Monday, October 29, 2012

The Daily Messenger is FAMOUS!!!

I'm interrupting coverage of Hurricane Sandy and coverage of Radio City rehearsals (which, in an unprecedented move, were cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy) to announce that The Daily Messenger from Canandaigua, New York is famous!

I get the Merriam-Webster Word of the Day emailed to me. It always includes a definition, examples, and fun facts. I was THRILLED to see that The Messenger was quoted today! Way to go, Richard Hermann!

Merriam-Webster Logo  
Word of the Day
October 28
ad hominemAudio Pronunciation\ad-HAH-muh-nem\
1 :
appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect
2 :
marked by or being an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions made
The governor's only response to the criticism of his new policy was to launch an ad hominem attack against those doing the criticizing.
"This democratization of the online media comment world results in both a lot of angry, nasty and downright insulting ad hominem attacks, followed quickly by ad hominem attacks by email commentators on each other that make for salty and entertaining, if not particularly edifying, reading." — From an editorial by Richard Hermann in the Daily Messenger (Canandaigua, New York), August 30, 2012
"Ad hominem" literally means "to the person" in New Latin (Latin as first used in post-medieval texts). In centuries past, this adjective usually modified "argument." An "argument ad hominem" (or "argumentum ad hominem," to use the full New Latin phrase) was a valid method of persuasion by which a person took advantage of his or her opponent's interests or feelings in a debate, instead of just sticking to general principles. The newer sense of "ad hominem," which suggests an attack on an opponent's character instead of his or her argument, appeared only in the last century, but it is the sense more often heard today. The word still refers to putting personal issues above other matters, but perhaps because of its old association with "argument," "ad hominem" has become, in effect, "against the person."

Friday, October 26, 2012

"I can't. I'm in tech."

Ahhh, the joys of tech.

Never heard of it, you say? Then you must not have watched the so-bad-it's-good episode of Smash in which Karen told her live-in boyfriend that she couldn't decide if she wanted to get married because she's in tech.

Once an entire show has been taught and practiced in dance studios, the director and choreographer work with stage managers, designers, and other members of the crew to put the show on stage with lights, microphones, props, scenery, and more. This is a slooooooow process with a lot of stopping and starting. It often means very long hours and very little sleep.

We all moved into the Radio City theater yesterday. Because it's such a huge space (6,000 seats!), we are assigned different quadrants to lounge in--Rockettes are mid-house left, singers are lower house left, and dancers are upper house right. And lounge we do. When not working or watching others work, we chat, snack, play on our iPhones, and even write blogs.  :)

Where were we before this, you may wonder? Well, the Radio City stage is used for a ton of concerts (the JoBros sold the joint out two weeks ago), so it's off-limits for us during the early part of rehearsal. Because there are only two rehearsal studios in the building, neither of which is nearly as big as the actual stage, we rehearse in a church basement on Ninth Avenue. Seriously. It's a giant basement that is big enough to be divided into two stage-sized spaces, 4 common rooms, a lunch room, a music room, a physical therapy room, and several offices. There are sprung dance floors, soundproofing equipment, mirrors, and more. The amount of work that goes into transforming the basement for just a month of rehearsals is insane.

We started at the top of the show yesterday (Spoiler alert--it's a 3-D movie staring Santa Claus!), and after working 1pm-10pm yesterday and today, we are only at the fifth number in the show. Sometimes, I kind of hate tech. It's just so slow and boring. But there's something different about teching at Radio City. The house is just so huge and grand. It feels like a privilege to be here when it's virtually empty. It makes me feel like Annie when Daddy Warbucks takes her to the movies. I mean, how many other people get to do this?

Please remind me of this feeling in a few days. I'll probably have forgotten it by then.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Project Radio City

Well, folks, it's almost that time again: time to sing carols, trim the tree, and elbow your way past tourists in Rockefeller Center.

I was absolutely thrilled to began rehearsals for my fifth year in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular™ last week. But I was over the moon when I walked by the costume shop and saw this stunning design created by Project Runway's  Christopher Palu:

Now, in case you missed it, Heidi and Tim challenged the designers to create a dress for the Rockettes to wear at a future performance. While watching the episode, I thought that Christopher's idea and design were absolutely brilliant and well-executed--and utterly New York. I knew he would win the second I saw it.

But upon seeing the dress in real life, I must say that there are some flaws:
*The skirt has no movement, no give. So it won't be flattering when the girls kick.
*The trim outlining the buildings is hot glued on and is already crumbling.
*The design of the dress doesn't really allow for undergarments to be concealed.
*The flesh-colored material isn't supportive, which means the garment will begin to lose its shape the second the wearer puts it on.
*There isn't enough color contrast between the buildings and the fleshy material, making the buildings harder to distinguish.
*Even if there was more color contrast, the buildings wouldn't be visible to anyone past the tenth row. And Radio City is a 6,000-seat house.

My Nina-like critique is not to say that any of these flaws are Christopher's fault. I'm sure there are many, many challenges dance designers face when creating new costumes, and the Rockettes are an iconic brand performing in an incredibly unique space. There are few that would have succeeded in this challenge, given the time, resources, and requirements. Interestingly, after seeing the dress firsthand, I can't help but wonder if Dmitry's dress should have won.

Here's the big question: WHY WEREN'T THE ROCKETTES IN THE WORKROOM? They would have easily been able to communicate their needs to the designers, who would, in turn, have more information with which to create usable costumes. They also would have looked stunning on the runway. Perhaps the producers thought that might be setting the designers up to fail? Though they did give the designers a little lesson in dance.

I suspect that Christopher may not be able to claim his prize. Costume costs range from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars. Each. And there are 36 girls to costume. I'm not sure anyone would invest that much in a dress that will only be worn once to an unidentified event. So, I'm sorry, Christopher. I don't want you or your adorable Long Island family to be disappointed. But don't worry--I'm sure you have a well-dressed future ahead of you on the runway.

(Curious about how the other contestants fared? Check out this recap on

Monday, October 8, 2012

Movin’ on Up: The Quest for the Perfect NYC Apartment (Part 5)

See that?

That's what my room looked like when I moved out. I had to shove all of my stuff in the closet and center of the room. Why, you ask? Because I had to move out of my room on September 1st, but I couldn't move into the new apartment until September 4th. Long story.

Anyway, I was homeless for three days, during which I vacationed on the Jersey Shore (I know, rough life, right?), and I returned on September 4th to meet the movers.

Now, this was my first experience hiring a moving company, which intimidated me. Even though I got a recommendation from a friend for a group of hardworking Russians at a decent price (and they were also positively reviewed in New York Magazine), it freaked me out that they only took my name and phone number and told me they'd be there "sometime around 8/9 o'clock." Because they didn't require a deposit (which, in hindsight, was extremely nice), I convinced myself that they wouldn't show. So, being the worrywart I am, I invented about three different reasons to call between the time I first spoke to them and moving day, just to reassure myself they'd show up.

And show up, they did. Even though they had the wrong address and it took them three calls to find the apartment. (Apparently "nine" and "five" sound similar to Russians who speak English as a second language.) They were incredibly fast, polite, and thorough, which I really appreciated. They didn't break anything, they carried everything down 97 steps, and they gave me the job of sitting in the truck to make sure it didn't get ticketed. I felt incredibly awkward "supervising" as the "client," since I am completely able-bodied. But I guess that's what you do when you hire movers. You watch them move.

With only about 17 mentions of our new apartment being small, they efficiently brought everything up the elevator to our new digs, only went 30 minutes over the estimated time, and presented us with the bill.

I knew this moment would be awkward, so to make it as painless as possible, I asked the moving company fellow at the other end of my four phone calls about the tip amount. He told me to give 20% of the total in cash. Which is exactly what I did.

The moving company money counter counted the money. And paused.

And counted it again. And paused.

Finally, he said, "We do good job. Fast work. More money for each man?"

Even though I wanted to roll my eyes--actually, I probably did roll my eyes--I handed over more cash.

He went through his count-pause-count-pause routine a couple more times and said, "We work hard. I no charge you for full last hour. Forty dollar each man?"

"Forty dollars each? I called and was told to give you 20% from your supervisor. I've given you WAY more than that. I don't understand what this is all about." I was red-faced and angry at that point but was trying to rein it in since my roommates' parents were watching.

"Just give it to him," they said. "Here it is--give him this." And with that, they handed me the ridiculously inflated tip money, which was indescribably lovely of them.

But I was still mad at the movers. How dare they soak us for cash when I took all of the appropriate steps to treat them more than fairly??? I've been a waitress at Crapplebee's, and many of my friends work in the restaurant industry, so I pride myself on my 20%+ tips. Even if something goes terribly wrong with my meal, I never leave less than 15%. Ever. Ooooo, those movers really made me angry. Actually, even typing the story now makes me furious. They can expect a mixed-to-negative Yelp review from me. And a strongly worded letter.

P.S. I just did a little tip research that I wish I had done earlier. The Yelp consensus is that $15-$25 per man is the usual. Not $40. I'm fuming again. Though I suppose it's all water under the bridge. I would have to think really hard to tell you how much I spent total, so it didn't exactly break the bank. Live and learn. The more you know. Etc, etc, etc.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Movin’ on Up: The Quest for the Perfect NYC Apartment (Part 4)

Moving is hard. Like, really hard. So hard that I almost don't want to blog about it and relive the madness.

I had never really done a big move before. I moved to college, but that was only 50 minutes from home and I had my family's help. And their minivan. I moved to Boston for grad school. That was a bit more dramatic. My mother drove me out there and proceeded to scrub the blinds and the refrigerator and unpack all of my things and basically be Cinderella while I collapsed across the bed and sobbed, woe-is-me/Ugly Stepsister style. And then she had the gall to leave me there in a comfortable apartment (mostly furnished by my two roommates), which is exactly what I asked her to do except that when the time came, I didn't want her to leave. That was in the pre-cell phone era, so I felt way too far away. (Thanks, Mom! You're the best!)

Moving home from Boston was fun because I discovered that when the rich seniors left Boston College (I was a campus RA at the time), they also left month-old grills and patio furniture behind. They did this in the same way that they left their old beer cans scattered across their tiny lawns for enterprising Asian ladies to collect and return to the store. I could not believe that so many wonderful things were left for the taking! So I took a few. Furniture items, that is. Not beer cans. Again, my family was there with the minivan and we had a stuffed-to-the-gills drive home.

Next, I moved to New York City with exactly two suitcases. I ended up collecting more things while here, all of which my parents had to haul home when I left to go on tour with Fosse. When I moved back to the city after tour ended, I again had two suitcases and a new travel philosophy that I planned to implement in my non-tour life: "If it doesn't fit in my two suitcases, I don't want it."

That philosophy ended up buried in my closet, along with my mountain of sale rack clothes and living supplies that I hoard like a suburbanite even though I really have no room for them.

So this was my first move with a fully-stocked bedroom, my roommate's fully stocked bedroom, multiple pieces of furniture, and no minivan.

How did it all go? Stay tuned...

Thursday, October 4, 2012

HGTV, Pinterest, & Me

I watch HGTV. A lot. It's the perfect channel to have on in the background while I do my freelance writing. It adds the ideal amount of noise without drawing my full attention away from my work.

Pinterest is new for me. I can't say that I totally understand it, but when I have searched, I have found excellent recipes and decorating tips.

So when I found myself moving into a new place with some old furniture of my roommate, I decided the time was right to test out my HGTV skillz. Well, I guess it's just my HTV skillz since I don't have a G.

Anyway, blending a few techniques from Pinterest (and utilizing my "craft room," which was really Hugo's room when he conveniently spent two weeks in Europe), I created the masterpieces below for less than $50 total--and I still have a lot of paint leftover for future projects!

This was my first project. I found this nightstand on the street:

 With primer, paint, sandpaper, and super fancy knobs from Anthropologie, I turned it into this:

Next, I took a splintered table:
 And used spray paint to turn it into this:

As fate would have it, I stumbled upon a super emptying a fancy upper west side apartment and scored these endtables that didn't even need any work:

I wanted to add a headboard to my bed, and again, I didn't feel like spending $300 on it. So I attached my parents' old kitchen shutters to the wall. I thought I was going to have to paint them, but they were in such good condition that I used them as is!

My biggest project was born out of necessity. We were moving into an apartment with a small kitchen, so we desperately needed storage, and I desperately didn't want to pay for it. So I took my roommate's old dresser:

And I painted the bottom several shades of white and green to give it an aged look. I kept the top brown to give the appearance of pseudo-butcher block. Finally, I used hardware from my grandparents' bedroom set from the 70s. I'm kind of in love with it.

With my grandparents' drawer knobs, my parents' shutters, and my other grandparents' lamp, I absolutely love having things in my room that were used and loved by the people I absolutely love. The moral of this story for me is that you can always make something out of things you already have--and a little elbow grease goes a loooong way.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Movin’ on Up: The Quest for the Perfect NYC Apartment (Part 3)

Here’s another little gem from my Apartment.doc file:

8/8/07       I've had quite the interesting day. I woke up to Courtney knocking on my door at 5:30 am (I had just gone to bed at 2) because water was literally pouring in from our hall ceiling. I looked down, and it had traveled into my room, soaking my duvet, which I had thrown on the floor because it was too hot to sleep with. I can't even describe what a mess it was. Water was pouring in from the light fixture, in huge cracks, in a line down the length of the exposed brink wall, and somehow even from random doorways. I can't really explain that one. We had about seven bins out to catch the water, and that wasn't nearly enough. We tried to mop, but there was just too much water.  Finally, I started using the mop to throw the water into the communal hallway. There was a door stopper that was high enough to prevent it from coming back into the apartment.  We started hearing voices all over the building, and as it turns out, the water was dripping into apartments all the way to the second floor.  On the upside, we met several different neighbors.

So today the Rastafarian roofers are scraping up all the paint bubbles in preparation for fixing everything.  Of course, today is the day we have prospective roommates coming to see the place.  I guess if they want to take it after seeing it in this condition, they REALLY want the place!

Confused? I’ll start from the beginning.

My apartment was on the top floor of the building. The roof was old and patched to begin with, and tenants using the roof for parties did not help, so it began leaking with more and more frequency. Miraculously, our super cheap landlord (who had to sell a couple of his buildings quickly to avoid jail time several years back) decided to put a new roof on the joint.

Sadly, he decided to commence the project just before the strongest tornado to ever hit the city touched down in Brooklyn. And sadder still, the winds and the rain that accompanied the tornado swept through Hell’s Kitchen on a night that the workers left our roof covered with nothing but a tarp. A tarp! Don’t you think they would check the before leaving a naked building unattended?!?

As you can imagine, the entire building was flooded with black, disgusting water. We swept water out of the apartment and down the stairs for what seemed like hours. Amazingly, none of our things were destroyed, but our apartment was never the same.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Movin’ on Up: The Quest for the Perfect NYC Apartment (Part 2)

1/2/07  6 Men in black hoodies on the stairwell

And so begins a Word document I created—cleverly titled Apartment.doc—to keep a record of any and all problems I encountered with the fifth floor walkup apartment I lived in for seven years.

The cryptic note refers to the time I returned from a Christmas visit upstate with two jumbo suitcases. As was my habit, I dragged both suitcases into the foyer so I would have one door locked behind me. I left one suitcase on the entry level and hauled the other suitcase up the 97 steps to my apartment. Then, I would make a second trip with the other suitcase. This time, I was greeted at the top of the stairs by six men in black hoodies, who had seemingly entered through the unlocked roof door. They were just sitting and waiting for something, and they made no move when I appeared with my suitcase. Still delirious from the eight-hour train trip, I barely acknowledged them. But when I locked my first suitcase inside the apartment and stepped out into the hallway on the return trip for my second, I thought I should probably say something.

“Do you live in the building?” I foolishly asked six giant men who obviously didn’t live in the building.

“We live next door,” the spokesperson of the group said.

“Oh.” I paused. “Well, I really don’t think you should be here if you don’t live here,” I said. (Who on earth did I think I was?)

“We’re waiting for someone,” the spokeshoodie said. “We’ll be leaving when he gets here.”

“Oh,” I cleverly said again. “Okay.” And with that, I headed downstairs for my second suitcase.

By the time I got there, it finally sunk in that while these men may have been on the up-and-up, they might also be there for some sort of sinister purpose. And I knew without a doubt that I simply could not walk past them one more time. It was way too terrifying.

There I was, in my building foyer, sitting on a suitcase without a coat or a cell phone or a friend. So I did what any girl would do: I went into the Thai restaurant downstairs and used their phone to call 911.

I sat on my suitcase to wait for an officer to stop by, but instead of one officer, three police cars pulled up to the curb. I thought they couldn’t possibly be for me, but they were. You’d think there must be someone getting robbed or maimed somewhere else in the city, but I guess it was a slow crime day. They asked for brief details and headed upstairs. I must say that it was kind of exciting to see six officers run up the stairs on my behalf, but alas, they came up empty. The hoodies hopped onto a neighboring roof and raced downstairs through a different building.

And that, my friends, was the end of my adventure and the start of my documentation about apartment issues. In the five years that I kept that document, I had some pretty interesting entries. Here are a few completely undoctored entries that you might enjoy:

7/30/07            Asked Charles once again about the rent.  He called DeMilt who called and screamed at me.  Didn’t let me get a word in edgewise.  Said he sent the notice 6 times, and we chose to ignore it.  He said: “Who do you think you are, some hotshot Philadelphia lawyer?”

7/31/07            Went to sign lease in scary basement unlabeled office. 

8/18/07            Got an eviction notice postcard.

11/13/07          Absolutely NO water at all at 2am.  Too tired to call 311.  Called in the morning, but they wouldn’t take the complaint since the water was restored.  Called Frank, but he said that the plumber was fixing something and forgot to put up signs since it was so late at night.

3/2/08              FREEZING WATER yet AGAIN.  Also, two leaks in the apartment.  One in Jackie’s closet, one in the hall closet.  Both are pretty bad.  Left messages for Ron and Charles by 8:30 am.

4/4/08              Roof leaking yet again.  Called Charles.  He promised new roof would be put in next week.  Seemed surprised that water was still cold.  Said that the boiler was “on its way” even though Frank told me the boiler was sitting in the basement.  Very confused. 

5/1/11              water is often lukewarm for the last week. only had one hot shower.

5/2/12              NO WATER AT ALL. hasn’t been heat for days

In summary…I’M SO GLAD I MOVED!!!!