Thursday, April 12, 2007

Escape to New York, Part One: SPAMALOT

As you all know, I took part in the PASIC (published author's special interest chapter) conference recently. While I attended workshops and receptions and social events, I did get in quite a few personal fun moments, as well. This included five Broadway shows. I know--five! A group of us were on fire to see as many as we could; after all, on previous trips, we'd already visited the "big sights" so we were free to get down to the New York details.

Now, on to it....

When I arrived, it was seventy degrees, and I was not wearing wispy spring clothing, friends. But I was prepared to layer, so it wasn't a tragedy. I had the pleasure of waiting fifty minutes for my luggage in the bowels of the JFK baggage claim building, where there were pigeons flying around. You heard me. Pigeons--big rats that stare at you with barely contained curiosity and rage.

Then Supershuttle picked me up and, naturally, we stopped at every hotel in the city before mine. I didn't mind a grand tour though. It's interesting and scary as hell to witness New York traffic in action. I was soon reacquainted with the language of beeping: there's a difference between an "I'm here, be advised" beep and "You *&^^%$$%^*" beep. Also, suprisingly enough, I didn't see any cars running red lights. And the drivers? Totally accepting of the high stress factor. I will never drive in New York.

I met my friends at the Millennium Broadway Hotel, which is right in Times Square, very central. I was starving, having eaten snacky food in coach while most of my friends had flown first-class as a treat. (Wenches. :) ) We were pointed in the direction of a restaurant across the street--Osteria Al Doge--which not only had great food, but a drill-instructor waitress. Welcome to the big city!

My buddy, Sylvia Mendoza (journalist and novelist of the most awesome kind), and I had some limoncello and were the only ones with enough energy to engage in some after-dinner escapading. As a starter, I forced her to go to the Blue Fin bar at the W Hotel, where I happen to know of a certain cocktail that pleases me to no end. It's called--yup--"the Blue Fin," and consists of Hypnotique, vodka, white cranberry juice, and a gummy fish. But our bartender didn't have gummy fish. And the cocktail was watery. Still, a good time was had and we ended up staying there for a few more hours.

I slept well.

The next day, I had the honor of meeting my Ace editor, Ginjer Buchanan, for the first time face to face. When I saw all the STAR WARS stuff in her office, I knew we'd get along really well. (She's been to Skywalker Ranch, you all!!!) She was kind enough to give me a tour of the office, and I got to meet all the wonderful people who put effort and time into shaping and selling my books. (Thank you, everyone! You're the best!) That's when I got to see my new cover, too--for MIDNIGHT REIGN (2/08). As I told you in a previous blog, I love it. I'm awaiting the jpeg so I can show you, too.

Afterward, Ginjer took me to lunch at the Blue Ribbon Bakery, which is actually a lovely restaurant with a downstairs section that reminded me of Savannah, with its brick walls and dim lantern-like lighting. I had a fabulous cheese plate. Excellent food and company.

By now, I was feeling like Queen of the Subway, so I bid Ginjer farewell and took off to the hotel to meet my buds. We ventured onto the subway to Union Square, where I had made reservations at Lady Mendl's for tea.

Tea!!!

It was an awesome service--one of the best I've had outside England. If you guys are in New York, I highly recommend it. It's in a sedate, gorgeous B&B and has the feel of an Edith Wharton story. You get, like, five courses (salad, sandwiches, various and delicious goodies), plus a big selection of teas. I had Lavender Mint and was in fits of ecstasy the whole time.

Afterward, a few of us decided to brave the TKTS line in Times Square to see if we could get into a show. (If you don't know, TKTS is a clearinghouse for leftover, discounted tickets. It's across from BEAUTY AND THE BEAST right now because they're renovating the normal ticketbooth.) We got our hands on SPAMALOT tix and dashed to the nearby theater. (BTW, that's something I love about New York and London. You're walking along the street and you trip over theaters. It's so awesome.)

We had a somewhat obstructed view from the top level--oh, well--but SPAMALOT was hilarious. I haven't seen MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL, but I'm not utterly clueless, so I was familiar with what was going on. You can't watch TV without ever having witnessed clips from the movie that this musical is based on. And if you've ever heard tales of King Arthur and the Lady of the Lake and Lancelot and Galahad, etc., etc., you'll be familiar with all the stories that this musical pokes fun at. Sure, it's totally silly, but you can't help getting into the spirit of things. The songs are simple, and it's the comedic lyrics that matter--not the tunes themselves. The music isn't the point of the production anyway. However, I did find myself walking out of the theater whistling "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life." Whistling is a part of that song, so that made it easy.

All the big stars who originated the stage roles had deserted the production by this point. People like Tim Curry, Hank Azaria, David Hyde Pierce, and Sara Ramirez, who now plays Callie on GREY'S ANATOMY. But the actors were more than up to the task. Great comic timing. I almost ROFLOL during the French taunting scene. And the conceit of the Laker Girls was too funny.

Basically, SPAMALOT was short and sweet, not an epic production by any means, but definitely a clever, fun time.

Next blog: the adventures continue with THE COLOR PURPLE.

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