about those, though the costs were a little more in USD than they are here, which makes them more luxury foods – I think that’s part of why the Chinese diet is so much healthier – they keep the healthier foods less expensive, and the fattier foods become more like treats, rather than here where it’s reversed price-wise.
Kevin also had a 24 hour McDonalds by him, though I haven’t been able to eat there since Super Size Me, even though Burger King is supposedly worse…
Oh, and there were a lot of Haagen Dazs, which are apparently very popular, though far more expensive than the states – the Dairy Queens, on the other hand, were cheaper, and just as good.
2. GROCERY STORES
I got Tropicana Orange Juice at the corner grocery store – it was a different texture than here, but not horrid – it had pulp in it, but not too much pulp – there wasn’t any other option – it was less thick and a little sweeter…
They had no bread at the grocery store – for that you had to go to a bakery – I got some sweet rolls – 8 for 50 cents, and those served as breakfast for the trip. The sugar in China is sweeter, and in general, they don’t have much in the way of sweets. The desserts were fruity, and there wasn’t much chocolate around. Though, I had a few egg tarts, and they were quite yummy, and I had delicious mango pudding one night. Here’s a good as place as any to remark on the fact that I lost 10 pounds (and according to Samidh, the body is always a week behind, so I could lose 10 more)!
There were fruit stores all over, and the prices would vacillate b/c you were supposed to haggle – I got pretty decent at that, in general, and I finally learned the numbers by the end of the trip.
3. DON’T DRINK THE WATER
You can’t drink the tap water in China without getting really sick, but restaurants sterilize it before you have it – it tastes kind of funky. I’ve never been one for bottled water – Kevin had a water dispenser, and we only drink the bottled water, which is just kind of plain. It was great to be back to NYC tap water that I could drink!!!
At the airport, there was a sterilized water tap – I stayed away from water fountains besides that, and filled my plastic water bottle every day to have water on my journeys.
In other liquid news, most drinks were super expensive – even tea – very bizarre – so I stuck to the water in my bag for a lot of the trip, though I did have tea on occasion when we could get an unlimited pot for the table…
4. RESTAURANT ODDITIES
In China, you get one menu per table, which makes it really time consuming to figure out what to get b/c you have to take turns looking. Also, mostly people eat family style, where you have to share (something I’ve never been a fan of) your meals. One cute restaurant had utensils and napkins in a drawer under the table. Another one charged us for a wet napkin, provided no paper ones… almost every one charged 50 cents for rice. We got charged for a container to pack the food home once – and got charged for a bag at the wine store. China is front of the line on environmental issues like this, however, the entire sky was completely hazy the entire time we were there!
The best thing about the menus in China is they all had pictures so you could see what you were ordering (or point if the waiter didn’t speak English).
Also, they had coat covers at a lot of the places, in case your coat gets spilled on. Quite swanky!
I found, in general, we got tiny portions – probably how the Chinese remain so fit! (Did I mention I lost 10 pounds yet?)
A lot of the restaurants we went to were super full, and they had such an efficient (a great word for China) way of seating people – it was such a fast process – they just gave everyone numbers, and wrote down how much your party was – and then they’d announce the number, rather than taking down people’s names, which is more time consuming…
5. ASIAN FOOD
We had a lot of Asian food. In general, I still only really like Thai, but I didn’t mind the Vietnamese place, Pho Real. We had Taiwanese one night, and that was too hot and spicy for me (and wasn’t for anyone else), so I stayed away from anything more so. Though, it was at that restaurant we shared the most delicious peanut butter smoothie… We also spent a few nights at the Cantonese 24 hour diner – which was kind of like the West Way… with a lot of different food choices…
The biggest complaint I had with food in China was that a lot of the meat was very boney – it was a relief to find a few restaurants which had boneless meat.
There was one noodle place we went a few times b/c it was really cheap and good, and that was my favorite – beef curry rice = yum. And I had a great wanton soup at this dumpling place in the Western mall on Taicang Lane.
1. THE SHANGHAI AQUARIUM
We LOVED the aquarium, which you can tell from the billions of pictures I took. They had a lot of exotic fish, and there were tanks we would walk through. The major shark tank had the sharks on all sides of us, and we went on one of those moving walker things underneath the entire tank, and it was just awesome! It was a really idyllic place to be and fun to see all different kinds of rare sea-life.
The Chinese are very into stuffed animals – and very into pink and orange – I saw a lot of pink and orange in that gift shop…
2. THE PEARL TOWER
We took a lot of pictures of the Pearl Tower – we voted against going into it b/c it was expensive, and just a view of the city – very much like why I haven’t actually been up the Empire State Building. But it made for some good pictures. This was in the financial district, so I also got a lot of pictures of skyscrapers…
3. THE SUPER BRAND MALL
OMG THIS MALL WAS HUGE!!! 10 floors! Stairways going up between floors in the middle of nowhere – it was like an alley way at Hogwarts – so intricate – such design – the stores were all in there, optimized for space – it was just a wonder. Man, the place was totally super – and they had a lot more restaurants than an American Mall — not just a food court – there were even malls where there were 2 or 3 KFC’s or Starbucks… There was also a gym in the mall! Jeez! And a Pizza Hut… and a Tom’s World (which was basically China’s Dave & Busters…) and a combination of American (Best Buy, Toys R Us) and Chinese stores… and it was MOBBED.
4. THE BUND
The Bund is kind of like the Boardwalk without an ocean – or sort of like the Promenade in Boston. It provides a really great view of the Shanghai skyline, and was a really nice place to walk down. Around there I saw the Bund History Museum which took awhile to find b/c the signs kept saying left and right – it took me taking out my guide book to realize it was UNDER the monument of the People… I also went to Three on the Bund, which had a free art gallery – nothing too exciting, but I like free… this guy Mu Chen had done a lot of pieces about “broad consumption” – he took soil from all around China and packed them into corporate logos… Shrug.
Also around the Bund, I saw a really old bank which wouldn’t let me take pictures, but they had pictures of the Zodiac all around the ceiling… I saw a building with a giant clock which is supposedly Shanghai’s version of Big Ben…
5. YUYUAN MARKET AREA
I somehow on my way to YuYuan stumbled into a huge 6 floor flea market, which is where I got most of my souvenirs – it was GIGANTIC and extremely crowded. Jampacked with people and stores everywhere. I managed to barter down a magnet to only 10RMB from 25… I also found the Chinese dollar store, which was a 2RMB store (only 30 cents!)
Oh, I got hit by a bicycle crossing the street – oops – the lesson was HEY OOOOOH means – WATCH OUT – but he wasn’t really going very fast. It served me right for being too touristy, though. I did, in general, try to avoid doing things that I hate when tourists here do.
Also, I found FANGBANG ROAD right by Old Street which is where I suspect True Blood fans would live.
They had stuff set up for the lantern festival, and floats on a lake of various things probably doing with New Years – there were lots of bunnies everywhere, in general, for the year of the Rabbit…
While walking home, I passed the Apple Store – which basically looked the same as our Apple stores.
6. SHANGHAI ZOO
I quite enjoyed the zoo, although it wasn’t anything that special. I like seeing animals, and there were a lot of stray cats running around, which helped me with my Smee withdrawal. I found the zoo extremely organized, like most things in China, and my favorite thing is that they played classical music throughout the paths. As I mentioned, I found it hilarious how many people were feeding the animals, even though specifically told not to, and my favorite part was meeting the 4 year old girl who asked “how are you” after being excited to say “hello”…
We took our first day trip to Hangzhou to see the Western Lake – which was beautiful. Marco Polo called it the most beautiful lake he’d ever seen, and I agree. We walked around it for a few hours, took a lot of pictures, then went up to the pagoda on the north side – it was exquisite! And the view was remarkable – there was a garden surrounding it, as well – it was one of the nicest places I’ve ever been!
8. SHIKUMEN MUSEUM
Not sure what it’s exact name is, but we went to this Western type market place/ outlet mall on Taicang Lane that had a lot of Western friendly restaurants like there was an Italian Restaurant they wouldn’t let me go to which had pizza… It also had a cute, cheap museum in a tenement building, which showed how the Chinese lived a few centuries ago. The cutest thing is that they had an artists’ room on the mezzanine level, where they would rent out a tiny room to artists — it was smaller than my apartment, and basically their version of affordable housing, I’d imagine.
Our second day trip was to Suzhou. When we got there, they had a really long line for cabs, but it was very efficient (as usual) and only took a few minutes till we got one to the famous garden – The Humble Administrator’s Garden (which is a euphemism, I’m sure). It was really crowded but quite gorgeous.
Also attached was the Suzhou Museum, which was gorgeous – the museum itself was designed by MIT alum, I.M.Pei and was very well organized (again like everything in Shanghai). It was free, but they wouldn’t let food in, so we had to eat everything we had for snacks before entering…
10. TAIKANG MARKET
Alright, those of you paying attention will see I was at Taicang Lane before. So one day, Kevin and Samidh went to the gym, and we decided to meet in front of Haagen-Daaz at the little mall-let by Taicang Lane. Well, I looked on my map, and without realizing it saw Taikang Lane first. They’re literally about an inch from each other on the map… So, yeah. I went to Taikang Lane, not Taicang Lane. Doesn’t help that you’d say them the same in English! So I get to Taikang Lane and realize it doesn’t look at ALL like where I’m supposed to be – get out my map – and then find Taicang Lane! I ended up turning the wrong way at a major intersection, which was very confusing (unlike China) – or maybe I was just confused – but I went east instead of west, figured it out- turned north – and then came back west – and I got to the meeting spot an hour late — and it turns out (as I guessed) they waited exactly an hour, but had left Michael in case I got there. So I missed them by a minute – he calls Kevin – they come back, and then they had decided while they were waiting that instead of being in Taicang Lane, which was so Western, we should head to a more Chinese location like… Taikang Lane.
I am not kidding. We ended up back exactly where I had been. That’s life without cell phones, I suppose!
In any case, Taikang Market was great – kind of like YuYuan Market, but less touristy – more Western. We had lunch at a place that had lasagna (Kommune – actually wrote that one down), and then went around to the shops, where I got a really nice journal for $2! All in all, even though we got there later than we would’ve, I ended up with a story and a journal to put it in.
11. THE CHINA PAVILION at the EXPO
So Shanghai hosted the World Expo for 2010, and they left up the China Pavilion for the spring. So first we had trouble finding where the entrance was and kept hitting dead ends. Then, we finally found where the tickets were, and it was jampacked – so we got on one of the 30 lines, in little cage barriers and waited an hour in the cold, hoping we were in the right spot to buy tickets – and we were – the hold up is that people cannot handle currency – people literally took forever to pay, etc – we got in and out within 2 seconds of it being our turn. Our other discovery was that it was mostly Chinese people – we saw I think 1 other foreigner pair out of probably 10,000 people there on line with us.
One quick note: they let children under 1.2 meters in for free, so it really behooves their kids to not have growth spurts – not that asking for ages is a better gauge b/c kids in the US don’t have ID until 18, so who’s to say what the best method is…
So we go through to where the entrance is, and we realize – oh there’s a long queue there, too – and we see a sign telling us it’s a 3.5 hour wait from this mark – and we were like – no way?! But YES way — so basically it was 5 hours before we got in from when we got on the ticket line. We kept going to little gated cage spots, and then we’d get into the next one, and the entire crowd would push and shove and run and try to cut, and it was hilarious! But they had soldiers that started the march into the next section so it would stay orderly. Before they’d let us into the next station to wait, they’d send the cleaning crew to clean up the spot that was just vacated – seriously. This is how China keeps itself clean = cheap labor. But I hear they have very low unemployment – they’ll just make up jobs for people to have…
Another funny thing we saw on line was that the porto-potties had timers on them to tell you how long they had been occupied for, so you could pick a line based on how long you thought someone would be…
Anyway, after 5 hours with the ticket line, then the major line, then being taken to the snaked line to get past security, then the line inside around the edge, then the line for the elevator, then the line for the introductory movie, we were in just in time for them to close – but they did let us go through everything, even if they kept making announcements about not lingering…
First, there was an Imax like movie that basically said w/o words that China was at the front edge of life, and that being Chinese was an honor, China is the future (which it kind of is), and it was very propaganda-esque… Next there was a huge animated version of this famous Chinese painting – then just many huge artistic things – the 2nd floor was a tram ride through China through the ages or something – and then the third floor was dedicated to fighting Climate Change – it had wind power, solar power, etc – electric cars – it was nice to be in a country where they acknowledge environmental problems exist, even if they are kind of hypocritical in their actions…
In any case, the Expo was awesome – do see the pictures, and I do think that China is eons ahead of us right now, and we should just accept they are the future, even if it was mostly propaganda, I do see their point.
(Btw, going in they were playing a snitbit of “Music of the Night” and then it morphed into something empirical – but seriously, what’s with China’s love affair with Andrew Lloyd Webber?)
12. SHANGHAI MUSEUM
First off, they made us drink our water to prove it wasn’t a dangerous poison or explosive – which I found a very good system. At first, we thought we had to chug it down and not bring any in… China certainly has uniformania – there were people in all kinds of uniforms at the museum – very communistic… All the museums we saw were organized very well in terms of seeing everything easily, and the maps were ridiculously clean and clear.
The funniest thing was the rampant spelling errors in English – DOSE instead of DOSE — FINCIAL instead of FINANCIAL – sometimes they’d have a word off by a little next to it that would make no sense… like um… MUSEWM or something like that – you’d think if they went to all this trouble of having English everywhere to show off, they could hire a proofreader…
In any case, we were kind of underwhelmed by the museum, which thankfully was free, but I did take a lot of pictures of the various exhibits: paintings, official seals (stamps), coins, opera masks, antique furniture, ceramics, sculptures, jade. calligraphy, pottery, etc…
13. SHANGHAI URBAN PLANNING EXHIBITION CENTER
Better City, Better Life is the master plan for Shanghai. They really created the city from scratch, but as Samidh says, that’s easy to do when there’s no property owned by individuals. This museum was remarkable, though. It basically showed Shanghai’s past, present and plan for the future for all the transportation, buildings, even art structures.
The highlight was a huge, meticulous model of Central Shanghai which covered an area of 600 square meters according to the brochure – and it lit up, as well! You could see all the museums we’d been to, the towers, the China Pavilion… We even found Kevin’s apartment on it – I took lots of pictures b/c it was really incredible.
Other than that, they had a book w/ all the sculptures around the city, and I saw they had a Harry Potter one – so I took a picture of the picture b/c I didn’t recognize the street it was actually at – but they have hundreds of sculptures around the city, and they’re all catalogued at this center, which was definitely worth going to.
14. SHANGHAI SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY MUSEUM
The building for the Science museum was spacious and elegant at the same time – it’s such a great design that inside it looks so spread out, but then when you go to the exhibits they’re expansive and it twists and turns all over – one of the first floor leads to a huge, unexpected space in the basement. As always, with the museums in Shanghai everything was optimized and completely efficient – they had routes to follow – and even suggestions in the map of what to skip for various ages – and you could figure this all out from the diagrams b/c the entire thing was in Chinese, besides the room names. The museum was obviously designed more for kids in mind – there was a lot of interactive things to do, much like the Liberty Science Center, and basically it was like Science 101 for almost every course at MIT throughout the rooms. So, we didn’t learn very much, but it was a really nice place to visit. There were also rides and games and stuff, so it was almost like Disneyland… and they had a place for creating things, but we were too exhausted by that point, and those were pretty much designed for kids, too. In other words, China is excelling at getting kids interested in Science.
There were 3 floors – we started at the top b/c those rooms sounded the most interesting. We went to the space room – saw some rockets and satellites – there were a few games to play – we got into this rotating car and shot balls at a bullseye – there was a see your weight on other planets thing, but it was all in Chinese… Next there was a biology room about the body – and there was a ride through the digestive track in 3D (sadly in Chinese) – we had fun going through the stomach, though, and we actually got pooped out at the end… and there were some exercise health things in the next room that we skipped b/c of the long lines (though compared to the wait for the Expo, everything else seemed paltry).
A sad thing about this museum is that it was all very Chinese – there was English on all the displays, but for the rides and the movies and stuff, there weren’t any subtitles, which was very disappointing. Speaking of Chinese, they had a lot of American/ European scientists, but whenever something happened in China, the captions were very pro-China, ie “thankfully China came along to fill this missing gap of human knowledge.”
Some highlights of the Second Floor were the Computer Science room with had a lot of fun things to play with… the Robot room was really awesome – they had Robot dancers, a Robot artist, Robot archer, Robot Go Player and… a Robot Pianist. Yes, I am being put out of business by a robot! He was actually pretty decent, though he didn’t have much flair, and certainly couldn’t adlib…
The first floor was majorly kiddish with lots of interactive things we’d seen before – there was also a stuffed zoo that went on and on – it was very thorough – they had rooms for every type of animal, including a whole spider room… and then there was a genetic engineering room just stuck in there with the actual mouse they grew a human ear on – very non sequitur.
But we really enjoyed the museum and were glad we went. Incidentally one of the rooms was playing “You Must Love Me” – which goes with China’s odd Andrew Lloyd Webber obsession.
15. ORIENTAL PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
The newest performing arts center in Shanghai is GORGEOUS – the top is a butterfly-esque roof — and they have an opera hall and a performance hall and a symphony hall – I think it’s 5 different spaces in this huge building with sculptures of musical instruments, etc – it’s kind of like Lincoln Center in one building, but nicer and cleaner. (Words I’m using a lot…) Sadly, there wasn’t anything playing there, b/c Shanghai’s arts scene leaves something to be desired, but it was nice to walk around a bit.
16. CENTURY PARK
Okay, we skipped Century Park – we saw the outskirts, and it was really nice – far cleaner and nicer than Central Park. However, it closes at 5pm – lame, and there was a fee, and we got there at 4:30. So we opted to pass, though I suspect Samidh will go this week (he came after me, and is staying an extra week), so if you really care, I can ask him to report about it… But I did take a picture of the map…
17. JEWISH REFUGEES MUSEUM
It took me awhile to find where the Jews were – they weren’t on my direct map. I did pass a Bagel place, though, and got excited, though the prices were outrageously high. I finally figured out where the old Synagogue that was founded when 10,000 Jews fled from the Holocaust to move to Shanghai. Unfortunately, we got there after it closed (though the guide book said the museum was really lame and not worth the price), but I did get pictures outside, and I think I found the tenements described in the guide as where the Jews lived. Of course, there weren’t any left, but I felt like a good Jew having at least found their old haunt.
1. SHANGHAI CONCERT HALL
We wanted to see a piano recital one night, but the cheap tickets were gone. So I never saw the inside of the hall – but the outside was glamorous! The thing that was so weird is that the scalpers all worked together – it was kind of like Fagan’s gang — and Kevin suspects they actually work WITH the theatre to sell some of the remaining tickets at a discount. However, we couldn’t talk them down since they were all giving us the same price, so we decided not to go.
OMG, it was INSANE. Seriously. A full week of fireworks day and night, but around 11:30pm or so on New Years’ Eve, there was PANDEMONIUM – I took a video of it — it was just INSANE — every single alleyway in the entire city was shooting off fire crackers and fireworks – it sounded like gunshots – I walked home in it one night accidentally, and it was really scary – everywhere I looked explosions like a war zone!!!
Seriously, it was all just ridiculous and crazy, but quite the experience!
3. ERA INTERSECTION OF TIME (ACROBATICS SHOW)
The acrobats were fantastic. It was only $12 for a wonderful show! They had a countdown clock for intermission, which I thought was cute. There wasn’t any standing ovation – it seems in China people applaud more during stunts (and arias, more on that in a bit) than at the end. There was more clapping on the beat rather than cheers at the actual curtain call.
It was pretty standard acrobat stuff, but impressive nonetheless – they fit 8 motorcycles into a circle cage, all zooming around them not hitting each other… there was a great number with 2 people on a rope and then a Celine Dion type singer – actually they had a live orchestra and singer, which was cool – cast of 36, orchestra of 6, plus 1 singer…they had this guy balancing cups and plates on his head, which was even more incredible b/c he was doing it while on 8 platforms all balanced with glasses… they fit 4 girls in a barrel – that was crazy… they did trampoline stuff – including a guy on stilts – there was a pogo stick flip as well… some jumping through hoops of various sizes and heights… some contortionists… overall a really great show!!
After the show, the cast was available for photos in the lobby, but they cost more than the tickets themselves! And there were a lot of tour buses outside, so I guess they bus them to see the show in throngs…
4. MODERN OPERA at the SHANGHAI GRAND THEATRE
Getting tickets for the opera was hassle free – they have a great system where they actually show you the seats on their screen – and they can scroll and move in and out, like an iPad.
We saw a new modern Chinese opera – Zheng He’s Voyages to Western Oceans. It followed Zheng He as he tried to convince a new Emperor to let him go on a 7th voyage, and then flashbacked to some highlights of his first six. Quite enjoyable overall. I really enjoyed the blend of Eastern and Western musical styles – there were definitely some arias that had western cadences, but the orchestrations included a lot of percussion – drums, gongs, woodsticks, and the music itself was usually pretty rhythmic and the melodies were chock full of melismas.
My biggest complaint was there wasn’t an intermission for the 5 act, 3 hour opera (though there was a lot of dialogue, so it was more like a musical) – my biggest relief was that they had English subtitles, for it would’ve been impossible to known what was happening w/o them!! Speaking of the subtitles, rather than a program, the credits were all presented on the screens like a movie – and when one of the stars entered, it announced them on the screen again, as well.
The singers were great, if the Chinese style is a little too straight-toned for my ears. Also, surprisingly, they were all amplified rather than singing acoustically… Technically, the set and costumes and lights and stuff were all great – they had animations and stuff on the curtain – so it was very modern, in general. I thought the weakest point was the choreography – if *I* can do it, it’s not very well staged, though I couldn’t do the acrobatics, but after seeing the acrobatics show, these flips weren’t that impressive…
People applauded a lot DURING the songs, whenever there was a high note – but after the songs, there was less applause – maybe that’s why they don’t actually have cadences in older Chinese opera. There were some great arias, some really nice ballads, and there was an actual upbeat comedy number about MaJong, which apparently Zheng He invented for the long journeys at sea! The moral was that we should all get along peacefully with our neighbors, and of course, that China was great and would always be great.
Oh, the funniest thing was that if someone brought out a camera, the ushers would shame them with a laser pointer! Amazing!
I think that the place we went was pretty Western in nature – they had pool and bowling – and unfortunately smokers – but it was far cheaper to bowl in Shanghai than in NYC, for sure. Though I think it’s probably still cheaper in NJ. I managed to get a few strikes, though I am quite rusty since it’s so expensive in NYC that I haven’t been bowling in years… but I used to be in a bowling league in like 7th grade!
OMG, I cannot say enough great things about massages in China. $25 for TWO HOURS. Just incredible. We got one a week, so I had 3 in total – the last one we tried the oil massage, and that was even better, if another $10. But wow. If I could get massages for that cheap here, I would get them every week – I’ve never felt so limber before!!
3. JOHNSON’S FURNITURE STORE
I think going to see Johnson’s store before it opened is more of an activity than an attraction or an event… Kevin’s friend has a huge store of artistic furniture, and he gave us a tour before it opened – there’s apparently a similar one in Soho somewhere – not that I know anything about $10,000 couches, I got mine for $40. But it was really well organized, and I took a lot of pictures of some of the stuff he’s selling…
I got a $2 haircut. Seriously. It was the best haircut I’ve ever gotten – the guy was very attentive and really took his time getting the hair down, and making sure it was all shaped, etc. Just great!
BOOKS/ MOVIES/ TV/ MUSIC
I read 4 books thanks to the long ass plane rides and some down time throughout the weeks:
Brick Lane – Not my favorite.
Bluebeard – I love Kurt Vonnegut – such a great, quick read.
The Girl with the Pearl Earring – I enjoyed it – I read it in a day – I am into short books, so that I have more to list.
The Book of Daniel – I liked its intent more than its execution – but I do feel like it was a good book.
And we watched a few movies on DVDs, none of which were actually that great:
The Kids are Alright – Too contrived for my taste.
Never Let Me Go – I wanted this to be so much better than it actually was.
Exposure (Japanese) – Way too long, though I did eventually figure out how to get the Chinese subtitles to be English even though the DVD remote was in Chinese.
127 Hours – I wanted this to be better than it actually was, as well. And I don’t need to see someone cut their arm off – I closed my eyes. Conan’s joke on this movie, btw (paraphrased): “James Franco complained that he had some serious physical pain during the shoot. Said the author of the actual book, waving his hook – you think YOU were in pain!?” (well, it was something like that but phrased funnier.)
TV-wise, my DVR was at 3% when I left and 99% when I came in – I had set the Daily Show, Conan and Jeopardy to delete if needed, and I did miss 6 Conan, 9 Jeopardy and 5 Daily Shows, though I am so ridiculously OCD that I made a list of the guests for Conan and Daily Show, and will dvr the reruns. This was a great way to pare down what I watch, however, and thanks to my unusual hours, I hope to catch up – I’m already down to 78%. I will be caught up eventually, though I am already caught up on Chuck, Modern Family and How I Met Your Mother, which is how you can tell they’re in my top 10 list in Episode 4 of my show… 🙂
In terms of music, I brought a 6 hour mix of my favorite songs on my iPod Shuffle (I know one day I should get an actual iPod), yet even though I created the mix myself, I kept being pleasantly surprised by the music choices… Well, it’s good to know I appreciate my own taste.
Shanghai was an amazing place, and it was an incredible experience. The city is cleaner and nicer than NYC in so many ways, and it was good to get out of my comfort zone and to have a vacation from my ridiculously stressful and hectic life and career (which is redundant since my life is my career).
I want to publicly thank Kevin for letting me stay with him for 2 weeks!!!!! And I want to thank both Kevin and Samidh for being the best friends in the world and putting up with me for 2 whole weeks! I, also, want to thank Lauren for staying with Smee the entire time – otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to go.
And, finally, I want to thank any of you who actually read this entire thing and viewed all my pictures and videos. I appreciate having such support in my life, as I am on the verge of yet another birthday.
June 1, 2011 — Off-Broadway Here We Come!
As June arrives, I can finally announce: we are in the process of moving LOVE QUIRKS Off-Broadway!!!!!!!!!! (And we are soliciting donations via kickstarter for the cast recording this summer – please give!)
I wanted to put the important info right up top for those phone skimmers… more details below… and now back to your regular scheduled ledger:
Yes, it’s going to be a ridiculously busy summer between presentations of Love Quirks, season 2 of Every Day a Little Seth, the 3rd Annual Broadway Meows and the Love Quirks cast recording in August. Not to mention the weekly showcases, and the scalding heat!
EVEN WHEN LOVE WORKS, THERE ARE ALWAYS LOVE QUIRKS
We’re doing private industry presentations of Love Quirks on Monday, June 27th, at 4pm and 7pm. If you would like to know more about the process of producing a show Off-Broadway, or would like to be involved, please contact me, and I’ll fill you in on our plans!
And for more information about the show, please visit www.lovequirks.com ! The incomparable Amara Nogee outdid herself with the design, and I believe everything you’d ever want to know about it is up there.
The summary is after a decade of living in NYC, I think that we’ve finally figured out the right formula for finding a commercial vehicle for my material. I am hopeful that we’ll have ourselves a hit Off-Broadway, and that once the word is out, it will be done regionally and in colleges, etc…
Regardless of anything, I am producing a cast recording of the show this August, assuming YOU and everyone you know donate a few dollars. Kickstarter is an incredibly user friendly site, and the minimum donate is only $1! $1! You can afford that. Please go donate and then forward to your friends here:
I appreciate it!!!!!
EVERY DAY A LITTLE SETH
Besides that, the second season of Every Day a Little Seth premieres Sunday, June 19th at 11:59PM, followed by the other 5 episodes weekly Sundays at 11:59PM. There have been some changes this season, which focuses on my Neurotic Tendencies… ie there’s no relationship woes this season, and it should appeal to more people with fewer sexual innuendos and as my aunt disliked: “cursing”… So do check out Season 2 – and if you have yet to watch Season 1 (like a lot of my friends), I would still recommend it – and please watch it in order!!! (youtube.com/EveryDayaLittleSeth)
And speaking of Season 1 – I am selling a DVDs of the season with over 40 minutes of bonus features! If you would like one, please let me know!
Every episode of season 1 has over 400 views, most are over 500. So I’m hoping this season takes off and starts building a bigger following with the newer format (no longer putting the entire song at the front, so that anti-musical people don’t click off as fast), more outside shots, more guest stars, and, of course… and awful lot of SMEE!!! In fact, the season finale is all about SMEE, and is destined to go viral, as that’s what the youtube wants… cute cats! So… give them what they want, right? His episode is NOT to be missed!
I have finished filming 95% of the show at this point, and I think the quality is better than last season. I am hopeful after LQ goes off-Broadway and raises my profile that HBO will come buzzing my buzzer… I did read an article they were trolling web series these days, so I remain optimistic, which is unusual for me.
The 3rd Annual Broadway Meows will be Monday, July 18th at 7PM. It will feature, as usual, 18-20 Broadway performers singing my songs. I am going to be gathering a cast later in the week – it is literally the next thing on my massive to do list after finishing this ledger.
This will be our third… yes third already… year of raising $$ for the Humane Society – the great organization that saved Smee’s life in January of 2009 (where does the time go?). Last year was sold out, so we hope to recreate that – and I am going to rotate in some new material and some old material… it should be a pretty eclectic and fun evening of my songs!
Speaking of Smee, he is licking himself right now, but if he weren’t, I’m sure he would say MEOW! He is taking the week off after our grueling shooting schedule last week.
A few weeks ago I was playing auditions at Chelsea Studios, and one of my idols, Woody Allen, was next door b/c one of his one-acts is going to be on the Broadway next season.
Besides that, I saw Ben Linus from LOST a few days ago. However, I couldn’t remember his real name, which I took as a sign that I shouldn’t bother him while he was picking up his dog’s feces.
In other idol news, in the near future, I am going to be heading down to see DC Stephen Sondheim’s Follies starring Bernadette Peters, among other Broadway legends! I am BEYOND excited! It will be nice to spend more than a few hours in DC this time, unlike when I went to Jon Stewart’s rally last November…
I am proud to officially announce I will be getting a brother-in-law for Hanukkah this year… or rather in a few years. Yes, you read that right – my little sister is getting married. She texted me a few nights ago with a picture of a ring on her finger, and the text “I have news…” I assume that’s the news she was referring to b/c she won’t be done with her PhD for another year.
In any case, I wanted to publicly offer my congratulations to her, and I hear the proposal story has to do with Jeopardy, so I am looking forward to hearing it when I stop by Philly after my DC trip… (Thank you $1 ticket on the megabus!)
I have managed to catch up from being in Shanghai! Woohoo! It took some doing, and I won’t elaborate because it’s a story in Episode 10 of my show, but I have ended the season all caught up on all my shows. I was relieved that almost everything I really like got renewed this year (besides V – RIP). Chuck got its 5th and final season… Parenthood its 3rd… and Castle and Modern Family are so popular that I never have to worry about them…
In terms of summer shows, I am catching up on the last few weeks of Treme and my new favorite show… The Killing on AMC. Seriously – it is FANTASTIC.
There’s also the incredible Game of Thrones – books I need to read at some point… and when that’s over… TRUE BLOOD returns!!!
And since I mention all my idols this ledger, Larry David is back with his 8th season of Curb Your Enthusiasm this summer, as well…
I also intend to completely catch up on Doctor Who and Torchwood, since season 4 is also this summer… Speaking of Sci-Fi I’m going to try Falling Skies on TNT b/c it has aliens, but it might be horrible, who knows?
And Breaking Bad and Eureka are back for summer seasons, too, so that should be aplenty to help my brain mush out occasionally…
A READING RAINBOW
I have not really been reading as much as I should post-China. But in my defense I did finish 4 books on that trip! I somehow got a free subscription to NY Magazine, and between that and Time, I am perpetually behind.
I did read Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger, which I had gotten at the Strand last time I was down at the 50 cent bins, and that was enjoyable – and I really like short stories b/c my attention span is really short, especially when I’m doing so much.
Last night I started Her Fearful Symmetry by the author of the Time Traveler’s Wife, and I like it already. So I do hope to finish that on all the bus rides I’ll be taking… if I don’t bring anything else to do, it’ll force me to relax and read it.
MOVIES WERE MOVIES
As summer hits, there are a lot of free outside movie screenings, so I will be doing as many as I can squeeze in… along with all the free concerts and operas, etc, as usual… and, of course, there’s the final HARRY POTTER, which I will be seeing at the IMAX Midnight Showing, as per usual… we have all set up fandango fan alerts, and starting in a few weeks, we’ll be rotating to call the theatre daily to find out when tix will be available…
This last weekend I saw the new Woody Allen movie, Midnight in Paris… I quite enjoyed it, as usual, though I must admit to enjoying the last few more. But then we hopped into the last 2/3 of the Hangover 2, and I appreciated it a lot more. I didn’t like the first Hangover, and the 2nd one was pretty much a carbon copy with even more vulgarity. I wouldn’t recommend it.
A LIFE IN THE THEATRE
I’ve seen quite a bit in the last few months:
Dream of the Burning Boy – Enjoyable play at roundabout underground…
Catch Me if You Can – Norbert Leo Butz steals the show!
Broadway By the Year 1932 – I always prefer the older songs, so I enjoy when it’s the 30s…
Theodore & Company – Really obscure, old London musical that had its NYC premiere – I knew 6 people in the cast and thought I should go…
The People in the Picture – Donna Murphy is just incredible.
By the Way, Vera Stark – Great, great play by the Pulitzer prize winner for Ruined, Lynn Nottage… highly recommended!
A Night With Fanny Brice – My friend, Kimberly Faye Greenberg, one of the only persons to star in 2 off-Bway musicals at the same time!
Sister Act – I would watch Victoria Clark all day if I could.
High – Kathleen Turner has a lot of personality.
Wonderland – Kate Shindle stole the show!
Town Hall’s 90th Anniversary Gala – Really great concert celebrating 90 years at Town Hall! (Not for me personally…)
Baby It’s You – Beth Leavel is just hilarious, no matter what.
Band of Gypsies 2 – Enjoyable choreography showcase…
Baltimore: Black & White – Hilarious play I had played a benefit for…
Arcadia – If you see one play this season, go see Arcadia on Bway! Tom Stoppard is an absolute genius.
Greenwich Village Follies – Cute weekly revue about the history of Greenwich village…
That Championship Season – Jack Bauer on stage.
Broadway By the Year 1982 – Liz Callaway, Karen Akers and more recreating some magical theatre moments…
The Best is Yet to Come – Wonderful Cy Coleman review w/ tremendous talent!
All in all, it promises to be a very productive and busy summer. Please shoot me a note with what you are up to!
And please watch Season 2 and donate a few $$ to the cast recording (the sooner you give, the less emails you’ll get from me harassing you to…) Again that link is:
I hope you all stay cool this summer!!!
October 10, 2011 — A Long Overdue Update
I must apologize for my lack of ledgers this year. I just looked at my webpage, and I realize the last time I sent a major update was June. This is probably the longest I’ve ever gone since 1996 without sending one, and I cannot tell you how bad I feel! So without further contrition, here is what has been going on over here:
LOVE QUIRKS CAN BE LOADS OF FUN…
Truth be told, the reason it’s taking me so long to send an update is because I was waiting on definitive news about Love Quirks to announce. However, there isn’t any news yet, because it’s taking us longer than anticipated to raise the capital we need.
The good news is we were able to record the cast recording (thank you to everyone who donated to kickstarter!), and it is FANTASTIC. However, we have decided to keep it in the vault (ala Disney) until we can announce a preview start date. That way people can listen to the CD and buy tickets directly, etc. So I am sorry you’ll all have to wait to hear this incredible recording, but when it does arrive, you will be able to buy your tickets to the show at the same time!
Finally, we are looking for people to come on board as co-producers for the show. If you would be interested in joining us, please send me a note, and I’ll get you some more information.
Another reason for the slowness to update is while I am currently working on some new projects, I think it is too soon to announce them to the world, as well. I am happy to tell you about the off the grid, though. So I guess the big moral of this ledger is there is plenty of news to be had, but nothing definitive enough to put in this public update…
Suffice it to say, I am excited to start a few new musicals, as we wait for the older ones, and writing is one of my greatest joys in life. I have been pretty prolific this fall, after an incredibly busy summer. So at least with the downtime, comes writing time.
I have renewed contact with the publishers of Stanley’s Party, so I anticipate being able to license that show eventually. Again, things just take a really long time sometimes, and I kind of feel like the tortoise, but better that than the hare? I could make a shell or hair pun here. I could do it. Or maybe even one that combined shell and hair… but I shan’t. Okay I shall: I am coming out of my shell, and noticing there’s not much hare there!
SEASON 2 IS AWESOME
Seriously, season 2 of Every Day a Little Seth is fantastic, and should appeal to all viewers! It has broken my heart that there are some episodes with fewer views than others. I think that Episodes 9-12 are especially strong, and I would hope that everyone on this list will watch all of Season 2 if you haven’t seen it yet.
Episode 12 is just 10 minutes on SMEE… how can you not love that? 🙂 Seriously, at least watch Smee: http://www.youtube.com/EveryDayaLittleSeth !
3RD ANNUAL BROADWAY CAN!
I am in the process of finalizing the cast for the 3rd Annual Broadway Can! The date is going to be SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 13TH AT 8PM, and as always the concert will feature Broadway and Off-Broadway performers singing my songs. I am happy to report that there will be 4-5 world premiere songs this year, plus I hope to rotate in some older songs that haven’t been in the Broadway concerts before… or at least in awhile…
As usual, we will be raising money for Citymeals-on-Wheels just in time for their Thanksgiving fund, which will bring Thanksgiving dinner to senior citizens. And we will be raising cans for City Harvest again. Last year we gave them 70 pounds of cans… here’s hoping to top that this year!
This is my 6th charity concert featuring Broadway stars, but they never get old. They are always supreme evenings, and if you are nearby, I hope you can come.
Speaking of charity concerts, I am musically directing Theatrical Gems’ production of Here’s Love, which will be a benefit for the Actor’s Fund. Here’s Love is Meredith Willson (who wrote the Music Man)’s adaptation of Miracle on 34th Street. We’re going to have a cast of Broadway and Off-Broadway names, and that should be a great evening and a lot of fun! It will be my first time MDing an established show since… college? The date of that is Monday, December 12th.
Other than that, audition season has been really light this fall, probably due to the economy. It has resulted in fewer audition gigs and fewer audition coachings, but thankfully the showcases remain a popular outlet for performers. I had a very talented crop of new singers audition this fall, and have been doing weekly showcases again as of 9/20. Right now I am down to my last 2 slots in November, and then I have a dozen slots in December, but I don’t have to worry about those for another month… Assuming that all goes as planned, I will hit my 178th showcase by 12/21. At the current rate, I will probably do a MAJOR 200th Showcase Celebration next summer!
In other news, enough people had expressed interest in my workshops, but haven’t been able to commit to 4 sessions in a row, so I have decided to try something new: MASTER CLASSES. So basically, I’m doing the lecture from my workshops, plus an hour quickie coaching at the end. I’m hoping that that will encourage more people to coach with me, and remind them of my services. I’m offering a discount to take both, plus $10 off a coaching with me if they take them, so I am hopeful to get at least enough performers to make it worthwhile to have them.
If they’re popular, I’ll be doing them more often, and I hope to bring them to colleges around the area after I get used to the format. I suspect those will be easier to book once Love Quirks is Off-Broadway, but at least for now I can lay the foundation for expansion. I am also considering a weekly group coaching session, depending on interest.
Regardless, I am continuing to make a living doing what I love, and that is the amazing take away of this section!
LIVING IN LUXURY
Well, I do have a habit of putting career highlights up front, but the biggest news is that I HAVE MOVED!!! And the move was probably another reason for a delayed ledger. I spent the last week of August moving down 5 flights of stairs, over 3 blocks, and then UP in an ELEVATOR! A what?! Yes, my new building has an elevator! Unheard of I know. You can check it out, here: mimanyc.com !
So basically, it’s a beautiful new building right out of the Lincoln Tunnel, and I have a dishwasher, washer/ dryer, walk in closet… and it’s all new! Plus, there’s a roof terrace, where I had a most amazing house warming BBQ b/c there are grills there for resident use.
And for the first time in my life… I have a full bed! I have been sleeping better than ever before! And thanks to my Aunt Tina, I have a wonderful couch and… an upright piano! Yes, you read that right… I HAVE AN ACTUAL PIANO!
Plus, the view from my window is just breathtaking.
So regardless (yes I use that word a lot) of anything else going on, it is thrilling to be living in such a nice apartment after 10 years of living in various… let’s say… less than ideal situations.
SMEE’S NEW HAUNTS
Smee is doing well! He spent the first few days living here in the closet or under the bed, and was freaking out whenever there was company, but I think after a few weeks, he started adjusting. In fact, by now he’s probably forgotten we ever lived anywhere else. And there is so much more space here, so I think he would pick living here if I gave him the option. Though, there aren’t any bugs for him to chase here, and birds don’t make it up to the windows, so he can’t stalk them… so it’s a trade off.
His favorite new spots include, the top of the fridge (see attached picture), the top of this metal thing I have that I think is supposed to take up the heat from the stove when it’s cooking (which is very rare here), and then he likes to play piano if I leave the keys open… and I left him a window sill to lounge in that he finally found the other day…
His new obsession is the toaster oven. I guess it wasn’t in a position where he could really get at it last apartment, but here he can get it open, and basically clean it for me if there have been any food dribblings.
I wanted to make sure to wish all the Jews other there a happy new year! I went home for the first night of Rosh Hashana and had the pleasure of spending it with all 4 grandparents, in addition to my immediate family and uncle and close family friend, who is basically an aunt, but then isn’t really a blood aunt, but it’s better than having a blood ant or an ant out for blood or I will stop this insectual conversation before it dissipated into superfluity… oops, too late!
But I did have a very good new year, and I have been reflecting and introspecting a bunch. Yesterday, I spent 3 hours in the park writing in my journal and reading it, and while I felt fine yesterday, today I think my brain has been clouded by delayed allergies… Anyway more on topic, I feel like everything in my life is heading in the right direction, but that sometimes things take longer than you wish they would. Patience is not a virtue I have naturally, but this fall has forced me to contemplate attempting it a little more. Even writing this ledger is taking more time than I thought it would given the amount of breaks I have been taking…
WORDS WITH FRIENDS
Hey friends – if you’d like to have some words with me, I am now available. For those of you who play on the iphone, if you give me your mobile user id, I can start a game and play on the facebook, since I do not have a smart phone yet, nor any intention of getting one in the near future. (Yes, I live in the dark ages.)
For those of you not in the know, Words with Friends is a new Scrabble variation that most people play on their phones, but now facebook has an application for it that allows you to play with both facebook friends and mobile phone users!
Thus, I am now playing Words with Friends, Scrabble, Wordscraper, Lexulous and ChessPro for any gamers out there!
BOOKS and MUSIC
Hmmmm, in June it looks like I had just started Her Fearful Symmetry… I really enjoyed that book. I feel like I read something short after that, but I am blanking on what. I guess I should keep better tabs. I feel horrible! I know you’re all wondering what I read after that… oh YES, I just checked the pile in my closet, and I read the Princess Bride after that – something really fun, and it was great to read the book that one of my favorite movies was based on.
Now, I am a little more than halfway done with the first book in the Game of Thrones series! It’s great, though a little anti-climatic given that I already know everything that happens in this book from the series. Though, it fills in a lot of gaps and backstories. I am very excited to continue reading the series though, but then while watching the tv show… I’ll know what’s going to happen next! So either way, I cannot win.
I lumped music in here… just to update, I started listening to my iTunes library in alphabetical order in January 2010… almost a year and 3/4 later, I am up to Meet Me in St. Louis! I hope to be done listening to everything by 2013?
In other news, I moved all my physical CD’s to my parents’ basement, so my father has been listening to them all and sending me reviews… glad he’s having a fruitful retirement!
Harry Potter 7, Part 2 – I went to the midnight showing for the final Harry Potter movie. I think I liked Part 1 more, but it was thrilling to end the series having seen midnight showings of all 8, and I will miss the experience…
The Help – really GREAT movie. Viola Davis is incredible.
5 Days of War – saw a free preview of this… not my favorite, but I’m not really into war movies.
The next movie I will be seeing will most obviously be… The Muppets!!! I am very excited for the new movie, and I think they’ve done a remarkable job marketing for it!!!
Well, I tried a bunch of new shows this season, and I’m sad to say I didn’t really like any of them! The one that amused me enough to keep watching is Up All Night. If there was something else that you liked this season, please let me know.
The best drama on tv is BREAKING BAD. The season just ended last night, and it was an INCREDIBLE season finale. I HIGHLY recommend this show if you haven’t been watching…
So just to recap, here is all that I’m watching this season, which still seems like a lot, but doesn’t feel like so much especially b/c I pared down things I don’t really like anymore since I haven’t been spending as much time watching tv [this is just what’s back this fall]:
Dexter, The Simpsons, American Dad, How I Met Your Mother, Castle, Bored to Death, Parenthood, Raising Hope, Up All Night, The Middle, Modern Family, South Park, Psych, Community, Big Bang Theory, Parks & Rec, Community, Nikita, Chuck.
I also am going to try Homeland and Enlightened, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.
This looks pretty long, but that’s only because I haven’t sent a ledger since early June. There are a lot more shows coming up this fall, and I do have more to see in the next few weeks than I did the last few months…
The Art of Getting By – I think we really liked this play.
Born Yesterday – kind of dated, but good performances
Broadway by the Year 1997 – reliving my high school graduation
Berenstein Bears – Rori stars in this adaptation of the kid books off-bway
Hair – saw this on bway, danced on stage at the end
Broadway Winners 2011 – another good town hall concert
Death Takes a Holiday – new Maury Yeston musical, really enjoyed a lot of this
Nunsense Boulevard – the new Nunsense musical was really fun!
Song and Dance at Town Hall 2011 – the best of the Town Hall concerts of the year
Yeast Nation – I played auditions for this Fringe show by the writers of Urinetown…
Book of Mormon – Very funny, as expected…
Andrea Martin: Final Days – Everything Must Go – just hilarious!
Follies – I saw this in DC, and then on Broadway – Bernadette is unbelievable, as is Jan Maxwell, and it’s just a perfect production of a perfect musical. I highly recommend seeing Follies!
A Man and a Boy – Frank Langella is always great to see live.
Well, I always think I don’t have much to say, and somehow the words pour through my fingers!
I promise to never go this long again without sending a ledger, and please, please, please respond to let me know how you are doing.
December 26, 2011 — Another Year Comes to a Close…
Where did 2011 go? Seriously? I am in absolute shock that the year is over. It’s been a whirlwind year, and I cannot believe how fast it went. But before we hit 2012, I thought it was important to recap the year and announce some exciting new things coming in 2012…
YEAR IN REVIEW
This year I:
1. With the help of collaborators, expanded Love Quirks into an Off-Broadway show that will be Off-Broadway in 2012… hopefully!
2. Put together the 3rd Annual Broadway Meows and Broadway Can! charity concerts and raised $$ while Broadway stars sang my songs!
3. Did 5 concerts of my work for the 150th Showcase, featuring almost 80 performers!
4. Produced, emceed and accompanied 44 showcases (including the 5 of my work)… a new record!
5. Moved into a fantastic new apartment, which has revolutionized my life! (Yay actual piano and washer/ dryer!)
6. Continued to make my entire living doing what I love, including the showcases, auditions and coachings!
7. Created, wrote and starred in season 2 of my hilarious web series, Every Day a Little Seth!
8. Started the scores of a few new projects!
9. Went to Shanghai for 2.5 weeks! (That was 2011?!)
10. Made new friends and connections, a few of whom have changed my life for the better!
Well, when I type that up, I don’t feel so bad about 2011 anymore. I would highly recommend all of you type up your own top 10 list for the year!
Looking at last year’s resolutions, I feel like this year I need to be less lofty. Not that it was horrible to think that in 2011 I would have an HBO series and productions of my shows in every state, but I think that is a good segue into my largest resolution for 2012:
1. I NEED PATIENCE. Everything in life worth having takes time. The older I get, the more I realize this. I am going to figure out how to wait without driving myself crazy and have faith things will work out given time.
2. That said, I would really like to get Love Quirks Off-Broadway in 2012!
3. I would like to finish another show or 2… or 3 or 4? Okay, at least 1 by the end of 2012!
4. While I would love to start working on the HBO sitcom version of my web series, for 2012 I will settle on figuring out what I should do for season 3… any suggestions would be welcome…
5. The one resolution from last year (see the ledger page on my webpage for a refresher) I did keep was to read more. I am happy to keep up with that one, and I’ll say it again: READ MORE!
NEW and OLD PROJECTS
Well, to recap… Love Quirks is ready to be Off-Broadway and has almost everything lined up for that, including a fantastic cast and a phenomenal cast recording that will go on sale as soon as we figure out when previews are starting.
More to Love is also ready to be Off-Broadway, though it needs a producer.
Stanley’s Party is ready to be licensed, as soon as the publishers get me a contract, but hopefully in 2012, I can get start getting that out there more. (Did I mention everything takes time? Sigh.)
I still don’t want to announce 2 of my new projects, and I am in the process of getting a new collaborator for an older one… but there are those 3, as well, which are waiting on collaborations.
And then… I have decided to do an evening of poetry – both by established poets and friends – and set them to music… so I’ll do some Shakespeare, etc… if anyone has any favorite poems, or have written poems, please send them my way! The theme is love, heartbreak and hope. I think it’ll be nice to not have to write any lyrics, first off, and not have to have a bookwriter, etc… when I have enough songs written, I can just put it up myself at Don’t Tell Mama one evening…
I think it’ll be thrilling to write something artistically fulfilling (time willing)… regardless of the rhyme scheme, it will be nice to have something to focus on that isn’t reliant on anyone else, though I do appreciate poems being sent!
I will premiere a few of those songs in the 200th Showcase Spectacular this spring! Oh yes… I will do another 5 or so concerts of my songs, as we hit the 200th !?!?! showcase I’ve done at Don’t Tell Mama… 200!? That’s a lot.
20-20 in 2012
On Thursday, assuming my Wednesday consultation goes well, I will be getting Lasik Eye Surgery! So I will really be able to SEE in the new year! I am very excited, and everyone I know who has gotten it done has said it has greatly improved their lives.
I am a little terrified of them putting lasers in my eyes, but I am told it only takes a few minutes. And I will probably get some audio books out from the library to have something to listen to while I’m blind for a night, but by Friday, I should be shipshape!
I cannot imagine waking up in the middle of the night and being able to read the clock without squinting… Amazing!
I have begun planning some trips for 2012. No China, but hopefully some Europe… Well first, I have my annual trip to Boston for the MIT Mystery Hunt in January. I am also going to spend a day in Philly at my sister’s for my father’s birthday. I will be spending a weekend in February in Baltimore.
And then I think this summer I will go visit Tango in Copenhagen where she lives with her new husband… and then I figure since I’ll already be in Europe, perhaps I should stop by Athens to visit my friend, Niki!
So that will be my big trip for 2012…
SMEE’S 5TH BIRTHDAY
That’s right – my little kitty turned 5 this year! Can you believe it? They grow up so fast! It seems like only yesterday I got Smee at the shelter. Anyway, I threw him a birthday party (and won Apples to Apples!) and he got some great gifts – a squeaky skunk, though by the end of the night he had succeeded in extracting the squeaker from the toy… a little bird with feathers, and a ball with a bell that he has since hidden somewhere.
Smee just said “MEOW” to all of you. He is lounging right by my desk, probably hoping I will give him some more food. His life basically centers around when I feed him. But regardless, he is still loving the new apartment, and all the places he can climb and jump, and the space he has for running around.
As I mentioned in my last ledger, I musically directed a benefit concert of Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical for Theatrical Gems 2 weeks ago. It was SO MUCH FUN! I had forgotten how much fun it was to musically direct a show I hadn’t written, and in 2012, I might start seeking out more gigs MDing established shows again now that I have the time to do so.
We raised a few thousand dollars, and had a great time putting together this esoteric, eccentric show, and I hope to do more benefits like this in the future.
I finally finished Games of Thrones, Book 1. I have Book 2 that I will be starting soon, but I took a break to read the Hunger Games Trilogy. It is FANTASTIC, and pretty popular given how many people on my facebook newsfeed have been mentioning reading it. And there’s also the movie coming out, so it’ll be nice to have something to see midnight showings of again.
I am a third into the final book of the trilogy, and then when I’m done, I’m going to read “Look I Made a Hat” – the 2nd part of Stephen Sondheim’s lyric collection and commentary. Then… it’s back to Book 2 of Game of Thrones!
I actually have seen a lot of movies in the last few weeks, including 4 yesterday… here they are:
Puss In Boots – cute spinoff of the Shrek series
Harold & Kumar – actually really funny use of 3D
In Time – pretty cliche, but entertaning nonetheless
The Muppets – the new Muppet movie is WONDERFUL – go SEE it! We went to the midnight showing, and it was so much fun!
The Descendants – I didn’t like this movie as much as the critics did – it was kind of depressing.
My Week with Marilyn – this movie was great – I think Michelle Williams will probably win an oscar…
Hugo – really enjoyed Hugo! A feel good movie!
Tintin – also enjoyed Tintin – it was kind of an animated Indiana Jones type…
Young Adult – liked this movie a lot – I like Diablo Cody’s writing.
Sherlock Holmes 2 – I didn’t like the first one either – I just don’t like the tone of these Sherlock movies – I prefer the old books!
The Sitter – amusing in parts, but typical fare for this type of movie…
I met the mother from Castle at my annual Christmas Eve gig leading carols and Berlin songs at Irving Berlin’s house. So random that she decided to come this year, but she was so nice!
Basically, I’m watching the same shows I always watch, so read the last ledger for the list… Dexter was particularly good this season, and as always, Modern Family has been hilarious. I have saved on my DVR the entire seasons of Homeland, Enlightened, Grimm and we just started Once Upon a Time, which has been enjoyable so far. I hear mixed things about Grimm, but Homeland and Enlightened are supposed to be great…
Other than that my newest show is American Horror Story, which is a little scary and creepy, but is quite fun to watch…
A brief mention for Bored to Death which just got canceled. While season 3 wasn’t as good as the first 2, it still was a fun show, and I am sad to see it go… though, it opens up a slot on HBO for my series…
The fall season has been pretty good… here’s what I’ve seen so far:
Milk and Honey – a reading of this obscure Jerry Herman musical – so fun!
Broadway Originals – 6th year of seeing Broadway originals reprise their songs.
Sons of the Prophet – play off-bway that was funny in parts
Blue Flower – really interesting, ambitious musical about an artist with intellectual music and illustrations
Relatively Speaking – 3 act play, one by Woody Allen, who I had met a few months ago…
Audra McDonald at Carnegie Hall – Audra is just unreal. Such a perfect concert in every way.
Judy Garland/ Dance Tribute at Town Hall – interesting evening discussing old movies and movie stars.
Tomfoolery – fun revue of Tom Lehrer songs!
Venus in Fur – great play that just got extended on Broadway… really great acting, too.
Broadway Unplugged – 6th or so annual concert at town hall w/o microphones…
Wild Animals You Should Know – play off-Broadway…
An Evening with Patti & Mandy – what a fun night with the kooky Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin!
Stick Fly – ambitious play on Broadway… a little long, but the guy from Psych/ West Wing was in it, and I like him! (Dul? Hill)
Queen of the Mist – wonderful new musical by Michael John LaChuisa starring the incomparable Mary Testa – just wonderful.
She Loves Me Benefit – got to see this star-studded benefit of one of the greatest musicals ever written w/ Kelli O’Hara, Josh Radnor (from How I Met Your Mother) and Jane Krakowski…
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Well, that’s about it. Another year is over, but that means another year begins. A fresh start for everyone! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. My family made latkas together this year, and they came out great. I am sorry I can’t send them via email, but this picture will have to do.
Be well, and please keep in touch in 2012!