MUSICAL REVIEW: The Drowsy Chaperone

When I was away visiting my mother in Charlotte this month, my parents-in-law came up to Albany over the weekend to help paint Lydia’s (still unoccupied) bedroom. I came back that Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Then Wednesday, they took Lydia to their house in Oneonta, and Carol and I were able to go to the rapidly-expanding Proctor’s Theater in Schenectady to see The Drowsy Chaperone.

One of the reasons I watch the Tonys every year is to see what’s on Broadway, because I’d otherwise have little idea. Unless it’s a retread from anotheer medium (The Producers, Mamma Mia), it doesn’t get that much coverage. Here’s the
broadcast segment for TDS, a little scratchy, I’m afraid:

It was entertaining enough for us to want to see it when it came to town.

I agree with most aspects of this local review, except that I would have picked Show Off, the song in the above segment, as the highlight. In fact, unlike some of the songs that wouldn’t cut it on their own if it wasn’t part of the farcical faux musical, it would stand up on its own in any production.

Still, as the review suggests, the success of the production is largely on the shoulders of the Man in Chair, the narrator of the piece. The role was originated by Bob Martin, and he was replaced by Jonathan Crombie, who played the role in Schenectady. The Broadway role, interrupted by a now-resolved strike, is now being played by Bob Saget – yeah, the guy from Full House and 1 Vs. 100; I’m having difficulty imagining him in the role. Though not entirely comparable, I think of the Man in Chair as pivotal as the Stage Manager in Thorton Wilder’s play Our Town.

Another performer reprising her role from Broadway was Georgia Engel, probably best known as Ted Baxter’s wife on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. She talks about going on the road here:

I really like the truthiness of this commercial that suggests that we’re not likely to be swayed by the testimonials of “real people”:

So, when I saw THIS one, I laughed out loud:

I don’t know why this winner of five Tonys was was not very successful in its London run; a different sensibility, I suppose. All I know is that The Drowsy Chaperone made me laugh out loud many times. The best recommendation for a musical comedy I can think of.


The Friends of Cuban Libraries PRESS RELEASE

Laura Bush Meets Cuban Librarians in Video Conference

NEW YORK, Nov. 28, 2007 (Friends of Cuban Libraries) – On November 27 Laura Bush held a video conference with members of Cuba’s independent library movement…. [in Havana]
…. According to a White House statement, during the conversation Mrs. Bush “spoke of her admiration for the work of the independent librarians in Cuba who provide a source of uncensored information to their countrymen at great personal risk, and expressed solidarity with them and their cause.”

As a professor wrote on a listserv I monitor: “Great, maybe she could follow this meeting up with a meeting with her husband to talk about the overclassification of US gov’t information and the FBI monitoring computer records of library users!”

My My, Hey Hey

What female superhero are you???

Jean Grey

You have a tendency to be the interest of many men. You’re beautiful, intelligent, extremely powerful, but also extremely caring. The perfect woman!

Personality Test Results

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“You have a tendency to be the interest of many men. You’re beautiful, intelligent, extremely powerful, but also extremely caring. The perfect woman!” Well, that IS me. And Jean Gray, a superhero I’ve actually heard of!

You Are 83% Burned Out

You are extremely burned out.
You work too hard, and you’re not getting the results you deserve.
It’s time for a life change, as soon as you can manage it.
You’re giving away most of your energy to something you don’t even enjoy.

I’m reminded, of course, of that Neil Young lyric: “It’s better to burn out than fade away.” (Neil’s birthday was earlier this month.)


Half A Ton

My mother really didn’t want anything for her 80th birthday. So we didn’t give her anything. Instead we took things away. My sister Leslie flew in from San Diego to Charlotte on Tuesday the 13th and I from Albany on Thursday the 15th. The mission: to get rid of stuff, specifically from the shed, which is the size of a small trailer home, that’s in the back yard.

Part of the task was to ascertain just what was there, so there was a lot of sorting of papers. But we were able to put all those canceled checks from 1983 in the “to be shredded” pile, and Avon catalogs for the last decade of the 20th century in the recycle pile, except for the back page stamped with Mom’s name and phone number, to the shred pile.

We also had to deal with a nasty little infestation of ants, hundreds of these large black insects eating away at everything in one corner of the structure.

We did keep photos and references to my father’s 39 (or more) businesses. And there were things we kept of sentimental value. But lots of stuff went, including, unfortunately, a box of FantaCo publications that had gone to mold.

All told 562 pounds went to the shredder. I’ve discovered that there are companies that will come to your house and for about $90 for the first 500 pounds, shred the stuff right there. Some of the companies even have cameras inside the vehicles where you can see the shredding take place. We opted to go with a company that was a member of the NAID®, the National Association for Information Destruction. This process beats the heck out of doing it yourself with some $30 shredder from Office Max, since the cuts are more precise, and the time savings is ENORMOUS.

Additionally, 14 Avon boxes of recycling went to the recycling place and 13 contractor bags went to the garbage. My sister Marcia held a garage sale for some other items, and while not much of it sold, not much of it returned either, since Leslie found some medical charity to pick up the unsold items after the event. Marcia also took a few things to Goodwill.

So, I think it is not a reach to think that we got rid of 1000 pounds of stuff before Leslie and I left a week ago Tuesday. And Mom’s happier with things going off her property than coming onto it.

If you’re tackling such a project, consider latex gloves; we occasionally used hospital masks as well, though not as often as we should have. Also, drink PLENTY of water to wash out whatever toxins you might come in contact with.

November Miscellany

Politics, Race, Comics, Music, Sports, Weather – we do it all

U.S. Thanksgiving Day, we drove from Albany to Oneonta, and saw the temperature rise from 44 and fog to 52 to 68F in a little more than an hour. Then that afternoon, the temperature plummeted, where it’s been ever since.
I received this question, as did a number of other bloggers: “I’d be interested in your reaction to this: An effort underway to remove Pelosi as Speaker, and make way for impeachment. Details. What flaws do you see with this plan; and is there a way to block this?”

As I’ve made abundantly clear, I favor the impeachment of Bush and Cheney. But the idea of impeaching Pelosi for her “high crimes and misdemeanors” of NOT impeaching them in order to impeaching them seems a bit surreal. Actually, it reminds me of a maneuver of my former church whereby the associate pastor was removed in order to make way for removing the senior pastor, except that it took 10 years to actually remove the senior pastor.

Regardless, the impeachment of Nancy Pelosi is highly unlikely to happen. And even if it did, impeachment of Bush/Cheney won’t happen. The Democrats are too risk averse. And oddly, from everything I’ve read, impeachment might very well STRENGTHEN the Democrats as it did in 1974, and as it did for the Republicans in 1868.
The current TV Guide lists the current Presidential candidates’ favorite television programs. Will Fred Hembeck support Barack Obama, now that Obama’s come out in favor of SponngeBob Squarepants? And speaking of Fred, read Hembeck: Court Jester of Comics, an interview by Peter Sanderson in Publishers’ Weekly.
A couple things I learned from ADD, one directly, one indirectly:
Tom Spurgeon’s Holiday Shopping Guide and
an interview with David Michaelis, biographer of Charles Schulz. Oh, and Gordon says nice things about the book about the creator of the Peanuts comic strip.
I don’t really follow college football, and don’t like how the polls determine rankings; I’m more of an NFL fan. Still, I prefer the way cthe college game settles ties, with each team getting a chance or two (or three, in the case of Arkansas’ upset of LSU last week) to the randomness of the coin toss to determine who’ll get the ball first, and quite possibly, score and win.
*** shows video clips of 8 of The 9 Most Racist Disney Characters:
#9. The Merchant from Aladdin
#8. Sebastian from The Little Mermaid
#7. The Crows from Dumbo
#6. King Louie from The Jungle Book
#5. The Siamese Twin Gang from Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers
#4. Sunflower the Centaur from Fantasia
#3. The Indians from Peter Pan
#2. Uncle Remus from Song of the South
#1. Thursday from Mickey Mouse and the Boy Thursday (Book)
The Little Mermaid clip surprised me, but I see its validity on the list.
Even though I feel uncomfortable with Song of the South – I do remember it in re-release c. 1960, I think, the movement to get Song of the South released on video doesn’t bother me. Not to say that I’ll buy it.
Also from Ridiculous Overseas Rip-Offs of American Films, including a hysterical “Thriller” from India, a cheesy “Star Wars” from Turkey, and this Beatles Indian riff featuring, of all people, Mark Cuban:


The Lydster, Part 44: Mess

In the room where Lydia had been sleeping, there was a large closet that really limited the space a growing girl would need. So, while I was on a business trip, Carol, her father and our contractor had it taken down, which was fine. The trouble is that it left big holes in places that will have to be patched before the room can be reoccupied, mostly to avoid the dust.

This meant that Lydia had been sleeping in the guest room, in a very large bed. While she was comfortable sleeping alone in her Lydia-sided bed, she’s loath to do it in the big bed, but “needs” someone to sleep with. This is normally my wife, who I wake up 30 minutes after we they go to bed. But sometimes, I can’t wake her, and end up sleeping alone. When Carol has evening meetings, I’m the one who ends up sleeping with the child, and apparently, I cannot be awakened, though I generally wake up on my own and go back to my bed.

Once the room was repaired, then the room was repainted, for the former closet area was totally a different color from the rest of the room. I’m thinking, “I cannot wait. My daughter in her room, in her bed. My wife and I in our bed, all night. I can’t wait.”

So the room is ready, but the girl is not. As I feared, she got acclimated to the guest room, and finds her nice new room foreign, even with all in there. I hear patience is a virtue; I must be a virtuous soul.


Oscar-Worthy Movies I Have Seen: 1937

I used to do this once a month, but haven’t since July; if I’m ever going to get to movies that came out after I was born, I’d better get to it.

THE LIFE OF EMILE ZOLA, “The Awful Truth”, “Captains Courageous”, “Dead End”, “The Good Earth”, “In Old Chicago”, “Lost Horizon”, “One Hundred Men and a Girl”, “Stage Door”, “A Star is Born”
SPENCER TRACY in “Captains Courageous”, Charles Boyer in “Conquest”, Fredric March in “A Star is Born”, Robert Montgomery in “Night Must Fall”, Paul Muni in “The Life of Emile Zola”
LUISE RAINER in “The Good Earth”, Irene Dunne in “The Awful Truth”, Greta Garbo in “Camille”, Janet Gaynor in “A Star is Born”, Barbara Stanwyck in “Stella Dallas”
Supporting Actor:
JOSEPH SCHILDKRAUT in “The Life of Emile Zola”, Ralph Bellamy in “The Awful Truth”, Thomas Mitchell in “The Hurricane”, H. B. Warner in “Lost Horizon”, Roland Young in “Topper”
Supporting Actress:
ALICE BRADY in “In Old Chicago”, Andrea Leeds in “Stage Door”, Anne Shirley in “Stella Dallas”, Claire Trevor in “Dead End”, May Whitty in “Night Must Fall”
Director: LEO MCCAREY for “The Awful Truth”, William Dieterle for “The Life of Emile Zola”, Sidney Franklin for “The Good Earth”, Gregory La Cava for “Stage Door”, William Wellmann for “A Star is Born”

I’m sure I saw, on TV, Captains Courageous and The Good Earth and quite possible Emile Zola and Stella Dallas, but none of them since I used to watch movies on Saturday and Sunday afternoons as a kid, and none of them have stuck, except The Good Earth; I found the struggle to survive on the farm quite moving.
100 Movies, 100 Quotes, 100 Numbers



Certainly, you’re aware of all the problems with plastic. I was recalling some news story some months ago about how even the very efficient recycling system in San Francisco can’t deal with plastic bags and end up throwing them away. And, of course, plastics are made of petroleum, adding to the demand for oil which helps raise the price of gasoline.

Bottled water has been banned by several municipalities to try to hector people not to add more plastic bottles. But recently, my wife told me about a story that washing and reusing plastic water bottles carry a risk as well, the solution for which is to buy more bottles of water made of plastic (?!).

So, the question is simple: how do you minimize use of petroleum-based products? It can be anything from carpooling to reusable canvas bags. And do you think sometimes that stores make it difficult to refuse a bag because of their policies?

Recycling cost/benefit.
Getting catalogs that you throw away or recycle without even looking at them?
Sign in at Catalog
Raid your recycling box for all the catalogs you want to stop
Look up the catalog company names on the website
Enter your name the way it appears on the catalog
Enter the customer number
Do this for each catalog and within 10 weeks, they’ll stop coming to your door.
Got an e-mail from the Central Administration of SUNY, which read:As you know, the State University follows Executive Order No.142 which requires all state agencies to reduce the amount of waste by separating recoverable materials from regular solid waste. Consistent with this order, blue recycling bins are currently located in all office areas throughout the building to dispose of paper products.
GREAT! So, I called the contact to clarify a point. I discovered that, since we’re in a private building, rather than in a state building, the landlord does not have to follow the same rules. Another reason why I hate the place I work.


When Black Friday Comes…

Got this e-mail this week:

This is of utmost important to our communities.

Friday after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year, It is the day that most retailers make enough money put them in the Black for the whole year. We as Black People are consistently getting the bad end of the stick. Our children are being terrorized each and everyday by the police across the country. Nooses are being hung around everywhere. We are being disrespected in all places. Our men and children are being killed by police, stopped and searched, new prisons are being built for our children, there is big business in investing in private prisons and they must keep them filled up. We are terrorized on our jobs with constant threats of being written up and fired, losing our livelihood, our homes and just feeding and taking care of our children. We are treated in a dehumanizing manor on these jobs. So many of our people who have worked for the city for decades are being pushed out with trumped up charges, criminalized, degraded, insulted and threaten and some are even losing their pensions.

Brothers and Sisters we must act! It will visits your door, it is coming! We must stand together to say NO JUSTICE! NO PROFIT! This has got to be the new battle cry of our people. Our elders stood together during the Montgomery bus boycott in order to get some form of justice for our people. We must do it again!

If we stand together and sacrifice one day Friday November 23, 2007 and DO NOT SHOP! DON”T BUY ANYTHING ON THAT DAY! We will send out a message. Things will have to change. Let this country feel what it feels like to not have our dollars. If you buy something, buy from your own people. Please pass this message to everyone on you e-mail list. No Justice! No Profit! If you do not know what I am talking about remember:
Noose Epidemic
Racist Mob Attacks
14 yr old stripped and left in swamp by police
5 yr old hand cuffed
Va. woman kidnapped, stabbed, raped, made to eat vomit, blood, feces
35 students arrested for attending funeral of classmate, who had parents permission
6 month pregnant Principal stopped by police and made to lie face down on ground in front of her small children
Jena 6
Police Terrorism
Michael & Evelyn Warren attorneys assaulted by terrorist cops
Sonny Carson Avenue
Viola Plummer
Sean Bell
Health Care Crisis
Land Grab of the Black Community
The list goes on and on and on


My reaction: Eh. I don’t know how this particular boycott – and I’m in favor of strategic boycotts – has any effect on the issues mentioned.

Last year, I got e-mails that led me to Buy Nothing Day, A 24 hour moratorium on consumer spending – participate by not participating.

Here’s the real deal: I’m not buying anything today, not because of some political agenda – I happen to think, if anything, that people should be out supporting SMALL businesses today, and every day. I’m not shopping today because I HATE shopping today.

One year this century, I got talked into doing the 5 a.m. thing. At the end of the three hours, I was exhausted, not from getting up early, but from that crush of humanity. In fact, the only time I ever enjoyed shopping on Black Friday, it was at a department store in a little town called Delhi, NY, probably the size of two Wal-Mart departments; it was warm and friendly and not crowded at all.

Oh, I heard on NPR this morning two things. One was that the shopping season will be “soft:”, so that time for other bargains will likely pop up. The second is that one should avoid SUI, shopping under the influence; otherwise, you might bring home that dancing Santa you REALLY don’t need.
The lyrics to some Steely Dan song.


Food Quiz

I like Thanksgiving; it’s ecumenical. I don’t have to worry about it as I do next month, where hopes for either “Merry Christmas: or “Happy Holidays” is likely to tick off SOMEONE.

I was going to give a litany of everyone (friends, family, people of courage) and everything (music, writing, learning new stuff), but instead I swiped this quiz from Jaquandor. He did it on Canadian Thanksgiving, Buffalo being pritnear Canada. So I thought I’d post it on the U.S. variety. It’s about food!

1. How do you like your eggs? I like eggs almost any way possible: poached, fried, boiled, scrambled. In scrambled eggs, I tend to put pepper, Worcestershire sauce and a little mustard, plus whatever leftover meat and/or vegetables are in the fridge.

2. How do you take your coffee/tea? Coffee – not at all. Tea – varies with my mood. Sometimes with nothing, most often with lemon, or lemon and honey, or milk and sugar. Rarely lemon and sugar.

3. Favorite breakfast food? Favorite would be pancakes with fresh fruit, real maple syrup, with sausage. Unfortunately, it’s usually Cheerios and/or Shredded Wheat. Or oatmeal, which I do like quite a bit.

4. Peanut butter – actually hate the taste of peanut butter; the smell sometimes makes me nauseous. Since I ate it in great quantities until I was five or six, I theorize that I must have gotten sick from eating too much of it, though I have no specific recollection. Since my daughter is allergic to peanuts, we don’t have it around anyway.

5. What kind of dressing on your salad? Usually Russian, though when I’m out, it’s often ranch for some reason.

6. Coke or Pepsi? Usually Pepsi, but I like Coke too.

7. You’re feeling lazy, what do you make? Chopped apple and cottage cheese, with a touch of mayo.

8. You’re feeling really lazy. What kind of pizza do you order? Mushroom and sausage, or mushroom and onion, or onion and sausage, or plain.

9. You feel like cooking. What do you make? Lasagna.

10. Do any foods bring back good memories? Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. Macaroni and cheese. Meatloaf. Mashed potatoes with gravy.

11. Do any foods bring back bad memories? Spaghetti-Os. Campbell’s Tomato soup. Waxed beans (canned). Beets (canned). Almost any vegetable (canned). Instant potatoes. Bologna sandwiches on white bread with Miracle Whip.

12. Do any foods remind you of someone? Anything with tomato sauce reminds me of my father; he’d cook the sauce for hours. Waffles – also my father, who had a ritual discussion of how he could tell the doneness.

13. Is there a food you refuse to eat? Sauerkraut – hate it. Most melons.

14. What was your favorite food as a child? Spinach. Seriously, Popeye had brainwashed me. Also corn on the cob, still a favorite.

15. Is there a food that you hated as a child but now like? Broccoli, tomatoes, many vegetables (fresh or frozen).

16. Is there a food that you liked as a child but now hate? Not hate, per se, but off-brand ice cream is generally not worth the calories.

17. Favorite fruit and vegetable: Pineapple, spinach.

18. Favorite junk food: ice cream.

19. Favorite between meal snack: Yogurt, with banana cut into it. Or the aforementioned apple and cottage cheese.

20. Do you have any weird food habits? I’ve been known to eat cottage cheese with almost anything, e.g., apple sauce.

21. You’re on a diet. What food(s) do you fill up on? Water, actually.

22. You’re off your diet. Now what would you like? The same.

23. How spicy do you order Indian/Thai? On a scale of 1-10, about 7.

24. Can I get you a drink? Sure, anything with vodka, rum, whiskey, tequila (but not gin or Scotch).

25. Red wine or white? White. Red gives me a serious headache.

26. Favorite dessert? Ice cream. Or cake. Or both.

27. The perfect nightcap? Tea with honey.