Saturday, November 28, 2009

Yes, Monterey, there is a Santa Claus

Mervyn's Department Store, Monterey, California... 1990. My dad had taken my brothers and I to the mall to pick up some gifts for our mom for Christmas. We'd stopped by customer service, for either gift wrap or package pick-up, and while my dad spoke to the clerk at the counter my brothers and I were instructed to sit quietly on the chairs in the small waiting area.

Now, there was a major flaw in the plan. My brothers and I never sat quietly anywhere. Somehow we would get into an argument and start a fight... sometimes fairly innocent and sometimes pretty fisticuffs.

Having happened some 19 years ago, I can't remember exactly what our argument was about. But I'm sure to an adolescent mind it was terribly important. Maybe we were pre-fighting whether I got to watch Saved by the Bell on Saturday morning or they would get to watch X-Men. Whatever it is, it was very verbal. But we knew better than to get our father's attention so even as it escalated, we kept it at a strong whisper.

A large man, looking like he'd just finished off four or five corn dogs with a side of Auntie Anne's hot pretzels sat down beside us and we instantly hushed. This man was large, a stomach that rolled out over his lap, a heavy white beard that clung to his portly face and a thin pair of gold glasses that just barely sat on top of an upturned nose.

"You boys know better than to pull that here," he said.

Being the oldest I often assumed leadership (for better or for worse). But here I was frozen. Something inside said just listen.

"Now I know you're father would not be happy with you three putting on such a show," the old man continued. "In fact, I can think of two men who would not be fond of such a conflagration." What's a conflagration? I thought, not yet having started my P-SAT vocabulary training. "I think that three boys like yourselves would be on their best behavior at a time of year like this. Not that I think you should misbehave at another time mind you. It just seems that if you Bobby" he said, acknowledging my youngest brother, "want those Ninja Turtles and you Mike want those Power Rangers, than I think you'd best be behaving, don't you?"

How'd does he know our names? I was stunned. First, this stranger was talking to us and I was sure that it wasn't a good idea. But for some reason I wasn't afraid of him. Second, this stranger knew our names and I was certain that our father had not spoken to him before we sat down. He didn't have time. He was busy carting three boys around and making sure we didn't cause trouble.

"And you Tom, you should be showing these two what it means to be a man, watching them while your dad is busy. And you're just egging it on," he dropped his head as though ashamed of my actions. "I just don't know what I would do if I were Santa."

Santa? But... can't be! I had been told years before that Santa was not real. Well, technically my mom had told me that Santa was the spirit of Christmas and he was alive in every parent, bringing gifts to those who deserved them as a token of his love in the Christmas season. But a REAL GUY?

Still, I sat stunned... quiet.

"Now, I have to get moving," said the chubby old man. I looked him over. He didn't wear a Santa suite so I was sure he wasn't the mall Santa on a break. He was dressed in khaki shorts, a flowery short-sleeve shirt and then (of all things) socks and sandals. But the beard and belly were right, and the glasses were as I'd imagined them. He looked so much like the Santa on the old Coca-Cola tin tray that our mom always displayed... it was uncanny. "But I hope you boys will do right and behave. Your mother would be very upset to learn you'd acted up. Wouldn't she?"

My brothers nodded at him. They too seemed stunned, just bobbing their heads slowly as they stared at the Kringle-like man.

"Then I have nothing to worry about," he said and stood up. "Have a very Merry Christmas you three." And with that he gave us a wink (A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread... it fit so well) and headed off into the store.

Once he'd disappeared my brothers turned to me, "Did you see that?" Bobby asked as though a unicorn had walked right up to him.

I couldn't answer. Yeah, I saw it. But what was it or rather, who?

Our father finished up his business and collected us, heading out of the store and into the parking lot. We climbed into the van, none of us speaking. The van started up and we pulled out of the parking space and into the mall road, looping around the entrance to Mervyn's department store. Right then a long white Cadillac convertible pulled out of another parking row. Horns (or antlers?) were mounted to the front and the old fat man was seated behind the wheel. Even through the glare of our windows he spotted us. Another wink. And he pulled ahead of us. Can't be, I thought. It really can't be! But there it was, the "Santa-lac" pulling ahead of us with California tags that read "H0-H0-H0" and suddenly it was gone. The car hadn't pulled away, hadn't turned out of sight, hadn't flown into the air... just gone.

I'm still absolutely convinced that the man, or the spirit that is Santa Claus, was really at Mervyn's that day. And I'm still 100% sure that he really is watching for good boys and girls, checking his list twice, finding out just who has been naughty and nice.

Translating the Translation

Twenty years ago or so, my family was traveling through California as part of our move across country. My mom decided we should take as many scenic roads as possible and forgo the interstate. She wanted us to see as much of the country as we could, none of which was visible from the interstate (unless you count rest stops and 7,000 McDonald's).

We left Monterey, California and after a day or so ended up in a little town called Tehachapi. We grabbed lunch in a local diner and enjoyed the stretch (a Ford Aerostar was not necessarily the lap of luxury when packed with four people, two cats, a dog and most of your personal belongings).

Our waitress was a pleasant but quiet woman. She was foreign, but her specific nationality wasn't clear. A thick accent was the only clue to her origins but even still we weren't sure. Of course it didn't matter... we were just curious.

My mother, deciding to engage our waitress in conversation, asked about the town's name, "Tehachapi, that's an interesting name. What does it mean?"

Our waitress paused, suddenly deep in thought, her pencil pressed on her ordering pad, looked up as though the answer was in the rafters... "Oh, it is ancient Indian word," the world wasn't quite PC yet.

"Oh?" My mother urged her on. Suddenly we needed this answer. The suspense was killing us. I looked at my brothers who, normally would be busy with crayons and "fun time" placemats, but here they were intrigued. We were learning about "Indians"!

"Yes," our waitress smiled, as though the answer had fallen into her head, "Tehachapi is ancient Indian word for, uh, um... Tehachapi."

Learning fail.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


My First TurkeySweet lord... I am FULL! I spent last night preparing the turkey and cranberry chutney. The turkey spent all night in a brine and then jumped in the oven this morning at around 10am. Chutney came out a little gingery buts its good.

While the turkey cooked I prepped the green bean casserole, artichoke dip, stuffing and sweet potatoes. A whole lot of food ended up on our plates but it was a fairly successful Thanksgiving. Now if we just wait a few hours until digestion has settled we can eat a whole new round of goodies. The recipes are linked below if you're ever interested along with a few pics of the end results. Thanks Food Network and!

Green Bean Casserole.


Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Marshmallows.

The finished product!

Good Eats Roast Turkey
Parmesan Artichoke Casserole - All Recipes
Cranberry, Apple and Ginger Chutney
Spicy Candied Sweet Potatoes Durkee's Green Bean Casserole (recipe on label)
Store bought pumpkin pie (too tired to make that)
Grand's biscuits (couldn't find Sister Shubert's Yeast Rolls anywhere)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner Countdown

Standby over the new few days for the status of my first attempt at preparing a Thanksgiving dinner. 

This will either be:
A) delicious
B) a disaster
C) all of the above (somehow)

More news to come...

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Fiasco Remembered or Playing Chicken

Years ago, I was in a production in which we had hired a chicken. This chicken, as I understood it, was making more money each week than the Equity actors in the show. Why? How many chickens do you know who can learn blocking?

I was playing a naval lieutenant who appeared in the last 3 minutes of the play. I seriously appeared on the last page of the script as the "white knight" come to save the poor damsel. But this white knight was in a vintage white (stark white, snow white, bleached white... seriously white) naval uniform from the early 1900s. This fact was made very clear to me by our wardrobe mistress who insisted that I not even sit down for fear of harming the fabric. She had the scene shop built me a "leaning plank" which was left in the green room for me to prop myself against if I got tired. Tired? Me? Being told to dress for the show at curtain and then stay upright for two and a half hours? Never.

Back to the chicken. This chicken was kept in a pen backstage until she was needed for her scene. At some point in the show one of the actors came off to collect her and then run across the stage while she "acted" frightened, squawked, etc.

As you can imagine, I was horribly bored during this show. I had good friends in it, but they were all busy on stage for the first 2+ hours and I was left alone with my "leaning plank". One night, I wandered on stage, behind the scenery, completely hidden from the audience and my cast mates. I saw our chicken actress, readying herself for her moment in the limelight and thought, she's probably bored too. Moving toward her pen I quietly said hello (not expecting her to respond of course) but, as she was a trained chicken, she moved toward me, bowed her head for a quit petting and I thought, "I see no reason not to pick her up. She's very docile."

Now, when you are in your late teens/early 20s, a thought like this isn't cause for alarm. Nowadays I'd think, "Are you kidding me?" But no, I picked up our little actress who then, thinking this was her cue, began to cluck loudly and shook so violently that she managed to pull out of my arms and onto the floor. After an internal scream I calmed down and made sure she was OK. She was. She was so fine, in fact, that she was now running toward the set... which was built roughly a foot and a half up off the stage floor... just enough room for her to wander off into the darkness.

I had about five minutes before my cast mate would come backstage to pick her up... and here was this "professional" chicken running under the set, some 15 feet ahead of me in a one and a half foot tall crawlspace. And I was in my vintage white (white) naval uniform.

Panicked, I darted back to the dressing room and switched into my street clothes. No shoes... no time. I hurried back onto the stage, still hidden from view, and dropped to my stomach. Like a recruit in basic training, I was maneuvering this obstacle course of 2x4s, arms first, slither, arms, slither, desperately trying to be silent while five performers clomped around above my head. Is this set still new enough to not yet have spiders living in it? I wasn't sure. I couldn't think about it. Probably.

There she was. She has nested at the very edge of the stage... the lip of the apron. She clucked, but quietly, as though she new. I slid forward, arms extending. "Shh, come here girl" I begged, in less than a whisper. She "ba-kawked." They'll assume it's "atmosphere", I thought, thinking of the audience. Finally, I slithered just close enough to catch her and while she clearly did not want to be held, she stayed relatively quiet while I slithered backward out of the floorboards.

She was back in her pen and I darted back to the dressing room to suit up. Just as I cleared the stage door on my way to change I saw my cast mate come off stage and collect the little actress. I thought I might pass out, but I had no time. I needed to change into my vintage white uniform and, from then on, there would be no lying down on the job.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday the 13th... strikes!

And so it happened. I hadn't thought much about today being Friday the 13th... except for Spike TV showing at least one of the movies this afternoon. But it was bound to go awry. But this Friday the 13th crept up on me later in the day.

At around 4pm I took Joxer out for a quick potty break before heading downtown to meet Ren.

Stepping into the street I heard a neighbor shout, "Wait!" Just as I stepped back on the curb a white sedan zoomed past, backing up down our one-way street. Seriously? I couldn't even shout it out I was so shocked. Immediately I bent down to pick up Joxer to make sure he was OK. He looked at me as though I were crazy... he hadn't stepped into the street at all. People say animals have a sixth sense about that. I suppose they are right.

So, after safely crossing the street and having his afternoon movement we started back home. After looking both ways we stepped into the street. Halfway across we noticed a little economy box-on-wheels aiming straight for us. The driver had spun around the corner without slowing and was careening toward us at 35 mph. I grabbed Joxer and ran across just as she screeched to a stop. I'm certain she only stopped so that she could flip us her finger. Seriously?! again. You nearly hit me and Joxer you psycho. Again, I didn't say a word. I just looked at her, with the same expression of what the hell Joxer had given me less than 10 minutes before.

Inside, safe. All is good. I drop Joxer off, say goodbye to the cats, grab my bag and head to the train... which left right as I walked down the stairs to the platform. Brilliant! But luck turned as another train came within four minutes and carted me away to NoHo.

But it was all a ploy. Friday the 13th was waiting for me as I exited the train. "Sorry, the tickets for your show tonight didn't come through," was the email that I received on my phone. Gah, you're kidding me, right? I headed into Ren's store where he was closing up his shift. "No show," I mimed (don't ask how, but I managed) while he was on the phone. Friday the 13th had struck again.

So be it Friday the 13th. You've won this battle. But I'll be ready next time. Anyone have any sage I can smudge with? Sigh.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Day I Got Accosted on the A Train

It was bound to happen eventually. I got accosted on the subway today by this big, lumbering guy who was not 100% with his senses. Meth, crack, or some other unfortunate issue plagued him and somehow made him into the world's friendliest weirdo.

With iPhone playing, headphones on and a wicked game of Scrabble going I was happy in my own little world. And then he climbed on board at 59th Street. Somehow I sensed his presence. I looked up to see this person, who, except for his lack of age, could have been the third Fratelli from Goonies.

He started pestering some guy down the car, pushing the man's newspaper with one huge finger so he could see his face and asking him, "How you doin' man?" This perturbed man looked up to acknowledge this annoyance and then went back to his paper. The lumbering giant pressed on, "How you doin' man? Huh? How you doin'?" Shut up and sit down, was all I could think. That and please don't come down here to me. Please, oh please, oh... oh crap!

I was dreading it. I could tell he was coming my way... but I kept my head down (like a good New Yorker) and prayed that he'd miss me. I imagined he was a T-Rex and I used what I learned from Jurassic Park to try and save myself. Stay still... if you don't move he can't see you.

Jurassic Park worked! He skipped me and found the quirky art student seated catty-cornered to me. I was twelve kinds of grateful and continued listening to my podcast, playing Scrabble by myself, when suddenly... there was a tap tap tapping at my chamber door (or in this case my shoulder)

I tried to ignore him. I thought, Be polite and pretend you don't notice. It's better than being outright rude! But the tapping persisted. After the tapping became thumping I turned, headphones still on, and glared. Not an evil glare... just a "What?" glare. He gave me a big dumb smile and asked "How you doin' man?" The smile meant he meant no harm... or that's what my Southern upbringing told me. But still, I've been in NYC long enough to question any stranger's intentions. I nodded (the Southern "hello" you give to strangers as you pass by one another) and he continued. I then waved him away... very official-like. But he kept it up. And when I started ignoring him he actually grabbed my arm and pulled at me asking, "I said 'How you doin'?" I glared again - this is after all the international sign of Leave Me the Hell Alone. For a moment I was Teen Wolf demanding "a keg of beer"... eye blazing, guttural growl and all.

The giant backed off... finally. The whole car seemed to be aware that he was now done. At 125th Street he departed, fumbling his way out off the train and into the dreary, green-tinted station.

Once he was gone I wondered was I too harsh? Could I have been nicer? Could I have said, "I'm fine and you?" But that prompts further conversation and my pesky social anxiety was not going to have that. So, goodbye to you giant. Please do not touch me on the train next time. A simple nod of acknowledgment will do in the future.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Five People Who Must Learn a New Set of Etiquette Rules for their New Technology

Now that new technology (and by new, let’s make it clear that we’re talking some technology that’s been around for 20+ years even) has been absorbed by the majority of people in our world, it is time to talk about some etiquette problems that need to be corrected. Don’t get me wrong. I love what we can do now and wouldn’t trade it for anything… accept some common courtesy.

Do you know who you are, oh ye of the technology-etiquette failure faith? Let me clear it up just in case you are unaware of who you are and why you are maddening.

  1. The Meandering Texter: You are strolling down the sidewalk – very slowly – and, as I try to pass you on the left, you veer left right in front of me. When I change courses and head right, you meander over thataway! Please, for the love of all, “pull over” and finish your text. In doing so you have freed up the sidewalk for people who actually have to get somewhere and you’ve prevented a very serious collision with a street sign, fruit cart, Italian ice vendor or taxi.

  2. The Sudden Stop Texter: You are (probably) the same person as above. You are wandering aimlessly down the sidewalk, constantly veering into my path, but to add insult to injury, you suddenly stop dead in your tracks! I’ve nearly crashed into you and spilled the four smoothies I’m carrying back to the office. Again, imagine you are coasting down the freeway. Would you suddenly STOP there? I only approve IF a log has become dislodged from its truck bed and is careening toward you OR if a little old lady or a pram have wandered into the street (they were probably texting too and didn’t notice the road).

  3. The “Can’t Hear You Complaining” MP3 Listener: You are riding in the subway car and are several seats down from me… far enough that this shouldn’t be a problem. But I can hear the thumpa-thump beat of that song even though you have headphones or earbuds in. First, do you know how damaging that is? Second, I don’t want to hear your music. I don’t want to know what kind of music you like. I’m riding the train, minding my own business, trying to listen to my own music (or Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me) and do not appreciate the distraction you are causing. I can’t even ask you to turn it down because you can’t hear me and you can’t see me trying to get your attention because your eyes are closed. Are you sleeping? Are you even hearing the music? I’m confused.

  4. The “My Game System Has a Mute Button” Player: You are also on the train with me. I think you are related to the “Can’t Hear You Complaining” guy. You have a small video game system and, as opposed to your cousin, do not have headphones or earbuds in. Instead, you prefer to play your game with the volume fully up for everyone to “enjoy”. It is fun for you so it must be fun for us right?? Wrong. Please, I don’t care how many coins you collect, how many power boosts you accumulate or how many levels you’ve beaten causing castles to crumble to the ground. By all means, enjoy your game. But don’t make me participate in the game play.

  5. The “I Feel This Need to Share” Phone Conversationalist: You are anywhere – subway, sidewalk, my taxi driver – and are having a heated conversation with someone on your cell phone. You might be angry or lustful or any of 1,000 emotions but that doesn’t mean I need to know about it. If you’re mad at your man for not coming home until 3am… you tell him. But you don’t need to share. Maybe have that conversation somewhere private. If you need to confront your business partner about her stealing thousands of dollars from your company, maybe, just maybe, you should do that in an office somewhere. And Mr. Cab Driver, I don’t care to know what you are having for dinner or about the woman you met at the bar last night. I just want you to take me to the airport so I can board a plane and put on MY earbuds and listen to my music quietly so that I can drown out the crying baby two seats behind me. But that’s for another diatribe.

Friday, August 07, 2009

What I (and Rhomas Designs) did on my (our) summer vacation:

Ok, so I failed miserably on the summer blog upkeep but plan to get back into action.  Here's the news so far that you have missed.
Our marketing/graphic design company, Rhomas Designs, has grown a little bit.  It's inching its way into the market.  We're currently working on All Fall Down The Musical, one of the many shows in this year's New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF).  For those that don't know, NYMF was an incubator for last season's Broadway (and Off Broadway) hit [title of show]All Fall Down is great and is one of the shows you should not miss this year.  Links to buy tickets are available at the AFD website or from the NYMF site.  
You can also make a HUGE difference to the show by donating to AFD!  So, if you ever wanted to feel like a producer and have a few bucks to throw into the mix, now's your chance.
Rhomas Designs also just completed the Puppetry Yellow Pages for UNIMA-USA.  To explain, I've inserted their mission statement here:
The organization's mission is to link puppeteers nationally and internationally, publish information on and for the field, offer support and technical assistance for professional puppeteers through seminars, conferences, and symposia; stimulate the general public's interest in the art of puppetry; and promote the visibility of American puppeteers all over the world.
This phone book will be distributed to their membership and is pretty exciting for us - we are now, officially, INTERNATIONAL!
In other, non-Rhomas related news:  Ren got an amazing new job working for Blick Art Materials and is now a member of CheerNY!  CheerNY is a cheer for charity organization that does a lot of good work in the community.  Be sure to check them out by clicking the link above.  
Ok, onward and upward.  More news will come more often - promise!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Tony Awards 2009 Recap - The Most Fun Moments of the Night

This weekend's telecast of the 2009 Tony Awards® was more fun than a box of Slinkys® but not for all the right reasons (being brilliance, make-me-jump-on-the-phone-to-Telecharge, yada yada yada).

Let's run through these (in no particular order):

  1. Brett Michaels' train wreck collision into the drop.  The genius that he is, he took too long enjoying the excitement of the awards show that he delayed his exit upstage and got creamed by the Broadway drop that was meant to conceal him.  I'm sure in rehearsals this was all timed perfectly.  My only regret is that we didn't get to see excatly what is hidden under that hat!
  2. Alice Ripley's excited acceptance speech.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I love her and her performance was totally worthy of the award.  But the speech was so incredibly uncomfortable.  Granted, I would be a complete bafoon up there trying to remember what I wanted to say and would probably talk far too loudly and reveal terribly embarassing things about myself.  (Nudge nudge... if you want to hear them petition to get me a Tony® for excellence in the theatre when I'm 55.)
  3. The three Billys being cutely unprepared to accept their award.  Ok, let's get this out of the way.  I think it's charming that the Billys won and "how wonderful" for them and I have no beef with the talent they posess and the hard work they do.  But... I think it is unfair that the committee decided that voters did not have to see all of them perform.  This lends itself to becoming an award for the character (since the actors weren't necessarily viewed.)  That diatribe aside, it was cute to watch them fumble their way through the acceptance speech and to let dead air play while they looked at each other, telepathically asking one another, "Are you going first?"
  4. Sit down you're rockin' the boat... please, just sit down.  I wanted to love the Guys and Dolls number so much but it was tragic.  This is partly the fault of the sound tech (who, side note, was dreadful throughout the show) but I can't say I enjoyed Tituss Burgess take on Nicely-Nicely Johnson.  It was bizarre x2.  The performance reminded me of Babu from the Jeannie cartoon from the 70s (p.s. I loved the episode of the Scooby Doo Movies where the meddling kids meet Jeannie and Babu). 
  5. Finally.... Liza!  Oh Liza.  You are such a hot mess I love you.  i was fortunate enough to see her show at the Palace this winter and loved it, loved it, loved it. 

    Pardon the flashback but... there was this 60+ year old superfan in the front row, center who, at a moment when Liza was nearest the edge of the stage, tried to hand two, maybe three, dozen yellow roses to her.  But the orchestra pit proved too wide and she couldn't reach them.  They fell onto the mesh covering the pit and fell to pieces.  Superfan desperately tried to collect them but just couldn't reach them all. Liza shrugged it off saying, "Just leave'em darling."  But he kept on.  It was tragic.  She never got them.
    Back to present day (or at least this past Sunday).  I missed this moment in the telecast (I don't know how) but apparently she didn't have the envelope when she were preparing to announce the Best Musical winner. But my favorite Liza moment of the night was when she announced that Billy Elliot won and then didn't seem to know where to go next.  The camera captures the cast, creative team and producers surging onto the stage and for a brief moment everything is normal.  Then... it happens.  Liza wanders back into frame and (oh I was too delicious) she looks around as though thinking, "Where's the exit?"  Then, deciding to stick around and leave with the crowd, she hugs Elton and then cheers with the group.  Priceless.  Maybe she meant to but it all just looked so hysterical.
Please know that I love everything Broadway and wouldn't miss the Tonys®, but the misteps in this telecast we far too fun to not rehash.

Photo:  The company of Hair peforming in the opening number of the 2009 Tony Awards.  Photo: Anita and Steve Shevett

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Having the last laugh... R.I.P. Dom DeLuise

We lost another icon of stage and screen with the passing of the great Dom DeLuise.  Mr. DeLuise left this mortal coil on Monday, leaving behind a legacy of comedy that is beats the best of them.

His passing plus that of Bea Arthur and Danny Gans makes three celebrities (and we all know the rule).    

Among his many awards is, probably my favorite, his 1982 Razzie for his portrayal of Aunt Kate in Haunted Honeymoon.  This movie was a staple of my childhood, along with An American Tail, Oliver and Company, Spaceballs and... perhaps my all-time favorite... The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas!  But his adventures on the small screen will always remind me of what an incredible comedian he was.  His timing was like no other.  Proof positive is here in this 1977 clip from The Muppet Show as the head of Shephards Institute of Animal Protection.  This is funny television people!

He big break came in the late 1960s when he appeared as "Dominick the Great", a terribly inept magician, on the Dean Martin Show - a role he would much later reprise on Sabrina the Teenage Witch.  Luckily his talents (and magic) live in on his children, in particular his son David who stars as a hapless father of teenage wizards in Disney Channel's Wizards of Waverly Place.  

Thank you for a thousand laughs (at least) Mr. DeLuise!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine flu? I didn't even know they had WINGS!

So, the swine flu… yes, it's a problem, no, I'm not terrified yet. (Emphasis on the yet.) But if it does become an issue I know exactly where I am going for treatment because you know that these felted folks know how to get this mess under control.

Nurse Piggy: It's too late, Doctor Bob. We've lost him.
Doctor Bob: Well, he couldn't have gone far. He was under the sheet just a second ago.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Thank You for Bea-ing a Friend

Broadway and television legend, Bea Arthur, passed away on April 25th at 86. The general public discovered Bea in 1971 when she became Edith Bunker's outspoken sister Maude on
All In The Family.  The following year she took off in
her own series, appropriately titled after her altruistic, yet decidedly aggressive, character.  In 1985, Bea was joined by fellow commediennes Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty in NBC's hit sitcom The Golden Girls.

But Bea Arthur had a long career before taking over the small screen. Her stage career included the 1954 Off-Broadway premiere of Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera, 1964's Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway where she put audiences in stitches as Yente the Matchmaker and in 1966 she was awarded the Tony® Award for her portrayal of Vera Charles to Angela Lansbury's Mame - which she reprised for the 1974 film version starring Lucille Ball.  I was lucky enough to see her in her final concert on Broadway in Bea Arthur on Broadway.
With this all said, I still love her the most as the self-loathing (and yet proud and determined) Dorothy Zbornak on The Golden Girls

In honor of her long career, I wanted to include a few favorite moments from the show plus a highlight from her role in Mame.  Rest in peace Bea!
Blanche: What do you think of my new dress? Is it me?
Sophia: It's too tight, it's too short, and it shows too much cleavage for a woman your age.
Dorothy: Yes, Blanche. It's you.

So you're five years older. So am I, so is Blanche. Alright, so you have a few more wrinkles. So do I, so does Blanche. OK, so you're a little thicker around the middle. So is Blanche!

No, no, no please. I cannot bear that again. She was listening to her car radio, Big Band, not all talk. There was a contest. Something about a little voice, a lucky number and a dime in a door handle, then Bim Bam Boosh, won the tickets.
Dorothy: Take a lesson Rose. That's how you tell a story.

Well, I'm here if you want to pick my brain.
Dorothy: Rose, honey. Maybe we should leave it alone and let it heal.

Blanche: I do love the rain so. It reminds me of my first kiss.
Dorothy: Ah, you're first kiss was in the rain?
Blanche: No it was in the shower.

The woman keeps a chicken in her home, how normal can she be?
Rose: I kept a chicken in my home.
Dorothy: You see my point?

Blanche: Rose and I are taking a dirty dancing class.
Dorothy: Really.
Blanche: It's become quite popular since that movie came out.
Rose: What movie is that?
Dorothy: Lawrence of Arabia, Rose.

Dorothy, you owe me an apology. Your ad's right here!
Dorothy: Oh, Rose, this is the personals ad!
Rose: So?
Dorothy: So? You put an ad in the personals that says I will do anything for eight dollars an hour!
Blanche: Girls? There's a busload of Greek sailors outside. They want to know how many drachma there are in eight dollars.

One sperm with a sense of direction and I'm paying for it for the rest of my life.

Mame: Could you be persuaded to have a drink, dear?
Vera Charles: Well, maybe just a tiny triple!

Monday, April 20, 2009

When television IS your Sunday School

Ingredients for horrific hilarity:
  • 1 part felt
  • 3 parts stereotype
  • 2 parts Sunday School choir
  • Mix well and serve

Now come one... we all know this is a horrible and prejudicial representation of select cultures... but we saw this kind of stuff all the time as kids - at least growing up in the 70s and 80s. I was glued to the TV watching things like this, Circle Square, Superbook and The Flying House. (Warning... some of these links will take you to Evangelical hilarity.)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

After a nice walk in the park

Spring hit NYC in the face today (although according to Al Roker, it will not last). But for now it is 77* out and gorgeous!
Mother Nature inspired me and I sprung to action - did some house cleaning, laundry, yada yada until I felt like the house itself has rebirthed and felt much more fresh and comfortable. Then, somehow still having a bounty of energy to burn, Joxer and I took off to Fort Tryon park. Photos courtesy of NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation.

It's unquestionably one of the most beautiful parks in the city and offers one of the highest altitudes (natural of course) in the city.

Joxer is an old man in dog years but he loved prancing around and seeing the sights - the views along the Hudson are amazing and the Heather Garden is coming into full bloom. But he does get tired as the day goes on and especially on a walk where he's excited to see dozens of other dogs out enjoying the warm weather.

So, after about 30 minutes we wound our way down the north end of the park and came back to Broadway. Its such a big difference 10 feet in either direction. To the west you have this beautifully landscaped hideaway in Upper Manhattan... to the east you have a 99Cent Store, laundromat, nail salon and check cashing service. Hmm.

How did the walk turn out? Joxer passed out next to Pinter and slept the afternoon away. This is the definition of "tuckered out".

Thursday, April 16, 2009

You're entering Grey Gardens...

This Saturday marks the premiere of HBO's film adaptation of the lives of Big and Little Edie Beale. If you have never seen the documentary that has inspired this film, you must check it out. It is priceless. Some say it is an offensive invasion into the lives of people who hadn't sense enough to prevent it... I say it's a fabulous look into family dementia and those who thrive in the spotlight of it. Let's face it, the Beales loved the attention they received from the documentary (and its follow up).

According to this October 26, 2006 New York Times feature, when the creative team behind the Broadway musical approached Little Edie, she was exuberant.
Walter Newkirk, a publicist in New Jersey and a fan who befriended Little Edie before she died in 2002, said she knew a musical was planned. In The Beales of Grey Gardens, Little Edie says, "I don’t want anybody playing me." But Walter Newkirk, a publicist in New Jersey and a fan who befriended Little Edie before she died in 2002, said she knew a musical was planned. "She thought it would be a smash on Broadway," Mr. Newkirk said. "Those were her words to me."
The film, like the musical, takes a look back at the family's history and tries to piece together how they came to such an end. I'm looking forward to the film - although this means finding someone with HBO to mooch off of. We can't possibly get HBO just for this one night. That would so rebellious... although I'm positive Little Edie would have approved.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Waitin' for the day your ship'll come in...

They're heeeerreee!

I can hardly contain my excitement. Last week, Violet Newstead, Judy Bernly and Doralee Rhodes stepped out of the office and onto the Great White Way.

9 to 5 is now a Broadway musical. Couldn't you just pass out from the giddiness? This movie is one of my all-time childhood favs. Could I, a simple - yet gifted - 5 year old, really have understood the complexity of this romp through working class women's struggles?

Um... of course I could! I imagined that I would one day reap the rewards of their hard-fought battle with Franklin Hart.

Thanks Violet, Judy and Doralee! Because of your fight (albeit fictional) I don't have to worry about changing anyone from a rooster to a hen in one shot... but don't think I can't do it!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Tony Awards 2009 revealed the poster for the 2009 Tony® Awards today. Hot!

So, buzz has been boiling across the web, in particular at All That Chat, about which shows and artists will be nominated this year.

The favored categories and their probably-eligible participants are below. Any thoughts out there from the peanut gallery? Keep in mind that this list may not be complete, is not any official word from the Tony® committee and is by no means a reflection of my opinion... yet. That will come later.

Best Musical
[title of show]
Billy Elliot: The Musical
Irving Berlin's White Christmas
9 to 5
Next to Normal
Rock of Ages
Shrek The Musical
A Tale of Two Cities
The Story of My Life

Best Revival of a Musical
Pal Joey
Guys and Dolls
West Side Story

Best Play
Dividing the Estate
The American Plan
God of Carnage
33 Variations
Irena's Vow
reasons to be pretty
Accent on Youth
To Be Or Not To Be

Best Revival of a Play
The Seagull
All My Sons
American Buffalo
Hedda Gabler
Blithe Spirit
Joe Turner's Come and Gone
Mary Stuart
Desire Under the Elms
Waiting for Godot
The Philanthropist
A Man for All Seasons
Exit the King
The Norman Conquests

Commence discussion in 4... 3... 2... GO!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

In search of the Donkey Party

So, while Sarah and I were walking back from 28th and Park today we were forced to duck into one of those "Holy Crap, a crane!" tunnels.

This thing wound around as they are want to do and as we came around a corner of the labyrinth, a large spray painted sign appeared before us, clearly directing us toward the Donkey Party.

Wondering what was in store, and secretly excited to see donkeys shaking their groove thing in some swinging donkey bar, we hurried through the tunnel in search of the Donkey Party.

To our dismay, no donkey party ever emerged. We left the tunnel and returned to work forlorn. Guess we will deal by appreciating that this donkey party is currently running things in lieu of a festive burro bash.

Monday, April 06, 2009

New Design Time...

In honor of the launch of Rhomas Designs on Facebook I've put a re-design of Levity. Hope you enjoy. It's still "in process" because I'm never satisfied with my own work and constantly update it but this will do for now.

And if you aren't familiar with Rhomas Designs, it is the marketing/promotions company that Ren and I have set up. Check it out on Facebook and look for our website coming soon. And if you're in need of economical, yet fabulous, design work for your company (or whatever your design needs are) let us know.


Big Easy in the Big Apple

Imagine this... TWO posts in one day. After weeks of nothing! But this is important!

Check out the Big Easy in the Big Apple video blog that Ren and I put together. Grace Blakeman guest stars in a few of the first episodes and more episodes are on the way! Check out, follow it, RSS feed it, just make sure you watch and read whenever possible. Later!

Oh the rain rain rain came down down down...

It is a gross 46 degrees out and the rain is doing its drizzly business - where it isn't quite horrible enough to pelt you with globs of wet but not just gray and moist. The most frustrating thing about rain in NYC is that the foot traffic doesn't diminish just because of April showers. No. The foot traffic remains and slows to a crawl while people have umbrellas batterings your eyes, ears and temples from every direction.

This is the danger in being over 6' tall in the city. Everyone else is smaller and has no idea that they are impaling you with their street vendor, $5 black umbrellas.

It also brings a "slow motion" to the city once you are safe indoors. The world seems to grind as usually hurried workers lose their gumption.

I liken it to when your jeans gets soaked when you're running outside in a thunderstorm. The denim gets heavy, clings to your legs, feels slump and useless. That's what I think happens to a lot of NYers when the rain rain rain comes down down down.

So the goal today... eat something warm and tasty and see if that peps things up. I will be the champion of change in this sluggish day.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Finally! Yeesh. -OR- Do Critics Have This Much Power?

Yes, finally, a new post. How did I let this go for nearly two months? Who knows. Life gets busy, you prioritize and then remember... CRAP... I have a blog.

My bad.

Anyhow, back to the basics. There has been a lot of debate the last year asking for an answer to the following: Do theatre critics really have the power to close a show or is their reign of power is ending?

Exhibit A: The Story of My Life
The musical just opened this last Thursday and was drowned in negative reviews. Now, let me first state that I have not seen the show but I've heard mixed reviews from friends and colleagues who have. So, I'm not taking a stand on the quality of the show... just presenting it as an example in the hopes of starting a dialog about the above question.

Last night, it was announced that today would be the show's closing performance.

All signs point to the negative reviews. And while that may be valid, what are we missing here. I'd love to have your comments to discuss this. Ready... on your mark... get set.... GO!