Posted in Life in general, Miscellaneous

New York, Day 4

We spent our anniversary visiting the Museum of Modern Art.

The subway trip to MOMA was more involved than all the previous subway trips we had undertaken by ourselves. We had to change trains twice, I think, to get to the right stop.  And then we nearly walked right by the museum because the exterior didn’t look anything like what we expected.

Dinos and Degas
Dinos admire a Degas sketch.

First stop was the Degas exhibit, A Strange New Beauty.  Be advised that link will probably only be good through the end of the exhibit on July 24, 2016, so I’m going to steal the website copy that describes the exhibit:

Edgar Degas is best known as a painter and chronicler of the ballet, yet his work as a printmaker reveals the true extent of his restless experimentation. In the mid-1870s, Degas was introduced to the monotype process—drawing in ink on a metal plate that was then run through a press, typically resulting in a single print. Captivated by the monotype’s potential, he immersed in the technique with enormous enthusiasm, taking the medium to radical ends. He expanded the possibilities of drawing, created surfaces with a heightened sense of tactility, and invented new means for new subjects, from dancers in motion to the radiance of electric light, from women in intimate settings to meteorological effects in nature. The monotype also sparked a host of experiments for Degas, who often used the medium as a starting point from which an image could be reworked and revised. This process of repetition and transformation, mirroring and reversal, allowed Degas to extend his approach to the study of form. The profound impact of his work with monotype can be seen in his variations in different mediums of key motifs, revealing a new kind of artwork that was less about progress or completion than endless innovation.

The exhibition includes approximately 120 rarely seen monotypes—along with some 60 related paintings, drawings, pastels, sketchbooks, and prints—that show Degas at his most modern, capturing the spirit of urban life; depicting the body in new and daring ways; liberating mark-making from tradition; and boldly engaging the possibilities of abstraction.

I loved this exhibit’s insight into Degas’s process, working out his art in multiple forms and media before committing to paint and canvas.

Dinos View The Starry Night
Dinos admire “The Starry Night” while dino wrangler cries.

We then wandered through most of the permanent collection.  I had my eye out for The Starry Night, and when I finally saw it, hanging on a feature wall all by itself, I squealed:  “There it is, there it is!” and ran, I mean literally ran, to stand in front of it.  And I cried.  Of course, I knew I would because this has been my favorite painting for nearly 40 years; seeing it in person was an intensely emotional experience.

True confession: I got all misty again, just looking at the photo I took. Reproductions don’t do it justice. The actual painting is incredible: vibrant, glowing, pulsing with color. It’s alive. It positively sparkles.

Persistence of MemorySpouse had nearly the same reaction to his favorite painting, The Persistence of Memory.  It’s behind glass: you can just barely see spouse framing the photograph in the reflection, with the rest of the gallery behind him. “Persistence”‘s reputation looms so large, I was surprised at how tiny the actual painting is: barely larger than a standard sheet of typing paper.

MOMA Jaguar 3Spouse also fell in love with the 1961 Jaguar displayed in the sculpture gallery.

Yeah.  That’s an awfully pretty piece of machinery.  And it had its own guard making sure no one stepped over that perimeter line marked on the floor.

MOMA has so many artists whose works I admire but had only ever seen in books: Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, Pablo Picasso, Mondrian, Monet, Modigliani, Rousseau, so much more…

I could have spent all day here, because there’s so much to see, but spouse can tolerate paintings and sculpture and modern design and multi-media exhibits for only just so long.  After three or four hours, he was done.  So we made our way back to Times Square because we had noticed a couple of other exhibits at the Discovery Museum down there that spouse wanted to see and to which our GoPass granted entry.

Dinos and Tai Chi ManThe first was Body Worlds, a fascinating display of anatomy, functionality, and the sheer beauty of the human form, stripped down, literally, to its barest essence.  I don’t recommend this exhibit if you’re squeamish about body parts or nudity, but if that doesn’t bother you and you’re at all curious in how all our moving parts work together, this is absolutely a must-see.  I’m posting only one photograph in case there are some squeamish readers.  Just scroll past quickly.  Or not.

We Come From the Land of the Ice and SnowThe second exhibit we saw, at the same museum, was Vikings.  Wow. The first thing to greet you when you walk through the door is a replica of a Viking longboat.  It’s spectacular. The rest of the exhibit is equally gorgeous: tools, clothing, jewelry, weapons — most of them the actual items, with just a few replicas because the originals are so precious or rare that they can’t be risked on public display — along with some interactive displays, like handling a replica sword, and lots of dioramas (I believe they were stills from The Vikings TV show on Discovery‘s sister channel, History) and information stations discussing religion, village life, exploration, all manner of cultural and sociological background.  It’s a niche exhibit, just right for a history and archaeology nerd like me.  Highly recommended.

As can be expected, we were exhausted by the end of the day and didn’t manage to go out for our fancy anniversary dinner that evening.  But we and the dinosaurs tried out several eating spots throughout the day.  Just a couple more pictures and we’ll call this one done.

There’s one more full day to tell you about.  Stay tuned.

Posted in Life in general, Miscellaneous

New York, Day 3

Today the dinosaurs wanted to go to the Natural History Museum.  Luckily, we were in agreement with this agenda.

Metro Ticket 1
The object of all this intrigue.

But first, the rest of the subway story…

After breakfast, we headed down into the 103rd & Broadway station to catch the train.  As we went through the turnstile, we noticed our “friend” from yesterday doing the same fast-talking hustle-’em-through-the turnstile act with another couple.  Spouse told the couple as we walked by, “It’s a scam.  Walk away.”

“What?” they said, because they didn’t hear him over TicketScammerGuy’s patter.  Spouse repeated himself, louder.  “Oh! Thanks!”  They glare at TicketScammerGuy and walk away. TicketScammerGuy calls after us and threatens to shove his fist into spouse’s face.  We ignore him and start down the stairs to the train platform; then suddenly spouse turns around and walks straight to the station agent’s booth.  She’s facing the other way — her window opens into the “lobby” area, before patrons go through the turnstile.  He taps on the window until he gets her attention, and points out TicketScammerGuy , who by this time had taken up his position next to the MetroPass vending machine to await his next victim.

Dinos in TR Park (2)“He’s running a scam.”  Station agent looks puzzled.  Spouse describes him:  “That guy over there in the striped shirt and ball cap; he’s running a scam.” She looks over her shoulder in the direction spouse is pointing and enlightenment dawns.  I think she’s familiar with him.

“Thank you,” she says, and she set her jaw with a determined expression.  “We’ll take care of this.”

We never saw TicketScammerGuy again.

*cue ominous music*

Now, in reality we expect TicketScammerGuy took his show down the road to another subway stop, but it’s tempting to indulge in those New York City transit system stereotypes (read: Teamsters/union thugs/organized crime) (yes, I’ve seen too damn many film noir flicks) and think he was “taken care of” in a more, um, permanent fashion. Regardless of the true circumstances of his sudden absence, he no longer disturbed the patrons of the 103rd and Broadway station.

Hunting for Relatives Address 2Our subway stop for the American Museum of Natural History was at 79th Street, and then we walked a few blocks east, toward Central Park. (Sadly, this is the closest we got to spending time in Central Park during the whole week.)  The museum is nestled at the edge of Central Park, and we went through Theodore Roosevelt Park to get to the entrance.

I’ve mentioned the weather was perfect this whole week, yes?  Oh my gosh.  Mid-70s, mostly, with a hint of a breeze, and blue blue skies every day.  Just amazingly beautiful.

Once in the museum, we wandered around the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians for a while — indigenous textiles fascinate me; the woven capes and clothing were incredible; I only wish I could have touched them — then made our way to the café for a snack and a chance to take a thorough look at the map of the museum.

The dinos, of course, were looking for their relatives’ house.  According to the map, their relatives lived on the fourth floor; we decided to start there and work our way down.

Pictures galore follow.

Found Em 2
May we come in?
Not Much Room for Brains
So, cousin, not much room for brains, huh?
Natural History 5
This guy.  Not a good guy.
Natural History 4
I enter the picture unexpectedly.
Might Be Mom
Mom, is that you?
Natural History 3
Did you know these skeletons are usually plaster casts of the actual bones?  Because the fossilized bones themselves would be much too heavy to articulate and display.
Natural History 2
These creatures amaze me.
Family Tree
Found the family tree.
Natural History 13
More amazement.
Might Be Dad
Dad?

We also went into the special “Dinosaurs Among Us” exhibit, which tells the story of the latest innovation in evolutionary thinking: how dinosaurs became birds. It’s fascinating.  Look at these three photos together.

A quick stop for refreshment:

Dinos Stop for Refreshment

And then we headed downstairs and cruised the other floors.  True confession:  I bypassed several of the halls on each floor because my ankles were starting to hurt.  By the time we got back to the first floor, I was dog tired and my ankles were in agony, so I crashed out on the floor next to an outlet in one of the halls to charge my phone while spouse cruised the North American Mammals exhibit.  A passing security guard just grinned at me as I huddled up in the corner on the floor with my charger.

We had theater tickets that evening.  After taking a brief nap at the hotel, we changed into our theatre duds and hit the town once more.

Book of Mormon

Oh. My. Gosh.  The Book of Mormon might be the funniest thing I’ve seen in my life.  Definitely not family friendly, but side-splittingly hilarious.  The Eugene O’Neill Theatre is gorgeous;

Eugene O'Neill Theatre 3

the set was amazing;

Eugene O'Neill Theatre 4

and our seats were perfect. (Yes, we splurged.  Yes, it was worth it.)

And yes, there’s still more to come.

Posted in Knitting, Life in general, Miscellaneous, Work in progress, Yarn stash

WIP Wednesday: Damn the nupps, full speed ahead!

Last week I was in Baltimore for a work thing. I was finally sent to agency headquarters to receive training for the job I’d been doing for nearly a year. I love government efficiency. Well, to be fair, thanks to Congress and its never-ending budget crisis, the funding hadn’t been available until now. On the positive side, though, I’d never been to Baltimore, so I took advantage of its proximity both to DC and to my friend Kelly, and stayed an extra couple of days to play tourist. Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Segway tour of Pennsylvania Avenue and the Capitol Mall, National Aquarium. Whew! Oh, and a yarn store.
Walking upright

Don’t you think this fellow to the left looks a little chilly? Me too. Good thing I’m knitting a scarf. We’ll get to that shortly. Guide

So, the Smithsonian on Saturday. We visited only the Museum of Natural History, and only the first floor of that, and in the three hours we had allotted for our visit, we still missed a few galleries. I could easily spend all day just on the first floor, and go back another day for the second floor.

The time at the Smithsonian was limited because we had that Segway tour booked for 2:00 PM. Let me tell you, unless you’re prepared to walk all day long, Segway is the ONLY way to see the monuments, the Capitol, the White House, and lots more. It only took a few minutes to learn to ride the thing, and then we were off on our three hour tour. Of course, by the end of that tour, I was flat wiped out. Standing on one of those things is more tiring than you might imagine. But it’s still far better than trying to walk the distance — Kelly and I figured our tour must have covered somewhere between 10 and 15 miles, maybe more, on those things.

Dotted Swiss JelliesOn Sunday, we went to the National Aquarium in Baltimore which, despite its name, is not owned by the people like the Smithsonian, and therefore does not have free admission. The Blacktip Reef exhibit was wonderful, and the shark tank, and the puffin feeding, but the star for me was the Jellyfish exhibit. I adore jellies. And this was a decent showing. The aquarium on the whole, though, doesn’t hold a candle to my beloved Monterey Bay Aquarium. I haven’t been to the Georgia Aquarium yet, but it’s on my list. So is the Chattanooga Aquarium. Can you tell I love aquariums?

Baltimore stitch markers 4Somewhere in there, we fit in a visit to a yarn store, where I promptly did my bit for the local economy. Two skeins of lovely sock yarn, and these nifty stitch markers. I suppose they’re actually sort of ordinary, but I like them very much.

So, it was a whirlwind week of training, and an even more whirlwind weekend of sight-seeing. In between all that, though, I made a great deal of progress on my scarf. See? It might even get finished in time for the cooler weather that’s just around the corner.Lily scarf 3

And that’s my work in progress report. Click the badge below to see what other folks have been up to lately.

WIP Wednesdays