A Magical Visit to New York City

We stayed at The Wellington Hotel again. 10 years ago, we booked a room there; don’t remember why exactly. I assume there was a good deal, and it’s located near all the cool stuff. After that trip, we discovered Borat stayed there in his movie. Nice!

We saw no reason to try another hotel on this trip, since it’s very much what I love about staying in the city: Confined spaces, cramped in a tall building. The shower almost boiled me alive, our Saturday night neighbors were partying hard, and I swear there was a rat colony building Barad-dur in our heater. What I mean to say is it was wonderful.

Our first meal happened on our way to “Middle-earth”. Fortunately, it was right next to Rockefeller Center, my favorite NYC locale. Always nice to gaze upon the source of all that NBC/SNL history.

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The restaurant in question was By Chloe. And holy moly, it was MOBBED. So unusual for us non-big city vegans to experience! We both got the Pesto Meatball sandwich and split some french fries. If we weren’t planning on a big fancy dinner later, we would have pigged out more here (their menu is chock full of tasty looking treats!), but our choice was delicious. The mix of veggies/mushrooms in the meatballs was perfect, and the condiments had heavenly flavor.

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We managed to snag a table in the packed dining area and enjoyed people watching as we nommed. Bliss. I hope we go back soon because I need to try their brunch menu.

Time to start our expected journey to the Morgan Library and Museum! I was delirious with excitement to see the Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth exhibit. To be in the same room as The Professor’s massive collection of poems, maps, photos, artwork, doodles, and memorabilia – I wanted to move in there.

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Tolkien’s hand drawn maps were so precise and detailed. Marvelous. His handwriting was too perfect to believe, no matter which language he was writing in. There were intricate shapes and symbols drawn on top of newspapers he was reading at the time. Stunning to look upon. Honestly, words fail to communicate what it felt like seeing such an assemblage of genius. If you appreciate J.R.R. Tolkien’s material like I do, be sure to check this out.

Dinner time! There were so many vegan places we wanted to experience in New York, but we decided to make Blossom our fancy meal destination. It’s in a cute townhouse, with a cozy atmosphere. The diners on both sides of us were very friendly; we ended up admiring and influencing each other’s meal choices! Our first course was the Chef’s Tasting Plate. OH. MY. GOODNESS. Quinoa sushi, deviled tofu (I didn’t know you could devil tofu! Brilliant!), fig bruschetta, seitan empanadas, and seaweed caviar canapes. Everything tasted so magical, I wanted to devour it quickly, but I made sure to take my time and savor the tastes.

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The nice woman to my right had the lasagna for an entreè so that’s what I had too, as it looked gorgeous. It didn’t disappoint. It’s intriguing how us humans (it also helps if you’re a gourmet chef) can create scrumptious dishes without a bit of animal flesh.

The next day was Cursed Child day! First time seeing a show ON BROADWAY! And it’s HARRY POTTER! I was filled with excitement for sure. We had some time to kill before heading to the theater, so we took a stroll around Central Park. There were SO MANY GOOD DOGGOS, most of them wearing snazzy coats. Because it was FREEZING. Well, to us anyway, due to not bringing the warmest of winter clothing. No doggos were photographed, but here are some pics of us and other things (mostly Strawberry Fields).

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We looked for the famous mandarin duck but it was nowhere to be found. *sad face*

Our next quest was FOOD. Sadly the restaurant we walked to was closed, but I did come across a hair salon named in my honor. I’m grateful, but please don’t ask me to do your hair.

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We ended up at Peacefood Cafe, which couldn’t have been more LOVELY. A nice and warm orange apple cider made all chilly perception vanish. I wolfed down the tofu scramble (best I’ve ever had no lie), greens, and potatoes. We also ordered some baked goods to snack on later. Fantastic.

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Feeling full and toasty back at the hotel, it was time to get fancy for Potter. Dress courtesy of Redbubble:

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It would have been silly to take a cab to the theater since it was a 15 minute walk, so yep, back out into the cold for us. My giddiness canceled out the wind chill, however. That and the Times Square sights (Fake Elmos and all – even the Naked Cowboy was doing his thing STILL). Oh snap, there’s the Lyric!

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Because the play itself is so special, I’m not going to say much about it. The only thing that does it justice is the experience, so GO. The story, music, acting, effects, choreography, production, costumes…. Just overwhelmingly breathtaking. So there’s that. I will share some stuff unrelated to the play that made the day so fun. First, we got to pose for photos with our house flags. Slytherin, represent! Oh, and Ravenclaw too.

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There was an usher who had the only job of herding ladies into a single file line for the bathroom during intermissions. He was both militant and fabulous. “Are you with someone? They need to be either in front of you or behind you.” Priceless.

I had a “frozè” in a Cursed Child souvenir cup. That’s frozen rosè, people. A wine slurpee. What a world.

What a world, indeed. But to be more precise, what a city. New York, you are so fantastical and magical on your own, but you’re so adept at surrounding me with the fictional environments I adore so much. I went to Middle-earth and Hogwarts along with Manhattan and Queens, and cherished every single second of it.

Shadowfax, Lord Of All Horses

This scene is guaranteed to give me goosie-bumps and/or tears every time I see it.

Why is this? I’m not a big horse lover. I mean, I love all animals but I’ve only ridden a horse twice in my life. The first time, the big black stallion had an itch in a sensitive place, and insisted on scratching it while my terrified 10 year old self sat on top of him, waiting to be thrown off and stomped on. The second time was only a few years ago. She was a lovely mare named Cinder, and I chatted her up the entire trail, because it seemed like the right thing to do. Anyway, that’s it. So what is it about Shadowfax, appearing out of nowhere, running in slow motion in response to his friend Gandalf’s special whistle?

Perhaps one reason is his pedigree. Legolas seemed pretty damn impressed, didn’t he? Well, he’s right to feel that way. There aren’t many horses in Middle-earth who come from the most majestic and swift Mearas. They’re said to have been tamed by the first King of Rohan, and they can understand human speech. Shadowfax was the current Lord of the Mearas, and was “given” to Gandalf by King Theoden. Apparently Shadowfax wasn’t going to be tamed by any Rohan royalty. He was bigger than that.

Which brings me to the special bond shared by Shadowfax and Mithrandir. They trust each other. They’re both super brave and have the confidence of good over evil to spur them on their quest. It’s like Shadowfax knows how important it is to defeat Sauron and will do whatever it takes. He speeds Gandalf all over the place, gathering the Rohan army to help at Helm’s Deep. He takes Gandalf and Pippin to Gondor so Denethor will get his shit together and fight Mordor (so that doesn’t work well, but you can’t cure crazy). And look at this friendship!

He isn’t going to run away and leave his wizard and hobbit bros to suffer at the hands of pure evil. Oh no, he will STAND STRONG. That is one amazing horse.

How could such an amazing fictional horse be portrayed on the screen? It should be quite the talented actor, right? Also, he’d have to be ridiculously good looking. I don’t know much about horses, but what I do know, in relation to their participation in the LOTR trilogy, is from the most excellent DVD extra feature called Home of the Horse Lords. If you haven’t seen it, I highly suggest you correct that. You’ll learn how the amazing equines were acclimated to movie sets, the friendships they made with their human costars, and the lasting effect their fellowship had on everyone involved. Shadowfax was played by two stallions: Domero, who was used in mostly stationary shots, and Blanco, who is the one you see galloping around Minas Tirith and Rohan with Ian McKellan or his stunt double. Both of those beautiful horses are no longer with us, sadly. They are immortalized in these films, however, and for that I’m grateful.

I suppose it’s a combo of my immense love of all creatures, my adoration of Tolkien’s stories, and Peter Jackson’s movies that give me the special feels for the 54 second sequence, in which The White Wizard calls for his friend. It sums up the sentiment of the LOTR trilogy, in a way. When your friends need you, they’ll be there to help fight for good. Thanks, Lord Of All Horses!

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Funeral Songs. My Demand.

First of all, when I die, and there people around who feel I deserve some kind of send-off, I have one demand. If it’s not met, I’ll become a mean force ghost and haunt everyone. That demand is, THESE SONGS BETTER BE PLAYED:

1. Into The West by Annie Lennox

I may be crying right now, by the way. It is impossible for me to hear that song and not do a bit of ugly sobbing. Speaking of sobbing, back to the matter at hand. I’d like to get all the tears out of the way at my funeral, and this lovely piece will do it. Everyone will imagine me in my hobbit cloak, boarding a ship with Gandalf and the other ring-bearers, giving that final smile to everyone. But don’t be too sad, folks. Once I get to the Undying Lands, me and the Valar are going be FULL ON PARTYING.

 

2. White And Nerdy by Weird Al Yankovic

It’s as good a theme song as any, amirite? I mean, it’s by Al, my comedy music hero. It defines me. I’ll ace any trivia quiz you bring on, I memorized Holy Grail really well, I can recite it right now and have you R-O-T-F-L-O-L, even made a homepage for my dog, yo. So at this point you all can talk about my nerdy accomplishments in life. I’m sure there will be many of them. Maybe do a slide show of all the photo ops I managed to get at comic conventions. There better be one of me and Tom Hiddleston, or I will have lived for nothing. Just kidding. Sort of.

 

3. Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, by Eric Idle

This will be the grand finale, people. And everyone will have to sing along. My force ghost powers will increase and I will torture every attendee of my service if they aren’t belting this out at the top of their lungs. And after it’s finished, and everyone has wiped their tears of joy and laughter, go to a bar and get shit faced. Then move on with your life. Because remember that the last laugh is on you.

 

 

 

That Time I Met The Doctor And A Hobbit.

The ultimate birthday achievement was unlocked a couple of days ago: I went to a fun pop culture convention and got to meet two awesome dudes. One starred in a series of films that means the absolute world to me, and the other is one of the most ridiculously good looking men on the planet. Sean Astin and David Tennant. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is beyond perfect to me. Sean’s portrayal of Samwise Gamgee moves me to tears every time I watch it. David is not only a super Hottie Mchottieson, he’s also a super Actor McActorson. But dear to my heart are his roles as Barty Crouch, Jr. In Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire and The 10th Doctor. A few weeks ago, I found out these guys were appearing at the Raleigh Wizard World Convention the day before my birthday. And lucky me, I have the sweetest boyfriend ever – he got me photo op tickets. ROAD TRIP!!!!!

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Raleigh is only three hours away from my house, so we hopped in the car first thing in the morning and despite the constant drizzling, got there with no problems. Everything about the con was efficient, friendly, and smooth. Which is great for someone like me, who can get a tad overwhelmed in crowded situations. Big ups to Wizard World!

We started our experience, just wandering around the main floor. There were tons of vendors, of course. I was surrounded by so much geeky goodness, I got overwhelmed and didn’t buy anything. HUH? Yeah, I know. Weird. Wait, this isn’t entirely true. I did buy myself a brew to calm my nerves before meeting the famous dudes. Speaking of famous dudes, when Tennant walked onto the floor for his autograph session, the place ERUPTED. That got me amped up for sure. However, since that wasn’t happening for a few hours, we continued to meander around. Not only were there vendors on the floor, there were some educational booths set up. I made a friend at the Sugar Bears booth! It was so precious!

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I also grabbed some info on the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. I plan on doing something for them soon.

Finally, we enjoyed watching all the cosplayers (and dorks like me, just showing off our nerd pride with t-shirts). Especially this DINOSAUR! He went right up and tried to bite my dude – what nerve!

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After wolfing down some french fries, we were ready to stand in line for the Sean Astin photo op. It went very quickly. Before I could even mentally prepare, there was Frodo Baggins’ gardener/bodyguard/protector/hero right in front of me. And boy, was he dressed nice! This caused me to forget to thank him for being a part of my all time favorite movie series. Instead I just complimented his clothes. Me = lame. However, he was extremely gracious. Squee #1!

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Squee #2 came not long after. We made one more round of checking out the stuff on the main floor (and purchasing another beer for my nerves), and caught a bit of David Tennant’s Q&A panel on the big screen, before queuing up for his photo op. THERE WERE SO MANY PEOPLE! It was not surprising, but astounding all the same. I’m sure his face ached afterwards. We were given three rules before we entered the photo area: No hugging, no posing, and only fist bumps. I was a tad distressed since I planned on asking to do the back-to-back Rose/Ten pose. Oh well. I would behave and do the typical stand and smile pose. Who cares, really, because I’m sharing oxygen with the guy. AND THERE HE WAS. Jeans, cool t-shirt, and blazer. And scruff. I did my best not to hyperventilate. I gave my best cheesy grin and said “HIIIIIII!!!!!” and he returned my greeting with that amazing high Scottish accented voice. Our arms went around each other and click. Done. I said “THANK YOU!!!” and he once again returned my words as enthusiastically. Amazing. My hand lingered for an extra second on his back and then I was out of there. Two Slytherins, being awesome! Squee times infinity!!!

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It was late afternoon by the time the photo session was over, but we wanted to experience one more thing in Raleigh before heading home. We decided to walk around the corner to a vegan restaurant suggested by our magic iPhone, The Fiction Kitchen. I have to say, that was the most delicious vegan food I’ve ever put in my mouth-hole. I had the mushroom farro risotto, with added seared tempeh. AMAZING.

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My dude had the crispy fried “chicken” and waffles – I tried a bite and WOW. All of the taste, without hurting a bird!

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After being filled with yummy goodness, we hopped in the car and headed home. What a fantastic day. I love being a geek. I love my boyfriend. I love my fellow geeks. I love Lord of the Rings and Doctor Who and Harry Potter. I love food. I love beer. I love you.

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