Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Please, Stop Singing!

I realize that people tend to annoy me rather easily. I try not to judge and I try to always be kind, but there are some inhabitants of this planet that I think just crave other people’s attention and it drives me crazy! Everyone has encountered somebody like this at some point….many points probably. It’s not just that they are craving their friends’ attention; they are trying to get it from all the people around them as well. And it’s not just the attention they crave, but more annoyingly, jealousy. I hate to pick on only one group of people, but unfortunately most of the time I get extremely agitated, it’s by a member of this particular group. It’s a group to which I actually belong, theatre folk; be it simply a fan like me or a wannabe Broadway Star.

Let’s start with perhaps the most common offense that I am charging this group with. I’m at a show perusing the Playbill, anxiously awaiting the curtain’s rise. There are two people that I have the unfortunate pleasure of being seated near. I am keeping to myself if alone, or if with my theatre-loving posse, harmlessly and quietly trying to find celebrity look-a-likes in the audience. Then it inevitably starts…… These people feel the need to A) Criticize everyone’s bio and comment about how poorly written they are, while making fun of the fact that they have ALL appeared in Law & Order. First of all, I don’t see your bio in there, so really, zip it. And secondly, what the hell is so wrong with appearing on Law & Order? It’s like one of the only dramas shot in the city where these people live and work and it’s a great franchise. Again, I’m not seeing you on the TV am I? And B) They proceed to look at the show listings in the back of the Playbill and LOUDLY announce to their friends how many they have seen, and how many times, and how they saw four shows in one week. Great….super….nobody cares.

Another somewhat common offense occurs when fans of ‘cult’ shows such as Rent (R.I.P.), wait outside the stage door with excited theatre fans waiting to say hello to, let’s say, Anthony Rapp. When the smaller cast members begin to trickle out, these offenders immediately begin commenting on each of them, and talking about them like they are best buds. “Oh, there’s Amy, I’m sure she doesn’t want to be talking to that guy”. Or “Here comes Justin. I think he has Yoga in the Village tonight.” It’s a never ending string of futile comments trying to evoke jealously from nearby fans. And news flash, the fact that you are a stage door stalker EVERY NIGHT does not make you friends with these people. Listen, I used to go to the stage door after shows all the time and still do on special occasions. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, please do not try and make yourself feel ‘cool’ because you are really just coming off as irritating and stalkerish.

The final offense that I am going to discuss involves a combination of just babbling on and on about being in shows and auditioning, and singing (badly I might add) songs from EVERY musical that you have ever seen. This past weekend I was in LBI with a fellow theatre fan who actually works in a professional theatre. We got on line for some ice cream at the Show Place, which, at the time I was excited to finally be able to try out. Excited of course until I realized it would involve humiliation on my part, but that’s another story. While waiting, a group of four high schoolers got on line right behind us. High school and middle school children generally annoy me by just being…..well, by just being. But I try to be open to the fact that they may actually be good kids. However, this was not the case on this fine evening.

Almost immediately I could tell this was not going to be an enjoyable wait. The one girl in particular, made me want to literally cut my ears off with my car keys with her obnoxious antics. She began telling her friends about some audition she had lined up and the task of choosing a proper audition song. Then proceeded to sing each and every song….loudly and badly. She would say like, “Hey what about ‘Tits and Ass’ from A Chorus Line?” and then belt it out. “Maybe I should sing ‘Without You’ from Rent”….. belt it out. This went on for far too long. Perhaps I should have suggested ‘Let Your Freak Flag Fly’ from Shrek. That may have been more appropriate. Or even better, ‘Freak/Ode to Attention Seekers’ from Taboo. The mother and daughter in front of us actually up and left the line and I could only imagine it was because of the blabbering, singing fool behind us. Of course, when we go in to be seated, that lovely party of four was placed RIGHT in front of us. Unfortunately, and to no surprise, the irritating behavior continued, just in a different fashion.

I clearly don’t set out to be bothered by these people. I set out to have an enjoyable theatre experience but these offenders seem to be in abundance. It only makes you wonder, do I bother people this much when I am out and about? Is someone dedicating some negative blog to me and people like me? Who knows and who cares! Just stop the damn singing!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I worked in TV for a few years (a few long, and sometimes unbearable years), in which time, celebrity citings were a part of my every day life. For the most part I would think, wow, this is so cool that Soleil Moon Fry is gonna be on today’s show, but it was a rare occasion that I got really excited about a guest. Work is work after all. It’s funny though how if I saw a celeb at work in the morning I didn’t care, but if I saw that same person out on the street or in a restaurant later on, I suddenly became filled with excitement. Oh my God, it’s Steve Urkle!

Of course there were occasions when we would have a guest that I admired or just had a mad crazy girl crush on. Some I’m not proud of, but you know, you can’t help your feelings, right? One of those embarrassing ‘crushes’ was non other than Mr. Constantine Mouroulis. Generally there was no chit chatting with guests, but the audio guy Brian knew I was crushing and felt the need to tell Constantine that I too was from NJ in order to try and initiate a conversation. He was very kind and sweet and as usual, I just smiled and turned red. No idea what, if anything, I said back to him and then he was off.

Other people I got quite excited about include the likes of David Duchovny (it’s Mulder for goodness sake), Jennifer Hudson, and of course Mary Poppins herself, Julie Andrews. Who wouldn’t be nervous and excited about that one? She’s practically perfect in every way. When we got off the elevator people were just lined up to see her, and many of us were brought to tears merely by being in her presence.

The one that topped the cake though is no surprise to anyone who knows me. Mickey Mouse you say? Not quite. It’s the queen of southern cuisine and mayor of Butter Town, Paula Deen! People would always wonder why I loved her so much, but that changed quickly as soon as they all had the privilege of meeting her in person. It’s like you meet her and you become an instant stalker. Not me of course, but I’ve seen it happen.

The first time I ‘met’ Paula Deen, she was doing a signing at BJ’s of all places. A few days prior, I had met her sons at another book signing where my crush on Bobby Deen certainly deepened. If you look at the picture below, I think we would make quite a lovely couple if I do say so myself. I never said I was a rational person. They were wonderful and sweet and I would actually be seeing them the next week along with their fabulous mother because they were all scheduled to be guests on Rachael (thanks to me and Holly). A few days later, I finally saw Paula Deen in the flesh with her husband Michael Groover aka Santa Clause. It was like a Dream Come True and a Nightmare all at the same time. Of course I was nervous and excited to meet someone I so admire. When she arrived, the crowd cheered (they damn well better have) and she quickly started her signing to ensure everyone got an autograph and a hello. The Nightmare came in when I finally got up to her and Michael and had NOTHING to say. Shocking I know. It was basically a 3 second encounter where she was handed the book by her assistant, said hello and they kicked you the hell out like a wicked awful assembly line. The thing that kept me positive was that I knew I would be seeing her the next week on the show.

So next week came and I of course was anxious all day. The first batch of guests came and I was fitting in a quick lunch before it was time for Ms. Butter and her son’s arrival. The receptionist told me as I was shoving food in my mouth, that the Deen Boys were in the lobby, which I merely took as a mean joke as that would mean they would have been VERY EARLY, ungreeted and confused wandering around the lobby. Long story short, they were indeed just hanging out in the lobby unattended. Not good! I made a B-Line for the elevator, apologized, brought them upstairs and ran back down to await Ms. Deen herself. I was so rushed I couldn’t even enjoy the fact that I was riding in a small elevator with BOTH the Deen boys. Yum! Paula arrived soon after, we directed the car in to the garage and out she came like a beam of sunshine. Inside I was a mess, but I calmly and professionally shook her hand and welcomed her, and simply told her it was very nice to meet her.

As to not babble on and on about the best day of my life, soon after I was formally introduced to her in the green room with an audience of close to 30 people. I couldn’t even look at her so thankfully I had co-workers to do the talking for me. She was so sweet and so gracious and we took a few quick pictures before I had to run off and get my ass back to work. After her visit, people understood where my love for her came from.

Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of attending her show in Savannah, randomly meeting the boys at The Lady & Sons, and working on her show for a few weeks when it came to NY. While it seemed like working on her show would be a dream come true for me, it was actually kind of a frustrating experience. First of all, I really wanted to be watching the show not working on the show. Secondly, it was hard to see her come and go off stage without getting a chance to say hello. Although, let’s be honest. We all know that if I did get a chance to talk to her, just like last time, I would be speechless and kick myself later for it. I did have one chance to say something, anything, when she wandered over to the craft service table babbly delightfully about the wonderful variety of yummy snacks. Of course, I was silent and just smiled and chuckled at EVERTHING she said. Thirdly, I don’t like the idea of Paula doing her show in New York. New York City is too big, and cold, and colorless. The show was so much warmer when it was taped at Uncle Bubba’s. On the up side, I did have a lovely chat on the street corner with Michael Groover; another fabulous person. Can you tell I really love that family?

Since I no longer work in TV, I fear my Deen encounters will be fewer and fewer. And now that I have a Real job with Real hours, chances of me running in to any family members in Savannah are very slim. I will keep my Deen love alive by watching her shows, reading her magazines, buying her boys’ books, buying her books, and pans, and knives, and dishes, and spoons, and t-shirts, and magnets…… Oh wait, I already have all of those. She truly is a delight ya’ll!

Monday, June 22, 2009

It’s Like a Coffee Table Book about Coffee Tables

So, I initially started this blog because I was angry. I was angry and it seemed like writing how I felt would be a good outlet. When I was in school, from the days I first started to read and write, all the way through college, I hated any class that involved writing. Unfortunately that was basically every class accept math. Thank goodness for math! Even in all my TV and Radio classes I had to write meaningless papers. What the hell is the point of that? Let me record some PSAs about the 400 side effects of Advil and film some of my friends in a multi-camera X-Files spoof and we’ll call it a day. It was an obnoxious task that I plowed my way through as best I could. I really had no desire to write about the Boston Tea Party, a Teddy Bear who comes to life, book reports on books I had no intention of reading (and didn’t!), or essays on the English language itself. And of course, depending on what form you were writing in, most of the time was actually spent finding the appropriate way to create footnotes and headers and references…. Do I really care?

It wasn’t until I started blogging that I found writing could actually be…..enjoyable. What a thought. Of course it’s easy to write about your own life. You’re stuck in it, every day. I actually came to find that it’s very therapeutic. Blogging and twittering and all these devices that let the whole world know what we are doing and feeling at all times of the day certainly seem very egotistical. After all, do I really need to know that Barry just ate a hot dog, or that Sandra had to pee in the woods because there were no bathrooms at the concert? And while I am semi-guilty of this by way of needless status updates on Facebook about eating at Pizza Hut or enjoying Friendly’s peanut butter sauce, or posting quotes from Pretty Woman that represent how I’m feeling that given day, I look at this blogging as more of an emotional outlet. It’s not for other people’s benefit, it’s for mine.

I’m the kind of person who, when you first meet me, you’ll probably think I’m a bitch. Why, because I probably won’t talk to you…..at all. If I am in any kind of social situation where there are people I don’t know or am uncomfortable with in any way, I become a complete mute. Literally, like as soon as a “stranger” walks in to the room, my internal mute button is turned to the ‘on’ position. I will smile and chuckle silently but no words will come out. I become a passive observer…..a drone really.

These silly entries are a great way to get out what I feel with no fear of attack or judgment or worry of grammatical errors and improper syntax. Nobody ain’t gonna care ‘bout right English in a blog. Take that Ms. Jones!!! Of course there are some things that all four of my readers don’t need to know. But for the most part, it has been a great outlet to express the inner me, scary as that may be to some. Musicians have their songs, screen writers have their scripts, poets have their poems, and I have my blog.

Friday, June 19, 2009

That Damn Guitar! (and all that led up to it)

So I guess you could say I grew up in a relatively musical environment. While my mother claims to be lacking in that department, my father and his sister grew up harmonizing on the street corners of Jersey City. Hard to believe people actually did that but….they did. I grew up listening to them sing. For me, other than singing Somewhere Out There with my brother over and over….and over and over…..I really started to have a passion for music when I started elementary school, where every poor child is forced to join the chorus. Despite the horrible songs we had to sing like Baby Beluga and Yellow Submarine, and the wicked awful arrangements that destroyed songs I actually liked, I still came to really love music.

In 4th grade I got to tackle an instrument; the fluteafone. I guess you could say it’s a less fancy version of a recorder. That was truly the highlight of reaching the fourth grade. I’m sure we jammed out to some Mary Had A Little Lamb and Hot Cross Buns with a little Twinkle Twinkle thrown in. BUT, the big climax of the flutafone lessons was learning the theme from the Mickey Mouse Club. Oh yeah, it was a big deal. I played that song with my fellow flutafone musicians proudly on stage and can still play it just as proudly to this day.

In 5th grade you were able to move up to REAL instruments, where I chose to take on the regular flute; mainly because my mother had borrowed one from my cousin, therefore, it was FREE. Again, we started with some Hot Cross Buns and Mary and her stupid Lamb but soon got to rock it out hard to………Right Here Waiting by Richard Marx . Alright, so maybe not so rockish.

6th grade was an exciting year. In addition to the flute, I started playing the trombone. Flute players weren’t cool enough to be in the Jazz band so I switched from the treble to the bass and attempted to play these jazzier songs on a big ole trombone. I say attempt because I really had no idea what I was doing. I faked my way through all those concerts like a pro. Who would notice? You know what those choirs and bands sound like anyway. It’s painful on the ears but the parents still go and cheer you on and tell you how wonderful it was and fabulous you were. Please! It was a train wreck. I watch back tapes of concerts and plays from High School even, and I have to run and hide under the bed from the horrible shrieking, frightening chords, and tone deaf singing.

Anyway, 6th grade was also the year we got to participate in drama club. It was what I had been waiting for since Kindergarten. Up til then, the highlight was playing a dog in the 1st grade Christmas play. We put on some small show where I played Repunzel and had like one line and then we did that Charlie Brown Halloween play; you know, the one with the pumpkin. I got cast as the unprovoked yet uber bitchy Violet. Not sure where that came from, or do I???? We got to skip around the audience singing Pumpkin Bells. While both the previous plays were enjoyable, the pinnacle was The Wizard of Oz. One of the best movies EVER; a true classic. Unlike the previous plays where they just cast whoever in whatever role, we actually had auditions for this play and I wanted in. Every girl dreams of being Dorothy right? Beautiful, cute dog, lives on a farm with chickens, on a fabulous adventure where she is the center of everyone’s story….. Well, not this girl. My heart was set on the Scarecrow. Dream role! The auditions were basically everyone standing on stage singing a mixture of songs from the show, and then they just picked people for various roles based on, well I have no idea really. Unless of course you wanted Dorothy. The Dorothy wannabees had a much more rigorous audition process. By rigorous I mean, singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow alone instead of with 25 other people. Really tough stuff. Long story short, I was heart broken, literally, when they cast me as the Tin Man. Oil Can!

As the years progressed, I continued singing in choirs, attempted piano lessons, and was involved with musical theatre all through college. Since then, my musical passion really has no outlet, with the exception of course, of being an audience member to fabulous Broadway (or not) Shows and Clay Aiken concerts! Yes, I most certainly DID say Clay Aiken. I utilize my karaoke machine when I need to get my ‘sing on’ but other than an occasional play of Mickey Mouse Club on my flutafone I have no instrumental outlet.

A few years ago I had my father teach me some chords on his guitar. The guitar that, might I add, he would save in a fire over me. I was successful in learning two chords but then we got to the E, or maybe the F, who knows, and I found it virtually impossible for my fingers to maneuver in to that needed position. After a short time, I gave up despite my desire to learn. Guitars are cool. I want to be cool.

This past year I finally purchased Guitar Hero. And while it in no way simulates real guitar play, you do have to manipulate your fingers in strange configurations. Perhaps now I am ready to tackle this damn guitar! I borrowed my aunt’s last weekend and had my father tune it. It remains in the case. It remains untouched by me. It remains a huge intimidating thing on the floor. I will open that case, and I will learn more than 2 chords! Dammit guitar, I…….will…… win!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Something small always seems to happen right when you need it.

Following up on the previous entry about my grandmother and her struggle with Alzheimer’s, the struggle continues, and every visit is a unique experience. There are some weeks that it seems all pieces of the woman she was are gone. Other weeks, she is talking up a storm. And while the words that are coming out may not make much sense, she is communicating, making eye contact, reaching out. And still other weeks, she can somewhat carry on a conversation; a very short, simple conversation, but a conversation none-the-less.

When you enter her room on any given week, you never know which version of the person you love you are going to get. A few months back, there happened to be a not so good day for her that I unfortunately had to witness. It was like her mind was set to pause. I couldn’t get her to look at me or say “I love you”. Nothing. Now, generally I can handle the Alzheimer’s and the nursing home atmosphere like a pro, but that week was different. It’s not often you look into her eyes and see nothing. The incontrollable emotional mess that I am, I started to cry. I usually try to hide any negative emotions from her but on that day I didn’t think she would really even notice. She hadn’t even seemed to notice my presence up to that point at all. To my surprise, as a silent tear ran down my cheek, she looked right at me, and in a complete and coherent sentence, she told me, “It will be ok”. I have no idea where that came from, but it came right at a time when I needed it the most. It may not seem like anything much, but it meant the world to me. At a moment that I feared my grandmother was slipping away (as I know she will someday), she came through for me. She provided the love and support that she has given me countless times in the past.

Now this past weekend was a whole different story. In the beginning she was a little distant, not talking too much and I was kind of getting that look like, “I have no idea who you are.” “Would you shut up and stop talking.” Which honestly, I get quite often. Well, the second half of that anyway. Not really what you want to see from your flesh and blood. But as I continued to try and communicate with her, I got a smile…..and then another….and another…and another. Smiles from her are few and far between and I got four of them within a few minutes. It was amazing. I think she was even making herself smile. It was such a wonderful feeling for her of course but for me as well. She really lives such a sad and confusing life since being touched by this horrible disease, so any signs of joy, for whatever reason, are amazing things.

I always had the feeling that things were happening in my life when I needed them the most; often times, seeing something that would maybe make a situation less scary or sad. We had an all women get together a few weeks ago and this very topic came up. It’s incredible how when you talk about it, you realize that other people experience the same thing; in different ways of course, but the need for what we see, and the calm we get from it is the same.

After my aunt passed away last year, I was sitting in the parking lot of my mother’s church. Again, being an emotional mess, I began crying while my mother was working out the details and what to do on the phone. I just cried and cried and stared out the window. It was March so it was still very cold and I hadn’t seen any Robins yet. Robins, the sign of Spring and hope. As I continued to stare out the window, filled with utter sadness, I noticed my first Robin sitting right outside the car. He just stood there for a while and I just stared at him. Eventually he took a few hops away, then a few more, a few more, and then finally flew away never to be seen again. While it was probably just a coincidence that that bird landed next to me at that particular time, it meant something to me. To me, that bird was my aunt telling me good bye. Letting me know she is ok.

After she died, and the family has the horrible task of going through your loved one’s belongings, one of my aunts found a ring that they thought I would like. I’m not really a big jewelry person by any means. Partially because I just can’t be bothered and partly because I can NEVER find a ring that fits my fat fingers. I actually have one of my grandmother’s rings and I have to wear it on my pinky. Even that’s a tight squeeze. So my aunt showed me the ring and of course I was more than happy to have it. Assuming that, like every other ring, it would never in a million years fit my chubby finger, I politely took the ring thinking, ok, it will be a nice reminder that will sit in my jewelry box until it’s passed on to someone else. I can’t remember why I decided to eventually try it on, but I did and it fit perfectly. Perfectly! I wore that ring to her wake and funeral and continue to wear it in her honor and as a beautiful reminder of who I had in my life for almost 30 years.

Keeps your eyes open. You never know what little “miracle” you may see.