October 28, 2006


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.


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.


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.