A whole lot of company!

Today was a great day. Why? Because I barely left the apartment. And that’s awesome. Because these past two weekends, while ridiculously awesome fun, have been quite exhausting and just a day to catch up on my laziness was needed, as well as laundry (laundry on weeknights sucks, especially when you don’t get home until 8 or 8:30).

So, where to begin? Well, I guess we’ll have to go back to last weekend, the one that the 4th of July fell on. That was the weekend where my best buddy Jeff Crepeau came on up to visit and have some NY fun after recently moving back to the East Coast from Colorado Springs, as he is now stationed in the Ft. Meade area. He is off to SOS in a week or so and a trip to NYC was a great thing to knock out before heading to sweaty Montgomery, Alabama (ugh. If I never see that place again it’ll be too soon).

He came up on Friday, 4 July. NBC gave us that day off – Yay! He came up in the early afternoon and we first just hung around the apt and killed some time catching up, then headed into the city as the plan was to catch the Macy’s Fireworks display over on the East River off the FDR highway. Larry was going to meet up with us over there and he suggested Duke’s on 3rd Ave which is a cool restaurant with awesome good home food (I had the Mac & Cheese and Jeff had the enormous TV Dinner). After we all met up and had dinner, we then walked the short walk to the mass of humans at the FDR around 39th St. Oy. Lots o’ people. And while it hadn’t rained all day, the forecast was for rain and it was seriously gloomy so having an umbrella was a smart idea. Sure enough, at 9pm, as we were waiting for the show to being, and getting jostled by billions of (seemingly) foreign tourists, the rain started to fall. And the fireworks didn’t start…until about 9:30. By that point, my eyes had been nearly poked out numerous times from women totally not cognizent that their midget height put their umbrella pretty much at everyone else’s eye level and were hence a menace. I said this to one lady who just responded ‘That’s as high as it goes’. Bitch, I’ll cut you if that thing pokes my eye out. Just sayin’. Ha! Finally the fireworks began and lo and behold the fireworks were way south than expected. (A few days later I read the Time Out NY I bought for the week that said the fireworks were being moved way south in order to present a more dramatic skyline background….WTF!? For who? People in Brooklyn????? Eff them!) So of the fireworks I managed to see by looking around the guy who had his ten-year-old kid on his shoulders, they were impressive, but I think I’d rather have seen them on the NBC HD broadcast.

Here’s a pic of the Empire State Building I took on the way back home after the fireworks.

The next day, Jeff and I headed into Manhattan to get some late breakfast and get out of the rain, which was a major theme of his visit, as it rained a LOT those days. Like torrential downpours. We met up with Larry at 30 Rock and I gave them the ‘Insider’s Access’ tour of 30 Rock, going into the Conan O’Brien set as well as the SNL Studio floor (unfortunately completely packed with computer equipment and soundbooths), where we managed to tag along with the consumer tour (that costs $25) and hear the scoop on the SNL studio as I don’t know all that trivia. Besides those studios, my awesome cubicle, and trying to walk around the News floors and find anything cool to see, we then headed up to the Top of the Rock (thanks to Jeff for his military discount – half off tickets so we each only had to pay $10!) observation deck. It was still rainy, so it meant less crowds, but it was still a beautiful view nonetheless. I still maintain it’s a better overall view than that from the Empire State Building, as you see the ESB and can also clearly see Central Park. We then decided to catch a movie at the Ziegfeld, which happened to be Hancock (quick review: wait for DVD – just not that good a movie to spend $12 on), but before going there, we took the subway down to Macy’s, in order to show Jeff allegedly the World’s Largest Store (although I would swear that Harrod’s in London truly has that status). It is a cool store, to be sure. Then we subway’d back up to the Ziegfeld, which truly is an amazing theater to go see a movie in, as it is HUGE. There’s only one screen there and you’re basically in this fantastic Art Deco movie house. Awesome. Mediocre movie, but amazing presentation. After that, I had brought up earlier that I knew of a German Beer garden in Queens I’d wanted to go to, so Jeff brought up the idea of having dinner there, so the three of us took the subway ride out to Astoria, Queens! The weather had gotten much better at this point so it wasn’t raining and when we got there, that held up. Some nice people after we got out of the train also helped guide us to the beer garden, as it’s a little walk from the subway station. It was a great place, although no band was playing that night. But lots of great Hoegaarten beer and bratwurst and sauerkraut and french fries and who cares? It was good times. We then took the subway back in to Manhattan, said farewell to Larry, and then took the subway a little bit further to Times Square, so Jeff could see it at night with the mass of humanity that is Times Square. It’s ridiculous, but still worth seeing. And I dragged us into Virgin Megastore where I ended up buying Guitar Hero III: Aerosmith (a little bit of drinking always makes me a much more liberal shopper). Of course once we get home we played that for a while until it was time to crash.

That next day, Jeff wanted to meet up with an old friend from high school who had contacted him the day before via Facebook. So we went down to the Union Square area to meet up there and had a good lunch and some drinks with his friend(s). But the true trip destination that day was Coney Island!!! I hadn’t been there yet so I was most definitely excited about that escapade, especially considering that it is home to one of the more legendary rollercoasters around, the Cyclone. Larry met up with us at the subway station that will take you all the way out there, as it is a subway journey all the way across Brooklyn, which is not a small journey. After about 45 minutes, we finally arrived at Coney Island. As you leave the subway station, you can see the Cyclone, and I immediately was stoked. After grabbing a diet coke we then headed to the Cyclone and $8 later each, we were in line for what looked to be a small carnival style rollercoaster that had the potential for plenty of pain. I was wrong. As while it’s definitely not nearly as produced and polished as its numerous descendants in modern theme parks throughout the world, Holy God, it’s one of the most fun rollercoasters I’ve EVER been on. And not all that painful, especially if you’re in the front of the coaster train. It’s not a very tall coaster – maybe 10 stories? – but after that first drop, it just takes you on a freakin’ RIDE. It doesn’t let up until you pull back into the station and realize, hells yeah that was awesome. You can reride for $5 and not even have to get out of the car to do so – but we didn’t. Instead we left and walked along the Boardwalk that faces the long sandy beach against the Atlantic Ocean. We headed though to the world famous Nathan’s Hot Dog stand, which a few days earlier had been the site of the ridiculous Hot Dog Eating contest. Just thinking of that makes me a bit nauseous. But if you eat a normal sized portion of the food, you won’t be disappointed. I wasn’t super hungry so i couldn’t stomach having a hot dog, but I did have an order of the fries, which were amazing. Jeff and Larry had hot dogs though, and they both seemed to be satisfied customers! I also loaded up with another large Diet Coke, which proved to be not a good thing later on, as on the subway ride back, we took a train that makes quite a few more stops than the one we rode in on to get there. And by the time we were around Union Square in Manhattan (about 25 stops from Coney Island), my bladder was about to fucking burst. Ugh. We were to go all the way up to the times square area because we were going to catch Avenue Q in a few hours, but I literally was like, I have to find a bathroom NOW. So we got out, found a Starbucks, but found also a long ass line for the restrooms. DAMMIT. But I waited and danced, and finally peed. Sweet relief.

We then walked up Broadway to the Theater District area and caught Avenue Q. As I knew from seeing it before, it was still just as hilarious as it was the first time. If you get a chance to see it, I highly recommend you do so. Great songs that as Larry accurately described it, a Sesame Street for adults, with songs like ‘Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist’ and ‘Schadenfreude’ (taking pleasure in someone else’s pain). A dinner afterwards was much needed, and then it was time to say goodbye to Larry and Jeff and I headed back home. That pretty much concluded the visit as I had to go to work the next day. It was an awesome time though to get to see my buddy Jeff. He left the next morning and then I began my work week, being pretty exhausted from that weekend.

You can currently see all my visit-from-Jeff pictures at the following page on my regular site:
My Regular Photo Journal page

So the work week occurred. It was a bit stressful with all sorts of fun drama occurring as well as that whole ‘I’m the man’ bit while my boss is on vacation for two weeks. WTF? Do I get paid enough to deal with this kind of shit? I’m starting to have my doubts.

But I had to get ready as I had another set of visitors coming in: Eric and Kelly Dean!!! They were flying in on Thursday afternoon, so I left work a bit early in order to make sure I was home when they arrived. I couldn’t get off early enough in order to pick them up, but Eric’s sister lives in this area so she picked them up and brought them over. Contrasted to Jeff’s dreary weather when he visited, they had spectacular weather. It was perfect temperatures plus there was wind so it blew out all the haze and resulted in crystal-clear vistas enabling you to see all the bridges and skylines without a trace of haze. It was awesome. So on Thursday, after getting dropped off and getting a bit settled, I took Eric and KD into the city. KD had never been to New York before, so it was definitely a big exciting step for her, as hey, it’s NYC and that first time is always exciting. A step back: it was awesome to see them again – I miss my friends from the Springs! Alright, back to the trip – so on Thursday evening, I took them into the Hell’s Kitchen area since that’s pretty much the area I am most familiar with in terms of finding places to eat (plus it has the more friendly and fun gay bars too). So we went to one of my favorites, Vintage, which was definitely a good choice, as it’s got a great vibe inside and pretty good food for the price. After dinner, we then walked down to 45th and crossed over to Times Square, which drops you off right in the middle of it all. It’s always a breathtaking view to see Times Square, especially at night. We went to the M&M’s store (I LOVE That place), and then walked over to the Rockefeller Center area so they could see Radio City Music Hall as well as go get a drink at the Channel 4 Bar. By this point, we were all feeling pretty good and it was time to get home though, as I had to go to work the next day. Boooo!!!

So that day while I was at work (a somewhat crappy day for me, to be sure), they did a lot of the tourist things, like the Empire State Building, Ellis Island, Central Park…and other stuff I can’t remember. But after work for me, I went out with Larry, as I had tickets to an NBC Universal employee screening of Mamma Mia! at the Director’s Guild of America theater!!!!! I was so stoked to see this as I have seen the stage production four times (once in London, twice in Vegas, and once in the Springs) and can’t get enough of it. And seeing the cast that was attached (Hello, Meryl Streep!) as well as the location shooting in Greece, I couldn’t wait. And it was well worth the wait. Mamma Mia! is amazing on screen. Meryl Streep kicks serious ass in her role and sings her ass off. Pierce Brosnan not so much, but he’s still great in the movie. And the songs are all fantastic. It’s hard to think of how you could come out of this movie in a bad mood, but I guess it’s possible. But try not to be smiling after the Dancing Queen number in the first act of the movie. Impossible. During the screening, and after certain numbers, the audience actually broke out into applause, as if it were the actual stage show. Yes, it’s really that entertaining. I will definitely go see it again as I know Shelly wants to see it. Larry and I then went to this great restaurant afterwards for dinner and had some awesome drinks and a delicious pizza that some of the other diners near us were instantly jealous of. One pair actually leaned over and started chatting with us because they envied how good the pizza looked. It was a great night and finally one where it was just me and Larry!

Anyways, I got home that night fairly late and got to check in with KD and Eric upon returning home, as I had given them a key to get in at their convenience.

Alright, then on Saturday (yesterday? wow, how long have I been writing?) we woke up and finally made it out to head in to the city for some lunch and to continue some of the sightseeing. We first had some pizza at Ray’s Pizza (which claims to be the Famous Original, but so do seven billion others) which was good but far too much; we then walked over to 30 Rock as I was again giving the “Insider” tour. This time we then tailed along with the paying tour for the Conan O’Brien set one as well – allegedly the camera lens used to film the show is almost a bug-eye one to help make the small studio look bigger, and explains the true small size of the couch and desk. I’m not convinced. We then headed to 5th Avenue to do some shopping! KD wanted to hit Banana Republic, and we definitely did. That BR on 5th is pretty impressive, I must say. We also went to my least favorite H&M store (where I did NOT spend money, thank you very much), and Tiffany’s, which was a requirement as KD is a huge Audrey Hepburn fan, so as a true fan must, we went there. Not for breakfast though. Damn – that place has beautiful jewelry. Ridiculous prices to go with it too. After that, we then took the 6 train down to its southern end at the Brooklyn Bridge, which we walked about 1/3 of the way over. It was pretty crowded and basically, it’s a pretty cool experience to still only go to about the first tower on the Manhattan side. It was about 5 by this point and we all had had about enough so we headed back home in order to relax a bit and get ready for the evening, as we were going to meet up with Larry for some dinner and some gay club action! So a few hours later, we all met up at Cascina (I love that place) for dinner, having a very enjoyable Italian dinner and the opportunity to have KD & Eric meet my man Larry. After our delicious dinner and two bottles of red wine, we then headed down to Splash, as I had made KD a promise to take her to a gay club that has ridiculous hot guys wearing next to nothing strutting their stuff on platforms. And while the evening started a bit slow, it definitely picked up after a while and the go-go boys started doing their thing. Yowza. No pictures from that – although I may have to one day. 🙂

It was a great night, but needless to say, putting my head down to sleep that evening felt FANTASTIC, as it had been a long two weekends and work week.

So now it’s about time to start an interesting two weeks at work. No company next weekend. Training begins for the Urbanathlon I’ve signed up for – which is basically a race through Manhattan set up by Men’s Fitness, in which you run about 10 miles but at the beginning, middle and end are ‘urban’ obstacle courses. The first is a Marine hurdle hop, where the hurdles are like 5 feet high. Then the second is where you hop taxicabs. The final is climbing all 52 stories of World Trade Center 7. It should be fun, as long as I properly do the training. If I do, I will be super fit!!!

And I’m getting a hair cut tomorrow.

Big Brother 10 started up tonight. Discuss it in my Forum if you are interested and have things to comment. There’s a few regulars there that discuss it along with me and I’d love to hear your thoughts too!

And now it’s time to make my bed! Good night, and have a great week. I’ll probably be putting up my pics from KD & Eric’s visit on Monday night, as I just didn’t get to it today. I was far too busy watching Batman Begins on Blu-Ray (can NOT wait for The Dark Knight) and Cloverfield on Blu-Ray. And laundry.

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