oxymoron67: (history)
Barring the Board of Trustees turning it down, I got the promotion. I will hear if (and only if) the BoT turns it down.

So, as of Sept 1st, I will be Senior Non-Instructional Instructional Staff.

Meantime, I spent the day geeking out...
I had fun! )
oxymoron67: (Default)
The New York City Fire Museum

I've never been here before, and it wasn't really that difficult for me to get to, so I decided to go.

It's housed in an old Firehouse on Spring St between Varrick and Hudson and admission is $8 for adults.

Inside are lots of fire engines and pumps, from as early as 1820. Many of the old (hand operated) pumps were interesting, because of how they operated. Rather than an up and down action, a few used a side to side pumping method. Even after the write-ups explained it, I found these ones a little confusing.

There were also uniforms, medals and other artifacts that showed the history of firefighting in NYC, from the volunteer companies pre-1865 through today. It was interesting. I'd never thought about the development of such things before.

Major tragedies were also discussed. 9/11 has its own room as does The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. The Great Fire of 1835 was discussed as were others.

Interesting.

One room had an Elmo Fire Safety video. I wasn't interested in that, as Elmo annoys me. Of course, I'm not in his target audience.

Totally worth the $8. Also, I took my sweet time and I was there for under two hours.
oxymoron67: (Gay Army)
Technically, it should have started tomorrow, but I decided to go to The Museum of the City of New York today.
And some other things. )
oxymoron67: (Default)
I was on The Hispanic Society's website last night, and they still seem to have a few things under construction, so I decided to change plans and head to The Transit Museum in Brooklyn.

It's easy to get to. I didn't get lost.

Though I cheated. I have GPS on my phone now.

It's housed in an old subway station, so you go down the subway stairs to get in.* The stairs and the hallway leading to the museum are about as poorly lit as real subway entrances, adding a sense of verite to the proceedings.

Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for students, children and senior citizens.

It was great!

The first exhibit was on the construction of the subway system back in the early 20th Century. They had lots of photos and equipment from the period on display. Some of that equipment, primarily the surveying equipment, was set up so that children (these were not at an adult's eye level) could see through them.

Didn't stop me. I bent over.

They also discussed the various types of jobs and the dangers involved in them.

They had mock ups of cases of dynamite and those plunger detonator things ... you know, like Wile E. Coyote uses.

To give an idea of the back breaking nature of the work, they had wheelbarrows filled with rocks that you could lift. Workers had to empty fifty of these a day.

From there, the museum had an exhibit on how different types of power plants generate electricity (lots of hands on stuff here and flashing lights. Great fun.). From there, the museum described how electricity is delivered to where it is used.

These exhibits were informative and interesting and set up in way that both kids and adults would love.

The next exhibit dealt with the above ground public transportation in NYC, particularly the streetcars. There were mockups of subway cars and buses, where you could sit and rest or have your picture taken while you pretend to drive.

Finally. there was a small exhibit on the development of the turnstiles.

It was a fun little trip... it's not a big museum, goodness knows, I took my sweet time and I was there for a little under two hours.

I loved this. Lots of fun.

*I did not notice any handicapped accessible way into the Transit Museum, which is the only black mark against it.
oxymoron67: (Default)
I'm doing better... though I'm still coughing and my throat is still a little sore... so I decided to haul my consumptive ass to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It was packed. It *IS* Spring Break here, after all.

I wanted to go to the newly-reopened American Wing, where the museum had just finished renovating something like 20 galleries.

Along the way to The American Wing, I got distracted and ended up wandering through the Rococo Decorative Arts (I saw a flash of turquoise and had to investigate) galleries for a short time and then the Medieval Art displays (they had Francis I of France's Book of Hours on display).

I did end up getting to the American Wing. I did not go through even half of it. I saw some portraiture, which was very well done -- quite a bit from John Singer Sargent, and a few other paintings, primary among them Washington Crossing the Delaware.

That painting is MASSIVE. It takes up an entire wall.

But the majority of the galleries I explored involved furnishings and decorative arts. Almost all of it was from before 1800.

I know they have more recent things there, but I started at the 18th century end of things.

There was a great deal of silversmithy work on display, including Paul Revere Ware. Most of the items were engraved, many in Dutch.

From there, I explored two galleries that displayed furniture and cabinetry as individual items. Lots of amazing work.

Then I went through three? four? period rooms, including a living room, a dining room and a library. The period rooms have a touch screen station that explains the various pieces in the room.

Finally, I spent about fifteen minutes just sitting in the statue court in front of the American Wing watching people go by. the families were fascinating: seeing who was interested and who didn't care. A lot of the kids were into it... sometimes more than their parents.

From there, I stopped at the gift store and left.

A fun afternoon!
oxymoron67: (Default)
... due to allergies.

I woke up coughing and hacking at around 4 am. After trying to get back to sleep while coughing, I just gave up and stayed awake until things subsided and crashed around 6:00 am.

My throat is irritated and (this is why I think it's allergies), my sinus passages are stuffed up and tender. This NEVER happens to me. When I get a cold, I almost always get an ear infection to go with it.

Before you ask, I'm not taking anything because just about all of those medications wipe me out. I'd rather be alert, even if I do sound consumptive.

Anyway, not a lot of things were open today, so it's all good. I'll figure out what to do tomorrow, well, tomorrow.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Today, I went to the Museum of the Moving Image for a Short Subject Documentary Festival.

All the docs were directed by Michaelangelo Antonioni (director of Blow Up, among other things) and done at the very beginning of his career -- most were done in the mid- to-late 40's.

They were introduced by a film scholar from Yale whose specialty is early-Soviet era documentaries. His talk was informative and interesting, but about five minutes too long.

Of the docs, the most interesting for me were:

People of the Po River. This was Antonioni's first film, about the people who live in Italy's Po River valley. It was produced in 1943, a time of hardship (WWII and all), but I got the feeling that the grinding poverty the movie showed was there before the war. Life on the river was hard: either you hauled things along the river in a barge that also served as the family home or you were a fisherman on the marshes, which flooded with every storm.

Grim.

Superstition: This was about, well, superstitions in rural Italy.

N. U.: This was about street sweepers: they're lives as street sweepers and garbage pickers. One group had a small pig farm, and the pigs fed on, among other things, the trash that had been collected.

The one about photo-stories. In the 40's and 50's in Italy, lots of people bought magazines featuring actors and actresses photographed while the story played out. This doc (whose name I forget) discussed how these magazines were made, that ir would take over 200 photos to tell some stories, and it discussed the life of one the male stars, who did this on the side, but was also a mechanic.

I didn;t get to see all of the documentaries, I had to leave early because I couldn't stop coughing and didn;t want to disturb the other moviegoers, but still, an interesting way to spend an afternoon.
oxymoron67: (history)
I went to the Whitney Museum of American Art today.
Geekery ahoy! )
oxymoron67: (snoopy)
I started today by heading to Brooklyn.
Two places. )
oxymoron67: (Default)
I originally wanted to go to the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, which are next door, but I didn't sleep well last night and woke up extra late, so I went to the much closer American Museum of Natural History.

I rejoined, as my original membership expired today. My new membership allows me to bring a guest with me So I'll be dragging people there for the frogs, which are going to there until January.

Anyway, I spent time in the Earth and Space areas. The volcano and earthquake sections are particularly well done. They have plenty of specimens: the lava pillows were especially cool. As were the lava vents. The descriptions of how fault lines form and how they deform rocks was neat.

Many of the displays here are multimedia. Some have interviews streaming, others, computer screens that let the visitor pick the topic they want to learn more about. The exhibits straddled the line between kid appeal and adult appeal incredibly well. (Something the planetarium in Chicago DID NOT DO when I visited there.)

From there, I went to the Pacific Coast Indian section. It's under construction, but I spent a great deal of time in the Haida section. The Haida, among other things, carved things from shale. Everything from plates and bowls to miniature totem poles. One case contained masks, used in rituals. My favorites? The bird mask, because the bird has a really calm look on its face and the mask representing Death, which was a man with an exceptionally hairy face. It reminded me of Animal from the Muppets, but with brown hair.

The sawdust and construction noise got to me as I was about to enter the Tlingit section, so I left.

Lastly, I went to the Hall of Marine Life. I didn't spend a lot of time there, because, by then, it was pushing 3:30, and I hadn't eaten all day. So, I left and grabbed a hot dog from a street vendor and went home.

Now, I'm planning on the Brooklyn trip tomorrow.
oxymoron67: (history)
Geek Week II got off to a late start, what with the weather and all.

I started with a trip to El Museo del Barrio. I've wanted to go there for a while, but for whatever reason I thought it was impossible to get to. Then I realized that it was right across the street from the Museum of the City of New York, and I go there all the freaking time.


The Museo has its Biennial Exhibit up. It celebrates contemporary art in the Latino community here in the U.S. as well as in Latin America. Since it's contemporary art, some of it is spectacular or at least interesting and some of it is... um... disappointing. The highlights? The wearable sculpture made out of a boom box and other things.

At first, I wasn't impressed. As sculptures go, it wasn't all that. But as a MASK, well, that was cool.

Another artist took used rubber (from tires) to make statues. They were interesting: they were made to look like trophies, but because they were made out of black rubber, they were all kind of sinister and slumping.

One last artists made portraits of George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama and JFK on brown paper bags and then crumpled them. The point (and this one I understood immediately, I didn't need to read the blurb) was that the media and politics package people, uses them and then crumples them up and tosses them.

If you go to the Museo, stop in at the cafe. IT;s excellent. I had empanadas stuffed with a Bolivian recipe and an Argentinian chicken dish.

After the Museo, I crossed the street and stopped in at the Museum of the City of New York. They only had one new exhibit up, so I didn't stay long. That exhibit? It was about the World Trade Center and 9/11 in pictures. It was a small exhibition, but excellent. The photos included everything from photos of the construction of the towers to photos in their heyday to the attacks and the aftermath to graffiti tributes.

Excellent. Well worth the visit.

Tomorrow? I don't know. Maybe the Brooklyn Museum and the Botanical Gardens.
oxymoron67: (Gay Army)
I met up with my friend the soap opera writer (FSOW) to visit The Museum of the City of New York (MCNY).

Lots of fun! )
oxymoron67: (Default)
I went to The Museum of the Moving Image today.

I am direction challenged, so by all rights, since the museum is:

1) someplace I've never been to
2) in a neighborhood I'm not terribly familiar with (Astoria)
3) and it was a gross, humid, rainy day

I should still be wandering around Astoria totally lost.

If you don't believe me, here is an example of what happened in Atlanta:

At any rate, after the plenary, the conference organizers scheduled a coffee break. (These people did scheduling right: one or two sessions, then a break for food and relaxation.) I was scheduled to give my first presentation, "Expanding the Speech Center's Role" after the coffee break.

Given my remarkable lack of direction sense, I decided to skip the coffee and just head out to the building where the presentations were taking place. It was only three blocks away, but I figured I could use the extra time.

I'm glad I did this. I managed to get lost. Twice. The first time, I was walking thinking that these were awfully long blocks when I came upon the Georgia State's bus station and the Georgia capitol building. I checked my map. Neither of these appeared on my map.

So, I turned around and went back. Making a different turn, I walked past three parking garages. Fortunately, I didn't walk quite as far this time, because I remembered that, according to the map, the parking garages were in the exact opposite direction of the building.

As a result, a five minute walk became a forty-five minute walk. I got there just on time.


Anyway, I didn't get lost at all. I think it helped that the bus dropped me off exactly two blocks away, and I could see it.

It's a cool place. Be forewarned, the ground floor is WHITE. WHITEWHITEWHITE. WHITE.

WHITE

In two weeks, a muppets exhibit opens there. So, I'll be going back. The regular installations were fun: many, like the sound effects and animations were hands-on (you got to make your own animated short!) and they had all this equipment from the 1910s to now.

The main point of the permanent exhibit was to show what goes on behind the scenes: they started with the heavy equipment, from cameras to sound recorders to TVs. Then there was a wall of photographs of major performers. Finally, there were displays on costuming, special effects and make-up. They also had old-fashioned video games: pong, space invaders, defender (I used to be good at that game. Boy I sucked.)

It was fun. A great way to spend an afternoon,
oxymoron67: (Default)
Okay... the other things I wanted to do were closed, and The Queen Museum of Art is a giant pain in the ass to get to.

I've wanted to go to Socrates Sculpture Park for a while now, so I went today.

Of course, getting here isn't easy either: the park is on the ass end of Astoria. Fortunately, it is right across the street from the Noguchi, so I already knew how to get there.

It was a warm day, and there was a little breeze off the river. There was plenty of shade, too, so I hung out for a while and walked through the park, looking at the sculptures. Most were interesting. Also did some people watching: families and couples were there, wandering around, enjoying the weather.

Also, a food market was there. Had I brought money, I would have bought some of the fresh fruit (the plums looked scrumptious) and the local honey. Looked good.

Then I went back home. Apparently the sun and heat took a lot out of me, because I took a long nap and then went to dinner with a friend.

So, a good day. Tomorrow, I'm thinking about the Museum of the Moving Image.
oxymoron67: (reading)
I have a four day weekend, so I'm turning it into a mini-geek week.

Today, I did two things.

1) The Zodiac Heads
At Pulitzer Fountain, on Fifth Ave between 58th and 59th streets in Manhattan, 12 heads, each one representing an animal from the Chinese Zodiac have been installed.

The artist's name is Ai Weiwei. At the time of the installation, he was detained by Chinese authorities, and no one really knew where he was. On June 22, he was released.

They are really neat. I took pictures. They will be up in the coming days, either here or on my tumblr.

From there, I went to the main branch of the NYC Public Library on 42nd St. and Fifth Ave. If you are ever in town, you should visit the library. Exhibits are almost always on, and the building itself is beautiful.

Just make sure you don't have to go to the bathroom while you're there, as the restrooms are on the ass ends of the building.

The exhibit on display now? The 100th Anniversary of the library's opening. It takes up two exhibit halls and is wonderful. It highlights the collection: things like cuneiform tablets and cones, a Gutenberg Bible, Audobon illustrations, typewriters owned by famous authors, a diorama used to develop the staging of Sunday in the Park with George... all sorts of things.

No photography allowed.

This exhibit had plenty of seating. When I sat down to people watch and just rest a minute, I noticed that the benches were all directly against air-conditioning units. Sitting there, I was literally 10 degrees cooler than I was anywhere else.

The other exhibit room highlighted the books written or researched at the library and the library's appearances in TV, movies and literature.

Cool.

Go see this if you can. The library is free.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Photos from my adventures can be found at my brand spanking new tumblr:

I hope you enjoy!

Now, I'm heading out to dinner with friends.
oxymoron67: (stalking)
For the finale, I decided to go to The Frick.

I adore The Frick.

NYC has certain spaces that lend themselves to quiet contemplation, which, in this bustling city, is welcome.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has two: The Temple of Dendur and Astor Court. I suppose you could count the Sculpture Court, but it tends to be a little too busy for me. The Assyrian court could count, too, I suppose, except, of course, that I know the history of Assyrians... they were a scary, violent people, so that dampens that feeling for me. The man-purse wielding genies don't help.

The gardens at The Cloisters is another one, as are both the Cathedrals of St. John the Divine and St. Patrick's. I'm told that a small Catholic church in Morningside Heights, Notre Dame, has a grotto devoted to Our Lady of Lourdes. I'm guessing that works, too. I'll know when I visit in the coming months.

The first floor hall at the Public Library also does this for me. It is busy, but everyone there is hushed. It *IS* a library, after all.

The Frick's indoor garden is one as well. I've just sat there and watched the world go by. It's a wonderful place, and one of the main reasons I go. The Frick also has three VerMeers, out of only thirty-four, a beautiful winterscape done by Monet (odd, because Frick didn't like the Impressionists) and assorted works by many European greats.

I did not know that there was a Rembrandt exhibition there. But it was amazing. While they only showed three? four? of his paintings (and one or two done by his students), they displayed lots of drawings, studies and etchings. While Rembrandt was the focus, his contemporaries (both artists he studied under and those who studied under him) were also displayed.

Unfortunately, part of the museum was closed off for renovations (I guess, they didn't explain) and many of the paintings were not on display.

Still, well worth going.
oxymoron67: (history)
I got a late start today.

After all, I'm on break... so I slept in.

Since it is Good Friday, I decided to avoid places of Christian worship, like St. Partick's or this small church (Notre Dame) that has a grotto dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes. I'm a sucker for a grotto. Why avoid these places? One: it's a Holy Day, lots of services. And Catholic Good Friday services are long and painful: we do the audience participation Passion; the priest decides that, since the church is more crowded than usual hell give an extra long sermon, reminding those who rarely go to mass precisely WHY they rarely go to mass; and then we get to go kiss Christ's feet and share germs!

Good Friday services... not my favorite.

I also decided to avoid religious places because it feels unseemly to me, to be visiting a place as a tourist while a service is going on.

Fortunately, NYC has plenty to do.

Anyway. I first went to The Museum of the City of New York. Here, I saw a portion of their toy collection. These toys were all toys of transportation: miniature cars, wagons, ships and trains. My favorite was a horse and buggy. On the side of the buggy was emblazoned what this buggy sold: Whips and Cigars.

That... seems like an odd combination to me.

From there, I went to the New York Interiors exhibit. This shows six rooms from six different time periods: early colonial, Revolutionary War, Early American, Civil War Era, Gilded Age and early 20th Century.

From here, I saw the exhibit on Joel Grey and NYC. Not just a performer, Grey is also a published photographer. They posted the highlights of his photography on the walls, and also had some items from his collection (like his Oscar) on display.

Finally, I saw the documentary about the city. Its narrated by Stanley Tucci and is about 25 minutes long. Worth it. I see this every time I visit.

Then, I left.

When I got to Grand Central Station, I decided to stop into the Transit Museum Annex. The actual Transit Museum is in Brooklyn, but it has a small space in Grand Central for special exhibitions. The Annex is also free.

The exhibition here was on the history and future of Penn Station. Penn Station is gong to be remodeled in the coming years. It sorely needs it, as anyone who has ever been lost in that labyrinth can tell you.

The exhibit was neat, discussing how the people who ran the Pennsylvania Railroad came to the conclusion that they had to connect NYC to the rest of their rails, and then deciding to build tunnels to do it and build a huge structure over the tunnels. The engineering involved, as well as the demolition of the original station were also discussed.

Cool.

Then I came home.

Tomorrow: Geek Week reaches its inevitable conclusion!
oxymoron67: (Default)
I changed my mind about what I wanted to do today.

I found out that The Cathedral of St. John the Divine had recently finished remodeling (after a fire). So I decided, this being Holy Week and all, that I should go see it. Really, Friday, being Good Friday, would be a bad choice to visit a church for sightseeing purposes, so today was the best day for it.

Next to the cathedral is a small park where the Peace Fountain is located. It's an interesting statue, with lots of smaller carvings and statues around it. Some are dedicated to people or concepts. One small installation was Noah's Ark. Neat.

The outside of the place is imposing. The cathedral is huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge. It's apparently the largest cathedral in the world. After taking pictures of the outside, I went in. They suggested a donation of $5. Fine by me.

I spent two hours in the cathedral and on the grounds, though mostly in the cathedral itself.

It is in the main part of the cathedral, there were side altars, dedicated to various groups of people: firemen and victims of AIDS, for example.

Then, behind the altar are several side chapels, dedicated to various saints, including St Ambrose, St. Martin of Tours and St. Columba. St. Columba's chapel was, to my mind, the most interesting. The altarpiece looked like it was done by Keith Haring, the man who did the artwork for the AIDS charities. The chapel was white and the stained glass was an interesting grey and blue.

The stained glass in general was amazing.

Another highlight is Poets' Corner, which has plaques celebrating various American writers. It;s primarily dedicated to poets, with people like William Carlos Williams, John Greenleaf Whittier, Anne Bradstreet, Phillis Wheatly, and Sylvia Plath (among others) memorialized there.

But not everyone memorialized there is a poet, unless Mark Twain, Edith Wharton and Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote poetry.

They may have. I don't think they did, though.

Anyway.

After that, I left.

Understand, I love cathedrals. They just feel like sacred spaces to me. I sat down to just bask in the feeling, and just stare amazed at the beauty of the place, twice.

The cathedral didn't have pews. It had sturdy wooden chairs. Not extremely comfortable sturdy wooden chairs. I'd've preferred the pews.

Still, a staggeringly beautiful place. It's a bit of a jaunt to get to... it's in Morningside Heights, off the beaten path, though I saw one of the tour bus companies drop people off there, so clearly people visit.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Today, I went to The Paley Center for Media.

When you enter the Paley, you pay $10, and given a list of things that they are showing in their theaters. Also, on the ground floor, they have a room for rotating exhibitions.

The ground floor room contained two exhibits: a Paley Center tribute to comics on television (with a lot of clips of routines of comedians on the Tonight Show) and an exhibit on photography in the Crimea.

That room was... jarring. The two screens showcasing the comics were nestled amidst images from the Crimea. Unlike peanut butter cups, there were not two tastes that taste great together. I'm not saying that either one was bad, just that I couldn't really get into them because the juxtaposition just didn't work. Whoever put this room together was CLEARLY not thinking.

Then I went to the theater, where I saw the last fifteen minutes or so of a tribute to the teenage years on TV. I came in when they were talking about graduating high school.

While the clips were amusing (and they stretched from the early days in TV until the early 2000s), I get tired of hearing about how wonderful high school was and how graduation was so bitter sweet.

Because in my experience, not so much.

The thing is, when I was actually IN high school, I couldn't have told you why I was so miserable there (besides the whole "gay fat geek in a mill town" thing, and honestly while I knew I was gay, I hadn't really admitted it to myself yet.).

Then I went to the Pre-College program at CMU between my junior and senior years of high school. Then I understood. BEtween not fitting in and my mother (and earlier, my grandmother) working at my schools, I had very little freedom. Everything I did was watched over VERY closely. It was a very oppressive environment.

At CMU, I had lots of freedom.

Of course, after that, I returned to high school. My senior year? Super miserable because I KNEW why I hated it there.

Anyway, I don't think of graduation as a bittersweet thing. It was totally sweet. I've never looked back.

So,,, issues...

After that, they showed another Paley Center-produced show, this one on women in comedy in television. This was the third Paley Center production they showed (the comics and the teenage ones were also Paley productions). It felt kind of masturbatory.

I'm not saying that they were bad.. they were actually quite good. Just... well... they have a massive library of things, why not show those things, and not clip shows?

The women in Comedy show went from Grace Allen to (sigh) Debbie Allen, who can be in all these specials as long as she never, ever choreographs another Oscar Show ever. It included clips from shows from the 50's up to the nineties, when this was produced.

I mean, Jasmine Guy was on this show... JASMINE GUY. When was the last time anyone thought of her?

After this, they showed a documentary about the early TV performances of Elvis Presley. It was okay... I mean, left about fifteen minutes in: the seats were a little too close together and got uncomfortable after a while.

From there, I decided to go to Madison Square Park. Why? It has an area for kids and lots of families go there. Also, people walk there dogs through the place. Prime people watching. Also, the four corners of the park have statues:

1) Admiral David Farragut, hero of the Battle of Mobile Bay
2) Chester Alan Arthur, the 21st President of the United States
3) William H. Seward, Secretary of State under Lincoln and Johnson. Seward bought Alaska, "Seward's Folly"
4) Representative and Senator Roscoe Conkling, who collapsed in a blizzard at that very spot.

Then I came home.

Tomorrow? I'm figuring on going to The Roehrich Museum and maybe one or two other places in that neighborhood.

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