did i say 28? i meant 29

saturn1I snuck in one more play before the year wound down. CB and I saw Saturn Returns at Lincoln Center.

It had an interesting premise. One character is played by three different actors representing three stages in his life, each stage being 30 years apart (the time it takes Saturn to make a complete orbit). The same actress played his wife in the early years, his daughter in the middle years and his home care nurse in the latter part of his life, so she was on stage throughout and did all the heavy lifting.

The early years were too melodramatic, he was too unlikeable and needy a character in the middle years, but there were some genuine sparks when the eldest of the three actors walked on stage. That character had the best lines, but I think a bigger reason is that he was, by far, the most accomplished actor of the three.

* * *

I haven’t seen much of 7-Year Old Daughter this past week. Her cousin, who is a mere six weeks older than her, is here visiting. She got here last Friday and is staying at my in-laws house. The two of them are pretty close, so they’ve been spending all their time together over there with no need to have a dad around mucking things up.

I understand all this but I don’t really like it. I usually read to her at night before she goes to sleep but I’ve only read to her once in the past six days. I miss her.

Poster credit: Jane Fisher

greetings from Asbury Park

Through a set of circumstances not interesting enough to mention, I found myself in a club in Asbury Park, New Jersey on Saturday night watching three hardcore bands. All three bands looked and sounded like Black Flag. There was moshing! I thought mosh pits were passé, but apparently the either never went away or are all the rage again. There was even a girl mosh pit. They’re all very polite. Did you know there’s a mosh pit etiquette? By the end of the evening there was blood on smiling faces.

Good Christ, it was loud. Wimp that I am, I put little balled up pieces of cotton in my ears, thus preserving what’s left of may already damaged hearing.

I understand tattoos. I have a tiny one on my shoulder. Ear piercing is centuries old. If you feel the need to have your breasts enlarged, don’t let me stand in your way. I’m pretty much okay with all the different forms of body mutilation that are intended as a fashion statement and/or an act of rebellion. What I cannot abide by is earlobe stretching.


I didn’t understand it when I lived in the East Village years ago and I think even less of it now. I’m surprised to see that its made its way to the suburbs—Asbury Park is full of them. It’s not as bad as a crystal meth epidemic, but I wish they’d go away.

All of the body mutilation procedures mentioned above can be reversed. They can get rid of tattoos. Earring holes and piercings seal by themselves for lack of use. But I don’t think there’s a way to undo an earlobe ring. Is there? What does your ear look like when you take that stupid thing out at night? Do they hang down to your shoulders? Ick.

it looks like a terrible idea on paper

39_steps1Just imagine pitching the following idea to a Broadway producer: We’re going to take an early Alfred Hitchcock espionage film from 1935 and turn it into a stage comedy. The cast will consist of just four people and three of them will have to play over 100 roles. Along the way we’re going to reference every Hitchcock movie made.

Well, against all logic, it works beautifully. We saw The 39 Steps on Broadway.

This was playing in London when I was there a year ago and I didn’t get a chance to see it then but, miraculously, the same cast that was in the London show is intact here in New York. Generally, they don’t bother to import a show unless they’re sure it’s going to succeed, so I had an inclination that it was going to be worthwhile. The tsunami of good reviews helped.

It’s a funny show but also a bit of an acting tour de force. Change a hat, change a character. I see a lot of small, downtown black box theater and I can assure you that not every actor can pull this sort of thing off. Some of them have a hard enough time getting set inside ONE character!

* * *

This is probably my last show of the year. When I review the list of plays I’ve seen in 2008, it looks like it was a pretty satisfying year for theater. 28 shows. Not bad. The counter resets to 0. When I get tired of the long, late train ride home to New Jersey I’ll stop going but until then I’m going to take advantage of living out here.

am i the crazy one?

The three principal movie reviewers from The New York Times have selected their 10 best movies of the year. I’ve never even heard of most of their selections, much less saw them. And I try to pay attention to that sort of thing.

This begs the question: Can it be true that the best movies of 2008 are small, unknown, independent and foreign features that are seen by very few, or are the reviewers in The New York Times a bunch of pretentious jack-offs who are afraid to lose their “cool-kid” status if they select something mainstream?

Heath Ledger in a nurse’s outfit doing that Chaplinesque walk while a hospital explodes in the background. I thought that was a pretty great moment and it deserved mention.

* * *

The following sentence is from The New York Times film critic A.O. Scott’s review of The Spirit:

“Unfortunately whatever natural charisma he may possess is disguised by his hat, his mask and the murky shadows of the mise-en-scène.”

Is he kidding with that stuff? Does he think that mise-en-scène has seeped its way so deeply into the mainstream lexicon that we’re all aware of its meaning? He’s a jack-off.

i, tourist

In yet another blatant attempt to get 7-Year Old Daughter to look beyond the noise, filth and insanity of New York and see it for the shining jewel on the hill it is, I brought her into the city for some holiday tourist hijinks.

We met Nurse H for dinner at a diner. We ate at the Stardust Diner on Broadway and 51st. The food was ghastly, but it has its charms. The waiters and waitresses have musical theater aspirations and they take turns singing with a wireless mike. The singing goes on constantly from the time you walk in until the time you pay for your overpriced food. Some of them can carry a tune but I suspect that most of them are going to be working at the diner for a long, long time. That’s showbiz! You can’t give up your dream, even when faced with your own mediocrity.

The three of us hoofed two avenues over, past Radio City Music Hall, to look at the big Rockefeller Center tree. It was glorious! I do it every year and I never get sick of this stuff. Honestly! When I get tired of doing this sort of thing I’ll move.

sam+1 sam+2

Daughter’s favorite display is the snowflakes splashed across the façade of Saks Fifth Avenue.


I prefer the Cartier holiday bow wrapped around the Cartier mansion just a few blocks north of Saks.


A big New York City Merry Christmas to all!