Chapel Hill Visitors

Mara and Diane came to visit on Saturday morning, which resulted in me being an extremely groggy hostess due to the previous night’s visit to Santos Party House.  Oddly I found myself reenacting the iternary I’d stuck to when Jon visited; we walked through Central Park to the Upper West Side, grabbed lunch at the Shake Shack (yes the Shroomburger was as amazing as I remembered, and yes I got some custard, against my better instincts) and then Mara and I trekked around the Natural History Museum.  Diane left us after lunch to meet up with a high school friend who lives in new York City.

Mara and I checked out the rocks and the marine life and the evolutionary tree trunk with the dinosaur bones and generally wore ourselves out, because the Natural History Museum is vast and labyrinthine.

Another view of the giant blue whale.
Another view of the giant blue whale.
Mara and the whale.
Mara and the whale.
Section of a giant red wood tree.
Section of a giant red wood tree.

Diane met up with us so we could all catch the new Whoopi Goldberg narrated show at the Rose Center Planetarium, which was about stars and the creation of stars and the destruction of stars and other things involving stellar astral bodies.  I mean, planetariums are cool y’all, so is space, so are stars, so is Whoopi Goldberg.

We trekked back across the park to clean up and then trekked to Hell’s Kitchen to get some thai food at Wondee Siam.  Dumplings and a salad–you’ve seen pictures of this before.  Saturday was a repeat food day y’all, sorry I cannot provide you with any new food porn.  On our way downtown I led us on a brief detour to the park to find my great aunt and uncle’s bench, which has a really beautiful, lovely inscription dedicated to them by their children and grandchildren.  Another lovely, and personal, treasure, in this city full of wonders.


We had tickets to an 8:00 show of Mary Stuart, hence the Hell’s Kitchen excursion.  Mary Stuart was written in 1800 by Friedrich Schiller, and features the showdown between Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland.  Literally, a showdown–the two women have a divalicious scene at the beginning of the first act, which is definitely fabricated because Mary and Elizabeth never actually met in person.  Elizabeth I is played by Harriet Walter and Mary Stuart is played by Janet McTeer.  I didn’t realize that the play was written in 1800s; much of the dialogue seemed really sharp and modern.  My knowledge of Mary Stuary is pretty limited, mainly to the second Elizabeth movie, but I know it involves a clash of queens and a loss of heads.  The play also threw together a bunch of men in business suits, conniving and climbing and fighting and basically being men.  The women, in contrast, were dressed in appropriate period garb, perhaps to more strongly emphasize how apart they really stood in such a male-dominated world.  Anyhow, I give major thumbs up to the this play, especially to the two leads, and to how the director really emphasized the similarities between the two women.  Perhaps in another life they could have been friends.  A neat trick of costumes brings the two women full circle–one begins where the other ends, and vice versa.  Also there is a wonderful bit of stage magic which involves rain.  Really spectacular.

Mary Stuart

The show also provided an example of the odd behavior of American audiences; namely, the tendency to laugh at scenarios that are not funny.  I first witnessed this when I saw the latest revival of Long Day’s Journey Into Night, when Philip Seymore Hoffmann drunkenly rails at Robert Sean Leonard.  Not a funny scene, not a funny play, but the audience was laughing as though it were slapstick.  The audience behaved similarly in this play, especially during the second act scenes involving the discussion of Mary Stuary’s execution.  Not funny people!  I suppose audiences laugh because they are uncomfortable but still–beheadings are not funny.  The end.

After the play, and a bit of necessary Red Mango (it does not exist in North Carolina, people, I am trying to get it while i still can) we headed down to the East Village to meet up with Phil and find some sangria.  Because we had a hankering for sangria.  We stumbled into this really adorable little cafe/hookah bar with a lovely outdoor patio called the Cloister Cafe.  I guess it is so-called because of the really odd stained glass in the cafe’s interior.

Yay friends!

Anyhow, we sated our sangria craving and enjoyed the warm summer night before heading home for much needed sleep–neither Diane, Mara, nor I had gotten much sleep Friday night.

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