Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Confessions of a Broadway Nerd

Most of us probably have a somewhat skewed perception of who we are and what information we put out  for others to interpret.  I have always viewed myself as much cooler than I really am, something of a female Fonzie adrift in a sea of Potsies.  But the reality of how inaccurate that statement is assaults me any time I look at myself dressed in my work clothes.  When I catch that unplanned glimpse of myself in the reflection of the glass walls of the data center at work,  I meet with the truth of the matter; which is that I usually look like a harried and style-parched librarian, glasses perched atop of my head, further disheveling my non-hairstyle, wearing baggy dress pants and an unflatteringly boxy blazer.

But in spite of my heinous work wardrobe and perhaps by an act of sheer will, I might have been able to convince people that I am cooler than I really am.  More likely, I have just effectively hidden some of my less cool tendencies from those around me.  However, very recently I let the geeky horse out of the barn and there may not be an opportunity to regain the tiny sliver of cool that I might have had. Here's how it went down...

For the last 15 years, I have been attending Broadway shows at a rate of 2 or 3 a year (sometimes more). Most of these plays have been musicals.   Very often, I buy the soundtrack for these musicals.  I also buy the soundtrack for movie musicals of shows gone by.  For better or for worse, I know every word to every song in South Pacific.  Younger than springtime, am I.  

During a recent trip to New York, one where many bars were visited and many cocktails consumed, I learned that I have a love for Karaoke (something I had vehemently refused to participate in prior to 5 months ago).  Being my maiden voyage at Karaoke and given my natural aversion to it, you would think that I would be careful in my choice of songs, picking only those that would mitigate the amount of humiliation that I exposed myself to.  A sane and sober choice might have included a rock anthem that everyone could sing along to, thereby drowning out the truly terrible quality of  my singing.  But I was neither sane or sober in the moment that I gave in to the Karaoke monster.  Rather than choosing good time singalong songs, I hit the show tunes, hard. I guess you can say that when the microphone hit my hand, my inner Elaine Stritch came out (luckily for everyone, I didn't take my pants off and walk around in my shirt and stockings).

As I started ripping through the Sondheim song book (praise be to Sondheim) and other classic show tunes, looks of confusion came over peoples faces.  The songs I chose were unrecognizable to the mostly twenty-somethings that we were with and as I sang each one, my husband kept repeating the same phrase - "How do you know this?". I would simply shrug my shoulders and tear into the next one.  I gargled and growled through Ladies Who Lunch, I warbled Master of the House from Le Mis,  I croaked my rendition of I'm Still Here from Follies.  Sure, I mixed in some other songs to dilute the potency of the show tunes, but with the first note of All That Jazz, I outed myself as a Broadway Nerd. 

I guess it could have been worse.  I could have been with sober people who actually remember the event. We have done Karaoke together since, and everyone participated willingly, even enthusiastically. The bottom line is that I am happy to be out and proud. I may be a long way from Fonzie, but in my book Patti Lupone is pretty badass too. Just call me Evita.

Nerd Alert!!! This is my collection of Playbills.  The binder on the left holds around 20. The books on the right are the plays I have seen since I filled the binder a few years ago. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


15 years.   That's a long time.  You can pay off a mortgage, watch a child grow from baby to first date, see a friend's marriage start and end and if you are lucky, you can spend it with someone awesome.

15 years was the gift we got from Spike.  Even though he was an outdoor cat, he cheated the odds and got a 15 year run of it.  We like to say that the things that kept him alive so long were pure moxie and an uncanny ability to look both ways when crossing the street.

Spike lived most of his days on his own terms.  There were no rules for Spike that were not utterly self directed.  He was footloose and fancy free and he liked it just like that.  When he came in the house to warm up, nap and socialize, it was by his own choice.  He accepted pets from the humans an ear nuzzles from both dogs until he tired of them and coolly padded off to a corner of the floor where the heating pipes ran and he could tuck his legs under him so that he looked like a furry, sleeping roast beef.

He took his leave of this world last week when age and kidney failure got the best of him. His last day was awful, but every day that preceded that was joyful and much, much hipper than thou.  So it was with sadness and tears we had to let him go, but there are nothing but smiles and laughs as we look back at what an awesome character and fantastic family member he was.

Spike lived most of his days on his own terms.  How many of us can say the same?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Good Times Ahead - Thanks Philip Ezeson!

For the longest time now I have found my Gmail account to be extra-super-vigilant about identifying and isolating spam messages.  That is until the last month or so.  Now I find myself the recipient of some of the most ridiculous spammer scammers.  Does anyone fall for this crap?  The grammar alone is a dead giveaway.

Today I want to share one of these recent smoldering turds and to respond in open letter format...that is if the numbnuts that wrote are capable of understanding what an open letter is. 

The spectacular offer sent to me (note that I could not get a normal font after pasting this in. Who knows what kind of internet cooties the original email message was infested with.  I have since fumigated, deleted and burned it.):
Attention Beneficial,

You have been awards (1.500,000,00USD) through money gram department after our finally meeting regarding your fund, All you will do is to contact Money Gram director via E-mail:(

He will give you direction on how you will be receiving the funds daily. My agreement with them is 5000USD daily until the whole funds is transferred to you,

Contact Money Gram director Mr. Moche Anderson send him your Full information to avoid wrong transfer such as,

Receiver's Name_______________
Address: ________________
Country: _____________
Phone Number: _____________

contact Mr. Moche Anderson or you call him at +229-99221908 as soon as you receive this email and tell him to give you the Reference number.

Thank you.

My response:

Mr. Philip Ezeson

Dear Mr Philip Ezeson (do you really be easy son or are you
just a tease?),

I am so glad to hear that I have been awards.  Lately, I have
been feeling a little like a Grammy, sometimes an Oscar
and even, on occasion, a bit like a SAG award.
Your astute recognition of this is truly amazing.
I see that 1.5 and many zerosUSD through money gram
department if all I will do is contact Money Gram director
via this reasonably formatted email address -
I anxiously look forward to he give me the direction on how I will be receiving the funds daily.
I was hoping that I could get in all in pennies, delivered via a monkey pushing a wheel barrow.  You have the power to make this happen, this is clear.
 I know this will probably take a long time for the whole funds to be transferred to me, but what a delightful way to receive it.

As for the full information that you requested (to avoid wrong transfer such as, of course), here you go:
Receiver's Name:  Analwartopolus Dingleberry
Address: 901 Yourmoms Bungway
Country:  Lichtenstien
Phone Number: 1(800) URA-DICK

I can't wait to contact Mr. Moche Anderson.  Does he tap dance or have a vineyard?  How is that name pronounced?  Is it Moo-chee  or Mo-chez
or thedevastatingresultsofsyphyllis?  No matter, I will tell him to give me the Reference number and to give his mom a scorching case of the herpes.

A pleasure, as always.
- Beneficial

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Danny DeVito Has Nothing on Me

One of the things that I love about Sorrento is that they are crazy for Limoncello.  Every restaurant, every home, every automobile repair shop, has bottles of this stuff in their freezer.  Every one of them has their own family recipe, handed down from their nonna and they all think theirs is the best.  So much so, that they insist that you taste it.  Better yet, they give it away at the end of the meal, for free.

I can't think of a meal that we had in that town that did not end with complimentary shots of Limoncello for everyone at the table and in some cases, whole bottles were set on the tables with glasses.   This made for long, relaxed dinners and even more relaxed diners.  But this sunny yellow liquor has a dark side.  Some of the members of our travel party over-indulged in the lemony treat, to the tune of some really bizarre behavior and wicked hangovers.  The clip of Danny DeVito below is reminiscent of our visit, yet some how milder (for real).

I am not the biggest fan of Limoncello as I find it to be way too sweet for the most part.  There are some that I have had that I like more than others (funny how I keep trying it), but I am just not into sweet drinks.  What I do like Limoncello for is as a mixer in other drinks or as an ingredient in a recipe.

Being that I am a fussy pain in the ass and because I got a rad Limoncello Set for Christmas, I figured that I should try to make my own.  This will allow me to control the sweetness and the strength of the final beverage and will give me a chance to make a Limoncello that I love.

This morning, armed with a colander full of lemons and a bottle of grain alcohol (aka Everclear - yes, that Everclear.  The stuff that was the root of all your bad decisions in college.), I set out to make some Limoncello.  There are all kinds of recipes with all kinds of recommendations for how long to soak the peels, how much sugar to add, how long to rest the mixed liquor, etc.  I am going by only one thing - my taste buds.  I plan to taste it at 10, 20, 30 and 40 days, until the color and flavor are to my liking.   I will report back here as things progress and will let you know if I find the magic balance of flavor and sweetness that makes me happy.   Until then, here are some pictures of lemons...I warn you, there is nudity involved.

Here are my still dressed, proper lemons, fresh from the bath.

If lemons could blush...

Gorgeous yellow jackets before going in a pool full of the devil's drink

Bad decisions will be made.  I advise you all to steer clear of The View.

At 1 week, the mixture is lemony and light yellow without any bitterness.

One more week of soaking...

Sunday, December 15, 2013

How Many Years to Party - An Anthropological Study via Bar Crawl

How can you tell the difference between a 50 year old and a 25 year old?  That is a question that probably has more answers than I can list. However, on a recent outing with my husband's family, a group that included people from age 25 - 60, the demographics definitely drove the outcome of the evening.

We had planned a Brooklyn/Manhattan bar crawl with 2 of my husband's older brothers, their spouses and their children and their significant others.  It was an interesting study in how age plays into the art of a party.  Here is a bar by bar breakdown of how the age groups handled the evening:

Bar 1 - Brooklyn Heights - 5:00 PM
20's - Arrive late as they were already pre-gaming elsewhere in the city
40's - Order appetizers (gotta build a base for all that alcohol), begin drinking at a steady pace that will be sustained all evening.
50/60's - Terrified by the exotic nature of the appetizers (fried pickles and nachos), order Mozzarella Sticks as they are more familiar.  Begin nursing drinks.

Hop on the Jay Street Subway to Mahnattan - 6:15 PM
20's - Followed GPS on phone to subway stop.  Came prepared with loaded Metro Cards to swipe everyone through.
40's - Swiped through without incident.  Bored everyone to tears with stories of how they worked in the city in the late 80's. Comments heard "Fulton Street.  This used to be my stop.  I used to go to the Seaport for lunch."  That was me.  Even I rolled my eyes.
50/60's - Completely confused by the concept of a Metro Card.  Questions included - "Isn't that paper? How does that work?"  and "I thought we needed subway tokens."

Bar 2 - Insanely Croweded West Village Bar: 6:30 PM
20's - Sidle their way in and up to the bar with ease.  Begin ordering drinks, shouting over the blaring football games and masses of humanity.
40's - Stand with arms pinned to side, barking drink orders to 20 somethings.  Power drink cocktail and go outside to take pictures.
50/60's - Patiently wait for a seat at the bar.  Get bartender to put a bowl of peanuts in front of them.  Munch peanuts and sip drinks slowly, while asking the bartender a barrage of personal questions like - "Do you have a girlfriend?" "This place is very busy, how much money do you make a night?" "Why are these drinks so expensive?" (Not terribly personal, but probably annoying to the bartender.).

Bar 3 - Neapolitan Style Pizzeria - Beer and Wine Only 7:00 PM
20's - Order many Sicilian beers, eat their pizza and their girlfriend's and mother's leftovers.
40's - Quietly and with great reverence and focus, order a nice glass of Italian wine and savor their amazing pizza, marveling at the char on the crust, the milky mozzarella and the tang of the San Marzano tomatoes.
50's/60's - Hem and haw about whether to drink wine or beer after cocktails.  Order pizza and eat half, taking the remaining pie in a to go box.  Carry the box through the city for the next three hours..

Walk across town to East Village 8:30
20's - Walk quickly and confidently, never looking up from GPS on Iphone.
40's -Walk quickly but cautiously as not to twist their trick ankle on uneven pavement.
50's/60's -Ask 1000 times "Are you sure you know where you're going?".

Bar 4 - East Village Pub - 8:50 
20's - Recognize the need for both alcohol and caffeine and begin pounding vodka and Red Bull.
40's - Continue drinking steadily, not veering from the original drink of choice.
50's/60's - Have one beer and say "that's my last one for the night".

Walk Around Block to Karaoke Bar

Bar 5 - East Village Karaoke -Private Room, no hard liquor.  Only beer, wine and Sake 10:30 
20's - Order three pitchers of hot sake and grab the microphone, confidently starting off the night with a Whitney Houston song. Continue to pound Sake and beer at an admirable clip.  Major microphone and song book hogging in play.
40's - Follow along, singing when 20's give up the mic.  Mostly laughing in the background at the song choices and generally having a good time. Drink mystery japanese cocktails that are as close to vodka and cranberry as can be provided with limited menu.
50's/60's - Part ways with the rest of the group at the entrance to the Karaoke bar, preferring to go home and go to bed.

Overall, it's fair to say that the bar crawl was epic.  It lasted from 5PM to 3AM, spanned two buroughs and included 14 people.  Although the older group bailed early, they mad a pretty respectable showing. As I start to think about the onset of my 50's, I wonder  how I will handle the hang as my years advance.

I think the real difference in the ages is best described by the day after.

50's/60's -Sleep until 5:30 AM.  Walk around Brooklyn in the dawn light. Get breakfast and get on the road by 10:00 AM.
40's - Sleep until 7:30 AM.  Get a vat of Starbucks.  Go home and fall asleep on couch.
20's - Sleep until 2 PM.  Go out again the next night.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Tale of the Fairy Princess and The Mountain Cootie Monster

Welcome me that is.  I am admittedly somewhat ashamed of the date of my last post and the paucity of my visits to everyone else's.  But I am battling back the guilt on this one because that pressure to post and read was what put a pin in my last blogging effort and I made a vow to go easy on myself going forward.  Let it be stated (mostly to me, again), that I will post when I can, read when I can, and that's ok.  Wow, that last sentence came out sounding way more like Stuart Smalley than I would have liked.

[Inquisitive, child-like voice in my head] So, if not here in blog land, then where Diary?  Where have you been?

[Commanding, inappropriately confident voice (also in my head)]
Oh, I am happy to share my recent whereabouts with you.

[Soft, bedtime storyteller voice in my head that I have ironically, never used with my children] 
Once upon a time, in a land called Pennsylvania, a group of girlfriends got together for a long weekend at a cabin.  They spent four wonderful days together, talking, laughing, shopping, eating and drinking.  Their cozy little cabin was exactly their idea of a weekend of "roughing it" in the woods - including: WIFI, 2 bathrooms, washer dryer, cable and other, folksy, homespun touches like a fridge full of vodka and wine.

One day, they decided to venture out to the local Walmart to stock up on essentials items like deer feed and chocolate bars.  While combing the aisles for their goods, our redheaded heroine was blasted with a huge dose of mountain cooties, deposited by stealthy, unusually dressed characters from the People of Walmart website.  Our redheaded heroine was not aware of her dosing of cooties until she returned home to work.

Later that week, she found herself consumed with pain when she attempted to swallow as it felt as if there was a grapefruit lodged in her gullet, leaching acidic juices and preventing enjoyment of food and drink.  It soon became abundantly clear that a trip to the local doctor was in order.  Her doctor, being of a somewhat sadistic bent, gagged our heroine with a Q-Tip and pronounced that she had indeed been caught in the clutches of the mighty mountain strep.  A diagnosis not seen since her own grade school days. 

ZPack to the rescue!  Which is where we find our heroine today, on day five of a five day Zpak.  Feeling much better, festering grapefruit dispatched and back in blogging shape.

So, what have we learned other than the fact that there are an abundance of voices in my head? I think there may be a few lessons baked in - 
1) Walmart is a festering pot of disease and filth and should be avoided at all costs.
2) Strep throat sucks monkey wang.
3) A long weekend with your best girlies is worth risking a bad dose of mountain cooties, as it is healing and soul-satisfying, long after the strep monster is wrestled into submission.

Of course, there's always these little disease spreaders to consider.  But, they are so cute, you can forgive them their pox-ishness.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Walk this Way

When we made the decision to bring home the adorable little black white and brown pup from the shelter (seen below), we knew only a few things about him:

1) He was rescued from Georgia with his 10 brothers and sisters and his mom.
2) He was born on March 28th.
3) His mom was a hound mix.
4) He came from a neighborhood known to have a high number of back yard breeders of Great Danes.

As time went on, the size of his paws, his markings and his head shape indicated that there was definitely something bigger than a hound brewing inside the DNA of our new little friend.  Day by day we would search his face, study his long, muscular legs and make a mental note of his lanky and athletic build.

Finally, after five months of daily study my husband had the a-ha moment that led us to understand the genetic lineage that produced this long legged force of nature -

Maybe he was born at Skywalker Ranch in California and not in a back yard in Georgia,

 I can't take credit for the photoshop effort here. This was all my husband's doing.  Nice work, right?