Review: My Terms of Surrender

Michael Moore’s My Terms of Surrender, his one-man piece on Broadway, closes today and I waited until the last minute to see it but I’m damn glad I did. I’m a fan of Michael Moore’s documentaries, although some truth’s may be hard to believe at times, he’s coming from a good place. They are slanted, yes, but all documentaries are. Documentaries are made subjectively, not objectively. Anyways, I felt it was my patriotic duty to see this show at least once.

I have to give Moore props for standing onstage for two-hours-and-fifteen-minutes, without an intermission. I expected this to be 90-minutes-no-intermission so I was stunned when I left the theatre and it was 10:15pm. Anyways the audience was pumped and the house was buzzing. I even spent $15 on a sippy cup of wine and wore my RESIST tank top. I was excited.

My Terms of Surrender is half-memoir and half-how-to-activism. I knew absolutely nothing about Moore’s life, like the fact that his speech about Abraham Lincoln and the hypocrisy of the Elks Club got the ball rolling on Capitol Hill to change the loop hole in the 1964 Civil Rights Act so that private clubs couldn’t keep discriminating. He was 17 at the time. Or the fact that he hated being slapped with a paddle by his principal so when he was 18, he figured out how to run for president of his school’s board and won (and 11 months later he had the principal and VP fired !!!!).

He realized when he was 17 that someone who was seemingly without power wasn’t necessarily powerless. He realized that somebody small, like him, could get shit done and it only took a little. Not doing anything big.

He talked about the beginning of the Iraq War when he was one of the only ones speaking out against it and he was ostracized for it. He said that when (not if) Trump declares war on North Korea, we have to speak up and speak out against it, and until we see North Koreans marching through the arch at Washington Square Park, there’s no reason to go to war with North Korea. “I can’t do this alone again,” he pleaded. I got you, dude. As a 17 year old I was against the Iraq War, and I’ll be against a North Korean war, too.

He also talked about the poison water in Flint, ridiculous TSA standards, and how we ended up with Trump. His post-show to-do list in the Playbill includes: 1) Make the Daily Call (go to 5calls.org); 2) Make the Monthly Visit (to your local reps office), 3) Show up at townhalls (duh); 4) Help Flip Congress in 2018 (oh yes, we must – we need 24 seats in the house); 5) The electoral college music go (another duh); 6) Join, join, join (the ACLU, BLM, Greenpeace, etc.); 7) Help form blue regions of resistance (help keep your blue state blue!); 8) YOU must run for office (what office should I run for??); 9) You must become the media (use our social media for good); 10) Join the army of comedy (#mockhimup) because he is thin skinned AF.

This closes in a few hours and I’m tempted to go see it again just to get inspired, but if you have the means and the time, GET THEE TO THE BELASCO THEATRE! The entire balcony is $29.

Winning in 2018 and 2020 is not an option. Let’s do this.

 

 

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Battle of the Sexes & Harassment.

Today I went to see “Battle of the Sexes” and it was great. I love Emma Stone so much.

Unfortunately, although I’d bought a ticket for a seat with no one around it in a theatre that was 2/3’s empty, as the lights dimmed, a disheveled looking male slid into the row and sat next to me. I thought it was weird but whatever, I stayed in my seat. I could see out of the corner of my eye that he kept looking over at me, leaned over to the armrest accompanying my seat once or twice, said something under his breath, and even rubbed his foot up against my leg at one point. I was hugging the opposite side of my seat. Hoping he’d move, or take the hint, or leave? 

I wasn’t sure if all this was in my head or done purposely, so I decided not to take any chances and I got up and started to exit the theatre as soon as the screen went dark so I could be first out the door when the postshow text of ‘where are they now’ finished. I was walking to the back of the theatre and about 10 seconds after I got up, I sensed someone walking behind me. I turned around and it was this person. I stood at the back of the theatre and glared at him until he exited.

I was looking over my shoulder and all around as I left the theatre 5 minutes later. I’m pretty sure I saw him looking at me as he rode away on his bike when I exited, going the opposite way luckily. So, ladies – anyone – anytime you feel uncomfortable next to some dude at the movies, it’s always better to possibly offend a random stranger you’ll never see again by moving instead of subjecting yourself to that. This was especially ironic given that I was at a movie called “Battle of the Sexes.”

Male population: please stop saying you’re not entitled. Not all of you are entitled, perhaps, but you need to stand up and be a feminist when this shit happens.

Review: War Paint

I began my Labor Day Weekend with a performance of the musical War Paint on Friday evening. I had minimal expectations because, honestly, I hadn’t heard much buzz about it at all. I knew Patti (Lupone) and Christine (Ebersole) would be fabulous, so that’s really all the convincing I needed to go see it, and I knew it was about some rivalry between Helena Rubenstein and Elizabeth Arden but not much else. Douglas Sills was out that night and Chris Hoch stepped in for him. I wasn’t there to see Sills, so I couldn’t care less.

I have to say that I really enjoyed the story the most (Doug Wright did a great job with the book). Helena Rubenstein is my new hero, although she was portrayed a bit more punk rock in the script than in real life (for example: she had kids in real life which were never mentioned). We began in the 1930’s when Rubenstein moved back to New York City and Elizabeth Arden finds out from her associates and: drama. Arden’s salon is the ultimate destination for feminine pampering (and everything is “Arden pink”) and Rubenstein sells herself as beauty + science. It was because of the questionable ingredients they both used in the “age-defying” products that the FDA decided all ingredients must be printed on the bottle (thank you!).

Helena Rubenstein was, at one point, one of the richest women on earth and attempted to make an all-cash offer on a penthouse triplex on Park Avenue. When she was denied board approval because she was Jewish, she instead bought the entire building and lived in the triplex for 35 years until she died (per Wikipedia).

Elizabeth Arden’s first marriage falls apart in part because she won’t give her husband any credit for the sales work he’s doing. She says, “The moment I give you [her husband] credit is the moment I lose all of mine.” So true.

These two women detested each other and only met once.  They died within months of one another, too.

The music was fine – as in I don’t remember hating it. The dancing was also fine. But really, everyone was there to see LuPone and Ebersole and they were AMAZING. They are worth any price of admission (within reason, unless you’re Rubenstein-esque levels of rich then by all means, buy premium tickets). You should put “seeing two powerhouse women portray two powerhouse women onstage” on your bucket list right now because OH MAN.

War Paint is your standard length – two acts, two and a half hours long, but I never felt like it dragged. It was too much of a pleasure watching those two badasses onstage to check my watch.

And finally, I’ll leave you with a photo of Rubenstein’s childhood home in Krakow that I took last year while I was in Poland. (It’s the little green house.)

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Don’t Yuck My Yum

The eclipse was this week – on Monday. I woke up as a skeptic. I didn’t have the glasses and I was like, “Whatever, don’t really care that much.” Then it started happening and a colleague of mine had a pair of glasses and we looked out the window and up towards the sky and saw it. And you know what? It was actually pretty cool and I was glad I got out of my own way and saw it. Was it a little anticlimactic once it was over in New York? Sure. But I was still glad I saw it.

My good vibes were then rained on when I asked a friend on Gchat if he’d seen it. He replied “no, but Trump did,” and sent me a link to an article about Trump being dumb and looking without the glasses. At that moment, I probably interpreted it as him comparing me to Trump, but in retrospect, I don’t think he was. I think he was just being himself – refusing to do whatever else is doing, even if it is cool, because it makes him feel good to be above things that a lot of people find cool. Or his office has no windows and his colleagues had no glasses. I don’t know. I didn’t ask because I was pissed at him for shitting on my parade. But truth be told, I let him.

Later on another friend posted on Facebook, a sarcastic, also debbie downer, comment about the eclipse. Jesus fucking christ, people. If you don’t want to look, don’t look. No need to be a complete twat about it when other people are enjoying it. Upon reflection, she, too, was probably just looking to make a joke and get lots of likes. No harm. I guess?

But it’s a weird week and people are feeling weird. I’m going to blame it on the eclipse, Mercury being in retrograde (that fucker), and the fact that the end of summer can be a downer sometimes (I guess, though I wouldn’t know as I’m one of those people who can NOT wait for fall). My yoga class on Monday was incredibly grounding and restorative. Exactly what we all needed.

But my reaction to my friends’ negative eclipse commentaries made me think about how I make jokes that could be interpreted as negative about things that people often enjoy. I don’t want to be that person. And maybe I should re-think some of my friendships as well. Because shouldn’t you be friends with people who make you feel good?

Happy eclipse week!

The above photo is from Monday night. It’s a partial eclipse of Gus. 

Review: Marvin’s Room @ Roundabout

My friend Matt and I went to see Roundabout’s revival of Marvin’s Room, by Scott McPherson, staring Janeane Garofalo and Lili Taylor, at the American Airlines Theatre last weekend. Matt told me it was about death. Yippee. We’d seen Garofalo onstage once before, years ago when she was in The New Group’s “The Russian Transport” (also an uplifting piece) so we had optimistic expectations.

Lili Taylor is Bessie, a woman taking care of her bed-ridden father with her elderly aunt Ruth, living in Florida, and her life, as you can imagine, is difficult, and it only gets worse when she’s diagnosed with leukemia. After she’s in remission, her sister Lee (Garofalo) comes to visit with her two children, Hank and Charlie (played by Jack DiFalco and Luca Padovan, respectively). Hank also happens to be on leave from his stay at a “looney bin” (their words) after burning his family’s house down.

To say Marvin’s Room is depressing is an understatement of epic proportions. Bessie and Lee try to revive their sisterly relationship and Bessie connects better with Hank than his mother ever could have. Garofalo is very good – she gets the job done. And although I’ve enjoyed Lili Taylor onscreen in the past, the stage is not her sweet spot. DiFalco and Padvocan, the sons, were probably the highlight for me, as well as Celia Weston (Bessie’s aunt Ruth).

I’m not sad I saw this, but you should definitely know how depressing it is before you head into the theatre. Just so that your expectations are tempered enough.

Quiet Night In (Not)

I’d planned on having a quiet night in on Saturday night. I really did. I was planning on cooking, hanging out with the furbabies, and possibly reconnecting with my acoustic guitar for the first time in WAY too long. I’d gone to a Kundalini yoga class in the morning and to see Marvin’s Room with Matt (I heart him living closer) in the afternoon and I was getting ready to take off my clothes and settle in. I’d even canceled a tentatively planned date because it was quite obvious that neither one of us was all that interested in the other (as evidenced by our infrequent texts, inability to make ACTUAL PLANS, etc.). I wasn’t upset (my ambivalence over this perfectly nice dude was why I canceled). It just was what it was. I’d even made the choice NOT to ghost him and to actual tell him that I was canceling. #adulting

Then Kristen texted and said she was at a bar on the UES after a friend’s baby shower and I should come over. I dreaded the process of actually getting to the bar (Infirmary on 89th and 2nd) because it took forever last time I had to get to that area, but the train and bus actually synched up pretty well and I got there in 20 minutes. We ate appetizers, drank fRoses, and then I dragged Kristen a couple of blocks away to Caledonia East, a great Scottish cocktail bar where my friend was bartending for the night.

About 30 minutes after we arrived, I noticed a couple walk in and sit down next to us (technically next to Kristen) and I was 99% sure it was the guy I’d canceled on with a new date. I immediately felt less bad and laughed. Out loud. I think he saw me and they then moved to the far end of the bar and a few minutes later left altogether. I told Kristen and my friend who was bartending and we laughed at the coincidence that he would roll into the bar we were in out of all the others in the neighborhood. Only happens to me. (And I’m cool with that because it makes for a great story.) A little while later he texted me saying he was surprised I was on the east side. I guess it was him.

We Uber’ed it back to my apartment after a drink so I could feed my the furballs and we headed over to The Hamilton, which is owned by the same gentleman as Caledonia, and it is equally as amazing. After a few more drinks, we headed back to my apartment and promptly passed out. Kristen had planned to drive home about 5 hours earlier but any attempt to operate a motor vehicle in her (our) state would have resulted in a swift tit punch from yours truly, so she passed out on my couch and I in my bed.

It totally wasn’t the night either one of us had planned, but it was a great night. We spent morning eating egg and cheese sandwiches, snuggling with the cats, and watching The Big Short.

 

Happenings

It’s been a while since my last post. Lots has happened. I went to London and Dublin by myself and had a great time. But that was because my boyfriend and I broke up after a little more than two years together. To be honest, I am relieved. I am happy. I was sad. But I feel like myself again. I am alive again.

To be honest, our relationship hadn’t been great for at least six months. Maybe a year. I think he’d concur with that, but even if he didn’t, this is how it was for me. I don’t know why I stayed in it for so long. I guess because I know good relationships take work. But this was too much work. We even saw a relationship therapist a couple of times, but it wasn’t working. He was – is – a good person. He has a good heart. He meant well. We just weren’t a good fit. My soulmate: he was not. (And I believe we have multiple soulmates in this life.)

To be honest, I think the election kind of tore us apart. He didn’t vote, but I sure as fuck did. He didn’t like Trump enough to vote for him but he really didn’t like Hillary. He was pro-choice and pro-gay marriage but we differed on basically everything else. I tried to deny that this bothered me, and I got away with it for a while, but now I don’t have to anymore. His politics grossed me out. I was ashamed. Maybe I shouldn’t have been. Maybe I was – and am – overreacting. I don’t know.

So when I say I feel like myself again, I mean that I feel free to have my political opinions again without having to worry that I’ll be verbally berated for them. I mean to say that he liked to argue about things and I didn’t. When he thought he was right, that was it. He was right and nothing I could say would change his mind. The conflict came because I didn’t care enough to debate things with him. I didn’t feel the need to convince him to see things my way. This bothered him because, as I said previously, he liked to argue.

A family member of mine said it perfectly once: Republicans are evil and Democrats are clueless.

This is true. It has always been true.

We took a break, he had a break down, our therapist found him a therapist, and then we met for dinner to formally break up. It was one of the most adult-yist break ups ever. It was civilized. It was basically mutual. He started seeing a professional to sort things out and I was happy for him. He came by my apartment to get his things after. It was sad, but we knew it was the right thing to do.

I went on the trip that we were supposed to take together (to London and Dublin) on my own and I was thrilled about it. Yes, I picked a shitty hotel in London that I then expensively upgraded to a better one once I arrived, and my legs burned from walking in shitty shoes, but I needed that trip. I needed to sort my head out and remember what it was like to be myself again. I kissed an Englishman in Dublin who was on a weekend holiday for his 30th birthday and I began to feel optimistic about dating again as I headed home from Dublin.

I also saw ONCE, which just happened to have a production playing for the summer, in Dublin, too, which was cathartic. I cried.

I started reading “All the Single Ladies” abroad, too, and I’m still reading it. It’s nice to be reminded that being “alone” is better than being in a bad relationship. Refuting marriage and time-consuming relationships isn’t a new idea for women either.

I know I’ll be OK because I already am. I’m considered “alone” only because I’m not tied down to a man, but I love my job, my friends (and family, obviously), and my cats. I have my yoga practice and my teacher, who is 100% there for me. I’m totally looking forward to going to my cousin’s wedding in a week stag and I have a yoga retreat coming up in mid-August that is also going to be amazing (read: free-roaming chickens).

I am going to OZY Fest this weekend and then, perhaps, Meowmania in Brooklyn because I’ll pour money into any event that raises money for cats.

One day at a time. But I know this is the right thing.

Spotting at Summer Solstice Times Square

One of the reasons I can recall for committing to the yoga teacher training intensive in January was back a few years ago at a Lole event in Central Park. I saw people who I only assumed were certified teachers walking around adjusting participants. I remember thinking to myself, “I’ve been doing this long enough so I could do that. I just need the credentials.” I supposed I wanted to be, not a full time yoga teacher, but someone who dabbles occasionally in spotting and adjusting (and maybe teaching one day, who knows).

So this year when the annual Summer Solstice in Times Square was announced, I reached out to the people at Times Square Alliance to offer up my services. I sent it to a general email address and I think I reached out on Twitter, but I didn’t expect my general email to reach the right people.

BUT! on Monday I received an email asking for a copy for a signature on a waiver and a copy of my teaching training certificate. Today I received my confirmation email. If anyone is going to the first early morning class, let me know. I’ll be there walking around and offering adjustments (this is actually really nerve wracking).

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My TONYs Post-Mortem

I ended up at a long-time friend’s apartment last night with some other similarly individuals to view The Tonys. Overall, I’d say this year’s was pretty boring. Kevin Spacey did an excellent job as host – he has a great voice. The opening number meant well but it felt really choppy and slow.

Groundhog Day picked the WRONG number to perform. I’m assuming they just needed something with the entire cast that wouldn’t cost too much to stage, but wow, they picked an awful number. It was so boring. I think it sold zero tickets, so that was a waste of $500k on the part of the producers. On the other hand, Dear Evan Hansen and Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 did fantastic numbers. It was really moving to see Ben Platt perform, and although his voice was a little shaky to start, he nailed the high notes in the latter part of the song. He deserved his TONY Award. Lastly though, the Hello, Dolly! performance? What was that?! I went to refill my drink at that point.

Somebody should’ve gotten a hook and pulled Bette Midler off that stage because goddamn. Snooze. And did Sutton Foster wake up from a nap right before walking onstage? She needed a blowout.

Best Costume Design of a Musical should definitely have gone to Great Comet. I have no idea what the voters were thinking with Hello, Dolly!. I mean, really?

Christopher Ashley (Come From Away) definitely deserved the Best Direction award. The direction is stellar. They were on point when they voted for The Great Comet for Best Scenic Design, because, COME ON. Have you seen the inside of the Imperial Theatre lately?

I really wanted Jen Colella to win Best Featured Actress, but I hear Rachel Bay Jones is excellent, so congrats to her. I was also very excited for Laurie Metcalf and her win. She deserved it.

Another year down. I can’t wait to see what the next season has in store!

The full list is here.

 

Review: Six Degrees of Separation

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I had seen exactly zero of the nominees of Best Revival of a Play until last week when Kristen and I purchased tickets on TDF for Six Degrees of Separation, starring the hysterical Allison Janney. The show isn’t selling well and we ended up in the front row. We questioned why this was the case because: Allison Janey, until we saw the play. It’s 100 minutes that is really incapable of being sold in an elevator pitch. Let me try though: “Six Degrees is about three different couples in Manhattan who all have the rug pulled out from under them by a talented conman.” Okay, there, I did it, sort of. But really, does that sound like a play that you’d pay $130/ticket to see? Probably not.

It starts out the day after a couple (Allison Janney and John Benjamin Hickey), an affluent pair of Manhattanites, have been conned, and they’re entertaining their friends with the story. Flashback to the night before and we meet Paul (Corey Hawkins) an incredibly well-spoken and smart African American young man who claims to be friends with their son at Harvard.

The most hysterical part of this one-act anomaly was a monologue delivered by Doug (played by Cody Kostro) during a montage of whiny monologues from the children of these upper Manhattanites. His is by far the most affected and dejected, and hysterical. “You said sex with dad was like having sex with a salad.” Epic. That was the only way to describe it.

This a relatively large cast for a straight play, but luckily, it’s a talented cast. Allison Janney, John Benjamin Hickey, and Cody Kostro were the stand-outs for me for sure.

Since it’s only 100 minutes, it’s a good night at the theatre to see some fantastic talent and laugh your ass off. Even if you leave the theatre a little confused.