Thursday, November 21, 2013

The New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show is Back in Full Loco-Motion!

The New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show is back in full loco-motion, forging ahead this season with more trains than ever before!

Trains at the Holiday Train Show Pass by Iconic NYC Buildings
Photo Courtesy of  The New York Botanical Garden 
Last year, WGINY had the opportunity to attend the 2012 Holiday Train Show, full of "g-scale" model trains and exquisitely detailed replicas of New York City landmarks. Creator Paul Busse's whimsical, artistic creations have been on view annually at NYBG for over 20 years.

Photo Courtesy of The New York Botanical Garden
This year's show at the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory Courtyard includes most of the scenes from last year, and builds on them with fun new attractions such as a model of a Metro-North train winding around Hudson River Valley mansions, a "Streets of New York" holiday dining pavilion, and a "Holiday Adventures" activity area for kids in the Everett Children's Adventure Garden. For the adults-only, consider visiting the show during a Bar Car Night, and enjoy a complimentary cocktail while viewing the exhibition, and then head to the Conservatory Courtyard to watch special ice carving demonstrations throughout the evening.

Additionally, on Saturday, November 23, at 2pm, U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins will be reading special poetry selections, including train-themed works, to a sold out crowd at the Botanical Garden's Ross Hall.

An All-Garden Pass to the New York Botanical Garden, which includes admission to the Holiday Train Show, starts at $20 for adults, and $10 for children ages 2-12, and 30% off may be available for select weekday tickets with promo code "9036" online. You need a timed ticket for entry to the exhibition, and advanced reservations are highly recommended for this popular show.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the Holiday Train Show website.

Photo Courtesy of The New York Botanical Garden
Want a chance to win tickets to the Holiday Train Show?

The first person to correctly a train-themed poem by Billy Collins in the comments will win a family-four pack of tickets to visit the Holiday Train Show (admission to Collins' reading not included). Tickets will be mailed to the winner.


Friday, November 15, 2013

New York City Bar Chorus 20th Anniversary Show is TODAY at 7pm

Today, the New York City Bar Chorus marks its 20th year of "musical pro bono" with its benefit concert at the New York City Bar Association, 42 W. 44th Street, at 7pm. See WGINY's prior post for more info.

The "CBC" was recently featured on NY1's "Your Weekend Starts Now" segment, at :45. NY1's Stephanie Simon reports, "If you must have a brush with the law, this should be it."

The members of the CBC were also "New Yorkers of the week" in 2004, again featured on NY1, as that "Choir of Legal Eagles Entertain[ing] The Community For Free."

As the Chorus' event announcement notes, "Whether you are a long-time fan or have never before heard the CBC, there is no better time to see them shine."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

“The Power of Poison” Injects Mystery into The American Museum of Natural History

By Tami Shaloum

What’s your poison? Is it odorless, tasteless arsenic? Perhaps it is a venomous snake? Or maybe it’s the theobromine found in chocolate, which is highly toxic to dogs? Yes, these are just a few of the diverse poisons that are explored in The American Museum of Natural History’s new exhibit “The Power of Poison.” We all know that poison is used for many evils, as well as for protection, but did you know that poisons could also be used in medicines to help people heal from a wide variety of ills? This exhibit, curated by Dr. Mark Siddall, provides an educational and entertaining look at poisons found in nature, myths and legends, history, and literature.

We begin by entering a replica of the Choc√≥ Rain Forest in Colombia, where many forms of venomous wildlife exist. The different flora and fauna on display showcase their toxic nature often used as protection. Here you will find the typical Museum of Natural History dioramas featuring both live and replica models of animals. Model bugs are magnified to three times their original size, live golden poison frogs demonstrate that being tiny doesn’t make a creature any less deadly, and a video recreates a mysterious real-life poisoning by newt.

Golden Poison Frog Photograph Provided By AMNH
Next, we enter the realm of the fantastic, where stories, myths, and legends come alive, and famous figures come under scrutiny for their connection to poison. Have you ever wondered why the Alice in Wonderland character is called the Mad Hatter? (The answer is actually based in the history of the hat-making process.) What were those witches in Macbeth really brewing in their cauldrons? Other characters on display include Snow White and the poisoned apple; Harry Potter and the bezoar, known as a universal antidote to poisons; Westley and Vizzini’s battle of wits from The Princess Bride (Did you know you really can’t immunize yourself against poison by consuming a small amount every day?); and Hercules and the Hydra, told cleverly by animation projected onto clay pots. These stories are broken down to explore the use of these poisons and learn more about their effects. One particularly amusing display is about people who practiced witchcraft by brewing potions and claiming they could fly. Guess what: They were really just doped up!

Alice in Wonderland "Tea Party" Image Provided By AMNH
Macbeth "Witches Brew" Photo Provided By AMNH
Other displays include protective charms and amulets such as frankincense, gold, and bezoars; poison detectors like opal, toadstones, and silver spoons; and a cool, interactive “Enchanted Book” to help you learn more about different legends. Another interesting feature of the exhibit is a toxicology demonstration where an actor walks the audience through a mystery of an actual poisoning that occurred in the 19th century that facilitated the introduction of forensic evidence in court cases. She then invites everyone to move on to the next room to try and solve three more mysteries.

This exhibit is great fun for all ages, especially if you’re into mythology, nature, or just curious about poison. It’s interactive, engaging, and very informative. The exhibit opens on Saturday, November 16, 2013 and runs through August 10, 2014. Visit "The Power of Poison" exhibition website for more information.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

New York City Bar Chorus Celebrates 20 Years of "Musical Pro Bono" with November 15th Benefit Show

Big-city lawyers tend to get a "bum rap." However, for the past 20 years, the New York City Bar Chorus, directed by Kathryn E. Schneider, Esq., and accompanied by Matthew V. Grieco, Esq., has shown off the more "harmonious" instincts of legal professionals at community outreach venues across New York City, where they provide "musical pro bono." The 80+-member chorus is led by and composed entirely of legal professionals, including lawyers, legal assistants, law students, law librarians, as well as the occasional judge. (Note: Heather K., founder of WGINY, and a lawyer for a local non-profit organization, is a member of the New York City Bar Chorus.)

Since 1993, the chorus has staged well over 200 performances at its outreach venues, including senior residences, AIDS and cancer support centers, homeless shelters, and rehabilitation facilities. The group has also done the occasional "glamor gig" for legal luminaries, and has appeared three times on television, including as NY 1 News "New Yorkers of the Week."

Since residents at many of the chorus's outreach venues request privacy, its shows are not often open to the public. But, in honor of its Twentieth Anniversary, the chorus is staging a celebratory benefit show on Friday, November 15, 2013, at 7pm, at the New York City Bar Association, which is open to the public. This performance will showcase the CBC's diverse repertoire, ranging from Queen to Dolly Parton, Gershwin to gospel, and West Side Story to Pippin and Wicked, and raise money for the chorus and the City Bar Fund, the pro bono affiliate of the City Bar. Quoted in a recent press release, City Bar President Carey R. Dunne has said, "I think they sound more like singers who practice law than lawyers who sing."

Check out the chorus' event listing or join the Facebook invite for the "New York City Bar Chorus 20th Anniversary Concert," and preview the chorus's professional and uplifting sound on YouTube.