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Monday, June 25, 2018

Museum Of The Moving Image, Part 2

A few weeks ago, when we were in New York waiting to welcome our first grandchild into the world, we visited the Museum Of The Moving Image in Astoria, Queens.  If you are ever in this area, I highly recommend checking it out.  We had such a good time here learning about everything from the history of the moving image to the new genres of online video.  The Jim Henson Exhibition, one of the permanent exhibitions, was so entertaining and interesting that we wound up spending more time than we expected here but we got to enjoy every inch of it (read about it here).   This museum had many outstanding exhibitions, with lots of hands on opportunities, but because we spent so much time with The Muppets, we couldn't see it all in the time we had.   We will happily have to go back one day.

We finally did exit the Jim Henson Exhibition, and to our left we found Tut's Fever movie theater.  The Muppet Show was the featured movie on the day we went.  We were greeted by the concession lady when we entered.

The namesake of the theater had his own display behind the auditorium.  Joe scared the #### out of me when he flipped the switch that opened the tomb.  I was not expecting that at all!  We watched an episode of The Muppet Show, with a few other people, in this theater that holds up to 35.

We thoroughly enjoyed the museum's collection of over 1,400 artifacts scattered throughout.  Me and Soko are old enough to remember having some of these things in our homes!  I loved seeing the first televisions.  I can still picture my dad sitting in front of the tiny television screen which was surrounded by a cabinet that was 100 times larger than the TV set itself.

Some of the first machines for viewing moving images are displayed here and available to interact with.  Thankfully, I can say me and Soko are way too young to know anything about any of these machines.

We did have some of these toys growing up and Soko remembers packing his lunch in his tin lunchbox.  I had lunch at home when I attended elementary school so never needed a lunchbox but I'm sure I would have liked to have The Monkees decorating mine!   Shirley Temple dolls and games are always things I expect to see in toy collections like this.  It was fun to see what other shows and movies were popular enough to have a game or toy made with their likeness.

It doesn't seem like that long ago when video games gradually started taking the place of pinball machines.  The museum had a nice collection of the first video games that started the turnover and me and Joe could have spent more time here but there was so much more to see.  P.S.  I never got past the first screen of Donkey Kong!

If you've ever wondered how the head of the Chewbacca costume was made, or how special facial features are created or if you would like to view the life mask made of this famous actor for The Godfather III movie, you can find it all at this museum.

There is a great collection of costumes on display and it was fun recognizing some of them without having to read the info under them.  

                    (Mrs. Doubtfire)                                                     (Miami Vice)

We actually had two equally favorite exhibitions at the museum.  The first being the Jim Henson Exhibition and the second the Live Television Exhibition.  Here we got a look at what happens in the live control room of a baseball game.  What made this exhibit even more entertaining for us is that it featured our team the Mets!   We couldn't feel less than totally impressed with how director Bill Webb could watch 12 or more screens all at the same time, then, sounding almost like an auctioneer, directing which camera's video should be showing on the main screen.  It was really incredible.

I think that you could possibly enjoy this entire museum in a day, if you had a full day to spend here.  We passed quickly through the computer-based interactive experiences and a couple of exhibits because we hadn't planned on spending more than 3 hours here.  

If you are in this area and would be up for having a few hours of educational, hands-on fun, visit the Museum Of The Moving Image!  And if you are hungry after your visit, we recommend going around the corner to Studio Square for some delicious bar food and pitcher of ice cold beer!

Read Part 1 here.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Museum Of The Moving Image, The Jim Henson Exhibition

We were recently in Queens, New York and waiting for the birth of our first grandchild.   We arrived in New York on the baby's due date but the baby was too comfortable where he was.  Baby's mom, Nicole, was told to walk as that might help to get things going.  Baby's dad, Joe, had a great idea of spending a couple of hours walking around the Museum Of The Moving Image in Astoria. Queens.  Joe and Nicole have been here before but it was mine and Soko's first time.  We really enjoyed all the museum had to offer.  There were so many interesting exhibits here.  Some are permanent and some are temporary.   The first exhibit we came to was Jim Henson's and his Muppets.  This was a temporary exhibition at first, but the museum decided to make it a permanent fixture and I don't blame them.  We probably spent at least a good hour here getting to know Jim Henson and the crew.

Jim Henson was in a class of his own when it came to creating his magical world of puppets.  I remember feeling such a loss when he passed at such an early age.  Exploring this exhibit brought back all the memories of how fun it was to have Jim Henson around to bring such wonderful characters to life for us.   
I first knew Jim Henson when our kids were old enough to enjoy Sesame Street.  They loved it and it was where they found out that "C is for cookie" among other things.

Nicole adores Miss Piggy and was thrilled for her when she finally married Kermit the Frog in The Muppets Take Manhattan, just one of several muppet movies Jim Henson and his buddies produced.

We looked forward to watching The Muppet Show every week.  It was equally entertaining for us adults as it was for the kids.  You could always count on Statler and Waldorf to be there heckling from their balcony seats.

Something I didn't realize and just learned from our visit here was that some muppets were stars of television commercials before there was a Sesame Street.  The guy me and Joe are checking out is Delbert the La Choy Dragon.  Frank Oz was the puppeteer while Jim Henson was the voice.

Fraggle Rock, a wonderful high energy, musical program that dealt with serious issues, was another Jim Henson hit.

Most of the items making up this exhibition came from family donations.  We especially enjoyed his early sketches of some, now famous, muppet characters.  I love the one of Jim Henson picturing himself puppeteering Big Bird.  

We had a great time with the interactive experiences available here.  Joe tried his hand at puppetry.  He was able to watch himself on a small screen as he moved the puppet to match the audio portion of the movie he was creating.  

Me and Nicole took a shot at creating a new muppet.  We got to choose a card with a description of a character needed in a Sesame Street skit and tried to make a muppet to fit the description.  I chose to create the Old Lady needed to interact with Gordon.  Nicole chose the Salesman that's trying to sell Maria a vacuum cleaner.

Two of our family's favorite movies are Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal.  We were delighted to see the collection of items the museum had on display from these movies.

The vision of the cast of characters for Labyrinth.  If you look closely, you can see how the puppeteers were sketched inside the puppets.

These are the costumes that were worn by Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) and Jareth the Goblin King (David Bowie) in the movie, Labyrinth.   I loved David Bowie in this movie.  He fit the character so well.

It was so much so interesting to get a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes.  We now have a better appreciation of what uncomfortable situations the puppeteers have to be in to get certain shots for the movie.  I am in awe of their talents after our visit here.

Jim Henson was the puppeteer of the SkekZok character from the Dark Crystal but the monstrosity of a puppet needed more than one person to animate it.  There would be a cable crew of up to four people who would control the movements of the hands and face with cable controls hidden under the garment of the creatures.  

We had so much fun exploring this exhibit and it was just the beginning of our visit here.   There were many more entertaining exhibits at this awesome museum.  To be continued...

Monday, June 4, 2018

Easy Eggs Benedict

I was looking at our blog post, Cruising - A Budget Friendly Vacation, and saw the picture I took of the amazing breakfast I had on our recent cruise.  It was Eggs Benedict but instead of the usual Canadian bacon, they topped the the English muffin with smoked salmon.  It was delicious!  When I saw that picture I got an urge for that yummy treat.  Never having made this dish before, I began searching my favorite cooking sites for a recipe.  What I found was very complicated recipes using cooking techniques with cooking products I have never used before (and don't have) like a saucier.  Also, I needed to be very careful with the sauce so that it would not wind up being "broken" and I had to have each part of the Eggs Benedict warm and ready at the same time.  And because Alton Brown makes his own muffins, it takes him 13 hours and 55 minutes from the start to finish of his recipe.  That is really more time than I really had to invest to this meal.

I am not a very talented cook so "complicated" is not something that will turn out well for me.  So I searched some more and found cooks that made their Hollandaise sauce in a blender which they said made an excellent unbroken sauce.  I could do that.  Most cooks did not bake their own english muffins.  That was nice to know as I had planned to use Thomas'.   And, finally, I found an easier way to poach the eggs than what I first saw which was by somehow using muffins cups and putting the eggs in them after I hear the cups clattering on the bottom of my rondeau (which I also don't have).

After finding easier ways to prepare this recipe, I figured I could give it a shot.  I wondered, though, if our Easy Eggs Benedict, using thick cut bacon instead of the usual Canadian bacon, would just wind up tasting only like an open-faced egg muffin.  What we wound up with actually ended up tasting pretty good and we will definitely have it again but. I have to admit, it really did not come close to matching Alton Brown's version!


Easy Eggs Benedict
(makes 4 servings)


2 English muffins
6 slices thick cut bacon
4 eggs poached
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
dash of salt

Hollandaise Sauce:
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
3 egg yolks


1.  Cut bacon slices in half.  Place on cookie sheet and broil on high for approximately 6 minutes, turning once.  (I cooked the bacon until almost crisp.)  Allow bacon to drain on paper towel.

2.  Put muffins on oven rack and broil for 3 minutes or until lightly toasted.  (I put the muffins in the oven at the same time as the bacon but took them out earlier.)

3.  Boil water with a little salt in large pan or pot.  (Start preparing sauce while water is boiling.)  Add 1 Tbsp. of vinegar to boiling water and stir to create a whirlpool.  Remove water from heat.  Crack eggs, one at a time, in a plate and slide into water.  Cover pan and let eggs sit for 3 minutes or until done to your liking.  Remove eggs with slotted spoon and place on warm plate.

4.  Prepare sauce.  Melt butter in microwave, or on the stove.  In a blender, add the lemon juice and egg yolks and blend.  Slowly pour the hot butter into the blender with the blender running.  Set sauce aside in a warm place.

5.  Put muffins on cookie sheet with 2-3 bacon half slices on each muffin half.  Put back in oven and broil until bacon is crisp.

6.  Once bacon is crisp and muffin is warm, put egg on top and pour Hollandaise sauce over each muffin.


The only thing I will say is that my eggs were overcooked so I will be watching them a little closer next time.  Otherwise, I think this recipe is a great Eggs Benedict alternative for someone like me who will never be a gourmet cook!

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