Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria

I have emerged from my freelance cocoon! And despite the snowflakes I saw this morning, I think spring is about to land in New York City. I’m not making any promises but I’m optimistic – it’s supposed to be sixty degrees on Friday.

I took a long weekend last week because my best friend came to visit for four days. She lives out in San Diego and was gratifyingly charmed to arrive early Saturday morning to Christmas-like snow. It melted quickly, and while it wasn’t exactly warm while she was here, it was pleasant enough that we managed to run around the city without worrying too much about the temperature.

So what did we do? Well, considering we’ve spent much of our friendship geeking out over musical theater together, we went to see three different musicals. I plan to tell you all about them in good time, because all three were great and worth seeing, but that’s for later.

For now, let me tell you about our outing to the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria. I’d been to the museum once before, with my family, when a video game exhibition was on view, but I don’t get to Queens often so I hadn’t been back. We decided to head over around lunchtime on Saturday, and after a lunch at the nearby Arepas Café, we got in line for the museum.


Note to self: Saturday is a busy day at the Museum of the Moving Image! We arrived around 2 and it took maybe fifteen minutes for us to get inside. Once inside, we headed straight for the Mad Men exhibit, which had just opened. It, too, had a line, but once we were inside we got a look at papers outlining the planning process for the show, going back years to when it was just an idea Matthew Weiner had. We saw a re-creation of the writers’ room, character sketches, and finally a number of costumes and props from the show, including even a few sets. I’ve only seen an episode or two of the show, but my friend is a fan, and I’m always fascinated by the creative process and the formation of stories, so I liked it a lot too. The exhibit runs through June 14, 2015.

We explored the rest of the museum – it’s small enough that you can see everything in a few hours. Some highlights: a wall of portraits of celebrities, memorabilia from TV shows and films, special props, even a small movie theater.


There’s a whole section devoted to the history of animation, and you can make these neat stop motion animations. My animation skills are… amateur, but still fun.

I loved seeing my childhood favorites, Charlie Horse, LAMB CHOP, and Hush Puppy!


The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday and stays open till 8 p.m. on Fridays. Admission is $12 for adults, $9 for students and seniors, and $6 for kids 3 to 12. I’ve yet to see a movie there, but it’s worth checking out what’s playing!


Have you been to the Museum of the Moving Image? What was your favorite part?


Popcorn and Friends

Winter has caught up with me. It’s not that I’m sitting at home doing nothing. Well, no, there are some days (Sunday comes to mind) where that’s exactly what I’m doing. But my outside of work activities have more or less narrowed down to three categories: hanging out with friends, choir rehearsals, and trips to the theater.

I don’t mind – these are all perfectly fun things to do – but it does limit what I have to write about on this blog. I’m not exactly going to give you a rundown of the dinners and brunches I’ve gone to over the last couple weeks (though, friends, if you’re reading this — and I know at least one of you is! — they’ve all been wonderful). But meals and the conversations had over them are much more interesting if you’re there, which is why I’ve been writing a lot about my trips to the theater. That’s not going to stop any time soon, and you’ll probably get a write up about the performance I saw of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” later this week.

But in the meantime, I spent Monday night watching episodes of “Friends” and eating what might be the most delicious snack in the world: stovetop popcorn.


All right, it might not top chocolate, but popcorn made on the stove is definitely better than any microwave popcorn, or even movie theater popcorn. It’s something I’ve known since college, when my roommate acquired a hot plate (don’t tell the fire marshals!) and we made popcorn more days than not. I’m pretty sure it’s what got me through my senior year! I don’t make it nearly as often now, but I keep a canister of kernels in my cupboard for days when popcorn is the only thing that fits the bill. I made it for my mom years ago and now she can’t eat microwave popcorn either!

What’s the trick? Pour some olive oil in the bottom of a covered pan, heat it up a little and add kernels. Keep covered on high heat until the kernels start popping. Shake pan lightly as kernels pop so the popcorn doesn’t burn. When the popping slows, turn off the heat and wait for the pops to stop. Pour into bowl, add salt to taste.  Should you add butter? Well, you can – but you don’t even need it.

Don’t believe me? Pick up some popcorn kernels, pick out a movie, and have a delicious night in. Another one of those and I might even be ready to venture out and do something new and exciting here in NYC… if the weather gets better, that is.

Murder mystery marathon

I have a problem.

Okay, it is not necessarily a real problem. And it’s one I’ve dealt with before. But it’s still a problem. And that problem is, I’m obsessed with a TV show.

I was coming back from a friend’s house right before sitting down to write this and as I walked up the stairs I thought, “I can squeeze one more episode in before bed.” But then I remembered that I was already a day off schedule with blogging this week, and I told myself I needed to write something tonight since I didn’t get anything written over the long weekend.

Why not, you ask? I’d like to say it was the movie night with friends or the long brunch yesterday, and yes, those definitely contributed. But the real reason is, I can’t stop watching “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.” And the actual problem is, I only have a few episodes left.

I’ve never been good at rationing TV shows when they’re available to binge, and I do have an addictive personality when it comes to narrative. I mean, I recently watched ten seasons of “Grey’s Anatomy”, getting far past the seasons where things actually made sense, because I just needed to know what happened to all those characters. Watching “Grey’s” didn’t stimulate me, though, in the way that marathoning “The West Wing” did a couple years ago, and it certainly didn’t make me laugh the way “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” does.Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries - woman in a bob haircut with bangs and a crystal headpiece and a gold gun

You might think that a show about murder wouldn’t have me laughing and smiling throughout, but Miss Phryne Fisher, Lady Detective (it’s 1920s Australia, and she’s kind of a flapper, so deal with it) is just so freaking awesome, I can’t help it. Her confidence, her intelligence, her bad-ass nature, and her ability to always have a great time, even — no, especially — when chasing criminals around Melbourne in spectacular clothing makes every episode a pleasure to watch.

Her sidekicks are also a lot of fun, as is her crime-solving partner, Inspector Detective Jack Robinson. Phryne and Jack have some delicious chemistry, but she’s also having a fabulous time sleeping with attractive men who she meets along the way. She has a rich, fulfilling life, and it’s so much fun to watch.

I first heard about the show on the awesome romance novel site, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and I knew it was something I’d enjoy. In some ways it reminds me of the other murder mystery show I follow, “Castle” — it’s about a somewhat by-the-book police detective and an over-the-top civilian solving cases together, with wonderful chemistry. Only the gender roles are swapped and Phryne is way more capable than Castle is. My favorite thing about it? Phryne and Jack are such equal partners, they almost always run into danger together. He knows better than to try to protect her or make her stay back, because she can handle anything that comes her way!

It’s winter, and it’s cold here in NYC, so if you’re looking for something to curl up and watch with some tea or cocoa in hand, check out “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries”. There are two seasons on Netflix, and a third in production.

Now I’m off, because I really have to start this episode before it gets too late!

P.S. The series is based on a book series, so I might check that out, too!

P.P.S. Came back after watching the episode to add this:

Thursday night conversation

Despite all of my talk about all the great things to do in New York, I have to admit, I really like having quiet nights at home. Tonight was one of them. It’s been a busy week, and I have a busy weekend ahead of me, so it was nice to get home, have an unhealthy but delicious dinner, and talk on the phone.

I used to say I wasn’t a phone person – I even got anxious sometimes when I had to call someone – but my first job cured me of that. I still don’t talk to most of my friends on the phone all that often, but tonight, after a nice chat with my dad, I had a long catch-up with one of my best friends – who is also my oldest friend. We grew up across the street from each other, so technically we’ve been friends for just over twenty-five years.
I called her because we’ve been texting about a trip to see me she’s planning to make over the summer with a few others, but we had a nice long rambling conversation about everything from my ear infection to our jobs to books we’ve been reading. This was great, because we hadn’t talked about any of this stuff in our recent texts.
Why? Because most of our texts are about two things: Castle and Once Upon a Time.
Being obsessed with TV shows is a fairly recent thing for me. My family didn’t have cable till after I left for college. I discovered binge watching when I got a Gilmore Girls season 4 DVD my senior year of high school, and I did watch TV some in college, but I spent the little leisure time I had on movies and pleasure reading. My roommate and I did get into watching Pushing Daisies, though, and I started watching Castle with friends in the very first season. I used to guess whether they’d caught the real killer by how many minutes we were into an episode.
My TV viewing has gone up since graduating, partly due to Netflix and streaming episodes, and partly due to having more free time. But I’ve only gotten into the ritual of sitting down to watch shows I like as they air recently, and mostly in the last few months, after I finally got a TV that gets local channels.  It’s a nice, relaxing routine for me, and since my Castle- and Once Upon a Time-loving friend also often watches these shows when they air, Sunday and Monday nights have become an opportunity for us to connect over the trials and tribulations of our favorite characters. It’s become one of my favorite things to do each week, because our text exchanges make watching the shows more fun and keep us in touch on a regular basis.
Look, nothing beats hanging out with friends in person – I love going to shows or museums or dinner or the park, all those New York things I keep doing and writing about. But long-distance friendships require nourishing, too. Sometimes you just need a Thursday night at home in your pajamas, when you can eat a Hostess cupcake while your friend laughs on the other end of the line, and you don’t hang up but procrastinate writing your weekly blog post, because talking is just so much more fun.

We Used to be Friends: The Veronica Mars movie

I was trying to decide what to write about and I looked back on Facebook to see what I was posting about at this time last year in case it could offer any inspiration. Guess what I was talking about. The Veronica Mars Kickstarter!

I got into the show after it’d already been canceled, so I was able to watch is more or less all in one go. Quirky mystery shows are one of my weaknesses (from Joan of Arcadiaand Pushing Daisies to current day Castle, Sherlock, and even Once Upon a Time, which has some mystery elements), so of course I was going to donate to the Kickstarter!

I donated, spent a Saturday at a friend’s apartment watching highlights from Season One in celebration, and then settled down for a year’s wait. I skimmed the Kickstarter emails that backers got periodically and read articles about the movie as they came up, and then last Friday the movie came out. I skipped seeing it in the theater, opting instead for a relaxing gathering with friends and pie – perfect for 3/14. We’d gotten our download codes earlier in the day, but due to issues with Flixster we ended up watching a not-quite-legal version. The next morning I downloaded Flixster – and the movie – without any problems, so I’m pleased.

There are a million movie reviews out there, so I won’t go into specifics about the film, but I will say that I enjoyed every minute of it, loved every reference to the show, and thought overall that it was a lot of fun! Was it the best mystery plot in the history of Veronica Mars? No – but the best ones had whole seasons to develop, so can you blame them?

I hope the movie does well. I’d love a sequel, or even better, a new series. But more important than the consequences for the show are the consequences for the industry as a whole. The Kickstarter model isn’t perfect, but if it allows fans to support the creation of content they love and crave more of, that’s pretty cool!

What’d you think of the film, if you’ve seen it? And what projects would you Kickstart to see on the big screen?