Saturday, April 30, 2005

TV Expert

There's this quirky movie from 1990 called "Metropolitan" about these horribly pretentious Manhattanite college students. One of them talks about literature a lot, but admits that he never actually reads novels; he only reads literary criticism. At least he did better than our former vice-president Dan Quayle, who saw himself fit enough to criticize Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses in public without ever having read the book. (Click here for that story and more entertaining Quaylisms.)

I've decided to take the Metropolitan/Quayle idea a step further. I'm going to become a renowned expert in TV shows I've never seen by watching only the E! True Hollywood Story behind-the-scenes documentaries about said shows.

I'll admit I sort of backed into this project by accident. One day I was channel surfing when I came across The E! True Hollywood Story of the sitcom Growing Pains. I started watching, even though I had never even heard of this show that ran from 1985-1992. After only a few minutes I was hooked on the tale of how this show was cast, the love-affair-that-almost-was between Alan Thicke and Joanna Kerns, and the love & respect the players had for each other until teen heartthrob Kirk Cameron's foray into fundamentalist Christianity and oh-so-cute Tracey Gold's anorexia almost tore the cast apart. Throw in a former Playboy Playmate getting kicked off the show because it offended Kirk's new Christian sensibility, and you have a real behind-the-scenes HIT with me. I had more fun watching this drivel than I ever would have seeing the show itself. The way I see it, why waste your time with the real show at all if you can get the recap AND the scandals in one shot from the E! True Hollywood Story?

It's like CliffsNotes for TV. It's brilliant. From now on when somebody asks me if I've been following such-and-such show, I can just tell them "oh I don't watch shows on TV - I just wait for the E! abbreviated version to come out." Imagine how much time I'll have for other projects.

And it doesn't have to stop with sitcoms either. Thanks to VH1's Bands Reunited, I am now intimately familiar with the careers and surrounding scandals of the members of the bands Vixen and Klymaxx, two bands I had never even heard of before this brilliant VH1 series brought them to my attention. Years down the road when I'm sitting around with my friends reminiscing about the past, I'll be able to talk about how I used to rock down to Vixen & Klymaxx. (I'll conveniently forget to mention that I rocked down to them for a period of one hour apiece during these VH1 specials.) I'll seem that much more culturally literate. It can only help.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Wizard and I

For months I've been going over to the Gershwin Theater at random intervals to stand in line for the $25 lottery to try to get tickets to the Broadway musical "Wicked." It's a great deal. You can show up two hours before any show and put your name in a raffle for the right to purchase up to two front-row tickets for only $25 each. Several theaters do this as a way to enable regular-income folk like us to see Broadway theater at affordable prices.

George and I agreed on a once-a-week trip (for him) into the city to meet me after work to try to get tickets, and then go out for a consolation dinner when we don't make it.

I've REALLY been wanting to see this musical. I read the book "Wicked" by Gregory Maguire last summer and really fell in love with the story. For those of you who haven't read it, it's a behind-the-scenes look at the life of the "Wicked" Witch of the West, starting with the story of the relationship of her parents before her birth.

Although it's a fun fantasy-type story to many, I found the book to be much more than that. It's really a social and political commentary that rings true to so much that is happening in the world right now. It's about people and nations creating "enemies" that they can unite against, because having these enemies makes it easier for said people and nations to achieve their own covert and dishonorable objectives. Sound familiar?

And to those who stand up to the masses to say "this is wrong, this shouldn't be happening" - what becomes of them?

Aside from the political overtones, the story also speaks to the universal theme of not belonging, and the feelings of isolation and vilification that accompany. The search for love and acceptance, of finding your safe zone in the world, only to have it yanked out from under you unexpectedly. The heartbreak that comes with the realization that the generally accepted ideas of "good" and "true" in the world are specious, based on lies and deceit.

Most interestingly, the story speaks to the problem of negotiating the fine line between "good" and "evil." Everyone makes their deal with the devil at some point in their life. How do we navigate and manage the inevitable changes in our personalities that come from years of hard living?

The book goes into a lot of complexities about these ideas, much more than the Broadway musical adaptation is able to. But the show does a great job of at least skimming the surface of all of the above. I highly recommend it. The music adds a lot to the emotions behind these questions, and there are some really great showstopping numbers to boot. I think my favorite one is "The Wizard and I," a song the witch belts out early in the show, as she describes her feelings of hope and elation after she is told she'll be able to meet the Wonderful Wizard of Oz in person. Although the song itself is upbeat, the idea behind it is just so heartbreaking that I sobbed all the way through it.

I just realized I never told you how we got in to the show! Yesterday afternoon I called George to tell him to come into the city to meet me for the weekly lottery. What I didn't realize was that Tuesday shows start at 7:00, not 8:00, so I got to the theater an hour too late to join the lottery. So instead I decided to stand in the cancellation line, and in less than an hour was rewarded with two orchestra level tickets, just about the best seats in the house. I paid a pretty penny to get them, but the joy seeing the show brought me made it all worth it. As for George, he says he's never enjoyed a Broadway production more in his entire life.

Read "Wicked." Buy the soundtrack. Come see me in New York and go to the musical with me. You'll like it.

Monday, April 25, 2005

I'm still here

Sorry for my lack of blog updates. I am still here, but have been suffering from a lack of free time as well as a lack of interesting things to blog about. ("Well that never stopped you before," many of you are thinking to yourselves.)

Some of you know about our domestic disaster. I'm not blogging about it in detail due to potential legal ramifications, but suffice to say that a utility company destroyed our apartment and we have been left without a permanent place to live for nearly three months. It is starting to get old. We just want our stuff back and a place to call our own. Meanwhile, everything in life feels up in the air and unsettled. I'm starting to have fleeing fantasies - wanting to flee this side of the country as quickly and as soon as possible. I can just hear the Monty Python knights in my head shrieking "run away! run away!"

Mindy June thinks I should move to England to get away from the stresses of my current life as well as from all the bad people who support the Iraq war and the idea of an American totalitarian theocracy. Although it's kind of like the cat telling you "you should really come have all your meals on the floor, next to me!", she does have a point. I told her I should probably stay in the US because someone needs to keep voting against the bad people. She said "oh you should definitely still vote, but it doesn't mean you have to live there with them."


Thursday, April 07, 2005

30-Second Bunnies Theater

No post tonight except to draw your attention to my new links for a few of my favorite 30-Second Bunnies Theater. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Joys of New York

The other day I was walking down 44th street when I came across this guy handing out flyers inviting gentlemen to visit a local strip club. He was shoving these flyers in the faces of practically everyone, male & female, who passed him. I was actually curious to see what the flyer said specifically, but when I got up to him he completely ignored me. Didn't offer me a flyer, wouldn't even look at me. I guess I'm not the type of riffraff they want hanging out in their club.

Then the other night George & I were offered free tickets to a dress rehearsal for "Purlie," a remake of a musical from the 1970s. We were walking toward the stage door where our friend, a musician in the pit orchestra, told us to meet him so we could pick up our tickets. As we approached we heard a man shouting obscenities about 5 feet from where our friend was standing waiting for us. He was really unleashing a stream of words I hadn't heard since I burned a hole in my mom's new carpeting when I was a kid. I made a comment to our friend about it and he said "oh yeah, he's here every night, he's really funny" and then changed the subject and started talking about an upcoming audition. Then three busses pulled up and dozens of preteenage kids started to disembark - apparently they were attending the show that night. The foul mouthed man continued belting out "why you pack of mother-f***ing rats, get the h*** out of my space you a** wiping worthless no good sh*theads....." Everyone just completely ignored him and carried on their conversations.

Will I ever get used to living here?