Monday, March 31, 2008

Trip to NYC: Day 4

I don't know if I was intimidated about trying to put the rest of our NYC trip to words or what, but for some reason I fell off the blogging wagon there for a couple days. But I'm back and ready to report on the 2nd half of my vacation, before the memories have totally faded.

Unlike Sunday, I did get my camera out on Monday for lots of sight-seeing and picture-taking. We started out Monday by taking the Subway down to Manhattan to scrounge up some real NYC breakfast and then in due time arrive at Randall's work,'s New York offices. We started hunting for bagels, but then were distracted by a Duncan Donuts, which is real New York enough for us, since we don't have them here in Utah. We got a couple donuts each and some HoCho (as I heard someone called Hot Chocolate this evening) and then we headed out to check out Madison Square as we had a bit of time before we needed to arrive at CNET.

Flatiron Building
The Flatiron Building. Taken from Madison Square.

Empire State Building
Empire State Building, and me with my HoCho.

After strolling around a bit, we walked back to Randall's work and reported for duty. One of the things Randall does for work there is a daily podcast each morning talking about technology with a couple other guys there. Its called "The 404" and they broadcast live each morning and take calls and have a live chat room. They also record the show and make it available for download and/or subscription as a download. As I've been a listener since the very beginning, perhaps since before anyone else, they were gracious enough to let me join in on the discussion that day, and Jon also got to hang out in the studio as we were broadcasting. The language on the show is generally around a PG-13 level, but if you're okay with that, you can check out the show I was on here (none of the swearing came from me).

In the Studio at CNET NY
Randall & Jon in the studio

After The 404, we went to grab some lunch with Randall and ended up across the street at a deli where we got some paninis. We ate back at CNET and then left Randall to finish up work, while we headed back uptown with our ultimate goal being to get to the Ed Sullivan Theater to pick up our tickets for The Late Show with David Letterman. We took the Subway up to Grand Central Station and decided to walk the rest of the way from there. Coincidentally, it also happened to be St. Patrick's Day, and the St. Patty's Day parade was in full swing at this point. We were able to swing over to 5th Ave from time to time and catch parts of it as we worked our way northward. I guess I'm just used to Utah 4th and 24th of July parades, but this was seemed a bit underwhelming. No floats. Just marching bands and groups of people walking.

Grand Central Station
Grand Central Station

St. Patrick's Day parade
St. Patrick's Day parade

Anyway, we got to the Theater with time to spare, waited in line for maybe 30 minutes, and then were told to come back in a couple hours for the actual taping. We had some time to kill so we had back down to Times Square to do a little souvenir shopping. I picked up some mugs that I like, a deck of cards designed to look like the Subway/Metro passes, and a T-shirt from the ESPNZone. Then it was back to Letterman.

Our seats were on the 3rd row in the balcony, so to see Dave's desk, we kind of had to look down between the lighting rigs. The thing I was most struck by was how small the studio was. I always imagined Dave and the band being pretty far away from each other, and really there's not that much space between them. The CBS Orchestra was great, and played some cool songs, including some Green Day. The main guest was Rainn Wilson (Dwight from The Office), and he was followed by Mike (Golic) and Mike (Greenburg) from ESPN Radio. The musical guest was an Irish band (St. Patrick's Day theme?) called Bell X1 that was fine, but not that memorable. It was cool to be there, and was a fun experience.

Outside the Ed Sullivan Theater

Inside the Ed Sullivan Theater
I got yelled at for taking this one. I didn't realize the layout of the set was so top secret.

Once the taping was over, we started thinking of what we had yet to do. We decided it might be cool to go the Empire State building, and Randall had called while we were at the show, so we let him know that was our plan and he gave us a spot to meet up with him. We got down there, found Randall, and then walked over to the Empire State building. The waiting line to go up was pretty long, so we let Randall talk us into going to Rockefeller Center for our "go-up-in-a-tall-building" experience, which meant another trip back up a few blocks. Along the way, we made a brief stop in Macy's, the world's largest department store, and then it was back to the street.

Once we got up to Rockefeller Plaza, we got some pizza as we'd yet to eat some while we'd been in New York. I thought mine was pretty good, while Jon was unimpressed. It did seem a lot like Sbarro. From there, it was up to the Top of the Rock observation platform on top of the Rockefeller center. There was almost no line at all there. In fact the longest line was the line of people waiting for the elevator to go down. It gave some nice views of New York at night, including a green St. Patrick's themed Empire State Building.

Empire Go Bragh

Once we'd had our fill there, we headed back down to the street, and made a final stop of the night at a place called Junior's for some New York Cheesecake, that really was phenomenal. Great stuff. Very rich though, and I had to go back and buy a bottle of water to wash it all down. That was the end of our very full Monday.

More photos from Day 4.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Trip to NYC: Day 3

Watch this Wednesday is still on hiatus, but will likely return next week. In its place, the Big Digital is proud to present Day 3 of my trip to NYC.

Day 3 was Sunday, and it turned out to be a nice day of rest and recharging of batteries. We got up and went to Randall and Traci's ward, and who would have guessed that I'd run into a fellow Grantsville High alum in Queens, New York. A girl who is the sister of someone who I was good friends with in high school lives in Queens and goes to that ward. Once again showing that there really aren't that many Mormons, if everywhere you go you find some that you already knew. Either that or we know each other real well.

Anyhow, after church we headed back to Randall & Traci's apartment and had a nice relaxing afternoon. We played Scene It! on the Xbox360, which I highly recommend. Probably the funnest variation of Scene It! that I've played to date. We also checked out a demo of Beautiful Katamari, which is definitely not your typical video game, but was fun to check out. Finally, Randall told me I needed to play Portal (part of Valve's Orange Box set of games), and it definitely was another fun and interesting game.

Along the way, I also found time for a nap. Traci was gracious enough to make us kabobs with pasta and peas for dinner. Sunday night, Jon and I ventured out on our first solo subway journey, heading over to the Upper West Side to visit a former mission companion of his that is graduating from Columbia in the next couple months. We had a good time visiting with him and his wife, and then we made our way back home.

All in all it was a nice relaxing day, and a good chance to get some energy back for what would prove to be an exciting last three days of the trip.

I also managed to take no pictures on Day 3.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Trip to NYC: Day 2

Day 2 of our New York trip was packed to the brim with New Yorky goodness. We started the day out right by sleeping in a tad. We had tickets for a 1:30 trip to the Statue of Liberty, and also had tickets for the Grey Line double decker bus tours that we planned to use that day. Randall and his wife Traci were going with us, and Saturday was by far the easiest day for them to join us on all this fun stuff. Anyway, the bus tours start as early as 8 in the morning, but we didn't really get downtown until 10 or so after taking our time in the morning.

We waited maybe 30 minutes in line to get on our bus and after riding it for a while, realized that by the time we got down to Battery Park it would pretty much be time for us to get out and head out to Liberty Island, even if we didn't get off to see anything along the way there. The bus ticket is good for "24 hours" although the buses only run from 8 am to 5 pm so I'm not sure what good a "24 hour ticket" is. Anyway, what we saw of the downtown bus tour was pretty enjoyable, and if I had it to do over again, I'd maybe try to not do both the bus tour and the Statue of Liberty on the same day.

Empire State Building

Once we got to Battery Park, we got in line, which went much quicker for having bought our tickets online in advance and fairly quickly moved through a security checkpoint before boarding the ferry to head out to Liberty Island. Entrance to the base of the monument is also available when you get your tickets online at no extra charge, so we had arranged for that as well. The boat ride over gives you some great views of both the Statue and of lower Manhattan and other surrounding of New York Harbor.

Seagull (and Statue of Liberty)

Leaving the dock behind



Once we got to the Island, we went through another checkpoint and then headed into the base of the Statue. There's a small museum inside that talks a lot about the construction of the Statue, and then a bunch of stairs to climb up to the top of the base where you can get out and look around.

For all your postcard needs
Seen enough Statue of Liberty? :)

After getting our fill of the Statue of Liberty, we headed back to the ferry which took us over to Ellis Island, where we decided to just look from the boat and head back to Manhattan. We got back around 3 and had a full list of things to do that didn't involve getting back on the bus tour, so that was the end of our Grey Line experience.

Sphere from WTC
This sphere was at the World Trade Center and after the events of 9/11 was transported to Battery Park in its existing state. I thought it was pretty interesting.

From Battery Park, we walked up past the Wall Street bull, and swung over to check out Ground Zero, where all we could really see was some construction going on. From there we went up across Canal Street ("Handbag? Handbag? Watches?") in Chinatown and somehow managed not to purchase anything there. Then we went up a few block to Little Italy and had late lunch/early dinner at an Italian place there. This was actually our first real meal since gorging on Virgil's BBQ the night before, and surprisingly, I was just barely starting to get hungry at this point.

We had tickets for Phantom of the Opera later that night, so after dinner, we continued our trek northward, or at least Manhattan-northward since the island doesn't really run north and south. Along the way we got dessert at Pinkberry, a trendy frozen yogurt place where the frozen yogurt just tastes like yogurt (or if you pay extra coffee or tea) and also checked out Union Square where Randall picked up an "Obama is my homeboy" T-shirt.

We made it up to the Majestic Theater, where Phantom was playing a little bit before the doors were to open and when they did, worked our way up to our seats in the Rear Mezzanine. Rear Mezzanine is Broadway code for "Way up in the back". From where we were sitting, it felt like watching a Jazz game from the Bear Cave, except with no Jumbotron to help out. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy the show, but I'm sure the people down on the floor (or "Orchestra" as its called) had a vastly different experience. Also the legroom left a little to be desired.

Majestic Theater

Majestic Theater
The stage is way down there at the bottom where there are things covered in curtains.

Anyway, after the show let out, we hit the Subway and headed back to Queens to end our night.

Ghost Train

More photos from Day 2.

Trip to NYC: Day 1

So, I figured I better buckle down and get started writing about my trip to New York if I was ever going to, or else I'd have forgotten half of what happened. By way of introduction, my friend Jon and I were thinking of what we could do for Spring Break this year, and then I remembered that our friend Randall had moved to New York last summer, and that he was always saying I should come visit. Jon happened to have some Delta dollars he could spend, and I had enough for airfare, so it all worked out amazingly well.

We started our trip on Friday, heading to the Salt Lake airport around 8, and arriving at JFK around 5 in the afternoon. Randall was kind enough to get off work early so he could come pick us up, saving us an expensive cab ride. We drove across Queens to his place in Astoria, deposited our luggage, and went out to hit the town.

First moments in NYC

We got off the subway near the southeast corner of Central Park and proceeded down 5th Avenue towards Times Square. Along the way, he pointed out the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and then realized that on Friday nights there is free admission courtesy of Target. Being a Friday night, we headed inside and wandered around in there for a couple hours until the museum was closing.

Apple Store on 5th Ave

Monet, Water Lilies - MoMA

Warhol, Soup cans - MoMA

van Gogh, Starry Night - MoMA

From there we finished our walk down to Times Square, stopping briefly to check out the Rockefeller Plaza. Once we were at Times Square, we were all pretty hungry, and Randall wanted to show us "one of the few good restaurants at Times Square", a barbecue place called Virgils. And he was right. It was good BBQ, and given its location near Times Square, not completely ridiculously overpriced. We ate meat until we couldn't eat any more, and then boxed up what we had left, headed to the subway and made our way back out to Queens.

Skating at Rockefeller Center

Times Square at Night

More photos from Day 1.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Back from NYC

I'm back in town and after taking another day off to regroup and recover I'm starting to publish stuff from my trip. I hopefully will be giving a bit of a rundown of the craziness here over the next few days, but I've started uploading some of the best photos to Flickr. Feel free to check em out. So far I've just put up some pictures from the first night we were there.

Warhol, Soup cans - MoMA

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Watch This Wednesday #24: If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere

In case you don't already know, I'm going to New York City this Friday. I've never been before and I'm getting pretty excited about going. Just going for fun. Its not for some conference, just me and a friend and we're going to stay with another friend of ours and his wife. I think its going to be pretty great. I'm sure I'll have pictures and the like to post when I get back, but for now enjoy this video that someone else made with pictures of New York and the classic Sinatra song.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Big Digital Spends Money on Someone Else's Wife

"Don't spend your money on someone else's wife" -- One of my old roommates

It was destined to happen someday. You date long enough and eventually its going to happen. What's bound to happen? Well back in January I took a girl out for lunch who ostensibly was not dating anyone. Her friend told me that two months prior she'd broken up with someone and that she wasn't now dating anyone. The fact she agreed to go out with me would imply the same. Lunch was fine and I considered asking her out again, although I wasn't super excited about it for some reason. She'd told me that she was going out to California the next weekend to visit a "friend". Shortly after her trip, pictures of her with a guy in California surfaced on Facebook. These pictures seemed to imply that they were more than just "friends" and I kind of lost interest in pursuing anything further there. Fast forward two months later and she's now engaged to that guy. I'm kind of glad I didn't ask her out a second time. :)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Watch This Wednesday #23: Was that Real Manure? No It Wasn't

Kind of an oldie here, but you may not have seen it before. Tom Wilson who played Biff in the Back to the Future movies, apparently does musical stand-up and this is a song he wrote about all the questions he gets over and over again about being in Back to the Future.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Random Thoughts on the English Language #18: Does it "seam" unseamly?

Whats the male equivalent of "seamstress"? Is it "tailor"? Couldn't a woman be a tailor, though? I like to think that the right word here should be "seamster", just because I think thats a fun word. Seamster.