Thursday, May 31, 2007
In other words, the is the kind of sight that, if I hadn't already been gay, could have been the last push I needed to cross that Kinsey midpoint. Despite that, I have to give the woman credit for her unmitigated self-confidence. She was on that stage, dammit, we could enjoy it or go to hell.
I mention her now because she seems an appropriate metaphor for "Xanadu," the musical, based on the Razzie-winning film of the same name, now in previews at the Helen Hayes Theatre. It sounds like a spectacularly bad idea on paper and doesn't disappoint in its execution. It drips with more cheese than a king ranch casserole, has a Six Flags-ready book and even manages to get a key part of Greek mythology wrong (note to the writers: Hector killed Achilles, not Paris).
And yet I couldn't help but have a good time, mostly because the cast and the show itself knows it's awful. It's full of self-referential asides of how shaky the premise is, my favorite being when the always entertaining Jackie Hoffman strides off the stage, saying: "This is just children's theatre for 40-year-old gay men, anyway."
How this got on Broadway rather than somewhere it might have a fighting chance -- say Vegas, or New World Stages, or gay day at Busch Gardens -- I'll never know. I'll also never know why anyone would expect an audience to spend $100 to see it. I'll also never know why talented folk like Tony Roberts, Mary Testa and Hoffman are slumming in it. But, hey: They're having fun, and so did I. At least this time, unlike with my South Texas temptress, I'm in on the joke.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Flying back to Houston last week, as I was walking to my seat on my already late flight, as passenger boarding the plane behind me passed out. Frantic flight attendants asked whether a doctor was on board. Unlike most of the other passengers who were craning to gawk at the proceedings, I pushed my way to my seat and started to read the in-flight magazine. After all, I'm not a doctor. The fainting individual was not an acquaintance of mine. Therefore, my best contribution to the situation seemed to be to stay the hell out of the way. And, of course, it did cross my mind as to how this would further affect my travel plans.
As it turns out, the person was fine. I couldn't tell you if the person was a man or a woman, old or young or whatever, though. I stayed out of it. And I'd really forgotten about it until now, but now in retrospect, it bothers me a bit that it didn't bother me at the time. Does that make me a terrible person?
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
80s: My father
70s: My mother
60s: Debbie's husband Mike
40s: Middle sister Cheryl, youngest sister Pam, Pam's husband James
30s: Me, although I probably won't be admitting it.
20s: Cheryl's son Anthony (good Lord, that makes me feel old)
Teens: Cheryl's daughter Samantha, Pam's daughter Alyssa
Single digits: Pam's son Evan
And who knows? With it being six years away, I could even have a single-digit addition of my own by then. Kids still seem like such a foreign concept to me, but if it worked for Mary Cheney...
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Always go with your first instinct, I say.
Monday, May 21, 2007
At some point in time during this show -- I'm not sure if it was during the unearthing of baby skeletons as a choir pelted out a minor version of "For Unto Us a Child is Born" or later -- I suddenly began to expect Damian himself to materialize or one of the cast members' heads to start spinning. That's how over-the-top this London melodrama import -- Helen Edmundson's adaptation of Jamila Gavin's novel -- is. The story, which centers around a baby-killing monstrous man and one family who survives his antics, is compelling, but the characters are as two-dimensional as these letters I'm typing. The background choir, working in the music of Handel (also a character in the story) goes from a nice touch to overbearing quickly, but you might just forgive them when they give a stirring "Hallelujah Chorus" at the end. Also delicious is Jan Maxwell, who has icy bitch down to an art form. And Xanthe Elbrick was deserving of her Tony nomination, and I look forward to hearing her name butchered on the broadcast. Even when she inevitably and rightfully loses to
I don't usually do film reviews, but this film -- Adrienne Shelly's last opus before her tragic murder -- is endearing and likely enough to be overlooked that I thought I'd give it a brief mention. Keri Russell is winning as a woman trapped with a husband she can't escape and a baby she doesn't want, it's always a plus to see Andy Griffith on film, and if nothing else, I left the theater wanting some damn pie. There's not much out worth seeing movie-wise right now, so pass up third appearances of ogres and radioactive venom victims to give this little gem a chance. Oh, and that mention of Andy Griffith comes with an automatic exception of the film "Spy Hard."
Sunday, May 20, 2007
All in all, a pretty damn good way to spend a Friday: cheap drinks at therapy, that wonderfully creamy mac and cheese at Vinyl, more drinks at Barracuda and great conversation. So thanks, guys, for letting the green guy tag along.
They're already posting photos of the event, but I'm still without a memory card for my camera. So I had to use my cell phone to shoot a making-of while the others were actually taking photos. Here's Steven taking a photo of Chris and Eric at Therapy...
Here's Brechi, Cooper and Billy posing for somebody else.
And what the heck. Here's a photo of us all, that Eric was kind enough to let me borrow.
Considering I've already identified everyone else in other photos, use that knowledge to determine which one is me.
Back with reviews tomorrow! That is, if I can still type. We're running our expo tomorrow at work, so that means nonstop cocktails from 4 p.m. until about 9 p.m. But no cosmos, I'm afraid.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
How do you say thanks to a Virgo?
Don't bother. Whatever we did for you, we probably did it because we knew you wouldn't do it the right way in the first place.
Is McGreevey a gay Gemini?
Well, he's certainly two-faced! But that's more of a Janus, not a Gemini.
Did a child die while watching "Barney"?
Not to my knowledge. Perhaps you're thinking of the third installment of the "Halloween" film series, in which the Silver Shamrock masks were designed to kill the children as they watched the flashing pumpkin, causing bugs and snakes to come out of their head. No, what am I saying? Nobody actually saw "Halloween 3."
Is there a karaoke version of "Surabaya Johnny"?
God, I hope not.
Autopsy photo of anorexia?
No, but I'd imagine it would be a fairly quick procedure.
Underarm hair in mainstream movies?
I'm thinking that new one with Larry the Cable Guy might be a good start. Or anything starring Alec Baldwin or Richard Kind.
Lunar cycle calculation for conception of a gay boy?
Aww, designer kids. I love it!
What's Sweeney scientology?
They eat people now? Run, Katie!
On the train kiss erections?
I'm on the A train daily if you care to join me.
Is there a gay Brazoria County beach?
Funny story about that. Back when I lived in the Houston area, my boyfriend at the time and I decided to take a late-night trip to Bryan Beach, a quiet little beach in Freeport, Texas. Stupid me, I left my keys in my pocket while I was in the water, short-circuiting the controller for the car alarm. I couldn't manually shut the alarm off, so I couldn't even start my car. To make matters worse, this was when Hurricane Keith was out in the Gulf, so the vicious tide was getting dangerously close to my car. Finally some drunken high school kids came out and helped us. I was sure they would give us trouble, because the boyfriend was in a very, um, gay bathing suit, but they didn't. But to answer the question -- no. And that goes for gay bars in Brazoria County, too. Except when I visit one.
Jesse Duplantis trip to heaven?
Umm, thanks, but I'll wait for the next train.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Really, there's not much of a point for me to pile on any more than the "real" critics already have. They were mostly right. Angela Lansbury and Marian Seldes remain at the top of their game despite the material Terrence McNally dealt them. I'd never play these ladies in poker, as they could probably beat me with a pair of threes in their hand.
The script -- centering around the reflections of Midge and Leona, two retired tennis pros -- is sloppy in its characterization of its leads, subjects us to amorphous secondary characters for pointless exposition and drags on about half an hour longer than it should. Little is revealed over the course of the play, and what is revealed is given so shaky a context that we don't really care. One of the prime shocking moments was supposed to be when Lansbury uses the word "cunt," but truth be told, I'd mentally checked out by then and didn't even catch it until she said it for a second time. One can only hope these ladies get material worthy of them for a true Broadway swan song.
But I found another level on which to enjoy this production. At one point, Midge and Leona recall their final match, an exposition game against two former male pros by then in their 60s, which was an easy win for the gals but hardly a spectacular exit. Maybe this whole play is a larger metaphor for how we treat older actresses, giving them roles like this, or rapping grannies, or crusty old neighbors or Depends commercials in their later years.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
About the best I can come up with is those first days after Matthew Shephard's murder. It was Falwell who agreed to meet with Rev. Mel White's Soulforce in an effort to try to tone down the rhetoric against gays and lesbians to perhaps quell further violence. It was a damage control move, I'm sure, because remember: This was when many of us were getting our first look at the nasty underbelly of Fred Phelps -- who, by the way, was no fan of Falwell either and will undoubtedly be picketing his funeral. And, as far as I can see, it didn't really change anything. But it was an effort that showed a shred of decency, at least.
However, those who are wringing their hands over some of my progressive brethren's lack of compassion about Falwell's death, let's recall those few days after Sept. 11, not 24 hours after Congress members from both sides of the aisle stood together at the capitol building and sang "God Bless America." It was Falwell who fired one of the first partisan shots, blaming the attack on the ACLU, atheists, gays and the rest of that laundry list of the far right's enemies. He obviously cared little about our mourning then, so I can hardly condemn those who care little about ours now. I'll also be sure to visit the hand-wringers should Michael Moore or Jimmy Carter drop dead anytime soon.
At any rate, rest in peace, Rev. Falwell. Here's hoping that God shows you a bit more compassion than you showed a good portion of the population during your lifetime.
"LoveMusik" for best musical
Hugh Dancy for lead actor in a play (he definitely deserved it over Brian F. O'Byrne, I'd say)
Martin Short and Hadley Fraser for lead actor in a musical (Fraser was beyond a long-shot, anyway)
Kristin Chenoweth for lead actress in a musical
Alisan Porter for lead actress in a musical (another long shot, as I knew they'd go with Charlotte d'Amboise if they went with anyone)
Amy Irving for featured actress in a play (and in retrospect, I should have included Jennifer Ehle on my list anyway)
John Mahoney and Johnny Galecki for featured actor in a play (I haven't seen "Radio Golf" yet, so I can't complain)
Also, both Gavin Lee and "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only" were on my list and were nominated, but not in the categories I would have put them in. Perhaps someday there will be some sort of understandable criteria for what makes a special event. Even better, this is good to prioritize my show-seeing plans in the coming weeks. I obviously need to see "Radio Golf" and "Coram Boy" and have no need to hurry to "A Moon for the Misbegotten."
All in all, not a bad year, though. A great mix of shows, nothing too dominant among the nominees and no horribly glaring oversights. I'm certainly looking forward to June 10!
Monday, May 14, 2007
Curse this show. After more than a year of not having Comcast cable, and therefore not watching Comcast's all-Broadway music channel, I had finally gotten that darn "Triplets" song that came on all the time out of my head -- until I saw this show. But the song, as well as the entire new revue being put on by Encores! at New York City Center is so gosh darn charming, I'll forgive it this once. Yup, vaudeville is back, if only for a few days, and it couldn't be in better hands than director Jerry Zaks and Jack Viertel, who conceptualized the piece. They've arranged a top-rate cast and a great collection of songs both familiar and unknown as well as a few comedy bits that, despite being nearly a century old, seem more fresh than what appears on Saturday Night Live much of the time nowadays. I'm finally beginning to be won over on Kristin Chenoweth, because her chemistry as part of a comedy trio with Kevin Chamberlin and Christopher Fitzgerald is not to be missed. Shonn Wiley and Jenn Gambatese are properly cute in their juvenile/ingenue numbers, Capathia Jenkins is both brassy and touching in one of the show's few serious numbers and Kendrick Jones stops the show with his tap skills. And my only complaint about Ruthie Henshall is that we don't get to see enough of her. The dancing, choreographed by Warren Carlyle, is as good as almost anything on Broadway right now. Hard to believe they threw this together in 10 days. Here's hoping someone puts out the money to get this (legally) recorded.
Jerby with a Y
There's some saying among New Yorkers that one of the worst things to hear from a friend is "Come see my cabaret show." Having sat through my share of self-indulgent, pretentious cabaret acts, I know this is too true, but not when it comes from this bud of mine. John Raymond Barker -- who coincidentally grew up in Alvin, Texas, also a part of Brazoria County, but the two of us never knew each other until I moved here -- is back with his latest self-made show at the Duplex, and as usual, he's a delight. With impeccable comic timing, he'll wrap up Broadway, rock and rap into a ball of bawdiness and then whack you with a left hook of pathos and relevance while you're distracted. So let me turn into a shill for a moment and mention that there's but one chance left to see his show -- this Saturday -- so tell them I sent you, and maybe we can convince him to throw at least one number from the musical version of "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" (which, in its grand premiere in Houston, he was in I am proud to say I actually saw) next time.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Best Featured Actor, Play
Billy Crudup, The Coast of Utopia
Johnny Galecki, The Little Dog Laughed
Ethan Hawke, The Coast of Utopia
John Mahoney, Prelude to a Kiss
Stark Sands, Journey's End
Best Featured Actor, Musical
John Cullum, 110 in the Shade
Gavin Lee, Mary Poppins
David Pittu, LoveMusik
Best Featured Actress, Play
Amy Irving, The Coast of Utopia
Martha Plimpton, The Coast of Utopia
Best Featured Actress, Musical
Alisan Porter, A Chorus Line
Mary Louise Wilson, Grey Gardens
Karen Ziemba, Curtains
Best Leading Actor, Play
Hugh Dancy, Journey's End
Boyd Gaines, Journey's End
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Christopher Plummer, Inherit the Wind
Liev Schreiber, Talk Radio
Best Leading Actor, Musical
Michael Cerveris, LoveMusik
Raul Esparza, Company
Hadley Fraser, The Pirate Queen (Yes, I said it -- this is in spite of his show)
David Hyde Pierce, Curtains
Martin Short, Fame Becomes Me
Best Leading Actress, Play
Julie White, The Little Dog Laughed
Best Leading Actress, Musical
Kristin Chenoweth, The Apple Tree
Christine Ebersole, Grey Gardens
Debra Monk, Curtains
Donna Murphy, LoveMusik
Audra McDonald, 110 in the Shade
Best Revival of a Play
Inherit the Wind
The Coast of Utopia (all three parts)
Jay Johnson: The Two and Only
The Little Dog Laughed
Best Revival of a Musical
110 in the Shade
The Apple Tree
A Chorus Line
My lead actress in a play category is really weak, but that's because I haven't seen the shows ("Heartbreak House," "Moon..." and "Deuce," which I see Tuesday) that most of the current favorites are in. All I'll say is that if Julie White doesn't get the nomination, that's a travesty. Toughest categories? Leading actress in a musical and leading actor in a play. There are several whom I would like to include but didn't, including Michael Sheen, Bill Nighy and Lea Michele.
Friday, May 11, 2007
Just don't look at my authority level. If this were the presidential election, I think I'd be somewhere between the guy from Alaska and Lyndon LaRouche. Speaking of, pretty cool that Ron Paul is the top technorati search. Did I ever mention that he was my mother's doctor when I was a fetus? He was supposed to deliver me, but I was a few weeks early and he was out of town.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
1) At least I made it to South Beach for one night! The Lincoln Road walk was charming, and Delano's bar is absolutely lovely, even more so when you're drinking on an expense account.
2) You know that nutty skycap who just got fired for bleating Leviticus over the Fort Lauderdale airport intercom? I think it's an epidemic in South Florida. The day I was flying out of Miami, the airport saw fit to announce a mass in the nearly empty terminal. My cab driver on the way to the hotel treated my co-worker and I to a bizarre radio program in which the host encouraged a head-in-the-sand approach to sexual temptation, such as intercepting racy junk mail catalogues and turning off any beer commercials. And another cab driver ranted about Hillary Clinton trying to be more like a man than a woman, which made her a lesbian and...well, I had a few too many drinks to even bother following his inane logic.
3) While I found Miami itself aesthetically appealing, the outskirts in which we were staying -- Doral -- resembled the bastard child of Galveston and Houston. Strip malls and palm trees. I say this as an observation, not a judgment. Some might find that to be a positive.
4) The old-people-in-Miami jokes? Retire them! Not only are they the equivalent of airplane food or VCR programming jokes, they're also becoming less accurate, as one of my convention's speakers told us. Thanks to increased longevity, the oldsters' pensions are running out, and they're leaving Florida to move back in with their families. So dust off those old-people-in-Hartford jokes.
5) Speaking of old people, I had that damn song Dorothy and Rose wrote on "The Golden Girls" stuck in my head the entire time. "I have to say what I feel..." Actually, Blanche wrote that line. See, she was upset about Big Daddy -- never mind.
6) Judging by the hors d'oeuvres at Bongo, I'm guessing Fidel Castro's longevity must be the perfect storm of cigars and Cuban food that has the grim reaper completely befuddled. I couldn't find anything that wasn't fried.
7) Overall, I judge a city by this criterion: If I couldn't live in New York, would I mind living there? From what I saw, the answer would be a yes. And I won't even say what I found out about rent prices in Fort Lauderdale. I might start packing now if I think too hard about it.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
So -- here's about the closest thing I have to a photo. Me and some other celebrity:
More on that experience some other time, maybe. But anyway, Sedaris was a lot of fun. She made something out of pantyhose, stopped an audience member from throwing a nautical-themed party and mentioned that she'd love to do a Christmas Jerri Blank show.
Meanwhile, I'm still recovering from a business trip to Miami (which also explains my blogging absence). Blogging on that tomorrow.
But no photos, of course.
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Spalding Gray is alive and well and living in Greenwich Village. Or his words are, at least. The crew of five performing "Stories Left to Tell" does justice to the prolific writings of the observant, neurotic Gray, who committed suicide in 2004. Conceived by his widow Kathleen Russo, the show is a perfect blend of bizarre experiences and poignant family moments captured by Gray. No one, thank goodness, tries to impersonate him, but rather, bring their own personality to the writings, which range from his early years to his final days, in which horrible injuries from a car accident had made living unbearable. Hazelle Goodman, Frank Wood and particularly Ain Gordon all Lisa Kron, who is filling in for Kathleen Chalfant, was a little too tied to the book, but I'll chalk that up to her relative newness to the part. And Bruce Vilanch is fun in the rotating celebrity guest star spot. It won't be everyone's cup of tea -- I saw quite of few dozers in the half-full Minetta Lane Theatre -- but fans of Gray won't be disappointed. And special credit to any show that can effectively use two of the most obnoxious songs of the late 1990s: the Spice Girls' "Wannabe" and Chumbawumba's "Tubthumpin."
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
I've mentioned my Ernie Sabella curse before, which I finally broke with "Curtains. Well, I have a new curse: the Vice Principal Douglas Panch curse. I had the opportunity to return to "Spelling Bee" Friday night, and I was looking forward to seeing Mo Rocca's take on the deadpan, ad-lib-ridden role. Alas, he was out, and was replaced by Todd Buonopane, who was also filling the role for Jay Reiss the first time I saw the show. No matter. The original cast is long gone, but the show is still in great shape. Special credit goes to Jared Gertner, who has a slightly different take on the incredibly obnoxious character of William Barfee. He even made him a bit likable.
Today in New York City
OK, it wasn't a show, but could there have been a better day than today? Absolutely gorgeous. Clear blue sky, not too hot and a nice breeze. I took the occasion to walk all the way from the East Village to the north end of Central Park, rewarding myself afterward with a lemon slice and cafe au lait from the Hungarian bakery near the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. All in all, with the zigging and zagging, it was about a 7- or 8-mile walk, and the weather was nice enough that I didn't even break a sweat. For once, I'm glad I wasn't trapped inside a theatre today!
Thursday, May 03, 2007
When I was about 8 or 9, my oldest sister Debbie and her then-husband David used to take me and David's brothers to matches quite often, whenever whatever tour from the WWF was coming through Houston. We usually had floor seats, but the best were when we somehow managed to snag a pair right on the aisle where the wrestlers enter. When we arrived, Debbie insisted that since she bought the tickets, she got the aisle seat.
The final match was a tag team bout pitting Randy "Macho Man" Savage (now hawking Slim Jims) and Hulk Hogan (never left the spotlight, I guess) against Ted "The Million Dollar Man" DiBiase (now an evangelist on the Trinity Broadcasting Network) and Andre the Giant (long dead, obviously). Even with my hindsight in light of my sexuality, I have no idea why I was so desperate to reach out and touch a stringy-haired, balding, beefed up man as he walked by, but I really wanted to touch Hogan. So, after Savage and Hogan won the match, David's brother, my sister and I -- David was long past the point of coherent sobriety at this point -- squelched our way out in the crowd to try to get a feel.
As Andre the Giant walked by, my other sister Pam and I noticed Debbie suddenly was stumbling backwards. "He hit me!" she shouted. Yup. Andre the Giant, with the enormous arc or his swinging arms, managed to give my sister a nasty whack on the shoulder as he passed. I don't even think he realized he did it. We were so surprised we completely missed Hogan as he passed.
So there you have it. Andre the Giant beat up my sister. Debbie had a nasty bruise but not much else. I still say she should have sued Vince McMahon.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Just a few days ago, for some reason, I found myself reading the entry for "bacon." Somewhere near the top, it mentioned the following factoid: "The origins of bacon are not known, but it is commonly accepted that it was invented by the Ultimate Warrior in 1956." I'd link to it, but it's already been taken off the site.
But anyway, as a one-time wrestling fan, that got me wondering what the heck ever happened to the Ultimate Warrior. I remember hearing the rumor that he died, but not so, according to Wikipedia. It turns out he legally changed his name to "Warrior" in the early 1990s and was last seen ranting about "queering" at the University of Connecticut. And my sister used to think he was cute. Oh, and he also has two books coming out this year. I can't wait! The first chapter: "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" Beat only by Hacksaw Jim Duggan's latest expose on Deborah Jean Palfrey, "Hoooooooooooo!"
Hmm. Whatever happened to Hacksaw Jim Duggan? Back to Wikipedia. This might be a long night.