Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas, Friends

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Off to Florida. See you in the new year. Have the holiday you want. Please.

Doubling Down on Christmas

Have you had enough Christmas yet?

Try harder. There’s tons more to come.

Loosen the belt.

Get plenty of rest.

Accept it as it comes.

The season is the season.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Earth Shall Be Fair and All Her People One



Jesus, Get Down off that Cross, We Need the Wood!

For holiday and personal reasons, we went to see Godspell.

Look, I did this thing in college. I went to that other school, right up the street in Medford, but there was this cross-theater exchange with Harvard and I did Godspell there…it was the 80’s. And definitely past its prime then…but when you’re a certain age, you just have to sing certain songs.

It was also the second Broadway show I had seen as a kid in nineteen-seventy-cough, cough. With Bobby Lee and others, who are, well, no longer alive. Going up on stage during intermission for wine? It all just seemed so daring to a math, science and music kid from the suburbs.

Godspell is loose. The script is a bunch of new testament parables. During rehearsals you usually play around and try to find fun new ways to do them. Game playing type stuff. Role playing, for sure. You mess around with funny props and newspapers.
Songs often get assigned randomly.

I was “All Good Gifts” and “On the Willows.”

So tonight, we go to Godspell, me, my husband Adam, and my old friend from college, Stacie, who did Godspell so much with her friends that they had Godspell-in-a-bag, ready at any moment, since they often did it at fifteen minute intervals all over Staten Island. Her song was “By My Side” and “Day By Day” when the usual Day-by-Day girl was sick.

Nostalgia. You with me?

So, there we were tonight. And I don’t know---part of it was the show, part of it was all that youth that is over for me, but I had a great time. Overcome, occasionally, with memories and some strong mid-life-man-in-row-B crying. But I was quiet about it and did my best to not disturb anyone.

So the good news is, the show is really enjoyable and if you have the chance to see it, you should see it. I mean, these kids are all so young and lovely and fun and energetic…but it’s focused, too. They have a ton of bits, all sorts of carnival acts, voices, characters, voices doing voices, mini-cirque-du-soleil action, lights, instruments, audience participation, all of it. You don’t get bored because it is so inventive.

The other great news is, they have changed the arrangements of many of the songs and not only is the instrumentation something you would recognize from the last ten years, but the harmonies are more intricate, smarter and densely suspended creating tension as it goes.

Everyone gets their song…but you don’t feel like you are watching a diva festival (okay, there is one guy…but he can’t help himself.)---you feel more like you are watching an ensemble that worked very hard and very well together under the direction of Daniel Goldstein, who must have made it a whole big fun experience, like rehearsals used to be, back in the day.

I love the music. I love the songs. I have my original Broadway piano book of Godspell from the 1970’s and I’ve played those songs thousands of times. They are pleasing. They have hooks. They make me happy. I was glad to be there. I may go back. Hearing songs that you like, live, by good singers is such a treat. On the other hand, I usually don’t go to plays more than once. (It's playing just two blocks away.)

And now the bad news: The play is not really a play. Oh well.
Hunter Parrish is gorgeous but he seems to be a little horse. Oh well.
The cloying Christianity is sort of over the top and empty all at once. Oh well.

Now let’s talk about Hunter Parrish. Why is he so pretty? Or what I mean to ask is, what must it be like to be that pretty? Circle-in-the-Square is, you know, a circle in a square theater…so the performers are up close and near you. Hunter was right next to me, often, and he has that easy smile, with those ridiculously perfect white teeth and that face, when you look at his face, especially the eyes, you come to understand all those articles you’ve read about perfect symmetry, features equidistant from a vertical meridian that goes exactly through the center of the nose and lips, that makes for an appealing mate. (Also, studies have shown that facial symmetry is directly proportional to good health. Is it because everyone gives you so much attention or is it a DNA linked thing? Go study it. Give me quarterly reports.) You look at Hunter and you sort of can’t believe his beauty and you have no question at all in your head: you know everyone wants to have sex with him. Even straight guys want to give him their man love.

But they won’t all get to. He is Jesus after all.

The cast of every race was a spectacular mix of types and funsters. But Jesus was this white blog-paragraph-long perfect specimen and what was Judas? Well, he was a colored man, a Negro. I use these terms jazzily and ironically to denote: sure, you have your clowns of every race and stripe running around singing, being apostles and all that---but in the end, Jesus is super pretty and the bad guy, though handsome enough, is black, black, black. Maybe the audience expects it and so that’s what they get.

We all know how the play ends…with Jesus getting crucified. It happens. And then I guess the musical stops and the religion begins.

But as Hitchens said, and I loosely quote “So what if the man Jesus of Nazareth truly did rise from the dead? What does that really mean?”
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Smell Dead People

If there is a God or a force or a higher power, or whatever, who really cares?

I mean---I like the Quakers who are all, “God is in all of us.” Which really means, you know, we are the important ones.

Or I don’t even know. Though, I do feel like it is a miracle I am here at all, as well as the other people I spend time with, and don’t spend time with.

Such a cool thing, to be here, to breathe, to fill out forms, to sleep, to acquire, to lose, to listen, to eat, to wonder, to play music, to watch, to feel awful. And then you die. And people are so upset (me included, absolutely) about that notion: the end is near. Then there’s the agony of the void and not knowing what that is.

But basically, what the hell is so wrong with not knowing? I mean, if you love a few people or things or animals, that’s God or heaven enough. Why bother even thinking about religion? It’s just an ape-man relic. If you’re a smart guy, you spend your time figuring out new things. Like how to build a better mouse trap, iPhone or jet pack.

So with the Hitchens death, what I find so curious is how a man that intelligent spent any time at all on this subject of religion. If he was so sure that there was no meddling God, no hocus pocus, then why did he not just toodle off onto another subject?

Of course, I am being reductive and bloggy, so let me stop the typing and go to Al Gore’s internet and find a little something from Hitchens’ final days.

Here it is, below. The clip lands on the Enlightenment. I have to agree with his pitch. So that’s why he did it. Great thing, the Enlightenment.

The Enlightenment went into the making of this country. It informed the founding fathers. It changed Europe. It made us more scientific. Bernstein/Sondheim/others wrote the musical. A joy, really. And Voltaire, as its novelist-marketeer, was funny. So why didn’t more people sign up for the Enlightenment?

Fear. Fear of change. Fear.

And as I always like to point out about fear---which is basically fear of death—why are we (and by we I mean me) so afraid of dying? I mean, there were all those years you were not alive before you were born, yet somehow, not being alive all those pre-years doesn’t seem to bother people. “Oh man, I’m so upset, I was not on earth in 1952.” So why a mess about 2092 when 1952 has already come and gone and you were pretty much in the same state then that you’ll be in the future? And you survived.

There is no time, anyway. And you had little say in your arrival and will have no say in your departure. Just go love someone and stop worrying so much.

I don’t know Hitchens’ feelings about love. But certainly, he enjoyed himself, his impulses, his thoughts, his writing, his imbibing, his appearances and his successes. Of course he did. And enjoyment is the easiest going form of love.

Hitchens was a big help in getting people to think about the foolishness of religion and to aid in their release of the silliness of all this culturally imposed magical thinking. In his small-big way. It would have been much more fun if he had been much more fun. His pomposity and his anger were, well, they were in the way. But I understand he needed both—the first to protect his position, the second for propulsion. With all his rationality, he did not figure out how to squelch his vanity and ego---which fed his addictions and ultimately killed him. But I accept all that. I must. I haven't come close to squelching my own ego and vanity and people in glass bathrobes shouldn't throw waffles...

Almost no one gets it exactly right. Except maybe Jesus. Happy birthday, baby. ;)

And now for the man who, you know, is totally dead, not with the angels, done, kaput, finished. Good thing we invented cameras.

Sidebar: I once said to a friend in Los Angeles who was going through a rough divorce and a whole lot of other horrors while we waxed on about spirituality as people on the Pacific rim tend to do in soft, lovely ways, “I think when you die, it’s just nothing. It’s just, nothing, it’s over.”
And she said, “Wouldn’t that be great?”

Hitchens, it’s over. Long live Hitchens.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Three K(C)oreas

Now that His Most Bizarreness is dead, what will become of North Korea? A third generation dictatorship?

Hm. Sounds like the kid might not have the stuff.

I recently caught myself saying to a conservative friend of mine, “I’d give up democracy for a benevolent, intelligent king.”

I meant it.

But that must be because a very stupid part of me desires simplicity. We have evolved as a species to have collective power, not top down power, especially not top down from one lunatic.

But what bearing does any of my thinking have on North Korea? None, really. I mean, those people never heard of me. Furthermore, I do not have anything unique to offer.

We all hope, I imagine, for reunification of the two Koreas with the south in charge. Would it not be wonderful for a nation of oppressed people to suddenly have freedom, to join their former countrymen in a peninsular embrace and maybe have consistent access to food?

All the military has to do is give up its allegiance and join the south. How hard can that be? Pride is stupid and wants to attach itself to the winning team. The old northern way is the losing ticket. On the other hand, is there not some embarrassment you would have to get over to suddenly become a citizen of a country that manufactures all those ugly rental cars?

I would like to make a pun at this point about Chick Corea*…however, the stretch would be outrageous and I am not that limber.

*I just found out that Chick Corea is a Scientologist. This world is confusing. Ah, choice…

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I Don't Want to Fight, Ever

I have posted this before. Time for it again. This is the time of year for choirs and stars and harmony.

It is so dark outside it reminds us of our blindness, before we could see. Or of death, the after-time. So sleep, sleep.

So many people have trouble sleeping. I never have. I do hope it is not because I wish death. I actually do not. But I am happy to take breaks from living.


I am more for harmony than anything else in music. Some people like drums. I find them grating. Some people like a good hook (melody). I do, too, but not as much as the play of notes against each other.

I wonder why this sort of musical focus is not more popular. But then...I like physics, France and pared down rooms.

It's good to see all these people who like it, too, singing with their earphones on. You have to find your people. Which is kind of great and kind of sad. People end up fighting because of their differences.

Oh ancient amoeba mother and bacterium Dad, was it always like this?

Funny---the convention in most writing is to find the conflict and then duke it out, covertly or overtly. And I do this.

So maybe I am doing the ol' "I'm so this'" when really "I'm so that" and want to be so this.

Never trust what anyone says about themselves in long form. They are usually the opposite and their mouths are trying to find the balance.

So maybe, maybe, I want to fight all the time.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Carnegie Hall

Adam, my husband, sang in Carnegie Hall tonight. So proud. It was fab.

I love Poulenc and I don’t care who knows it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Young Adult

It brings me no pleasure to tell you how disappointing Young Adult is.

Who doesn’t love Charlize Theron?

And the Mr. Mudd people, I know them and applaud what they do.

It is a fantastic story idea.


There was barely a true note in it.

Of course, if you know that going in, that it’s a great idea poorly executed and you just want to see them all do this thing then I say go for it.

(Note: I was not a big fan of Diablo Cody’s Juno, either.)

There is a brilliant switch of point of view toward the end, which is pretty refreshing and a great way to hinge a film. But then the roll out, too, is also unbelievable.

Oh well. It’s just a movie.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Note: The LA Bashing

I have seen on T-Shirts, heard from others, been reminded of it many times---that people in New York believe people in Los Angeles are not so bright.

Two things.

One, this cannot be proven exactly, though, anecdotally, it can be witnessed.

But more importantly, it is easy to appear intelligent when you are looking backward and making judgments. New York is a backward looking town. Los Angeles looks forward and when you are jumping into the unknown, into the future, organizing a plan of attack using critical analysis often mucks everything up.

It would be wise for New Yorkers to begin to understand that anything that has already happened has actually already happened and any opinions about that are opinions about that. Fun fodder for the ambitious mind. But not necessarily new.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Fatigue---Two Coasts

I stopped cutting my hair. It’s not like one of those guys who stops cutting his nails, like, I’m not crazy or anything. But it’s just winter. I discovered T-Gel shampoo which kind of mats the nest all down (thanks, Sister-in-law, unbeknownst) and it is winter so why not go for a winter bush?

Christmas fatigue wants to creep in. I won’t let it. Just keep heading toward the tree, looking at the baubles.

California dreaming.

Laura, our goldfish, is healthy and alive after four months in about a quart of water. The secret success for goldfish:  underfeed. Do not feed every day. Put a little gravel in the bottom and plant a live aquatic plant in there.  Change the water about every five days.
You can change a third to a half of it frequently (use a turkey baster).  Use water that has been filtered and has been let to stand to room temperature.

My memory is going. I’m not close to the age for memory to diminish. Maybe I am. Or maybe I am so overloaded with thoughts and internet shenanigans, I am suffering from information abrasion.

Modern Family, getting soft at the end of every single episode, is sort of disappointing.

Warmth over style, sorry.

When in the West Village, eat at Annisa. You will not be disappointed.

Alligator hands.

I’ve heard that Arthur Miller can really write a play. Saw The Price tonight downtown. Great to see.

Hand to God runs one more week at Ensemble Studio Theatre. Check it out if you have the time. It’s great.

Got a pic of an LA hiking trail today. Sadism!

Thursday, December 08, 2011


What is strange about these Obama years is time is moving so slowly.

The Bushy wars and the general loathing in his direction kept things bouncing along speedily.

The Clinton years, well, they were all about money, startups, sex and possibility. Plus, those were young days. They flew by.

People say as you get older time moves more swiftly. I think that depends.

When there is stagnation, there is a pall. I do not blame Obama for this pall. It all started with Reagan and now look at us. A bifurcated society. The middle ground decimated. Without a middle, the engine is missing a few very important gears. Then, the whole thing doesn't spin much, the tiny wheels have to do so much to get the big ones going and it just seems impossible and exhausting. Time slows.

Looking forward to the filling of the center. Picking up the speed. It’s more fun to move lightly and briskly.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Kindle Fire Me Up

I did it. I ordered one. It came.

The thing about this Kindle Fire is it truly is the right size for lounging on the couch and reading a book, the newspaper, a magazine. They figured it out. No wonder it is selling so well.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is, it’s so new, the apps for it aren’t there yet. No good app for google mail. No good app for lots of things. But they’re coming. I assume. In the meantime, the web browser, which is okay, not great, gets most things done within the confines of its not so sturdy set up. Again, it will improve soon. You feel it coming.

But really, this thing is all about getting away from the desk, getting into a comfortable chair, and reading, like you used to, back when they had that stuff they used to call paper.

The size of this thing, as I’ve mentioned, is pretty brilliant. Smaller than an iPad (and much ligther) but three times the size of a smart phone screen. It is sleek. Intuitive. Up and running right out of the box. And the kind gnomes at Amazon sent me my Kindle already registered. So basically, I was ready to roll once I hooked up to my Wi-Fi. (One just has to remember one’s password.)

The home screen is hideous---a sort of fake bookshelf, a cartoon version of brownish-gray Pergo constructed into this shelving. Too bad about that.

But the fun thing is, you can fill up those laminate book shelves with everything. Books, magazines, favorite web sites, apps, etc.

Additionally, you can get some free books and really cheap books and get books from your library for free. It goes on and on. So as much as Amazon has made this thing a cash-register-in-your-living-room, it is also highly functional for the library you’ve always loved.

The New Yorker App is amazing and you get to have that app if you subscribe to the magazine in its paper form. Probably the best magazine app I’ve seen so far on anything. This is because there are many choices for how you can access the look of the magazine. Page by page. Or by a list. Or by iconic overview. And it is easy to use.

I will get the New York Times app, too. But apparently there is all this linking that needs to be done from your existing digital account into Amazon. They give you the steps on the New York Times Site. But then, you pretty much lose your NYTimes app for your phone---not that that app was ever worth much—but one could still choose to keep that app if one wants to pay for a second subscription for that app alone. But who the hell wants to do that?

Much of the video looks not so great. Nowhere near the beauty of an iPad. Like Mexico to Canada difference. I don’t listen to music on devices, so I can’t say I even tried that. But video, music, all there, too. There’s a solid Netflix app and a solid Hulu+ app. Music looks like it must be easy. Okay, just tried it. Music sounds very good with head phones. You can upload all your pre-existing MP3’s either into the cloud or into the device for playing. (Remember when we used to only want intermittent white fluffy clouds? Now, all we want is solid cloud cover to make us happy.)

This Kindle Fire is pretty solid and a good size and a good buy at $199. It pulls together books and magazines and all your other media. For a bit of a neaty-pants like me, this means less old magazines around and less yellowing paperbacks.

Plus, while reading, you can look up any word at all. Fabulous. No list making. Immediacy.

The device is pretty useless, except for downloaded books, once you get away from wireless range. So trying to do anything but read a book on it on a plane would be next to impossible. Oh but wait—I hear planes are now all wired up.

(You can also download your ass of-- music and video, etc. etc...but what a bore.)

Entertainment in your house. You never have to go to the mall again for anything but clothes.

What will they think of next? Canned hams? A machine that separates cotton seeds from cotton? Will they upload our brains so we can live forever? Is that the magical creativity of religion, actually? It’s all been a wish, so we pretend it’s true until it is true, but we have to do it, push our brains into the forever realm, on servers, while they keep burning the mountaintops off in West Virginia to keep it all going?

I don’t think we are far away. They can scan my DNA and my memories, at some point, and get them to be virtual. My clone living in the chips. In the cloud, these clouds we have been fantasizing about for so long that we would just hop around on. Note: Must learn to play the harp.

I have the laptop, the phone and the Reader all within two feet of me conspiring to get me to become as digital as possible. Beam me up, beam me down, let’s all beam there together. It was fun being flesh based, for a while. Appointment with forever...

Two Sure Things: Christmas and Taxes

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The Orchid has returned for Christmas. After one year, she's at it again.

The Rich: Not a bad idea to tax them heavily. They are the most money driven people there are. They will always push to make cash. And if they are taxed handsomely, they will push even harder. They will have to. Their Beluga bill will require it.

Friday, December 02, 2011

The Descendants

The Descendants

It’s being sold as a comedy. But for me the best thing about it is it is an elegy in paradise.

Payne is smart. We know this. And his tone is wonderful. I remember the first movie I saw of his---Citizen Ruth---I think I watched it three times. Abortion poster child as a schism/farce. Election, three times.

But back to The Descendants. I have to say, it started off with a voiceover and I was hoping that would go away quickly. It did. And it never returned. Thank goodness.
We could have done with none of it.

The movie unfolds in a way that is close to surprising. More importantly, it is shot and cut and acted so well, well, you’ll see.

The soundtrack is going to do for Hawaiian music the opposite of what Sideways did for Merlot.

Also, have you never been to Hawaii? You really should go as soon as possible. Nothing is more pleasant.

Friends, go the movies. And if you have a teenager next to you texting during the entire movie, don’t do what I did. Give her a polite but fatherly talking to early on. Do not wait until the movie is over.

These damn kids. Get off my lawn!

I give The Descendants one and three-quarters thumbs up. I would give it two if it felt completely fresh. But it is hard to find a fully fresh two thumber in a market driven, top down business where the artist must grovel for cash from corporate titans in order to make his dream come to life.

Occupy Burbank!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Floppy Hats and Muskets

The Hatfields and McCoys…this is what the opposing political parties have become in the U.S. Hardened. Righteous. The fight will never end. But since it is this way, fight we must.

Today, a New York State judge has allowed that the gay marriages that have taken place in New York could be declared illegal by something called the Open Meetings Law…The Republicans who got together at one time with Cuomo and one time with Bloomberg to discuss and push through the marriage equality law apparently were supposed to invite all the other Republicans into these meetings, as if these meetings were ever intended to be anything more than they were…

Some upstaters are upset and are trying to turn back the clock. They are grabbing at anything. It’s good the judge is letting this go through. Let it fail, this fascist attempt, so the tightie-Righties can get their noses rubbed into it.

It’s a ridiculous notion but it is a real threat. The Prop 8 loons did it in California, though they did not null and void the marriages that already took place there when it was legal.

Will it ever end? I’m so tired.