Monday, July 30, 2012

Day 3 of London Olympics

Day 3 of the London Olympics have come and gone. I, of course, was hunched over my key board at NBC catching all the action.  In case you missed it, here's a few highlights from today's top match-ups. 

Team USA Easily Defeats Angola in Women's Basketball
In their second preliminary game, the U.S. women's basketball team defeated Angola 90-38. After stumbling two days earlier against Croatia, Team USA proved they deserved their No. 1 ranking, leading 41-18 at the half. And, by the end of the third quarter, the U.S. had a 34-point lead that Angola just couldn't beat. In America's easy romp, Candace Parker had 14 points and 12 rebounds. Today's game was the first time that Angola and the United States had ever faced each other in women's basketball. The U.S. has won 34 consecutive Olympic games and are trying for a fifth straight gold medal. Their next court appearance is set for Wednesday where USA faces undefeated Turkey.

Missy Franklin Wins the Gold
At just 17, Team USA's Missy Franklin has won her first gold medal in the 100m backstroke. She finished at 58.33 seconds, beating the heavily-favored Emily Seebohm of Austalia by 0.35 seconds. The win came just 20 minutes after the first time Olympian took the eighth and final spot for Tuesday's 200m freestyle finals. This is Franklin's first individual medal and second overall. On Saturday, Franklin won a bronze in the 4x100 freestyle relay.

USA's Women's Volleyball Defeats Brazil
In Monday's much anticipated preliminary match, the top ranked U.S. women's volleyball team defeated No. 2 Brazil. Team USA took the game in four sets, 25-18, 25-17, 22-25, and 25-21. The two teams battled back and forth in the opening set, with neither country leading by more than a point until America took its first timeout. The U.S. opened its second set with a nine-point lead, easily clinching the win. Despite jump serves from American athlete Logan Tom, Brazil had a quick lead in the third set, while the U.S. secured the match win by entirely leading the fourth set. On Wednesday, the U.S. will continue in a match against China. The ultimate gold medal game is August 11.

And if you haven't seen it, be sure to watch this latest parody, "Call Me Lochte." 

Friday, July 27, 2012

London 2012 Opening Ceremony: The Queen, a Beatle, and Fabulous Fashion

Matt Lauer correctly called it; Queen Elizabeth made the most memorable Olympic Opening Ceremony entrance ever!

In a scene filmed in advance, 007 actor Daniel Craig arrived at Buckingham Palace in a dinner jacket, strode past the palace guards and corgis towards the royal study.

"Good evening Mr Bond," said the Queen, before the pair make their way to the stadium, while back in real time, "the Queen" and "Bond" parachuted from a helicopter towards the arena.

He's Back! 
Other memorable moments included the battle between good and evil as hundreds of Mary Poppins lookalikes took on the Queen of Hearts, Captain Hook, Cruelle de Vil, and Lord Voldermort.

Beatles doppelgagers also made their way through the stands during the Industial Era segment, and hundreds of cute kiddos dawning their PJs sang to the Queen.

But it wasn't just a celebration of Britain's past. It made a quick shift to technology through the boy-meets-girl tale of Frankie and June. Like all great love stories, there's ended with an epic embrace, and projected on the big screens was the most memorable scenes of classic kisses.

Of course the real reasons for the show was the Parade of Nations. 10,000 athletes from more than 200 countries dawned their Olympic kits for the famous march.  Between Greece's Nike knockoffs, and the US Team threads coming from China, the latest and greatest in sportswear was of course on the brain.

Jamaica can thank Puma
for their designer duds. 
No competition, Djibouti wore the best accessories, while Czech athletes sported less attractive bright blue wellies. Germany separated the sexes-boys wore blue and girls pink. And, Belgium and Belize took a page from the past when it came to their headgear. A low point of the evening came when the Independent Athletes made a stupid spectacle of themselves, but India's sweet sarees and Jamica's green and yellow suits quickly made up their competitor's mistakes.  New Zealand's flag bearer must have killed something in the stands because ugly brown feathers donned his shoulders.

If medals were given out for fashion, here'd be my rankings Bronze-Jamaica, Silver-The Queen, and Gold-Djibouti.

As the Parade of Nations came to a close, the torch was brought to its final resting place about 13,000 miles, Sir Paul McCartney wowed the crowd, and a beautiful fireworks display lit up the London skyline.

Sir Paul McCarney closed the ceremony with a rousing performance of "Hey Jude"
with the entire Olympic stadium singing aloud to every word. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

2012 Style Awards are Making Their NY Debut at Fashion Week

Kim may seem like the style icon of the family, but Kylie and
Kendall were named the most stylish sisters at the 2011 awards.
Because New York Fashion Week just doesn't feature enough stylish celebs and designers as it is, an awards show has been added to the lineup. 

"Penske Media Corp. has signed a deal with IMG Fashion and NBC Universal's Style Network to bring the 2012 Style Awards" to the Empire State, WWD reports. 

Los Angeles is usually home to the show that hands out top prizes to behind-the-scenes influencers and fashionable celebs. The change in venues is an effort to boost the award's visibility. 

There's no word yet on who the celebrity host and musical guest will be, but past presenters include Kim Kardashian, Kristin Davis, Eva Longoria, and Emily Blunt. 

Lincoln Center will be the venue for the September 5 show. A week later, the televised event will appear on the Style Network. 

And for the inside line on more New York City Fashion, be sure to check out Thread NY

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Three Girls Loose in the Big City

For the past four days I’ve been playing tour guide to my mom and grandmother who came to New York for a girls’ only trip.  The last time Ma (as her grandchildren call her) saw the Empire State was the 1950s, so we of course made stops at Time Square and Macy’s.  But for us, it was less about tourist destinations and more about fabulous food.  From the Yaffa Cafe and Alfredos to Hard Rock and Serendipity 3, there’s no denying we ate well!  And, in between all those meals we stopped off at 30 Rock, Tiffany & Co, the Disney Store, and FAO Schwarz.  We even saw Jersey Boys on Broadway.  I’m so sad to see them head back to GA (and let’s face it I’m already counting down until Christmas), but at least I’ve got pictures to prove all our adventures!
 FAO Schwarz is turning 150!  To mark their extra special anniversary, 150 toys from years gone by are scattered throughout the store.  Be sure to get your picture taken with toy soldier guarding the door, and don't forget to see the famous Big Piano.

Looking for the best desserts in New York City?  Then head over to Serendipity 3 for  their famous frozen hot chocolate.  Once she moved to Manhattan, Jackie O would frequently be found enjoying a sundae from the famous cafe.  And today, young Hollywood stars like Paris Hilton and Justin Bieber have all stopped by.   
After watching "Jersey Boys" it's quite obvious why it won the 2006 Tony Award for best musical.  Its costumes are fabulous, and the singing's superb.  My grandmother made a great decision with this pick!
Dylan's Candy Bar may be known for their sweet treats, but I was much more impressed with their oversized cupcakes and giant gum ball machines.  If you make the trek to 60th and 3rd, be sure to check out the colorful stairs too.  Even the wall paper looks like something you'd find in the land of Willy Wonka. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Big Daddy's

Big Daddy eating at Big Daddy's 
Way back in March, smack dap in the middle of mid-term studies, I found myself wasting time in the Resource Center.  My friend Shivam was just finishing up his shift and when the usual "how's your day been going" was exchanged I awkwardly substituted his name for Big Daddy.  Immediately I realized my super weird mistake, apologized, then spent the next 30 minutes laughing.  For weeks I tried to get his new nickname to stick, but it turns out I'm the only one who still calls him that.

Well, a few weeks ago I was walking back from the movies and found a diner on 20th and Park called Big Daddy's.  Since then, I've been pestering Shivam to let me take him there, and last night our ticket finally came up.

Yes that is  Cotton Candy atop my milkshake 
With their '80s themed decor and delectable menu, it's the place to visit if your craving diner food with a fun environment. They're known for their tatter tots, so before we'd even looked at the menu, our appetizer order was in.  For me, Berry Berry Yummy Pancakes were sided with a Cotton Candy Circus Shake.  And Shivam had a Cookie Monster Shake and a Mr. Gobble's Terrific Turkey Burger with fries.  If the food names alone don't make you want to plan a pit stop, it's prices were pretty reasonable too.  The final bill compared with IHOP's prices.  I'd say my only  problem with Big Daddy's was the music; they played today's hits when '80s songs would have fit in better with the ambiance.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hello Final Cut, It's Nice to be Back

Burt Reynold's game-changing film "Deliverance" is turn 40.  To mark the occasion, Popcornbiz decided to run a feature package on the picture, and guess which intern was asked to write the script and edit the piece?  In my latest NBC project, Burt Reynolds recalls his memories of working on-set and becoming close friends with his costars.  Click here to view the story, and don't forget to tell me what you think. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Free Philharmonic Park Performances

In a city like New York quiet nights are often interrupted by honking horns. It's known for its hustle and bustle, but I've discovered one of the few places where thousands of New Yorkers gather and it still reminds quaintly quiet...a free New York Philharmonic concert in the park.
So Many People 

For more than 45 years, the world famous museums have been leaving their classic Lincoln Center venue for an outdoor theater open to the masses.

I'm certainly no musical maestro,  but there's just something about listening to the classical tunes after a long week of work that revels in relaxation.  At tonight's concert in Central Park, Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 in F minor took the first act followed by Respighi's Fountains of Rome after intermission.  The evening perfectly ended with a booming firework display over the City skyline.  

The free performances end on the 17th, so click here to get all the information about the remaining dates, times, and places.

Oh, and a word to the wise, pack a picnic and be sure to bring comfy seating and a precautionary umbrella. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

With a Name Like Penelope, It Had to Be Cute

Nestled on the corner of Lexington and 30th is the cutest little restaurant called Penelope.  Its quant atmosphere makes you fell like you've left the hustle and bustle of the Big City, and their upscale sandwiches could rival the best your mom can make.  So of course, it'd be a place I'd frequent with Jamie and Joanna.  

Nothing too crazy can be found on the menu-just your typical American comfort food-but I can vouch that there three types of grilled cheese sandwich topped with pesto, tomatoes, and artichoke hearts is delicious.  Served with a heaping side of fries, the $10.50 price tag was just right.

So Many Flavors to Chose From Too
 I've heard their desserts are great too (and the cupcakes on display looked delicious), but after such a heavy meal the only thing I wanted was a scoop of ice cream.

Joanna suggested a quick walk over to Ralph's Famous Italian Ices. A small cup of their peanut butter cookie dough ice cream's was my sweet treat for the evening.  They're no Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, but for Madison Square Park their flavors were unique enough.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dim Sum Dining

I've lived in Chinatown for almost a year, but before Sunday dim sum dining was a total mystery.  I'd seen the advertisements plastered to the windows and noticed the large crowds gathered outside, but never before had I made the plunge to see what all the fuss was about.

Although I'm a huge fan of most Chinese meals, my utter distain of all things seafood kept me from going by myself.  For weeks now, I've been pestering my friend Susan to go with me, and finally, she broke down.

Located at 20th Elizabeth Street (between Canal and Bayard Street) we made our way to the Jing Fong Restaurant. As I suspected, Susan perfectly differentiated between the dishes, ordering sides she suspected I'd like.  We started with spring rolls and pork buns before diving deep in an order of Chinese barbecue.  She couldn't leave without fried chicken feet, but I instead opted for watercress cake.  For dessert, we were hoping for mango pudding, but we learned the hard way it's a crowd favorite and sells out quickly.  The coconut-tarot jello was an appetizing alternative though.  
Here, Susan's being an expert chopstick user as she eats her Chinese barbecue. 
The watercress cakes were surprisingly good. 
A note to meatless eaters, unless your willing to be a flexitarian for the day, dim sum's not for you.   But, if you can stomach carnivorous eating, I'd say a trip to Chinatown should certainly be on everyone's to do list.  Be prepared; unless you go with a big group, you'll probably share a table with another party. But the atmosphere is great, and the price is just right if your on a college student budget.  For less than $15 each, we ordered 8 portion-perfect plates.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Chick Lit to the Extreme

Eight months out of the year my nose is buried in complicated textbooks and pointless notes preparing for that next big paper.  I walk by the Strand's $2 carts and constantly have to remind myself there's simply no time for joy reading.  So when summer roles around, I ditch heavy plots and instead turn towards mindless materials.  I'm sure professors wouldn't approve of my reading list, but here's a few titles that make perfect vacation reads.

Book Review-Rhett Butler's People 
Being a Gone With the Wind fanatic, I was a little skeptical when my friend gave me Rhett Butler's People for Christmas this year.  Margaret Mitchell's classic is the story of Scarlet O’Hara.  It begins with the Georgia belle living on her family’s plantation, Tara, on the eve of the Fort Sumter attack and shows her life through the War and Reconstruction of the South. But Donald McCaig's work is the other side to the greatest love story ever told.  From their first meeting at the Twelve Oaks barbecue to the aftermath behind "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn," Rhett Butler's People presents it all.  Plus, readers learn about Rhett's childhood on a South Carolina rice plantation, discover how his relationship with brothel madame Belle Watling really began, and much much more.  I'd certainly suggest it for any Southerner who's looking for a modern take on a classic tale.
My Rating:  ****

Book Review-The Jane Austen Book Club 
The title alone should have been a dead giveaway that this book wasn't for me.  Unlike most girls, I find Jane Austen's books to be too slow and utterly boring.  There's just something about her writing that doesn't interest me.   But back to the book at hand, it's the story of five women and one man who meet monthly to discuss the works of the popular author, but soon discover their lives are playing out much like one of her fictional worlds.  If you're a dedicated Austentine this tale will make you want to dust off your abandoned classic copies.  But, if Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy aren't your relationship role models, I'd suggest leaving it on the bookshelf.
My Rating:  **

Book Review-Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy 
Curious about all the hype surrounding Fifty Shades of Grey?  Well, the rumors and definitely true, it's super steamy. I suspect author E L James is a British housewife who's using the books to live our her sexual fantasies. By no means am I suggesting it's well written, but that didn't stop me from reading the trio in just a few days.  Tracing the sexual escapades between recent college grad Anastasia Steel and manipulative billionaire Christian Grey, it has all the qualities that make books bestsellers:  love, lust, jealousy, and dysfunctional families.  Be warned; the erotic label is certainly  truthful, but I'd say it's this summer's perfect page turner.
My Rating:  ****

Book Review-Bridget Jones's Diary 
I'm probably one of the few people who's never seen the film adaptation with RenĂ©e Zellweger, Hugh Grant, and Colin Firth.  But before I corrected the situation, I decided to read the book.  Written in dairy form, it's the tale of thirty-something singleton Bridget Jones, who's certain  she would have all the answers if she a)lost 7 pounds b)stopped smoking and c)snagged the perfect boyfriend.  She eats too much junk food and spends way too much time emotional energy flirting with her womanizing boss. In theory, you shouldn't like her constant complaining, but there's something about her that every modern gal can relate to.
My Rating:  ****

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Farm with a View

Urban Green Thumbs are Constantly at Work 
In the need of fresh, farm-picked produce.  Well, just because we live in New York doesn't mean we have to sacrifice.  Located in Long Island City, Brooklyn Grange is the world's largest rooftop farm.  Today's video shoot with NBC took me on a tour of the urban acre. 

Clucking chickens, rows of vegetables, and blooming buds can be found, all with the  Empire State Building in the background.  Next to the  mushroom harvest, bees buzz.  And an old wooden table with seating for 70 runs down the middle.  

Stop by the farm on Wednesdays from 1-6pm for free rooftop access.  And check out the farm stand where you'll be able to snag a bag of in-season crops, like tomatoes or strawberries.  

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Birthday America; here's to great nights with great friends. 

It's the day for flag t-shirts and barbecuing.  But of course, I'm living dorm style, so that means any flame larger than a candle is simply off limits.  That didn't stop the RAs of Lafayette from having our own Fourth of July Feast though!  No burgers or hotdogs for us.  For the carnivores chicken, shrimp, and salmon could be had, while the vegetarians ate fruit salad, pasta, fried cauliflower with long-grain rice and much much more.  Dessert didn't disappoint either.  We ate brownie cookie dough sandwiches, apple pie cookies, and watermelon cake.
So Much Food!
Just like every holiday, I had to make speciality cupcakes for the 4th too.  They resemble hot coals for our can't be bbq.  If you'd like to make them too, here's what you'll need for this super sweet summer treat.  
  • 1 bag marshmallows
  • 1 can vanilla frosting
  • Black food coloring
  • 2 tbsp orange sprinkles
  • Crushed up Oreos
  • 1 tbsp confectionary sugar 
After you've made your dozen cupcakes, attach the marshmallows with some vanilla frostong. Place them in freezer for 10 minutes to let the icing set.  

Tint the remaining frosting gray with black food coloring. Microwave the icing in a bowl, stopping to stir frequently, until it's the consistancy of lightly whipped cream.  
Holding the cupcake by its paper bottom, dip each into  the gray frosting holding it by the paper liner.  Be sure to allow the excess frosting to drip off back into the bowl.  Turn right side up.  While the frosting is still wet add your orange sprinkles, crushed cookies and confectionary sugar. 

Repeat with remaining cupcakes.  If the frosting becomes too thick, reheat for several seconds.

Just because we were in the City doesn't mean we were without a firework show.  Around 9pm, (after our absolutely amazing feast) we made our way to the Penthouse to watch the shows.  
It wouldn't be a college party without Jello Shots 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Feeling Brave?

I finally did it. I made the plunge and paid $14 for a movie ticket.  No 3-D or Imax vision here.  Nope, $14 is just the price for your average, 2-D theatre ticket here in NYC.  So what made me pay such an outlandish price...just Disney/Pixar's latest collaboration Brave.

It just came out June 22nd, so there's still plenty of time to see this new type of fairytale.  It's the story of Merida, a princess who's up for an adventure.  This Scottish lass is less worried about winning Prince Charming's heart and more concerned with beating potential suitors in an archery competition. Of course this family flick is just perfect if you have a youngster at home. But I'll have you know I wasn't the only college-aged kiddo there.  Don't wait until Brave comes to DVD; make the movie-theater trek for this film. 

Seeing as how I resisted the urge to buy a way-to-expensive bucket of popcorn from AMC, I decided to reward myself with a quick trip to Shake Sqaure in Madison Square Park.  Their extra frothy strawberry shake was just what I needed to beat the heat.  Paired with a side of cheese fries, the total price was less than 10 dollars. I'd call it a reasonably priced Sunday treat. And, don't let the long lines steer you clear. They move pretty quick, and the scrumptious food is worth the wait.
Seriously, so tasty!