Thursday, August 24, 2006

My Kinda Town

I know, I know- it’s been a heckuva long time since I’ve posted, but recently things have been so hectic at work and outside of it, it seemed like there was hardly time to breathe much less update this here little ol’ blog. But, I’m trying to post a summary of what I’ve been up to over the past couple weeks.
Some highlights from my trip to Chi-town:
(See Bigger)
We left Chicago the morning of that whole terrorist plot in London, so we had to scramble to figure out what was "check-in"-able and what wasn't and we had thought that all electronics weren't, so I placed all of my electro-doodads (Laptop, PDA, cellphone, etc.) in my bag. When we checked in, it turned out that electronics were okay to carry on, so I took out my iPod so I could listen to something on the plane (while I read). Well, when I got to the hotel, I took out my laptop and found one of the hinges broke. Thank you, American Airlines.

Luckily, there is an Apple Store on Chicago's Magnificent Mile & one of my My Gay DadsTM works for MD Public Schools, so we took a nice walk there and found out that it would've cost me approximately $1,000 to fix the laptop so I used my Gay Dad's education discount to buy me a nice, new, pretty MacBook. It was a cinch to transfer my files from the old laptop (thankfully the HD still worked) and now I can rest easy. Granted I wanted to hang onto the laptop for at least a year, but maybe it was just time. Epilogue: I was able to sell my laptop to a co-worker who's going to use it as a server.

In a word: ELECTRIC. The Ravinia Festival resembles Our own Wolf Trap here in Vienna, with an open-air Pavilion and Lawn Seating. In November of 2005, when this was first announced, I leapt at the chance and V&T were interested as well, so I was a little skeptical where these seats were located.

We needn't have worried, since they were slightly off-center and only about 16 row back.
The production itself was much more than a staged reading. Full Choreography, tons of costumes and the semblance ot a set, construed of four doorways, a couple of steamer trunks and one very large trunk. Beginning with a very "Funny Girl"-esque framing device (during the Overture, having Gypsy appear in a fur, back to audience as Baby June and young Louise appear out of the large trunk), sort of works and gave the performance an explanation for it being so bare-bones. From her entrance, Patti LuPone sparkled. She was at turns, manipulative, forceful, loving, and sexy- very human - not the monster Betty Buckley was at Papermill Playhouse in 1998 nor the miscast vamp that Bernadette Peters was in the Sam Mendes revival. Jessica Boevers, as the grown-up Louise, was much better than I had anticipated and really gave her change from "plain girl" to stripper much humanity.

Jack Willis played Herbie as more than just a doormat who's taken with Rose. His Herbie is a lion in sheep's clothing and he lets it out occasionally but he also lets his heartbreak be very palpable when he realises that Rose changes for no-one.
This leads me to the most cathartic moment in the show- “Rose’s Turn." When Patti lets out her anger and hurt, the entire pavilion was listening. As she sings her final "For Me!" we all jumped to our feet, giving her a justly deserved standing ovation, thereby becoming part of Rose's final fantasy. I don't recall another production of Gypsy that I'd seen that had garnered such a reaction.

The moment between Rose and Gypsy right afterwards was as moving as Rose walks offstage with her daughter yet stares back longingly at what could have been. I was so enraptured by this performance, that I did something bad- I took a picture during the bows with my cellphone.
Waiting for the Train to pick us up afterwards, I took a little self-portrait, just cause of the rare mood I was in, it was almost like being in love. LOL.

One of our other stops was the King Tutankhamun exhibit at the Field Museum. I vaguely remember seeing the exhibit 29 years ago when I was a mere 6, but this was enlightening and thrilling at the same time, seeing all these beautiful treasures that have been around for so many centuries and remembering the Egyptian History course I took in college.
We also hit the Art Institute of Chicago and the Shedd Aquarium as well as the Bailiwick Theatre, which is a regional theatre company that produces many Gay & Lesbian works. I saw "The Tricky Part" and was thought it was a touching one-man play (Grade:B-)and The Dads saw a new dance interpretation of Dorian Gray and then we both saw "Barenaked Lads In The Great Outdoors," which was recommended by Time Out Chicago and we heartily don't recommend it. There were a couple of funny skits and cutesy songs, but all over the place and they needed some sharper direction.(Grade:C-)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I'm back

Okay, I'm back from the Windy City and getting my thoughts onto cyber-paper so's I can post.
Check back later...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Fun With Photos

Hey All-

I'm heading to Chicago to see Patti LuPone in "Gypsy" at the Ravinia Festival with the Gay DadsTM tomorrow. So, to keep you sated, here's some recent pics I took over the past few weeks.

This is Fry wrapped up in a towel, so I can give him his liquid diet and medications from his tooth break. He kinda looks like a super-hero, doesn't he?

Me waiting for my sister to pick me up at the Metro here in Vienna:

Which came first- Munsen or this New York Building?

A few weeks back, Munsen and I and a few other Theatre folks went to see her "twin" perform in Georgetowne. Ladies and Gentlemen, here's Nick Bognar! (Buy his CD)

On the drive back from New York last Sunday, a truck had overturned and closed all the lanes for a little over an hour. Guess who was stuck in it?

Here's what the traffic looked like behind my car:

The following pics were taken using "Photobooth" at the Apple Store in Clarendon with my nephew and niece. We had a faboo time!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Off-Broadway Bliss

So, since I had stayed awake later than I anticipated Thursday night, I ended up leaving for Manhattan about an hour later than scheduled. Which meant that I missed my opportunity to see “Superman Returns” in IMAX 3D, but that’s okay, no big loss there. I packed up my car and put Fry in the back seat and left. I arrived in Astoria at Sean’s place around 3, which still left me some time to acclimate myself and cool off the apartment for the little guy (since Sean’s been gone for awhile, all electrical items were unplugged, so it was toasty when I walked in) before setting off into the city.

I walked around Times Square and went to Mid-Town Comics (my new ‘can’t-miss’ spot) and then had some Chinese food before going down to Union Square and the Vineyard Theatre.

I went to see [title of show]- and I was in musical theatre heaven for 90 minutes! I had heard about this and wasn’t able to make it to New York during its first run this past winter but, when I had the opportunity to stay at Sean’s, the first thing I did was get tickets to see this. At its core, [tos] is about its creators, Hunter Bell and Jeff Bowen, writing a musical about Hunter and Jeff writing a musical in three weeks for submission to the New York Music Theater Festival. In spite of this meta-self-referential springboard, it delves deeper to become a treatise about the creative process- the thoughts one encounters when creating art, how the influences of the people around you help shape it, when do you realise it’s finished, how does one let go of their creation- and they do it all with humour, heart and some really witty songs. Actors/Authors Hunter Bell and Jeff Bowen are simply adorable, funny and appealing playing themselves and their friends Susan Blackwell and Heidi Blickenstaff (also playing themselves) are just as appealing. Susan radiates a certain “New York” style, kind of like Laurie Anderson and Heidi sings the sh*t out of her songs. Each actor/character has a standout moment and they all shine, even Music Director Larry Pressgrove. Since seeing the show, I now have a HUGE crush on that Hunter Bell, who’s kinda like Tommy Drake and Danny Bonaduce’s love child, but cuter, charming, a little geeky, and also a big theatre buff.

After leaving the theatre, I called me friend Patrick (hey I’m kinda talking British), and the first thing he asked me was how much I loved it. I actually told him I considered going back the next night for rush seats since I just wanted to feel the same way I did while watching it. I didn’t go back Saturday night, but I still give this show an A+.

Saturday, I met up with Patrick and we saw the matinee of "The Fantasticks" revival/reconstruction at the New Snapple Theatre. While it’s still in previews, I have to honestly say that I didn’t like it in the least. Maybe the show’s just too antiquated, maybe it’s too ‘precious’ for these ironic times, or maybe the direction lacked spark. I can’t quite say, but I was sorely disappointed and surprised that what I saw (or something approximating what I saw) ran for 42 years. Grade: D-

Afterwards, we had dinner and Patrick had convinced me to see “Jacques Brel Is Alive And Well And Living In Paris” at the Zipper Theatre. He loves, loves, LOVES that show (it’s his fifth time) and I really didn’t have any interest in seeing what sounded like a cabaret revue.

I’m glad that Patrick dragged me to it. Jacques Brel was a great production of some amazingly written songs, sung to perfection by the four-person cast. Natascia Diaz shines here as do Gay Marshall, Drew Sarich and understudy Kevin Del Aguila. At intermission, I hurried to the Box Office to find out if there was a cast recording and signed up to be notified when it came out. A truly moving night that just capped off a day filled with mediocre theatre. Grade: A.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Bad Daddy, Sad Daddy

So, here it is almost midnight on Thursday night- I need to pack for my trip to NYC tomorrow and get some more rest, as I’m still dealing with this godforsaken cold (at least it’s not bronchitis again * knocking on wood *) and also since I hardly got any sleep last night.
“Why is this?” you may ask.
Well, kids, last night I did a very bad thing. I let Fry and Leela out for their exercise time and Fry wasn’t really having any of it, being all difficult to catch and then being super grumpy sitting in his corner if the pen, sulking. It was bath day and Leela was totally oblivious to Fry emotional state, going in and out of the bathhouse. Finally, when Fry got in, he stayed in, perched on the entrance and just stayed there for at least 10 minutes.
The time came to grab them and put them back, as I needed to get to sleep. Again, Leela was no problem but Fry, on the other hand, was just difficult. I finally got a hold of him and, wanting to check out a bald spot above his tail to make sure hair was growing back in, I turned his face away from mine and inspected the afore-mentioned area. At that point, he must have gotten really agitated and bit my finger!
I instinctively reacted and let him go, basically having him fall six feet to the floor. That probably wouldn’t have been such a problem if he hadn’t hit the metal edge of the exercise pen. He landed kinda askew and it looked as if he injured one of his front paws. I immediately placed him back in the cage and he hopped into a corner at the bottom level and just started whimpering. It was the most heartbreaking thing I have ever heard. Knowing it was my reaction to his bite just filled me with such guilt I couldn’t handle it. I called Munsen and told her what happened, planning on calling the vet in case I needed to take him in immediately. She empathized and let me go on with my other calls. The animal hospital almost calmed me down and I settled on an appointment for this evening (mind you, I haven’t even gotten a carrier for them yet- I just won an eBay auction for one this past Monday). I took my Nyquil and went to bed.
That didn’t really help matters much- I was so anxious since the whole biting/injury kept going through my mind (kinda like the Brady Bunch when Peter broke Mrs. Brady’s favorite vase- “Mom always said don’t play ball in the house”), which made me go and check on Fry each time. I think I finally got to sleep around 2 AM.
The first thing I did was go and check on the poor little guy. I fed him a piece of shredded oat and he took it and took his time eating it, while Leela snarfed hers down. He took so long that she grabbed his last few bites and ate it herself. Then I went in to work (my first day back since Monday), the whole day preoccupied with my feelings of guilt. My friends at work were all consoling me, telling me that it was the natural thing to do when one gets bitten and his injury wasn’t my fault. It made me feel worse. On my lunch break, I bought a small plastic carrier to take him to the vet and, as soon as I got home, I got him ready. He barely fit in the thing and I also placed an icepack wrapped in a towel underneath him, so he would stay cool in this crazy heat.
When I met the Doctor, I told her what happened and she actually checked him out, showing me new, effective ways to hold a chinchilla down (at least so they don’t bite) and checked him out.
Turns out that he had cracked a tooth, which explains the way he was eating. There were no other injuries, thankfully, and she calmed me down relating a similar story about her ferret losing two teeth in a similar fashion. She told me she’d have to operate on him, basically cutting off the broken bit and filing his tooth down and asked me to come back in a couple of hours.
I spent some time at The Theatre with Munsen and went to pick him up. The vet explained in further detail what she did and how I’m to administer an antibiotic, painkiller, and liquid diet orally (with syringes, natch) for the next seven days and to monitor his pooping.
So, I borrowed a cat carrier from my friend Moses and he’s coming with me to NYC!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Out of Commission 2

With the closing of "Assassins" and saying goodbye to the cast this weekend, I think I went a little too crazy and didn't get enough rest over the past few days, so naturally, I got sick. A cold, which I'm hoping won't worsen into anything else.

And that's why I haven't updated in a while...