December 30, 2006

Four Dead Dictators

2006 was not a good year for dictators.

General Augusto Pinochet, died of a heart attack at the ripe old age of 91. His government murdered and tortured thousands of Chileans during his 17 year rule. He died before the many court cases meant to bring him down could be completed, cheating his people of justice.

Saparmurat Niyazov was the self proclaimed president of Turkmenistan. According to his Wikipedia article, foreign media considered Niyazov to be one of the world's most authoritarian and oppressive dictators in the world. He was a kook like most dictators and as proof of his kookiness instituted such kooky policies as requiring licensed drivers to pass a morality test and requiring doctors to swear an oath to him as president instead of the much loved and recognized Hippocratic Oath.

Another one who died before his people could receive justice for his crimes against humanity was the world famous, incredibly cruel and evil Slobodan Milosevic, former President of Yugoslavia and Serbia. The truly cruelest dictators usually have resumes that include genocide of their own people and Milosevic is no exception. He died while on trial at the Hague.

The frothy icing on the cake made from the metaphorically groundup bodies of dead dictators would have to be the hanging of Saddam Hussein. Now I know the war in Iraq is incredibly controversial and highly unpopular among most of my friends and a lot of people who come to this blog. But even if you don't agree with the ubiquitous presence of the US military in the hot bed of civil unrest known as Iraq, I'm sure most of you would agree that Saddam Hussein was no saint and that his death was welcome relief to many people who suffered injustice at the hands of that mad man.

He really was a despot that bullied and tormented and killed and frightened his citizens for years and years and years. And he was bat shit insane to boot.

December 23, 2006

The Vertical Hour

Julianne Moore"right"/ />All this week, I've been working on The Vertical Hour. I've been doing other things as well but as far as work is concerned, that's where I've been. Since the previews, the director Sam Mendes changed a couple of things. When I first saw it during previews, Julianne Moore opened the show with a stunningly boring and terribly soft-spoken monologue which just didn't work. Mostly everyone complained that they couldn't hear her in the beginning and often that week, I would hand out headsets in the dark to people who decided after missing her monologue that they needed them for the rest of the show. Now, Bill Nighy opens the show with a monologue from later in the play and they moved her monologue to the middle of the first act. It works much better. Although I don't understand the purpose of the monologues at all. They don't really add much to the show.

He does well on stage. No matter how he's directed to stand, he always manages to turn and face the audience whenever he delivers a line. Julianne Moore however, follows her blocking blindly delivering lines stage right and stage left causing ever so many complaints from the audience. I must have heard the following 100 times this week.
"Why doesn't she project?"
"She doesn't know how to project."
"I can't hear anything she's saying."
"Every time she turns I miss what she's saying."
"The acoustics in this theater are so bad."

The acoustics at The Music Box theater are fine. It's the sound design that's bad. Why do they NEVER MIKE the actors in straight plays? I will never understand the logic behind this. If I were a playwright who'd managed to get a play staged on Broadway, I would want the audience to hear every word. But no. Instead. Some old fashioned notion about stage plays holds true. People pay upwards to $200 for tickets to some plays. Every effort should be made to make sure that these customers are getting their money's worth - and NOT RELY ON MY COMPANY to make up the deficit.

And it would also helped if Julianne Moore would learn how to project. Everyone else in the play with her manages to make themselves heard, in spite of the miking situation, except for her.

Did I mention, it's a really good play?

The second change may or may not be Ms. Moore's costumes.

December 20, 2006

New Teeth

My dentist put in porcelain veneers today.

When I was sixteen years old, I went head first over my handle bars on the way to my high school. The marching band was scheduled to compete at the Hofstra HS marching band competition that they have every year. My big Q-tip hat got caught between my handlebars and my front tire, thus causing the accident.

How did I land? I landed on my face, on my mouth specifically and broke my two front teeth. The cosmetic solution was bonding and for the last ten years or so, I've maintained the same bonding from a dentist in my hometown. But it looked awful. I never liked it. And on top of that they were all stained and crooked and I thought my teeth made me look poor. (see below)


So, I decided to do something about it, 20 something years later. So two weeks ago, in addition to my regular cleaning, my dentist fitted me for porcelain veneers - a more permanent solution than bonding but less permanent than crowns. For the last two weeks, I wore temporary teeth that while didn't look great looked 10 times better than my bonding.

Today, the doctor applied the veneers. I'm still numb from the novacaine shots. I haven't been able to feel any sensation in my nose for coming on 3 hours now and I'd really, really like to because I want to blow it but I'm scared of damaging it because of its completely numb state.

The teeth look good but feel strange. My bottom teeth are crowded which is something we're going to correct with a retainer. Already, my lower teeth have been hitting the veneers in a weird way. The retainer is going to straighten out my two front lower teeth which jut out. It shouldn't take too long to correct - actually the dentist said that before I finish paying him off the teeth will be straight. That correction will make it so, I never have to worry about my bottom teeth chipping my top teeth which had been a long standing problem with my teeth since I first had them repaired.

The only draw back is I have to take it easy for the next 24 hours until the bonding is completely set. That means no coffee or stain-causing liquids.

When I came home, I ate a piece of soup chicken and a little ice cream. It's hard to consume liquids because my upper lip is completely numb and out of my control but as the feeling comes back I'm optimistic I'll soon be able to eat some of my nourishing chicken soup.

December 16, 2006

Broadway Closings

High Fidelity is closing tomorrow after 18 previews and 14 performances. It filled the Imperial Theater to less than 50% of capacity. I guess the show's producers just didn't want to wait for the show to pick up steam through word of mouth. The bad reviews it received killed it's chances of making a lot of money in advance sales. Maybe the producers of the show were running a scam like in The Producers and are actually going to walk away with money because the show was a flop.
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Fame Becomes Me is also closing - January 7. I thought it would run longer. It's a strong show with good songs and even greater performances. The score was written by Marc Shaiman who also wrote the music for Hairspray. And features outstanding performances from Mary Birdsong and Brooks Ashmanskas(Brooks if you're googling yourself and you find this post please note that you need a website). For Hannukah, I gave Jon a ticket to see it before it closes. He'll be sitting near the front and hopefully he'll called up on stage during the Jiminy Glick portion of the show.

December 09, 2006

High Fidelity - Notes

It's Saturday and I'm working a double dose of High Fidelity.

During the walk-in I was talking with one of the Associate Producers. He was telling me how upset he was about Ben Brantley's review from the Friday NY Times. I tried to reassure him that Ben Brantley was simply the wrong critic to have reviewed the show - that Brantley's taste was more like that of the blue haired old ladies that come to see Wednesday matinees than it was of the hipsters to whom they seem to be appealing. I told him that Brantley missed the point of the show - that he just didn't get it. I was kind of kissing his butt a little bit. After all, this guy I was talking to is a big time Broadway producer.

What was I going to say? That Ben Brantley was right? Of course not. If you read the Ben Brantley review from beginning to end you'll realize that his review is actually very well informed. He's read the book by Nick Hornby and he's seen the film by Stephen Frears. His observations are based on both literary and filmic experience with the story. On top of that, he knows Broadway and has been reviewing shows for quite some time. I think it's safe to say that he knows what he's talking about.

The general feeling is that Brantley's review was harsh. But if it were good, they would have been thrilled. But does Brantley give good reviews? I don't recall ever reading a review about anything that he liked. Here is a link to his theater reviews. Can you find a play that he liked?

High Fidelity isn't brilliant but it isn't awful either. If you use Wedding Singer and Les Miserables as measuring posts the Wedding Singer being the worst and Les Mis being the best, High Fidelity falls dead center in terms of commercial appeal. The show will definitely find its audience. All you have to do is to decide whether or not you want to be a part of that audience.

December 08, 2006

High Fidelity - Notes

The reviews on High Fidelity are in and the two I read weren't very good.

NY Times critic Ben Bradley said he's adding High Fidelity to his own top 5 list - All-Time Most Forgettable Musicals.

Clive Barnes from the NY Post described the musical as a brave but foolhardy attempt.

What did I think? It's alright. It's not THAT original anymore to base a musical on a movie. But producers are always going after that elusive young, straight male demographic. This musical is up there with the likes of Saturday Night Fever, Footloose (coincidentally, Tom Plotkin from the original Footloose cast is part of the High Fidelity group of understudies and stand-ins), Spamalot and The Wedding Singer.

The show is probably more like the movie starring John Cusack than it is like the book by Nick Hornby. Will Chase stars as the likeable but unlikeable protagonist who blames everyone but himself for his relationship failures. But he's not really unlikeable enough. Everyone in the show is talented of course but the show itself tries to hard. The music is just a little bit better than The Wedding Singer but not even half as good as Grey Gardens or Spring Awakening.

The coolest thing about High Fidelity are the sets. They morph seamlessly into bedrooms, record shops, bars, funeral homes, whatever the scene calls for.

There is one really fun scene in the second act which is a dream sequence where Rob fantasizes about killing his rival Ian. If that scene could have somehow been matched for comedy and energy throughout the whole musical, they would have something.

But don't worry. The more mediocre a show is, the better it seems to do these days. The box office will probably earn more than Spring Awakening which isn't even filling the theater. I mean the Imperial Theater was packed all week with well wishers and future High Fidelity repeaters.

Get a discounted ticket for this one. Don't pay full price.

December 07, 2006

High Fidelity - Opening Night

Tonight I worked the opening of High Fidelity at the Imperial Theater.

I saw quite a few celebrities.

The most impressive celebrity there was Lauren Bacall. She walked right past me, close enough that I could see the make of her hearing aid which must have been very good because she did not take a headset. She looked great for a woman that's over 80 years old. Very oddly, following right behind her was Cindy Adams who also looks great for a woman in her 80's. She's not a great look woman but she did look great. And even though she can't write in complete sentences, I'm sure she'll write something about tonight's opening in tomorrow's NY Post.

The second most impressive celebrity I saw this evening was Alec Baldwin. This must be the umpteenth time I've seen him in person. I think I've seen him once every few months or so for the last 3 years. Every time I see him, he's always in the middle of doing something. The very last time I saw him was this summer as he was crossing Broadway on 47th street. At the time, he had been doing something at The Roundabout and I'd seen him a few times in front of the Roundabout Theater speaking to other actors.

The other celebrities, while they were cool to see, just don't rank as high as the previously mentioned.

The list includes Dana Delaney, Constantine Maroulis, Bebe Neuwirth and Karen Ziemba.

Constantine Maroulis is very tall, much taller than you would think. He was with a very, very, very blond and skinny woman who didn't look too much older than a high schooler. Not saying that she was in high school but she was very young. The last time I saw him, I was going into the Al Hirshfeld theater through the stage door and he was sitting on the stairs near the entrance. I've seen him at least a dozen times and even made eye contact with him. Tonight, when he walked by me, there was a glint of recognition in his eyes but not knowing how he knows me, I guess I can't blame him for not saying hello.

Bebe Neuwirth always looks very tiny when you see her in person. She has a very small head and always looks like she needs to eat something. Unless you're a Broadway nut, you're most likely not familiar with Karen Ziemba. She's a Broadway phenom and I got to see her play Roxie Hart in Chicago when it was at the Shubert like 50 times. Actually, I saw Bebe Neuwirth in Chicago also and I've even seen her perform with Karen Ziemba. I was bummed that I couldn't work the 10th Anniversary show of Chicago.

Dana Delaney walked by so quickly, I only saw enough of her to know who it was. This may or may not come as a shock to you but she's very small and skinny.

December 05, 2006

Forbes 15 Richest Fictional Characters 2006

Forbes published its list of richest fictional characters for 2006.

Santa Claus was removed from the list and moving into first place is Daddy Warbucks.

Forbes claims that it still sites Santa's net worth as infinity but removed him from the list as a result of being bombarded by letters from outraged children insisting that Santa is real. For now, they thought it best to take him off the list until the matter of Santa's authenticity is verified.

Meanwhile, Daddy Warbucks has done well this year moving him ot the top of the list. Defense contracts in Iraq earned Warbucks a fortune for his depleted uranium artillery shells. His company's energy services group won a record $59.2 billion contract to provide oil well maintenance in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

There were some amusing additions to the list this year, including Prince Abakaliki of Nigeria. The first son of King Sani Abakaliki debuted on the Forbes List at #9 with a shocking net worth of $2.8 billion. That's a pretty good sum of money considering he still wants to get his hands on his father's estate - with your help of course.

Also new to the list is plumber Mario with an amassed fortune of $1 billion. According to his entry, he amassed his fortune slowly by overcoming obstacles in order to collect one gold coin at a time.

December 04, 2006

Confrontation - How I Met Your Mother

One recent blogging trend is to post clips from You Tube. I like this one because this is my favorite number from Les Miserables. It stars Neil Patrick Harris and some other dork from one of those new comedies on CBS.

November 29, 2006

Grey Gardens

What an absolute delight to be working at the Walter Kerr theater these last two days. Grey Gardens, starring Christine Ebersole is in full swing on Broadway after a successful run Off-Broadway. Grey Gardens is based on the unusual but true story of Edith and Edith Bouvier Beale - the aunt and first cousin of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy O'Nassis.

They were an odd pair and lived together as complete recluses for over 20 years. It's a sad story told in two acts.

Act I takes place in 1941 on the evening of little Edie's engagement party where she would have announced her engagement to Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr if it weren't for her mother's meddling. Not able to leave well enough alone, her mother sabotages her engagement by telling Joseph an absolutely scandalous story about little Edie swimming naked at the country club. The Act ends with little Edie running off to New York to pursue a life independent of her mother.

Act II takes place over 30 years later. It opens with little Edie reading an article that describes how Grey Gardens has fallen into disrepair and tells the audience how much she adores her mother. Clearly, she wasn't able to make it on her own in New York and tells the audience that her youthful fancies were cut short because she had to come home and take care of her of big Edie. The two women have developed an unhealthy and bizarre co-dependent relationship in their dire isolation. And their house has become a 28 room litterbox for 52 cats.

The musical is based on a documentary made about the two in the 70's. Shortly after it aired, Jackie O ended up cleaning up and restoring the house for them. Shortly after that, Edith Beale senior passed away, giving lost life back to little Edie. To raise money, little Edie sold the house and pursued a cabaret career. Ultimately she ended up in South Beach, Florida where she died of a heart attack about 3 years ago.

If you are a Kennedy-phile, you absolutely have to see this show.

If you want to offer your support to a good, original Broadway musical than book a ticket now.

November 25, 2006

Coffee Flavored Pancakes

As of two months ago, I don't remember ever having made pancakes for breakfast. I guess one day, when the weather started to hint at getting cold, the idea of making pancakes from scratch seized me. So, I pulled my Fanny Farmer Cookbook from the shelf, blew off the dust and found a basic pancake recipe. I followed it perfectly but they didn't taste very good. (Maybe it was the baking powder.)

A few days later, while doing my grocery shopping, I remembered that pancake batter comes premixed in either powder or liquid form. I searched the shelves for the cheapest box and bought an equally inexpensive bottle of maple syrup.

It probably took me a week before I opened the box to make a new batch for breakfast. All I had to do was mix it with water and voila - perfect pancake batter.

I was happy.

Shortly after that, I ran out of coffee. A vague memory caused me to mine the pantry until I found the instant coffee I'd bought during the years preceding my ownership of a coffee maker. It was still good. Not in the way that instant coffee is at all good, but at least it was still drinkable.

Lazy me, I left the instant coffee on the counter and there it sat until. . . the next time I went to make pancakes on that same counter, it occurred to me that if I added the instant coffee with water as the liquid to the instant pancake batter, the result would be coffee flavored pancakes. So I mixed 3/4 cup of hot water with instant coffee mix which I then added to my mix and in the time it takes to make 8 or 9 pancakes I had coffee pancakes.

This morning, I added the coffee directly to the batter without the bother of dissolving it first and you know what?

They were even better than that first batch I made.

Aren't pancakes great?

November 24, 2006

Spamalot

So.

This afternoon, I got to work at Spamalot - finally.

And you know what? It was eh.

They lifted so much out of the Holy Grail movie, I didn't realy feel like I was watching anything that original.

Spring Awakening

This week, the powers that be have sent me to work at The Eugene O'Neill Theater where Spring Awakening is in previews. Spring Awakening is a musical based on a stage play from the 1890's. The music was written by Duncan Sheik and works well with the book written by Steven Sater.

The original play, which takes place in Germany, was written 1891 and concerns the audience with the affairs of teenagers discovering puberty. It was so controversial at the time, that it was banned from being shown in England. I guess it was banned for so long it was forgotten about until Steven Sater discovered it and decided to renew the story as a musical for which he enlisted the help of Duncan Sheik.

I'm not at all familiar with the original stage play by Frank Wedekind. But after watching the play last night, I could see why it was banned. The play offers a very frank discussion of what happens when teenagers discover sex. It's a tragedy. Two of the characters lives are ruined by their innocent sexual encounter because their parents were too ashamed to explain the consequences of intercourse before marriage.

I enjoyed watching this show. Every one talks like it's the 1890's but all the music is written in a contemporary rock style. And boy does it work well.

The costumes are great. The staging is great. The production design is great overall.

And the people in the show are talented and brilliant.

Childhood

The other day I was reminded of a childish game I used to play with two other children on my block.

When I was six years old (and for some time thereafter) Alan from next door was my friend. The third person in our group was a six-year-old from the down the block named Jimmy. We were a happy trio until we started fooling around with the notion of contracts. I'm not sure who thought of it first but at any given time, two of us would be engaged in a "contract" that excluded the third of us. The contracts were always finite and when one ran out another one would be devised.

One Saturday morning, while Jimmy and I were carrying out a contract against Alan, I remember being in Jimmy's kitchen. His father was sitting in a robe at the table drinking coffee but I couldn't see his pajamas. My dad always had his legs covered under his bathrobe so this was complete mystery to me. My curiosity got the better of me and pulled his robe so I could see what happened to his bathrobe. He wasn't wearing anything underneath his bathrobe or he may have only been wearing boxers. It's not the clearest memory in the world. What I remember clearly however, is not going to Jimmy's house much after that. I got into trouble.

But, I ask you. Was that fair? Why didn't Jimmy's father get into trouble for being half naked under his bathrobe in close proximity to a little girl? I don't know.

Having nothing to do with my inappropriate curiosity, Jimmy's family moved shortly after that incident. But Alan and I continued our friendship well into 4th grade. It was then that we started to drift apart. Very sad. We never were friends beyond that. But I do have fond memories of trading and flipping baseball cards with him and playing kickball in the street with Alan and other children from the block.

After nine, my friendships took a cruel turn. As we slowly approached our teen years, the other children started to notice that I was different and took great pleasure in embarrassing me, humiliating me and terrorizing me. I'm sure my childhood isn't that different from anybody else's. So, I won't leave you with an awful story. Not after telling an almost amusing anecdote like the one above.

I'll save the darker stories of my childhood for another post.

Did I Have to Tell You

Very often, when a blogger doesn't post for a while, the next time they do, they explain that they were on a hiatus. Did I have to write an entry about that? Or were you able to figure that out for yourselves?

November 23, 2006

Turkey Eggs

This morning, as I was preparing a delicious egg breakfast for Jon, it occurred to me that I've never seen a turkey egg. I started to wonder
if people eat turkey eggs. So I looked online to see what I could find out about the production and consumption of turkey eggs.

Here is what I learned:

Turkey eggs are almost twice as large as ordinary chicken eggs. They have a pale creamy-tan color, with dark brown speckles. The huge yolk is golden-orange in color.

Turkeys don't lay as many eggs as chickens making their eggs impractical to package and market.

Turkey eggs are mostly used for hatching more turkeys.

In case you were wondering about cultivating your own turkey eggs, I also learned that it's not exactly legal to keep wild turkeys for the purposes of laying eggs and it's not legal to eat those eggs.

Some sources say that turkey eggs are not that pleasant tasting while others said they taste better than chicken eggs - but that's pretty useless information.

Basically turkey eggs are not available commercially for eating.

November 11, 2006

The Vertical Hour

This weekend I'm working at The Vertical Hour - David Hare's latest play - at The Music Box.

The play stars Julianne Moore and Bill Nighy both in their Broadway debuts.

Julianne Moore plays a former war correspondent turned poli-sci professor at Yale, who supports the war in Iraq. Her character refers to it as "the liberation of Iraq". But don't worry. The play doesn't try to make you believe in what's going in Iraq. Bill Nighy's character does not support the war and disagrees quite eloquently with the point of view offered by Moore's character. A lot of the play is a discussion about what's going on over there.

It's a very smart play. I'll write more about it later.

INTERESTING
Sam Mendes was running around the theater this afternoon because he is the director and the show is in previews. He's a pretty good looking guy.

Keanu Reeves was in the audience today. He has a messy beard and his hair was askew and he looked exactly the same in person as he does on screen.

Les Mis

When I first posted that I was going to be working on Les Mis several weeks back, one of my friends commented that I should ask for a raise for sitting through the 3 hour opus. Another commented that he always wanted to play the role of Thernardier. And one other was surprised that they were bringing back that Old Chestnut (great expression by the way).

Before my week at the Broadhurst, I'd never seen the musical or listened to the music. I know the book the show is based on and I'm currently re-reading the classic by Victor Hugo. But the musical - well, I never got to work on it during it's original Broadway run and could never afford to see it. Basically, going into the Broadhurst, I was skeptical. I'll be honest. I rarely like musicals that are very, very, very commercial with broad tourist appeal.

So imagine my surprise when I discovered that I love this musical. Now, I know the reviewer from the NY Times thought this production was like a story told too many times by the same story teller; that the emotional message had been diluted after being removed so many generations from the original. But for someone that's never before seen a production of Les Mis, it was exciting and refreshing, moving to the point where I cried, and an almost perfect theatrical experience. During the week, I'd only watched the show in bits and pieces but there was one day where I watched the show all the way through. And by the end, I was wrecked; tears streaming down my face; exhausted from the impact of an emotional story very well told.

The casting is great. I'll start with Thernadier because a friend of mine commented that he would want to play that character if he were part of the show. He's the bon vivant who runs the inn where FANTINE has left her daughter for good keeping. The number MASTER OF THE HOUSE is about him. He's an opportunist that represents the dark, disenfranchised people of the Paris slum of St. Michel. And he's played with great aplomb by the phenominally talented Gary Beach. He's just a funny guy and offers a clownish interpretation of this famous number from ACT I. But his MASTER OF THE HOUSE isn't just a foppish innkeeper enslaving Cossette. He's also a scavenger and a thief. He brings great depth to his performance.

The woman who plays his wife, the Thernardiesse as she's referred to in the book, is big and brassy and scary and angry and funny. Jenny Galloway gives respect to the character that she plays with the right balance of humor and gravitas. She's so enjoyable to watch I found myself wishing that her part was even greater than it was.

Jean Valjean is played by Alexander Gemignani. His performance alone is worth the price of admission. He displays a great vocal range and is masterful when combining the art of acting with the art of singing. The last time I saw him on Broadway he was starring in the recent revival of Sweeney Todd as The Beadle. He was wonderful in that too but until I saw him in LES MIS, I had no idea how strong a performer he is. When he sings he commands your attention utterly. You can't look away. And when he is on stage with someone else, he works well not to step on the other person's toes. Most notably, in his confrontation in the duet with Javert he passes the lead vocal back and forth as easily as throwing a ball. And on top of that, he looks like Jean Valjean as he is described in the book. One can almost say that he is the physical manifestation of Hugo's famous protagonist.

Chief Inspector Javert is played by Norm Lewis. He is in my opinion the strongest singer in the show. What a set a pipes on him. His voice is remarkable and listening to him was a almost a religious experience. His voice is loud and strong and you can tell he's been training for a long time. He's had the kind of classical training that lends itself to opera, musical theater or R&B. What an absolute delight. Okay. His performance alone is also worth the price of admission and he's just as comfortable sharing that duet with Alexander Gemignani as vice versa.

With regard to the children in the show, they are all fairly interchangeable and no one really stood out to me as being more or less talented than anyone else. The actors playing Fantine, Marius and Cosette are adequate but that's okay. This is the kind of show where the parts are strong enough not to rely on the strength of the performers and can carry adequacy. I'm not saying that they aren't any good - it's just that compared to the performances of the previously written about actors, they're just adequate.

I will dedicate this last part of my entry to EPONINE. The actress that plays the teenage EPONINE was last seen in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Celia Keenan-Bolger is entirely believable as the scrappy tomboy on the verge of discovering her womanhood. She broke my heart when she sang ON MY OWN and then A LITTLE FALL OF RAIN at the beginning of ACT II. Eponine is possibly the most tragic character in literature. In the book, she is starving, neglected and all her clothes are threadbare. In the play, she is the same.

If you're the kind of theater goer that has seen Les Miserables umpteen times then don't see this show, because like the NY Time reviewer you won't be able to watch this show without comparing it to the original and you probably won't like it. But if you're like me, and you never got to see it, then I strongly, strongly recommend that you see this show.

You'll enjoy the experience.

November 06, 2006

November 05, 2006

Ladies and Jellyspoons

When I was very little, I memorized the following from a jokebook for children.
=========================
Ladies and Jellyspoons

I come before you to stand behind you
To tell you something I know nothing about.
Since next Thursday will be good Friday
We will have a father's meeting for mothers only.

Wear your best clothes if you don't have any
And please don't come if you can be there
Admission is free, please pay at the door
Have a seat on me, please sit on the floor

No matter where you managed to sit
The man in the balcony will certainly spit

I thank you for kind un attention
And now to present to you

FANFARE
(fanfare added as adult for embellishment)

The Four Corners of the Round Table

November 04, 2006

Knees and Elbows Off My Chest

Very often on the subway I find myself sitting next to a man whose legs are spread wide apart. It never seems to bother him that his leg is rubbing up against mine. In fact, the more room I make for myself by squeezing together my own legs, the more his legs spread, increasing the annoyance factor. Not all men sit this way. In fact, some men sit very respectfully next to me, careful not to let their bodies invade the concept of my personal space - as if personal space were possible on a subway.

The other subway behavior that's been getting to me lately involves women's elbows. No matter what time of day I've been riding the subway when a woman sits next to me, she automatically starts rummaging through her bag which always makes her elbow stick up and out in my general direction. I usually bend slightly out of the way to make sure her incredibly jagged elbow doesn't nail me in the eye. This is another one of those cases where in spite of how much I control my own behavior the other person's behavior gets worse. The more I reign in my own elbows when I'm reading or going through my own bag, the more room I leave for the person next to me, to invade my personal space.

None of this is new to me or to any of you. I guess I'm just starting to get fatigued by the ebb and flow of too many people in too small a space.

It used to be that if I were in a crowded subway, closing my eyes would give me the relief I need. Because in the dark, you have all the room you need. But this remedy doesn't work when people are pushing up against you. It's only a solution for the problem of visual people clutter.

I've also tried the passive aggressive thing where you simply push back but these particular people don't seem to mind other people pushing against them.

I've concluded that the people who touch you with their knees and elbows don't mind when other people touch them which makes me think that they aren't really being rude at all. Because they don't have the same problems as someone like me who doesn't like strangers getting too close, it doesn't occur to them that their pointy elbows and invasive knees are a problem.

So, I continue to be fatigued. How do you get mad at someone who doesn't think they are doing anything wrong? They're like children.

November 02, 2006

Kirk Douglas

I met Kirk Douglas on Sunday afternoon.

This was well timed because I was having a crappy day on Sunday. So crappy, in fact, that while I was walking to the theater for the Sunday Matinee, I was wishing for just one good thing to happen.

And it did.

An old man came up to my booth -where I distribute headsets to patrons that need hearing assistance - through the walk-in hullaballoo and he looked kind of familiar. He asked me what I needed. I looked at him and the two people he was with and I told them I needed a driver's license - didn't matter whose it was. The old man's wife pulled his wallet out of her purse. While he was fumbling for his license, I started to realize the old man was Kirk Douglas.

I got excited and started fawning over him and his wife to the point where I think tears were starting to well up in my eyes. And in the face of all this adoration do you want to know what Mr. Douglas said to me?

He said "Give me one that works." This is the typical mantra of my clients over a certain age. Very often their headsets die. It just happens. The equipment gets used over and over and over again. Inevitably some of the equipment is going to fail.

I gave him one that worked.

He looks exactly the same as he does on screen. Except, he is getting on in years. And he definitely looks like someone suffering the after effects of a stroke. The only thing that surprised me was his size. He was shorter than I thought.

But then again, actors are always shorter than you think.

October 28, 2006

Talent

Do you ever feel like your talent is hiding from you? I feel that way everytime I watch a Broadway show; see a movie with good crisp dialogue; listen to a good piece of music; or read a good book. Where is my talent and why is it hiding from me? What is it scared of? Why does it not make itself known to me? Why won't it give me access? I try to tap into it but every time I do, it goes deeper into hiding.

I just tried again and all I saw was a big white, empty, blank void.

Argh.

Les Mis

Next week, I'm scheduled to work on previews of Les Miserables at the Broadhurst.

Does that make any one of you even the least bit jealous?

Fame Becomes Me

I know I've been going on about Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me but I just can't help it. Aside from an incredibly boring World Series, it's been my only cultural influence this week.

This week's special guests include Bette Midler, Dylan Baker, Tucker Carlson and Nia Vardalos.

Bette Midler - well, you already know she was fantastic without my even having to say anything. Aside from doing a great job improvising with Martin Short's character, celebrity interviewer Jiminy Glick, she generously performed The Rose after the final curtain to help raise money for Broadway Cares: Equity Fights AIDS.

Dylan Baker - he's one of those "hey it's that guy" guys. And since I've watched so much TV and so many movies in my life, I recognized him. But when he was pulled out of the audience, the audience let out a collective "EH?". They did not recognize him. How did he do? Imagine you're a person sitting an audience watching a show. And then one minute later, you're on stage waiting to be interviewed by the over-the-top persona of Jiminy Glick. One of two things will happen. You'll either clam up from shyness, because it's difficult to think on your feet when you're sitting under a white hot spotlight - or - you thrive because all your life you've dreamed of being bathed in the warm glow of said spotlight. Unfortunately for Dylan Baker, he fit the former description. He froze up as soon as Jiminy Glick started interviewing him. I felt bad for him. Sadly, his performance fell flat and Martin Short had to carry the entire segment.

Tucker Carlson - unlike Dylan Baker, did not clam up. He was not overtaken with shyness. He was not overshadowed by the enormous Jiminy Glick persona. He stood up to the challenge and was a pleasure to watch. Yes. I know. Saying I like Tucker Carlson may shine the conservative spotlight on me but that shouldn't take away from the fact that he is an entertaining individual even if you don't agree with his views and he was entertaining as heck that night. Go CARLSON!!

Nia Vardalos - she was delightful. When she walked out at the beginning of the sketch, you could see that the card in her hand (the card with her opening line) was trembling. She was nervous. But through her nervousness, she managed to make jokes and look sexy. So sexy in fact, that Jiminy Glick commented on how sexy she was in person. So sexy that at the end of the show, Martin Short thanked her and commented again on her upclose and personal sexiness factor. At last night's show, to raise money, the cast auctioned off a print of a fake Andy Warhol silkscreen of Ed Grimley. In the end, she trumped everybody's offers with a $1,000 bid. Pretty generous, n'est ce pas?

At today's show, the cast auctioned off the song writing services of Mark Shaiman. He's in the show. He is a pretty well-known song writer who has scored quite a few movies and is responsible for most of the music in Hairspray. He's also the main songwriter of Fame Becomes Me and appears on stage quite a bit as Mr. Short's accompanist. For $1,000, one audience member bought a song. Mr. Shaiman will write a song specifically for that individual. Not bad huh? At first, I thought they were gouging the audience, because for all the auctions I've seen, the bidding always starts at $500.00. This means, that an average person like me could never hope to have a song personalized to me by Mark Shaiman. It's kind of unfair. But I guess you can't really expect someone of his caliber to do anything for less than $500. Right? And it is for a good cause.

October 24, 2006

The Divine Miss M

Did mention that during Fame Becomes Me, Martin Short pulls someone out of the audience for improvised skit as part of the show? Sometimes it's someone famous - sometimes it's just some lucky shlub.

Tonight it was Bette Midler.

She was funny and awesome.

And to top it all off, she gave an impromptu performance at the end of the show.

She sang The Rose.

I cried.

And everyone was treated to the best Broadway can be.

October 18, 2006

Married One Year

Jon Clinton CastleJon and I just celebrated our first wedding anniversary - October 16th. We spent the day together as tourists. Our initial idea was to spend some time on Ellis Island but by the time we got down to Battery Park, the line was already hundreds of people deep. Realizing we should have gotten there much earlier we scrapped that idea and decided to explore the area. Here is Jon checking out Clinton Castle. It's very pretty and if you stand in the middle of the outdoor rotunda, you can see a spectacular view of the downtown buildings. I tried to make a panorama of the view but it came out all funny, so you'll just have to trust me.

StatueBattery Park is very nice and everytime I go there I see an improvement.

I always like this sculpture when I see it. It's called The Immigrants. If you look closely, you can see Jon in the background admiring the sculptor's work - Luis Sanguino.

After milling around the park a while, we decided to walk our way up to China Town. I worked in this area in the 90's and wanted to show Jon some of the cooler things about the area.

There is a great section near Fraunces Tavern with some of historic structures and colonial buildings. I don't remember what street this is, but they've converted it into The William Street Food Court for tourists and people who work in the area. Downtown Street SceneAll the buildings along William Street are from the 1800's or so(whenever Colonial Times were).

Anyway, I wish them luck. When I worked down there, it always seemed dead - just like in this picture.

We continued our walk up town and were dazzled by the shiny tall buildings. It's fun to play tourist. I love craning my neck upwards to see how high the skyscrapers reach. Check out this view. The weather was beautiful on Monday. Look at that blue sky.
Guess Where NYC

Cigar Store IndianWe worked our way up William and then hung a left on Park Row near Pace University. Below City Hall we found this quaint little cigar store Indian. I think Jon referred to this block as News Row. This block has some beautiful buildings. If you haven't been, you should check it out.

We found ourselves admiring City Hall Park and I fell in love with this fountain.
City Hall Park Fount

There are some beautiful Calder sculptures to be found and a lot of beautiful landscaping. This park is worth a visit for sure.

How much more can I say about what a nice day it was. The temperature was perfect for taking a long romantic walk and we continued walking until our final destination - Doyers Street in China Town. We ate lunch at one of our favorite out of the way places Doyer's which specializes in Vietnamese food. I'm not expert enough to know if the food is styled from a certain region but we love it none the less. Here is a shot of Doyers Street.
Doyer Street

I have learned from a friend that Doyers Street has the highest murder rate of any street in the city. For this reason, it's also known as The Bloody Angle.

I can't think of a better way for Jon and I to have spent our first anniversary.

I love him very much. I'm glad we're married.

Constantine Maroulis

Today, I watched sections of the Wedding Singer. Those sections included the scenes with Constantine Maroulis who is making his Broadway debut as Sammy, the best man.

He's doing a great job in the part - not to say it's a great part but he's doing a great job.

He's unbelievable good looking in person.

October 17, 2006

Celebrity (?) Spottings

Saturday night, there were two lower level celebrities at the Jersey Boys.

1. Gary Dell 'Abatte from the Howard Stern show. I saw him milling around the lobby talking to some guy. I always liked him. Before Howard Stern sold the remainder of his soul to the devil by moving his show to satellite, I used to listen to the Howard Stern show every morning. I'd listened to it from my first semester of college in 1985 up until about 2004 or so. And the one person I liked consistently was Gary, Howard's put upon, overworked producer. Every skit, sketch or routine where Howard and the other members of the show picked on Gary used to upset me. I especially disliked when Howard would chew Gary out for the stupidest things. I guess that's what his appeal was to me. I've had so many bosses with unbalanced temperments, and they always made me feel bad. But Gary seemed to handle it pretty well. It's like he understood that Howard was a big blowhard with a complicated personality and took Howard's berates with a grain of salt. He is very handsome in person.

2. Carolyn Kepsher from the Apprentice. I didn't actually see her. And I don't really have anything to say about her. While I am interested in the show The Apprentice, except for intense hatred for Donald Trump, I haven't developed any strong feelings for the people on the show.

Tonight at Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, I saw Clinton Kelly from What Not To Wear. The cool thing about this show, one of the many cool things anyway, is when Martin Short pulls someone from the audience for one of the bits. When someone famous is in the audience, then someone famous goes up. This is what happened tonight. Clinton was pulled out of the audience. He's so handsome in person. I looooovvvvveeeeee him and I love that show. And he did a good job on stage, although you could see he was kind of embarrassed.

Flavor of Love 2 - Season Finale

In the end Flavor chose Deelishus. New York threw a fit because he slept with her the night before the award ceremony and didn't pick her a second time.

I'm so pissed that we didn't get to see any of Belize. All we saw of Placencia was the hotel and the small piece of ocean occupied by Flav's catamaran (which he described as a boat with a trampoline.) I'm so sick of Tiffany Patterson and still pissed at the producers for bringing her back. I'm also sick to death of Flava Flav and his constant need to scream his name 50 times an episode. I hate this notion that any of the contestants may or may not be "keeping it real". I hate the contrived situations and the staged dramas. I hate be reminded of the competition between women and I am tired of watching women behave so badly toward each other, especially over this man. It's not that he's a bad guy, it's just that he's not a great guy.

You can read a full account of the finale at any of the following.

Reality News Online
Washington Post
Fans of Reality TV
The Trades

October 14, 2006

Sad Max

Mel Gibson said sorry for making angry anti-semitic remarks while under the influence of alcohol. Never mind that alcohol brings down your inhibitions or that it punches holes in our sensibility filters. Never mind that the alcohol didn't MAKE HIM say anything that wasn't on his mind already. He may have apologized for saying the remarks but he didn't apologize for being an anti-semite. He also says that his anger for the Jews was brought on by criticism of his bloodfed fantasy about the final days of Jesus Christ - The Passion of the Christ- which clearly puts the resposibility of Jesus's crucifixion in the hands of Jewish leaders instead of blaming the Romans, their culture of bloodlust and their hatred of all things not Roman.

That is quite the potent brew he's been suckling. The moral of this story is not to be a public drunken anti-semitic film producing mess.

It's interesting how his apology coincides with the soon to be released Apolyptica. What's also interesting is that his most public apology was given during an interview with Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America. In a cynical article for the LA TIMES, Tim Rutten wrote that because Good Morning America is run on ABC, a DISNEY affiliate, it was only logical that their show be one of firsts to run of one of many apologies to come. He suggests that because DISNEY is responsible for Apocalypto, a film by Mel Gibson, it is also responsible for helping to cleanse and sanctify Mel Gibson's image in order to insure that the backlash of his blatantly anti-semitic remarks don't effect movie returns.

CyberCafe

I'm sitting again in the CyberCafe. It's Saturday afternoon. I'm in between showings of Jersey Boys. I thought I might watch the matinee but I was distracted by other things. I'm reading a graphic novel (?) called Hey Buddy by Peter Bagge and that's what I did for most of ACT I. Then after intermission, a conversation held my attention for the entirity of ACT II.

For those of you who are envious that I get to work this show and see it as many times as I want to, I'm sorry that I can't give you a vicarious thrill. I'm simply not that interested in this show. It happens from time to time. For most of next week, I'm back at Fame Becomes Me starring Martin Short, which I still highly recommend. Wednesday, I'm going to two different shows.

First, I'm working the matinee of Tarzan: The Muscial. I'll probably need a book for that one. Then later in the day, I'll be at The Wedding Singer - now featuring Constantine Maroulis, most famous for losing American Idol. Publicly, I still recommend that you don't see The Wedding Singer. Secretly, I have found myself enjoying certain scenes and only recommend seeing it if you don't have to pay full price. Also, I can't wait to see Constantine. He's really cute.

August Wilson Theater

I'm working at the August Wilson (formerly the Virginia) theater this week. Jersey Boys is playing here. You may have heard of it. It's the show based on the lives of Frankie Valli and the (yawn) Four Seasons.

I couldn't tell you how it is because I haven't watched it yet. I probably won't.

Hell Is Other People. . .

. . .on the subway.
Late Night Crowd
This crowd shot looks like it could have been taken during rush hour. But no. It was taken on Tuesday night around 10:45. When a train is crowded like this you are always anticipating the moment when you arrive at the next station so the crowd can thin out. It never happens, especially when you live in Astoria.

This is what the N train was like from 49th Street all the way into Queens.

October 11, 2006

Flavor of Love 2 - Episodes 9 and 10

I'm a little disappointed with both of these episodes.

Episode 9 - Family Flavors
Just like the first season of Flavor of Love (lord help us of there's a third), Flava Flav met the parents of the final contestants. This was interesting and not interesting at the same time. It's always cool to see the parents of people you've known for a while - to look for resemblances or explanations. And in the cases of the women who remain vying for Flav's affection, I was amply rewarded.

Deelishus looks just like her mother. Her parents were the first to arrive and they were nice enough. Plainly speaking, I think Deelishus is a nice person raised by nice people and my expectations were met. Flav took the group to some kind of dinner theater that offers magic shows. All I have to say about this date is they were all overdressed.

Krazy looks just like her mother. Her mother and grandmother were the second to arrive. And already you can see why the woman is complicated. Both of these women seemed a little off and they seemed to drink a lot while Flav was on his date with Deelishus and her family. They were also oddly proud of Krazy's mediocre voice and crowed a little too much about her "talent".

New York resembles her father and behaves like her mother. New York's parents were the last to arrive. Last season, when we her parents joined the show, I was convinced that New York had hired actors to play her parents in an attempt to get even more attention than she was getting. I just couldn't believe that the woman that claimed to be her mother could really be behaving so outrageously. But after taking a closer look at her parents, I'm convinced no two other people could have sired such a phenomena from their loins.

It's pretty obvious that New York's family was left alone with Krazy's family in order to create drama. The arguments that were shown seemed forced and contrived. Krazy's family was making too much noise. New York and her mother were trying to sleep (in their street clothes no less). New York's father was hanging out Krazy's family and having fun. These three elements added up to fireworks. In the end, Flav chose Deelishus and New York. The next stop for the three of them on the 15-minutes-of-fame train is Belize. He sent Krazy packing because he didn't believe that she was there for the right reasons. And his children thought she was a big fat phony. They thought New York was a phony too but I guess Krazy was phonier.

Oh yeah. I almost forgot. Flav's children made an appearance on the show. A couple of his children are adults with children of their own. They also looked to be about the same age as Krazy and Deelishus. (New York is at least 10 years older.) Before everyone's parents came to check out the man that would soon be defiling their precious daughters, Flav invited his children to come to his house and check out the women who they may one day call STEP-MOM.

--------------------------------------

Episode 10 - Oh No She Didn't
A clip show. What can I say?

All I wanted was to see what happened after the CLOCK ceremony. At the end of episode 9, we saw Deelishus and New York doing a happy dance because they were happy about being the final two. We also saw New York's mother going back into the house yelling for her daughter to go home wth her. But no. What we get instead, is VHI's attempt to milk the cow that is Flavor of Love, no matter how sour the milk.

The hour was chock full of footage we'd never seen. I guess some of it was entertaining. I don't know. I was pretty disappointed. I really wanted to see the confrontation between New York and her alleged mother. And all the shaninagans that the final show has to offer.

Small Plane Crashes into Upper East Side Highrise - Not Terrorism

I've been following a sad news story today.

Jon called me around 3 p.m. to inform me that a small plane crashed into the 20th story of an apartment building on 72nd Street in New York City.

Exactly, one month after the anniversary of 9/11, my thought was that this was a terrorist attack. But in the follow-up phone call Jon told me that the FBI did not think it was terrorism. I still wasn't completely convinced until I got to where I am now.

CNN is on the large screen television in the internet cafe I frequent between shows.

The plane was piloted by NY Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle. His passport was found on the ground below the crash site.

There is no official word yet on how this happened although CNN reported Cory Lidle put out a distress call. Two people died.

It's a tragedy.

October 07, 2006

Much To Do About Nothing

I didn't have a heavy work schedule this week so I spent some time doing nothing. Things have picked up this weekend. I'm working on the new Nathan Lane show, Butley. It's a comedy but not the usual kind Nathan Lane fans have grown accustomed to. I don't understand why people were walking out. I think it's funny but it's not The Producers and it's not The Odd Couple. There certainly were plenty of applause at last night's sold out preview. I would advise though, that you do some research if you are planning on seeing this show. Not every show is a good match with everyone watching.

I spent some time riding bikes with Jon. Earlier in the week we did a shorter ride because I have this Achilles Tendonitis nonsense going on. No doubt the condition is a result of my perpetually tight calves and hamstrings. One of the reasons I started riding a bike was so I wouldn't aggravate my shin splints, which ache when speed walking. So, imagine my surprise when I found out that tight calves not only cause shin splints, but they also mess up your ankles and heels. The key to managing the condition, so you don't blow out your tendons, is to change up your workout, rest and to make sure the muscles are properly stretched.

Yesterday, after a couple days of rest, we attempted a longer ride. Although the ride was flat for the most part, there was an incredible wind blowing off the east river. Riding against strong winds is a good challenge but a challenge none the less. We rode down Vernon Blvd because Jon wanted to show me the area by the enormous Pepsi Cola Sign in Long Island City. Jon took this dramatic photo of the large sign which can be seen from the FDR Drive across the river.
Pepsi Cola Sign
There's a huge apartment complex being developed where the Pepsi Cola bottling plant used to stand. The sign is being preserved and has been moved to this spot so it can still be seen. Thank goodness it's been rescued from obscurity. The sign is 70 years old and a part of New York history.

And here are the Long Island signs which can be seen next to it from the distance. Behind the signs you can see the construction of the buildings which are part of the new complex.
Long Island Long Island

From the four piers that jut out from this developing area we were afforded us some great views of the Manhattan skyline.

Here's a picture of Jon on Pier 1 with both the UN and Empire State Buliding in the background.
Pier 1

And here is a feeble attempt at a panorama of the East Side of NYC.
NYC Skyline

October 04, 2006

A Chorus Line - (spoilers)

Chorus Line MarquisI was waiting until the play officially opened before writing a review. The revival of A Chorus Line opens tomorrow night, October 5, 2006, at the Schoenfeld (formerly the Plymouth) Theater on 45th Street in New York City. During the one week of previews I worked, the show was sold out, standing room only, every night.

I'll describe the experience of seeing the show.

When the audience walks into the theater, instead of seeing a big velvet curtain, all they see is a black empty stage with a white piece of tape forming line down front. That line plays an important part throughout the show, right up to the blackout at the end. Once everybody is settled, the lights dim a little, an announcement welcomes people to the show and reminds everyone in the audience to turn off their cell phones. Then the lights go completely dark and the audience falls completely silent.

After three seconds of silence, you hear a piano play a bouncy introduction - bah bump bah bump bah bump bah.

The orchestra follows with a hint of what's to come musically and the lights come up to reveal about 30 dancers practicing a routine in the huge mirror upstage - backs to the audience. They are following steps being taught by ZACH - the choreographer responsible for finding 8 people for his show. After a few minutes , ZACH wants to see them dance so everyone turns around, ZACH counts out 5, 6, 7, 8 and the orchestra explodes when everyone simlutaneously bursts out into their routine.

The audience roared with applause at this point of every performance I saw.

If you don't know the show, A Chorus Line is based on what happens at a dance audition. And by the time Zach makes his first cut, you've already learned enough about the process to understand how painful it is to be selected to leave so early in the audition process.

Zach chooses 9 women and 8 men. They line up on the white tape and bring their 8 x 10's up in front of their faces. By this time Zach has moved to the back of the theater and is speaking to them over a microphone. He tells them that this audition process is going to be a little different. He expects them to talk about themselves. Those stories are the heart of the show. Each of the people in the line tell their stories through song and dance and by the end of the show, you end up emotionally invested in each one of them.

I don't want to completely spoil the show for those who haven't seen it. I will say that the ending is really exciting and chokes me up each time I watch it. I'm getting teary eyed thinking about how to describe how I felt watching it. I'm guessing most people know what happens at the end but like I said, I don't want to ruin what could be a spectacular payoff to a show well watched.

But I did want to share the experience of seeing the opening of this show because it is so well done - like the good opening to that classic novel. Act I of any show is always my favorite part with the first 10 minutes being the most exciting. If its' a good show, you should understand the set up in the first 15 minutes.

This revival of A Chorus Line is wonderful. Of course I have no point of comparison. I heard some people say that ZACH wasn't seen until much later in the original production - that he was a disembodied voice giving instructions to nervous dancers hungry for work like the VOICE OF GOD. From what I hear, that's the greatest difference between this and the original production.

All the performers are great. And it's really nice to see good performers doing good material for a change. This show and the people in it make me want to be a part of Broadway. A Chorus Line makes me want to be a little girl seeing her first Broadway show and being inspired to study dance. It makes me want to do something spectacular that moves people to tears.

Spend the money. See the show. Don't delay.

Tuesday Night Trivia

FunayamaLast night, my friend took me to dinner for a belated birthday celebration. We went to Funayama, a restaurant that has some meaning for us because it was one of our hangouts when our friendship was taking root.

Funayama is a fairly decent Japanese restaurant. For those of you who have been frequenting the restaurant, the waitress that wears braces doesn't wear braces anymore and her teeth look great.

After dinner, we traipsed on down to Tuesday Night Trivia at The Baggot Inn. I hadn't been in quite some time. My new schedule prevents me from participating as often as I used to. It was nice walking into that familiar setting and seeing my old friends.

(Think opening theme from Cheers.)
Saved By the Balls
We joined the team Saved By The Balls (seen above). The team name picked fun of Dustin Diamond's recent sex tape troubles. As you may recall, Dustin Diamond played Screech in the 90's teen dramedy Saved by The Bell.

Anyway, my friend and I joined the party pretty late so we couldn't offer too much help for the first three rounds. But as a group we nailed the final rounds with a score of 20.5 out of a possible 21. We won by a margin of 9 points.

Hell Gate Bridge

Hell Gate Bridge

I love this bridge. Every time we ride under it, I'm inspired to take its picture.

It's the most beautiful bridge in the city.

September 30, 2006

Flavor of Love 2 - Episode 8

With Bootz remaining adamant regarding her stance on remaining celibate with Flava Flav until their marriage night, she signed her own walking papers. She was not given a clock at the end of the day. In her exit interview she was a very good sport. She knew that she was eliminated because she didn't want to participate in a one night stand. Nor did she want to give the impression that she is easy or that work wasn't required to get into her pants. With that said, let's start the recap.
***********************
Dinosaur Tongue Has Cooties
Big Rick opened this episode. Our first glimpse at the day was a shot of Big Rick polishing Flav's T-Rex lawn ornament with special emphasis on the dinosaur's tongue. Perhaps this was foreshadowing of the day's events and indeed it seemed that the day involved a lot of tongue polishing but not before the contestant's received the day's Flavagram. In true Big Rick fashion, he dropped the message on the table and got the blank out of dodge.

Throughout the show, the women have been taking turns reading the Flavagrams aloud. Today was New York's turn. She read that Flav thought the remaining women were "prime cut" and that he was going to be "slicking things up". Flav would spend that day and evening on private dates with Krazy and Deelishus and then New York and Bootz the day after. New York was so distraught over the news that she wasn't in the first group, that she stormed out of the room in tears leaving the other women behind to laugh at and make fun of her. This involved Bootz giggling while Deelishus dramatically recreated New York's dramatic reading of the gram. Upon reading the message aloud, Deelishus discovered that New York read "slicking" instead of "slicing" and laughed at her illiteracy. She attributed her degree in English for her superior ability to differentiate between the two words. It was a colorful moment.

By The Sea, By The Sea
So, we skip ahead to Krazy and Deelishus as they are walking onto a pier. They were ready for their date which was to be on a small yacht. Flav greeted them and then introduced them to the captain of the boat who would be taking them out that day. (I was very thankful to see that there was a grown up supervising if not the sexual activities, the sailing activities at least . That meant that the producers had seen VH1's Driven and were familiar with Flav's history of breaking and crashing expensive things.) The date involved almost everything but sailing. It involved Flav watching the women's rumps while they were hoisting sails. It involved Deelishus making out with Flav after finding the expensive diamond earring that fell out of his ear from the exertion of sitting around and watching the jiggle show. It involved Krazy muscling in on Deelishus's tongue swabbing session by sucking Flav's tongue out of Deelishus's mouth and inserting it into her own Krazy mouth. It involved Deelishus downstairs getting sea sick.

After Krazy chased Deelishus away, Deelishus was shown lying on a bed next to Flav's clock, complaining that she was sick to her stomach - from both the impropriety of Krazy's actions and the motion of the ocean. Up on the boat, Krazy had Flav all to herself. Viewers were treated to a seemingly endless shot of her cleansing Flav's tongue with the rough circular motions of her own muscular, mouth organ. If you just shuddered with revulsion, that was the appropriate response.

Later that day Flav took the girls to where they would be staying that evening. Flav had made reservations for him and the girls on the Queen Mary for dinner and nookie. When the girls got to their rooms they found cute little matching dresses with long elegant gloves. Interviews with each of the women while they were getting ready, readied the viewer for the battle to come. Deelishus surmised that Flav was going to spend the night with one of them and she hoped it was her and not Krazy because she just wouldn't be able to go with Flav after he'd been with Krazy. (Flav kept referring to the ship as the QUEEEEEEEEEN Mary as if he'd never heard of it before. I suppose if he'd had, he might lose some "cred" with his "peeps" or something like that. He described the ship as being haunted. That's first time I'd ever heard that. Maybe it was the brochure.)

Once at dinner, it was on. Flav told the women he wanted to find out how they felt about and asked Krazy straight out what she thought they had in common. She said something incomprehensable but seemingly heartfelt. All the while Deelishus rolled her eyes. She summed up Krazy's love confession by saying "blah blah blah blah" to the camera. Deelishus does not think that Krazy is REAL or that anything she tells Flav is TRUE. When Flav asked Krazy if she wanted to be singer, Deelishus felt so justified that Krazy was finally going to be revealed as a phony. But he doesn't really care, does he? She's pretty. What does it matter to him if she wants a singing career? If anything, it bodes well for him that this pretty girl would be willing to sleep with him just to advance her career. I still don't understand why the other women thinks this puts Krazy at a disadvantage. But as Krazy told him about her hopes and dreams of becoming a singer and how expensive it was to cut a demo, Deelishus was smiling like the cat that at the canary because she thought that Krazy was finally showing her true colors.

When Flav asked Deelishus how she felt about him, she tearfully replied that she cared for him more than she expected to and guess what. He chose her for the one night stand instead of Krazy. But in the end it didn't matter. Because in spite Deelishus's best effort, the day had gotten the better of Flav and he fell asleep on her.

Bootz and New York
While the above date was going on, Bootz was treated to her own private showing of all of New York's misgivings, insecurities and self-doubts. She turned to Bootz for comfort because there was no one else there. Bootz was shown listening, in a half-hearted way, to all of New York's claims on Flav's heart and Flav's time.

By the time the next day rolled around, Bootz must have known she was going home, she had to have known. If New York was evident of what Flav wanted in a woman, she had to know that there was no way in hell she stood a chance of staying instead of New York as their three way date would prove later in the day.

Their date was at a winery. At first, I thought the date looked to be an actual romantic date but that notion was quickly dispelled. The date started with a horseback ride to the shady spot in the vineyard where the date would take place. The women should have been forewarned that they were going to be riding horses on their dates. But I have to admit it was pretty funny watching them climb into their saddles clad in miniskirts and f*** me pumps. When New York climbed on her horse, she was absolutely terrified. The woman was shaking. The horse must have sensed her fear because it started running uncontrollably - so much so, their riding coach had to interfere and slow the horse down. I guess I should have found that funny but I didn't really because it wasn't.

Anyway, once they arrived at their destination a grownup, similar in manner and disposition to the captain of the yacht, served them lunch and treated them to a tasting of the vineyard's latest vintages. Bootz was feeling admittedly out of place, because her only drinking experience had been with Hennesy and Vodka. New York just rambled on and on about how special it was to be at a vineyard and how back home, she never really had much opportunity for experiences like this. (I just kept wondering how anybody could get so excited about California wines.) After their meal, the grownup showed them their next vintage. It was in a big vat full of grapes waiting to be stomped. The girls took off their hooker clothes to reveal bikinis underneath and Flav changed into his bathing suits. If you guessed that they would be using their bodies to create the next vintage of wine then you guessed correctly. What followed was an experience not even Bacchus could never have foreseen. It was drunken, sloppy and pointless.

After the wine stomping the group took a three way shower which almost made me feel dirty. Flav was doing his best to crawl into Bootz's skin from behind while New York ardently pushed her hips into his backside. More tongue was seen than necessary I might add. Apparently, Flav can not kiss a woman with a closed mouth. Someone should tell Flav that every now and then, a closed mouth is kiss is nice.

Walking Shoes
Flav took the girls to a nice hotel and dressed them in pretty outfits and then met with them a few hours later for their three way date. Flav seemed incredibly interested in Bootz because he continually ignored New York while trying to get further into Bootz's pants. New York stomped off in a mad huff because Flav was spending too much time talking to Bootz. He chased after her (which she claimed to be part of her plan) and in the end, he chose New York for his evening tryst. Sound effects were plentiful as New York made sounds of rapture behind the closed door of their hotel suite. In her camera interview, New York went on and on about how wonderful their time was together. She spoke in hyperboles and used words that she made up for the most part. This woman may be a lot of things, but proficient in speaking the English langugage is not one of them.

At the elimination ceremony Bootz was sent home. Flav cited her celibacy as the reason because, as he reminded the TV audience in his one on one with the camera, he was looking for someone he could kick it with right now and had no interest in marriage.

In next week's coming attractions, we learned that Flav's children will be grilling the remaining women. Then Flav will meet with the parents of the women that are left. If I'm not mistaken at least one of Flav's children appeared to be the same age as the contestants.

September 29, 2006

A Bike Ride

Jon and I went bike riding yesterday and today. Today was a straight ride up to Laguardia and back home. Nothing exciting to report. But yesterday . . .

Yesterday we went to Roosevelt Island with a detour through Socrates Sculpture Park. Socrates Park is a free sculpture garden where artist display large free standing pieces of work. It's located on Vernon Blvd. and Broadway. The park recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of its inception in 1986 by artists who wanted to make something pretty out of an old landfill. It's one of those secret treasures of New York, known mostly to New Yorkers.

Well. Here is a sampling of what Jon and I saw at the park.

Here is my first impression of the park meaning what I saw when I stopped riding by bicycle and looked up.
Socrates Park

This is a big pink thing.
Pink Sculture

These are bottlelites. The explanation provided says that plastic bottles were painted and bundled to resemble satellites.
Bottlelites

I'm not sure what this is but each of those pedestals has something on it with remarks about America. Jon spent some time looking at each of the items but I was kind of busy looking for shots. So no disrespect to the artist intended.
Socrates Park

Jon caught me posing for a photograph. The sculpture directly behind me is a giant sun dial. On the front of the sculpture is a giant picture of a wrist wearing a watch. The Upper East Side of Manhattan makes up the backdrop.
Sun Dial

I was particularly fond of this wrought iron piece. It had three parts and this is my favorite.
Wrought Iron

Our goal was to ride to and around Roosevelt Island. For the first time I rode my bicycle over the bridge crossing onto the island. Because I am so petrified of traffic I usually walk it over on the pedestrian path. I was quite proud of myself because I was as scared as I thought I would be and did it anyway.
RI Bridge

We wanted to revisit the south end of the island but alas, access has been restricted for the fall or so I think. We'll see if it opens up again next week. You can see the UN in the distance, beyond the locked gate.
Locked Out

September 26, 2006

A Chorus Line

Back to work tonight. This week's assignment is the newly revived A Chorus Line at the Schoenfeld Theater. I think is the second week of previews.

The first time I worked at the Schoenfeld, it was called the Plymouth Theater and David Hasselhoff was destroying starring in Jekyll and Hyde as both the Dr. and his evil creation. He was very bad showcased a unique interpretation of the part. All joking aside, Hasselhoff was cast to attract patrons but ended up closing the show much like Richard Chamberlain ended up closing The Sound of Music several years back.

The last time I worked there, Long Day's Journey Into Night was playing - starring Vanessa Redgrave, Brian Dennehy, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Robert Sean Leonard. That was pretty special. With the exception of Brian Dennehy constantly talking upstage, that show rocked it. Philip Seymour Hoffman, in my opinion, is the best actor of my generation. I remember after the one show that I did work, I was so busy that I ended up being the last person in the theater except the actors. Vanessa Redgrave walked behind me with Philip Seymour Hoffman and I could feel her energy without even seeing her. It was pretty exciting and I remember shaking while I was hurrying up to finish.

I'm looking forward to seeing A Chorus Line. I never got to see it the first time it ran. I hope it doesn't suck.

Lambert's Cafe

Jon and I are back now and I've slowly been going over the photos from our Alabama Adventure.
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On the Monday of our trip, my in-laws, Jon and I drove down to Gulf Shores in separate cars.

It was a beautiful drive but we saw clouds gathering more the further south we went. By the time we got to Lenox the skies opened up and rain started falling in sheets. Visibility was limited to 20 feet at the most and we drove at a reduced speed for quite a while.

Before our final destination, my father-in-law wanted to stop at Lambert's Cafe for dinner.

(I know I wrote about this before but bear with me because that was just a thought before and now I'm writing something more elaborate.)

Jon's father told us that Lambert's Cafe in Foley is the home of the throwed roll. And that's where we stopped for dinner. Here is the mural painted on the side of their restaurant.

It's quite elaborate. If you look closely you'll see the kitchen vents have been incorporated into painting. One of the vents is painted to look like a flying roll.

Even with this painted portrayal of people throwing rolls, Jon and I still didn't fully understand what Lambert's meant by throwed rolls. We both understood it to mean that somehow the rolls were thrown as part of the baking process.

A few minutes after our arrival we finally understood what was meant. I was sitting across from Jon's dad, looking at him in a quiet moment at the table, when all of a sudden his hand reached up and caught a roll that had been thrown to him from 40 feet away. Very impressive and very delicious - the most delicious roll I had down south.

The restaurant offered what I figured to be typical southern fair - fried chicken, fried okra, chicken fried steak, chicken and dumplings, mashed potatoes. They also provide "pass arounds" in addition to your order. The "pass arounds" are limitless. They'll give you as much as you want. But how much fried okra can one eat? If I were Homer Simpson we probably would have been there for 6 hours or more taking advantage of the free extras but I'm not and we didn't. We all ate our modest portions, what we could of our free extras and continued down 59 to our final destination.

If you do find yourself in Foley, AL be sure to go to Lambert's Cafe. It's fun.

September 21, 2006

Atlanta is Great - cont'd

Jon and I did visit Margaret Mitchell's House - it was more like a house where she had an apartment with her second husband John Marsh. It's where she wrote Gone With The Wind.

We had lunch at The Vortex where we were completely sucked in by their funky decor and incredible 80's soundtrack.

Then we went to The Fox Theatre but we were too late. We'd already missed the tours for the day.

Then we walked all the way back to our hotel, where we are now. Jon is up in the room, probably getting ready to use the hotel swimming pool while I sit down here in the business center compulsively updating by blog.

I'm not sure what we're doing tonight.

We've had several recommendations for The Varsity.

We'll be heading home tomorrow. Sniff.

Atlanta is Great

Jon and I made it to Atlanta after driving six hours from Gulf Shores, AL.

We chilled out at our hotel last night. I had a headache after the long drive. We had seafood for dinner at the hotel restaurant, McCormick and Schmick. Then this morning we had breakfast at another hotel restaurant - Prime Meridian -for possibly the best steak and eggs I've ever eaten - ever.

This morning, we've already been to the Georgia Aquarium - pictures soon to follow.

And now we're heading out to Margaret Mitchell's House and the Fox Theatre.