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Thursday, September 27, 2007
Dinner in 'Storia
 
Last night I went somewhere new for dinner and I even left Manhattan to do it. A group of friends was going out to dinner in Astoria so I hopped an N train out to Astoria Blvd. and made my way Steinway St, home of the some of the finest Hookah bars in the city. Not that we went to any of them, we just walked by them.

Where we did end up was Arunee Thai Cuisine, a nice little Thai restaurant where the 18 or so of us managed to basically take over the place and have a good time. There was also lots of picture taking going on as we had our fair share of professional photographers in the house (including one from the NY Times - look for the article in the Sunday Style section soon).

For a preview of what they might look like take a look at this one of me, which I love taken by Marc. After a few hours of food and drinks it was unfortunately time to leave and I hopped a subway back home.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007
The amazing maize maze
 
On Sunday Alyssa and I made our way through Queens to go to the 25th Annual Queens County Fair, held at the Queens County Farm Museum . We paid our $6 admissions fee and entered into a world of farmy goodness.

Our first stop was an old farmhouse where there were tours on how life used to be when living there, complete with hand churned butter and fresh pumpkin soup. From there we wandered through all the prize winning fruits, veggies, flowers, crafts and more. Some were very interesting, some were amazing, and some I had no idea what they were supposed to be, but it was the first time I can remember seeing a 'best in show' squash.

We left the tents housing the awards and checked out the 'fair' part, although we avoided the carnival games and rides and instead focused on the Renaissance aspects, with Alyssa enjoying spinning her own wool, while I watched archery and sword fighting demonstrations. Next up was frog jumping, as the pig wrestling event was canceled. We sat on a fence and looked over the heads of the kids crowding around the ring, but quickly tired of the antics of the guy running the show, and didn't really see much in the way of actual frog jumping; It was more seeing kids volunteer and then be too scared to actually touch the frogs and toads and snakes that squirmed about.

A small jug of apple cider quenched our thirst at this point, and we went into the craft demonstration house, where we saw lots of locals teaching how to sew, knit, blow glass, scrapbook, photograph, bead, and pretty much any other craft you can imagine.

Last but not least we made our way to the corn maze, or the 'Amazing Maize Maze' as they call it. This year it was done in a Wizard of Oz theme, and the goal was to find all the puzzle pieces within to form a map and to also find all the clues and use them to answer a variety of questions. All in the shortest amount of time possible of course. Alyssa and I did manage to find them all in the end (although it took a little extra encouragement from me for us to backtrack to find the last piece of the map) and we made it through in just under 50 minutes.

At this point we'd had enough and left the farm to head home. On the way, however, we espied a teacher shop where we stopped and Alyssa loaded up on all varieties of posters, borders, and other goodies. Then it was home for real, and I later headed off to my first soccer game of the fall season (which we won).

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Sunday, September 16, 2007
A full day of food related events
 
Although rain was forecast for Saturday morning, it was supposed to clear up later on, and Alyssa and I decided that we needed to go out and do something. The only question was what to do. We were stumped, but I eventually came up with the idea to head down to the Chelsea Markets. The plans slowly evolved from there, as I saw an article about the Kitchen High Line Block Party, which was starting at noon on 19th St. between 10th and 11th Ave.

We made our way down to Chelsea from the Upper East Side, waited far too long for a bus to get across town and took the subway down to 23rd St. and 8th Ave. We walked over to the Block Party and found that it was mainly geared towards kids, with lots of finger painting, mask and puppet making and a reptile petting zoo, although we did manage to grab an olive twist from a little stand before we departed.

The Chelsea Market was just a few blocks away and we wasted no time taking in the sights, smells, and sounds of lots of wonderful bakeries, greengrocers, and a variety of other specialty shops filled with cheese, wine, oils and other miscellaneous goods. We eventually made our way to a tea shop located near the back of the building and had a delightful spot of tea (right around tea time even!) A summer berry mix for me and a soothingly refreshing mint for Alyssa, although we decided to get them iced given the nice weather out.

We exited out the back door, onto 15th St. and 10th Ave. and from there we headed down to 14th St. We nosed about in Bodum, which Alyssa dubbed the Ikea of kitchen supplies due to their unique designs, although they are definitely a little more upscale than the traditional Ikea. We also popped into a few of the designer stores along 14th and enjoyed browsing the luxury items therein.

Further ambling along 14th brought us to Balducci's, where we found yummy free samples, bought delicious desserts to keep us going, and I even found a jar of golden syrup, which I hadn't found anywhere since Australia. It will definitely come in handy next time I make ANZAC biscuits.

A quick stop at the bank and Barnes and Noble and we were on our way home again, briefly, before we wandered around looking for a good place for dinner. We eventually settled on V*NYL, after hopes for hibachi were dashed by a closed restaurant. Then it was a nice walk home and eventually a good night sleep -lots of good food, lots of fun.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007
An addendum
 
Just as a little follow up to last nights performance, there were also several notable encores performed, including, in the first encore, the main theme from Sugarland Express, Williams' first collaboration with Steven Spielberg, as well as a film montage of various Olympics' set to score that Williams wrote. The second encore was a full performance of the NBC Nightly News theme, entitled "The Mission".

Also, the second half was actually a collaborative juncture with Stanley Donen, which consisted of a number of clips from his films aired in conjunction with the orchestra performing the scores.

It was an amazing performance overall, and I couldn't have asked for a more enjoyable evening.

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Friday, September 14, 2007
A night at the orchestra, even if it isn't under the stars
 
I'm headed to the Philharmonic this evening with Alyssa and 100 of our closest friends (a whole big group of Northwestern people). It should be an exciting evening as John Williams will be conducting and there will be a variety of fun pieces from a number of his best known compositions, as well as some less known pieces. I missed out on the opportunity to see him last year (although I have seen him conduct a concert in Central Park a number of years ago).

And if you are interested, below is the set list.

Williams: Sound the Bells!
Williams: "Flight to Neverland" from Hook
Williams: Suite from Jane Eyre
Williams: Three Pieces from Harry Potter
Hedwig's Theme
Aunt Marge's Waltz
Harry's Wondrous World
Bock/arr. Williams: Excerpts from Fiddler on the Roof
Whiting/arr. Williams: "Hooray for Hollywood"
A Tribute to Stanley Donen
Lane: "You're All the World to Me" from Royal Wedding
DePaul: "Bless Your Beautiful Hide" from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Previn: "I Like Myself" from It's Always Fair Weather
Fain: "The Worry Song" from Anchors Aweigh
Brown: "Singin' in the Rain"
Williams: Sayuri's Theme from Memoirs of a Geisha
Williams: A Tribute to George Lucas and Steven Spielberg

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Saturday, September 08, 2007
Half ferris wheel, Half Mini Coaster
 
I went to Coney Island earlier today with a bunch of MeFi people. Although initially underwhelmed, it turned into a fun afternoon as we went on the Wonder Wheel, rode the bumper cars, and dipped our feet in the water as we walked along the beach. Of course, what visit to Coney Island would be complete without a trip to Nathan's as well.

After we had our fill of the parks, we moseyed down the boardwalk and made our way to Tatiana's, a Russian restaurant right on the boardwalk, where we had a delicious meal. Of course, I wasn't quite sure what I was ordering, but that was just incidental - the meaty salad was delicious, and I hope I can remember what it was for the next time I find myself in Russia, unsure of what to eat.

This was my first trip to Coney Island, and hopefully it won't be my last, but the impending development may lead to the tearing down of some parts of this iconic NYC location. Although it doesn't seem like much when you walk from subway towards the park entrances, there is a surprisingly fun crowd bathed in a mood of enchantment that envelops you as you walk through the gates.

For those inclined, some pictures of the day can be found here on Flickr.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Once more into the breach
 
So another year has come and gone, and I'm definitely feeling a little older now (as I have been for the last few weeks). It's odd to think that I'm now the age so many of my Aussie friends were when we met, and even stranger to think that it's nearly 4 years since I met some of them. Time certainly does go by.

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