Monday, 15 February 2010

Sunday in New York

The adorable husband woke yesterday morning with an achy back that I believe is the result of his recent re-entry to the game of golf, lugging about heavy luggage, not getting out of his cramped seat for the entire three hour plus flight, and a night in a strange bed – oh all right I’ll do it! He insist that if I tell you about his stiff back I mention that it is due in part to strenuous fulfilling of his husbandly duties, and that did not involve luggage! Testosterone, you have to love it.

I got him on the floor, this time for yoga. He has long admired the fact that I am very ‘bendy’. I am bendy for a thirty-year old, so that makes it even better, and I give credit to years of yoga. I can’t tolerate standard yoga very well, too slow, makes my teeth itch, so some years ago when Power Yoga was introduced I took right to it. My personal favorite, there are many excellent teachers, is Rodney Yee. I’ve had him about for many years as far back as videotape, and now on DVD. I took J through about twenty minutes of stretches, then put him in a warm bath, wrapped him in his robe and gave him his Starbucks that I had already brought back to the room. After a bit he was feeling quite better and was ready to go. He has agreed to join me from now on in my daily yoga. I highly recommend it. Yee makes a DVD – AM/PM Yoga that is excellent. Just 20 minutes in the morning, and again at night. I can’t say how many ways I think it positively affects the body and mind. Men are not bendy by nature and I think it is especially important for them.

Then we were ready to go walk about in New York. The snow is still lying like icing on the buildings and shrubberies, and melting and forming thin ice puddles on the sidewalks and streets. The cold was just right – we were warm and toasty in our coats and hats, and the wind was chilling our noses.

J needed a hat so that was the first order of business as we had spotted a nice shop not far from the hotel. Barclay-Rex Shop at 570 Lexington Avenue carries the cigar smokers’ paraphernalia along with a high quality selection of men’s chapeaux in the front room, and a cigar smoker’s delight of excellent quality cigars in the back room. While J was trying on his hat I went in just to inhale the aroma and relive some great memories of a well spent youth – brandy and cigars are not just for the gents. Sigh. J found an excellent fit and style and he was set for the day.

We decided to head down 47th and walk to the theatre because aside from the vigor obtained from a brisk walk, New York provides a kaleidoscope of samples for great people watching and it did not disappoint.

Race written and directed by David Mamet is playing at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. We had the most excellent seats, as theatre is the reason for the NYC trip after all.

Seated just in front of us, and all science fiction fans will recognize her from Star Trek The New Generation –First Contact, was Alfie Woodard who I can tell you is ageing really well. She looks gorgeous and was very gracious.

The play, starring James Spader proved that once again James Spader is always interesting to watch. Also starring Kerry Washington, David Alan Grier, and Richard Thomas the play moved through the first two acts like a well written, witty, thought provoking and entertaining piece – all you would want in a good drama. The last act was…puzzling.

The play was about duh – racial prejudice and how the interactions between black and white are affected differently in 2010, but nonetheless still affected. As well it dished out some cutting and right to the bone truth about the difference between justice and law.

A rich white man is accused of raping a young black woman and goes to a law firm that consist of both a black and a white attorney, as well as a young black woman who works as an assistant.

The question of course is never, “Is he innocent or guilty?” but rather, “Can we get him off?” and for the young woman, “Is he getting off because he’s white?”

J thinks it was the writing that did in the third act; I think it was the directing. The play took a steep climb from nice and easy to full bore intense right through to near violent anger. I think the play was meant to end in ambiguity. How else could it end on such a question? But the writer who was also the director decided it needed to be tied up with a neat bow at the end so that people would know what to think instead of questioning – which to me would be the point of the play.

So yes, it was well worth going to see, but yes we had a different vision of how it could have/should have ended.

The other big event was my outrage at the apparently changed rules on Broadway or hopefully, just at the Barrymore? After we sat down, a young man came up the aisle hawking food and drink! Looking so much like nothing as much as one of the chaps running up and down the stands at a baseball game! I DON’T WANT food and drink in the theatre! That’s what the break is for – that’s why the bar has always been in the lobby or downstairs. And as for that – he was selling, wait for it….wine (I can only imagine the quality) in plastic swizzle glasses! Then just as J defined my behavior-

“ I am a... what do you call it, those people who don’t want things to change…?”

“A reactionary.”

“Yes, that’s it. Boy you had that word right at hand!”

“Only because that’s what the boy calls me all the time.”

The play began, the play began – you heard me yes? They continued to seat people! How does that happen? I have never been in a theatre where after the curtain goes up that people are seated. And not just one or two but many – in front of us, to the side, and in back of us. I was gob smacked. I’m sorry but reactionary I am, because that’s just wrong. And that’s my word on it.

Walking back to Pescatore we spotted (we are always so lucky at finding little gems of places) a bar that looked very inviting for a pre-dinner drink, The Emery at 125 East 50th and Lexington. There we found the adorable husband’s perfect martini – desert dry and chilled to frosty. I think the secret is to have me order, that seem to be the key. They also serve great little appetizers that we decided would be grand for pre-theatre snacks.

At Pescatore they lived up to the wonderful meal we had there yesterday, as well as continued great service. J had the lamb, after another appetizer serving of the delicious steamed clams, but I was busy with my calamari served with (again) just unbelievably fresh and delicious tomato sauce, and pasta for my entre. We shared a hazelnut chocolate mousse for dessert that was so dark and rich as to be thoroughly wicked Рtopped with fresh whipped cr̬me Рluscious.

We managed a brisk walk back to the hotel as the temperature had dropped into the teens and the wind was whipping up to hold onto your hat speeds.

J has been reading Dark Sun, an excellent telling of the making of the hydrogen bomb; but as a result has had some dreams where is concerned with the containment of radiation and other various issues. Last night he finished the book so we are off to the bookstores today to replenish him. I brought my now much-loved Kindle so my travel library has lightened considerably.

Two other matters to consider – I read a website that is quite grand I think called TED. It is a gathering place to encourage new and innovative ideas by some very smart people. I check in as often as I have time and today there is a listing of “10 Big Ideas” on CNN taken from the site. I thought you would enjoy it.

$60K a year can make you happy
Psychologist and Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman says millions of dollars won't buy you happiness, but a job that pays $60,000 a year might help.
Happiness levels increase up to the $60K mark, but "above that it's a flat line," he said.
"Money does not buy you experiential happiness but lack of money certainly buys you misery," he said. But the real trick, Kahneman said, is to spend time with people you like.
Save the world through games
Jane McGonigal, a game designer, says playing online video games gives people "superpowers" that help them improve the real world.
We currently spend a collective 3 billion hours a week playing online games, she said, but we need to spend seven times that much time doing so to make sure we're up to real-world challenges.
"My goal for the next decade is to try to make it as easy to save the world in real life as it is to save the world in online games," she said. To do so, she develops social games that merge the real-world challenges with online gaming.
Anonymity promotes honesty
Christopher "Moot" Poole runs one of the seedier corners of the Internet. His site, called 4chan, is known as a den of porn, hacking and anonymous rants.
But Poole, a 22-year-old college student, says 4chan also protects its users privacy and promotes honest discourse. Without names in the way, people can focus on ideas, he said.
"It's anonymous and it has no memory. There's no archive. There are no barriers. There is no registration," he said of the site. "That's led to this discussion that's completely raw, completely unfiltered."
We can end slavery
Kevin Bales, founder of a group called Free the Slaves, said he was surprised to learn slavery still existed when he read a pamphlet saying just that.
Now he's on a crusade to end modern slavery, which he says is every bit as bad as the type of slavery that preceded the U.S. Civil War. Some 27 million people are enslaved today; and a person in some parts of India can be sold into slavery for about $5, he said.
But awareness and action could abolish slavery for good in 25 years, he says.
Moral ideas are right or wrong, not both
Writer Sam Harris -- who is perhaps best known as a stern critic of organized religion -- says we use science to prove or disprove hypotheses, and we should similarly use evidence to say some activities are moral and others are not.
"Why does every opinion have to count? Why does every culture have a point of view worth considering? Does the Taliban have a point of view on physics worth considering: No."
'What we eat is really our chemotherapy three times a day'
William Li, president and medical director of The Angiogenesis Foundation, which focuses on the connection between blood vessel growth and aggressive cancers. There are 11 FDA-approved drugs that inhibit growth of blood vessels that sustain cancers, but Li pointed out that there are a number of foods and beverages that could offer substances that accomplish the same thing -- and could help prevent cancer.
"Men who consume two to three servings of cooked tomatoes per week have a 40 to 50 percent reduction in risk for prostate cancer," he said.
Red grapes, strawberries, soybeans, dark chocolate, oranges, and green tea are among the foods with the ability to prevent blood vessel growth.
The ukulele can stop war
Ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro says his traditional, Hawaiian instrument, which he learned to play at age 4, can make the world a less violent place.
"I've always believed it's the instrument of peace," he said, "because if everyone played the ukulele, this would be a much more peaceful place."
Shimabukuro says people can't help but smile when they hear the two-octave, stringed instrument. He likened its tone to the sound of children laughing.
$28 billion mostly wasted on placebos
Holding up bottles of herbal supplements, writer Michael Specter spoke out against what he sees as a growing rejection of science. He says it's resulted in parents refusing to vaccinate their children due to an unfounded connection to autism and people shunning genetically modified foods that have the potential of helping the world fight increasing hunger.
The herbs, he said accomplish one thing: "They darken your urine. You want to pay $28 billion for dark urine? That's OK."
'Stop politicians doing stupid things that spread HIV'
Elizabeth Pisani, epidemiologist who has studied drug abusers and sex workers who are involved in the spread of HIV-AIDS, said nations that have followed former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's example by creating programs to provide sterile needles to drug abusers are much more successful in curbing the spread of the disease.
Nations such as the United States that have resisted such programs have seen higher spread of the disease among drug users who share needles.
Every eight days, the toll of a Haiti quake
Esther Duflo, a professor in MIT's economics department, said, that every day, 25,000 children die of preventable causes, adding up every eight days to the approximate death toll of the Haiti earthquake. Though $2 billion has been pledged for the Haiti earthquake, Duflo asks why we don't make the same level of commitment to prevent the daily death toll of children.
Amid the conference's many ideas, one thing is clear -- the joy speakers experienced in having a receptive audience to share their deepest thoughts and feelings.
David Cameron noted that politics has been called "show business for ugly people." TED2010, in some ways, is summer camp for brainy ones.”

My other thought is that Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, is as useful as a headache. Argh.

Ciao, have a great day.


Lynn said...

Your day sounds lovely...

James Higham said...

I got him on the floor, this time for yoga.

It's called yoga these days, is it? :)

sally in norfolk said...

I have just discovered yoga and now go to 2 classes a week... I no longer feel stiff in the mornings can now easily touch my toes and am just far more flexible but i still have along way to go.

your day sounded just perfect :-)

Mama Zen said...

"This time for yoga." Snicker.

Fireblossom said...

Alfre Woodard is an amazing actress. I loved her in the movie "Passion Fish."

Poor hubs with his achey breaky back. It sounds like you took good care of him. If my back hurts, my dog just looks at me curiously, as if to say two things: "wow, you're on the floor" and "when is my dinner going to be ready?" Yes, he's male.

Thanks so much for the visit and comment at my Word Garden!

Sparx said...

TED is great... and your trip sounds memorable. And bendy!