Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I'm back, not that there was time to build up cans of cat food and pate

Finally back after about a week with the parents -- and a week without Internet access. Yikes!

At any rate, I'll have more later, but for tonight, I just wanted to mention that I finally got around to seeing "Grey Gardens" last night. The show's not perfect, but it's certainly one of the best new musicals to come along in awhile, and Christine Ebersole was everything the critics said she was. And Mary Louise Wilson was superb as well.

Unlike every other queen, I've never seen the documentary, so I guess that's next on my viewing list!

Posting will be sporadic for the next few days as I prepare for my Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Gay Men's Chorus. It's less than two weeks away!

Monday, November 20, 2006

All about the benjamins (Harrison, that is)

Call me a dork, but I'm a little excited about the presidential dollar coins that go into circulation next year. Much like the state quarters, we'll be getting four new presidential coins each year in order of election, meaning George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison will be available in 2007. It's a new president every three months! And yes, Grover Cleveland gets two coins for his non-consecutive terms.

My dad was always the coin and stamp collector of the family, and he's put together all the state quarters for us kids. I'm sure he'll do the same with these, which is good, because collector or not, taking $40-something dollars out of circulation isn't something I'm likely to do on my own.

Outside of collecting, the ramifications are endless. People might actually know what Franklin Pierce looked like (and in his day, he was considered quite the hottie)! Ronald Reagan can finally get his own coin so certain deification-happy Republicans can leave the Roosevelt dime alone! And best of all, maybe these will generate enough interest that people will finally start using dollar coins. Seriously. I mean, if the U.K. can use a coin for a pound, which is worth a lot more than a dollar, why do we still predominantly use the weaker paper for such a relatively small unit of currency? On that same note, maybe my vending machine at work will finally start taking the things, too. The parking machine at New Jersey train stations always used to drive me nuts by dispensing $17 in change from them, leaving me stuck with them for days.

What should be interesting is seeing which president stops the cycle. The way it's set up, no president will be honored less than two years after his death, and it stops whenever we run out of presidents to honor.

Gerald Ford would have to live a few years past 100 to miss out, so it probably won't be him. Jimmy Carter would have to make it to 92, which is possible but still somewhat unlikely. George H.W. Bush is about the same age as Carter. Both are active, but health can be, pardon the expression, a flip of the coin at that age.

Bill Clinton is a likely candidate, as he'll be a wee lad of 70 in 2016. Still, he's already proven that he has a bum ticker, so I'm putting my money on our current president in ending the cycle. He's the same age as Clinton. Say what you will about him, but he does seem to be a pretty healthy guy. And wouldn't it burn some certain Republicans if there were Bill Clinton coins but no George W. Bush ones?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

An alien abduction and holiday depression

Extraterrestrials and the end-of-the-year blues are about as fresh sources for art as World War II or high school romance, yet both are the central topics for two current Off-Broadway shows. Despite not breaking any new ground as far as subject matter, both have a lot of talent behind them. So why does only one of them work?

"Striking 12," which opened this week at the Daryl Roth Theatre in Union Square, isn't actually a new work, having already played in other cities and in New York at the Ars Nova. It's the brainchild of indie rock trio GrooveLily and isn't so much as musical as it is a concert with a plot. There's no set, little blocking and that plot isn't much: A depressed schlub decides to stay in on New Year's Eve, but a surprise visitor selling light bulbs prompts him to read Hans Christian Anderson's "The Little Match-Seller" -- hardly the story to brighten one's mood.

Keyboardist Brendan Milburn plays the nameless protagonist, and his wife, electric violin player Valerie Vigoda, handles the dual role of the light bulb seller and the match-seller in the story segments, as well as a few other females in our heroes life. Drummer Gene Lewin handles the rest of the male roles. Milburn and Vigoda also wrote the book, music and lyrics to the show, aided by Rachel Sheinkin of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" fame.

The story-telling style is consistently delightful. The three actor-musicians often break character for meta-action, such as when Lewin laments he's getting all the secondary characters, such as "post-nasal-drip guy," presenting the chance for a dynamo drum solo. The songs are witty, tuneful and serve the plot perfectly. Milburn makes an affable lead character, but Vigoda, a former performer with the Trans-Siberian orchestra, edges out as the slight standout performance here. Her voice is strong, pure and unaffected, almost of a Karen Carpenter quality at times. One particularly nice moment occurs in the song "Caution to the Wind," when she sustains a final note along with her electric violin, and for a moment, it becomes difficult to distinguish the instrument from musician. Overall, an enjoyable performance that clocks in a just under an hour and a half.

The same can't be said at this point, however, for "Dark Matters," now in previews at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. The play, written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, centers around Michael Cleary (Reed Birney), a recent transplant from Washington, D.C. to rural Virginia, who arrives home to find his wife Bridget (Elizabeth Marvel) missing. Sheriff Benjamin Egan (Michael Cullen) and the Clearys' 16-year-old son Jeremy (Justin Chatwin) all join in the search to find her, but she returns on her own with a fantastic story to tell of an alien encounter. Not an abduction, mind you. These are aliens she's been seeing all of her life.

I enjoyed Aguirre-Sacasa's "Based on a Totally True Story," which ran Off-Broadway last season, but "Dark Matters" never matches the frantic energy that made the previous show so endearing. The characters react to the fantastic turns of events with all the amazement as if Bridget had said it was car trouble that made her disappear for a few days. When Bridget tells Jeremy that the aliens have been watching him his whole life, his first thought is to wonder if that includes in the shower.

Despite the book problems, the cast is mostly fine. Birney has the meatiest role, and he and Marvel, most recently seen on Broadway as one of the lizards in Edward Albee's "Seascape," make the most of the sometimes silly dialogue. Birney also gets the most genuine moments in the show with periods of concern for his family, and they make for some of the best moments in the entire play. The baby-faced Chatwin, best known as Tom Cruise's son in "War of the Worlds," has the least stage experience, and it shows at times, but he usually holds his own. Cullen plays the sheriff as a somewhat sinister Andy Griffith figure, and it works until a ridiculous plot turn in the second act.

The show is a bit long and ends on somewhat of a baffling note. It's enjoyable in spots but never manages to achieve the cohesive pleasure of "Striking 12." For the freshest look on an old idea, that's the show to see in New York.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

On Iraq, Love, Philosophy, Cabbages and Kings

A quick note: Since I found out that these reviews actually can show up on Google alerts, I've decided to start posting a note at the top whenever I'm reviewing a preview performance, as is the case with the following. "The Vertical Hour" actually opens, and therefore is subject to the real reviews, on Nov. 30.

In an era when political discussion is regarded to be the mastery of talking points on "Crossfire" or "Hannity and Colmes," nuance is a liability. Supporters of the Iraq war are mindless Bush-bots, while its detractors are anti-American terrorist sympathizers.

Just don't tell that to Nadia Blye, a former war correspondent turned Yale political science professor whose firsthand experience with suffering around the world has convinced her that a war to free oppressed Iraqis was the United States' moral obligation (even if the execution turned out less than stellar). Although the work gets her steady spots on television and even once got her the ear of President Bush, her opinion hasn't exactly endeared the self-described feminist to her Yale colleagues and students. Still, the job is a more stable and safe alternative to her war correspondent days, and she's even found a stable beau to match: physical therapist Philip Lucas.

The character of Nadia in David Hare's "The Vertical Hour" marks the Broadway debut of Julianne Moore, which has already invoked comparisons of last season's debut of a certain other Hollywood golden girl by the name of Julia. I'm happy to say that Moore fares much better. But while Moore will probably and rightfully be the big draw to the show, there's a bigger reason to see this show: co-star Bill Nighy.

Nighy portrays Philip's estranged, womanizing father: nephrologist Oliver Lucas, whom Philip and Nadia visit at his isolated home near the border of Wales and England. The liberal, charming doctor obviously disagrees with Nadia about Iraq, but their discussion of the war and a few glasses of wine open up a much more personal discussion between the two.

Nighy's performance is nearly perfect down to the last expression and mannerism, and his appearance brings a spark to the stage that seems to be missing in the first scene, a discussion between Nadia and shallow student Dennis Dutton (Dan Bittner). Andrew Scott also is an excellent match for Nighy as the son who rebelled by becoming grounded.

The night I saw the show, Moore, who has only a handful of stage credits to her name, seemed just a little too broad in her first scene, a common occurrence from those most familiar with the film medium. That vanished by the time Nadia reached the United Kingdom, however, and Moore didn't disappoint from that point. There were even a few moments that neared Nighy's brilliance, no doubt in part thanks to the direction of Sam Mendes.

Hare's dialogue is sharp, although sometimes too much for its own good. As is often the case in intellectual works, the characters have a tendency to sound a bit like a Christopher Hitchens column. No one is that witty at 5 a.m. But I, for one, much prefer being talked up to than the alternative.

The set, designed by Scott Pask, is lovely in its simpleness: a gorgeous, giant tree in the middle of the stage that doubles as mere background for the window in Nadia's Yale office and the centerpiece of Oliver's yard. The black background that irises open to reveal the set following the brief monologues that begin each scene also is a nice effect.

Moore's presence probably means tickets for this show will be difficult to come by, but in this case, it would be completely justified. Brokers shouldn't have the same problem of having a hot ticket no one wants as they did with Julia Roberts' debut. And considering that more recent tenants of The Music Box theatre have included the dreary "Festen" and the bizarre "In My Life," I'm also glad the lovely little theatre once again has a tenant of which it can be proud.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

It's so nice to have you back where you belong

Word is that the Carol Channing interview I referenced a few posts ago was a huge misunderstanding, basically boiling down to:
Channing's publicist says that the writer left out a key word to make it look like the performer was anti-gay: "With reference to the Bible - she said about gay marriage 'You know what the Bible says about it ... Nothing.'"
I guess you could say it's a he-said, she-said at this point, but I think Channing's work with AIDS and gay charities speak for themselves.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Tom Cruise is so vain; I'll bet he thinks this show is about him

I saw "Little Dog Laughed" yesterday, which is opening tonight at the Cort Theatre. So let's get this out of the way first: Yes, Johnny Galecki is briefly naked. Yes, it's fairly impressive. But yes, there are plenty of other reasons to see this show, and most of them involve Julie White.

The show centers around Mitchell (Tom Everett Scott), a rising star in Hollywood who also has an affinity for male hookers, and it's not just for the massages. He falls particularly hard for one of them, Alex (Galecki, best known as Darlene's boyfriend David from "Roseanne"), much to the dismay of his agent Diane (White) -- think Harriet Harris' character from "Frasier" without the heart. To further complicate matters, Alex's gold-digging friend Ellen (Ari Graynor) is looking to take their relationship to a more serious level.

OK, so a play about the corrupting effects of Hollywood on personal lives isn't exactly new ground. And nowadays, Perez Hilton would never let such a wink-wink relationship between Mitchell and Alex last. (Right Neil Patrick Harris? T.R. Knight? Lance Bass?)

The play's structure of monologues spaced within dialogue, however, keeps the somewhat trite story compelling, particularly when that monologue is one of Diane's frenetic cell phone conversations. White garnered applause nearly every time she left the stage, and deservedly so. The show would almost work if it were a series of monologues just by her, relegating the other characters as unseen presences, much like the other characters of the Hollywood drama, such as the gay playwright whose work Diane wants to see turned into a movie (sans that yucky homosexual romance, of course).

This is not to diminish the work of the other cast members, of course. Galecki -- yes, I had to mention him first after the word "member" -- is endearing, even if he is a bit old to be playing the 24-year-old prostitute with a heart of, well, sterling silver. Scott didn't quite seem the right type for his role to me. Graynor's character was the least developed by the playwright, but she was entertaining to watch nonetheless.

Overall, it's a fine production that, unfortunately, probably will have a limited run thanks to the subject matter and lack of a big name. The good news is that White already seems to be reaping the rewards. Let's just hope that eventually involves to projects that are more appropriate to her talent than "Transformers."

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Who needs supporting actors?

I saw "Suddenly Last Summer," the Roundabout's latest interpretation of the Tennessee Williams' classic, this Saturday. While there are a few problems with the supporting cast, the two powerhouse actresses at the head of this production are more than enough to mitigate it.

Blythe Danner stars as Mrs. Venable, the overbearing mother (in a Tennessee Williams play? who knew?) who has lost her son and finds her niece's bizarre explanation of his death unbearable and thus seeks to have her lobotomized. Several reports from the show have criticized Danner's seeming stumbling of her lines, but they seem to forget one thing: Mrs. Venable just had a stroke. I found it to be an extraordinary performance of a fierce woman trapped in a failing body that she partly blames for the death of her son.

The other revelation is Carla Gugino as the niece, Catherine Holly. When she finally tells the story of her cousin's death, it's one of the more spellbinding moment I've seen in a theatre in quite some time.

Unfortunately, however, Gale Harold, best know as the man-eating Brian of "Queer as Folk," isn't quite up to the task as Dr. Cukrowicz, the doctor Mrs. Venable has hired to observe Catherine. He's not bad, but his rather wooden delivery does not stand up well against his more experienced co-stars.

The rest of the supporting task is hit or miss. Wayne Wilcox does some nice work as Catherine's brother George, and Becky Ann Baker does a fine job as her mother. Karen Walsh barely registers as Mrs. Venable's servant Miss Foxhill, but it's not really much of a part, so perhaps that speaks well for her. Sandra Shipley seemed to be a bit off as far as timing and physicality as the nun Sister Felicity, who is watching over Catherine, but I guess it could have been an off-night for her. After all, she is Danner's understudy.

"Suddenly Last Summer" opens this Wednesday at the Laura Pels Theatre.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Et tu, Dolly?

Pam's House Blend alerted me to some recent statements by Carol Channing, as reported in the Ohio-based Gay People's Chronicle, that really seem out of character for her:

Kaizaad Kotwal: You seem to have a very large gay following. Have you ever thought about why?
Carol Channing: I don’t think about them. I’m grateful that they seem to like me. They’re terribly loyal to me. But I’m knee-deep in the Bible and you know what it says about that.
Kotwal: Alright.
Channing: Oh, dear. Is this for a gay publication? Have I offended you?
Kotwal: Yes. For the Gay People’s Chronicle. Right now, it’s really not my job to be offended or not be offended. I am just asking questions and reporting answers. I read that you have fought for gay rights. Do you think that the things gay people are fighting for are important?
Channing: I don’t think about it. If they can’t take care of their own problems, why should I bother. It’s not my problem.
Channing's on record of being against gay marriage, but the "I don't care anything about them" attitude is quite contrary to her statements and actions in the past. Maybe it's the new hubby? Or maybe, sad to say, Carol's just losing it. I saw her show at Feinstein's at the Regency about a year ago, and while it was an enjoyable show, she had a difficult time getting through it. She had to be cued several times when telling her own personal anecdotes.

Come back to us, Carol! What happened to the fiery dame who made Richard Nixon's enemies list?

Oh, and the theme song choice list is down to three, as Jessica Molaskey's "Sail Away" came up yesterday. "Mount Zion" is still in the running, Mr. Mambo!

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Golden Gate couldn't suspend this disbelief

My vote for the most far-out commercial on TV today:

I couldn't tell you the exact product, but it's some sort of Christmas decoration featuring three singing characters. The ad takes place in an airport, where a tired family gets word that their flight has been delayed for two hours. Mom and dad pull out the decoration, and not only does it captivate the children, but everyone in the waiting area clusters around to listen to it. They're so enthralled, in fact, that no one notices when (presumably two hours later) the airline employees are trying to get them to board the plane.

I've been on enough delayed flights to know:

1) A mere 30-minute delay is enough to cause a near riot, particularly on holidays. If it's two hours, it's time for the bar. Leave the kids at the Cinnabon.
2) Pity the person who pulls out a noisy toy in an airport waiting area, particularly in said delayed flight situation. I once got my head bitten off for shuffling a deck of cards too many times.
3) You're safer standing between Mark Foley and a Laguna Beach cast appearance than you are standing in front of the gate when it's time to board. I've never understood it, but people are an incredible hurry to get on the plane -- even those who aren't vying for carry-on space. I guess deep down, they think they might somehow get to their destination faster than you if they get in front of you in line.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

RIP: Chuck Norris jokes

There's not much I can say about the election outside of hooray for checks and balances and Arizona, boo for the other marriage amendment states and Rick Perry and I'm looking forward to a certain someone buying me a drink.

Hands down, however, the best election coverage, as usual, goes to the crackpot analysis at WorldNetDaily. I love how they immediately label Nancy Pelosi our new "socialist-leaning speaker," and nothing can beat Joseph Farah's top story of the day: a proposed rule for the New York Board of Health under which transgendered people, under certain circumstances, will be able to change their official gender. Where might this lead, oh blessed Joseph?

Surely everyone can see how this action can bring to a screeching halt all of the political debate taking place across the country over same-sex marriage. Because if all Person X has to do to marry Person Y is make a cosmetic change on his or her birth certificate, than all the constitutional amendments in the world can't save the institution of marriage.
A simple cosmetic change on a birth certificate, eh? Not quite. The rules require that a person changing gender must provide affidavits from doctors and mental health professionals, live as the new gender for two years and affirm that the change will be permanent. If I wanted to circumvent marriage laws, immigrating to the Netherlands would be easier.

Commentary of the day, however, goes to Maralyn Lois Polak. Looks like with the defeat of George Allen, the GOP's found their candidate for 2008, who as Pam's House Blend recently pointed out, also is WND's newest columnist:

Pam's post also reminded me of reading Chuck Norris' first column last week, when he addressed those ubiquitous Chuck Norris facts. You know the ones:

Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.
The chief export of Chuck Norris is pain.
There is no chin under Chuck Norris' Beard. There is only another fist.
Chuck Norris has two speeds: walk and kill.

So how does Chuckie address these "facts?" By sucking the humor out of them faster than Rush Limbaugh in a room full of McDonalds' milkshakes. Like this:

Alleged Chuck Norris Fact: "There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of creatures Chuck Norris has allowed to live." It's funny. It's cute. But here's what I really think about the theory of evolution: It's not real. It is not the way we got here. In fact, the life you see on this planet is really just a list of creatures God has allowed to live. We are not creations of random chance. We are not accidents. There is a God, a Creator, who made you and me. We were made in His image, which separates us from all other creatures.
By the way, without him, I don't have any power. But with Him, the Bible tells me, I really can do all things -- and so can you.

Alleged Chuck Norris Fact: "Chuck Norris' tears can cure cancer. Too bad he never cries. Ever."
There was a man whose tears could cure cancer or any other disease, including the real cause of all diseases -- sin. His blood did. His name was Jesus, not Chuck Norris.
If your soul needs healing, the prescription you need is not Chuck Norris' tears, it's Jesus' blood.
Again, I'm flattered and amazed by the way I've become a fascinating public figure for a whole new generation of young people around the world. But I am not the characters I play. And even the toughest characters I have played could never measure up to the real power in this universe.
Remember that MTV commercial showing the evolution of "bling-bling," ending with the term's death after grandma is saying it?

Remember when the Macarena became a Bob Dole punchline after he fell off a platform, and everyone knew the dance craze was finally over?

Remember when Pat Boone (another WND columnist) started dressing in heavy metal-style outfits?

Remember when William Hung got not one but two album deals and drained the small sliver of respectability Ricky Martin still held?

Chuck Norris Facts: Time of death, 1 a.m. Eastern, Oct. 23, 2006.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

More than a mere theme song

Rather than obsess over the election returns tonight (although a very happy buh-bye to Ricky Santorum), I'm going to once again follow Mr. Southern Boy Eric's lead and mapping out the soundtrack for my life movie. Not surprisingly, it turned out very, very Broadway. Much more Broadway than my iPod actually is, I might add. But fortunately, none of the truly embarrassing songs came up. And I skipped nothing.

The rules:

1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc.)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that's playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button

6. Don't lie and try to pretend you're cool...

Opening Credits: "Get Higher" - Black Grape
This is kind of an obscure song on my iPod. Basically, it's about smoking pot, splicing in the words of Ronald and Nancy Reagan. But mostly, it's about smoking pot. Hmmm...

Waking Up: "I'd Give My Life For You" - Lea Salonga & Company (from "Miss Saigon," London cast)
Ah, nothing like waking up to an ominous pledge of protection to your bastard, half-breed child. Maybe Lea's playing my mother? That would be pretty hot.

First Day at School: "Miss Celie's Pants" - LaChanze & Company (from "The Color Purple" original Broadway cast)
I do not remember what I wore on my first day of school. Maybe it was the stylish slacks that Celie designed.

Falling In Love: "Bitch, Bitch, Bitch" - The ensemble of "Jekyll & Hyde" (concept recording)
Oh, dear lord. Yes, I pick anyone I date to pieces. Which is probably why I'm currently single.

Fight Song: "Song Of The King (Seven Fat Cows)" - From "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"
Maybe this works, because Elvis impersonators always put me in a fighting mood.

Breaking Up: "All The Way" - Billie Holiday
Now this is depressing. Because it would totally work for so many of my breakups, if done in an ironic way.

Prom: "People Like Us" - Toni Collette and Yancey Arias (from "The Wild Party," original Broadway cast)
Great choice, actually, consider what happened prior to my prom.

Life: "Tina" - Nobuo Uematsu
Again, an obscure choice. This comes from a disc of lovely piano arrangements of music from the Final Fantasy series. Tina, known as Terra in the U.S. version of the game, was a half-human, half-magical creature hybrid who spends the game wondering if she will ever be able to love anyone. OK, this is really getting depressing.

Mental Breakdown: "It Takes Two" - Matthew Morrison (from "Hairspray, original Broadway cast)
In my mad state, I make a passionate dash to woo Marissa Jaret Winokur!

Driving: "A Christmas Festival Medley" - Arthur Fiedler, Boston Pops
We played this every damn year in our high school band holiday concerts. I'm not too good at driving in the snow.

Flashback: "Every Movie's A Circus" - Wendy Walter and some others (from "Sunset Boulevard," original Broadway cast)
Starving artists get their dreams torn to shreds. Everybody sing!

Getting Back Together: "You Won't Succeed On Broadway" - David Hyde Pierce (from "Spamalot," original Broadway cast)
In case you don't know, the end of the line is "...if you don't have any Jews." I always knew I'd end up with a Jewish husband!

Wedding: "I'm Still Here" - Yvonne De Carlo (from "Follies," original Broadway cast)
I must be really old by the time I get married. Or just really drunk, and someone is stupid enough to give me the microphone at the reception.

Birth of Child: "Three Little Maids From School Are We" - Dorothy Atkinson and others (from "The Mikado," but actually from the "Topsy-Turvy" soundtrack)
I have triplets! Three girls, filled to the brim with girlish glee. And I send them off to seminary.

Final Battle: "You Gotta Get A Gimmick" - Heather Lee, Kate Buddeke and Julie Halston (from "Gypsy," most recent revival cast)
And the three daughters grow up to be bitter strippers who commit patricide.

Death Scene: "Last Midnight" - Vanessa Williams ("Into The Woods," Broadway revival cast)
Another great choice. I so want to go out in a puff of smoke, telling off everyone around me.

Funeral Song: "She Is A Diamond" - Paul Jones ("Evita," concept album)
"On the other hand, she's all they have. She is a diamond in their dull, gray lives." Will I be mummified and put on display in a glass coffin, surrounded by throngs of poverty-stricken admirers? Sweet!

End Credits: "Journey Through The Classics" - Louis Clark
We close with a swelling London Philharmonic medley of classical tunes, climaxing with Sibelius' "Finlandia." So I'll be the Eva Peron of Helsinki? Sweeter!

So basically, I'm a pot-smoking uber bitch who can't stay in a relationship but ends up to be a beloved Finnish political figure. Kind of like a really gay "King Ralph," I guess. Any backers?

Note: This does not replace my thrilling theme song quest, the search for which still goes on among four competitors.

Monday, November 06, 2006

'Welcome to New York, bitch!'

My morning commute usually takes me 45 minutes door-to-door. This morning, it took me and hour and a half, and I owe it all to tourists.

Getting to work most mornings involves about 20 minutes of walking and one 25-minute train ride on the A express train. This morning, however, the A train stalled shortly into the ride, and the ever-helpful conductor told us that because of a medical emergency on the train ahead of us, that we should move across the platform to the C local train.

Taking a local train is bit slower, but only by 10 minutes or so, so I wasn't too concerned. At least I wasn't until the C train also stalled because of some unknown incident at the 72nd Street station (one of the coolest looking stations in New York, by the way), and I got to watch the A train I had abandoned zip past me as we waited.

When I finally got to the Columbus Circle station, I saw a D express train across the platform and ran to it, thinking it would save me a few minutes on the remaining ride. This proved to be my biggest mistake.

After we left the stop before mine, a tourist apparantly whacked a native New York with her stroller and told her to move. This escalated into a fight, and some genius--I'm assuming another tourist--decided to pull the emergency brake. In the middle of a tunnel. This, of course, nearly started another fight, as everyone descended on the fool who pulled the break. The native New Yorker, by this time, was in a horrendous rage, kicking the tourist's stroller and shouting, "Welcome to New York, bitch!" Thank goodness for the isolating bubble of the iPod.

It took about 30 minutes to get moving again. When we finally got to the station, I saw the tourist whining to police about how the other woman had hit her. The other woman, meanwhile, had calmed down thanks to a prim, older woman who had sat down and talked with her. I don't know what the older woman said, but we should get her to straighten out that whole North Korea thing next.

There are some lessons here, tourists. First of all, if you whack somebody with your stroller, apologize or just move on. More importantly, however, never pull the emergency brake on a subway. For one thing, an emergency would be something like a heart attack or a stabbing, not two women fighting. If that makes you uncomfortable, just move to another car. But even if it's a real emergency, you never pull the freaking cord in the middle of a tunnel. Pull it when you get to a station, where there actually are people who can do something about the situation.

There was a lesson for me as well. The irony was that I had left home early this morning in an effort to get a jump start on work this week. Had I left at my regularly last-minute time, I actually would have made it to work on time. It's the last time I ever try efficiency.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Ted Haggard exclusive

I've managed to get a copy of a piece of paper taken directly off of Ted Haggard's refrigerator. It appears to be a list of some sort:

What a tool.

In other news, my theme song choices are down to the final four, with "Our Children" coming up at the gym today. So, at least I don't have to worry about No. 3 on the list. Because, you know, I only date men for the massages.

One last letter to the editor

I need to stop this, because letters to the editor are almost too fertile a source for commentary, but I can't help myself, so here's one more. Background: A kid got in trouble for wearing some sort of Confederate memorabilia to his school in Alvin, Texas, aka Nolan Ryan's hometown.

Student has a right to display Confederate symbol at school

Marshall Alexander, keep up the good fight. If people can wear their “MLK “shirts to school or anywhere else, you have the right to where the Confederate Flag under the First Amendment of the freedom of speech and expression.
They preach freedom; the only problem is, they want it just for them and no one else. If it is legal to burn the American flag millions have died for, then it is legal to wear what you want. I am tired of other people telling me and others we shouldn’t wear something because it “offends someone.” I don’t care who is offended. If I am offended, no one will do anything about it because I am white. These “PC” types can take their Yankee ways and move north if they do (sic, I think) like the history of the South and being Southern. These school administrative types are trying to wipe the history of the South completely out of the minds of the young.
Question: How can anyone claim their ancestors were slaves if they can’t prove there ever was a Confederacy?
Marshall, if you have to, go to court and sue the school for millions for trying to restrict your Constitutional rights.

Steven Pousson, Angleton
"They"? "Them"? "These 'PC' types"? I think we know what word he really wanted to use. And if I ever have kids, I'll be sure they wear their Nazi insignias when studying World War II, because otherwise, how could we ever prove the Third Reich, and therefore the Holocaust, ever existed? I'm also glad to see those MLK shirts are still all the rage among the youngsters. Urban Outfitters has a great one, I hear.

Aside from all that, the first paragraph demonstrates something of a pet peeve on mine. A lot of people who harp on free speech really have no idea what the legal definition of it is. Namely, you do NOT have the right to wear whatever you want to school under the First Amendment. Otherwise, there would be no dress codes. Schools are not microcosms of the U.S., and there are plenty of Supreme Court rulings to back that up.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Take that, Winnie Anderson!

Someone else wrote a response letter for me:
If I hadn’t already voted for Mary Ruth Rodenbaugh (sic), I would for sure now after reading the letter in Wednesday’s paper from Winnie Anderson. I expect that kind of rhetoric from the “Bubba” crowd, but from a woman — it is not only embarrassing, but infuriating.
It’s sad Ms. Anderson thinks so little of her own gender. I happen to believe the world wouldn’t be as screwed up as it is if the “girls” were allowed to run things for awhile and the “men” took the orders. Men have run Precinct 4 for the 30 years we’ve lived here and very little has improved. It’s time to put a woman like Mary Ruth Rhodenbaugh in charge, even if she is a Democrat.
If the men on the commissioners court are as sexist as Mrs. Anderson, they can resign. And if any Precinct 4 employees feel the need to walk out when Mary Ruth wins, I’m sure there are women who’ll be glad to take their jobs, too.
Robbye Prilop, Brazoria
I'm assuming Robbye is a woman's name, so you go girl! And while I'm on the subject of Texas, I should also note The Facts has endorsed Kinky Friedman for governor. I always liked Chris Bell when he was on the Houston City Council, but I saw a few ads when I was in the area last weekend, and he is boring, boring, boring. Maybe Kinky's what the state needs to shake things up. I think my mother's voting for Chris Bell, and my father's voting for Carol Keeton "one tough grandma," Strayhorn, however.

See? I told you The Lone Star Times and I can find agreement on occasion.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I guess Eminem hates me

Or, at least, he would if I shaved my head.

In an effort to join in my first meme, I'm copying Eric over at his so highly rated gay blog an doing the MyHeritage face recognition collage. Actually, I've done these before, but I've never gotten an 80 percent match before. Yikes. Moby? Well, I really like that tea he sells. I'm also impressed that the database includes Adam Ant as well. At least I have one Oscar nominee, but damn it, where are my McFly guys?

Truth be told, there were a few others who were a bit stronger match than Dean Cain. But, uh, he makes the list anyway.

Please tell me this is a joke

An actual letter to the editor from The Facts in Brazoria County, where a very dear woman, Mary Ruth Rhodenbaugh, is running for the office of county commissioner:


A man is the only one who should be elected for the County Commissioner of Precinct 4 — or any other precinct in Brazoria County.

It certainly would be an “interruption” for a woman commissioner to come on board. My husband, Donald Anderson, was the safety man for Precinct 4 when he passed away Aug. 15, 1997. And if he were still living, and a woman commissioner would come to Precinct 4, he would be the first one to leave. And if I were still working there, I would be the second one to leave. This is no place for a woman commissioner, period.

The two girls who work at Precinct 4 are doing a great job. The 47 men have a safety meeting once a week, a morning meeting before they start their schedule of working on roads, mowing ditches, taking care of their equipment and working in the shop.

Mary Ruth seems to have done such a great job on all of the jobs that she has listed, that she should stick to one of those listed, letting a man take care of Precinct 4.

Winnie Anderson, West Columbia
Listen, you old hag. I was just trying to wax poetic about how impressed I was with my latest visit to my hometown, and you have to spoil it with this 1840s garbage?

So, Winnie, darling, I know that you're just a girl and probably don't have no need of no schoolin', but let me explain something about a county commissioner job. First of all, the commissioners do not actually go out there and pave the roads and dig the ditches themselves. That's what the crews are for. Even if they did, the woman in question, who has led the building of dozens of houses for Habitat for Humanity, would be a lot better suited to do it than some of the county commissioners of years past, some of whom have been so old that they've had a stroke while in office.

If your husband was so backward-thinking that he would have quit his job rather than work for one of them wimmin folk, then let me say that Aug. 15, 1997 definitely is not going to go down in my calendar as one of the saddest days on record.