Museum of Mathematics and What the Dickens!

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MoMath

Last weekend was Ben’s birthday weekend. We had a low-key, but fun-filled weekend. He requested that I make him a birthday dinner rather than go out. He loves watching me cook. Although he gladly helps out when I ask, I rarely do because 1) my kitchen is a little small and 2) I’m a little particular about some things (Ben would say I’m a lot particular).

We both love lamb, so I found this super easy broiled lamb chops with pesto recipe. It took a few minutes to prepare and cook. Definitely it’s a low maintenance recipe that tastes like it took longer to prepare. I served the lamb chops with sauteed spinach and roasted potatoes for his birthday dinner on Friday. Ben marveled over the juicy lamb chops and how soft and fluffy the interior of the roasted potatoes were while the exterior was crispy. Birthday dinner success!

On Saturday I got us tickets for the opening day of the National Museum of Mathematics, or MoMath. We both thought it would be a fun outing. There were several little exhibitions and demos on various “math” ideas, such as number puzzles, fractals, and tessellations. The best part was the tricycle with square wheels. The museum is only a couple stories and some of the demos weren’t ready because of Hurricane Sandy. MoMath is light on the math and frankly, I can only recommend this museum if you have little kids. For them, it’s a fun place to spend the afternoon. For adults, not so much. But Ben and I did discover that MoMath has been holding lectures on different math topics and those sound really cool. So we plan to be back for that.

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Later that afternoon, we went to What the Dickens!, the 3rd annual reading of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol at Housing Works. I went to this last year and had a tremendous time listening to this classic Christmas tale. Every year Housing Works lines up several local authors and a few actors to read a few pages aloud. They always have accomplished writers doing the reading, such as Lev Grossman, Peter Straub, and Jami Attenberg. The actors this year were Jill Hennessy and Michael Kostroff from The Wire. Ben is a big fan of that show and was excited to see him. John Hodgman, of the Daily Show, read last year and this year. He was by far my favorite as he and Scott Adsit didn’t just read their prose, but acted it out (along with a few wailing sound effects from Hodgman). I enjoyed Eileen Myles’s reading because I loved how she came prepared with props. She brought a little ghost hand puppet and was interacting with it as she read. I also really liked Baratunde Thurston’s reading because of his voice. The best readers didn’t simply read. They breathed life into the words. Through them, the words were no longer static black inked marks on a page, but leaped out like Marley’s ghosts and beckoned us to another world.

20121216-212335.jpgBen and I managed to find some free space on a window seat where we sat for about a half hour. Then a couple at the next table left, so we quickly snatched up those seats. At that point, Ben got us some hot drinks and we sat back and enjoyed the reading.

What the Dickens! is absolutely free, which is incredible considering what a great event it is. The whole reading takes a little more than 3 hours to complete. You’re free to come in and leave at any point. Housing Works was quite full with eager listeners.

I really can’t say enough just how much I love Housing Works. Not only is it a great charitable organization for helping those afflicted with AIDS/HIV, in particular the gay community, but they always have amazing fun events. It is these small independent stores that give life to a city. They add to a vibrant community and culture that can’t be found nor replicated by the chains. Yes, Barnes & Noble do readings, but they look at readings as a way of making money. You can’t go to a reading without buying the novel. On the other hand, these small independent bookstores do events out of love and a desire to build a community. There’s a creativity and outré spirit that can mounted by independent places that don’t have to worry about pleasing shareholders.

20121216-212351.jpgIf you’re in New York, be sure to check out what Housing Works has to offer. It’s a bookstore, cafe, and a community center. It’s just one of the reasons why I love living in New York.

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