Category Archives: Entertainment

Make way for Prince Ali

Maaaaaake waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay for Prince Aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

I love that song, and that’s the only lyric I know from it. :-D

Can’t wait to see Aladdin at the New Amsterdam next month. James Iglehart won a great big ol’ Antoinette Perry last night for his performance as the genie; should be a fabulous show. Have I shown you our box? Ah yes, I believe I have. It looks so hoity-toity & all, but they were among the cheapest seats in the theater. How does that work? Probably, there are sight-line issues (certain places onstage might be partially obscured from our view), but I don’t care.

Years ago, I took my high school music history class to a matinee performance of The Magic Flute at the Ohio Theater in Cleveland, and we sat in one of the boxes, I think four or six to a box. I thought it was grand. I hope this experience will be equally thrilling.

OK, it’s Monday (right?), and I need to get stuff done. I took the last four days to be a layabout and do next to nothing in an effort to decompress from the school year. Now it’s go time again. We’re off!

Long-awaited reopening

Even though I’ve seen the place only from the outside, I’ve always thought Tavern on the Green was cool: a place I wanted to visit so I could roost in one of the outlandishly gaudy-but-delightful dining rooms and have lunch. I never got the chance, though, as the Tavern — once the highest-grossing restaurant in the country — filed bankruptcy in 2009, and later closed its doors after a bitter fight with the city government over its lease. The owners also took a huge hit from the Wall Street crisis, as much of the restaurant’s revenue came from corporate dinners and parties. After the sky fell in 2008, all the frivolity dried up, right alongside the profit margin.

But as of this very day, it looks as if my fortunes might change. Tavern on the Green’s renaissance begins at dinnertime tonight, when its doors will open as a restaurant for the first time since the fallout, transfer of ownership, and $20 million renovation.

Gone are the Tiffany chandeliers, linen tablecloths, fanciful lighted trees and bizarre topiary that symbolized the Tavern in its heyday of decades past. Gone is the opulent and charmingly overdone Crystal Room (pictured), and the life-sized deer (deer??) that greeted patrons in the main entranceway.

Tavern Then

The new owners claim that they want Tavern on the Green to be the restaurant that everyday “Upper West Siders choose.” They’re catering less to tourists and more to “regular New Yorkers” — even though the ever-so-slightly pretentious menu seems to indicate otherwise. ($18 salads and $20 cheeseburgers?)

Tavern Now

Tavern Now

Still, I’m glad to see it opening again, in spite of many comments I’ve read from New Yorkers who say that while it’s a restaurant opening under the same name and in the same location, it’s not Tavern on the Green. Without the decadence of the furnishings and the spirit of outlandish excess that gave the place its total Liberace-on-a-lark vibe, it’s not Tavern, they say. It’s just “that new place.” Indeed, the “new place” is different; the opulence has been replaced by earth tones and ultra-hip understatement.

My hope is that it will do well, and eventually draw in the hoi polloi as well as the hoity-toity. It’s a glorious piece of New York history, and should be enjoyed by all. I know it’ll be on my list of places to stop next time I’m in the city.

But I ain’t payin’ no $12 for a bowl of grits, y’all.

Fond memories, albeit slightly creepish

Although I never would have admitted it back then, I was a little ooked out as a kid by a popular tourist attraction that I think we visited twice (Mavis? Any recollection of going there more than the one time with Grandma and Grandpa J?).

The House on the Rock occupies a rather strange place in my memory. I was quite young (8 or 9, I think) when we went, but certain images stick out to me to this day.

Built in 1945 by eccentric dreamer Alex Jordan, and opened to the tourist public in 1960, the House is more like a rambling museum of strange and wonderful artifacts, like turn-of-the-century gadgets and toys. I remember being particularly mystified and impressed as a young violinist by the mechanical instruments. The fact that they played totally by themselves was part of the creepy fascination — at least for a 9-year-old in 1968. Now here’s where my memory gets a little fuzzy, and I can’t find out for sure if I’m remembering what was actually there, or just what I think was there.

I know there was a mechanical violin-playing contraption, and I’m almost positive that it was of the “double” variety, like the one pictured (a 1912 “Violano”). However, in all my searches of the present iteration of the attraction, I can’t find this particular instrument, other than a reference to a “single” version of the instrument, where only one violin played.

Now is it my faulty, 9-year-old’s memory that’s wishing it featured two violins? Or were there actually two violins in the display? I’m not 100% certain, but I really want to believe there were two, and that they played an old, early 20th-century parlor song in perfect-thirds harmony. But…maybe not. All I’m totally sure of is that I wanted to stand there and listen for much longer than my parents were willing to wait.

Many cool features have been added since we visited. The Infinity Room is definitely a place I’d like to see. Alternately, I would not be interested at all in the hotel, resort, and golf course they’ve put there — the result of capitalist greed coming to roost in the secluded beauty of the Wyoming Valley, which is why we can’t have nice things. Jordan charged 50 cents to see the place in 1960; now it’s $28.50 to get the whole enchilada. Psh.

Still, if you’re ever in the Madison, Wisconsin area and have a few hours to kill, it would be a shame to miss it. In the interim, here is an excellent collection of photographs from someone’s recent tour.

Happy snow day #7 for me — I’m off to take more DayQuil and try to get some work done. TTFN!

Breaking the habit

Every Sunday night for the last five years, almost without fail, I’ve parked it on the couch at 9:00 to watch Breaking Bad.

~~Safe to keep reading; no spoilers~~

I can’t believe it’s over. And what a final episode. Nothing at all like the ridiculous Dallas finale, or unsatisfying like The Sopranos reportedly was.

Have I mentioned that it is the singular greatest drama ever produced for television? I’m looking forward to whatever writer Vince Gilligan (also of X-Files fame) comes up with next. Mad Men also comes to an end this year, with a half-now, half-later approach, identical to the last hurrah of BB. Looking forward to that as well. AMC really hit it out of the park with these two shows; I doubt any basic cable network will ever do that again.

Sheesh. Both shows are history in the same time span. Thank goodness for Homeland, which I DVRd last night. I otherwise would have felt deprived and weird at 9 p.m. on Sundays, with nothing to amaze me.

Unless the Indians continue in the postseason…but shh. Don’t jinx it. :-)

Have I also mentioned I despise Mondays? Well, there you go. Mentioned, for the record.


…and on Sunday morning, too.

Tell you what: I have to quit sleeping in, or the 19th is going to hit pretty hard. But I must admit, I have enjoyed these last two lazy mornings.

Time to stop procrastinating…after tonight. Tonight! Breaking Bad premiere.

I really don’t watch that much television. There are nights when it never gets turned on up here. I just have several shows that I follow — most airing on Sunday nights, for some reason, so the DVR is pretty busy — and I rarely miss. Fortunately, they’re also available in my cable provider’s on-demand listings, so time isn’t as big an issue as it used to be.

Remember the days when, if you missed a show, you just, well, missed it?  8-O

What are your favorite shows? I mean, ones that you watch now, as opposed to the canceled ones that we all wish would come back? (I could make a list of those a mile a long.) For now, though, I’m addicted to:

  1. Breaking Bad
  2. Mad Men
  3. Downton Abbey
  4. Once Upon a Time
  5. The Newsroom (HBO)
  6. True Blood (HBO)
  7. Ray Donovan (Showtime)
  8. Homeland (Showtime)
  9. Game of Thrones (HBO)
  10. Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
  11. House of Cards (Netflix)

Wow…I guess that’s a lot of TV! It doesn’t seem like I’m in front of the box that much. And notice: no sitcoms. Never liked them, never will. Does that make me a humorless grouch? Naaah. That means I’m surrounded by enough situation comedy with my own family and friends, I don’t need any on TV — which bodes well in the reverse for the “drama” aspect, yes? :-)

Happy Sumday, fiends — I hope you’re enjoying it.