Saturday, February 7, 2009

Where I live is cooler than where you live

Sometimes, as the work week trudges on and time drags endlessly, it seems that I live in a completely ordinary place that's no different than any other place I've lived. We get up, go to work, and then come home. We order McDonald's or Chinese take-out when we're too tired to cook. We know what shows are on which nights, and relish 30 Rock Thursdays and Biggest Loser Tuesdays (don't judge. I like to watch it while I eat a big bowl of ice cream, and contemplate the wonders of metabolism).

But then sometimes we leave our apartment, and then we have a night like last night. These nights help me remember why I love living here.

Coraline opened last night, so we made plans to see it downtown after work. I have to say, this was one of the best children's movies I have seen in a long time. The stop-motion animation was a refreshing change from the constant deluge of Pixar computer-animated flicks. The visuals were incredible. The creators constructed a beautiful and detailed world, right down to the cracks on the ceiling in Coraline's bedroom. Aside from the visuals, the movie featured a strong and spunky female heroine, who takes on an evil other-world to save her parents. In these times of damsel-in-distress Twilight crap, I'm happy to see a strong female character. Did I mention that we saw it in 3D? When we chose the theater I wasn't aware that it was showing in 3D, but it was a pleasant surprise. Instead of a hokey, overdone film that is made to showcase 3D technology, it had just a smattering of effects that emphasized the visuals. There wasn't anything ridiculous flying at you; instead, the 3D simply complemented the movie. Tasteful, if you will.

Then we left the movie just in time to hit up a bookstore before it closed. I chose The Glass Castle and The Perks of Being a Wallflower (I'm reading the latter six years too late, apparently, but what young adult doesn't need a healthy dose of teenage angst?).

And then! Then we started to go home. We walked to the 59th street subway, and headed to the lower level to catch the express. There, we saw a group of people at the far end of the platform, encircling two other people. We ventured closer, and then I realized what it was: Subway Theater! For those not in the know, there is a troop of actors in New York who regularly perform entire plays throughout the subway system. The catch is that you don't know when or where the play starts, and you must purchase a ticket to find out that information. I attempted to buy a ticket months ago, but all showings have been sold out for quite some time. So we were very lucky to walk in just a few acts into the beginning. The way it works is that the audience follows a host through the subway to see the next scenes, and the final destination is unknown. After we found the play, the host led us upstairs to the next scene, where waiting actors and live muscians were staging a ballroom dance. After that scene, the host led us to another platform, where she monologued while we waited for the next train. The actors actually move the props onto the train and perform the whole scene there. At one point, a train arrived with the props already set, if that gives you any indication as to the detail and planning of the event. The whole thing almost felt like a game; a scavenger hunt for the next scene. Also, the faces of the people who were on the trains were priceless. Everyone's just sitting in the car, late on a Friday, and then the doors open and 40 people flood in, a guy drags in a desk and a backdrop, and they perform the scene of a play. The doors open, and everyone leaves just as fast as they came in. New York is full of what-the-fuck moments, but this really takes the cake.

The other catch here is that you do not know where the play will finish. Luckily for us, it ended at our exact subway stop. What are the odds, I ask you?!

And today, I'm going with a friend to be an extra in some low-budget fashion reality TV show. This sure beats the weekends of my childhood, which we spent hanging out in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart. I have a crush on this city.

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