Cheap Fun

Ice skating at the Empire State Plaza

empire state plaza ice skating 2012


The ice skating rink at the ESP re-opened this past Saturday for the first time since 2008. So, of course, we had to take a few turns.

Here are a few details if you decide to go. (And you totally should.)

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Capital Region waterfall walks

rensselaerville falls

The top of the Rensselaerville Falls at the Huyck Preserve.

We've been a little waterfall-crazy lately. There's just something about walking through the woods and coming upon that whoosh of water as it falls over rocks. And with the leaves just starting to turn, now is a great time to check out a few.

After the jump, a handful of local waterfalls that are worth a look.

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The Huyck Preserve

huyck preserve rensselaerville falls

The Rensselaerville Falls at the Huyck Preserve.

Looking to stretch our legs and get some fresh air this weekend, we headed out for the Huyck Preserve in the far southwest corner of Albany County.

We had a great time. Have a look...

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Outdoor ice skating in the Capital Region

Washington Park Lake - Frozen.JPG

Al fresco skating: Get it while it's cold!

Owen emailed recently:

I think a post on all the places in the region to ice skate would be a good idea.

We agree -- it is a good idea. So we put together a list.

It turns out there a bunch of places in the Capital Region that you can skate outside (alas, still no skating at the ESP). If you've got other suggestions, pass them along...

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It's pick-your-own blueberry time

blueberries and raspberries

Summer desserts start here.

We're right in the middle of the local blueberry season. Here are a handful of places you can pick your own blueberries (and maybe raspberries, too).

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Frisbee golf in the Capital Region

Frisbee Golf.jpg

No carts, no bags, no clubs, no caddy -- just you and your Frisbee.

By Mike DiMaio

I'm not much for golf. I mean, I play occasionally and all, but I find it... frustrating. I like the being outdoors part, and the walking, but you can try to hit a golf ball twelve times and not get it right (or, at least, I can). Add to that the expense of the clubs and the greens fees and I can understand why Mark Twain called it "a good walk, spoiled."

Disc golf, on the other hand, is something I can get behind.

If you can throw a Frisbee, you can play. And a Frisbee is pretty much all you need to play the two courses in the Capital Region. It's practically free and waaaaay more fun than golf.

Trust me on this.

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Capital Region birthday freebies

Bombers Birthday Margarita .jpg

Bombers big birthday margarita

By Arielle Trimm

You say it's your birthday! Great! Time to milk it for all it's worth. And as it turns out, it's worth a lot.

Lots of Capital Region businesses offer birthday specials, but some of those specials take the proverbial cake. Here's a list of Capital Region birthday freebies to check before you head out to celebrate your b-day.

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Capital Rep pay what you will - Boston Marriage

capital_rep_logo.gifYes, we were surprised to learn that David Mamet , the guy who wrote "Glengarry Glen Ross", wrote a play about Victorian era relationships. But not nearly as surprised as we were when we learned he wrote children's books (Really? What would those be like? "The Itsy Bitsy F*&$#ing Spider??!", "Coffee is for Closers Charlie Brown!?").

Anyway, If you're a fan of Mamet's work, or you want to try something new, tonight is the night. It's Pay What You Will night for Mamet's "Boston Marriage" at Capital Rep. It works like it sounds -- you pick the price.

Tickets are on sale now, but get down to the theater as soon as you can -- pay what you will nights tend to sell out.

A dollar well spent

crisan gelato case

A hard choice.

Crisan's $1 scoop of gelato is back.

We recommend the tiramisu flavor.

That is all.

Casablanca at The Palace on Monday

Casablanca.jpgHere's the best pre-Valentine's Day date value in the Capital Region. Casablanca -- on the big screen at The Palace -- for $5.

Yes it's on a Monday night, but it's Casa-freaking-blanca! The classic tale of intrigue and romance is #2 on AFI's list of the top 100 films (Citizen Kane is #1). Has it become a little cliche-- maybe. But we don't care. Bogart is charming, Bergman is gorgeous, Paul Henreid is dashing. But our favorite has always been Claude Rains as the cad of a police chief ( "I'm shocked, shocked to learn that gambling is going on in this establishment.")

For 20 bucks you can make a night of it with the dinner and a movie package at The Victory Cafe. Casablanca isn't one of the movies listed on their website, but we checked and the package still applies.

Here's lookin' at you kids.

Synecdoche in Schenectady


Synecdoche in Schenectady. Dude, that's meta.

Yes, it's finally happened. Charlie Kaufman's "Synecdoche" has come to Schenectady. Proctor's is showing the Kaufman flick which stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a Schenectady theater director who gets a MacArthur grant and builds a giant New York city, casting actors to play himself and everyone else in his life.

And you can see it in Schenectady. The only way this gets more meta is if Kaufman sits next to you and provides a running commentary. We caught it last week at the Spectrum. It left us with a charlie horse in our heads, but it was worth seeing. You can catch it tonight or at one of 3 showings on Wednesday for $6

Also, if the eloquence of the new administration has you missing words like misunderestimated and phrases like, "gynecologists can't practice their
love with women" you can catch Josh Brolin as #43 in Oliver Stone's "W" at Proctor's today and tomorrow. That one is only $3.

Great local autumn walks

autumn leaves

It's peak time for a walk.

We're big fans of autumn walks. There's the foliage, of course (we refuse to use the term "leaf peeping" -- it just sounds wrong). But we also love the cool air, the warm sun, the bright blue sky, and the crunch of leaves.

Here are a few of our favorites places to take a walk this time of year...

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Lost Horizon at The Palace

resize.jpg Searching for Utopia (aren't we all)? Albany's Palace Theater is screening Lost Horizon, Frank Capra's classic film about the search for Utopia in the Himalayas. Made in 1937, there are some not-so-subtle references to capitalism v. communism in this story of plane crash survivors who wander into Shangri-La. It earned Capra a Best Director nomination, even though he famously burned an early copy of the film. Seven minutes of missing audio were found and the film was restored using the audio and still photos. The Palace is showing the restored version.

Think a $5 movie is as close to utopia as you can get? Well, $20 gets you the movie and dinner at the Victory Cafe.
Shangri-La? Maybe not. Cheap fun? Absolutely.

Three things to see now at the NYS Museum

Rockefeller campaign button

Yeah, man, he's the groovy candidate.

Heads up: the Latin American and Caribbean Art exhibit at the New York State Museum closes in two weeks.

We wouldn't go out of our way to see this exhibit as it seems the folks at MoMA were pretty stingy in deciding which "selected highlights" from their collection would make the trip up the Hudson. But we did enjoy seeing a few pieces, including Botero's Mona Lisa, Age Twelve (there's a Diego Rivera, too).

If you do stop by, be sure to take a few minutes to check out the great Nelson Rockefeller campaign memorabilia on the wall leading into the gallery. Campaign buttons were a lot more fun back in the day. (A few more of the pieces, including a Rockefeller potholder, are after the jump.)

And one more stop to make -- the Cohoes Mastodon is back on display. It's way in the back of the natural history section.

Any one of these things alone isn't really worth the trip, but all three aren't bad on on a rainy day.

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Capital Rep's pay what you will


What is art?

Heads up- tomorrow is pay what you will night at Capital Rep. Yep, you name the price.

The play is Art. . It's a Tony Award winning comedy that raises interesting questions about art and friendship. Questions like "if your friend pays a ton of money for a big white canvass with a few lines on it, is he gullible or cutting edge?" And "if you think he's nuts, do you tell him, or keep your mouth shut?"

Curtain is at 7:30 PM. Tickets go on sale at 10AM. They sell out quickly so get in line early. If you're sending someone to buy them for a group, just remember the limit is four tickets per person.

Walking the Albany Rural Cemetery

Albany Rural Cemetery

Yeah, it does sometimes feel like you're in a Buffy episode.

Many of Albany's famous names found a final resting place in the Albany Rural Cemetery -- it just took them a little while.

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Casablanca at Proctors

casablancaAttention film buffs! Grab the popcorn. Casablanca . On the big screen at Proctors. Today.

Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains are at their absolute best in the 1942 classic that spawned some of the best lines in movie history (No, "play it again Sam" wasn't one of them) .

Sure you can watch it on DVD anytime, but Proctor's is just the kind of nostalgic setting it begs for. Catch it at 2:30, 5 or 7:30 P.M.

Tickets are $3 for adults and $2 for anyone 17 and under.

Watching the planes at ALB

plane landing at ALB

The view from the observation parking lot.

Going to watch the planes land at the airport isn't something you go to do -- it's something you go to be.

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Pick your own berries


Pie waiting to happen

By Jessica Pasko

Update: Here are Capital Region pick-your-own strawberry farms.

There are few things in life as enjoyable as fresh picked berries in the summer. And somehow picking them yourself makes them seem that much sweeter. Really.

Fortunately for us Capital Regionites, there are plenty of local farms offering us the U-pick route when it comes to strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and their kin.

So if you've got the urge to pick a peck (whatever that is) or two, here are a few places to check out:

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Troy's Prospect Park


You're never too old to play in the park.

By Heather Lumb

Here's to feeling like a kid again on merry-go-rounds, swings and slides, and then having a grown-up picnic underneath a lazy tree (bring Kool-Aid and leave the wine at home). If it's still not worth playing hooky for, maybe the view--watching everyone hustle about their normal harried lives--might sway you to freedom.

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The carousel in Saratoga

Horses 2.jpg

It has it's ups and downs.

The thoroughbreds aren't in town for another month, but if you've got a hankering for the horses check out the hand carved beauties on the carousel in Saratoga's Congress Park. The nearly 100 year old carousel was carved in Coney Island by the renowned artist Marcus Illions and has been bouncing around Saratoga County ever since. In 2002 it found a home in Congress Park and as of mid June it's open every day but Monday (weather permitting) throughout the summer. Yes, big kids (adults who just want to ride the carousel) are allowed, and It's only 50 cents a ride. Even a bet at the flat track will cost you a buck.

Pay What You Will night at Cap Rep

Cap_Rep_Logo.gifTomorrow is "Pay What You Will" night for Capital Rep's production of the Pulitzer prizewinning drama Doubt. Pay what you will works just like it sounds. You pick your own ticket price. Make a little time to stand in line, though. It's understandably a pretty popular event. Tickets go on sale at 5PM Thursday at noon and it's first come first serve. Curtain is at 7:30.

Lawrence of Arabia at The Palace

Lawrence of Arabia posterThe Palace Theater's classic film series continues tonight with #5 on the AFI list of greatest movies of all time, Lawrence of Arabia. Peter O'Toole (sigh) stars as T.E. Lawrence, the conflicted British military figure who struggles with violence but eventually leads the battle to destroy the Ottoman Empire.

The rest of the cast is a who's who of the finest film actors of the day: Jose Ferrer, Alec Guinness, Claude Rains, Omar Sharif -- and we're just getting started.

Thanks in part to the award-winning art direction -- and in part to Peter O'Toole (sigh) -- this film is gorgeous to look at. And it's widely viewed as the most influential on the film making industry. It won seven academy awards in 1963, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Score. We like it for Peter O'Toole (sigh).

As always, curtain is at 7 and admission is only $5.

The zine collection at the NY State Library

By Jessica Pasko

factsheet five coverOne of the biggest and most comprehensive collections of zines is located right here in the Capital Region. And it's at... the New York State Library? Yep, the New York State Library -- down on Madison Avenue. It has a collection that spans everything from science fiction to punk rock.

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West Side Story at The Palace

west_side_story_posterBoy boy, crazy boy... if dancing gang members on the rooftops of New York do it for you, bring your posse to Albany's Palace Theater tonight for a $5 screening of West Side Story. This musical Romeo and Juliet set in late 1950's NYC won 10 Academy Awards back in 1961, including best picture and best score (Leonard Bernstein and a very young Stephen Sondheim.) The dancing gang member thing may not work so well in 2008, but the choreography is fabulous, the score holds up nicely and the story is timeless.

But if you find yourself saying things like "cats" and "daddy-o" for a few days, don't blame us.

The Bing Bamboo Room

big_bamboo_roomAnd now for something completely different. If you're sick to death of the reruns you've been watching since like November, here's a short, strange trip you might want to try. The Bing Bamboo Room is a burlesque show (yes, you read that right, burlesque) held on the last Monday of every month -- and you never know what you're gonna get. Singing, dancing, unicycle riding, hula hoops and, yes, strip tease (emphasis on the tease) are all part of this sexy trip through yesteryear. Club Phoenix hosts the event.

There are two shows a night. Doors open at 7 pm and curtain is at 8. For the $8 admission price, you're sure to see something you haven't seen before... or at least not in a while.

(Thanks, James!)

Ice skating al fresco

skating at ESP

Everything's better with the Egg in the background.

Fresh air is good for you, right? So if you're looking for some cheap fun this weekend, the forecast looks just right for some outdoor ice skating. We found a few options for open air skating that free, or nearly free.

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Free Day at MASS MoCA

a Spencer Finch installation at MASS MoCA

An installation by Spencer Finch at MASS MoCA

There's a bunch of free stuff going on at MASS MoCA tomorrow (February 9) from 11am to 8pm. Admission to the galleries? Free. Guided tours of the galleries? Free. Behind-the-scenes tours? Free. Kidspace? Free. Samples of freshly made ice cream (including "Cookie Dough Peanut Butter Swirl")? Free.

There's also a "Bollywood Dance Party" in the evening, with dance lessons arranged by Jacob's Pillow. That, alas, is not free (it's $14 in advance, $18 day of).

photo by Flickr user megananne, used under a Creative Commons Attribution / Share Alike license

Certified Angus Beef Movies at The Palace

Raisin in the Sun movie posterIf you're taste in films is a little more old school, you might want to check out Albany's Palace Theater. Tonight at 7:00 The Palace is screening Sidney Poitier's 1961 classic, "A Raisin in the Sun". The theater's a classic too. Recently renovated and gorgeous to look at, so get there in time to scout out the perfect balcony seat and enjoy the atmosphere. Ticket's are only 5 bucks, so you can splurge on popcorn or wine. It's part of the theater's Certified Angus Beef classic movie series. Yes, you read that correctly. No, there's no beef involved. What do you want for 5 bucks.

Indies at the Madison

indies_at_madison_poster.jpgThe Madison Theater is showing a collection of locally-produced indie shorts this week for just $6 (or as the poster says "Six films for $6"). The showcase runs Monday through Thursday, with showings at 7:15p and 9:35p. The Madison's site has more info.

Stuff to do this weekend

Here are a few things you may want to check out this weekend.

Heads up, it's already February 1st, which means it's Albany's 1st Friday.

There's a whole weekend worth of stuff going on for Saratoga's Winterfest including Saturday's Chowderfest (say it, say it right CHOWDA).

If none of this is your thing, you could go watch a bunch of crazy people jump in a frigid lake.

The Corning Tower observation deck

a photo of the Corning Tower observation deck

Ever wish you could just rise above it all? Try looking down on your friends and neighbors from the observation deck of The Corning Tower. (It's the reallllly tall building at the end of the capital mall.) You can see the Adirondacks, The Catskills, The Berkshires, The Empire Plaza, even The Governor's Mansion (Is that a tiny steamroller?).

corning_tower_looking_up.jpgIf you live downtown you can walk. Otherwise, park under the plaza. Just bring your photo id. Getting into the tower isn't hard, but you have to jump through a few post 9-11 security hoops. If you enter from the plaza level, you'll have to take the escalator down, present your id and get your picture taken. The guard will print an unflattering photo of you on a name badge.Stick it on and head back up to the plaza level to wait for the express elevator to the 42nd floor.

It's really not as much trouble as it sounds, and on a clear day, it's well worth the view. There are signs below the windows with tips on what there is to see, and a representative from the NYS tourism department is on hand to answer questions. Fun, informative and oh yeah, free.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.


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