Monday, February 19, 2007

New York and Back Again

I just got back from a quick weekend trip to New York, visiting Miriam. I was there just shy of 48 hours, but we managed to fit in a bunch of fun stuff, including but not limited to the following:

Delta's OS
This part was technically still in San Francisco, but it cracked me up. Delta has a safety video they were trying to play at the beginning of the flight, but no sound was coming out with it, even after restarting the video three times. So they had to reboot the whole system, which turned out to be running Linux. So all of a sudden the screen in the back of everyone's seat was showing the Linux penguin and a bunch of white-on-black text output indicating whatever the heck it is that Linux needs to tell you about when you start it up. The incongruity was wonderful. I wish my camera hadn't been in the overhead compartment.

Miriam surprised me by getting us tickets to see Spamalot on Saturday afternoon. I had wanted to see that last time I was there, but we weren't able to. It was a lot of fun, though I was kind of surprised at how closely it followed the Monty Python & the Holy Grail movie. They did tweak the plot a bit, and there were all the extra musical numbers, of course, but nearly every classic scene from the movie was included almost verbatim. I was actually kind of ambivalent about that. Yes, they are some of the funniest scenes anywhere, but there's still the simple fact that nobody can deliver those lines as well as the original guys. So I found myself enjoying the new lines and other deviations more, since they were still in a very Monty-Python-esque style (which makes sense, since Eric Idle wrote it). But overall it was quite a good bit of silliness.

St. Patrick's Cathedral
Beautiful place. And much nicer than the Cathedral of St. John the ClosedDivine, by virtue of being open when we went there. Also, there's a loose flagstone that I plan to pry up if I ever find myself there again, and unobserved. I suspect buried treasure, or a secret passageway.

Hot Chocolate and Scrabble
Cocoa bar in Brooklyn makes the most incredible spicy hot chocolate. "Wow" is really the best word to describe it. They had lots of other yummy looking stuff, but that hot chocolate is worth a visit all its own. Cocoa bar is a cozy little place, with couches and armchairs and books and games. Miriam and I played Scrabble with a highly inaccurate set of tiles, not to mention no pen (leading us to keep score using a system of chess pieces and trivial pursuit cards). But I finally broke her insane winning streak. By 3 points. Phew.

Breakfast Sunday was at Colson Patisserie, where they have "Ambrosia" tea. This is red tea with apple, mango, vanilla and chocolate. Good stuff. Also kind of makes me want to start designing my own teas.

The Met
We spent a good deal of Sunday at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and probably didn't see even half of it. My favorite section was the musical instruments. I don't think it would ever have occurred to me that someone might invent a cello-accordion hybrid.

Grand Central Station
The main concourse of Grand Central Station looks like a ballroom, with marble everywhere and a high, arched ceiling decorated with constellations. Apparently this had been giving Miriam ideas for a long time, so she brought me there, along with dance shoes, a portable CD player, two pairs of headphones and a headphone jack splitter. I imagine you can see where this is going. We turned on some Strauss, dove into the slightly-denser-than-expected Sunday night crowd, and waltzed all around the main concourse. We got a mixture of people who laughed in surprise, hummed bits of The Blue Danube, or just barreled on by, determined to ignore us. It was quite amusing. We went for a polka next (The Russian Dance, of course, since we already know it's good for polkaing in unusual places). I think that was a little too scary for the general populace though, because a policeman asked us to stop (but we fooled him -- we were already done anyway).

More Dancing
After the Grand Central Station escapade, Miriam, on a hopeful hunch, took me to the 14th St. station. As luck would have it, her favorite subway accordionist was playing there. He was playing a polka-able tune when we arrived so we just dove right into dancing, which seemed to delight him. After the polka he played us a string of lovely but much-too-fast-for-boots-and-concrete waltzes, and we just zipped up and down the platform, where the assembled crowds had fanned out to give us space and watch.

Most of the time there the temperature was in the 20's or 30's I think. It was -3°F when I woke up this morning. The pilot said it was 57° when we were coming back into SF and I almost thought we were all going to burn up. I survived both the cold and the reentry into relative heat, though.

Anyway, I'm back now and probably going to sleep very soundly tonight. I was just about adjusted to the time change back there, when I screwed it up in the opposite direction by waking up at 5 AM New York time to get my flight. So now my body doesn't know what time to think it is (aside from bedtime).

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