"Is He Dead?" Thatís the play I saw this past weekend on Broadway. It was based on a newly discovered Mark Twain comedy.
Norbert Leo Butz, who I saw previously as Fiyero in the original cast of "Wicked", plays starving artist Jean-Francois Millet who is in financial arrears. One option for paying his debt was to surrender paintings in lieu of cash, but alive artistsí work has no value so, that means of payment was of no use to his debtor. But it was a second option that was the premise of this play.
When Milletís sister arrived to settle the family "estate", Butzís comedic prowess shone, but unfortunately, it was a little overdone and confined to that one scene.
The whole of the show was too overplayed with too much mugging and seemed desperate in its attempt to get the laughs, some of which, however, were genuine. The second act became a slapstick mess with more mugging and more overplaying. Forced comedy is not funny. An important element of comedy is the misunderstanding of a characterís intent and this play exhibited that in full force. However, by todayís standards, though still comical, did not quite have the shock value it would have had in Twainís time.
All in all, it was enjoyable afternoon at the theater, in spite of the woman with the helmet hair in front of me who complained constantly of people arriving late, resulting in her having to stand for them to pass. In a semi-sarcastic reassuring retort, I assured her that someone had to be last. She also "missed" the entire first act because the man in front of her never took off his coat and scarf and she could not see around him. Funny, though, even with her overly teased and stiffly sprayed coif and the other manís coat and scarf, I was able to see fine.
In spite of what I thought to be the playís shortcomings, I gave it a 6 on my 2-9 scale.
Then, back to real lifeís theater, this morning I heard on the news how Cape Cod got socked with snow, so I put on one of my favorite websites, a live webcam feed from Provincetown, MA, overlooking the intersection of Commercial and Standish Streets. P-town has been our vacation spot for the past 20 or so years, at least for 10 days for the Fourth of July and a few assorted weekends throughout the year. Iíve never seen it in the snow even though I have felt the bayís icy windsĖAriel and I brought in 2007 there. Cold doesnít begin to describe it, but we were lucky to avoid any inclement weather. The webcam is a cool way to check in on my "neighborhood", and get a fix on my home away from home.
1/24/08 - Buying Bread
I saw something this morning that puzzled me.
I had an appointment first thing this morning and on the way home I stopped at the store for a loaf of bread. The parking lot was fairly empty, being just after 8am, and yet I had to park way down in the middle of the parking lot. The first few rows were reserved for Handicapped and Cars With Infants. Those spots were all taken. The funny thing is, I never saw any babies nor...well, whoís to say what any one particular handicap might be, so Iíll discount that. Never mind, as you were. So, like I was saying, I never saw any babies while I cruised around the store TWICE in search of the bread aisle. It wasnít my usual store and thatís always confusing.
I was about to ask the woman behind the bakery counter where the bread aisle was and thankfully I looked the other way and there it was.... bread as far as the eye could see. It makes sense, now that I think about it, to put bread and related items by the bakery section. My guardian angel once again saved me from making an ass out of myself. But, from past experiences, itís obvious guardian angels also need a laugh every now and then. Iím happy to oblige...like I have choice.
So, I bought my bread, and a pack of English muffins with the lowest sodium count I could find; I do what I can to help control my high blood pressure. In short order I was out the door and with a savings of 70 cents. (The muffins were on sale!)
Okay, so now, Iím in the parking lot, heading to my car and this is where I saw the puzzling thing. See how I always get back around to the issue at hand? Thereís this guy pushing his empty shopping cart toward the cart return rack which I didnít see until later was right by my car. About two thirds of the way across the lane, the man, dressed in a business suit, stopped, released the cart and watched it roll. My first thought was, Oh shit, itís heading toward my car. Iíll clock the guy if the cart hits it. But that wasnít the case at all. No, he was watching to make sure the cart went into the return rack on its own and he just stood there, immobile with his eyes glued to it, willing it into place. He faltered for a second, as though things hadnít gone as planned, but then with a satisfied nod of his head, turned, went to his car and drove away.
I wondered if he wouldnít have been better served to have finished the task and saved himself the extra seconds of anguish and then gone away knowing he had done a good deed. Just asking.......
1/20/08 - NYC Double Feature
My my my! What a weekend. Where do I begin?
Well, first and foremost, congratulations to Patty and Jim on the adoption of their third child, a daughter. We saw the first pictures and video today of Patty along with her sister in China with the new bundle of joy, Shayna and they will be coming home real soon.
Now, letís see, let me work backwards. Today Christmas came down, as I had quasi-predicted in my last entry. And I worked on the new novel some but even with all my thinking I had that snag licked, it seems I still had a problem getting the current chapter started. About 2Ĺ hours later, I finally got about 3 pages of some stream of consciousness writing done, which, with some TLC will turn into the killer chapter Iím striving for.
Okay, Saturday was a full day in New York. We had matinee tickets for The 39 Steps. It was a comical take on the Alfred Hitchcock 1935 mystery/thriller of the same name. I gave it a 6 on my scale of 2-9. I figure, anything thatís out there is worth at least 1 point for the effort behind it and nothing really gets a 10 from me unless it completely blows me away. Sunset Boulevard (Glenn Close) and Wicked (original cast) which Iíve seen three times, are the only Broadway shows that I scored as 10's.
After that show, we had some time to kill because later we were seeing Emo Philips at Comix Comedy Club in The Village. Maybe it was about 15 years ago, if not more since the last time we saw Emo at the now defunct Club Benť in South Amboy, NJ and time has not diminished his comedy. The place roared with laughter for the entire hour plus he was on the stage. We sat with some fun Emo-philes from New Mexico and hung with them for a drink after the show.
Friday, I finished off my 40 hour work week by 8:30 am (it's fabulous to work from home) and then headed to Newark to finish clearing out the shop of our old stained glass business (now officially closed). Itís amazing how much stuff accumulates in 10 years, and how much room empty cardboard boxes takes up. That took about six hours of up and down a narrow flight of steps to a loft storage space. How in hell did all that heavy stuff get up there in the first place? I would certainly remember putting it up there, so maybe some poor unsuspecting soul did it for me. I hope I paid him enough. Thanks to whoever it was, but where were you on Friday?
In closing, hereís a quick recap of my past woesĖI got my email access back on my phone, I finished that huge project for work a day early and my coffee maker problem is taken care of. There is a God!
1/17/08 - American Idol
Itís that time of the year again. No, not time to finally take down the Christmas tree. Well...yeah...that, too. Sunday, for sure!
Itís American Idol season. Now thereís one show I never thought Iíd get so invested in, but it happened and quite unsuspectingly. It was on road trip to my nieceís 8th grade graduation when we stopped for the nightĖAriel, my mother, myselfĖand we needed to get back into the room, sacrificing dessert at the Cracker Barrel in Cambridge, OH (that place rocks!), so my mother could see the next to last show of American Idol, the one when Vonzell Solomon ( I just looked that up) got voted off, leaving Carrie Underwood and Bo Bice to vie for the title. Not knowing anything about any of them, I cursorily chose Bo Bice. Well, congratulations Ms. Underwood.
Having enjoyed the Radio Chickís comedic and often caustic recaps the day after each episode, I was starting to see what it was all about.
So, there I was, poised for the following season and from the start, found myself aboard the E-train. Thank goodness the voting line is toll-free because I did what I could to help keep Elliott Yamin in the race, but my, and othersí efforts went for naught and I sat stunned and speechless the moment Ryan Seacrest announced his third place finish. Even my red spotted newt, Commander was mortified and went into hiding. Honestly, he always seemed to appear on American Idol nights. I saw Elliott recently at the Highline Ballroom, a small venue on New Yorkís West Side and was quite pleased with the show. He really does have passionate fans.
The same held true for Season 6 as we watched Melinda Doolittleís journey to an equally unfair third place.
Now, after the first two episodes of selectively aired season 7 auditions, and Commander and Oleander, his new little buddy (Lysander and Miranda have since bit the dust) were the most active Iíve seen them in weeks, climbing through their plastic shrubbery and over the rocks in their wading pool. With all the contestantsí somewhat exploited stories aside, Iím liking Jessica Brown. As always, after they go to Hollywood, and I get to hear all the crooning hopefuls, I can make a better prediction.
Iíd be happy with predicting a third place finish. I seem to be good at that.
Check back for Commanderís weekly recaps.
1/15/08 - Bad Day...No Coffee!
It was bound to happenĖa bad day was going to come my way and it would reflect here. For some reason I canít get my email on my cell phone for the last six days. My coffee maker has gone kaflooey...need I say more? Well, there is more. I have a huge project I need to complete for work before Friday. And I canít figure how to get the next chapter in my book started. And theyíve all got me in a weird funk today.
If you recall, I ran into a snafu a little while ago and needed to revamp my initial plot for the next chapter, but thatís been taken care of and all thatís left now is to get going with it. But Iím not focused and Iíll admit itís my own fault. See above. I let things fester and clog my head.
But to my credit, this is really only the second day since the weekend, whichturned out to be quite hectic, albeit very productive, so I really havenít had a chance to work on the book or on my blogs, for that matter. Just seems like timeís a-wastiní and I feel like Iím getting nowhere fast.
But this funk wonít last. They never do. Tomorrow Iíll get some writing done, even if itís just one sentence. Iíll pull out my old coffee maker. Iíll be one day closer to finishing my work project and Iíll just have to deal with getting my email on the computer, like they did it in the old days before web-enabled phones came into the picture.
1/12/08 - House Anniversary
Today is a special day indeed! A good day to take the day off from writing. Well, actually Iíll be doing some heavy duty garage cleaning. But, today is the 9th anniversary of when we moved into our house from a cramped three room apartment with one closet. Now we had 10 spacious rooms (each with its own closet) on 2 acres, backed by the D&R Canal and beyond that the ever surging Raritan River. It was an extremely cold day on January 12th, nine years ago and the theretofore vacant driveway was a solid sheet of ice. To the naked eye, past the first eight feet of apron just off the road, the driveway looks level, but that day, ice showed what ice can do as we pulled in behind the 14' rented moving van. We watched as the truck slid slowly across the ice, involuntarily relinquishing any hope of traction, even after it had come to a full stop and Arielís father got out, slipped and was under the truck before we knew it.
As if that wasnít alarming enough, so was the fact the truck was sliding towards a 2 foot drop off onto the grounds. A team of us thought quickly and began hacking away at the ice with shovels we luckily had the foresight to pack. After several intense moments, the right rear tires slid onto bare pavement and the truck was halted and Fito was pulled to safety. We laugh about that still! Like ants we trudged over chipped ice along the front walk with various pieces of furniture, plastic bags and box after box of things, some of which have YET to be unpacked.
There is a lot of grass to mow on two acres and thatís why we have our landscapers. That gives us time to enjoy our central air, the new hardwood flooring, through the new expanded front room that was once one, and all our other comforts.
Our two acres has also played host to a variety of critters besides the normal squirrels and birds. There are the deer, three of which stumbled onto our property after getting clocked crossing the highway and dropping dead. Three in 9 years, not bad! We also have ground hogs who have turned our lawn into Swiss cheese. Weíve had the killer bees, that hide out in gutters, in trees and unsuspectingly in the ground. I know! Then thereís the fox, the crane, the snakes, (one even in the basement!), the turtles, the heron, the coyote!, and the errant turkey that flew into the side window of my home office. There were cops pulling cars off the road into the driveway, "cornering" them against the side of the house, the DHL driver, in his truck, not even making a delivery, having his own lunch delivered to him...in my driveway! And yes, the overturned car that one Easter Sunday.
1/10/08 - Snag Averted
Mountain averted! Well, inasmuch as the current snag might have presented. Now all that remains is the monumental task of getting on with it. But to my delight, as a result in remedying the situation, an interesting suggestion was made and after some serious consideration and figuring how I could make it seem like it was my own idea, it just might work. At first I thought it might stray from the base of the story, but the more we hashed it over, the more I think I can make it work, as long as I donít stay on it for too long.
Kind of like the spider-walk in the re-release of The Exorcist. Wasnít that creepy? Honestly though, if that scene had been any longer it wouldnít have had the same jolting impact that it had. When I saw the movie when it first came out, I remember laughing my head off at the sight of that poor Linda Blair flailing helplessly about in her bed. I was 13 when I saw it, so things like that were funny to me. But when I saw that spider-walk, man, alive did I ever gasp in horror! That was when I was 40.
Well, donít mistakenly equate what will be happening in my story with contorted blood-spewing demonism. Iím just making the observation that sometimes, "a little dabíll do ya!"
While I was getting that squared away, which finally fell into place just this morning, and working my 9-5, I did some redesigning on this site. Iím still getting the hang of it, though.
Oh, look at that, my friend Sam, of Sam and Ed, who just moved to California IMíd me. This would be a good place as any to put an end to this entry. Iím gonna go chat with him for a while and find out how things are going in sunny California!
1/07/08 - Snagged
Snagged. Oh, I hate that! I donít know which is worse, that, or writerís block.
I completed chapter 16 (not 15 as I previously thought) over this past weekend over many, many cups of coffee, a liverwurst sandwich and some new extremely fiber rich breakfast cereal with broccoli extract in it...
Oh yeah, and on Saturday, we also managed to work in a Little Christmas celebration with family members we hadnít gotten to see over the holidays. The night flew; the conversation was lively, the taboo sodium-rich cheeses and assorted munchies tasted heavenly (they always do when youíre not supposed to eat them) and I lost track of how many frozen margaritas I actually slurped down, but I do remember that brain freeze moment.
So, Iím working on my book, and one thing that got me in a bind was moving two particular characters from one room to another. How difficult could that be? Well, it wasnít at first, but when I realized a third and then a fourth character also needed to be in that scene, things got a little cramped. Iím sure I made it more difficult than it needed to be, but my stubbornness of wanting to keep the integrity of what I had already written was getting in my way. Finally, several hours later, after going back and forth between that and the rest of the chapter, I got it worked out and I was satisfied with the result. Ate dinner, watched Desperate Housewives and called it a night.
This morning, as I was about to begin my next chapter, I found what might be a major snag. Itís a chronological thing and everything Iíve written so far, depends on this upcoming chapter, including the entire first book. That supposition might be a little extreme, but until I figure a way around it, it will be my anthill turned mountain.
1/04/08 - The M&M's Story
Well, itís the "another day" and I wanted to finish off my M&M story. Itís just another side of me that even I donít understand, like why I eat meatloaf and hamburgers but not meatballs, pate and not liver. Well, that might be easily explained. Itís really a case of mind over matter. A friend of mine who throws a wicked party had this scrumptious goo in a bowl one time with crackers all around it and everyone was digging in. I joined the fray and exclaimed how yummy it was and stationed myself in front of that bowl, and the raspberry stuffed baked brie in the pastry shell--nobody was getting near that one, if I could help it--and filled cracker after cracker with, well, with the stuff in both bowls, come to think of it.
"This liver pate is great, I need your recipe," I heard someone say in praise and I winced at the thought of liver being on the hors díoeuvre table. Well, my friend came over and took the empty bowl away to refill it and it was then I realized what I had been enjoying.
A similar thing happened to me at a job I once had. An old Italian lady would sometimes cook things and bring them in for everyone, except any young female who ever spoke to the boss alone. She guarded him like a mother lion. Remind me to tell you about the time she locked herself in the bathroom and threw an umbrella at someone needing to use the ladies room. She had cooked up a batch of deep fried nuggety-looking things which she passed off as chicken, much like the new craze of every fast food restaurant back then. Knowing glances between her and a coworker led to my finding out they were mushrooms.
M&Mís. So much fun in that little pink plastic Mr. Peanut cup, the one with the rolling eyes, with ice cold milk poured over them. Okay, that was when I was five and at grandmaís in front of her black and white TV watching Cary Grant and Constance Bennett in Topper. Great just by the handful. Super on ice cream. You know the drill. I stuck with them through the red dye scare and rejoiced the day they reappeared. I even secretly tested that theory about the green ones to no avail. But, when the tan ones suddenly were overtaken by blue, I would have none of it. Who could eat a blue M&M? Not me! I gave them up. I had to. They were always my favorite and I never understood why there were no tan peanut M&Mís. Whenever I bring up this topic, I am sarcastically reminded that there was a survey going around to vote for a new color, but somehow I missed that one. PS. I found out some time later that tan had replaced purple. Hmmm.
Well, I discovered Hersheyís Kissables and they bring back that memorable sweet chocolate taste. I no longer have that pink Mr. Peanut cup but I enjoy my Kissables by the frozen handful. I even enjoy the blue ones and it doesnít matter there isnít a tan one to be found.
1/03/08 - Happy New Year
Itís official. Itís a new year. The party is over. The streamers, the broken balloons and the spilled drinks have all be swept from the floor at that club at the Jersey Shore and that unbearable ringing in my ears has reverted to its normal tone, which my doctor assured me doesnít exist. Well, for an appropriate fee for surgery it wouldnít existĖIím sure thatís what he meant. He did tell me, though, my tests revealed that I have the hearing of a dog. Was that a crack?
I went to him in the first place because for more than a week after my flight to the Midwest to visit my family, my left ear felt like it was underwater. His prescription for a lovely blue pill ( not that blue pill!); actually a blue and maroon capsule, took 45 minutes to fill at the drugstore. One can do only so much shopping in a drugstore and in the 5 minutes I could bear to wander the aisles while I waited, I purchased the doctorís suggested Earplanes earplugs for my next flight to the Midwest for my sisterís summer wedding and a bag of Hersheyís Kissables ( my suggestion and my yummy alternative to M&Mís...a story for another day).
I sat in my car listening to the radio, (The Radio Chick, who sadly is no longer on the air) while the sky darkened, harkening a ferocious storm, whose winds kicked up sand particles from the parking lot, or maybe it was pieces of the parking lot, Iím not sure, and while I devoured my chocolate I read the instructions on the Earplanes box. "To use: hold nose, blow as if blowing nose, insert Earplane." I decided to have a dress rehearsal before actually using them and looking like an ass on the plane and in so doing, my ear popped open. Gee, thanks, Doc! Thank God for 5 dollar c0-pays.
Now, where was I? Yes, new year, less ringing and the joyful knowledge that even at 5 in the morning, this 47 year old body could still kick it. Maybe not with the stamina of a 20 year old, but at least I was still on my feet, and breathing. But I think itís more suited to sitting and being creative in front of my computer. So, with that in mind, let me get back to work on my novel!