Wednesday, February 20, 2013

SCBWI WINTER CONFERENCE CHRONICLES: Vol.2 Would You Like Another Bagel, Mr. Kong?

 Day 1: Travel Day.

      As you have guessed I am not writing or posting these in order.  I can't honestly tell you why, but it just kind of happened this way.  As I sit here and kinda sort of watch-kinda sort of listen to episodes of The Simpsons, I have vowed to catch up on my blog, though to be honest, Illustrator's Day is coming up in Atlanta on Friday, I have 3 competitions I'm preparing art for and of course there is always Illustration Fridays.  Not to mention I am behind on my emails and I'm also blogging... eek.

      In any case I wanted to chronicle Day 2 from NYC Winter Conference.  Day 2 was a Travel Day/Fun Day.  B and I boarded a plane somewhat early morning... I know, I have never been one to like getting up early, but it's true I was awake before 8am, without staying up all night.  We had a nice seat mate, but I can't really help but think constantly about the Season Finale of Grey's Anatomy where the medic plane crashes and the characters either die or get stranded out in the woods for 7 days.  There is quite  a bit of woods in between Georgia and New York and I admit, it was on my mind.  I've always been paranoid of flying and I don't think any future quantity of plane rides will ever change this. Alas, I am forever cursed with my fear of being suspended in tons of steel floating aloft in the sky only by the thinnest hair of physics.  I did enjoy watching, and watching only as I didn't feel like plugging my headset, a good episode of The Office.  It was the one where Pam's Ex-Fiance gets re-married and invites Jim and Pam to the wedding and Jim is very worried that he is going to be messed with or beat up or be called names.  You've all seen that one, I'm sure. It's a very good, very funny episode and I played a little game with myself to see if I could remember what the characters were saying to each other in my head.  As my memory of such things is always touch and go, this made for quite an interesting game with some really good add libbed dialogue (if I may say so myself) even if the entire "show" was only in my own head.  It made the time go by quickly and in a more amusing fashion.  I will always have a special place in my heart for Mystery Science Theatre 3000...

 ...Speaking of shows, in know this is a random interject, but, I am watching the Haunted Tree House Episode of This particular Season of the Simpsons, and I want to say,"Also, how AMAZING is Bart Simpson's Hat right now."  It's made of an MJ Thriller Record album, he's carrying a Batman comic under his arm and he has a make-shift cape tied around his shoulders. This is a fantastic costume, possibly a contender for next year's Halloween.  This is, of course the spoof on Pet Cemetery  and MJ's Thriller, when all the dead pets rise out of the ground as Lisa share a tearful sentiment over Snowball's grave.  These are just a few of "my favorite things" (sing song) and for wanting to be a Toys 'R' Us Kid (because they never really grow up, for those who are unfamiliar with the 80's TRU Ad Campaign.)

      As we were heading in for a landing at LaGuardia, I noticed the Statue of Liberty. She was SO small it was as if she were that miniature key chain in her own gift shop.  After check in, B and I kind of took a detour after detour trying to figure out how to navigate the subway to Grand Central from where we were staying. In the end, we gave up and we walked the eight block hike it took to get to Grand Central.  This would be the first of the seemingly endless eight block pilgrimages I would make that weekend.  Since we had some time after that, I insisted we g to the Busy Bee Bagel Cafe in Brooklyn for lunch.  
I was very eager to see the cafe I designed the logo for in person and eat some of the tasty food I read and type set captions for on their menus.  As I am not from NY, and was obviously a visitor (I wasn't calling myself a tourist as I wasn't in NY to tour), I was SO not aware how far Brooklyn was from Manhattan. Geography has never been one of my strong subjects.  I asked for a map of the subway route and with B's help we navigated our way to what we thought was the right stop.  After walking 14 city blocks later, we realized our map-reading mishap.  It was an interesting walk and, as I have never set eyes on Brooklyn, I found the walk refreshing and nice, even though the wind was cutting us in half and making the chilled temperature seem much more arctic than necessary...  Perhaps brisk more so than refreshing would be a good adjective to compromise on.    After following a phone GPS on foot, which is something everyone should experience in their lives,  we arrived at the Busy Bee Bagel Cafe.  This arrival was preceded, however, by a short  and somewhat arbitrary detour into a hair salon to ask for some quick last-minute directions... you know, just for safe measure.  THIS is where I had my Mickey Mouse moment.

[I'll define what I mean when I say Mickey Mouse Moment.  It is always eminent and undeniably inevitable that Every Single Human Being, regardless of gender, age, class, education or disposition, whilst visiting Disney World or Land (doesn't matter), lights up like the fourth of July when they see that Mickey Mouse Costumed Character in the park.  Regardless of all their previous denials of how unimportant and uninterested they are in taking a photo op with the most beloved animated character of all time, at this point they are pushing over babies in strollers, shoving elderly people out of their way and even tossing small children that happened to get under foot into nearby bushes just to take their picture with that poor over worked, possibly underpaid college kid dressed in that Mickey costume.  I've heard stories of it coming to fists when it comes to Mickey time.  And this is exactly what I mean when I say a Mickey Moment. When you are willing to make a complete ass out of yourself to get that photo-op of a life time no matter what it takes to get it.... and yes, I had a Mickey Moment.]

      ...Luckily there were not ANY babies in strollers, elderly or small children to trample.  I can at least maintain my reputation as a nice guy.  So this nerd took his photo with the logo on the sign, and he took his photo with glass decal on the front door (holding up entering traffic).  The place was as cool and as hip as I imagined. Very artsy, very bohemian and very relaxing and comfortable.  Those of you that are local, should definitely check it out.  The food is wonderful and the atmosphere is choice.  My vegetarian wrap-something was very tasty and I enjoyed my first bag of potato chips I had in months.  I also had a fruity power smoothie which was very nice and I really liked the table made from an old painted door. Very cool.  See photo ;0)
We hung out with one of the owners, Simeon, and he told B and I of the plans for the businesses expansion and of how Sandy had affected them.  B and I even got the honor of signing the wall, a very tall canvass with a painted portrait of a fallen angel on top and plenty of room for visitors to sign on the bottom.
As there were many who have come before me and signed, I picked a small corner to sign my name and draw a little "busy bee" of my own.  It was a very nice and relaxing afternoon, but it was time to leave and go to the Empire State Building.  We had tickets to go all the way to the top (120 stories) and we didn't want to miss it.   We said our goodbyes to Simeon and with his help we found a subway station only a few blocks from the cafe.  This would have been handy knowledge before had... but anyway.

      We hopped on the subway and headed back towards Manhattan to the Empire State Building.  I have to talk about one detail from the train ride.  As always there are adverts on the trains, but there was one that was posted up that I saw all weekend for an online pet shop.
These ads displayed the most adorable little kittens and puppies and made me glad I was not near an animal shelter as I would have been more likely to adopt every adorable animal in the place.  I would say these adverts did their job well, but a week or so after that, I can't even remember the name of the website without googling it.

 photo by B.E.

      To make a long story short, we arrived at the Empire State Building.  I was very excited, though we couldn't really find the entrance and ended up entering in the CVS that was on the side of the building and kind of making our way through to the proper entrance foyer.  We then proceeded through an elaborate but very classy red velvet rope labyrinth that I assumed would be filled with a cue of people during the daytime... as I am sure few tourists visit there at night, the labyrinth was a quick solve and soon we were riding the elevator to the 80th floor, where you can see an exhibit of the history of the building of the Building.  There were also so many interesting statistics about the place.  B and I purchased the audio tour and since they seemed to be rushing people through the exhibit space to get them to the observatory, we didn't get t stay long.  As I usually like to get my money's worth from museum exhibits, I like to read EVERYTHING.  If there is a plaque, I'm reading it. If there is a photograph or Illustration, I'm studying it.  I was slightly disappointed I could not do this at the 80th floor.  Once back n the elevator we were on our way to the 120th floor.  The elevators were so elegantly decorated and the floor button pad was shaped like the building itself... I know, cute, huh?  Also no one was really speaking to each other, very much like a regular elevator ride you would have anywhere, but 80th to the 120th was a much longer ride to pretend that no one else is in the elevator with you.  I often wonder why the etiquette is as such, but you never want to be "that annoying elevator loiterer that talks to you while you're just trying to get to your floor" do you? SO you just shut your trap and enjoy the ride, pretending that the ceiling of the elevator is really the most interesting thing you could possibly have ever seen.

  photo by B.E.

      Once we reached the observatory, B and I realized something very quickly once we stepped outside.  If we thought it was cold and windy down on the streets of Brooklyn, it would not have been able to hold a candle to how cold and how amazingly strong the wind was blowing off the top of that building.  Partly because the wind was so strong it would have "blown it out." Har har.  I was kind of glad there was a safety cage for all the wayward visitors that might just be, quite literally, swept off their feet if they weren't careful.  B was really excited and actually took some fantastic photographs when we were there.  I have posted just a few.  I can't quite express in words what it is like to see the city at night from 120 stories.  I was absolutely without words.  There are SO many beautiful lights that you find yourself hypnotized.
I found myself staring at the seemingly endless traffic of cars, trucks and taxi cabs so small and so far below me.  It was as if you were watching an ant farm that was inside a Lite-Bright with every color light shining simultaneously.  I could see everyone ice-skating at Rockefeller Center or hurrying about their lives.  NYC from that view is really something to behold.  But the wind and chill whips you back into reality and you have to run back inside to warm up again.  Posted around the Human Safety Cage are large green numbers.  These correlate to the touch pad of the audio tour B and I purchased.  B decided it was much better to walk around the glass conservatory and view the sites that the audio tour mentioned form the warmth and safety of the inside. This works for B as he is in actuality, as tall as a two-story house and could see over the ocean of heads of people trying to do exactly the same thing he was.

      I, on the other hand, am about as tall as a teapot and had to devise an alternate strategy.  As I explained before, I am ALL ABOUT getting my money's worth, and my trip to the Empire State Building was no exception.  I decided that the outside blustery chilled Arctic winds would be OK in rather short bursts and doses.  Since looking out the observatory windows, now crowded with people, I knew the best solutions was to calmly take a deep breath, press the appropriately assigned audio tour number on the pad and then... with for it...  Rush outside!.. So quickly and look and look and look and look and look and look (itchy and scratchy) to see what the audio guide was talking about and then.... Quick rush back inside!... warm up a minute then..... Rush right back outside! and then look and look and look and then.... Rush right back inside to warm up for a minute... then... well, you get the picture.  There were 7 numbers on the pad and each numbered part of the tour is anywhere between 5-8 minutes in length and yes I did not leave until I did every sing point around that entire observatory. That was A LOT of running in and out or a door.  Who needs a gym membership in NYC, I tell you.

      After B and I left the observatory we rode the elevator down to the 80th floor where the gift shop is  located at.  Since Micah was not able to accompany us on this trip, she did request we bring her something back form NYC.  She collects snow globes and I found this really adorable pink one that had all the major NYC landmarks in it. Very nice and cute. I got that for her and purchased a lapel pin of the Empire State Building for my satchel and a shiny postcard with an illustration of King Kong hanging off of the ESB.   B bought a magnet some water as we both felt like we had spent the last hour and a half exploring a desert instead of the tallest and, perhaps that evening, the coldest building in NYC.  We decided that diner should be at one of those hole-in-the-wall mom and pop pizzerias that serve the super large slices of NY-Style Pizza.  As I had previously been on a low-carb veggie diet for several months previously and could only dream about bread, dinner that night was, for me, a slice of heaven.  Heaven incidentally came with bread sticks, as well.... heaven's a pretty yummy place.

      That pretty much sums up Day 2.  We took the train back to the hotel and turned in semi-early for us (that's like11pm), since I had a VERY early day ahead of me... and you all should know by now how I feel about early days.  Stay tuned next time kiddies for the next SCBWI Conference adventure.  Same Bat Chanel, Somewhat Same Bat Time.

Till then,
Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, keep making art. 

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad you got to have this awesome experience. I could imagine I was there right along with you and B with your descriptions. B's pictures are the best. The Irish have a way with words as we all know. And you are definitely Irish.You are a wonderful SeanchaĆ­.