Saturday, November 28, 2009

Welcome to the Weekend After

Which started yesterday, with the day after (try to follow along, would you please?)

On said day, Black Friday, Cat, Rich and Cleo went to Macy's Santaland for a visit to old Saint Nick. Afterward, Rich had to go to work, but Cat and Cleo went to a Chinese place on 8th Avenue for lunch with Uncle Mick.

'Twas most fun - Home on 8th provided some decent, no-frills (and 'no-frills', as Cat pointed out, often equates to 'kid-friendly') food, and Lia joined us a little later.

Before C&C took the train back out to the Island we stopped in to Penn Station for a cup of coffee, which event I documented in this next chapter of my videography career.

Ok, I know - Orson Welles I'm not. Hey, I'm learning the tricks of this trade as I go along. Cleo is so damn cute though!

Then it was out to Hoboken for a mostly relaxing night (my building still smells like smoke, and it's seeping into my apartment in spite of my best efforts - I'm calling the an advocacy office on Monday to see what my options are. If there are any tenants' rights experts out there, feel free to offer suggestions too.) Watched part of the James Bond marathon, listened to some music, called Grandma and Grandpa (their phone was down on Thanksgiving), did some reading and writing and actor homework. Stayed up later than I thought I would, but in the middle of a holiday weekend, why not?

This morning I went to the gym for the first time in a while (remember that cold I got a while back?) and made a yummy breakfast: spinach, tomato and Stilton omelette; baguette with cream cheese and olives; French press coffee. Huh - had a French theme going on there without knowing about it. Listened to the radio and did some more reading and tonight I'm going to see From the House of the Dead with Annie. And tomorrow morning, Cory comes back from Colombia! Talk about things to be thankful for!

How Many Words?


Friday, November 27, 2009

Great Gratitude

Yes, it's the day after all that turkey and stuffing and potatoes and gravy and pie. I was and am very thankful for the many blessings which grace my life, including such a wonderful family of friends. I didn't take still photos at the Great Feast in Queens yesterday - decided to go the video route instead.

That would be Annie and Sherin there in the kitchen, and Deric in the living room. Take note of the fact that Annie's TV has been painted red to match the walls. Pretty rad.

Next up is a little bit of kitchen magic as it happens:

It was a fun day/night, with a great group of people. Cory called from Cartagena during the afternoon, which was a great treat for me. We finally sat down to dinner and engaged in what would seem to be a ritual of holiday dining, circa 2009:

There's more where this came from. But for now, let me just say how unbelievably grateful I am that I'm able to get together with friends and enjoy events like this.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Crazy Christians

Not to be confused with 'regular' Christians, or any of the vast majority of Christians who hold beliefs that contain a striking amount of diversity but that don't fall into a category I'd call Totally F*cking Whacked Out.

Nope. Not them. I'm talking about Crazy Christians. The ones who are apparently out there praying for Obama's death. (and, it seems plausible to construe, praying for all kinds of other nutty things too.)

There's an article in Salon that pursues this notion further, and looks into the actions of a few choice zealots of hate (or intolerance, or fear, or whatever they are), but this Frank Schaeffer quote from the first piece I linked to seems worth repeating:
"And what surprises me is that responsible, if you can put it that way, Republican leadership and the editors of some of these Christian magazines, etc. etc., do not stand up in holy horror and denounce this. You know, they're always asking 'Where is the Islamic leadership denouncing terrorism? Why aren't the moderates speaking out?' Well, I challenge the folks who I used to work with... I would just say to them: 'Where the hell are you? This is not funny anymore. And be it on your head if something happens to our President..."

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Cory is in Cartagena until next weekend. This is more or less what today looks like so far.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Had to do SOMETHING on my sick day

Self Portrait

Continuing the Debate(s)

Nicholas Kristoff in the Times

Why is it broadly accepted that the elderly should have universal health care, while it’s immensely controversial to seek universal coverage for children? What’s the difference — except that health care for children is far cheaper?

Keep up the pressure against Stupak-Pitt, people. This thing can work out.

It's Fun to be Right

Or at least to get some validation.

A little while ago, I sent y'all in the direction of the Brother/Sister plays. Well, the press opening was this week, and the Times gave it the kind of rave you don't see too often. So that's good news.

This is NOT to say that the critics are to be trusted. They are not to be trusted. But a good review can do a whole lot for an artist's career, and McCraney deserves it, as does the whole company. Kudos, and Mazel Tov.

(photos from the Times online by Sara Krulwich and Joan Marcus)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Reeling a little...

...from T-Day, as expected. Getting through the day job in a butter-induced coma of sleep deprivation. Nothing to complain about, it's just how it is.

This year we had the extra fun of a medical procedure in the family to get us going early on Friday morning. All is well, so don't worry about anyone's health. A short pudding recovery later, we finished loading up the car and picked up Susan and Daniel and hit the road. Slogged through some traffic & grabbed a case of wine on 9th Avenue (only some of it was for the party) then kept slogging for a while until we got north of the city and were free to pursue happiness in the form of lots of friends and food.

So that's what we did. A stop at a diner in Connecticut (with one of those fun little in-the-booth jukeboxes) and we hit the Revels in Roslindale (part of Boston) at around 4. Reunited with the whole crew, had some food, went out to Somerville to see My Own Worst Enemy play an amazing set, hit a crazy little party in Lower Allston hosted by a friend of Sue B., then back to Rozzy. While we were out Sue K. revealed the little detail that she is expecting another baby! Holy procreation, Batman!

Next day was an orgy of cooking. So. Much. Food. The Main Feast had about 28 people, including the little kids, and we baked I think 10 apple and 4 pecan pies. Do the math - that's a pie for every 2 people. And yes, some other people made their way in over the course of the weekend, but this still gives you a sense of the scale of food we're talking about. We were set with 3 turkeys - one brined with a sausage stuffing, one basted with 'regular' stuffing, and one de-boned (way to go Tamiko!), stuffed with an entire loaf of jalapeno corn bread, and covered in a spicy wet rub. Pike had his own stuffing recipe, and didn't want to settle for baking it in a casserole dish. So the way he solved this dilemma was... he went out and got another turkey. Yup. Homemade everything - roasted veggies, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, broccoli & cheese (oh, Tamiko hosted a fresh mozzerella-making party too), salads, cranberry sauces, cakes, and of course those pies. AND - Lia made homemade grapefruit sorbet, and Tamiko made some homemade honey apple ice cream. [Tamiko wins the Culinary Queen award for this year's fiesta for sure.] The food went on for miles. Also the wine, beer, cider, Kentucky Chocolate, grapefruit sorbet daquiries, etc.

The video game Rock Band took center stage at portions of the party for the first time this year. I was not as obsessive as some of the peeps, though I did get in my licks (including a rendition of Spinal Tap's Stonehenge that I was rather proud of.) Also, lots of playing with the kids (I was one of Cleo's favorites this year, which was a pleasantly surprising development) some wordy games, and of course plenty of pinochle.

Sunday was leftoverfest, natch, and some stragglers made their way over too. There was a field trip to the Boston ICA, which I skipped in favor of lazy socializing and an epic game of pinochle worthy of ESPN Classics. Then, I made risotto...

Ok, here's a thing that it's important to know about making risotto for a large group: it takes a lot longer than making enough for, say, 4-6 people. It seems that when you double the recipe, you quadruple the time it takes. I mean, not quite that, but - oh my Cory and I had some stirring to do to bring our butternut squash and shitake mushroom extravaganza to completion. Still, it was rather good, if I may say so myself. Oh, and remember all those pies? Add to them another half dozen turkey pot pies. You're starting to see where that butter-induced coma came from.

Then on Monday (virtually EVERYONE was able to stay until Monday this year! A couple sadness-making exceptions, but it was a good crew.) we had some sourdough pancakes and did our Yankee Swap. That went well, with the comedy of parents using their children to manipulate the transactions, no shortage of grotesque, glorious gift items, and suspense right up until the end, including the last-minute twist of Beth taking the hideous necktie and pumpkin spice liqueur (no kidding) voluntarily, nay - actively. As Kevin said, "That's a smelly hangover waiting to happen." All went well from our end - Cory provided the party with a near-mint-condition 5 iron and a vintage Trivial Pursuit game, got a box of tea she's looking forward to, and gave some Christmas ornaments to our hosts Molly & Rudy; we found a happy home for the Pabst Blue Ribbon beer light that lived in my kitchen once upon a time; and I took home a super-secret surprise that may end up in one of your stockings if you're very, very lucky...

Then the goodbyes started trickling in and eventually we had to hit the road too. A good day for a drive, other than the sun in my eyes heading west on the Mass Pike. And after some passenger shuffling and luggage unloading I even got a minor parking miracle in Chelsea. And after a few nights on an air mattress, we were able to extra-special enjoy the magnificence of sleeping in a real bed again.

So that's it. That's the story. 'Twas a fab and fooderiffic affair.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New York November

There's been a lot going on so far this month, and we're just getting going.

Rehearsed for a reading on All Saints' Day (nothing like seeing the 'walks of shame' the morning after a New York Halloween.) The reading happened last Wednesday - a very academic play, but I was happy to do it, and got some really good response, including from the playwright, and one person who may make use of my services as a voice teacher.

The next night I saw Broke-ology, which features a friend of mine, at the Mitzi Newhouse. Then on Friday Cory and I met some friends for dinner at Westville East (wrap your mind around that.) Saturday was an engagement party for a friend in the afternoon, and Armitage Dance at BAM that night - got mixed response from the critics and from our group, but I quite liked it. Was especially apt to hear music by Lukas Ligeti after having seen Morphoses dance to music by his father the week before. (Oh yeah, I probably should have posted about that... we saw Wheeldon's company the week before. Wow, that was a really good show!)

THEN - I taught a voice class on Sunday (I'm teaching voice classes these days - feel free to send people my way) after which Cory and I went to the Giants game in Meadowlands. Oy. For lessons in how to lose a football game, check out the highlight reel from that disaster.

Monday was the Major Cultural Event of the New York Neo-Futurists Benefit performance/party. It's hard to believe that I've barely written about them here, since they've been kind of a big part of my life for a while. The event was good, and they raised some good bucks. Good food and drink; a fun, abbreviated performance; I won one silent-auction item, and donated another.

This photo is totally purloined, and kind of out-of-date, I think, but I need to give these guys the emphasis they deserve!

Went to a brilliant Schubert concert with Terry on Tuesday, and we hit a good new spot in Hell's Kitchen afterwards to talk about some potential projects for both of us. The place is called Stecchino, and I had a very nice cocktail and a good bowl of carrot orange soup and Terry had an anchovy appetizer and a beer. Liked it a lot. It's still really new, so get in on it to be ahead of the curve. Or something.

And tomorrow, we leave for T-day in Boston. Which is, of course, the most - won-der-ful time - of the year...

Talk to you when I get back.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Governator

Alright, this is sort of another political entry, but this info is straight outa Comedy Central, so... not really.

Here's the memo that Governor Schwarzenegger sent to accompany his veto of a bill unanimously passed by the California Assembly having to do with allocating funds for the Port of San Francisco. See if you can catch his secret message...

Thanks to Think Progress for pointing out this little Da Villain Code.

Ok, he's vetoing a rather straightforward finance bill that's actually pretty good as far as I can tell. And he's doing it by means of a clever (by Dan Brown standards) but petulant tantrum over the Assembly having skipped over legislation he'd rather be signing, and a dig at bill sponsor and sometime nemesis Tom Ammiano (who recently bellowed a Wilsonesque "You lie!" at Arnold and told him to "kiss my gay ass") . I mean, it's petulant even if you believe his staff's contention that it was a "strange concidence." Which, if you do believe that, I have a stadium in the Bronx to sell you. So why am I still laughing at Governor True Liar?

Because it's funny, that's why. Even if it's cheap. And, without meaning to deride the sanctity of the Legislative Process (heaven forfend!) I should think it's fairly harmless: of course the California Assembly has recourse to veto override, which, I hope, should be easy enough to effect in the case of a unanimous vote.

If they don't override it (and maybe get in a few digs of their own), shame on them.

Assuming they do... hehehe.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Health Care and that pesky majority...

Ok, we've got this:

The amendment will prohibit federal funds for abortion services in the public option. It also prohibits individuals who receive affordability credits from purchasing a plan that provides elective abortions.
However, it allows individuals, both who receive affordability credits and who do not, to separately purchase with their own funds plans that cover elective abortions.
It also clarifies that private plans may still offer elective

On some level, I don't care about the nitty-gritty details of this amendment. This isn't just about how the money is allocated or what workarounds exist. This has me so incredibly infuriated because it further segregates abortion as something different, off the menu of regular health care. It is a huge backward step in the battle to convey -- not just politically, but to women in their everyday lives -- that reproductive health care is normal and necessary, and must be there if (or, more accurately, when) you need it.

This also sets apart women's rights from the Democratic/progressive/whatever agenda. As something expendable. But fundamental rights for women are not peripheral. They are core. And not just because of so-called "progressive" values. In a political sense, too: Seeing as how the Democratic party relies on women voters to win elections, you would think they would have come around to this no-brainer by now.

And this:

The House passed its version of health-care legislation Saturday night by a vote of 220 to 215 after the approval of an amendment that would sharply restrict the availability of coverage for abortions, which many insurance plans now offer. The amendment goes beyond long-standing prohibitions against public funding for abortions, limiting abortion coverage even for women paying for it without government subsidies.

"There's going to be a firestorm here," (Colorado Representative Diana) DeGette said. "Women are going to realize that a Democratic-controlled House has passed legislation that would prohibit women paying for abortions with their own funds. . . . We're not going to let this into law."

But then there's this:

Essentially, the Health Care bill passed by Congress...

    • Expands Medicaid "to reach a wider range of poor households up to 150% of the federal poverty level. 36M additional Americans will now be eligible for Medicaid."

    • Bars discrimination in health care on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.

    • Ends the "unfair practice of taxing employer-provided domestic partner health benefits, allowing thousands upon thousands of LGBT people to obtain domestic partner health benefits for their partners and families without having to pay a tax penalty through the nose."

    Which is good.

    So tell me, movementarians, what the next actual move to make? Where do you draw the line? How do you draw it? What are you willing to risk losing by drawing it? Or by not drawing it...

    Friday, November 06, 2009

    For your inner Lisa Simpson...

    You may or may not have been aware that today is Saxophone Day. But you know it now.

    Yes, we're here to honor the birth of Adolphe Sax, the Belgian phenom who would have been 195 today if he hadn't been carried off by typhus in 1894.

    There are a gajillion ways you can acknowledge it (say hello to the intersection of saxophones and the internet) but see that you celebrate it somehow, or risk the wrath of the Ghost Trane.

    SO - spin some Sonny Rollins, play old Lester Young, dig some Coleman (Ornette- or -Hawkins), embrace A Love Supreme, I don't care what you do as long as you get your sax on.

    Monday, November 02, 2009

    Do not delay

    Go see this play.

    Take it from me
    These plays you should see