Thursday, October 13, 2016

#427 I'm Just Wild About Harry

I know I have two previous posts with the same name (#48 and #352).  I can’t help it!  I AM wild about Harry! 

If you haven’t heard, Harry Connick, Jr. has a new TV show out called Harry.  (It airs locally on NBC at 11 a.m.)

Before the show started, I entered a contest to win tickets to the show, which is taped at the CBS Studios in New York City.  Both my friend Julie and I entered to better our odds.  And we both won!  We had three days to choose from and settled on Thursday, Sept. 22.  We did the afternoon taping. 

The fine print on the tickets said there was no guarantee we would get in and that they overbook.  We were optimistic.  I won tickets to see David Letterman over 20 years ago and they said the same thing and we got in.  You just need to get there early. 

Alyce, Julie and I took a late (and delayed) flight to Newark Wednesday night, Sept. 21, and arrived around midnight.  We have been to NY several times but weren’t in full NYC mode and mistakenly caught a limo instead of a taxi to the hotel.  Instead of it costing $50 it was $84.  Gulp! 

This was the first time I’ve been to NY and not stayed in Manhattan.  Prices were too high.  I don’t know if it was inflation or the United Nations meetings, but we ended up staying at the Meadowlands River Inn in Secaucus, New Jersey.  The price was good and it included breakfast.  The bus stop to the city was right across the street and was $8.50 for a round-trip ticket.  The bus took about 20-40 minutes depending on traffic and let us off at the Port Authority near Time Square. 

The view of Manhattan from our bus.  

Thursday was pretty much all Harry.  We walked toward the CBS building and I stopped at The Original Soupman for a mid-morning snack.  I had a delicious mushroom and rice soup and the bag it came in was like a clown car.  Soup, bread, an orange and a Lindt chocolate for $7.  Sooo good! 

"No soup for you!  Next!"
Julie and Alyce got lunch down the street from CBS and then we got in line around 12:30 p.m.  The ticket said 1 p.m. but there were already maybe 50 people in line. 

Hip, stylish and ready for Harry!
A little after 1 p.m. they gave us instructions and ushered us in to the holding room.  

Several producers walked around talking to us and asking questions.  The show’s question of the day was, “You wouldn’t know this by looking at me but …”  I had nothing.  You take one look at me and think I play basketball or volleyball or something.  Alyce called one producer over and told her that Julie played roller derby.  They were interested!  (For the record, I did tell another producer that I was literally Harry’s biggest fan, then stood up and watched her eyes get huge.  She wrote down my name but nothing ever came of it.) 

Julie’s producer kept coming back, while Julie kept cursing us, even while filling out her waiver.  

Julie does not look happy
Time came for the audience to be seated and we had to wait in the holding room.  There were four groups waiting.  When they brought us in they placed us in various seats around the studio (which was beautiful!). 

Every communication we had from the show was to dress “hip and stylish”.  They said to avoid white and busy patterns.  I brought two outfits and settled on a lavender dolman sleeve top, skinny jeans and my Franco Sarto purple strappy 3” wedges.  (I carried them in a bag until we got to the studio.) 

The band played to get us warmed up (awesome!) and then Harry came out.  Time for the show!  He started off with the audience question.  One woman played quarterback on a local football team, one woman was in the background in Dirty Dancing.  A woman and her daughter had seen Harry in concert for the past 20 years.  She first took her daughter when she was six years old.  She’s now 26.  He remembered them!  It was so cute!  (Although when the show actually aired, they were cut.)

Then Harry said, “Where’s Julie?”  He asked her questions about roller derby and she did a great job.  And she got a hug.  I just looked at him and thought, “He has beautiful skin.”  Ha 

After that, Harry gave away a trip to Mexico.  Each chair had a number on a piece of paper and they told us to keep the number when we sat down.  They called the number and Vera, a super cute woman behind me, won.  She was a retired teacher and a military captain. 

Harry especially loves teachers and nurses, and said that is why he wanted to do his show.  To meet people like Vera.  Awwwww! 

The main guest was Ken Jeung from Dr. Ken and The Hangover movies.  He was hilarious!  Harry also had a woman who makes dresses for little girls from designs they create (Picture This).  He finished with three women in a new movie called Dirty Thirty

Before we knew it, the show was over.  I remember sitting there the whole time thinking, ‘We are actually here!”  It was a blast. 

We got out of there around 4:30 p.m.  It took pretty much the whole day! 

From there, we walked to and around parts of Central Park and, after asking Julie’s producer about places to eat, stopped at a less crowded Shake Shack on the Upper East Side.  We passed one near Time Square earlier in the day and the line was out the door.  We found this one around 7 p.m. and it had a beautiful courtyard on the side.  I had the Shackburger, crinkle cut fries and a chocolate shake.  Soo good! 

As we walked around the Upper East Side we saw an elegant woman (maybe late 60s) come out of her building.  She didn’t look up, and walked out to the street looking at her phone.  Soon after, the doorman ran out to the corner and whistled to call a cab for her.  She silently opened the cab door and got in.  Impressive. 

Day two was the 9/11 museum, lunch with one of my friends who works at NYU, a walk along the Hudson River to Battery Park, wandering through Little Italy and the Feast of San Gennaro, dinner at Lil’ Frankie’s (another suggestion from the producer) and back to the Port Authority.  My calves were killing me!

I loved this quote in the 9/11 museum
Saturday we attempted to see Saturday Night Live The Exhibition, which I was told last year would be there for “many years to come.”  It had closed this past June.  Heavy sigh.  I was greatly disappointed.  I seriously would have gone earlier if I had known it was closing.  We walked back to the park and had lunch on a huge rock just enjoying the people-watching.  We were lucky and had three beautiful, sunny days! 

Lady Liberty view

The Three Amigos along the Hudson River

Our view atop our lunch perch in Central Park

Bethesda Fountain
We caught an evening flight back to Indianapolis and I got home around 11 p.m.  What an amazing trip!  We experienced a lot, but most importantly, we experienced them together!  Julie and I had seen a lot of the things before, but Alyce had not.  We did see some new things and it was nice to see other things again with someone else.  A fabulous three days! 

And all because of Harry …

Thursday, October 6, 2016

#426 Decision America 2016

Today I attended a prayer rally with Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham.  It’s part of his Decision America Tour 2016.  I don’t usually attend things like this, so here is a little background on why I did. 

My parents subscribe to Decision Magazine, a Christian magazine published by The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.  Several months ago my mom mentioned that Franklin Graham would be in town for a prayer rally and she was interested in going.  For some reason I put that date in my phone calendar.  I don’t put anything in my phone calendar. 

My mom doesn’t get around very well and is hesitant to use a wheelchair in public in certain situations.  Due to her subscription and donations, she received a ticket to the rally that would have given her access to a private reception with Mr. Graham and close seating for the rally.  She ended up giving it to our pastor. 

I forgot all about it when I heard my phone buzz yesterday.  “Franklin Graham prayer rally” popped up with the date.  Hmmm.  Many questions swirled through my head.  Do I have enough time at lunch?  What is the weather going to be like?  Will there be crazy people there?  I’m not a “rally” or even “protest” kind of girl. 

It turned out to be a beautiful day (complete with a rainbow that I missed!).  I can make time during my lunch hour.  It’s a ten-minute walk from my office.  I’m going! 

I found it and slowly walked by the crowd looking for a place to stand.  I doubled back, and as I did, I heard my name.  It was a guy I went to high school with.  I would say I hadn’t seen him in about 10 years, but I just saw him last weekend at our 30-year reunion.  We chatted and I stood by him for the rally. 

It was really good.  Like his father, Franklin is a powerful speaker.  (I attended one Billy Graham Crusade as a teenager at the fairgrounds.)  He started by saying he has absolutely zero hope in the Democratic party.  “I’m going to ruffle some feathers.”  Then he said he has absolutely zero hope in the Republican party.  He has faith in the Almighty God.  He led us through several prayers (for ourselves, our forefathers, our public servants and our country to name a few).  We all held hands during one prayer. 

The rally lasted an hour.  It was an hour well-spent.  I felt more hopeful for the country.  There are a lot of faithful people out there.  Mr. Graham is stopping in several cities across the country and I pray that many hear what he has to say and the prayers increase.  And that people vote!  He has heard from many people who say they are not going to vote.  "Shame on you if you don't vote!"  he said.  

I also was happy to share this moment with someone I know, and to hold his hand in prayer.  I am not super close to my high school classmate, but think of him as a friend.  I was encouraged that someone my age thought the rally was important enough to drive from the north side of town, find a place to park and walk over.  I only had to walk 10 minutes.  He had to take a lot longer lunch! 

These days it seems that the majority of people do not share my religious views, especially those my age.  I was encouraged to see such a strong turnout with a positive message.  I will end this post as Mr. Graham ended the rally.  God bless America!