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: (Default)
Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] mountain_hiker at Live long and prosper

Barack Obama and Nichelle Nichols (Nyota Uhura from Star Trek, in case you don't know)



So cool!
oxymoron67: (snoopy)
When I visit the family here in Pittsburgh, we tend to do one or two geeky things.

Today, for example, we visited one of America's truly great museums, The Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

It wasn't crowded. There were people about, but it wasn't particularly crowded. Lots of families.

We started in the geology section, which after giving an overview of continental drift and the various layers of the earth (there is an "elevator" that does that), the focused narrowed to the geology of Western Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvanian Era, which is when many of the cola deposits here started to form.

From there, we visited the SPECTACULAR Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems. I hadn't been there since they remodeled it. This hall not only has some amazing pieces of rock and crystals, it also discusses how crystals are formed, and things like fluorescence and phosphoresence.

From there, we went to the Wertz Hall of Jewelry, which was great. The display case of amber peices was wonderful, as was the one devoted to jade.

Next up was the dinosaur hall. No visit to the Carnegie is complete without a visit to the dinos. I love the computer stuff that they;ve added, though I have to admit, I miss the giant mural of T-Rex.

From there, we visited the Hall of North American Mammals, which was neat. Then we briefly stopped in the Evolution exhibit and cruised down the Hall of Birds and Random Crap* on our way to the Egyptian rooms.

After Egypt, we went to the Polar Life (located, ironically, right across from the Egyptian stuff) and American Indian halls.

We ended the day in Architecture Hall. I could spend hours in Architecture Hall. It is filled with plaster castings of ancient and medieval pieces. My favorite is tucked away in a corner. It's the tomb of the last independent Duke of Brittany, Francis II, and his wife Marguerite de Foix. Around the tomb are small carved statues of the apostles. (You can tell which one is which because they're there with their symbols: Peter with his heys, John and the cup and snake, etc.)

On top of the tomb are the effigies of the duke and duchess and a statue of a dog, which holds the heraldry of the duchess and a statue of a lion holding the heraldic symbols of the Dukes of Brittany.

The last duke of Brittany had one surviving child, Anne of Brittany, who married the king of France. Only two daughters survived from that marriage, so one of them was married to the next king of France, a cousin. That;s how Brittany became part of the crown possessions of France.

Then we left.

Great fun.

BIRTHDAY!

Jul. 28th, 2011 03:43 pm
oxymoron67: (snoopy)
I took the day off from work, and the following happened.

1) I went to the National Museum of the American Indian, where I saw an exhibit of a Tlingit artist's works in glass and part of the Infinity of Nations display.

The glass scultpures were quite something. Most of them depicted traditional Tlingit motifs. A few looked like wood more than glass. I think my favorite ones were the vases that, when light was shone on them, cast a shadow in the pattern of wolves and ravens.

The Inifnity of Nations display is the permanent exhibit there. It's well worth going through. I got about halfway through when a small herd of kids at day camp and their overwhelmed counselors came in. I left.

It's okay, I've been through Infinity of Nations before. I highly recommend this museum. It's easy to get to (take the 4 or 5 train to Bowling Green, take the escalator out of the subway station, turn right AND IT'S THERE.

Seriously, I found it on my first try, and I can get lost crossing the street.

2) From there, I had sushi for lunch. Mmmmm.

3) Next up, I went to Lincoln Center to check out the Irish and the Arts exhibit at the branch of the New York Public Library there. It was great. As I entered, I saw an eighteen minute clip show running. This clip show included pieces from Irish plays and a few dance numbers, including a brief Riverdance number.

Which was odd, as Riverdance was also featured later on.

One was was coated in plyabills and posters featuring plays and movies written by Irish people (or their descendants). Another wall was covered in sheet music (some from the 19th century).

Various costumes and musical instruments were also there. A great exhibition!

4) I decided to go see Deathly Hollows 2, which was really good.

5) Dinner at Les Sans Cullottes. I was told that when you go to this restaurant, they give you some suasages, a bowl of pate and a bowl of Bearnaise sauce and a basket of produce.

My friends were not entirely honest. It was a ridiculous amount of sausages. Enough pate for three or four people, and an enormous basket of produce, including some delicious canteloupe, carrots, Roma tomoatoes and cauliflower.

If you order an entree, the rack o'sausage and big basket of produce are free.

I had the shrimp cauteed in a white wine sauce along with zucchini, onions and red and yellow bell peppers. I thought about getting the steak, but it's the summer, and I wanted something lighter.

Dinner includes dessert. So I had the chocolate mousse, which was excellent.

So overall, a great day.
oxymoron67: (history)
Yesterday, I went back to Discovery Times Square for the Pompeii exhibit. Scott wanted to see it, and I enjoyed it the first time, so I didn't mind seeing it again.

To change things up, when I made our reservations, I threw down the extra $7 per person for the audio tour.

Anyway.

Scott was late, which isn't unusual, but it was because the train he was on was delayed. It's okay: we still got there in time, though we got wet, as it was raining.

Discovery Times Square has timed tickets. We made reservations for 6:00, so we had between six and six thirty to get there.

The exhibit was just as good as I remembered, though, trust me, you can skip the audio tour. The adult audio tour was filled with people who would just talk and talk and talktalktalk. Of course, one of the narrators had the last name of Growcock, so every time he was introduced, I had to giggle.

The "family" audio tour was better. We followed the lives of Portia and her son, Lucius, as they traveled through Pompeii. Portia's husband was a fisherman and was off at work.

Still... not worth the trouble.

The exhibit itself was not particularly crowded, and we took our sweet time.

From there, we went to La Mediterranee, a French restaurant and piano bar, where we had a magnificent meal. We both had vichysoisse, and he had the striped bass while I had the salmon dijoinaisse, which was served on a bed of sauteed spinach, with some grilled tomato slices. Dessert was chocolate mousse.

Mmmmmmmmm.

Today is a low energy day, so I'm taking the day off from my Adventures in Cultural Elitism.
oxymoron67: (reading)
For the next month plus, I'm working four day weeks. I get Fridays off, which means BONUS GEEKINESS!

Today, for example, I went to the American Museum of Natural History. I wanted to see a dinosaur thing that they have and one (really ANY) of their documentaries. Also, I wanted to wander around the place, because I almost never get to do that.

Well, I didn't get to do that today, either.

I did get to see a documentary on stars and outer space, which I realized that I had seen before at the very end. Since all I remembered was the final shot, watching it again wasn't a bad thing. It was cool. Lots of pretty colors.

The documentary itself was about the anatomy and life cycle of stars narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, who wouldn't have been my first choice for this sort of thing... her voice can be grating, but she did a good job.

I didn't do the dinosaur thing... I'll get to it, its there until January.

Why? Because they had an exhibit on FROGS! Live frogs!

I couldn't resist.

This wasn't like the butterfly room, where you walked among the butterflies. The frogs and toads were kept in terrariums, which makes sense. Butterflies um... fly, whereas Frogs and toads just hop. There would be much stepping on them... also many of the Poison Arrow frogs were represented, so, you know, poison.

It's a kick ass exhibit. The terrariums are spaced out well throughout the exhibit, interspersed with interactive exhibits about how frogs hunt, leap (the skeletal structure thing was neat) and reproduce. Along one wall, a map of the Earth was posted, along with where the AMNH sent biologists on frogging expeditions. Some of the places made sense: Colombia, Madagascar, Argentina... but there was also an expedition to study amphibians in the desert regions of Mali.

Apparently those frogs dig tunnels to escape the dry heat. Other frogs shed layers of skin, which insulate them from the heat.

Threats to frogs were also discussed: a fungus that wipes out entire populations was mentioned. In fact, when they realized that this fungus was heading to Panama, scientists flew there to collect as many frogs as they could so that they could preserve (and hopefully reintroduce) the species.

They returned several months later to discover that the frogs had been almost totally wiped out.

Scary.

The terrariums were fun. Most of the frogs were resting when I was there, and many were hiding. Finding them was fun. Some cases had dozens of (farm grown) frogs, others had one or two. Apparently some mating had occured because a few tanks had tadpoles swimming around.

The big terrarium in the center had cameras mounted at a few points, and you could zoom in on various places to get a close-up of the frogs there. This was one of two terrariums with the Poison Arrow frogs. They're popular because they're so colorful.

Going through this exhibit took me about 40 minutes, and I didn't hurry. It's not a huge exhibit, but it is packed with information and fun. I cannot recommend it enough.

Also, I was told the butterflies are coming back in October.
oxymoron67: (reading)
I met up with friends ([livejournal.com profile] warriorsavant and his sister) at the Museum of American Folk Art.

[livejournal.com profile] warriorsavant was in NYC and wanted to do something geeky, and, let's be honest, if I'm not NYC's one-stop shop for geekiness, who is?

I suggested the Folk Art Museum because this branch is closing due to financial concerns (and MoMA is buying it, so they can screw up the climate control of another building. YAY!

Also, they were showing part two of their Quilts Extravanganza.

We went through the whole museum and saw a=some amazing paintings, the most dour dolls EVER, and this wall painting that had bears, elephants and a troop of soldiers painting along the bottom. The first time I looked at it, I missed all the people and animals. You had to really look for them.

The collection of weathervanes was neat, too. This museum's collection is really offbeat and interesting. I need to find its Lincoln Square locations.

The main reason we were there, though, was the three floors of quilts. It was amazing. Unlike part one of the Quilting Extravaganza, which was organized chronologically, part two was organized more by techniques and styles of quilting. It was interesting, especially since both [livejournal.com profile] warriorsavant and his sister know a great deal about stitchery and quilting.

We didn't stop in the gift shop, which is just as well, since it's so expensive.

Great conversation was had. Then we went to dinner (Indian food -- delicious) and talked more.

Then we went our separate ways. I got back to my neighborhood, and since it was so nice out and it was dusk, I wandered around the neighborhood for a while.

If you can, go to the Museum of American Folk Art before the 53rd St. branch closes.

Today!

May. 21st, 2011 12:21 pm
oxymoron67: (Default)
Barring the Rapture, I will take today to watch some of my favorite TV shows.

I already watched my all-time favorite Project Runway episode: the menswear challenge wherein Carmen sends a model down the runway with NO SHIRT.

One of my favorite parts? Sweet P, whose outfit is also a disaster, was worried that she was going home for it, and Chris looks at her and all but says, "Carmen doesn't have a shirt. You're fine."

From there, I will watch some of my favorite Daria episodes and then maybe some variety of Law and Order or Criminal Minds. (By the way, the spinoff of Criminal Minds? So disappointing.)

I have to drop clothes off at the laundromat at some point, too.

Since my family seems to enjoy them, I'll probably make a few movies out of my photos of various museums and stuff. (The joys of iMovie.)
oxymoron67: (snoopy)
I went to The Museum of American Finance today.

It's on Wall Street, in what used to be the Bank of New York Building. It;s very easy to get to. Take the 2 or 3 train to Wall Street. Get off. As you exit the subway, the building is RIGHT THERE.

It's difficult to miss.

Admission is $8 and your ticket is a 10% off coupon in the gift shop. All of the exhibits are on the Mezzanine, which you get to by ascending a marble spiral staircase.

Anyway. I was there for the Alexander Hamilton exhibit. At opposite ends of the area, the curators placed statues of Aaron Burr and Hamilton with their pistols drawn for their duel. That was a nice touch.

Hamilton himself was the illegitimate some of a member of Scots aristocracy and a Huguenot woman. He was born int he West Indies (St. Kitts, I think). He started off as a clerk and worked his way up, moving to NYC. After witnessing the treatment of slaves where he grew up, Hamilton became an abolitionist. He was also our first Treasury Secretary.

All of this was done before he was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr. Hamilton was not yet fifty when he was killed.

The exhibit showed how Hamilton influenced trading and banking in the United States.

Cool.

Also cool were other exhibits. They had multimedia presentations on the development of the banking industry in America, as well as one on famous bank robbers, like Bonnie and Clyde and Willie Sutton.

All along one wall was a detailed timeline of the financial crisis that we're currently in.

One niche had a display on the development of money in the United States. from furs and shells up to our modern currency. Included here were Confederate Currency, currency issued by the colonies and the states (under the Articles of Confederation) and money issued by banks.

The niche next to it had a display about famous financial scandals, including the Teapot Dome and Credit Mobilier, WorldCom and Enron. At the end of this niche was a special display devoted to Ponzi schemes, including a section for Bernie Madoff.

A section is devoted to stock and commodities markets, which was also neat. Seeing the old stock certificates and learning the terms of commodities trading was cool.

A lot of people were there, though it wasn't crowded. A number of kids were there. Given how they were going from place to place with paper and pencil, I'm guessing that MoAF has some sort of kids' program. Which again, is cool.

Definitely worth a visit.

MoAF is two or three blocks away from Trinity Cathedral and, in between, is the Stock Exchange and the Federal Hall (where Washington was sworn in). It's very easy to make an afternoon out of those three blocks.
oxymoron67: (reading)
The Museum of Modern Art is buying the building that currently houses the Museum of American Folk Art.

Now, the Museum of American Folk Art won't close: it has galleries in Lincoln Center.

Still, I'm less than thrilled.

MoMA... I've been there three timnes and seen some amazing traveling exhibits there (on Matisse, Tim Burton and James Ensor), the climate control and the crwods have always gotten to me.

All three times I went to MoMA, I left soaked in sweat. Different times of year, so it's not that. Also, the crowds are quite something. Now crowds ar enot new in the places I frequent: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and ESPECIALLY The American Museum of Natural History are always busy.

But something about MoMA's crowds bugs me. The set up of the museum? I don't know.

Anyway, I'm sad that Folk Art people are moving. This means that I do have to rush there to see The American Quilts Part Two exhibit.

Meantime... join a few museums and, suddenly, you get on mailing lists. The Whitney (which specializes in 20th and 21st Century American Art) has sent me several fliers. I've been to the Whitney, and it has interesting stuff.

I may join. Who knows?
oxymoron67: (Default)
I saw Source Code and African Cats.
Spoilers, I suppose )
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: (Default)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

I was in grad school.

I had just bought my iMac, and bought some games for it. One was Sid Meier's Civilization II. Most of my friends loved the game, and I couldn't wait to try it.

Once it was installed, I started playing it. All the way to the end. No bathroom breaks, no nothing. Fifteen hours.

When I was finished with the game at, like, 4am, I suddenly realized that I desperately needed to go to the bathroom and that I was ravenous. After the bathroom break, I went to the IHOP that was two blocks away from my building.

What did I do after that? I went to bed, then woke up and played Civ AGAIN.

It's still one of my favorite games.
oxymoron67: (stalking)
Today, I went to the Morgan. I've been there two or three times before: it's easy to get to: It's on 36th and Madison.

Also, it's focus differs from many other places: it focuses on works on paper. Manuscripts (both literary and musical), drawings, rare books (The Morgan has THREE Gutenberg Bibles), Medieval illuminated manuscripts and religious objects and seals from the ancient Near East.

I went for two exhibitions and had a great time:

1) The Changing Face of William Shakespeare

This was a small exhibit, but neat. For centuries, no accurate known portrait of Shakespeare existed. Then, a painting in Ireland was discovered. It was a painting of Shakespeare, done for his patron, the Earl of Southampton.

Honestly, scholars are still divided about this portrait, though it is the portrait that so many others were based on.

The exhibit includes the Southampton painting and several others based on it. It also includes a declaration from the Earl of Southampton detailing what he gave to Shakespeare. There was also a folio of Shakespeare's work with the "balding portrait".

Cool.

2) The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives

This was a larger exhibit, featuring diaries from famous people (one of the Bronte sisters, Throeau, Bob Dylan) and from ordinary people, including two journals written by first responders on 9/11 and an anonymous diary written by an English woman touring Europe.

Different types of diaries were on display as well: from ships logs, to teeny-tiny calendar diaries, to huge diaries with illustrations.

The writing was often tiny or faded and hard to read. To cope with this, the Morgan printed out several small books, which contained the transcriptions of all the diary pages on display. I actually went through the exhibit, then sat down and read the entries on display.

From here, I went to lunch. I decided to try the Cafe and the Morgan. It was good. I had the Grass-fed beef hamburger with sundried tomatoes and lettuce with a side of fingerling potatoes, which were cut in half, coated in olive oil then roasted at a really high temperature. A red pepper aioli was served as a dipping sauce. For four dollars extra, it came with a lager. I threw down the four bucks.

Dessert was a chocolate brioche bread pudding with macerated berries.

It was delicious.

From there, I went to the Gift Shop, where I got a book on the scandalous lives of famous writers and a few magnets.

Then, I went home.

A fun day.
oxymoron67: (Gay Army)
In my travels yesterday, I passed by the Cooper-Hewitt Museum of Design.

They have a Van Cleef and Arpels jewelry retrospective.

SQUEEE!
oxymoron67: (Default)
The Museum of Modern Art was today's stop in my geek-a-thon.

Now, a caveat... I am not the biggest fan of modern art. While it can be amazing, frequently, modern art leaves me cold. As a result, I didn't know how I was going to react to the museum.

I only stopped in two galleries: the James Ensor exhibit and the Sculpture exhibit.

Ensor was a Belgian artist who studied impressionism, but went beyond impressionism to modernism. Much of his work was fascinating: his family owned a curiosity shop that sold masks for carnival. He later used masked figures in his work... it gives his work an almost sinister bent at times. Even when he didn't use masks, he didn't put in many facial features, again lending his work a certain sense of danger or at least uncertainty.

He also did a series of works taking Biblical scenes and updating them: putting those stories into his Belgium. The two (out of eight) that were shown were cool.

Also, he did interesting things with colors. The way he used them forced the eye in certain directions.

Neat.

The Sculpture exhibit was neat, too. Lots of the installations were neat to look at. The down side? They had the words of one of the artists on the wall, and he said something like "The Disney-fication of NYC has made New Yorkers into silverback gorillas who will approach people to be fed."

Clearly, this man is a jerk.

Also, while I *WASN'T* here during the bad old days, when Times Square was a war zone, all the people I know who were here at that time prefers the Disney Days. They're not perfect, but, you know, fewer muggings.

I left after this because I ... couldn't get comfortable there. The climate control in the Ensor exhibit was wonderful, but the benches were placed so low... they didn't even come half-way up my calves. They weren't benches. They were really big kneelers.

The climate control in the Sculpture exhibit bothered me. It was just on the edge of too warm for me. This eventually drove me from this museum. Of course, I really was only planning to go through one more exhibit at most, anyway, so it's not so terrible.

It's worth going.
oxymoron67: (Default)
I figured that Id take a day off from painting the town geek. So, in lieu of anything else...


[Poll #1445566]
oxymoron67: (Default)
Located right next to the main entrance/exit to the 4 and 5 trains, this is an interesting little museum housed in The Alexander Hamilton Custom House. This building is worth seeing just for itself. It's "one of the best examples of Beaux Arts architecture", according to the museum guide.

It is a beautiful building.

As an added bonus, since it is part of the Smithsonian, it charges no admission fees. On the other hand, you do have to go through a metal detector.

The museum itself only took about two hours to go through. Of course, this doesn't include the movie screening, as I missed it and wasn't willing to wait another two hours for it to start up again.

The three exhibits they had: two artist spotlight exhibits and one on dresses and dressmaking, All three were interesting exhibits.

One artist was an Inuit woman who drew her sketches with pencil. Her sketches were an interesting make of Inuit traditional scenes and more modern themes, including watching TV and darker themes like violence and addiction.

The other artist is from the Rockies ... the Canadian Rockies, I think. This woman did an entire series of drawings of the Wendigo, a cannibalistic creature of legend.

Finally, the dressmaking exhibit. The amount of beading is incredible, as is the use of local dyes and traditional methods. Also included, in a glass case where no photography is allowed, are a few dresses from the Ghost Dancers. The Lakota and other Plains Indians don't discuss the Ghost Dance movement with outsiders much*, so just seeing these dresses was a privilege.

*Given what happened at Wounded Knee I can't blame them.

If you wnt to go to a museum that has a different focus than most, this is a good choice.
oxymoron67: (reading)
Did you know that The Guggenheim is closed on Thursdays?

Well, imagine my surprise.

I didn’t find this until I was already at the Guggenheim, however, so I left a message for the person I was meeting and waited.

He showed up, but hadn’t checked his messages. We were sorely vexed.

Fortunately, I had a map of the “Museum Mile” handy, so I had options. We could go one block one way to the Academy of Arts Museum or two blocks the other way to the Neue Galerie, which specializes in German and Austrian art.

I sold Scott on the Galerie with the words “German Impressionism”. So, we went there expecting to be horrified and entertained.

Imagine our surprise.

The Neue Galerie is a wonderful space. The third floor is devoted to German artists; the second, to Austrians. There is also a special exhibitions space on the second floor.

The works themselves cover the late 19th to the early 20th century: so Expressionism, Surrealism, Bauhaus, among others, are featured. The most powerful pieces for me those that were created after World War I: the anger and cynicism evident in those drawings and paintings were palpable.

The two floors do not take long to go through, and, after seeing them, we went to the café, which was delightful. It was a Viennese café, so we had German fare and fine Viennese coffee and then went our separate ways.

A delightful way to spend a few hours.

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