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The holidays in Manhattan cause Peter Pan syndrome for even the most jaded New Yorkers. And there's no better place to capture a pocket full of fairy dust than Times Square.

Saturday night we joined friends for a pre-theater dinner at Ça Va Brasserie followed by a performance of The Merchant of Venice, starring Al Pacino.

Times Square/Hell's Kitchen can be hit or miss with all the tourist traps and fly-by-nights. I'd been searching for a new go-to and think I've found it with Todd English's Ça Va French restaurant at the Intercontinental Hotel. The atmosphere is modern but warm and the food and service were right on point (and time).

I love Broadway but consider myself more of a musical kind of girl. I've seen one too many plays that left me scratching my head or rubbing my eyes. The Merchant of Venice elicited neither. It was spectacular. Sure I only caught one out of every 25 sentences and cringed at the antisemitism but the first rate cast was engaging and believable. Al Pacino was so convincing, I stopped imaging him turning to us muttering, "What you lookin' at?" You all a bunch of fuckin' assholes" after the first act.

I was mesmerized by Lily Rabe's strength as the timeless Portia and pleasantly surprised to see Jesse L. Martin, a long time favorite from Rent, as Gratiano.

The Merchant of Venice Al Pacino

We narrowly escaped getting ejected for taking the above photo before the play started. I was all hopped up on that fairy dust snapping away when one of those stiff attendants hollered from 10 rows away, "NO PICTURES MA'AM!," reminding me I was in fact still in New York City.

Sunday, we finally trimmed our Chritmas tree.

My brother Jeff dropped by from Long Island at the end of last week with a 13-foot Douglas-fir in tow. It's become a tradition.

I'll let you in on a dirty little secret about many of the trees being sold on the streets of New York City- they're warm weather trees shipped up from the south. They can't withstand the cold so by the time you buy one (for an obscene price no less), it's dead and exacting its revenge by spraying its dried out, spiky needles ALL OVER your apartment.

Last year's tree was too big for an apartment so I asked him to tone it down this time around. He must have heard, "You'd better go bigger than last year" because while this year's is narrower, it's 3 inches taller.

Not that I really mind. It just took some Cirque du Soleil action to string the lights at the top and Glamadad's afraid of heights so I was on my own.

Seiman-Mayer Christmas Tree 2010
Seiman-Mayer Christmas Tree 2010
Seiman-Mayer Christmas Tree 2010
Seiman-Mayer Christmas Tree 2010
Elf on a Shelf

That's our new Elf on a Shelf, named Balthazar after Portia's masculine alter-ego. Both Buba and Mapu have already taken turns assaulting him but with that sinister smile can you blame them? Just wait till they realize the power he holds.

The curtains closed with us cozied up to a Duraflame, O Tannenbaum towering over us, fully adorned.


Now I'll compulsively re-arrange the ornaments until the day the tree is hauled out onto the curb for disposal.

If only I were joking.