Saturday, April 25, 2009

Day 199/365 - In the Heights

When I decided to make a weekend trip up to New York, I checked to see what shows were playing on Broadway. The pickings were pretty slim. It was mostly just shows I'd already seen and more rehashes of Disney movies. The only show I really wanted to see was the musical "In the Heights." Instead of buying my ticket in advance over the internet, I thought I'd wait and see if I could get a discounted, day of performance ticket from the TKTS booth in Time Square. No such luck, unfortunately. I wound up having to pay full price at the theater box office, but it was money well spent.

"In the Heights" is something pretty rare on Broadway these days -- an original show rather than one based on a movie. The play is set in Washington Heights, a section of upper Manhattan that is home to many Latin immigrants from many lands and islands. The story focuses on a wide cast of characters who are all either trying to follow their dreams or figure out what their dreams actually are. It's a bit of a cross between "La Boheme" and "Romeo and Juliet," with a New York Latin flair. The story is engrossing and keeps you engaged as you wait to see how it all turns out in the end. It's a bit unusual though in that there is no antagonist in the play, apart from the vicissitudes of life and circumstance. The presence of a heavy might have been a good idea and could have tempered or counterbalanced the overall sweetness of the play.

The characters are likeable and well fleshed out for the most part, although some of the minor characters are largely stereotypes. The performers are generally good, especially the male lead Usnavi. The dancers are appropriately energetic and limber and the singers are passable. The set design is good and eschews the trend toward mechanically spectacular staging in favor of a fixed set that conveys the claustrophobic coziness of the neighborhood. The music and songs are good and "In the Heights" is the first musical I've seen that successfully blends singing and rapping without making a mess of either.

It's easy to see why "In the Heights" won the Tony Award for Best Musical. It's just a shame that there aren't more original shows like this being staged on Broadway. It's disappointing that the creeping 'Disneyfication' of Time Square has now extended to the productions in the theaters as well. If this keeps up, Time Square will be little more than a urban strip mall full of chain restaurants and chain plays.

(Taken with my Nikon D80)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Day 198/365 - At Citi Field

I took the day off work and caught the Acela up to NYC today so I could see the Nationals play the Mets in their new ballpark, Citi Field. This was my first Nats road trip of the season. I usually try to catch a couple of their road games each year. This year I'll be going to both of the brand new ballparks in New York. In each case, I bought my ticket on-line the day they went on sale and I got a pretty good seat in both ballparks. Here at Citi Field, my seat was thirteen rows back from the field and just a little to the left of home plate.

With this trip, I've now been to watch pro baseball at fourteen different parks: Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Camden Yards in Baltimore, Olympic Stadium in Montreal, RFK Stadium in DC, Citizen's Bank Park in Philadelphia, Wrigley Field in Chicago, U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Old Yankee Stadium in NYC, Shea Stadium in NYC, Minute Maid Park in Houston, Nationals Park in DC, Petco Park in San Diego, and Citi Field. My favorite so far is Wrigley. It's so snug and cozy there it's like you're watching a baseball game being played in a friend's backyard. My least favorite is probably Three Rivers. With the way that stadium was designed, it was like watching a game being played at the bottom of a well.

Citi Field is all right. I like it better from the outside than the inside. It has a very nice facade that is a throwback to old Ebbits Field and the Jackie Robinson Rotunda at the main entrance is cool. Inside, it's really nothing special, although the bridge in back of the bullpens is a good gimmicky touch. The seats feel like they're far back from the field. I just had a couple hot dogs, a pretzel, and some crackerjacks so I can't really speak about the food options there, but the beer choices are pathetic. I walked all around the lower seating bowl and all they had on tap was Bud and Bud Light. I did find a stand that at least had Brooklyn Lager in a can, so I didn't have to go thirsty.

The Nats lost tonight, as per the usual. They kept it close, though. The final score was 4-3 and they were going up against a really tough pitcher in Johan Santana. They scored two runs in the ninth inning, so at least they made it worthwhile to stick around to see how it finished. Oh well, hopefully I'll get a better result when I go see them play at the New Yankee Stadium in June.

(Taken with my Nikon D80)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Day 197/365 - Slice of Heaven

Come to think of it, that would be a pretty cool name for a pizzeria.

I took a break from getting my stuff together for my weekend jaunt up to NYC tomorrow to head over to Cafe Pizzaiola for a Neapolitan-style pizza with smoked mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and prosciutto. Followed up, of course, with a dish of gelato. There's no indulgence like self-indulgence!

Forget ambrosia, I think pizza is truly the food of the gods. It encompasses all four food groups -- grains and cereals in the crust, dairy in the cheese, and meat and vegetables in the toppings. That has to make it the most perfect of all foods. And it's even circular, which makes it the perfect shape.

I had a friend in law school who said that pizza is like sex -- even when it's not great, it's still pretty damn good. This, however, was great.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Day 196/365 - Little Blue Marble

Happy Earth Day to all my fellow Earthlings (and to any otherworldly visitors as well).

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Day 195/365 - April Bower

For this week's self-portrait we have this shot of me under a canopy of pink cherry blossoms in a grove of trees between Capitol Hill and Union Station in Washington, DC. Honestly, I wasn't intentionally trying to look like Eraserhead here.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Day 194/365 - Rain Delay

I waited out a two-hour rain delay at Nationals Park tonight to catch the major league debut of the Nats top pitching prospect, Jordan Zimmermann. It was cold and rainy and foggy and the ballpark looked both ghostly and like a ghost town, but the kid pitched pretty well and helped his team notch a 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves. It was nice to watch the Nats win for a change, even though I missed the end of the game because I had to leave in the bottom of the 8th inning in order to catch the last train home. Stupid rain delay.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Twice on Sunday Bonus Photo - Rowboat Romance

This week's bonus photo from my archives is a shot I took of two rental rowboats snuggled up to each other in the C&O Canal in Washington, DC.

(Taken with my Nikon D80)

Day 193/365 - The Agony of Defeat

Today was the second game for my kickball team. We got clobbered again, but at least this time we scored two runs instead of getting shut out. You should have seen us whooping and hollering and jumping up and down after we finally scored. You'd have thought we'd just won a championship or something. I guess small victories are better than no victories whatsoever, even though they do still go down in the "L" column.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)