RuPaul's DragCon - 09.09.17/09.10.17

I waited a little longer than normal to purchase my ticket to RuPaul's DragCon in NYC. I had a handful of friends going, but I didn't want to make a commitment until I knew what the programming would be. In hindsight, the wait for the panels was SO long that even just walking around the convention center floor was entertainment enough.

Day One - Saturday, September 9th, 2017

Who knew that so many people would come out for DragCon!? Organizers were saying that 25,000 people would be at the Javits Center over the two days of the convention! I was almost ready to give up when I saw that the line to get into the building wrapped down the block, around the corner and down by the expressway!

Luckily, my friend, Whitney met up with me in line and we gradually made our way into DragCon. (Oh wait, once we were inside the building, we had to go back downstairs and through security, then back upstairs to actually get into the exhibitors area! Whoa.)

I knew that I had plenty of time to explore the booths, but our first stop was Jeffree Starr, so Whitney could get some make-up. After wandering around a bit and getting my photo with a giant inflatable "squirrel friend", we split up, only to run into each other again at RuPaul's booth, where got some peanut butter chocolate bars, of course! Hanging above Ru's merchandise area were many of her costumes from various seasons of Drag Race. I never knew how tiny she really is! My hands down favorite, was the shiny, gold bodysuit. I love anything with a sparkle.

Many of the queens had merchandise booths; where you could buy a t-shirt, photo, enamel pin and get your photo taken with them. My first stop: the Asian queens! I got a few postcards and a photo with Ongina, but the line for Kimchi was nuts!

Then I made my way to my first panel, the Fashion Panel, with a few of my theater friends, who were in attendance. The panel was Detox, Isaac Mizrahi, Milk , Miss Fame and Naomi Smalls. It was moderated by Mickey Boardman from The Village Voice and was a blast. It was interesting hearing how each of the queens were inspired the fashion industry and how drag goes hand in hand with high fashion and pushing boundaries. It was a little bittersweet, since my Mom had always loved Isaac and she would have been so excited for me to get to be in the same room as him.

Post-panel and snacks, I tried to see Sasha Velour, but her line was nuts! So, I picked up a few merch items: pins, t-shirt, earrings and look book, before heading to Thorgy's booth. Her line was relatively short; about a 30-45 minute wait and since I'd been to many of her DragRace viewing parties at Metropolitan in Williamsburg, I knew I wanted to say "hi" to her and Ragamuffin! Her rainbow outfit completely complimented my Care Bears dress and she was very sweet and sincere.

I wrapped up my Day One with a panel about social awareness, which was supposed to be the only panel that Sasha was going to be at, but she couldn't make it. However, I did get to stare at Nico Tortorella (Younger) for the whole experience, which wasn't a bad swap out. The message about #FakeNews was interesting and how each of the public figures dealt with how they pass on information to their followers.

Day Two - Sunday, September 10th, 2017

When I got to the Javits Center for Day Two, it was off to a better start, since the wrap around the block line was gone. I was determined to try and meet Kimchi, but her line was already going to be at least an hour wait! I spotted Milk, lounging on a couch, in her Marc Jacobs Beauty sponsored booth, but avoided waiting in her line, too. On my way back around the center, I saw Jade Jolie's booth! Even more gorgeous in person, I jumped in line quickly to snap a photo with her, before wandering back to try and get a glimpse of Sasha. 

Little did I know, but I had walked right in behind Sasha Velour that morning! I didn't recognize her with her big, red, curly wig; since she's often bald. I was so close to her! I snuck a few photos and wandered off another way. I made a quick $5 donation to Jiggly Caliente to get a photo with her. If only I had been to see her show at Wet, before it closed! (I guess an Asian gay bar wasn't in as high demand these days...) 

I tried to spot Acid Betty, but her booth was pretty well covered and decorated in all sorts of treats, including a big pink inflatable doughnut. After missing out on food yesterday, I packed a light lunch, so ate my sandwich and chips before waiting to meet Alexis Michelle. Although New Yorkers seem to have very strong feelings about her, as a fellow "Theatre Queen," I knew I had to meet her in person before the Broadway Queens panel, later in the day. While I was waiting in line Farrah stopped by to say hello and we got to watch Alexis as the true diva that she is, controlling the angle of the photo and the lighting. Alexis was very courteous and patient with her line of fans, which I appreciated.

Again, I tried to see Kimchi, but just managed to get a candid photo. As, I was waiting in line to see the Broadway Queens panel, Cynthia Lee Fontaine walked by me, in a gorgeous floral dress. I was able to get a great seat for the panel, featuring Alexis Michelle, Ginger Minj, J. Elaine Marcos and the diva herself, Sheryl Lee Ralph. They talked about where their love of theatre began, what some of the favorite projects have been, but it was Sheryl who stole the show! The crowd was dying for her comments about "put a cork in it" and how to really sell yourself through performance. She also talked about the gay community and how everyone should remember to be respectful. My favorite quotes: "In real theatre, you don't get the opportunity to be late!...The only reason the curtain goes up late is because Barack &  Michelle had not arrived yet!"

All-in-all, a great way to end my first DragCon experience! Yes, it was way more overwhelming than BroadwayCon, but I would totally consider going again. Maybe next time around, I'll plan out more time to meet some of the queens...but hopefully, the organizers learned how to manage the lines better, since no one comes to these events to line up more than an hour in advance for panels!

Vulture Festival - 05.20.17/05.21.17

Yes, I was back at New York Magazine's Vulture Festival for this year! However, this year was slightly marred by too many panels that I wanted to attend all being at the same time and an out-of-town guest that didn't buy his tickets in time! I still managed to make it to five panels this year, but was still missing out on that theatre/Broadway element that they have had for the last few years.

Day One - Saturday, May 20th, 2017

Saturday Morning Cartoons

The usual Animated Voices panel was re-named this year, but still featured most of the cast of Archer and a few other quests. Highlights for me were Aisha Tyler and Jessica Walter. I think the best scene this year was the episode of Sex and the City, where all the girls are gathered in the back of a cab, as Charlotte contemplates "up the butt" sex with her current boyfriend. The scene already plays out hilariously in the show, but the element of cartoony voices only took it to another level!

They also played up the episode of Friends with the game show, in which Joey & Chandler win Monica & Rachel's apartment via Lightning Round and not knowing the actual name of Chandler's job. A classically funny scene, but even better with Bob's BurgersArcher and other cartoon voices.

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In Conversation: Aziz Ansari

I might have spoiled a few things about the second season of Master of None for myself at this panel, but that's what I got for not watching the season before the Vulture Festival. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Aziz talk about the making of the second season, why it took so long, the analysis of his soul-mate like relationship with Francesca and how he even learned Italian and how to make pasta. 

The audience seemed a little disappointed that he didn't have an answer for season three of the show, but after all, it took him over a year to make and develop season two. I guess we can't help it if the audience binges it all at once and wants more right away.

Day Two - Sunday, May 21st, 2017

In Conversation: Neil Patrick Harris

At this point, I should count myself lucky with the number of times that I've been able to be in the same space as NPH. Who would have guessed that one day I would get to see him in person, after having a Doogie Howser, MD poster hung up on my closet door in the 90's!? 

NPH came to Vulture Festival to promote A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix, which since I haven't watched it, meant less to me. I did love that they showed some of his earlier work; including a funny shower scene from Doogie and one of his Tony Award opening numbers. It was a lot of fun getting ot hear his side of each filming and what was challenging or amusing about having Max Casella film him in only a towel or developing the closing award number as the show went on.

Then we all got a special treat as he called his husband, David Burtka, on FaceTime and we got a chance to see hin talk to his kids and David right on the stage! 

In Conversation: Sarah Jessica Parker and Adam Moss

Admittedly, I did not know who Adam Moss was, before this panel. I did love his camraderie with SJP and she admired his work and vice versa. Of course, everyone wanted to hear about Sex and the City, but we also got the opportunity to hear her talk about filming her new series, Divorce, with Thomas Hayden Church. SJP also chatted about her other passion projects and took the time to answer several questions from the audience in a fairly intimate setting.

Pop Culture Trivia Game Show

This year's Pop Culture Trivia Game Show pitted the cast of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend against the cast of Orange is the New Black and was slightly less of a hot mess than last year's game show, where Casey Wilson and Adam Pally were pretty drunk as the hosts. The venue changed to the smaller space for this year and was CROWDED!

The anticipation level was high and the audience was ready for a fun show. I was sitting closest to the cast from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and enjoyed watching Rachel Bloom and Victor Rodriguez, III go nuts for the right answers and when their team was succeeding. The aucoustics sometimes made it hard to hear what was going on, but it was a fun event nonetheless.

Calgary - 04.20.17/04.23.17

Last Fall, my brother,Philip, graduated from the University of Minnesota with his Doctorate in Political Science, which took him & my sister-in-law, Melanie, to the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. So, before he moves back to the States this year, I figured I should go and visit him in our neighboring Country up North.

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

I arrived in Calgary around 9pm Mountain Standard Time and was pretty hungry. Passing through Customs was easy and I arrive before Philip was at the airport. He drove me through a little bit of downtown Calgary, before we settled on going to Peter's Drive-In for a burger and poutine. We took our food back to the house and indulged in some cheesy, gravy covered french fried goodness before getting settled and going to sleep.

Friday, April 21st, 2017

Mel had to work, so Philip & I went downtown to get brunch at OEB (Over Easy Breakfast), one of Calgary's must-eats for breakfast & brunch. There were SO many good things to choose from, but in my over-eating nature, I had to get something savory & something sweet, so I opted for a meal that gave me eggs, ham, a slice of French Toast and a side of their fried potatoes. Philip opted for one of the "Box'd" dishes, which arrived in a Chinese takeout container. I also appreciated the architecture and design of the restaurant as there were two gazebos inside: one shaped like an egg and one shaped like a waffle.

After brunch, we went to the neighborhood of Kensington. I was on the hunt for used CD stores, ones that might have Broadway Cast albums that I don't already own, but at the same time we wandered through some other shops, browsing through clothes and books. I found a few Haruki Murakami books for $6 US, but was torn on buying some clothes at a local shop; since I hate trying things on.

After killing time around Kensington, we opted to go to Cross Iron Mills, a sort of outlet shopping center with a giant Bass Pro Shops store attached to it. Browsing through all the fishing gear with my brother really reminded me of our childhood; as he used to make his own fishing flies (and still does), participated in casting competitions and shopped through the local tackle & bait shop. Having never been in a Bass Pro Shops before, I was amused at the signage stating to "check all firearms & bows at customer service" before entering the store. The rest of the mall had some great shops and I picked up a few treats, including some maple flavored cookies and chocolates to bring back to work with me. 

After our shopping excursion, we went back home to rest and so Philip could take their dog, Hazel, out on a walk. Once Mel was off work, we decided to try our luck at Hayden Block for some delicious BBQ. The wait was just under an hour, so we walked around Kensington again and got a pre-dinner, dessert. By the time we finally got our table we were pretty hangry and might have ordered a bit too much food, but it was all delicious. The highlight for me was the hush puppies with peppers inside and the creamy side of corn. Post-dinner, it was definitely time for a food-nap/bed.

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

Saturday morning, Mel had tryouts for the local women's frisbee team, so Philip & I went to the Calgary Farmer's Market and the Glenbow Art Museum. The farmer's market was impressive and housed year-round in a large warehouse-like building. There were lots of local merchants, but I was mostly interested in the food, per usual. While my brother browsed for produce for their next week's meals, I wandered through the food stalls. Eventually, I landed on some potato & cheddar pierogis with potato latkes and a small chicken pot pie. 

We then ventured down to the Glenbow Art Museum. There was a very large exhibit featuring the "Mavericks" of Calgary and Alberta, which was pretty fascinating. However, my favorite part of any museum is the Contemporary and Modern Art exhibits. A definite highlight was the Wayne Gretzky piece by Andy Warhol and a giant acrylic installation, which Philip thought was really weird.

After Mel's frisbee tryout, we all went back downtown to get xiao long bao (soup dumplings) at one of their favorite spots in Chinatown, Great Taste. Post-dinner, Mel helped me on my quest to find some great bubble tea and we walked down the street to a little spot that had TONS of bubble tea options. I opted for a Jasmine tea with soy milk and boba, which made up for the disappointing bubble tea I had at the mall earlier.

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

For my last day in Calgary, we drove just over an hour outside of Calgary to walk around Banff National Park. But like any good Canadian, we stopped at Tim Horton's on the way out for breakfast. Admittedly, I haven't been to many Tim Horton's in NYC, so it felt right to go in Calgary. I had to try their pretzel bagel with sausage & egg; which was chewy and savory. I tried to read a bit in the car on the way up, but was unsuccessful; so I spent a lot of the time looking at the scenery, wildlife and taking a brief nap.

We arrived in Banff, which was a very beautiful resort town and walked around the restaurants and shops until it was time to drive up to the Banff Gondola, so we could ascend to the top of one of the mountains for great views. The weather was beautiful, in the lower 40's, so it was chilly, but not freezing - even with all the snow around us. The ride in the gondola took just under 10 minutes and took us almost 8,000 feet up into the Rockies. We then climbed up more to visit the Cosmic Ray Station on Sulfur Mountain and to see where the satellite that once captured cosmic rays was stationed.

After our gondola ride and hike, we'd worked up an appetite and went back into town to find lunch. Philip chose something that was basically another name for a Philly cheese steak and I got a burger, to satisfy a long-lasting craving. Mel & I topped off the meal with a "Beavertail" - fried whole wheat dough topped with a variety of items. As you can see, we chose the Nutella and banana one.

Before heading back home, we drove to Johnston Canyon to walk along some cliffs (not the easiest in Converse high tops) and view a spectacular, albeit kinda frozen waterfall. The detour was worth it, since the slippery conditions made the trails a bit less crowded and we were actually able to get a clear view of the waterfall.

Then came the ride back, where Mel & I couldn't resist taking a nap. Once home, I started to gather all my things for my super late flight back home and Philip made us all dinner. Overall, it was a wonderful way to get out of the city and another excuse to travel somewhere "International" and to use my passport. Perhaps my next adventure with my brother will be in Wisconsin, since he'll be teaching there in the Fall. 

Portland & Seattle - 10.06.16/10.10.16

Finally, I got a chance to take a little vacation from the city. I had not had the chance to travel anywhere since April, when I went to Kansas City for a a few days. After reuniting with an old college friend, I decided to fly out to Portland, OR for a few days and then travel up to Seattle, WA before heading back home. I got the chance to hang out with some friends and explore a new city, all while being a bit of a tourist and enjoying some great food.

Portland - 10.06.16/10.08.16

I took my first flight on Virgin America to San Francisco, before heading onto Portland. Although, I didn't think out when I would by flying, since it fell after a weekend of rollouts at work. Having worked two overnights and then going straight into a closing shift with an event wasn't the smartest, but I had a decent amount of flight time to recover.

I was expecting to take an Uber and meet up with my college friend, Ian, in Portland. However, I was lucky, because he picked me up at the airport. I took an obligatory photo of the PDX airport carpet, but didn't have much time to explore one of the more pleasant airports in the US. I was waiting for my bags when Ian came up and it was hard to believe that it had been 12 years since we'd last seen each other. It almost felt like no time had passed.

As we drove through Portland, he gave me a brief tour and we caught up on life. (I was amused to see that he still had his Nebraska license plates on his car.) After a brief stop at his home, we picked up one of his friends and went out to dinner at Imperial (home of Doug from Top Chef). Being the good foodie that I am, I checked out their menu on Yelp! and knew that I needed to get one of their Parker House rolls. Ian must have had a long day, because he briefly fell asleep at the dinner table, which we mocked him to no end for, before heading home for the night.

The next day, Ian had to work, so I went on a mission to find some great food and shops. Everyone says that you need to go to Voodoo Doughnuts, but I went with the local favorite, Blue Star. Their doughnuts are made with brioche and I couldn't get just one. I walked away with a classic yeast glazed with horchata and a cake with sugar & spice. (Yes, I also bought two to go - apple pie fritter and a Mexican hot chocolate.) I walked along NW 23rd and got a really cool brass cuff at Betsy & Iya before heading downtown.

Some of my favorite stops included Everyday Music, where I found lots of great Broadway cast recordings (including a double CD set of Chess) before making my way to Powell Books. I found some great little boutiques on the walk, adding a gift for Ellie and a boy band coloring book to my purchases. I also stopped by the Madewell in the Pearl District, which was pretty cool, since I helped put together the real estate packet back when I worked at the Madewell office in 2013, before that store opened.

I didn't buy anything at Powell's, but I could have spent hours in the store, perusing so many categories and trinkets. Finally, I went in search of food and since it was #fatfriday, I grabbed some slices at Sizzle Pie, before wandering around some more. I found a great candy store, Quin, where I got chai tea lollipops and some cherry gummies

Before heading back to Ian's, I found my dream store, Billy Galaxy. This store was filled with nostalgic toys from the 80's and 90's; Care Bears, My Little Ponies, She-Ra, Gloworms - my dream. I didn't buy anything, but I could only imagine what I would add to my collection weekly, if I lived in Portland.

Friday evening, Ian had tickets to a pre-season Portland Trail Blazers game vs. the Phoenix Suns, so we spent the night watching basketball and hanging with some of his coworkers from Nike. As a mild sports fan, I enjoyed watching the game, but stadium food is a big reason I love sporting events and a fried chicken sandwich on a cheddar chive biscuit from Fowl Language was calling my name! I had to end the night with some of Portland's famous ice cream from Salt & Straw, before we called it a night.

My train to Seattle wasn't until the afternoon, so Ian made breakfast and I made him watch the latest episode of RuPaul's Drag Race with me. Then we headed down to Chinatown and explored the Lan Su Chinese Garden, a beautiful replica of what you might find in China. We met up with my friend, Amanda and her soon-to-be husband, Dustin for brunch in a restaurant that looked like an old log cabin made of giant Lincoln Logs. Then, Amanda and I walked around some of the cool shops nearby before Ian took me to the Amtrak station. A very fast and furious day and a half, but I would come back to Portland anytime.

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Seattle - 10.08.16/10.10.16

Although it was my first time in Portland, this would be my second time in Seattle. The first time was when my best friend, Jenn, lived in Lakewood a few years back, but we didn't get much time in the city, proper. This time, I took a cheap and quick Amtrak up from Portland and my friend, Michelle, picked me up at the train station. Since we were already near the International District, we got some great Vietnamese food and some shaved ice for dessert. Since it was Saturday, I convinced Michelle to stay up late with me and watch Saturday Night Live, since Lin-Manuel Miranda (of HAMILTON fame) was the the host, and somehow we made it through the night.

Sunday morning, Michelle had a meeting, so she dropped me off at the Starbucks Roastery. I got the chance to see their beautiful concept store and have a great cup of chai with an everything pretzel bagel. Then I walked towards Capital Hill before going downtown and finding another Madewell (I can't help it, I'm a nerd...). The best part was wandering into the Nordstrom Rack and finding a Proenza Schouler '16 Resort dress in my size for $220, which was originally almost $1500! (Now, I just need somewhere fancy to wear it!) I was wandering through a few shops, when it was already time to meet up with Michelle.

We traveled into a suburb to try out a new Filipino bakery that had just opened a storefront. Hood Famous Bakery had lots of good treats, but I went with the pandan cheesecake and a purple velvet (ube) cookie! After we had our fill, we went to the Henry Art Gallery on the University of Washington Campus, where we saw some great exhibits and most interestingly, wood carved sculptures with a play on Snow White. We walked around the cam pus for a bit before driving up to a great overlook, so I could get some photos of the Seattle skyline. This night was also the 2nd Presidential Debate, so we went back to Michelle's apartment to watch it before grabbing some delicious fish & chips at Spud's, right next to her apartment.

For my last day in the Pacific Northwest, Michelle had to leave early for work, so I took an Uber into the city to meet up with a former coworker, Kate and spend the rest of my day exploring Seattle. We met up at Biscuit Bitch for brunch and caught up on life. Then we went to the Pike Place Public Market (you know, where they throw the fish like in the opening of The Real World: Seattle, does anyone remember that season, now?) for treats and gifts. I had to stop and get treats from one of my favorite stands, Chukar Cherries, and found a great little gift for my Mom for Christmas. After wandering around the market, we went to the Space Needle and rode up to the observatory. The 360 degree views of the city were amazing! 

After the Space Needle, I convinced Kate to go to the Dale Chihuly Glass & Sculpture Garden. Ever since I saw one of his exhibitions at the Jocelyn Art Museum in Omaha, when I was in high school, I have been fascinated by his blown glass artwork. I love the colors, pieces and how they are all put together. It was the perfect weather to stroll around in the garden and the sunlight was perfect for photos of his work.

Then, with a bit of time to kill before heading to the airport, we went to Dick's and enjoyed some cheap hamburgers, late-night diner style, and fries. I was very lucky that I have great friends to helped cart me around and saved me money on getting a rental car!

Vulture Festival - 05.21.16/05.22.16

For the third year in a row, New York Magazine, hosted their Annual "Vulture Festival" of pop culture events in the city. There were plenty of panels and activities to keep me occupied on the weekend before my birthday and I stacked both days with lots to do.

Day One - Saturday, May 21st, 2016

Hollywood Handbook Podcast

I got up nice & early on Saturday to head down to Chelsea & Milk Studios for this panel. I was not familiar with the "Hollywood Handbook" podcast, but from the description, it should have been an inside look into the world of Hollywood. What it ended up being was 30 minutes of two guys opening up iTunes on their computer and trying to find their own podcast in the top podcasts online. Ugh. I couldn't believe I was missing the Muppets panel for this mess! Finally when they were describing clicking their mouse as "smash it!" I decided to leave, see if I could get into the Muppets panel and get a refund. No luck on the refund, but at least I made it to the Muppets panel!

Morning with the Muppets

Already better than the Hollywood Handbook panel, a bunch of nerds were watching clips from various Muppet programming and laughing, having a great time. This was where I belonged in the first place! 

One of the editors from New York Magazine came out and interviewed Kermit the Frog. They talked about all sorts of things: the cancellation of the ABC show, what things Kermit liked to do, his breakup with Miss Piggy, etc. Then they brought out Fozzie the Bear and things got much more fun. They talked about being in NYC (referencing Muppets Take Manhattan!) and how Fozzie didn't realize that the show had been cancelled. 

After a few more minutes, the actual Muppet players were freed from their crouching positions under the tables and the conversation got a little more candid, talking about the changes after Jim Henson's passing and what it was like working on the TV show. After a short Q&A, the puppeteers brought up some volunteers from the audience and taught them how to operate a few various puppets to the tune of "Tubthumping" by Chumbawumba. That song will never sound the same to me now!

Difficult People Table Read

After a short break, I went back to Milk Studios for the table read of an episode of Difficult People, a TV show on Hulu, featuring Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner as best friends and cynical New Yorkers with a love of pop culture & musicals; how perfect for me!

This table read would be for the third episode of the second season and featured many of my favorite TV and Broadway stars! In this panel alone were Amy Poehler, Nathan Lane, Megan Hilty and Andrea Martin. 

Noticeably absent, was Gabourey Sidibe, who got called back to Chicago to shoot Empire, which her character's husband, Nate, even made a reference to during the table read. Amy read all the stage directions and it was loads of fun watching these comedians and actors portray their crazy characters right infront of me!

Animated Voices

Last year, I missed out on the Animated Voices panel, but it has always been on of the most popular sessions during the festival. The premise: famous animated/cartoon voice actors read famous TV/movie scenes as their beloved animated counterparts.

The highlights for me: Maurice LeMarche (the voice of Brain from PInky and the Brain) and Alex Borstein (Ms. Swan, Family Guy, Gilmore Girls). 

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: A Musical Revue

Rounding out Day One, was a panel with Rachel Bloom from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a new-ish musical comedy TV show on The CW. I did not watch the show when it initially premiered, then Rachel won the Golden Globe and I found out Santino Fontana was also on the show, so I binged and caught up.

Another editor from New York Magazine talked with Rachel, one of her producers and her musical director about how some of the songs came to be: from demo to tracks to the music video. We heard some demos, rough cuts, watched videos, laughed and even got a little performance of "Sexy French Depression" from Rachel. And, oh yeah, she even said "Bless You!" when I sneezed rather loudly during the panel!

Day Two - Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

RENT Sing-A-Long

Day Two and the MTA train gods were not on my side! I couldn't miss out on the RENT Sing-A-Long, which featured some of my favorite Broadway stars and one of my all-time favorite musicals! Luckily, I made it in time and managed to grab a decent seat (here's where it pays to go to these things alone, lots of free single seats towards the front!)

The RENT Sing-A-Long featured Nikki M. James (The Book of Mormon, Les Miserables), Adam Kantor (Fiddler on the Roof, The Last Five Years), Lena Hall (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Kinky Boots), Gideon Glick (Significant Other, Spring Awakening), Ben Cameron (Broadway Sessions) and Paige Davis (Chicago, "Trading Spaces"). And started off with a bang, with everyone joining in on "RENT!" At one point, Paige even gave me her microphone, so I could sing along with all the celebs!

Throughout the sing-a-long, the actors and actresses shared their favorite RENT moments with the crowd and we learned just how dedicated Nikki M. James was to her RENThead moments (camping outside the Nederlander, sneaking into the city, etc.).

Other highlights, "One Song Glory," Nikki & Gideon singing "Light My Candle," Lena having to look up the words to "Out Tonight" and writhing around on the crowd in a Madewell necklace, crying along with everyone listening to Nikki sing "Without You," Lena rocking out to "Over the Moon" in her own Maureen fantasy she never got to live out and the finale of "Seasons of Love!"

In Conversation: Shonda Rimes

Why yes, I was sitting about 10 feet away from Shonda Rhimes, herself! Although I gave up on watching Grey's Anatomy years ago, I'm still a fan of her work, mostly for How To Get Away with Murder and the Britney Spears' classic, Crossroads.

During the panel, Shonda spoke with an editor from New York Magazine about her book, saying "Yes" to things, overcoming her fear of public speaking, her love of HAMILTON, and her TV shows.

I have a lot of respect for the empire that she has built and how her work constantly challenges the television viewing audience and makes characters that we all get invested in. Maybe I'll have to read her book after all. Maybe I'll be saying "Yes" to some things I never knew I would...

Pop Culture Trivia Game Show

The Pop Culture Trivia Game Show (PCTGS?) was the last panel for me over the weekend, and one of the last panels of the whole festival. The game show was hosted by Casey Wilson and Adam Pally, who were both coming from the Happy Endings panel that was sold out (thus, I couldn't go) and noticeably drunk and annoyed that they had agreed to host this game show.

The teams this year were the cast of Younger (minus Sutton Foster and Hilary Duff) against the cast of You're the Worst (of which, I only knew Kether Donoghue, but mostly from Grease!: Live). 

The rules seemed overly complicated for a fun game, but Casey and Adam managed to make it fun, even when the rounds went on forever. There were some audience members that won a contest and got to compete for some lame prizes (mostly stuff leftover from the New York Magazine offices), but at least they got to be onstage for a bit!

Kansas City - 04.02.16/04.07.16

It's hard to think that I haven't had a real vacation from work since last September, when I went to Southern California. Yes, I could choose to go to a tropical island or somewhere more typically "vacation-y," but it's nice to return to my roots and take a little break in the Midwest.

So, I flew to Kansas City for a few days of relaxation & catching up with old friends and their assorted ages of children. (Yup, it's that time when all my friends are married and/or having kids.) I spent some time trying out some new places to eat in KC, but had to grab some KC BBQ (Oklahoma Joe's), a Runza and a few of my old favorites from over a decade ago, when I lived here.

While I was in town, I stayed with my friend, Charity & her husband, Grant in Overland Park, made an excursion to Target, enjoyed the time driving around in my little red rental car and met up with many friends. My friend, Christian, drove into KC from St. Louis with his husband, Aidan, and their son, Alexander; so, naturally we had to get brunch at Big Biscuit and indulge in all our old eating habits.

I finally got the chance to see The Martian, after reading the book and caught up with one of my closest college friends, Brad; had lunch with an old co-worker, Kristen, met up with my cousin, Katie & her 3 month old son, River and wrapped up the trip with high school friends, Katie & Nate at a new restaurant.

In between, I managed to get to the Kemper Contemporary Art Museum and the Nelson-Atkins Museum (I never can resist those Oldenburg shuttlecock sculptures). I also swung by the new Madewell on the Country Club Plaza and walked through the Urban Outfitters where I spent the majority of my time working in 2005-2007.