Wednesday, December 23, 2009



Here are some things (partly national, partly New York City specific) to do this last week of Holidays in 2009. There are of course lots of obvious things to do (we'll note some of them later), but first some more off-beat suggestions:


Here are some ideas (mostly) off the beaten track that have appealed to me:

(L-R) JUDE LAW as Dr. John Watson, ROBERT DOWNEY JR. as Sherlock Holmes
and RACHEL McADAMS as Irene Adler
in "Sherlock Holmes"
Photo by Alex Bailey, from WARNER BROS


Sherlock Holmes -- Sherlock Holmes is always terrific; plus Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law (who was just super in Hamlet recently on Broadway), and Rachel McAdams..

Nine -- Best cast in years.

Avatar -- 3D IMAX. The spectacular effects should be seen in the best theater possible. Seek out the 3D IMAX version.

Precious -- Counter programming for the Holidays. This is not a simple feel-good film.

It's Complicated -- A love triangle (or quadrangle) angling around Meryl Streep.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus -- Difficult to follow logically, this is counter-programming for those who want to let the imagination run free... very free... wild, even.

Broken Embraces -- A great film by Almodovar, with a lovely performance by Penelope Cruz (... if Nine is not enough). A very accessible art film..


The Open Road -- This is a quirky, independent, small, family-and-love story. A good choice for something different.

Up -- One of the most heralded whole-family (?) stories of the year, just out on DVD. (Its sad, frightening, filled with mean people, with failed dreams, and with adventure for the sake of the journey, not the destination. Not really for everyone, despite its reputation. Not a happy kidflick.)


Free For All -- This is one of the best theater books ever.

CavanKerry Press / Joan Handler -- Joan Handler is a poet of the very personal. CavanKerry Press produces some of the most elegant books around. It's a "small press" in the best sense of that notion.

Joan Cusack Handler
Reading from her book of poetry
"The Red Canoe"
Photo by Eric Roffman


Ragtime -- Taking us back to our roots -- 100 years ago -- makes this a perfect family Holiday theater experience.

Scarlett Johansson & Liev Schrieber in Arthur Miller's A View From The Bridge -- The hottest new opening on Broadway starts previews on the 28th. Liev is one of the most skilled young actors, and Scarlett one of the hottest young actresses today. The promotional videos and interviews -- worth watching themselves! -- suggest this production will emphasize the sexual heat in this classic American play.

Ernest in Love -- A musical version of Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest. Some fine voices, including one of our favorite singing actresses, Katie Fabel.


These three venues have some of the most interesting performances in the city.

LPR - Le Poisson Rouge
Cornelia Street Cafe
Joe's Pub

Les poissons rouges (ie the red fish) at the entrance to
LPR - Le Poisson Rouge
Photo by Eric Roffman


Blue Hill -- New American, super-fresh-from-the-farms food. Downtown. Even better, take a trip up to Blue Hill at the Stone Barns Farm.
Le Bernadin -- Superb seafood.
Aquavit -- Try the flights of home-made aquavit (the "water of life").
Maya -- Modern Mexican.
Firebird -- One of the few places where Zagat is wrong -- It's much better than its Zagat rating, especially for caviar and a honey-vanilla vodka.


December is a good time to register for winter classes, which start, usually, early in January. HB Studio is one of the best acting schools for actors of all ages and levels of skill. LAByrinth Theater Company has a powerful program for skilled and dedicated actors. (The Master Class, from November '9, [MCN9] continues to sprout amazing projects.) The 92nd Street Y has many arts oriented classes of all kinds.

HB Studio
LAByrinth Theater Company Master Class
92nd Street Y


Bronx Botanical Gardens Holiday Train Show -- (It's actually not really a "show," but rather a huge exhibit of a breathtaking NY landscape, made out of plants, with an immense model railroad running through it). Open this Holiday season till Jan 10. Here's a video I made a few years ago at the show. And... the Train Show gets better every year!


Duracell Power Lab -- Help charge up the Duracell battery by pedaling the bike. I tried it. I wonder if my picture is up someplace.


And here are some of the more obvious ideas for things to do this week:


The great big, most popular Broadway shows (or any of the other shows on, off, or off-off Broadway) -- Check the New Yorker Magazine, the latest Holiday issue of Time Out or the Friday or Sunday New York Times for listings. TKTS -- Broadway & 47th, South Street Seaport, and Brooklyn -- may have discounts for some of the not-quite-sold out shows.

The finest restaurants (check the
Zagat Guide for the most reliable ratings) -- Note: Even some of the hardest restaurants to get into sometimes have cancellations, tables available late in the evening, tables at lunch (cheaper, too), or room at the bar. (Arrive when the restaurant opens for the best shot at a bar seat.)


Museums -- The Metropolitan Museum Of Art, The Natural History Museum, The Museum Of Modern Art are all amazing.


Zoos -- Central Park Zoo (pretty big); Bronx Zoo (very big). Lovely weather for Polar Bears.
Aquarium -- Lovely weather for penguins.
Times Square -- for New Year's Eve


A whole bunch of new movies have just opened or are arriving on Christmas Day, including Avatar (especially 3D & 3D IMAX), Nine, Sherlock Holmes, Invictus, Up In The Air, An Education, Twilight, 2012....

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