Thursday, April 25, 2013

Times Square From A New Perspective

With the impending doom of an expiring voucher, S and I met up in the city to complete one of those do-it-yourself scavenger hunts. Unlike the Easter Bunny Living Social Scavenger Hunt / Marathon / Candid Camera Experiment, this kind has actual clues to go to certain places where you must solve new clues to get to new places. It's an actual scavenger hunt instead of a "do stupid things and get points for it" list on your phone that calls itself a hunt. Still fun, but not the same.

Upon trying to redeem the voucher, the company showed that the voucher was already redeemed. So there we were, on a corner in Times Square, calling the company and trying to get the voucher to go through on her phone while one of those guys who advertises for comedy shows was heckling people. As we sorted out the mysterious voucher situation, we walked to Rock Center to meet up quickly with her business partner. There, we got shooed away from an electrical outlet by security when we were trying to charge her phone, and then S took a picture of me in Starbucks, stating, The lighting makes you look like that famous painting of that woman in a chair. Whistler's Mother? I offered. Yes, that's the one, she said. So I look like an old lady? I asked. She said, No, but you knew the painting I meant.

So I kept my Old Lady Whistler ass in the seat as her phone searched for wifi and charged, having found an available outlet. This is irony: the place where the outlet is has very poor wifi reception. Ha-HA!

After finally finding the voucher on the phone and having it denied again, we finally got a better signal by walking to Cosi. We got someone on the phone who explained, Oh you used that voucher--the website that was telling you to use it isn't ours, and so they were reminding you because their system had no update that you used it.

So basically, there was no impending doom of the voucher expiring because we'd used it when we went on our Downtown Business District scavenger hunt.

Good thing I had another one from Groupon! Prepared like a Boy Scout! Or a Girl Boy Scout! Or, well, you know what I mean.

We began at the center of the theatre district with a clue about what playwright lived across from the Paramount Theatre in Times Square. That means we had to find the Paramount Theatre, cross the street, and find something that signified a playwright lived there. The sign would have his name and we would have to type it in.

Attention iAdventure: This is how a Scavenger Hunt works. Again, your thing was fun, but you should really call it something else.

The first playwright who popped into my mind was Eugene O'Neill and I was like, I bet there's a plaque on the wall of whatever building that says who the person is.

Who's. Better. Than. Me.

They weren't all so simple, but we did find everything pretty easy to navigate since it's one of the more familiar parts of the city for us. We knew were stuff was in general. Some of the other answers we knew without having to go, which was especially helpful towards the end when the wind really picked up and my face was about to fall off--clues like, What place is chilly and flowery? and we were like, Winter Garden Theatre NEXT!

One of the better places we wound up was the Toys R Us store. Fact: I had never been to that Toys R Us until then. Walked by it thousands of times. Peeked in. Never entered. Probably because it's filled with lots of little screaming germy children. However, as it was part of the mission, I went in, and though lots of screamy screamy germy germy things were happening, I was able to navigate my way around it, though there was a close call involving one child, a ball that was about my size, and it rolling at me at full speed. S's reaction? Walk away, turn around, and laugh at me.

We did take a detour in the store to find Willy Wonka's factory to check out the candy. That should be of no surprise.

After the detour, we headed out once more into the cold. We found the only statue of an actor in the district. Some woman asked me to take her picture with it, which I found odd since, well, it's not like he's the most famous actor of all time and it's not like you can tell who he is from the statue; plus, it was dark. So I guess she's a big fan and the leader of a cult following.

Come to think of it, there were more people than usual out and about taking pictures of everything. Like really more. Never had I seen as many tourists as I had on that night, which is saying a lot considering the number of times I've walked through that touristy part of town. You know--from Bubba Gump to the characters asking for tips. What's with those guys, anyway? Bring back the Naked Cowboy--at least he was original.

We wound up going to the M&M store for one of the clues. S chatted with some friends there and then explained that we were at the end of our scavenger hunt. One of them asked, well what do you get when you finish? We high-fived each other and cheered for ourselves. S's friend laughed at us. I suppose everyone's idea of a prize is different.

We ended up at another place I've passed a lot but have never gone to...on the big red bleacher steps. So while this whole adventure took place in one of the most familiar neighborhoods, it did invite me to see it in a different light, which is always a good thing.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Met, Mark, and Annette Taylor

Anthony and I were standing on line at The Met as I was figuring out how to politely ask for change when I handed over a 20 dollar bill when the suggested admission was even more.  A museum employee came over and announced to the line that we were on the credit card only line.  That's when my dilemma turned into how I was going to say Put five dollars on this please without sounding cheap.  However, I did just that and the cashier asked, For both of you?  I said, No, only me.  So I didn't appear as cheap as I could have!  Anthony didn't need to pay anything because of one of  his education passes.  Off we went to possibly find the exhibits we wanted to say. 

Getting around the Met, even with their map, is near impossible.  Usually I roam around and bump into cool stuff until I find myself in the Egyptian room and then find the exit from there.

We did manage to find the photography exhibits pretty quickly.  The world of photoshop was on display (not its official name, but I know it was something about manipulating photos).  But first, I found this little piece of wonder--a piece of art you're allowed to touch!

Okay, technically you're not supposed to touch the art.  You're supposed to touch the velvet drape to see the art being protected from the light behind it.  I wouldn't have known that until my brother picked it up and I was like, You can't touch anything!  And he was like, You're supposed to...what did you think...that was the art?  In my defense, I've seen a lot of crap called art, so a piece of velvet hanging on a wall could very well be art.

We then found another photography exhibit that I hadn't realized would be animated.  It was actually very neat.  The photographer took pictures from a cab with a camera that takes action photos and then strung them together and its all in a slo-mo video.  The drawback is that it's about an hour long.  We stood in the dark room and watched about ten minutes of it and then decided we'd had enough.  We couldn't see anyone standing there for a full hour.  I mean, you see one slo-mo person staring at the camera in wonderment, you'd seen them all. 

The Eggleston exhibit was nearby, so we went through that.  It was neat.  Then we found a container of bottle caps that's called art and figured it's something that either of us could do in our own homes and call it art.

We stumbled upon the contemporary art rooms.  I love it.  My brother thinks it's dumb because he knows 8-year-olds who can paint blocks of color on a canvas just as well.  As I always say to him and Eddie and anyone else who questions it: sure anyone can do it, but these artists did it first. The debate fell by the wayside as we rounded a corner and I was able to exclaim, Good God, it's a Lichetenstein! Not the piano, the painting!  (Weekend at Bernie's, anyone?).  Unfortunately, the interactive sculpture that you could step on a button and make it make noise and move was no longer available for us to interact with.

We went down the stairs, passing by a very scary Kiki Smith piece hanging off the wall.

It has, like, real eyeballs.  Seriously, go to the Met and look at its eyeballs.  It's freaky.

Anthony found Mao and I found an old guy's ass.

This is what museums are for.

And then we found Mark.  The cool thing about Mark is that it's a huge painting that looks like a photograph.  Actually, everything about Mark is cool.  Mark is our new friend.

After getting through the contemporary stuff, we decided we should find the American wing.  We backtracked through contemporary.  We got sidelined at India and Eastern art.

We backtracked through Eggleston and the photography rooms.  We found ourselves looking at a rattan and wicker exhibit.  We somehow got back to contemporary.  We tried following the map, but every time I tried to find a room, it wasn't on the map.  Like I would try to find 819, and on the map were 800 through 818 and then 820 to 900, but no 819 was there. 

We rode the glass elevator between floors and wound up on a weird halfway between floors floor.  We got back on the elevator and then found some stairs.  We found a third floor and then went down some other stairs.  We went through some Fashion of Impressionism exhibit that was packed.  Packed!  Who knew so many people wanted to look at frumpy dresses?

Then, we saw this:

Don't ask me how we'd found it.  I couldn't even get back to it if we tried.  We went through and saw that famous picture of George Washington crossing the Delaware. Then we pointed out faces of old men and named the Founding Father.  We found the exhibit for Women in Sports in America,which was half a wall large.  Finding the wing was more thrilling than what was actually in the wing.

Then we stumbled upon Egypt.  Meaning, it was time to go.

Once we got outside, we went to the park to eat and watch people ride bikes.  I told him about the time I got lost in the Ramble.  He agreed it was the worst part of the park to get lost in because it's actual park, like with trees and no pavement.  We decided to walk downtown and to the west side.  On the way, I figured I'd teach him something about the park because he'd never been to that place where the milk is.  I couldn't remember the name of it, so he kept asking if cows were involved. 

Then we found it.  It was the Dairy!  Of course, the Dairy.  See?  Milk is involved.

Also at that point, we found that we were zigzagging.  There's really no possible way to walk to where you want to go in the park.  If you want to go downtown, you can't also go across.  It's just impossible.  So by the time we got to the south end, we'd walked from east to west, but then back to the east, so once more, I had to go west so I could catch my line.  He came with to get to the 7, which apparently is the most convenient line ever, but first, one last stop in the park.

And while we waited for the subway, we listened to the soothing sounds of Annette Taylor.  As we'd gone through the museum, my brother asked, What are you writing in your book?  I told him that I write down titles and names that I would look up later.  As Annette Taylor sang, we took note because she had a great voice.  Unfortunately, that's not the part that was most memorable.  She was singing over a Whitney Houston CD.  However, she wasn't singing with the words.  She was more scatting over Whitney, and out-singing her if that's possible, but we couldn't tell which song it was because the CD was so low and she was so loud.  And between singing, she was plugging her website.  My brother was like You gonna write that down, too?  I was like, you  know what...and I did because I really needed to find out if she did more than scat over Whitney.  And here's what I found.

Friday, April 5, 2013

belVita Gets Offended By Procreation

Because I like FREE stuff, I look up every contest I hear about on the radio.  Not even knowing what the heck BelVita was, I tried finding it online when I heard the PLJ Big Show talking about how you could get some for free.  Unfortunately, I was looking up Velveeta Crackers and couldn't find them anywhere.

I was not alone.  Soon enough, when they did the promotions, they were spelling out B-E-L-V-I-T-A for all the listeners, and explaining, it has nothing to do with cheese.  Ahhhh, found it!

To enter, you typed in your email address and then either chose from a list of things you've done from all the energy you got from a BelVita breakfast or you typed your own.  The list included things like, I finished my to-do list!, I ran! I jumped! I played!, and also, I'm not going to lie--I didn't eat BelVita.

Even though I've never had BelVita in my life, I never picked that one.  In fact, I would write my own.  It became kind of like one of those positive self-affirmation activities that all the people who read The Secret do.  So I wrote things like: I did yoga!, Kickboxing!, I worked all morning!, and I did some cardio and some weight training!  Yes, usually with exclamation points.  Otherwise, who cares what I did, am I right?

One morning, on a whim, I typed in, Lots of sex!  Yes, exclamation point included.

Instead of getting the usual screen that told me to try again tomorrow, I got an error message in bright red that asked me to delete the inappropriate/offensive language from my answer.

Whoa, settle down BelVita!  Who knew that breakfast crackers could be so prudish?

First of all, how is the word "sex" inappropriate or offensive?  We use the word "sex" in a similar vain of "gender" (even though that's not correct).  That's not inappropriate or offensive.

Second of all, it's not like I said, Enjoyed a Dirty Sanchez or Got it on with a SuperMan finish or any of those other urban dictionary innuendos.  In fact, I don't even know what I'm saying when I say them (except for a Bill Cosby Sweater--that one I know--thanks Chelsea Lately--see?  television is educational).

Third of all, during my time teaching Ethics, I taught a chapter about Sexual Morality.  One of the essays we read likened sex to playing a game of tennis.  It's neither moral or immoral.  It's simply an activity.  So in this case, I was likening sex to kickboxing, weight lifting, cardio, and yoga.  All activities.

Fourth of all, what if I were telling the truth?  For shame, BelVita, for shame!  Stifling the truth!

Fifth of all, who the hell was reading the comments?  Really, whom was I offending with my highly inappropriate language?

I suppose none of this matters since the contest is now over.  I've learned that the good folks at BelVita are prudish, sure, but I also learned that they are not stingy prudes.  Guess who won not one but TWO coupons for FREE boxes of BelVita!

To celebrate, let's all go procreate after eating a whole box!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Easter Egg Hunt That Involves Very Few Eggs And Has Not Much To Do With Easter

You know how Living Social sends out these huge discounted events that you've  never heard of and when you see them, you're like, wow that sounds like fun, and it's so cheap!  But if you really thought about it, you would be like, hey, I've never even thought about going to something like that so I wouldn't have spent money on it anyway, so in reality I'm paying more for it because the prior cost of being ignorant was zero dollars.  Still, an Easter-themed scavenger hunt in a bar?  That's uh. MAZE. Zing.  That's how Eddie and I found ourselves in Manhattan with J, C, and DZ, holding a real egg that we could not break and signing up to follow iAdventure on Twitter so we could get updates about where to find a bunny--a man in a bunny costume--you know, one of my favorite things in the world, adults in huge character costumes.

The egg that's worth 25 points

What we thought would be a hunt for eggs around the city turned out to be a super duper game of Truth or Dare without the truth part; in its place was the opportunity to take pictures of each other doing the dare.  Some of the challenges were really harmless: take a picture of yourself hanging from a tree; with a real-life bunny (there's one in Petco, where the pets go); feeding the birds.

There was one for petting a horse.  Luckily, a vegan fest was happening in Union Square, so DZ found a person in a horse suit, and we took a pic of her petting the person in the horse suite.  Yeay, more adults in costume.  This day was made for me.

Before all the challenges, though, we sat for lunch at a suggested pub a few blocks from the starting bar.  This pub did not accept the two drink tickets and had no discounts associated with the hunt, which was unclear before we got there so we never were able to redeem our drink tickets and we never got the food included in the price.  Note to iAdventure--make that clearer on the rules. 

While we ate, we answered the quiz questions.  There were a bunch of trivia questions about bunnies, hares (NOT the same!), and Easter.  We were looking up the answers on multiple SmartPhones.  My phone was helpful in that it was actually not at all since it's not a SmartPhone but it is pretty and it plays music.

One of the questions was: What is Bugs Bunny's tag line?  We knew it was "What's up, Doc?"  Every time I typed in the answer, the app on the phone stopped working.  Nice bug.  I asked the scavenger hunt gal who had arrived at the bar about it, and she gave me the name of the technical guru to talk to.  That person was back at the first bar.  Again, not helpful.  This gal, though, was very patient and kind because me, C, and D stood in front of her (while the boys ate) and stared at the following puzzle:


We were there for a good five minutes, guessing things like: once around the moon! to the moon and back! one moon two moon!  moon over once!

Clearly, the answer is: Once in a blue moon.   Which I finally got after a very long time.  Our prize?  Each person in the group got a plastic egg filled with some sort of goodie.  Mostly Easter chocolate.  The girl next to us got a drink ticket.  Too bad she couldn't use it at this bar and could use it only at the beginning bar (we found we couldn't use our tickets in the final bar, either--stupid--as DZ said, this may be the last time we try to live socially).

So onto the challenges!  One of the more difficult parts was that we had to keep clicking on different challenges so we couldn't see them all at once, and they were called really stupid things so it was hard to tell from the titles of each what they were.  Like the one that said we needed to take a picture of one of us doing the bunny hop across the street was called something like, Hop, while the one that said we needed to take a picture of us all doing the bunny hop on the subway was called Hop Hop. 

We did manage to take a picture of someone wearing pastel pants.  Without her consent.  I just took it. 

We also needed a picture of a cop and we had to give him or her rabbit ears.  This, I decided, was stupid because any police officer in the vicinity was on duty, and therefore, not available for photo ops.  We walked up to two of them and asked anyway, and one of them said, We really can't, and the other said, We can get in trouble, and I said, Yes, that's what I figured and this is stupid.  They suggested we got to Times Square.  We should have listened to them at that moment, but not for this particular reason.  It's for the reason coming up. 

Before that, we traveled to Duane Reade to buy adult diapers and wear them.  We met a lovely couple with whom we split the cost for those and for jelly beans, more fake plastic eggs, bunny ears, Peeps, and a Cadbury Egg (which I later devoured).

I stuffed my mouth with jelly beans to earn five points:

Eddie laid an egg to earn five points:
He also did his best impression of Manti Teo with his lady friend:

All of this was happening in the park.  We found another extra points bonus trivia and won more plastic eggs filled with Easter chocolate because C answered the question in like two seconds flat.  Then we headed to the children's clothing store to find Easter bonnets and flowery dresses.  Then we found carrots at a food store.  And then we started walking more quickly, realizing that time was running out, and oh, ha, look at that...

Some of the challenges told us to take pictures on subways and take pictures of characters in Times Square bunny-hopping. We were like, we're getting so much done here.  Unbeknownst to me at the moment, the ending bar was Hudson Terrace, and we should've been heading there by going through Times Square.  We wound up race-walking from Union Square to a block north of where the Intrepid is.

View Stupidity in a larger map--Really! Click on it and get interactive!

After the race to get on the very long line (we weren't late for anything), we decided that maybe this whole thing was kind of stupid.  We did have a lot of fun, but the race walk to the end did some damage to some feet and backs and overall morale, especially when we realized we were going to stand on a long line anyway. 

When we got inside, there were bunny ears everywhere.  There was one bunny in costume and then there was a chicken.  I stayed away from them.  I got on the line for the people to tally up our points.  This is where it all became a sham.  For shame, iAdventure!  For shame!  The guy tallying my points (after I waited on a very long line by myself for a very long time) didn't know what certain points were worth.  I was like, I brought these ribbons because they celebrate New Year's and it says I get points to bring something from another holiday. He gave me a blank stare.  I showed him how the points for petting a horse didn't come with a place to take a picture, but I had the picture on the phone.  He shrugged and scribbled something down.  I asked if we got points for winning the extra eggs along the way.  No.  So really, anything we thought we were doing really well with, we weren't.  In protest, I left the egg J had carried all that way on his table in the hopes it would roll over and get smashed and he'd have to work around a gooey mess.  Because I'm mature.

Then, over the surprisingly good music--they played the theme song to Fresh Prince, no joke!--they announced that we'd have a winner in two hours. 

Hahhahahahhhaaaaaaaaa.  The bar was jam-packed.  We couldn't use our drink tickets.  We couldn't hear anything, and we'd clearly lost seeing that some teams had drawn mustaches on their faces and shaved letters into their chest hair.  The couple we'd met at Duane Reade appeared and hugged C as if they were old friends.  They said they weren't staying to see if they won because they, too, clearly did not.  We left after a little while longer because the team sitting next to Eddie was wearing fairy wings and they kept hitting him with them. 

When we got home, we did have some jelly beans and some Easter candy and some new plastic eggs.  However, we hadn't hunted those down.  We'd bought them in a drug store.  If that's what a scavenger hunt is, then they should just call it a shopping spree.  I'll stick to hiding eggs in the living room.