NYC Comic Con 2016

I went to the NYC Comic Con for the first time in October, and it was…an experience. Seriously, I don’t remember the last time I saw so many people packed in so small a space.

I also got surprisingly exhausted. I wanted to take it easy for my first time, so I only bought a ticket for 1 day and didn’t dress up. After waiting 2 hours to get into the Javits Center, I walked into a seething morass of people, exhibits and costuming and truly had no idea where to look. There was just so much, and got tired just fighting my way through all the people.

On the plus side, despite being certainly more commercial than indie, you could still feel the enthusiasm of the attendees (caught Peter Capaldi mugging it up for some fans). And we didn’t run into any trolls hostile toward people who hadn’t been there from the absolute beginning, like superhero movies for god’s sake, and can’t even name what Character X did in Issue Gazillion, Page Whatever and what the artist was originally thinking he would draw and why he decided to change his mind.

I definitely would go back next year, though probably would spring for 2 days (one a Thursday, for less people) to have more time to look around, maybe see a panel or two, and work up the courage to ask to take pictures with the cosplayers (seriously, some were pretty cool).

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July 4th Weekend

So my work actually gave us the Friday before the 4th as well as the actual 4th off so…4-day weekend! Since I’ve been here for 2 years but never gone to the beach, we decided to fix that. Justtwomorethings had a good experience with airbnb on her roadtrip–and there was an added plus of finding people that wouldn’t mind a 3rd, fuzzy house guest.

Justtwomorethings: Finding a place that is okay with cats is definitely easier on Airbnb, but the selection is still pretty limited (although dogs seem to be welcomed in many, many places).

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New York: Momofuku Noodle Bar

I love noodles, and since the weather recently decided to take winter seriously, I’ve had a serious ramen craving.  A giant bowl of chewy noodles and luscious fatty steaming broth just sounds perfect when the chill’s hitting.  So when entropyenator finally booked time at a Manhattan cat cafe, I decided it was time to get the ramen on as well.

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Meow Parlour

Meow Parlour is NYC’s first cat café–a concept brought over from Japan, where living conditions are even more congested than NYC. Sometimes housing units are barely big enough for people, let alone a fuzzy, so city dwellers visit cat cafes to get in their kitty time instead.

Meow Parlour is tucked away in a little corner on the lower East Side, near Chinatown. Its been open for about a year, and yet I hadn’t made the pilgrimage. Surprising, I know. But given the MLK three-day weekend and the fact we were in the city anyway to have lunch with our cousin who lives in the area, it made sense to fix that.

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Holiday Shopping in NYC

 

Since Justtwomorethings moved to the east coast, the Holiday Markets in NYC have been a favorite of hers to go gift shopping before the holidays. The past couple of years, she has taken me along too, since I’ve been in the area (alas, we always seem to go when Santacon is going on).

The Union Square Market, in my opinion, it still the best, but this year we went to Bryant Park Market as well. Its a bit smaller, but the vendors seem a little more upscale (probably owing to the fact they are housed in little glass huts instead of tents). There’s also a big ole Xmas tree right in the middle that’s decorated up quite prettily.

Tribeca Film Festival Reviews

My third year going, entropyenator’s first.  The weather on the second weekend wasn’t quite as good, being a good deal chillier, but it wasn’t raining and it was decently sunny most of the time.  Entropyenator lucked out of having to stand in line under a miserable drizzle, so I suppose we’ll have to try again next year and see if we can properly introduce her to NYC rush lines.

Shorts: Be Yourself: Six short documentaries.  American Renaissance had probably the most non-traditional structure, impressionistic and grounded versus explanatory.  Live Fast, Draw Yung and All-American Family explore their subjects by focusing on internal family dynamics that then spiral out to the “hook” (child prodigy artist, Deaf culture).  Elder and Eternal Princess are basically monologues, although Elder was by far more emotionally resonant; Eternal Princess never rises above hagiography (also, super-awkward moment when everyone was asked to clap for each director as they were announced, and Katie Holmes got polite applause to the whoops of the others).  My Enemy, My Brother did some creative interpolation of flashback/reinactment that convey visually how PTSD bubbles up afresh every day for its subjects.

El Cinco: A very naturalistic, almost to the point of documentary, movie about an aging soccer player who decides to retire, and who has to figure out the second act of his life.  The nonjudgmental, nondramatic filming style suits the main characters, none of whom are particularly deep thinkers (the main character is, honestly, an asshole who loves well but loves tribally), but all of whom feel deeply and honestly.  If the camera was jump-cutting and using tricky angles to signal every dramatic development, I think it actually would have cheapened the emotion with the artificial setting.  Put in context, the conflicts in these characters’ lives are nothing new but they’re intimately relatable.  Also, although the movie revolves entirely around a man, the female lead is unusually well-developed and realistic in that her attempts to support him are sometimes misguided, often ineffective but well-intended, rather than some perfect pixie girl.  Which goes a long way towards making the sex scenes (including an aborted outdoor sex scene) playfully earthy rather than porn wish fulfillment.

Mojave: Really pretentious mangst about how a rich white guy in the entertainment business overcomes his inexplicably tortured psyche to become a better sociopath than a bonafide serial killer.  There are some overly cute and meta in-jokes about Hollywood and the movies and how they eat people alive (Mark Wahlberg shows up just long enough to prove he’s terrible at playing not badass).  Oscar Isaac appears to be having a ton of fun playing a cut-rate boogeyman, and lifts a couple of scenes to interesting all by his lonesome.  Otherwise, the lack of suspense here makes you nostalgic for the Scream franchise.

When I Live My Life Again: Dysfunctional child comes home to dysfunctional family and is forced to confront her childhood traumas.  There’s a through-line about songwriting and musical comebacks and evolution, but it’s got no ommph behind it (also, the song that the movie takes the title from, it’s a terrible Sinatra pastiche).  Every parallel about destructive parent begetting destructive child is drawn, every terrible decision that could be made by a character is made, and every dated assertion about selling out is tossed out there.  Christopher Walken and Ann Magnuson at least seem to be having a lot of fun, but Amber Heard is horribly grating as the self-righteous unlikable heroine who just seems to exist as somebody’s daddy issues mouthpiece.

Weekend in the City: Tribeca Film Festival

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Spring! And it actually felt and looked it!

Last weekend, Justtwomorethings and I were in the city for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.

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I had just spent the last two weekends stressed out over a very important presentation, so I was ready to relax. The films we wanted to see were in the evenings, so that left most of the day free to walk around. Union Square is always a staple, though we resisted buying food at the Farmers Market so we wouldn’t have to carry it around (though I was tempted by the world’s tiniest radishes).

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Random street art (with felt pigeons) is always fun too.

Lunch was at Momofuku. I hadn’t eaten there before, but it’s an NYC attraction. The apple and bacon chutney thing was a little disappointing (decently good, but not a standout) but the Momofuku O.G. bowl and roast duck were very yummy. As was the Thai tea cake, though it could have used a little softening up. The tamarind top layer was nice and bright, balanced out by the smooth almond cheesecake-y base.

Justtwomorethings: Momofuku Ssam Bar.  Apple and bacon kimchi, actually, and the problem was that although the apple slices looked like they’d been kimchi’ed, in reality they didn’t taste the least bit like kimchi spice.  Great idea in theory (spicy heat playing off the sweet apple), poor execution.  And the Thai tea cake was just a little too chilled to sink a spoon into easily.  Roast duck, as always, was delish.

Our evenings, on the other hand, were spent in the theaters. Justtwomorethings is better at film reviews than me, so I’ll leave those to her. But I did get to see 4 famous people during my first TFF though, so that was cool. Alas, I did not get an autograph from any. We were too far away from Katie Holmes and Nadia Comaneci, Amber Heard was swamped, and Christopher Walken booked it to the door 😦

Justtwomorethings: For the record, the only autograph I would have been interested in was Christopher Walken (Nadia Comaneci is cool, but I’m not into gymnastics).

NYC Holiday Market and Eats

There ‘s only about 2 weeks until Xmas, so Justtwomorethings and I spent the weekend in the city to finish up our shopping. NYC is certainly getting into the spirit–besides Santacon (which we, aside the tipsy revelers on the subway, managed to avoid), we were greeted by this at Penn Station:

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Grand Central and Union Square were also running their annual Holiday Markets, which are also go-tos for unique gifts. And, of course, food (with the expected fat squirrels begging for tidbits):

(Justtwomorethings: The mini-donut conveyor line, with its delicious mouthfuls floating across the booth on a small stream of hot oil, was an exercise in temptation.  And getting a cup of the Ash-reshteh required a surprising amount of pushiness, with the crowd around the booth)  Not that we didn’t explore other places. Republic had some nice Asian style apps and Fatty Crab by our hotel had some very yummy quail egg shooters (their version of a sambal tasting):

We even stopped by Insomnia Cookies for college nostalgia’s sake:

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The Jane Hotel

While in NYC this past weekend, we stayed at The Jane Hotel. Usually our go to for a quick one-night stay is one of the Pod Hotel’s two locations, but that was all booked up (we think due to Santacon).

The Jane was built in the early 1900s–originally as a boarding house for sailors–and management have consciously kept a lot of the old, historical stuff, like the checkered tile in the lobby, old fashioned bellman uniforms for the staff, and weird things like a stuffed peacock on the wall:

A lot of the quirks too, like cabin-like rooms with bunkbeds and shared shower/bathrooms down the hall (this sounds dorm like, but everything is much cleaner than your dorm ever was).  There are even real porthole windows in the doors.

(Justtwomorethings: Space is even tighter than the Pod Hotel, with less than a yard of maneuvering room in front of the beds, and the bedroom to bathroom ratio is way, way higher, something like thirty double rooms per bathroom.  And no detectable wifi signal in our room.  On the other hand, the towels are better quality, it’s an awesome location if you want to hit up the lower part of western Manhattan starting from West Village and going down, and they provide free water and individual bathrobes and slippers in the room.  Overall, the place runs on charm and the odd whimsical luxury; I’d still favor Pod Hotel on getting the most out of my dollar, but The Jane is a fun Plan B.)

The in-house restaurant, Cafe Gitane, continues the theme, with more quirky decor (this time a stuffed alligator on the wall), with a decidedly colonial French/African, sailor/maritime look. The menu certainly is an interesting mix–my orange blossom waffle with bananas and strawberries was a little disappointing (though the syrup in an old ammonium hydride bottle was cute), but justtwomorethings’s baked eggs with Merguez sausage and tomatoes was delightful.