Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Limited Subway Service Returns in Wake of Sandy

The MTA is slowly but surely getting back up after the devastation of Sandy.  Buses began operating last night at 5pm and subways will begin running limited service in Manhattan and Bronx from 42nd Street and north, as well as shuttle buses from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Brooklyn service is more limited. Please see schedule update below:

1 trains will operate local between 242nd Street (Bronx) and Times Square-42nd Street.
2 trains will operate between 241st Street (Bronx) and Times Square-42nd Street, with express service between 96th Street and Times Square.
3 trains are suspended.
4 trains will operate in two sections making all local stops:
· Between Woodlawn (Bronx) and Grand Central-42nd Street
· Between Borough Hall and New Lots Avenue
5 trains will operate express in Brooklyn between Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center and Flatbush Avenue.
6 trains will operate local between Pelham Bay Park and Grand Central-42nd Street.
7 trains are suspended.
42nd Street Shuttle S trains will operate between Times Square and Grand Central.
A trains will operate in two sections making all local stops:
· Between 168th Street (Manhattan) and 34th Street-Penn Station
· Between Jay Street/MetroTech and Lefferts Blvd.
B and C service is suspended.
D trains operate in two sections:
· Between 205th Street (Bronx) and 34th Street-Herald Square making all local stops
· In Brooklyn, between Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center and Bay Parkway making express stops between Pacific Street and 36th Street
E trains are suspended.
F trains operate in two sections making all local stops:
· Between 179th Street (Queens) and 34th Street-Herald Square
· In Brooklyn, between Jay Street-MetroTech and Avenue X
G trains are suspended.
J trains operate between Jamaica Center and Hewes Street making all local stops.
L trains operate between Broadway Junction and rockaway Parkway making all local stops.
M trains operate between Myrtle Avenue-Broadway and Metropolitan Avenue.
N trains operate between Ditmars Blvd. (Queens) and 34th Street-Herald Square making all local stops.
Q trains are suspended.
R trains operate in Brooklyn between Jay Street-MetroTech and 95th Street making all local stops.
Both the Franklin Avenue and Rockaway Park S shuttles are suspended.

All shuttle buses will operate north on 3rd Avenue and south on Lexington Avenue.
1. Between Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center and 57th Street-Lexington Avenue via the Manhattan Bridge
2. Between Jay Street-MetroTech and 57th Street-Lexington Avenue via the Manhattan Bridge
3. Between Hewes Street and 57th Street-Lexington Avenue via the Williamsburg Bridge

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Where to Find Halloween Costumes and Accessories in NYC

Halloween Party-Goers Ike Sainoi and Richard Park
Want You  to Ask "Where's Waldo?"

Halloween is just around the corner.  Do you have a costume yet?  

Whether you're looking to participate in the 39th Annual Village Halloween Parade on October 31, you've RSVPed to some extravagant masquerade party this weekend, or you just can't wait to take your little ones trick-or-treating, you're nobody if you can't pretend to be somebody else at least one day a year.

Don't fear! There is almost definitely a shop near you where you can fulfill all of your Halloween dreams: 

Halloween Adventure
Although called “Halloween Adventure,” one of the best costume shops in all of New York City, is actually open all year round, and located right near Union Square, at 104 4th Ave. Have a vampire convention to attend in Boston in February? This is the place to go for all of your costume accessories. Of course, it wouldn’t be a “Halloween Adventure” if the store didn’t also offer just about everything and more that you need to build the biggest, baddest Halloween costume out there (or just purchase one already made). Claiming to be the largest costume store on the East Coast, and especially catering to Hollywood aficionados, Halloween Adventure has costumes and accessories ranging from obscure yet professional-looking monster masks to full out Stormtroopers, Tron and other famous characters.

Ricky’s NYC

If you're looking to add some real pizzazz to your Halloween costume, and you’re willing to spare no expense, Ricky’s Costume Superstore is the perfect place to purchase your getup. With more than 20 locations in Manhattan, 2 in Brooklyn, 1 one Queens, and 1 in Hoboken, in addition to 12 "pop up" stores just for Halloween, you're bound to be within walking distance or a short train ride to a Ricky's. Once there, you can browse colorful wigs galore, glittery upscale beauty products, the sexiest adult costumes you’ve ever seen, as well as a large collection of children and pet costumes. Ricky’s provides one of the most sophisticated shopping experiences for anyone (or any dog or cat) who needs to look absolutely fabulous on Halloween.

Spirit Halloween Superstores

Scaring into New York City only seasonally, and closing its doors precisely on October 31, Spirit Halloween Superstores knows the real meaning of supply and demand.  With Halloween rapidly approaching, bleary eyed work-a-day consumers demand the best products and prices, and Spirit’s selection and value are anything but transparent.  Spirit stands out because it is all Halloween, all the time! And to really set themselves apart from their competitors, Spirit offers changing rooms where certain costumes to be tried on, because nobody wants a costume that looks great in the bag but horrible on your person.  Spirit is also a great option for Halloween decorations, to create a really spooky home, such as motion-activated ghoul machines. Find a Spirit Halloween Superstore near you. There's branches in all five boroughs, nearby New Jersey and Long Island.

Party City

Party City is literally a warehouse for party supplies, and Halloween is certainly a reason to party.  Anyone who has seen their old “Thriller” costume commercials, knows that the costume experience at Party City is an exciting one, and the prices are surprisingly less than chilling.  Party City has daily deals available online, and being a large, national retailer, the store is able to offer great deals in-store as well.  Rest assured that anything you may need for Halloween can be found here -- full costumes for all ages, personalities and body types, fun makeup, paper goods to throw your very own Halloween bash, and assorted candy to keep on stock for trick-or-treaters that may come your way. Check out Party City's expanded hours for Halloween at its two Manhattan locations on W. 14th and W. 34th Streets.

T.J. Maxx

Known for fabulous styles at deep discounts, true “Maxxinistas” know that T.J. Maxx isn’t just for hunting down inexpensive household goods or snagging designer fashions at rockbottom prices, but it is also a great place to start your children’s Halloween costume search.  T.J. Maxx is known for selling clothing that looks expensive but is actually quite reasonably priced, and the same holds true for their assorted kids’ costumes.  From ladybugs to regal princesses, T.J. Maxx will outfit your little one in quality costume attire, and probably for under $30. Locate a T.J. Maxx near you.

Finally, don’t overlook the seasonal aisles of your local pharmacy. Both CVS and Duane Reade have small seasonal sections in each store. The selections are far less than the larger costume stores, but if you just need a generic pirate costume, “Scream” mask or black cape, you may want to check out the lower prices here before hitting up the bigger stores.

**A similar version of this post was originally submitted to, but never published.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sarita's Macaroni and Cheese (aka "S'MAC") Comes to Murray Hill!

Warm, gooey, cheesy comfort food. That's what Sarita's Macaroni and Cheese, more commonly known as "S'MAC," has been serving up since 2006 at its popular East Village location. Now there's even more to love from S'MAC owners, "husband and wife team," Sarita and Caesar Ekya, as S'MAC cut the proverbial ribbon on a second indoor location, just a few weeks ago, in Murray Hill (S'MAC also operates a small outdoor kiosk at First Park).

S'MAC's New Space in Murray Hill 
S'MAC offers more than ten varieties on traditional macaroni and cheese, in four varying sizes -- from just a "Nosh" (which is actually more than enough for one person to have an entire meal), to "Partay!" size plates of mac. Don't bother with the "All-American," as it will never be the same mac your mom made when you were little. Instead, branch out and explore the other dishes, each featuring a different cheese, meat or spice that will create wonderful food memories in your mouth.

Parissiene with Breadcrumbs

Just one bite of the "Parissiene," made with creamy brie, roasted figs and shitake mushrooms, and fresh rosemary, will have any cheese-lover sold on S'MAC. Those watching calories who still want to indulge should try the "Garden Lite," made with light cheddar and parmesan cheeses, and mixed with scrumptious veggies, like cauliflower and broccoli, and with a hint of roasted garlic. If none of the selections strike your fancy (which is unlikely), try the S'MAC Sampler, or just create your own mac and cheese sensation, using your choice of cheeses and "mix-ins". Don't forget to ask for free breadcrumbs!

Want to buy now but eat later? Ask for your mac to be prepared "Take & Bake" style. These S'MAC dishes can last 3-4 days in your refrigerator, or longer in your freezer, to be baked at your own convenience.

Have a gluten allergy?  You don't have to pass up the food adventures at S'MAC, as all dishes can be made with gluten-free pasta (for an additional cost). S'MAC also has options for vegans and those with lactose intolerance.

Need another reason to support S'MAC? When you support S'MAC, they support others in the community.

Visit all of S'MAC's current locations:

East Village - 345 E. 12th St., between 1st and 2nd Aves.

Murray Hill - 157 E. 33rd St., between Lexington and 3rd Aves.

Kiosk - 3 1st Ave., First Park, at the corner of 1st and Houston

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 Lets the Car-less Find Rideshares to the Slopes!

Last year, I posted all about skiing and snowboarding day trips from New York City without a car.  The bus  trips mentioned are an easy and convenient way to enjoy the slopes, but now another option has come into the mix: is a rideshare and social networking site for the snowbound, connecting those with cars with those who need a proverbial "lift."

Whether you have a car and want some company or a little cash while driving to the slopes, or you are looking to ski/board and hope to save a little money on transportation, be able to go on your own schedule, and maybe make a friend in the process, is a great tool.  The site connects would-be ridesharers not just locally, but around the world.   Hopefully there will actually be some snow this year in upstate New York, New England and surrounding areas, so we can enjoy the great snow sports they have to offer.

Find TheSkiLift on facebook here.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Bayside High School Comes to NYC With All of Your Favorite "Zack Attack" Members.

Break out your oversized 90s cell phone and bottle of caffeine pills, as the "Zack Attack" has hit the East Village's Kraine Theater.  Alternatively known as either Bayside High School, or the beloved teen hangout, "The Max," depending on the scene, Kraine Theater has welcomed the wacky cast of  the 1989-1993 hit TV sitcom, "Saved By the Bell" to perform a musical about their school, friendships, and love lives.

Okay, actually, it's not the original cast, as they're all now approaching 40, nor is the show even authorized by the creators of the original "Saved By the Bell," but who's checking?  "Bayside! The Unmusical!" brings the audience back to that turbulent, grunge rock era that was the 90s.  Two electric guitarists accompany a spry cast of fresh, young faces to rekindle the love between "Zack" and "Kelly," cure "Jessie Spano" of her crippling over-the-counter pill addiction, help "AC Slater" find his passion, and help "Lisa Turtle" gossip and shop, and shop and gossip, all the while keeping up wise-cracks at the expense of the king of nerds, "Samuel 'Screech' Powers."  The guitarists, who together make up the only "orchestra" of the show, also happen to be the parody's writers and directors, cousins, Bob and Tobly McSmith.  Their rock music numbers are part-original, part parodies in themselves of famous songs such as "You're the One That I Want" from movie-musical, "Grease".

Slater confronts Jessie about her pill bottles
Photo by Curtis Peel
The show opens with an introductory musical number reminding the audience about some of the critical and most memorable storylines that their favorite characters were involved in while the show was popular.  For example, Jessie and Slater sing about how they're the "worst couple at Bayside."  Immediately, a few things are clear -- April Kidwell, who plays Jessie, has amazing comedic timing and is the glue that holds the show together, while her counterpart, Israel Viñas (Slater), is the one to watch for his perfect pitch and Broadway-style singing voice.

"Bayside! The Unmusical!" is quirky, sexually tinged, and full of many throwbacks to the original to catch the audience's attention - dream sequences, Zack freezing time, even buddy bands!  Follow the gang as they try to come up with a way to save The Max, which will be forced to close if they can't raise $500.  Along the way, reconnect with the characters you have come to know and love, whether via first run episodes or during the frequent reruns that still play on network TV to this day.

Will Zack and Kelly stay "friends forever"?
Photo by Curtis Peel
Zack, played by JD Scalzo, narrates the show and makes it clear that it's really all about him.  His character is nothing if not cool and a bit conceited.  Zack's love interest, Kelly, played by Caitlin Claessens, is beautiful as can be, and though her character as a flighty, promiscuous cheerleader is extremely exaggerated, the audience is nevertheless left with a genuine affection for her as she tries to break some important news to her beau.  Meanwhile, with bulging muscles, greased to shine and, well, bulge, Viñas prances around the stage in a classic onesie-style wrestling leotard, proclaiming his mutual love and hate for things like wrestling, and Jessie, while he wonders if the world will ever see him as "more than just a greasy, beefy stud-muffin."  As he ponders this, Slater eventually comes to an important realization that is a team-changer. Whoops, I mean game changer... Jessie, for better or worse, isn't really paying attention to this, as she is both so excited and so, so scared about whether or not she'll ever get into Stanford.  Keep an eye on her character improvisations and embellishments if you really want to crack up.

Shamira Clark, who plays Lisa, surprises the audience when she turns out to not only be black, but not half bad at rapping, and you can't help but notice that in a trendy, fashionable hat, she could be a dead ringer for Lark Voorhies, who played the original Lisa Turtle in the series.  Lisa is constantly pursued by Screech, played by Rachel Witz, who goes in and out of character to reference ways her predecessor, Dustin Diamond, has tried desperately to remain in the media spotlight in the real world (such as by creating and distributing a video of himself engaged in sexual self-gratification).

Of course, the Bayside High team wouldn't be complete if Mr. Belding weren't involved, especially as the kids recognize (and sing about how) they're the "only students at Bayside."  Actor and real-life criminal lawyer, Zachary Peters, nails Belding's signature "hey, hey hey!" and belly laughs.

Overall, for only $15 for a general admission ticket, "Bayside! The Musical!" is a fun way to spend a little over an hour reminiscing and laughing at the jokes that just never get old.  In fact, the show had opened and closed earlier in the year, but it was apparently saved by the bell, and brought back for the current limited engagement, at the end of September.  While the creators hope to keep it going for as long as possible, right now there are only four remaining shows scheduled, so buy your tickets now and get ready to go back to high school.  Go Bayside!

Monday, October 1, 2012

New Website, "Vimbly" Virtually Navigates the City For Busy Activity-Seekers

Vimbly Navigates the City for  Busy Activity-Seekers
New website, "Vimbly," launches today, and seeks to change the way New Yorkers find and book activities. Ever want to try a new class or activity in NYC but feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available? How do you sort through available activities, times, and costs, remaining confident that you'll discover the best deal? According to Vimbly, "71% of people have decided against signing up for an activity due to the hassle of booking." With that in mind, Vimbly takes the hard work out of actually booking the activity, allowing patrons to save time and energy, which they can devote to the actual experience, instead of the chore of finding that experience.

Vimbly hopes to do for activities what sites like Orbitz did for air travel or Open Table for dining out, by streamlining the search and booking process. Surf over to the site and instantly book your desired lesson or activity. If you're just browsing for something to do, perhaps seeking to impress a date, Vimbly's home page highlights featured activities that can be booked instantly, with a calendar matrix showing available class times and dates. For now, all activities offered are on weeknights and evenings, as the site seems geared towards busy professionals.

Whether you want to try a martial art, learn a new cooking technique, or dance like a star, Vimbly is the place to go to discover and book low-cost activities. The site streamlines the process by breaking classes into categories, such as "food adventure," "dance for beginners," and "photography," as well as giving patrons the option to search for an activity by specific keyword, if you already have an activity idea in mind, or by location (with the help of an expandable google maps icon), date, time and/or price, if you're browsing for a new hobby.

Suppose you want to browse free intro and trial classes. On the top left corner of the site, you can change the price search option to "$0," and find a class to meet your mood. Learn the basics of bartending in a free mixology trial class, whirl a date across the dance floor during an introductory salsa and swing class, or discipline your mind and body in intro Tae Kwon Do, Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, and more. More unique activity, date and hobby ideas can be found under the category "Make Me Interesting," where you can book intro to pole dancing classes, improv comedy, chess or guitar lessons, or make a reservation to visit a local exhibit such as Dialog in the Dark.

Vimbly Virtual Ticket With Booking Information
The name "Vimbly" is part acronym, part word-mash up, and stands for "very nimbly." This could be a reference to the many nimble activities offered, or a shout-out to the site's own agility, and the ease and speed with which activities can be reserved. Just click on your desired date/time, fill in your name and email address, and number of guests (including yourself), and you will instantly see a virtual ticket with all of your booking information. Don't worry about printing this, as Vimbly is fairly paperless. You will instantly receive an e-mail confirmation that you should keep handy on your smartphone, if you have one, or via printout if you don't, but Vimbly works closely with each and every vendor so that you can just walk in and say, "Hi, my name is Heather, I booked the 5pm Popping and Locking class on Vimbly," and immediately be recognized and welcomed.

The staff of Vimbly don't just pick vendors willy nilly, but often actually try out the classes they offer to book for you. Vimbly is continuing to expand and is frequently adding new vendors and categories. Vimbly also keeps a blog of fun ideas and articles to broaden your activity-search experience. Consider reading "Why Dinner is a Terrible Date Idea," and learn why you may want to book an alternative activity with your would-be partner (on Vimbly, of course...), or read about the benefits of a martial arts workout, in "Martial Arts: 30% More Calories, 100% More Fun Than Traditional Workouts."

Customer service is key at Vimbly. There are absolutely no booking fees, and most activities do not even require pre-payment, but instead allow payment on arrival. (See Vimbly's FAQs for more payment explanations). Rest assured that should you run into any unlikely problems with your booking, the "Vimbly Handshake" acts as a virtual guarantee that your issue will be resolved quickly and efficiently. Just e-mail, and Vimbly staff will respond to you within six hours. If you were truly unsatisfied with a vendor, Vimbly may even refund the cost of your activity, regardless of whether or not you pre-paid through Vimbly's site.

Vimbly is just starting out, but the site ran some recent beta tests, and WGINY was very impressed with how easy and fun it was to book an interesting class. With Vimbly, users bypass all the time-consuming google-searching, sifting through link after link after link, manually comparing vendors and class schedules, and other draining work. Vimbly has already taken all of this information from around the web and gathered it for you, presenting it in a manner that makes it easily searchable and instantly bookable. Read more about "bookability" and how Vimbly is working to fix a broken system here, and then go discover your activity. Your new Krav Maga instructor is waiting for you.