Nov 13-17 I took a long weekend vacation to New York City to see some friends, record some lego voices, and generally just get away from my life for a while. It was excellent.
My flight was delayed on Friday due to the tail end of a heavy rainstorm on the east coast. Southwest was kind enough to call my cell phone and inform me of the delay. Except I was already at the airport when they called. I used the extra couple hours to take a nice series of naps at the terminal. I didn’t mind, unlike Tiffany I feel very safe and comfortable at airports so as long as it isn’t an egregious delay, I can usually amuse myself for the extra time.
When I did finally get in, my doppelganger, David Pagano, met me at the airport. (You may remember we hung out at Brickworld this summer) Why is he my doppelganger you ask? True, we don’t look that much alike, however our names are both David Michael P_____, we’re about the same age and we both spend a great deal of our time making stop-animation movies with lego bricks. In fact, last year we tied for second place in this lego animation contest. Of course, he has gone a step further than me, and is actually getting paid by the LEGO Group to make animations (he did 6 awesome Space Police Videos throughout the summer - this is the first). Several of my friends have suggested I need to kill him and take his place, but since this is not Highlander, I think I’ll hold off on that.
So he met me at the airport and we caught up while taking a bus and a couple trains from Queens to Manhattan to Brooklyn and then walking from Brooklyn back into Queens (which made me appreciate my straightforward commute) to get to his animation studio. His studio is his old bedroom in his parents’ house. His parents must be even more generous and accommodating than mine, in addition to the studio proper, there were lego sets in every corner of the living room, strewn over the dining room table, and hiding in various nooks and crannies in the kitchen. The studio itself was a sight to behold (and I realize now, I should have taken pictures), the windows were blacked out, he had a nice big worktable, a computer desk in the corner and drawers and boxes of lego piled high in every other available space.
He showed me sneak peaks of the new stuff he’s working on for LEGO (my lips are sealed of course) and let me my play around with the models he had used to make them (I only broke them a little). He talked the process of working with the LEGO group on official animations; I made him show me how he organizes his pieces, etc. Then I had him record a couple voices, he’s the wolfpack fan in my latest video and he’ll be The Toymaster General in a video which should be out in Spring. After that he rode back into Manhattan with me and then we parted ways at Union station. All in all it was a really awesome afternoon filled with LEGO goodness.
Then I headed down to Wall Street to meet up with yet another David (there really are quite a few of us). David Massant lived in my dorm and shared an apartment building with me in college. He now works on Wall Street for Deutsche Bank. I got to his apartment about 8 PM on Friday and didn’t go outside again until about 2 in the afternoon on Sunday. In those 42 hours I watched TV and ate food and slept and talked. On Friday, David, his boyfriend Michael and his roommate Puvin ( I think that's how it's spelled...) introduced me to Firefly Vodka. This tea infused vodka is so tasty, it is very easy to drink excessive amounts without realizing it. This may or may not be what happened on Friday. Saturday morning and afternoon we were all recovering and then preparing for a Mexican potluck with their friends that evening. After dinner we ended up watching a bunch of funny youtube videos. Sunday was a very calm morning and I used the time to do some stuff on the internet. It was a very nice relaxing couple of days.
Then I headed up to Chelsea and met Lila at her apartment. About 20 minutes before I arrived she got an e-mail from her boss (at the Huffington Post) about a new work schedule that involved her working a lot of nights and weekends, never having 2 consecutive days off, and a schedule that alternated every other week. In short, a really terrible schedule that she didn’t feel like was sustainable for her. Using the lessons I had learned from my recent negotiations to get out of my promotion at work I was able to help her think about how to respond and work with her boss and co-workers to create a schedule that worked for everyone’s needs. It was nice to help her out and it made me appreciate how good I have it at my job.
About an hour after I arrived Eric came over, we went to the local video rental store and picked up Howl’s Moving Castle for later and then accompanied Lila to home depot so she could make a copy of her building key. She spent a lot of the walk on the phone talking about her terrible new schedule and Eric and I used that time to catch up.
Back at her apartment we threw a log on her fire, ordered some amazing Chinese take-out (spicy chicken, shrimp and noodles, pork dumplings, beef and green beans) and prepared ourselves for a voiceover recording session. The majority of the recording session we spent working out the Trifacto Jones song. It was really a team effort. I had written the song and come up with the basic tune ahead of time, but Eric’s conducting was essential to getting the timing and annunciation down and Lila’s soloing made the opening verses much more dynamic. We listened back to that and some stuff we’d recorded the last time I was in New York and that lead to creating Steven Mitchell and figuring out the voice for Rhonda Rhododendron. We really enjoyed ourselves. Eric and I were laughing so hard we kept messing up Lila’s recording.
Then we watched Howl's Moving Castle. This was the second time I watched it and I remembered the plot being a little confused, but I thought it would be easier to follow the second time through. It was still a mess. The first hour is really tightly done, after that it stats to fall apart. Still, it’s a Miyazaki film, so you’re so enchanted by the music and animation that you let things like plot chasms go. Afterward we went around the block to a diner for dessert. I got a big brownie w/ ice cream, whipped cream and fudge. It was awesome. Eric went home after that.
Lila and I watched some Arrested Development. Including “Pier Pressure,” which I will never tire of watching. After she went to sleep I stayed up and caught up on blog (only to immediately fall behind again…) The next day we got some delicious sandwiches – mine was turkey, brie, thin slices of granny apple and something else delicious. Hers was also good, the only ingredient I remember is cabbage. Then we saw Fantastic Mr. Fox which was delightful. We walked uptown so she could pick something up from a department store and then we parted ways at the subway station. I got to LaGuardia and back to Chicago with no troubles. A wonderful vacation through and through.