Saturday, May 31, 2008

Yay, guests!

Hi faithful readers (as you must be since I haven't been blogging too much lately). Time to spill the beans... we're going back to Japan after the first week of July. sniff. This is bittersweet news; I love my job and all the perks of being a native citizen of the country you're living in: mainly, getting all the jokes and old TV references people make. (I don't do so well with that in Japan.)

But, as some of you may know already, Takeshi and I are moving back to Tokyo on the first week of July. That's right, our year here is up. One sweet year in New York, for all its glory and strange smells, is coming to a close.

What does that mean? It's Time to Finally Be a Tourist!

Lucky for us, we had some guests come in to town last weekend, giving us the excuse we needed to see all the touristy things as 'guides', and keep some of our dignity as 'New Yorkers' (even though I myself had not seen a lot of them). Our 'Guide' tour included:

*The Metropolitan Museum of Art (we had seen it, but last time our visit had not included the south-east asia wing or the American wing, which were both very cool. Although our guests were a little dissapointed at the lack of Vietnamese art, most of it being from "Vietnam / Cambodia", which is weak sauce. But I digress.

*The Museum of Modern Art (or MoMA): made me very glad I took art history, because some incredibly famous paintings there I would have possibly overlooked otherwise. There was also some "art" that was disturbing for the sake of being disturbing (video of a naked lady hula-hooping with a barbed wire hula-hoop, anyone? anyone?) which is not my taste, but it also housed a very cool light display, including a room that made everyone's shadows look like iPod commercials, and another that made everything look sepia.

*Top of the Rock: this is the view from the top of the Rockefeller building (the one that has the ice-skating rink and a big christmas tree out front during the holidays). It's almost as tall as the empire state building, and has a great view of it to boot. We went to watch the sunset over the Hudson river from there. Too bad the winds kicked up and we were all wearing skimpy little tees that did not adequately protect our skins. But we got some pictures , so it was all worth it. (True tourist motto! ;)

*Ate at 'touristy' places: Serendipity 3 , which was undergoing remodeling or something when I tried to take Takeshi, was open for business. The only problem is, they are most famous for desert, (including their frozen hot chocolate drink), but you can't make reservations for just dessert. So we ended up putting our name on the list for a 2 hour wait and ... getting dinner there anyway. For food, I recommend the Brie + apple +turkey sandwich.

We also got a hot dog and tropical drink at the Papaya King, which is famous for their bizarre combination of healthy, all natural, no-sugar added papaya/mango/banana juices (packed with vitamins and antioxidants!) and.... hot dogs. (why hot dogs? dont ask me!)

* Had dim-sum at chinatown at the Golden Unicorn, which was worth the wait. We had to share a table, but that seems to be the way it goes at touristy restuarants because it was like that at the pizza place under the Brooklyn bridge called Grimaldis, which had amazing pizza.

* Went shopping in SoHo (I got a cute necklace made from handmade glass beads!) and we saw the strangely anime-themed UniQlo store there. UniQlo is a bland, Gap-like store in Japan. It was very odd to see it suddenly made over into an otaku's paradise.

*Saw the musical 'Spring Awakening', which was filled with teen angst and alternative rock music, always a good combination. It was a little mature but had some good comic relief. Too bad the characters weren't developed to a point where the audience could actually care about them. But did I mention the music was great? We got the CD and now those songs are all stuck in my head, especially 'I don't do sadness'. Love it!
* and probably some other stuff. Oh yeah, Central Park, FAO Schwartz, got bagel at 'Ess-a-bagel', etc etc. It all blurs together since I saw those ones already.

But anyways, I thought it was a very symbiotic relationship... I was able to help our guests see our town as a guide. But they helped drag us along to see our city from the predominant view New York City is mainly seen: through the eyes of a tourist. My summary of tourist vistion: hectic, heel-hurting, expensive, crazy! Oh and tons of fun. Thanks guys. :)

Friday, May 09, 2008

Strange New York

I haven't been entirely fair.

In Japan, I carried around my camera-phone and would take amusing pictures whenever I saw fit, to post them on my blog and make sniping comments about the funny things I saw in Tokyo. But New York has its fair share of odd things too. The difference? Lack of a phone with a camera. So I started bringing my camera around in my bag, and lo and behold, I got some classics (when I had enough batteries).

Here are my favorites I have caught on film...Of course, the biggest fish get away, so to speak- I saw lots of things the times when I forgot my camera, like the mailbox painted to look like R2-D2. But hopefully this will give you a taste.

My office is very close to the convention center. Caught this guy commuting to the comic con!For anyone who isn't up on the video game scene, the latest 'Grand Theft Auto' game takes place in a city suspiciously like New York - "Liberty City". And it has a "Statue of Happiness". This enormous painted billboard takes you that much closer to living in the game.
(what this doesn't show is the constant honking in the background). The city just has these around, I'm assuming for firefighting purposes, or maybe just in case you'd like to freeze something and shatter it to show off. You can never be too prepared.
McCain has the homeless vote!
(grafitti on a NYC homeless services advertisement.)
Amusing mechanical malfunction. This happens to tbe the 'real' sign for New York pedestrians, who often cross six lanes of traffic during a red light (sometimes with a baby stroller!). It means 'feel free to ignore this don't walk sign'.
The New York Police Department in Times Square is lit up with purple and pink neon lights, to make it visible. The amusing this is it's STILL hard to see, while surrounded by so much sensory overload.Empire State building with flowers! (ok this isn't that funny, but... pretty,right? :) )

That's all for now, folks!