A Skinflint’s Survival Guide to NYC in a Blizzard

January 30th, 2011

What do you do when you’re visiting New York City in the aftermath of a blizzard? Well, if you have ample bucks to spare, you can do a lot. Plenty of great Broadway shows to see, concerts, museums, fine dining … you get the drift.

But, what if you’re on a tight budget, and looking for, shall we say, cheap thrills? As a proud Recessionista, if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s maximizing fun at minimal expense. So, as a public service, I will now share some of my Shoestring Survival Tips to the Big Apple in a Blizzard:

    DON’T ORDER ROOM SERVICE! As tempting as it is to stay-put in your cozy hotel room and order from the room service menu, take a look at the prices and the service charges. My hotel was charging $7.75 for one (yes, one) egg — plus a $3 service charge! That’s like, $11 – for ONE egg! You could buy 6 or 7 dozen eggs and feed 50 panhandlers breakfast for $11!
    SCOPE-OUT A SUBWAY SANDWICH SHOP I was lucky to have a Subway Sandwich shop just two doors away from my hotel. In the midst of pelting sleet and thunder-snow, I was easily able to brave the elements, and get to a $5.00 footlong, which was a helluva lot better than that $11 egg! (Yes, even in the middle of NYC, you can still get a Subway $5.00 footlong — good to know.) Plus, they serve Seattle’s Best coffee and really cheap breakfast muffins, which is quite handy in a pinch.
    CALL THE LETTERMAN SHOW After checking-in to my hotel, I took a walk (just before it started to snow). I saw that the Ed Sullivan Theater / David Letterman Show was just around the block. That night, while hunkered-down in my hotel room, I watched Letterman as he joked about the impending storm, and I was struck with a brilliant idea. Maybe, since we were about to be hit with estimates of a foot of snow or more, a lot of the people who had tickets to the next day’s taping wouldn’t show-up, and I could get in on stand-by. I figured since I was able to dance 8 hours a day, 6 days a week, for 6 straight weeks in freezing temperatures while ringing a bell for the Salvation Army, I could easily manage to walk a block or two, blizzard or not, to see the Letterman Show!

    So, I went onto the Letterman Show’s website, and got the skinny on how to get free stand-by tickets on the day of the show. You just phone 212-247-6497 starting at 11:00 am (the show tapes Monday through Thursday), and answer a trivia question (which is supposedly easy). The next morning, I phoned and got a recorded message stating the show was “on hiatus” till Monday, Jan. 31st. ‘Hiatus, my ass!’ I thought. ‘They took a snow day!’ Yup, somewhere between 5 pm on Wednesday (which is when they tape that evening’s show) and 11:35 pm (which is when they air the show), they decided to cancel Thursday’s taping and go with a rerun of Hoffman and DeNiro. They probably figured (as I did) that the studio audience would be scant in a blizzard. But did they even bother to consider that maybe, just maybe, there was a woman in a hotel room just a block away, celebrating her 50th birthday alone (because her friends were too wimpy to walk through a couple of lousy slush puddles to visit her), who would TOTALLY show-up and TOTALLY cheer like a banshee, even if the guest was someone sorta lame? Wusses! You’re all wusses!

    TAKE A WALK THROUGH CENTRAL PARK It’s one of the few places in New York that still doesn’t charge admission. And no matter what time of year, or what kind of weather, you are guaranteed to witness a non-stop parade of colorful characters, not to mention whimsical sights such as a horny snowman (see my other post Walking in a Winter Wonderland).
    DO YOUR HOMEWORK AND FIND A GOOD PRIX FIXE MENU I found a deal at a really nice Indian restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen – $19.95 for appetizer, bread, chutney, and wide choice of entrees, including rice. Awesome! Don’t be intimidated if you don’t know how to pronounce ‘prix fixe’, you can always call it a fixed-price menu (it’s pronounced ‘pree-fix or pree-feeks,’ btw, but I recommend you try calling it a ‘prick’s fix’ – just to see what you might get – hey, you never know in NY).
    PUT THOSE PESKY PANHANDLERS IN THEIR PLACE Okay, no one cares more about helping the needy than I do. But these days, panhandlers are everywhere in NY. I literally had 4 people hit-me-up for money within one minute on a 50 foot stretch in front of the Carnegie Deli. You simply can’t help ALL the people who ask you for money. And, you need to consider whether or not your donation is really helping them to live a productive life, or enabling them to drink more cheap whiskey. In the case of the latter, I suggest you save your money for your own cheap swill. If you have any leftovers from your ‘Pricks Fix,’ get it wrapped to go, and hand it to the first panhandler you see on the way back to your hotel. If they don’t accept it, they’re not that desperate. I also like to check-out their shoes and their coat. If they’re better dressed than I am, I’ll simply point to my thrift shop coat, and ask them for money. They never give me any, but a homeless man did once give me some candy — oh, wait! Maybe he wasn’t really homeless — I just assumed he was because he wasn’t wearing any pants under his trench coat.
    TAKE A TOUR OF CARNEGIE HALL Okay, so this is gonna set you back some bucks. $10 whole dollars to be exact. But, it is so worth it! Especially if you luck-out and get in a small tour group of just 7, and among your group is a very nice lady who virtually discovered a couple of musicians in San Miguel, Mexico playing Latin or Gyspy Jazz. She told her neighbor, Doc Severinsen about these guys. Severinsen was so blown away, he came out of retirement to tour with his new latin quintet called the San Miguel 5. It JUST so happened that while our little group was touring the stage area (in front; we weren’t allowed on or backstage), the musicians (this lady’s friends) came onstage to do pre-show sound checks. Our tour-guide was cool enough to let us enjoy the intimate sneak-preview for a while. It was great! And let me tell you something, ladies, these guys are goood loookin’, too! Front row seats to a professional sound-check at Carnegie Hall? Not too shabby, for a skinflint!

My Birthday Date with Star-bucks the Snowman

January 28th, 2011

Nicole Schoer and Denisse Camara created Star-bucks the Snowman on Thursday, Jan. 27 in Central Park.

This man is such a cool, coffee drinkin’ dude. I just couldn’t resist his charms. Star-bucks the Snowman was by far, my most favorite snow creation in Central Park since this latest blizzard, (which wasn’t really supposed to be a blizzard, but, yup; it was indeed a blizzard!)
Many thanks to Nicole Schoer and Denisse Camara (NYC students from Cancun, Mexico) for making Star-bucks come to life.

Liz's Date

Oh, doesn't his smile just make your heart melt?

By the time I left my dear Star-bucky, there was a large crowd of people in line just waiting to meet him — for photo ops, and offering book and movie deals, no doubt. In just a few short hours, Star-bucks the Snow Man had become a bona fide New York tourist attraction. I just hope that when he makes it big, he’ll remember the people who were responsible for creating him, and launching his career!


Walking in a Winter Wonderland

January 28th, 2011

New Yorkers sure do know how to make the best of a blizzard. I took a stroll through Central Park just after yet another snowstorm, and couldn’t help but smile at all the fun.

Families sledding all over the park.

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My “Forty-errrrrrth” Birthday in NYC

January 28th, 2011

Well, everybody should know by now that I plan on being the age of “forty-errrrrr” for quite some time. So, please ignore all those FaceBook posts from people mentioning stuff about me turning 50. It’s just misinformed crazy-talk, okay? Let’s get this straight; I’m Forty-errrrrr.

Nevertheless, as yet another one of my Forty-errrrrrth Birthdays was approaching, I was really having a hard time deciding what to do about it. I had accumulated some frequent-flier miles, and seriously thought about using them to go to Haiti as a relief worker. In light of the current turmoil in Haiti, and the risks of going there, my closest friends implored me to abandon that scheme (or at least prolong it).

Instead of spending my frequent-flier miles (it was use ‘em or lose ‘em) on a missionary trip to Haiti, or on my other option of a beach scenario in Mexico with a guy 1/2 my age — like, I have bucks for a boy-toy?; after considering the options of going to Alaska — yeah, cool, but NOW what do I do once I get there? Go hunting with Sarah Palin? Of course, Florida was out of the question; too many family members who would feel obliged to throw me a 50th party, when the LAST thing I wanted to do is be sitting in a room full of people all focused on ME turning 50! How depressing!!!
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Another extended sunset for PATRIOT Act

January 15th, 2011

Follow link below for more at Cato@Liberty.org:
The Sun Never Sets On The Patriot Act

New House Intelligence Committee Chair introduces another year extension to expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT ACT.


Things Thomas Jefferson said

January 15th, 2011

My Dad recently forwarded an email to me regarding Thomas Jefferson (original author of the email unknown). I’ve added excerpts below (keeping all the quotes included):

    Thomas JEFFERSON a great President and a great human being……he certainly led a productive life with enough accomplishments for several lifetimes….

    Thomas Jefferson was a very remarkable man who started learning very early in life and never stopped.

    (Note: a chronological history of Jefferson’s vast accomplishments had been included in the original email here.)

    Thomas Jefferson knew because he himself studied the previous failed attempts at government. He understood actual history, the nature of God, his laws and the nature of man. That happens to be way more than what most understand today. Jefferson really knew his stuff. A voice from the past to lead us in the future:

    “When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.” – Thomas Jefferson

    “The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” – Thomas Jefferson

    “It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.” – Thomas Jefferson

    “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” – Thomas Jefferson Read the rest of this entry »


Dancing Salvation Army Kettle Worker…

December 29th, 2010

With Bells on Her Boots and Cayenne Pepper in Her Socks

OK, so go ahead and laugh at my goofy Bell Ringer act. I’m glad I didn’t see this video until after the 6 week long kettle gig was up. It might have made me too self-conscious to fully embrace my inner dork! No wonder why people kept telling me I was a brave soul. Apparently, it had nothing to do with the freezing temperatures I was enduring for 8 hours a day, and everything to do with making a public jack-ass of myself — for a great cause.

Not to ring my own bell, or anything, but before you laugh too much, please note that I received the ’1st Place Bell Ringer Award’ this season from my local SA Corps for raising the most donations. And, despite the fact that I’m not too keen on collecting this sort of ‘thing,’ I have a lucite award which could also double as a paper weight (or something to squash crawling insects with) to prove it! So there!

My lovely lucite spider squisher ... what else am I gonna do with it? Donate it to the Salvation Army?

P.S. Cayenne pepper sprinkled in the socks really does help to keep your feet warm!

You can still help others by donating online:
Personal fundraising widget for 2010 Red Kettle campaign

Brisk Blogging (and Walking)

April 1st, 2010

I took a nice, brisk walk this morning. After 3 or 4 days of cold and constant rain, today’s sunny, “somewhere in the 70′s” clime actually called-out for me to run. But, it’s been a long, snowy, run-less winter, and as I’m currently residing in a very hilly part of the country, I’m honestly not sure if I’m physically ready for a full-out run. I think it’s best if I ease into my running routine with a few brisk walks first.

With my journal in hand, I walked to a nearby park and pondered the pros and cons of a good run versus a brisk walk. First of all, you can’t easily carry a journal and a travel mug filled with coffee when you’re in the throes of a good run. So right there, the brisk walk has an obvious advantage, appeal-wise.

On the other hand, when I run, I feel much less vulnerable than when I walk. It’s not that I don’t feel safe in this neighborhood. It’s just that when I run, there’s less time and opportunity for anyone to approach me. Whenever I take my journal out to write in a public place, it’s generally been my experience that there’s always someone who comes over to chat. That someone usually tries to spark a conversation by asking me what I’m doing.

“Errrrrrr. I’m writing? In my journal?” Read the rest of this entry »


Playing With Dough

March 29th, 2010

My friend Joel and I recently had lunch in New York’s Chinatown. We dined at a Malaysian restaurant on Grand Street called Nyonya. I should say that this location may actually be considered Little Italy. But only because I love the clumsy way the words ‘Little Italy’ roll off the tongue. Attempt to say them quickly, three times, and you’ve got me laughing — littleittle-eee-littleittle-eee-littleittle-eee. Okay, so, I’m often amused by the simplest of thoughts. I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad trait, but I’m almost always playing some little mental game, if just to make the ordinary, mundane aspects of life just a tad bit more interesting for myself.

Joel had been wanting to try this particular place, but the restaurant is usually so crowded, it’s practically impossible to get seated without actually skipping a meal. This time, we had good luck, and scored a table directly in front of the main window. Joel ordered the fish head soup (dining on odd animal appendages represents just a smidgeon of Joel’s overall charm), while I ordered some spicy noodles with chicken. Joel raved about his floating fish heads, and I was quite content with my chicken, especially thankful when it arrived without eyeballs.
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OMG!!! Why does this stuff always happen to me?

March 19th, 2010

I must attract it. On some higher conscious, spiritual, karmic, whatever level, I must manifest these little dilemmas, like wardrobe malfunctions, because, well, I guess life just isn’t friggin’ interesting or challenging enough!!!

Here I am, at the library, and I just got up to go to the ladies room. ‘My, I look thin in this skirt,’ I thought, as I looked in the mirror, turning to check if my butt looks fat.

Ack!!! The back zipper is completely broken, and my black panties are showing!!! And I can’t leave yet because I need to drive my 84 year old uncle home, who is at the adjoining senior center for lunch —

OMG— I’m going to be giving the seniors a free panty peek today. There’s no avoiding it!!! How embarrassing!!!

Damn Goodwill clothes. I guess I should of been suspicious of a $3 Ann Taylor skirt.