Making Christmas

Here are a couple of photos that Dan took and posted to Facebook earlier this week. He took them during Macy’s grand Christmas windows unveiling. He has been making these displays for the past several months. That is, when he’s not jetting around the country installing the previous years displays at other satellite Macy’s stores, like Chicago, Philly and Washington. He liked to describe his job as “making Christmas”, which is a play on how the contractor that he worked for described the job. They liked to say that they were “stealing Christmas”, because they had just won the contract by under-bidding the original supplier, which sounds pretty cutthroat considering the spirit of the season. Dan really liked this job, but what with the job’s seasonal nature, all good things must eventually come to an end. They cut him loose this last week, but promised to keep him in mind when they start-up again next year. They also promised Dan good references and help with finding more work in the mean time.

Let’s take a boat to Bermuda
Let’s take a plane to Saint Paul
Let’s grab a kayak to Quincy or Nyack
Let’s get away from it all
Frank Sinatra

He already has work lined up for this coming week. A former employer had already called him. He is not sure what he will be doing, but in the past, he has built sets for this guy. He’ll have to take the train up to Nyack, which is twice as far as Yonkers, his previous longest commute. Nyack is on the Hudson’s west side and the train only goes up the east side to Tarrytown. They’ll send a shuttle over to pick him up, which sure beats swimming. Interestingly, just north of Tarrytown is the village of Sleepy Hollow of Washington Irving fame. Too bad that Halloween has already come and gone this year. 👿

B&W Challenge

Moored Barges in NYC Harbor

Anne’s cousin, Mac, has invited me to join the B&W photo challenge, which is a thing these days on Facebook. As near as I can tell, it works like a chain letter and has other rules, but I don’t need no stinking rules. I’m just in it to have some fun and to post more pictures. As part of this challenge, there will be six more black and white photographs rolling out over the next week. This particular shot was taken last month, quay side, in the Red Hook neighborhood of New York city. It had rained for most of the day, but was just starting to clear off, hence the Jesus rays in the distance. This picture like most of those that I have picked are fairly monochromatic and lend themselves well to B&W treatment. 

Something Rotten in Denmark

Saint-Guilhem Cloister

Considered Shakespeare’s best play and arguably the best play ever, Hamlet has come to the Rep. The show begins in ghostly darkness and ends three-hours later, with everyone dead. The show has the usual fine production values for which the Saint Louis Repertory Theater is well know. The cast performs their roles flawlessly. Great material with perfect execution, but then why am I still left feeling underwhelmed? Is it that the script seems more like a recitation from Bartlett’s than dialogue? Or is it the countless parodies that it has spawned? 

Hamlet: To be or not to be that is the question.
Yoda: Be or be not. There is no question.

If imitation is truly the highest form of flattery, then Hamlet has no shortage of pretenders. I just became aware that the Lion King is a Hamlet retelling, only in a more anthropomorphic and African setting. Which begs the question, which two Shakespearian characters do Timon and Pumbaa, the meerkat and warthog duo, represent? My money is on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Mainly though the play is just too long and is filled with too many “words, words, words”.

West Side Greenway

Flatiron Building

In May of 2009 Anne and I were in NYC. We and friends from Saint Louis had traveled to the Big Apple to participate in the five boroughs bicycle ride. Some of our friends had brought their own bikes with them, but we chose to rent instead. We picked up our bikes the day before the ride in Battery Park, at the southern tip of Manhattan. Our hotel was near Times Square, so we cycled from Battery Park up to 44th St. Primarily, we rode on the West Side Greenway, site of yesterday’s terrorist attack. That day, like yesterday, was a beautiful day in New York. The bike path on the greenway is both wide and completely separated from the adjacent roadway. The greenway is separated with raised traffic islands. We felt very safe while riding on that bike path. When we neared 44th, we turned inland and soon ran into congestion and had to dismount and walk the rest of the way back to the hotel.

That was a beautiful day, but unfortunately the next day, the actual day of the ride was a cold and rainy one. It started off dry though and in the early hours of Sunday morning, Anne and I rode south from the hotel to the ride’s starting point, again near Battery Park. At that early hour, there was almost no traffic, so we rode right down Broadway. I remember seeing the Flatiron building for the first time that morning and stopping to photograph it. It looked similar to the above photo. As we continued south more and more other bicyclists joined us, as we all headed towards the ride’s starting point. That ride to the ride was the most enjoyable bicycling experience of the trip, but the previous day’s ride up West Side Greenway was a close second.

Years later, when Anne and I were doing one of the League of Michigan bicycle rides, we met a woman from NYC who was also on the ride. We told her that we had ridden the 5 Boroughs ride and that we still got regular emails from them. Her first comment was, “Unsubscribe!” She later explained that although she regularly rode in the city, she would never ride that ride again. Even without the awful weather that we had, I would have to agree with her. 30,000 bicycle riders is way too many for such a city ride, but if the opportunity ever presented itself again, I would still ride the West Side Greenway again, in a heartbeat.