The Unbearable Banishment: May 2008

Friday, May 30, 2008

A Pleasant Surprise

I never thought I’d type these words but Red Bank, NJ was the place to be on this Friday night. Not Manhattan. There isn’t anything in the city that’s as smoking as the Red Bank Jazz and Blues Festival. An outdoor stage with the sun setting on the Navesink River as a backdrop, 2-Year Old Daughter showcasing her spastic dance moves to hot, hot, hot rhythm and blues and the summer’s first Italian sausage with grilled peppers and onions sandwich. How can you beat that? I wish I knew how to play guitar a hell of a lot better than I do. If those guys are a 10, then I’m a 2.

Close Call

CB and I saw Almost an Evening by Ethan Coen last night. Ethan Coen is half of Joel and Ethan Coen, creators of fine films like No Country for Old Men, Oh, Brother Where Art Thou and Fargo. Also, some mediocre films like The Hudsucker Proxy and The Ladykillers. Still, it’s an impressive list. This was his first foray into the theater. It was three short one-acts (no intermission). The first play was pleasant, the second was a dead fish and the third was the best by a long shot. Very funny, although incredibly vulgar. It’s not for sensitive ears or faint hearts. Some of the actors had to double-up on their roles. It always amazes me to watch an actor play a role and then, a few scenes later, disappear into a completely different role. It’s a trick. When it works, it’s a good one.

Beforehand we ate at Noho Star. It’s been there a long time and is an old favorite. I had the turkey schnitzel, which was okay. I ordered a Dewar’s and soda and they served it in a water glass. I just wanted a little nip to decompress from work but they served me a double mega dose. Why? They’re not stingy, baby. Of course, I finished it. What was I suppose to do? Throw it out?

I spotted a celebrity as soon as I walked in the door. Contemporary artist Chuck Close. I get an extra gold star because I identified him from the back of his head! Touché! He’s bald and in a motorized wheelchair, so it was a bit of a gimmie.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The High Life

My fellow train passenger sitting next to me has a problem. He just pulled a tall cup out of a brown paper bag. Then he pulled out a 12 ounce can of Budweiser, popped it open, poured it into the cup, put the empty can back in the bag, pulled out another 12 ounce can, poured half of it into the cup and then placed the half-full can of Bud on the floor between his feet. He takes a few gulps out of the cup and then replenishes it with the can on the floor. That he cannot get through his train ride without drinking is, to me, pathetic. I won’t make any new friends with this post, but here goes.

Alcoholism is not a disease and I resent it being treated as such. It’s an insult to people who are actually battling a disease. Labeling it as a disease makes it sound like something you could helplessly fall victim to. Something that’s unavoidable. Horseshit. You can’t quit cancer. You can’t quit leukemia. But you can sure as hell quit drinking. I’ve seen it done plenty of times. And I don’t know of too many diseases that will allow you to go out on a Saturday night, party your ass off and then drive head-on into a van full of kids. I’ve had alcoholics in my life and do you know what? They tend to be a bunch of big fucking babies. As soon as they stumble into a room, they have to be the center of attention and need to be indulged and mollycoddled and understood. Meanwhile, everyone around them suffers. Fuck ‘em.

My man here sitting next to me has a problem. We are only 16 minutes into our ride and he’s already downed 24 ounces of beer. He can’t get through this lousy commute without drinking. Boo hoo. Poor him. It’s likely that he will get behind the wheel and drive home from the train station. I sure hope he sobers up by then.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Writing on the Wall

We have an interesting guest at Benevolent Dictators, Inc. this week. He’s a gentleman from India who owns a company that does the same type of work that my colleagues and I do. We are teaching him how to perform some of our more menial and repetitive tasks. He will, in turn, go back to India and instruct his employees how to complete these unpleasant tasks and take them off of our hands. Number One Benevolent Dictator insists that once we shed this unpleasantness, we will be free to concentrate on projects that are more interesting and creative.

Oh, and by the way, in addition to the more mundane tasks, the company that’s owned by the man from India has the capability to complete the more creative and interesting tasks as well. And for a small fraction of what we are currently being paid by Benevolent Dictators, Inc.

What could they possibly have in mind?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Recipe for an American Holiday

For the Memorial Day bank holiday, we went to the beach. I spend a lot of time bitching about not living in the city anymore (and will continue to do so, thank you very much) but being just a short drive away from the ocean is a nice consolation prize. We went to Sea Bright. Isn’t that the best name ever for a beach town? I hadn’t been to the beach since last fall when the weather turned cold and seeing the ocean again amounted to one of the best therapy sessions I’ve had in quite some time. I swear to God if I didn’t have to work for a living I’d split my time between the city and the beach. I have little use for anything in between. The water is still ice cold so we couldn’t swim. I am, of course, completely sunburned but, let's face it, the stinging pain and long-term health risk is a small price to pay to look this good.

The weather was perfect all holiday weekend so we did the things that are expected. In addition the beach, we went on a picnic and I taught 6-Year Old Daughter how to throw a Frisbee. The obligatory weekend injury occurred when she missed a catch and it hit her right in the throat. No harm. We also went to a carnival; the traveling kind with creepy carnys, geeks, dangerous rides and bad (good) food. Have you ever heard of a deep fried Oreo? They exist. I was walking down the midway and saw a cotter pin on the ground and wondered which ride it fell off of. I grilled hot dogs (twice) and made grilled chicken with watermelon salsa. Also, a shitload of yard work.

For my overseas readers, Memorial Day is the holiday when we honor our veterans and fallen soldiers in past wars. I heard our moron President stumble through a few unintelligible sentences that, I think, praised our men and women in uniform and I almost wretched. This is the same shithead who used his daddy’s connections to duck out of military service when he was called. Don’t get me started on that fool.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

125 Years Young

The Brooklyn Bridge opened for business 125 years ago this weekend. I spent my early NYC years living in Brooklyn and my heart goes pat-pat-pat every time I see it. Anytime I had visitors, I would always take them on a walk across the bridge. You have to start from the Brooklyn side and walk towards Manhattan because that’s the better view. You can see all of lower Manhattan, the UN, and all the midtown skyscrapers you know by name, whether you’ve been to New York or not. Take the A train to High Street/Brooklyn Bridge, come out of the subway, cross Cadman Plaza, up a stone staircase and walk that beautiful walk. The cables look like a spider's web and there’s nothing more elegant than the cathedral-window cutouts in the center of the stone support towers. It’s an architectural masterpiece.

One morning, many years ago, a cable snapped and came crashing down to the walkway and killed someone who was walking to work. They said that the acidity in the pigeon guano that had accumulated over the years caused the cable supports to corrode. Pigeons 1. Humans 0.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Psychiatric Help: 5¢

In order to avoid the 5:30 crush of humanity at Penn Station due to the holiday weekend mass exodus, I stayed in the city late on Friday. I met H. for dinner. We went to St. Andrews. It’s on 44th St. and it’s the only Scottish restaurant in the city (which is hard to believe, but true). I passed on the haggis, tempting as it is, and got a rack of ribs instead. There’s something very primal and gratifying about grabbing a bone and ripping the meat off of it with your teeth. So savage. Before dinner I had a dram of Balblair, which is a single malt that’s similar to lighter fluid. The first two sips are a shock to your system, but after that, it’s smooth sailing.

H. and I occasionally go out for an evening in the city, get good and lubricated, and hold the Suffering Olympics. She has problems. I have problems. We both go for the gold, but I’m sorry to report that this night, I only ranked a bronze. Four hours of commuting each day and a tenuous job does not trump an affair with a married man. It might sound like an unpleasant evening to you, dear reader, but I can assure you that these meetings are cathartic and necessary for both parties. Like most of us, H. has good, sound advice on how to solve other people’s problems, but gets tripped up when trying to weed her own garden. I help her as best I can. Telling someone how they should live their life is lots of fun, especially after a dram or two of imported scotch. Try it!

We had vague plans to see a play or movie after dinner but it was so beautiful out that we walked up 6th Avenue, past the black tower where she and I once worked together for Brand This! Inc., past Radio City Music Hall to Central Park, sat on a bench and watched the livery drivers whip their horses into action. H. felt bad for the horses. I saw it as an uncomfortable metaphor. The sun set beautifully over the Hudson River and we decided that the fight was worth it and scheduled our next session.

Free Tips from the Buddha 3

You follow desire, and you are not satisfied.
Again you follow desire, and again you are not satisfied.
Again you try, and again you are not satisfied.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Thursday, May 22, 2008


C. called and asked how the trip to DisneyWorld went. She told me that when she was young, she and her friends use to drive from their home in Virginia down to Orlando, take LSD, and spend the day wandering around DisneyWorld hallucinating. She remembers sitting in the town square of the Magic Kingdom and laughing hysterically for two solid hours. What a great idea! Why didn’t I think of that? Can you even get LSD anymore? I’m not sure.

I imbibed a few times in back in 1976 and I can assure you that it’s nothing to trifle with. It’s pretty powerful stuff. If you’ve ever taken LSD, you probably know why it went out of fashion. It’s too much. During my “lost loser years” I took it once at home and I had a good time, once while on a whitewater rafting trip in a Pennsylvania forest and had a great time and once at Kent State University. That last one didn’t go so well so I never did it again. But I have to admit that I find the idea of taking acid just once more and watching the swirling colors of the Princess Parade to be mighty appealing. Perhaps after the kids are off to college I can revisit the irresponsible loser side of me. Now, where'd I hide my ceramic human skull bong…?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Humor is Subjective

“Dad, do you want to hear a joke? Why did six—you know, the number six?—Why did six cross the road?”

“I don’t know. Why?”

“Well, it crossed the road to go see a play called “Six” that he thought was about him, but when he got to the theater, the play was actually called “Sick” and it was about a bunch of sick people! Ahh hahahaha!”

Well, it wasn’t funny, but it wasn’t dull, either.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Oh, Buddy

This is C.'s dog Buddy. Buddy isn't all that smart and C. is the first person who'll point that out. You see, Buddy likes to chase porcupines. This is the sixth time that Buddy has had a quill facial. You would think that he'd learn after the fourth or fifth time that porcupines = excruciating pain, but not our Buddy. You can't see it in the photo, but he had quills running all down his chest and legs and some in his back, as well. He had to be anesthetized in order to have them removed and is sleeping it off behind the sofa at C.'s house as I type this. C.'s bank account is $400 lighter for the trouble. Oh, Buddy. Stop chasing porcupines. Leave them alone.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I was commenting to the stewardess that our plane full of children had all the charm of a daycare center. She said that working the flights to and from Disneyworld is an excellent method of birth control. Amen. Before I had my wings clipped by having kids, I use to travel around quite a bit. I was lucky. Coming home always left me feeling a bit melancholy, but not this time. I couldn’t wait to walk in my front door. I miss my bed, my books, my city and even, in an abusive-relationship kind of way, my long train ride.

I spent the trip vacillating between feeling a bit put-off by the whole scene and being emotionally overwhelmed when I watched my children. I had to push down tears more than once, much to my annoyance. If I spend three weeks there instead of just five days, will I turn into a monumental pussy and start listening to Dan Fogelberg albums and cry at sunsets? This damages the whole reluctant-father thing that I wear around my neck like a chain. Thank God I got the hell out of there.

I have an idiot tan. It looks like I drew a circle around the base of my neck. North of that meridian, I am a bronzed Adonis. South of that demarcation line, I am as white as a fish’s belly. The kids loved everything about the trip but, personally, it’s not how I get my kicks. Give me a beach and a book, a casino or a walk down The Strand any day over the squeaky clean, homogenous fun we just had. I saw adults there without children walking through the Magic Kingdom. Apparently, you can voluntarily go to Disneyworld even if you don’t have to. Can you imagine? Actually, I get that. It’s a slice of Americana and I can understand why someone would want to see it, but I can’t relate at all.

I see faces and traces of home back in New York City
So you think I'm a tough kid? Is that what you heard?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Dateline: Orlando Part II

A note to the patrons of Disneyworld: I don’t care how young you are or how thin you are or if your body is hot and cut and smells good. It doesn’t matter if you have a $200 haircut and are dressed head to toe in designer clothes and have the latest, coolest tat on your arm. I don’t care how useful they are. If you wear a fanny pack, you will look like a douche bag.

All the employees of Disney—excuse me, cast members—wear nametags that also include their city and state of origin. Our lunchtime waiter at the home cookin’ buffet was from China. It didn’t give the province or region. It just said, “China.” Close enough. He was middle aged and I was wondering what the arc of this guy’s story was. He came from China and is now delivering food to overfed Americans.

I was watching him from across the restaurant while I was musing about all this stuff. He had just bussed a table and was walking towards the kitchen with a tray full of dirty dishes. He stopped right before the kitchen, looked down, saw a balled-up napkin on the floor, flipped it up in the air with his toe, snatched it with his right hand and returned his hand to the tray without upsetting the dishes! For real! It happened so fast that nobody saw him do it! It was a Zen moment that passed by unnoticed in the chaos that was swirling around him. Then my imagination really started racing. I thought he might be an ex-member of the Peking Acrobats or that he was a ninja crime fighting master and this was merely an alias. Now, THAT was some Disney magic!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Dateline: Orlando

I have seen the end of the civilization. It doesn’t end with a mushroom cloud. It ends with a pair of mouse ears. The bible was right. The meek have inherited the earth.

We watched the big Disney parade down Main Street this afternoon. All the most popular Disney characters appeared on floats with dancers, musicians, a marching band, etc., etc., Throughout the entire parade, I saw exactly two African Americans; one was one of Captain Hook’s pirates and the other was a chimney sweep from Mary Poppins. Even Aladdin was lily white and looked like an actuary accountant. I thought it was awful. What if you’re black and you’re here with your kids and this is the only way you're represented? A chimney sweep! My cynicism and anger about this place had reached a fevered pitch and I just wanted to get the hell out of here. Then I looked down at Daughter. She was mesmerized. I saw a look of rapture and raw joy on her face that I had never seen before. I got choked up and started to cry. I had sunglasses on so nobody saw me, thank God. This place is fucking with my head.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bon Voyage

Tomorrow morning I'll wake up in New Jersey but at night, when I lay my weary head on a pillow, I will be in the Magic Kingdom. No, not Manhattan. The other Magic Kingdom. The initial horror I felt about vacationing in Disneyworld has dissipated and has been replace with something that I vaguely recognize as enthusiasm. Nobody is more surprised about this change of heart than I am. It'll be sunny and warm and I'll get to wear shorts for the next five days. My marvelous chalk-white Northeast legs will be exposed for all of Orlando to enjoy.

We're staying at a nice resort/spa with some very adult amenities. A masseuse! Cocktails! Cable porn! (Ha, just kidding about that third one. It is Disney, after all.) Best of all, I won't see the inside of Benevolent Dictators, Inc. until Monday morning. How bad can it be? We're spending just the right amount of time there—out on Wednesday, back on Sunday. I keep reminding myself that there's always the distant chance I'll find a crap table somewhere in the vicinity. On the flight down I'll teach 2-Year Old Daughter how to shout, "A dime on the pass, press my hard eight!" To 6-Year Old Daughter, I will explain the rejuvenating benefits of sipping a chilled dirty martini at sunset.

* * *

I just received another welcome sign that summer has finally returned to the city. Each summer, every day at noon, weather permitting, the City of New York pays a pianist to sit at a straight-backed piano on the patio of Bryant Park and play American popular standards for one hour. Someone To Watch Over Me. It Had To Be You. Stardust. The usual fare. Today was the first day for that particular pleasure. I had forgotten all about it and was pleasantly surprised when I walked into the park for lunch and heard these beautiful songs rolling off the patio and onto the lawn. It was like seeing an old friend again. If you're sitting under a blue sky listening to someone play a lazy version of I'll Take Manhattan on a piano, and you look up and see the sun gleam off the spire of the Chrysler Building, what right would you have to complain about anything? You would be a fool.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Father Knows Nothing

On Sunday I taught Six-Year Old Daughter how to ride her bike without training wheels. It was pretty satisfying stuff, but sprinting down the street wile bent over at a 45 degree angle and holding onto a speeding Strawberry Shortcake bicycle is not only exhausting but, even worse, it severely compromises my city cred. I’m afraid that a semi-regular exercise program only counts for so much when you’re kicking down the door of middle age. Despite the fact that I was obviously near death, all I got from Daughter were pitiful pleadings for just one more lap. Perhaps she got hold of my Benevolent Dictators, Inc. life insurance policy and discovered she is second in line for a payday and was looking to expedite a payout by giving me a fatal heart attack. You can get a ton of Disney schwag with that kind of coin.

In addition to a level of exhaustion that I am generally not accustomed to, there was a small piece of me that just wanted to sit on the patio in the sun and read the special summer movie supplement that was in the Sunday Times. What a hero. I try my best but I am imperfect.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Iron Woman

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms. To Mrs. Wife: I apologize for not keeping my eyes open in the delivery room. Either time. That afternoon really seemed to belong to you and the girls, and I think I know what would have happened if I had peeked. I didn’t want to make it all about me and the immediate medical attention I would have required. My heart was in the right place.

We saw Iron Man so summer is officially underway. I don’t care what the temperature is, if I see a movie that cost $100M+ to make, it’s summer. It was fun and anyone who says otherwise needs to lighten up. I’m glad they made the effort to develop the characters, although the big fight sequence at the end between Iron Man and Crazy Jeff Bridges Robot looked an awful lot like RoboCop, which I hated. I was hoping that Crazy Jeff Bridges Robot would step on and squish Gwyneth Paltrow like a bug, but then I realized that it was only a movie and that she would, in reality, still be alive. Well, it would have been a visceral thrill, that’s for sure. They could have done that little favor for us. The CGI probably would have only cost another $10-20K and they could have easily paid for it by taking up a collection. I'd have kicked in. It would have been for a good cause.

Friday, May 9, 2008


During a recent office luncheon, we were all asked, given the choice, what superpower we would like to have. I volunteered to go first and said that I would like to have the superpower of never needing sleep. Can you imagine! I'm Wide-Awake Man! You could live the equivalent of two lifetimes. I thought I was being creative. I thought that choosing flight or invisibility or the ability to see through a pretty girl's clothing, although quite useful, was too obvious and lacked originality. I wanted to prove to a room full of investment bankers how clever I could be.

Each and every person after me picked something that would benefit mankind. The ability to end war. Cure disease. Eliminate hunger. What a bunch of losers. Seriously! If you were given the choice of any superpower you wanted, why would you waste it on something stupid like that? Boy, I showed them.

* * *

Cell phones are here to stay. They are permanently weaved into the fabric of society and people are going to abuse them. That's never gong to change, so I need to just get over it. When something gets under my skin, I don't pussyfoot around. I make stewing about it part of my every waking moment. Otherwise, why bother? In my defense, if you had to put up with as much cell phone nonsense as I do, you'd be driven mad as well.

* * *

Take it from me, no matter how many times you do it, you never get use to spending $10 for lunch. It costs me upwards of $200 per month for a sandwich, bag of sea salt chips (crisps, for my UK readers) and a bottle of water every day. Awful.

* * *

I love the tourists. I really do. They are a vital part of the city's economy and a constant reminder that I am lucky enough to live in a place where people like to visit for vacation. There isn't a tourism office where I grew up in Cleveland, so I know the difference between the two environments and this is definitely more to my liking. But, JESUS CHRIST they're overrunning my city! Because of the pitifully weak dollar (thank you, Mr. President, for fucking-up our currency on the world market), the city is choked with British and European tourists. You have to wait in line to walk up Fifth Avenue, for cryin' out loud. And it's only going to get worse as the weather improves. Other than that, they're great.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Not Bored

I thought it was going to be just another dull Wednesday. It wasn't. Late in the afternoon I impulsively got my mitts on tickets to see Port Authority, the Connor McPherson play at the Atlantic Theater that's currently in previews. It's the U.S. premier of one of his older plays. ("Older" being relative. He was born in 1971 so he's still quite young, especially for someone who has had so many plays produced.)

How is it that one guy can pump out one great play after another? It doesn't seem possible. Or fair. Three men, representing three different stages in life, sit in a train station and take turns telling the audience a story. That's it. So simple, yet, so amazingly effective. A young man and a girl are too afraid to act and risk losing each other. A middle aged man is given a chance to be better than he is. An old man wonders if, 40 years ago, he should have pursued a woman he barely knew, but loved, instead of staying with the one he was married to. Does that sound plausible to you? Can a person ache for someone year after year without ever actually seeing or speaking to them? I'm certain that it happens all the time.

Prior to the play I went down to St. Mark's Place for dinner. I wanted to eat at the DoJo but I'm sorry to report that it's gone. Replaced by I don't know what. Some stinking nuevo restaurant with a lot of bright, fetid colors. Instead, I ate at a Korean restaurant and had big helping of Dak Di Ri Tang, which is a spicy chicken stew. It's served in a black stone bowl that's kept in the oven. The bowl is so insanely hot that the stew continued to boil for a few minutes after it was brought to my table. First, a few layers of skin on my tongue were peeled back because the stew was the temperature of molten lava and then my guts were seared by the Korean spices. Please mum, may I have another!

Before eating I popped into the Strand rare book room to feed the beast. I scored a signed proof of Right Livelihoods by Rick Moody, a signed first edition of The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon and, best of all, a signed proof of Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson. Everything was inexpensive except for the Denis Johnson book. He's a recluse and never goes out on promotional tours (much to his publisher's chagrin, I'm sure), so you have to pay a premium for his signed books. I also visited St. Mark's Books and picked up a signed first of the new Michael Chabon book that McSweeney's just published, Maps and Legends.

The irony is that because all of these books are signed, I cannot read them since reading them—even once—will degrade their condition. If I want to read one, I have to go out and buy a reading copy. Who the hell buys books that cannot be read? I also picked up a paperback copy of The Best American Short Stories of 2005. It has a stellar lineup of writers and was edited by Michael Chabon (a theme emerges). I found it on the carts outside of The Strand and it was only one measly dollar. The opposite end of the spectrum.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

I'm Dumb

I have a colleague at Benevolent Dictators, Inc. with whom I have one of those jokey, elbow-in-the-ribs kind of relationships. You know the type; lots of sarcasm and insults that aren't really insults. He makes fun of my gray hair, I tell him how happy I am that I'll never be bald (he will be).

This morning I mentioned my upcoming trip to Mordor—I mean Disneyworld—and he said he wants a full report upon my return. He's a divorced dad with an adorable 9-year old daughter who lives in New Jersey. He lives in the city with New Younger Mommy. He said that he’s been thinking about taking his daughter to Disneyworld for quite some time and feels like a bad dad that he hasn't done so yet. My clever retort was, "Well, you can go ahead and take her, but you'll still be a terrible father." The color drained from his face and his eyes reddened and welled-up with tears. I went drilling and hit a nerve. I didn't mean to. We had a few uncomfortable moments and recovered. Things are fine between us but, shit, I need to watch what I say. Actually, that's a reoccurring theme throughout my life. I've been fired from jobs because of how clever and witty I can be sometimes.

Monday, May 5, 2008

M-I-C. See You Real Soon

I made the final payment on the trip to Disneyworld. We’re staying in a suite because The Daughters need their own bedroom. If we all stay in one room, Mrs. Wife and I will have to go to bed at 9:00 p.m. along with the kiddies. She and I will be sleeping on a sofa bed in the living room. It’s the most $$$ I’ve ever dropped on a vacation (by many multiples) and I’m sleeping on a sofa bed. Harrumph. Hey! Maybe I’ll find a crap table there! I can teach six-year old Daughter why the prop bets in the center of the table are all sucker bets. Disney sent us a DVD of what our vacation might look like and it seemed like a lot of forced enthusiasm and bad acting to me. My plan is to anesthetize myself with bushels of weed. If I can find some. You got any? That’ll put an entirely different spin on the princess breakfast. I hope I don’t reek too badly. This trip had better be my gold ticket into heaven.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Some Advice from the 15th Row

I saw Patrick Stewart in "Macbeth" on Thursday night. I was playing the show over in my head this morning as I was lying in bed and remembered that I saw him last year in "Antony and Cleopatra" while on a trip to London. I enjoyed it, although not nearly as much as "Macbeth." I like to try and get completely lost in a play. Part of the problem with Capt. Picard's Marc Antony was, believe it or not, his costume. It included a ridiculous wig and a way too stylish vest/necklace combo. Have a look:

What the hell was he thinking? He looks like the junior high cafeteria lunch lady who served the tater tots. Every time I saw him in that get-up it took me out of the story. The all-time biggest offender of that particular crime was Ian McKellen as "King Lear." In one climatic scene, he made the choice (that's actor-speak) to illustrate Lear's madness by exposing himself to the audience! Seriously! One moment I'm deeply involved in Lear's mental demise and the next I'm looking at Ian McKennen's package. What's up with that?

I saw Professor Xavier play Macbeth and Magneto play King Lear. With any luck, I'll see Wolverine play Hamlet. Don't laugh! There are worse Hamlets! Actually, now that I think about it, Kelsey Grammer was crucified by the critics in a vanity production of Hamlet he did on Broadway and he was The Beast! Another X-Men alumni.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Apple Never Falls Far From the Tree

I was sitting in a chair in the family room typing and my sweet, delicate, mild-mannered 6-year old daughter was sitting on the sofa watching "Miss Spider." Suddenly, she let out a long, loud, glorious, industrial strength fart. It was like a motor boat and something that should only have come from an adult. I slowly looked up from my laptop, eyebrows raised. She was looking at me and had a huge grin on her face. She started to giggle and then, of course, I started laughing and we were soon in hysterics.

I was so proud of her that I almost wept.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Captain’s Log 1606

CB and I saw “Macbeth” last night. ****. Blood and violence and death all wrapped up with some very beautiful speechifying. In other words, a perfect night in the theater. Patrick Stewart was The Thane of Caldor and he was excellent, but I occasionally saw Captain Picard poking up through his performance. Well, that’s the hazard of acquiring a lot of fame for one particular role. You carry a lot of baggage on stage with you. I saw a local production of “Macbeth” back in January that was also quite good. Immediately prior to that performance, I bought a copy of Cliff Notes for Macbeth and made sure I understood who all the characters were and what the plot involved prior to walking into the theater. I hate to sound so thick, but if it weren’t for Cliff Notes and the production four months ago, I’m pretty sure that some of what happened on stage last night might have gotten by me. The last image prior to the lights going out was Malcolm holding the blood-soaked, decapitated bald head of Professor Charles Xavier aloft. That’ll give you something to dream about!

Shakespeare always makes for a long night. I woke up at my usual 5:15 a.m., curtain was at 8:00 p.m. and the show ran nearly three hours. The train didn’t leave skuzzy old Penn Station until 11:30 and I got home a little after 1:00 a.m. That means I was up for almost 24 hours for the sake of a gad damn play. I explained that to CB and he looked at me with a mixture of pity and revulsion. Do you know what? It was totally worth it and I'm sure I'll do it again! To pass the time on the long train ride home I sent drunken text messages to my sister and two friends. That’s never a good idea but it’s considerably less humiliating than drunk dialing.