Saturday, November 28, 2009

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Massacre

Macy's Department Store: America's Great Iconoclasts

While Windnie played with her family down in San Antonio, I was left to find my own Thanksgiving fun. On a lovely fall day I set out to join the crowds and celebrate the holiday with a good ol' fashioned parade! Little did I know the horrors I was about to witness...

After the seemingly innocent act of sneaking around a police barricade using subway entrances, my childhood was savagely destroyed in front of my eyes. I took pictures!

I was frozen with disbelief when they dismembered Grumpy Bear (Censored for your sake)...

I think they were collecting scalps...

Then they turned on other beloved characters.
Woodstock lay unmoving on the ground, with Snoopy nowhere in sight...

Hello Kitty was drug to the ground, ripped open and then stuffed into a cart

Next the Pillsbury Doughboy was treated like Gulliver by the Lilliputans...

Same goes for the Smurfs and Horton...

Nothing was safe from Macy's crushing fist.
Patriotism: Dead.

Woodland creatures in hats: Gone.

Not even the big man himself was spared their wrath...

Yes, Virginia, Macy's killed Christmas.

I didn't want to stick around to find out what was next...

My Thanksgiving fun didn't end there. I followed this traumatizing experience with a Friendsgiving where I ate lots of food and watched children's movies with my friends in Brooklyn! My holiday featured a lot of free/cheap events including free pie at work and a meal made by my great friends, it would have been awesome to spend time with Windnie and my family but I really can't complain. I hope your Thanksgiving was as fun as mine!

Later days!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Give Some, Take Some

For us working folk, sometimes it can be hard to squeeze a little bit of fun-time into the middle of a busy week.  When you just want to sit back and relax... and maybe laugh a little, The PIT is a good place to go!  The People's Improv Theater hosts FREE performances every hour on Wednesdays between 6pm and 11pm (A nice thing to do if you work late!)  Different Improv groups are paired up each hour so you can get a nice mixture of styles and things throughout the night (Unlike ASSSSCAT at The UCB in this way.)  And an important note: the performances at 11pm are done by members of the audience who get together and improv in groups for everyone!  Improv-ed Improv!  How fun!  Here's their schedule.  Notice there are several free performances on other days of the week as well.  Brian and I saw Punch and The Baldwins this Wednesday at 10pm--both quite funny indeed.  And as an added bonus we got 20% off our meal at Canaan Sushi Restaurant, just below the theater!  There is also a participating Subway on the block!  Just mention you are going to The PIT and POW! you get rewarded for going to a free show!  Works for me.  And the prices at both of those restaurants are good to begin with :)

 Wall Art

And Brian and I  participated in another little niceness switch-a-roo today at the Score! Pop-Up-Swap! in Williamsburg.  We RSVPed ahead of time on their website (which I don't think mattered much)  and showed up with a $3 donation each for City Harvest and a few items of clothing to contribute to the swap.  Then, we were let loose into a swarming crowd of people hovering over tables of things that other people donated.  There were areas for clothing, shoes, accessories, music, books, and homegoods.  It was out of control!  Once you're in you can take whatever you want for free!  (So make sure you bring a bag large enough to stuff all your finds into!)  I got 7 items of clothing--including 2 J.Crew sweaters, 2 American Apparel shirts and a Ninja Turtles hoodie.  Brian got 2 shirts, a Chinese childrens book (which I translated for him on the train ride back into Manhattan), Crime and Punishment and a glasses case.  It was also fun to see other people pick up the things we donated and stick them in their bag :)  So yeah, not bad, eh?  And all of the leftover goodies are given to charity!  We are definitely going to keep our eyes out for more of these kinds of things.  Fun!

We even got our hands stamped!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Animals in People Suits... People in Animal Suits

Brian got too excited about Game Night memories and neglected to share our other cheap adventures of the weekend.  Oh Brian.

So after work on Friday, we met up with my friend Sam Washburn who was visiting from St. Louis.  First things first... CHECK OUT HIS BLOG.  I'm serious.  He is one of the most amazing artists I know.  He even has a second blog solely dedicated to presenting you with an illustration of an animal in a suit every day of the year!  It's called... dun dun duuunnn Animals in Suits!  Fascinating, eh?  So anyway, we met up at the Met (teehee), which for your information has suggested donation admission!  We each paid $1 and spent a couple hours roaming the halls.  Current exhibitions of note can be found here.  Oh, and the museum is open til 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays, which makes it that much more worthwhile at the cost of a single Washington.  Sadly, Brian and I got there on the late side and joined the rest of the gang in time only to view Vermeer's Milkmaid (which is in the US for the first time!) and American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765-1915 (which included a painting of a guy fighting a bear!).  Both exhibits were good, but  the latter I have to admit I enjoyed a great deal!  After that we ate dinner at a delicious diner and went on a very long search for Wendy's Frostys.  My friend Ryan had never had one before! For Shame!

 Sam after his Twisted Frosty!

And speaking of "suggested donation" museums along Central Park... Brian and I also went to the American Museum of Natural History!  (We each paid $5) And while it's more Brian's thing to look at scary stuffed animals than mine... I found this trip amazing!  The special exhibitions are expensive so we didn't see them.. but we could have spent hours in the permanent halls we visited!  There is an insane amount of stuff to see... so from this trip (we only explored the 1st floor!) I recommend the "Milstein Hall of Ocean Life", "Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth" and "Human Origins".  So cool and so educational!  Perhaps i'll make recommendations of the other floors once I've visited them :)

  Squid and the Whale!

Child-stealing Northwest Indian!
(You wonder why I think Natural History Museums are creepy...)

Oh and before Game Night, which you read about in the previous post, Brian and I went to the $2 Thanksgiving wine and food sampling thingy!  If anyone was with me in Chianti for that wine tasting... you should be proud of me for not letting myself get so out of hand this time around :)  We sampled different wines with thanksgiving dishes they thought went well with them.  I skipped out on a few of the wines and got seconds of the foodstuffs.  It was delicious!  Mmm roasted brussel sprouts and mashed potatoes! and Pecans!  Mmm!


Cheap night? Game night!

A night out in the city can be an expensive venture, why not have a night in? With some friends. And some games... Game night!

Last night, Windnie and I took part in our first game night since coming to the city! We joined our friends Robert, Sarah and Kevin, and our new friends Corey and Corey in a raucous game of Cranium. First we split into teams:

Team Midwest: Young and restless

Team South: The south shall rise again!

And then the Cranium commenced! The games went back and forth with both the midwest and the south winning one game. The third and decisive game was also a fiercely contested match with both teams battling back and forth. But with only a few questions remaining...

This happened...
And this...This too...

So I guess game night ended in a tie, but I don't think anyone minded. It was a fun, cheap night with good friends and will almost certainly become a regular event. We've even started brain storming themes for future game nights... so far Clue, TV, and sleepover. If you have any suggestions let us know!

Editors note: Brian's handsome new do is compliments of Ed Lampley! Who reminds us that when keeping things cheap it's important to have friends with skills. Thanks Ed!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

More Bookstore Events

And to go along with Brian's latest post... Guess what?!  It's Indie Bookstore Week!  I'm sorry this is so late :(  We've been slacking since I've been sick.  Maybe you can still find something to go to:
Bookstore Events

For Your Shopping Pleasure

Some coupons:

30% off at Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy! 11/12 - 11/15
Print this coupon and take it to any of their stores.  5% will go to Teach for America.
40% off Seven for All Mankind!  Now through 11/15
I'm not really into Sevens but most people are.
use code: 7FAMILY online or print coupon linked above.

and some links:

 NYC Sales and Shopping
I don't even know what to make of this very long list... but shop away!
An NYC Guide to Getting Rid of Your Old Stuff
and I don't know what to make of this either... but here you go!

Um, and eat some pie:

Free Slice of Pie at Waffle House! Now through 12/15
This looks kinda sketchy, but I don't know.  Someone give it a try.

Haha sorry.  I need to pull myself together and get organized.  Those links were just open in my browser waiting for me to make sense of them... but I'm just too tired.  Enjoy? :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Book Store Bums

A great place to find free entertainment in New York City (and maybe learn something too) is the bookstore! You could be sneaky and just go read the books at a book store but I don't know if they really condone that sort of thing. For a more encouraged free event, keep an eye out for readings, signings and discussions. These events usually coincide with the release of a new book and in a city like New York you never know who will show up!

Since I arrived in the city I've been to 3 such events (Windnie joined for the last two!):

9/25: My first try at free book signing was a discussion with Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan, prolific PBS film makers, at Barnes and Noble on the Upper East Side. I love PBS documentaries and have actually been watching a lot of Ken Burns on Netflix. It helps fill the void of not having school after 19 years of continuous education. These guys were promoting their new film The National Parks: America's Best Idea which was debuting on TV the week after their visit and also includes a companion book.

Burns and Duncan told stories from their travels through the National Parks and then answered questions about their processes and techniques in making films. Many people in the audience apparently thought that the 2 were now experts on all things national parks and asked questions about their vacation plans. The film makers then signed their books which I didn't buy because they were expensive and I am cheap. Overall it was really interesting and enjoyable and wet my appetite for more free events. (As a side note Ken Burns is almost creepily pleasant, like he came out of the Truman Show or something.)

11/9: The Teacha, KRS-One, stopped by the Barnes and Noble in Tribeca last night to discuss and sign his book the Gospel of Hip Hop. Click the picture above to read an article all about this interesting project by a hip hop pioneer. KRS gave a rambling, yet thought provoking, lecture about hip hop, Martin Luther King, globalism and the creation of an authentic American religion. Heading into the event I figured the Gospel of Hip Hop was just a history of Hip Hop culture, boy was I wrong. KRS believes that in the future hip hop will be recognized as it's own religion. From what he said it follows the God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but is rooted in the American urban experience. KRS often paused while he spoke to make sure we understood the weight of his words, often reinforcing this by telling us how controversial his last comment was. It was interesting to say the least. Also in the audience was Charlie Ahearn, director of Wild Style, which KRS called the "First Gospel of Hip Hop" because it taught the world what hip hop was and gave them a common language. I'll have to check it out! Interesting night... Oh I also didn't buy his book to have signed.

11/10: Tonight was Chuck Klosterman at Border's in Columbus Circle. I've never read anything by Klosterman but I'd heard of him and his books before. I actually kind of confused him with Chuck Palahnuik because I mean, how many contemporary writers could be named Chuck??? Well anyways, this began as an actual book reading. He read a story directly from the book. (As opposed to KRS who obtusely talked about his book). The story was amusing and Klosterman has an amusing voice so it was a good time. Klosterman also answered a wide variety of questions from the audience, from the life expectancy of magazines to his thoughts on Ritchie Blackmore from Rainbow going classical. He also answered some questions about his actual writings, go figure! The event ended with a book signing! Which we did not attend.

These events have certainly been varied and engaging and we plan on going to many more! Almost everyday someone is reading the book they wrote somewhere in the city. Keep an eye out for when your favorite author, hip hop legend, or documentarian are coming through town.

Of course interesting talks are not limited to bookstores, sounds like a blog post for another day...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

We <3 Animals (Brooklyn)

I'm sick again!  How wonderful!  But it's okay, because Brian and I had a lovely day of free fun in Brooklyn.  He's still there watching the UC game at a friend's place... but I called it a night and came home to snuggle it up with my blanket... and you know, write this.

So first for your viewing pleasure: a picture of Brian from Halloween day--free "boo-rito" in hand!  Please take note of his amazing bib.  We bought a little roll of foil from the grocery store across the street and made our "costumes" literally as we walked over to Chipotle.  I made a bracelet and he made this bib.  We're good, i know!

And here we are in our real Halloween costumes, which I'm not going to lie... are kind of sad.  We went to the thrift store the morning of and I bought that shirt for $1.99 and Brian bought his overalls for like $10.00?  I was a farm girl (i've got freckles and pigtails...) and he was some sort of factory worker (i used my mascara to dirty up his face...)?  I don't know.  We were confused too... but whatevaaaaah

Now on to today's fun activities!
Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition
We woke up semi-early and went to "BARC" to walk dogs and play with cats!  Not only free, but fun!  and not only fun but nice!  This is how it works:  You show up to the place, fill out a form if it is your first time, they hand you a dog and give you a little bit of their background, behavior summary, and things to watch out for.  Then you walk the dog around the neighborhood for about an hour and enjoy the scenery!  Easy Peasy!  Just make sure you check their volunteer hours on the website so you actually have a dog to walk when you get there.

Here are pictures of Brian and I walking Jenny.  (He was very proud of the 2nd photo so I had to post it for him ;) )  She was so cute and liked to play in the crunchy leaves (like me!).  Most dogs are actually much bigger and stronger... typically Pits and things.  We were given this little one because I told them I had never walked a dog before.  If you go, you'll most likely get handed something a little more challenging :)

On Saturdays you can walk dogs from 9am til noon and you can start playing with cats at noon, conveniently!  So after we finished walking Jenny we went into this cat room type thing and loved on a bunch of cats.  I had a lot of fun, but Brian was a little frightened.  A handful of the cats scratch and/or bite people for no apparent reason.  Luckily, my cat at home does both so I'm used to walking away with a few miniature wounds. (Today, I left with a scratch from a cat named Scratch...)  But don't be afraid.  Most of the cats are super friendly and the ones who might harm you are labeled with caution signs!

Prospect Park Zoo: $7 Admission, Free with membership!
After BARC we made our way over to Prospect Park.  We took our time strolling around and crunching the leaves.  So beautiful and relaxing!  We even ran into our friend Robert May who was also enjoying a day in the park.  Eventually the 3 of us made our way over to the zoo, which we got into for free because we have memberships (totally worth it for zoo lovers like ourselves!  go here for more info: Bronx Zoo Membership. We have the "Individual" one... which is really for 2 people because you can always bring a guest for free.)  But if you don't have a membership, admission is only $7!  This zoo is great.  Very manageable in size and very interactive (Take your kids!).  You can see everything in about 2 hours. Fun!

Brooklyn Museum: Target First Saturdays
And since we were in the neighborhood we walked over to "BAM" for free art!  Every first Saturday of the month, entrance is free and they have fun activities and events going on.  Today there was a great band called The Beats playing and all sorts of booze and foodstuffs (which cost money, so no thank you.)  On the website, all of the events are listed that happen between 5pm and 11pm... which I just now noticed.  You can really make a whole night out of this thing!  Calendar marked for next month!  I suggest getting there a little early since there may be lines for events that you need tickets for.

So yeah, that was about it!  The only thing we spent money on today was our brunch at The Bagel Store in Williamsburg.  This place is so delicious and reasonably priced.  They also have day-old bagels that they sell 7 for $2.25, which I had to buy.  I got all sorts of specialty bagels that I cannot wait to eat!!  (I'll write a blog on bagels soon... because i love them...)  And for dinner I'm eating leftovers!  Today was a cheap success!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Who wants to be on TV?

What did you do with your Wednesday night? I spent mine with Windnie at a FREE live taping of Comedy Central presents! Actually it was 2 episodes, we all had to switch seats in between sets so all y'all wouldn't get suspicious when you watch them on TV. Anyway, we got to enjoy the comedic stylings of Bret Ernst and Benjamin Owen. I thought I had heard of Benjamin Owen before but now I don't think so. But it was fun and mostly funny and maybe we'll be on TV! We were seated in the 2nd row and then the 1st row but off to one side of the stage. We actually had better seats before we were deemed not pretty enough and vanquished to stage left. (I'm not exactly sure that's what happened but I guess some guy and his kids were more important or something, they were lame and didn't laugh that much by the way... watch the episodes and look for the uncool kids and imagine my pretty laughing face instead)

All you faithful blog followers may be thinking, this is the 2nd free live taping you've been to! How do you do it??? Good thing I'm here and can tell you everything I know!

Generally not so much! I found out about the Joe Buck Live taping from tweetjfk on Twitter and I found out about Comedy Central through Timeout New York. Both are good resources for free things going on in the city and will keep you busy for cheap any day of the week, but that's a post for another time.

So here's what I know:
1. First of all live tapings don't necessarily happen at the time the show airs. Actually they usually don't. Live TV is risky business and people are wusses. So with that in mind most late night shows tape in the middle of the day which probably won't work with your work schedule but will work just fine if you're unemployed or just visiting!

2. The best place to get tickets is from the shows themselves. Their websites have instructions, some of which require you to mail them a self addressed stamped envelope (you'll feel special when you get a letter from yourself!), but others that have gone digital. Networks also have instructions for many of their shows and sometimes a 3rd party is in charge of ticketing such as

3. Plan ahead! Last time I checked the Daily Show's website there were no free dates listed for the next couple months. Saturday Night Live only accepts requests in August though the season doesn't begin until September. While flexibility is a generally good you'll still have to list specific dates so know when you're going to be available.

4. If you're a last minute sorta lady or fella (like yours truly) be ready to wait. Often times standby tickets are available the day of a show. Be ready to show up early, be ready to wait, and there are no guarantees! Once again, for you working folks this may be out of the question but all you bums go for it!

Here's a list of shows filmed in NYC. Obviously not all have a live studio audience but maybe you can stop by their filming anyway and maybe even get thrown in a scene as an extra? I dunno if that actually happens though I may swing by the Rescue Me filming happening down the street tomorrow to find out...

TV Shows Filmed in NYC

That's what I know, I hope you learned a little though I know it's not much. Hopefully in the coming months I'll figure out some new insight on how to get you into your favorite shows. And if you've got any tips clue me in! I like free and I like being on TV!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sick & Finding Cheap Goodies

Bottlerocket Thanksgiving Dinner! ($2 Donation) 11/14/09 2pm-6pm
Prepare your tummies for that huge Thanksgiving Dinner with this little test run.  Register for a time slot now before it's too late!  Brian doesn't know it yet, but I signed us up for 5pm :)

J.CREW Sample Sale! This Week Only
So i might suck it up and make my way over to this sale... but only because it's close by... and if I'm going to buy anything, it might as well be classic and good quality.

Fred Perry Sample Sale! This Week Only
And perhaps sometime this week I may check this out?  Still may be too much money for my little pocket...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Quick One For You Austin folk

Free Amy's Icecream 11/02/09  2pm-6pm
So this one is coming to you a tad late... and only for you people living in Austin... aka my brother and cousins... and Catherine... so I hope you see this in time to get your free small icecream! Go go go!