Friday Five

1. I’m a VIP! For the past month or so, I’ve been raising money for Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, as part of the Oprah Magazine walkathon. So far, with the help of a lot of kind folks, I’ve raised $935. (And my company is matching dollar for dollar, bringing the total amount donated to $1,870!) The fundraising wraps up this weekend, but I’ve already been invited to a VIP party with the founders of Best Friends and other fundraisers. I’ll be snapping photos and posting them over the weekend. (I’m still about $65 short of my goal, so if you’d like to add your two cents, click here.)

2. Reggie got a new puzzle toy this week. He has to slide the blocks along the track in order to get to the treat. It’s supposed to be a challenge and force him to problem solve a bit, kind of the way a border collie has to figure out how to get sheep to move into the barn. But Reggie uses brute force to knock the blocks out and tipping the whole board over.

3. Each spring the Alvin Ailey Dance Company hosts a special performance at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem. I was fortunate to be in attendance as the dancers gave an ovation-worthy performance. (I was less fortunate to be sitting directly behind a freakishly tall woman who added to her height a good six inches of hair.) It’s always a bit humbling bear witness to excellence, especially when it comes from years of sacrifice, perspiration and deep wells of perseverance, and especially when you know there is no way on God’s green earth you could do it even with said sacrifice, perspiration and perseverance. Still, after an evening at Ailey, somehow you leave wanting to be a better person, or at least start an intense diet and training regimen immediately. Here you can check out some excerpts of their previous performances. Choose Revelations or Pas de Duke, two of their most recognizable pieces. Some were choreographed by Judith Jamison, Artistic Director and Kennedy Center honoree, who is stepping down after this year.

4. Another out-of-the-norm thing I did this week was to take the ferry to Ellis Island. Going in the middle of the week, I assumed, incorrectly, that the crowds would be low. By the time I went through the airport-style security, waited in the holding room, boarded the ferry with a gaggle of pubescent teens, stopped at the Statue of Liberty, and finally disembarked at Ellis Island, I was one of the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. But the museum was interesting for me since I can trace my family history through that immigration station (as can 1/3 of all Americans). Or at least I thought I could. Turns out that only steerage and third-class passengers were admitted through Ellis Island. First- and second-class had a much more polite welcome to the US directly from the docks at Chelsea Piers. I’m not sure if my ancestors were able to scrape enough money together to cover the king’s ransom of roughly $2,000 for the nicer accommodations. There’s been quite a spike in the number of people researching their family tree. In fact Lisa Kudrow has a new show called “Who Do You Think You Are?” which traces the lineage of celebrities like Spike Lee, Brooke Shields, and Sarah Jessica Parker.

5. I was a big Calvin and Hobbes fan and when Bill Watterson stopped penning the strip, it was a sad day. But I’ve recently stumbled on a new strip I enjoy: Mutts by Patrick McDonnell, based on the antics of Earl, a small mutt with a big heart; Mooch, a tuxedo kitty; and Shtinky Jules, an orphan cat.

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