The Entertainment Idea Factory
>> I bet it's happened to you. You look at pages upon pages of entertainment options, yet you and your friends are stumped as to what to do. Worse, when pushed in the face of entertainment diversity, you opt for the usual, whatever that "usual" is.
But dullness aside, a few of us also limit our options because we don't want to appear dumb when we expose ourselves to something new. New York is loaded with articulate, passionate people who, when pursuing their own interests, sound like insiders. Who wants to take an ego hit by talking to these people? Ouch!
OK, 'nuf said. Below are few tips that'll help you generate great ideas in spite of your comfort zone.
Tip 1 - Go to Freebee's
One way to break out of your rut is to go to two or more free or very low cost events a month.
Many large corporations and foundations sponsor event samplers specifically to promote new things. Let these benefactors also sponsor your fun. If you like what you see or hear when its free, you'll have enough change left over to buy future tickets. At minimum, at least you'll become more culturally aware.
Low cost options sometimes ask for free-will donations. $20 is my current investment threshold for sampling new things. $30 is my threshold for spending three hours in a small group with vaguely known authors, experts or an expert panel. There are numerous $20 to $30 events of this type in New York that all can lead to ideas for more interesting options.
Check out the wonderful www.OffBroadwayOnline.com for stimulating low cost ideas as well as the lowdown on current productions and New York Internet links.
Tip 2 - Generate New Ideas
Start up your own Entertainment Idea Factory with three very easy steps.
1. Compose a list of 75 different activities that interest you (excluding dining out and drinking). These should be general ideas and not specific things like seeing Faith Hill the next time she's in town.
Break an overly generic category, such as attending plays, into more precise descriptions. Seeing plays, for example, might be broken down into seeing Off Off Broadway musicals, seeing single-actor plays, attending play readings and meeting playwrights. It can branch into attending actor's workshops and finding out more about costume design.
And then there are sports.
The baseball topic certainly covers the Yankees and the Mets, but what other spectator and participant sports do you consider entertaining? If you need help adding ideas to your list, check out the Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Complex (www.ChelseaPiers.com. Then again, maybe the New York Racing Association (www.nyra.com) can spark a few more ideas.
Identifying 75 different activities is not easy, especially if your current activity roster is slim or narrowly focused. When I first did this exercise, I stalled at 16 ideas, then just barely reached 25. My final list took three weeks to complete!
If you get stumped, consult catalogs supplied by organizations that solely exist to bring you diversity. These include the New School University, the 92nd Street Y, Cooper Union, The Seminar Center and The Learning Annex.
The latter two organizations lean toward occult and spiritual topics, but still hold enough variety to spark imagination. These include learning how to become a stand-up comedian, learning how artists break into show business, learning how to make a million dollars without investing in the stock market, and learning how to film an x-rated movie (or star in them). How's that for spiritual?
Museums, of course, also have a lot going on for the general public besides special exhibits as do private clubs and special interest associations. Get on everyone's mailing list and continue adding ideas to your Idea Factory.
2. Once your list is complete, attend no more than two events in any one category within a six-month period. This commitment forces you out of your rut very quickly and exposes you to all those things you kind of thought you'd like to do, but put off doing.
Feel free to rank your list so that the first 20 ideas represent your highest desires. It's more fun and challenging, however, to use a random, dart board approach when selecting topics. With eyes shut, pick an idea, then find ways to fulfill it within the following week.
3. Manage better conversations with friends.
Write down each event's name, key players, place, date, cost and brief note next to its category on your list. This provides the following:
- You'll be able to see at a glance when you've max'd out each topic idea.
- You'll remember far more details about events than if you just attended things in a random fashion.
I'm sure you know how easy it is to forget details that experts relish. By deliberately tracking experiences, you'll have the keys to better conversations.
Best, you'll start recognizing the "who, what and where" in media reports that in the past seemed like so much background noise. It's this type of information that eventually leads to informed conversations.
If you're single and are looking for a mate, presiding over your own Entertainment Idea Factory can be more fruitful that joining a dating service. Best, when you do meet people, you will easily be able to suggest new adventures.
If you have a mate, and both of you work on your respective lists, your relationship will deepen. At minimum, with only a little effort, you'll avoid that all too common mutual attraction . . . that of being tediously boring!
Article and photo by Karen Little. First published on 1/14/2001. All rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com.