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February 23, 2014 — Winter is Coming and Refuses to Leave
As the winter continues, my schedule looks like spring. It’s proving to be an awesome, busy year, and I’m happy to take these few hours to catch you all up on the goings ons over here!
PROJECTING THE FUTURE
So many projects this spring that I probably should go chronologically which now that I look at the word is a really logical choice when trying to describe things coming up in time…
Weekly Tuesdays – I have regular showcases already full for Tuesdays starting 2/4 (which already happened) through 4/29. In addition, I’ve added 3 special showcases in Feb/ March, meaning we’ll hit 300 showcases in May!
Wednesday, Marcy 19th Cancer benefit – I’m accompanying a benefit for cancer at the Duplex.
Thursday, March 27th THE PUFF reading – so remember I wrote those songs for Final Frontier, the Star Trek parody musical? We are doing a reading of the play that features those songs at Dixon Place (in the LES).
Friday, April 4th NOT YOUR GRANDMA’S CABARET (unless she’s really naughty) at 9PM – we are doing a brand new revue of my dirtiest, filthiest, naughtiest, raunchiest songs! It’s going to be epic. But I don’t recommend it for anyone who gets offend by ANYthing, b/c we’re going to really cross the line as many times as possible in an hour. More details at: sethbh.com/naughty !!!!
Friday, April 4th MUSIC VIDEO! What!? I wrote 3 new songs for the naughty cabaret, and the new finale is so hilarious and unique that we are going to make a music video of it, and I hope it goes viral. I think it will. I’m going into the studio with 2 of my Broadway credited friends, and my friend Josh (whose “I’m a Nerd” video got 40K views on the youtube) is going to direct the video which will feature at least 48 people. I am not going to reveal anything more about this, but I’m very excited. This will probably take most of March to produce. We’re also going to release the song as a single on the iTunes, with all the $ going to LQ.
Tuesdays, May 6th, 13th, 20th, 27th; Friday, May 9th; Thursday, May 22nd, 7PM: THE 300th SHOWCASE EXTRAVAGANZA !!!! SIX concerts of my SONGS to celebrate hitting 300 showcases featuring (I hope) at least one hundred performers!!!
Thursday, May 15th Suicide Prevention benefit – I’m accompanying a benefit for Suicide Prevention up at the Underground.
Sometime in May – We’re doing a backer’s reading of LOVE QUIRKS in the hopes of moving the show off-Broadway this fall. We are also considering doing another kickstarter campaign this summer; though I am loath to beg people for $$ again, it seems to be the best way to get the show where it needs to go. In the meantime, I would like to remind you all to buy the cast recording on iTunes!
Sometime in June – Season 4 of EVERY DAY A LITTLE SETH! WOO! I have begun crafting the 6 episodes, and I think they’re going to be awesome. I hope to start them mid-June for 6 weeks.
In addition to those, I accompanied auditions all week and have another at least 5 audition dates coming up in March, which is exciting but exhausting. I do enjoy playing for hundreds of actors every day though!
And I got asked to be a part of this new songwriter series at Stand Up NY… not sure when that’s happening yet… and I might be involved in a few other things, but as of press time, I am not sure of those details… and I have begun writing a new project, as well, but that is under wraps till there’s at least a draft…
August wise, I am hoping to vacation out of the country again. More details when it gets closer to summer!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
I have officially gotten to an age where I don’t even mention the number anymore. Regardless of enumerational acknowledgement, I am going to be celebrating another birthday on FRIDAY!!!!!!!!! This email also, thus, serves as a reminder to those of you who don’t lurk on facebook every night at midnight to post on people’s walls… so you have no excuse. If the calendar hits March… you’ve missed it! 🙂
I’m excited to celebrate my birthday, and I am expecting a decent turn out to party, and I’m already booked every night this week with people who can’t make my party taking me out. I intend to stretch out my birthday as long as possible… in fact, I have at least one friend who still hasn’t taken me out from LAST year, so even last year’s birthday is still ongoing at this time.
For my birthday, you are not required to do anything, but I highly recommend buying the LOVE QUIRKS CAST RECORDING… I’m also partial to being taken to shows, amazon.com gift certificates and chocolate.
A WONDERLAND HUNT
I can FINALLY talk about the Mystery Hunt AKA the BEST weekend of my life!! After 16 years of solving, we won the 2013 hunt, and I got to spend the ENTIRE year working crafting puzzles for 2014!!! Our theme was Wonderland… we started off with a fake conference, but then the Cheshire Cat butted in and said there were all these cards loose around MIT, and the teams needed to solve the card’s puzzles to find the beast lurking around MIT… it turned out the beast was the Jabberwock, but after solving all the first 3 rounds and meeting him, he told everyone that the real beast was Alice. So then the final 6 rounds had to be solved before teams could send her back to Wonderland and close all the rabbit holes that had opened up between Wonderland and MIT.
I wrote FOUR puzzles, which were all well reviewed. The first puzzle I wrote was one of the first ones to open for the hunt and was solved by 53/54 active teams… more than any other puzzle!! (It’s also possible that on the last day after the coin was found, I started really helping some of the smaller teams to solve it.)
I am actually doing the season premiere of Season 4 of EDALS about this, but you can see links for all my puzzles and the entire hunt itself at: sethbh.com/hunt !!!
If you would like to try my puzzles, do NOT look at the solutions! I am happy to hint you through them… so far Monica and Trevor solved the TV one all on their own, and Miriam solved the TV one, the Muppet one AND the musical theatre one with a copious amount of hinting (but she’d never seen a Mystery Hunt puzzle before).
Mystery Hunt Puzzles don’t come with instructions, so first you have to identify as much as you can, and then figure out from that what you should do next. It takes some getting used to to figure out the ways to solve them…
In addition to my puzzles, I was also in charge of EVENTs – throughout the weekend, we had 5 events spread out which in essence became the 10th meta round to solve (3 MIT rounds, 6 Wonderland rounds, you needed all 10 meta answers to move onto the final runaround). The first event was one I co-wrote with Rob, and it was a musical theatre audition event — but instead of regular auditions, it was a Wonderland audition — so we gave them the songs they needed to sing out of order, one note in a time, and they had to recreate the songs… once that happened, they found out they were all Disney songs and they had to sing them one word at a time (one person per word) to audition. Then, we gave one person in each group a callback, and at the end they had to rearrange those words to find the clue phrase “A NOTE’S STAFF POSITION CONTROLS ITS STEM DIRECTION.”
There are videos from this event in the highlight reel linked to the MIT page from my page. There’s also a clip of me teaching the Time Warp, or Clam It, Janet for the Lobster Quadrille, which was our 2nd event – a dance party where they had to come learn 6 dances that were seafood themed, and we put letters on their cards when they successfully did, and then when they put their cards together (there were 5 parts of a lobster and they had to find the 4 others to be a group), it spelled the answer phrase.
The next event was Cards Against Wonderland – it turns out one of the creators of Cards Against Humanity was on our team, so we were able to get cards in the actual format, and we made them MIT/ Wonderland/ Hunt themed. This was very well received except by one team that didn’t have many MIT students.
After that was WONDERWANG, and event I co-wrote that mocked the British skit Numberwang (you can youtube it)… this was like the card game Mao where the teams had to figure out rules for words we were giving them, then at the end we gave them the final wonderwang sheet and they picked out the 7 words that fit the rules we taught them in the 7 rounds for the answer.
ANYWAY, it was a tremendous weekend. It’s been called the best hunt ever by multiple people, not on our team, and in many blogs and livejournals we were lauded for almost everything. Not that there weren’t a few hitches, but on the whole, I think we did a remarkable job, and I’m very proud to have been involved. There’s a great quote about events on my site, too…
At least go click on Let’s Create Some Melodies and watch the puppet videos I did with Staci & Ryan!!!! (sethbh.com/hunt)
HUNGRY, HUNGRY KITTY
I have been writing voraciously today, and Smee is staring at me wondering what is taking all my attention and why I haven’t fed him in an hour. He remains very healthy; even though he is 7, he doesn’t look a day over 5! He wants me to remind you that he is up to 181 followers on the facebook, and that you can be one of them if you click “like” on facebook.com/smeekitty …
Smee is really looking forward to filming Season 4 of EDALS; he has some great ideas planned for his segments. He will be prominently featured in at least 2 of the episodes, but he has signed on to be in all 6 at least as a cameo cat!
IT’S TIME TO PLAY THE MUSIC
I am happy to announce that the project I started in January 2010 — to listen alphabetically to my entire iTunes library of 28, 006 mp3s — has been COMPLETED. It only took a little over 4 years! So phew! Now of course I feel like I need to go to the library and rip another few hundred CDs, but for the moment, I can say that I have listened to EVERY recording I have. Every single track in my iTunes now has its “last time listened to” field filled… (try saying that 10 times fast)…
Also, while I did that I sorted the entire library into audition material I’d recommend to actors – both my voice type and type of song. So it wasn’t all just listening… it’s important to be productive even when you’re being passive.
I have been rotating between reading a few hundred pages in the great biography on Jim Henson’s life and finishing the Beautiful Creatures series. At the moment I am very close to finishing Book 3 of 4, and will probably get through it later tonight…
I’ll probably do another 100 pages of Jim, and then finish book 4, and then I am open to suggestions?
I need to borrow a copy of Mindy Kaling’s book at some point, and I think I’d like to read Sarah Silverman’s as well.
I think I should write my own book some day, but probably not till I’m famous-er.
I AM OUT OF MOVIE PUNS
Since the last ledger, I went to see August: Osage County and Her on New Year’s Day. Osage was not as good as the play at all, and I’m not sure really translated that well into a movie. Her, on the other hand, was exquisite and my personal pick for Best Movie this year. Wonderfully written and incredibly acted. Such a touching, beautiful allegory for our times!
I saw a free preview of this new Elisabeth Moss movie, The One I Love — it wasn’t very good. They are still in the process of re-tooling it – it was one of those previews where we had to fill out a survey after, but I don’t think it’s salvageable…
March movies include MUPPETS MOST WANTED!!!! WOO!!! I cannot wait for the new Muppet movie!!!!!!! Also VERONICA MARS is coming back on the movie screen, and I’m quite excited – I have been rewatching the entire series on DVD, and I’m looking forward to this.
Besides those 2, I’m going to see DIVERGENT b/c I read all those books after seeing a preview for the movie at the Hunger Games… looking forward to that.
And finally, I am excited for the new Wes Anderson movie, THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL. I was looking forward to seeing it within 2 seconds of seeing a preview for it at the Book Thief. I always do Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down for previews, and it’s almost always a Thumbs Down, but for this one I had my thumb up faster than… I’ll save that joke for the naughty cabaret!
COACH POTATOES OF THE WORLD UNITE
I am not watching House of Cards Season 2 yet. I have at least 20 friends who have finished it already; I am not in a hurry. I didn’t think Season 1 was that good; I am hearing people are liking season 2. I don’t care. I will get to it when I get to it.
Thanks to the Olympics, I am about caught up on TV. I still have 3 Almost Human left. I think I might be losing that show soon b/c I obviously don’t want to watch it if it’s been lingering in my DVR for this long… it’s cute, but not my favorite.
I am really enjoying this season of House of Lies and Episodes. Episodes is one of the FUNNIEST shows EVER, and I HIGHLY recommend it. Both of these shows got renewed for new seasons, along with Shameless, which I also enjoy (for obvious reasons… if you watch it, you know what I mean).
I tried ABOUT A BOY last night, and I think it’s cute. I’ll basically watch anything Jason Katmis writes, so I trust it’ll be worth sticking with.
How I Met Your Mother is almost done! I cannot believe it – I was one of the few people who has watched it since Episode 1. I remember how it almost got canceled after season 1 and season 2 and season 3… it just shows you that networks really need to give their comedies some time to grow an audience; I am DEVASTATED that the Michael J. Fox show was canceled. It was clever and really funny. I think it shouldn’t have been on network tv. Clever shows belong on cable.
I have DVRed the first season of The Americans when FX re-aired them at 3am, though I’m missing 4 episodes, so I will have to watch those illegally online. I don’t know why it’s not on netflix!? Seriously, can’t Netflix just get everything? (Answer: $$.)
ANOTHER OPENING, ANOTHER SHOW
Disaster – Seth Rudetsky’s 70’s parody musical – probably would’ve gotten more references if I had been alive for more of the 70s…
Waiting for Godot – Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan look like they’re having the time of their lives!
Matilda – Went to see Matilda again since Celia was on – she was hilarious as Cook!
Outside Mullingar – Debra Messing apparently fixed her accent problems by the time it opened – the last scene was great, though.
Bridges of Madison County – Jason Robert Brown’s musicalization of a story about a woman who’s unhappy in her marriage.
Cinderella – Didn’t care for a lot of the new script, but the costumes were magical, and thankfully we saw it before the pop star went in.
2014 Nightlife Awards – Another great evening at Town Hall.
The Glass Menagerie – Fantastic revival with Cherry Jones & Zachary Quinto – I saw Howard Stern and Brian Cranston in the audience… I tried to get a picture with Brian and he was rude, so I’m boycotting his play. You cannot expect to go into public when you’re that famous and not have to take pictures w/ people. I promise to take pictures with everyone who asks!
Almost Maine – Great revival off-Broadway of this charming vignette filled evening.
Little Me – Wonderful revival at Encores starring Rachel York and Christian Borle – such a fun musical – originally starring Sid Caesar who died when the show was up for the weekend…
Candide – Great revival in Brooklyn Heights – I had never seen this live before… satire at its best!
Titanic Reunion – How awesome it was to see the Titanic Reunion concert after seeing the show on Broadway from the front row in high school… I lost my Harry Potter scarf (very sad), but since I was lingering searching for it, I ran right into Maury Yeston, who was very nice and told me to “just keep writing” – very smiley guy. So I think I’ve met just about all of the composers I really want to emulate careers of at this point (besides the dead ones).
I am looking forward to seeing If/ Then in 2 weeks with my parents for my birthday… and then in 3 weeks, Jen is taking me to Bullets Over Broadway!! WOO!!
Other than that, that leaves Hedwig to see… and perhaps Rocky…
2014 is a great year over here; I hope it is for you, as well.
April 27, 2014 — Is it spring yet?
So much going on this spring (assuming it’s finally no longer winter). Writing an update is the first thing on my May to do list, but as I usually say: why put off till tomorrow what you can do today? So, here I am a few days early to catch you all up on the many things happening as 2014 gets warmed up.
If you have not watched the new music video we did, what are you waiting for?! It received over 1000 views in less than 2 weeks! If you are not one of them, click here:
Do not watch that at your job if you care about profanity… and not around kids, either. But then please forward it out to all your jobless, kidless friends after you’ve had a good laugh. Also, if you don’t know what YOLO is, go look it up before you watch, so you get the joke.
SHOWS, SHOWS and MORE SHOWS
I think that going in chronological order is probably best for this section:
300th Showcase Extravaganza — May 6th, 9th, 13th, 20th, 22nd and 27th, 7PM — 6 concerts of my work featuring 79 showcase alumni to celebrate the fact that I will have produced, emceed and accompanied 300 musical theatre talent showcases as of May!
Benefit for Suicide Prevention — May 15th, 6:30PM — I am performing and accompanying a few singers in a benefit for Suicide Prevention at the Underground, uptown.
Love Quirks Industry Reading — May 19th, 4/ 7:30PM — We are presenting an industry reading of Love Quirks before hopefully moving the show Off-Broadway this fall. We have revised the show since the last reading, and I think it has gelled into both a hilarious and touching piece of musical theatre. It is with bated fingers and ebullient antici………….pation I type about it right now. More information on the next step after the reading, I promise!
Ask Me Another — I am going to be a contestant on the NPR game show tomorrow (Monday) night! It will be available via podcast sometime around May 26th. I am quite excited… though I always do great on game shows at home, this will be my first time actually being on one… so hopefully there will be categories I know…
Every Day a Little Seth Season 4 — mid-June — I have finished writing the 6 episodes for this season, and I think you are going to love it! I hope to start filming it this month, and anticipate premiering the show weekly sometime after the Tonys. I will be in touch with exact dates after Memorial Day! If you have not watched all of the first 3 seasons (and at most only 156 of you have!), do catch up before summer! (youtube.com/everydayalittleseth)
More to Love — M2L has been accepted into the West Village Musical Theatre Festival! We are probably doing a 12 minute excerpt of the show 4 times during its dates – sometime June 19th-29th… more details soon! I’m excited to get M2L back up in the NYC eye!
Staci & Seth Sing Sesame Street 2 — Late June Staci & I are doing a sequel to our audience-acclaimed Sesame Cabaret – this time featuring the songs of the late, great Joe Raposo who wrote such gems as It’s Not Easy Being Green and C is for Cookie…
Summer Showcases — Also, this summer I am doing at least a dozen regular showcases throughout June and July since I will be gone most of August (see below).
Broadway Meows 6 — July 21st — I cannot believe it’s been 6 years since we started our concerts for the Humane Society of NY! I have at least 4 new songs to the charity concerts to premiere this year! More info on that when I actually start planning it in June… just wanted to give you the save the date!
I got official, professional headshots for those of you who missed the Headshot Survivor Contest on my Facebook wall… But you can see the winner at sethbh.com/bio3 ! I’m taking the professionality up a notch this year, as I continue to be more and more… well, professional. In addition to the showcases being really popular, I played for a dozen companies’ auditions this season, as well as coaching actors for auditions and my showcases, as usual.
LET’S GET OUT OF THE CITY
So I am vacating the city for a bit this summer. First I am heading down to DC the weekend of June 1st for the Post Hunt! The Washington Post Hunt that is. When Aaron told me about it, I was like, what do you mean post hunt!? Post hunt I go back to solving next year!? But it’s apparently a really fun, easy hunt… so why not!? I also spent the last month on a Puzzle Boat team, which is another hunt type thing. Sadly, we are stuck on the meta meta puzzle, but we did have fun, and I solved about a dozen puzzles on my own! And I just told Pranjal I would join his Melbourne University Puzzle Hunt team next week, even though it’s in Australia… so we’ll see how well we can do remotely…
Regardless, my BIG vacation this summer (drum roll) is going to be to GERMANY and FRANCE this August! WOOOOOOOO! I got accepted into a free program which brings Jews to Germany – well almost free – we have to cover airfare – but hotels and most food and adventure is covered! Jen found out about it, and we got in, and then there were extra spots so Mollie and her friend Lauren are coming, so the four of us are going to take Germany by storm! We have a very full agenda, but there are a few free nights, so we will try to get out and see as much of Berlin and the other cities (Hamburg, Frankfurt and more!) we end up in as possible… I definitely want to see a production of Cabaret in German that was recommend to me that is getting revived exactly when we are there! More info about our trip is available, here:
After Germany, I am going to hop the train and take a few days to stay in Paris. I am spending 4 days there – and have a place for 2 – so if anyone has any friends in Paris who wouldn’t mind someone on their couch for a night, please let me know! But worse case, I will sleep on the street. (Okay, in a hostel.)
Do feel free to shoot over suggestions for things to see in Germany and Paris; I’ll have a lot more non-scheduled time in Paris… I am very, very, very excited about all this because as busy as this spring looks… I think this fall will be busier.
THE INCORRIGIBLE KITTY
As those of you who follow Smee on social media know, he has gotten into some serious mischief this spring. For those of you not following him on facebook (facebook.com/smeekitty) or instagram (@smeeandseth) what are you waiting for!?
To recap, Smee figured out that I kept the cat treats in one of the kitchen cabinets. One day I came home, and he had teared through one of the bags and eaten all the treats. So I put duct tape on that cabinet… that lasted a few weeks, but then I came back and he had chewed through all the tape, and had knocked even more out of the cabinets to find the remaining bags – of which he had 2 entire bags full of treats, and couldn’t get into a 3rd, but it had teeth marks… at that point, I decided to up my game and put the treats in plastic containers that were unopenable by a cat! And thankfully… I was right about that for I have come home on multiple occasions since with everything knocked out of the cabinet and the plastic containers on the floor… unopened! FOILED!
So I finally am the master of the house again. But do check out Smee’s pages for some funny videos of his attempts to get his treats!
Speaking of cats, this April 1st, I sent a joke email saying I was going to get a second… and so many people (even people from high school) fell! MUHAHAHA! Josh was here shooting the YOFO video on the 31st, and his phone actually popped up a reminder for his event on the 1st… the event titled “DO NOT LISTEN TO SETH FOR 24 HOURS” – so he didn’t fall for ANYthing that year… and he’s already set the reminder for 2015… but maybe 2016 I will get him again!
Besides that, I posted that I had Aladdin comps on my facebook, and even though I did the same joke last year with Book of Mormon tickets, HUNDREDS of people (some who I haven’t talked to in YEARS – some whose last facebook messages to me were them falling exactly one year ago) asking me for the comps… as if I would post comps for a hot show on facebook!!! But man, did I laugh SOOOOOO much that day!
I had a showcase, and I got 4/6 of the showcase performers PLUS the tech director with my ancient can of worms!!!! BEST HOLIDAY EVER.
Beautiful Creatures – Well I finished the 4 novels of the series, and I’m sad to say the last book jumped the shark about as much as the Divergent conclusion… so I think I am officially done with young adult fantasy and back to adult books for now till there is a clear next Hunger Games!
Jim Henson’s Biography — This was such a well written biography, and I learned SO much about Jim! Really a must read for any Muppet fan!
The Book Thief — I am now reading The Book Thief b/c I liked the movie – so far I’m enjoying it – it just started diverging from the movie a bit, so we’ll see which I like better, though I’m betting it’ll be the book.
Veronica Mars – So nice to reunite with one of my favorite shows that was wrongly canceled! What a great movie!
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson is a fantastic director – but I admit it – I liked Moonrise Kingdom more.
Muppets Most Wanted – Better than the last Muppet movie, but still not as good as the old ones – I wish they’d stop being so self referential to the fact they are Muppets, and just DO A MOVIE.
Suite Francaise – Saw a free preview of this Holocaust film featuring the divine Michelle Williams – sadly, the writing wasn’t as good as she…
And another TV season is coming to an end… unlike a lot of people, I actually quite enjoyed the finale of How I Met Your Mother (no spoilers here!), and I was just happy it got to be on for so long. In truth, I was sadder over the cancellation of Raising Hope after only 4 seasons b/c it was one of the most clever shows out there… At the moment, a lot of my shows are on the bubble, and while I am hopeful that Nashville, Agents of SHIELD, Parenthood and Community will be renewed, I am worried that Revolution, The Crazy Ones and The Tomorrow People are goners…
Summer show wise: Orphan Black, Game of Thrones, Veep and Mad Men are back!!!!! And I liked the first episode of Salem… Inside Amy Schumer remains my favorite sketch type show (though it’s sketchy!), and I was there live for all the stand up bits… though I still have yet to hear my laugh. My new (and only) reality show is Jim Henson Creature Shop Challenge, which is like Project Runway with puppets – but no drama and no watching them waking up or anything – just the good parts watching them make creatures!
Also this summer, I need to catch up on HBO shows: Getting On, True Detective, Silicon Valley and Doll & Em… and I really want to catch up on The Americans… Netflix wise, I totally got spoiled by a major event on House of Cards Season 2, which serves me right for not getting to it yet… but I am far more excited about Season 2 of Orange is the New Black and the 4th season of one of my favorite shows The Killing (which is sadly coming out exactly when I’m in Europe… so I will have to wait till I am back)…
Broadway by the Year 1915-1939 – This year at Town Hall, BBTY is doing 4 concerts of 25 songs each, one per year! Fantastic beginning!
Arlington – I really enjoyed this one woman musical Off-Broadway.
Kinky Boots – Finally checked this off my list.
Hand to God – WONDERFUL Off-Bway play about a demonic puppet! WONDERFUL.
If/ Then – Idina (or should I say Adele) blew the ROOF off of this show! Totally worth seeing just for her.
Bullets Over Broadway – This was my 300th Broadway show (not including repeated viewings full list – sethbh.com/listofshows3 ) – what a great cast!
Stage Kiss – I loved this Off-Bway play, too. Really well written.
Lady Day at Emerson’s – Audra McDonald is just… there are no words. She is just… WOW. Just wow.
Greed – Off-Bway revue with some funny songs about greed.
Ode to Joy – Pretty good off-Bway play.
Cuff Me – Saw Amy Lang’s Off-bway debut in this 50 Shades parody… I still feel no need to read the books.
Broadway by the Year 1940-1959 – 2nd concert – another really good one – 2 to go!
Kung Fu – off-Bway play about Bruce Lee – really great, too! It’s been a very good year for Off-Bway.
Rocky – Shockingly, I won the lottery for front row center seats to this – and WE LOVED IT. LOVED it more than we expected. We got to go on stage for the fight at the end, and the entire show was just so much fun!
Substance of Fire – off-Bway revival of another great play.
Your Mother’s Copy of the Kama Sutra – this off-bway play was also really well written.
The Mystery of Irma Vep – OMG this off-bway revival is still playing and is HILARIOUS and CAMPY.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch – WOW. Neil Patrick Harris is WOW. Again won lottery completely unexpectedly b/c it was really crowded. And OMG it was just. There are no words. Just wonderful.
Casa Valentina – Harvey Fierstein retweeted me after I complimented his new play, and it my most viewed tweet ever! Really great play – highly recommended – best play I’ve seen on Bway this season.
The Heir Apparent – This was my 4th play in 4 days where there was a guy dressed as a woman, which led me to the following hashtag: #whatadrag – this was a really great adaptation of this French farce…
Velocity of Autumn – Interesting play about growing older and aging.
Wow. That was a LOT of good theatre this season. I’ll tell you: this has been one of the best theatre seasons in the last decade!
Coming up this Saturday night… Kristin Chenoweth at Carnegie Hall!!!!! I haven’t seen Kristin live in a few years, but back in the late 90s I was her biggest fan, and almost her only one! But at least it shows I have good taste… Audra is going to be at the hall in December – I can’t wait to get tickets to that!
THAT’S ALL FOLKS
Well, that’s about it from here! It’s been a very productive, very busy spring so far… and it seems the rest of the year is going the same way. I hope YOU have a most fantastic week, and please do drop a line if I haven’t talked to you in awhile!
June 8, 2014 — Summertime and the living ain’t easy…
What follows is a more elaborative update on my summer goings on for those of you with a longer attention span. (And those who aren’t in NYC and not on facebook who didn’t see the other one!) Most importantly, we are raising $ to move LOVE QUIRKS to a limited run this September and need YOUR help! Read on, MacDuff…
LOVE QUiRKS Kickstarter Campaign
That’s the main reason for writing a ledger two months in a row! Asking for money is my least favorite thing of ALL time, but what other way is there to put on theatre? We are moving Love Quirks to Theatre 54 this September for THREE WEEKS ONLY… but only with YOUR help. So please find it in your heart (and pocketbooks) to donate a bit — if everyone on this list donated $5, we would be there! THANK YOU to the people who already donated (Amitha, Yamini, Aaron, Jeri, Kara, David, Marcia…)!!! Together, we can make this happen.
The point of the workshop is so we have 3 weeks to perfect the show, and then the goal is to move off-Broadway finally in Spring of 2015… We did a great reading on May 19th which was well received, and even last night at a party (and actually at one last weekend, too) I was told how great the show was, etc… so I am confident once we get the word out there, people will come and enjoy the show.
EVERY DAY A LITTLE SETH, SEASON 4
6 episodes, 6 weeks, Mondays at 1pm. Catch up on the first 3 seasons, here: http://www.youtube.com/EveryDayaLittleSeth
I’ve given this list a taste of the season before, but I am very proud of it; I think it’s the best season yet (which makes sense b/c you nominally get better at something the more you do it)… The topic is DREAMS, and I explore all aspects of them… what we do for them, the reality of them, the upsides, the downsides, the leftsides, the rightsides…
DO NOT miss Season 4! I’m trying Mondays at 1 this time b/c I have a lot of Sunday night commitments, and Monday nights are Bryant Park movies, and when I did the after the movie thing, the time was inconsistent.
So people at work can watch during lunch, and people just waking up, can watch it before they start their week. What better way to start the week after all???
MORE TO LOVE in the West Village Musical Festival
And why should Love Quirks get all the love, quirks? We are doing 12 minutes from my musical More to Love as part as Series C in the WVMF: Fri 6/20, 6PM; Sat, 6/21, 8PM;, Thurs, 6/26, 7PM; Sun, 6/29, 12PM. Tickets available, here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/708446
I’m excited to bring this delightful show back even for a soupcon. For those of you who haven’t known me that long, M2L is a cute musical that takes place in a gym about self-acceptance. We are doing 4 songs from it and a pinch of dialogue.
The festival itself should be a huge networking opportunity, and I am very much looking forward to it!
Staci & Seth Sing Sesame Street 2 — an evening of Joe Raposo’s songs
On Friday, June 27th at Don’t Tell Mama, Staci and I will be back for our second evening of Sesame Street songs! This time… the wonderful Joe Raposo who wrote Bein’ Green, Sing, C is for Cookie, the Sesame Street Theme, the movie for the Great Muppet Caper… and MORE! In fact, I am listening to the playlist I made of youtube of all the songs we’re performing RIGHT NOW. It should be a great evening.
Reservations here: http://www.donttellmamanyc.com/shows?task=view_event&event_id=1229
Broadway Meows 6
Can you BELIEVE it’s been 6 years since we started the charity concert for the Humane Society of New York!? 6 years since they saved Smee’s life!? I have 9 Broadway and 2 Off-Broadway stars lined up so far… hopefully more soon!!!! I will be posting the full list at sethbh.com/broadwaymeows in a few weeks.
The show will be MONDAY, JULY 21st at 7PM at Don’t Tell Mama, of course.
We actually have a lot of new people so far, so it should be a completely different concert than before! VERY EXCITING!
Epic Fail in New York Musical Festival
I just found out that a song I wrote for Epic Fail an evening of songs from future Broadway flops will be featured in NYMF. The song is from American Beauty: the Musical (ie a show that should never be a musical) and was recently featured in Not Your Grandma’s Cabaret (unless she’s really naughty)… in other words, it’s pretty dirty… it’s for Kevin Spacey’s character and about a certain cheerleader… It’s going to be presented at the Laurie Beechman: 7/8 9:30pm; 7/12 5pm & 8pm.
So a very festival-filled summer for me!
ASK ME ANOTHER on NPR
For those of you who missed the postings, I was on the NPR game show, Ask Me Another in the John Turturro episode. You can find that, here: askmeanother.npr.org
What did I win? An ironic story. I won’t ruin it for those who haven’t listened, but if you don’t figure out the irony in the ending of the episode, let me know.
It was a really great time – the show is like my favorite, fun Jeopardy categories without the rest. (Speaking of Jeopady, I’m so sad that Julia lost!)
14 SUMMER SHOWCASES #303-314
I’m doing a total of 14 showcases in June and July so far. If you count August, it’ll be more, but I will be gone for a lot of it, so I am not prepared to start planning life post-Europe just this yet. I got a GREAT turnout for the summer, including a lot of INCREDIBLY talented people, and I’m very excited to add them all to my showcase alumni roster! Over 300 at this point, and at least half a dozen have gone on to Broadway = not too shabby!!! Just waiting on contracts from 6 more singers, and I will be all set for the next 2 months…
This is the final item of the 10 items in my shameless plug section is to report that our music video YOLO parody is at 1666 views… which is only 1000 away from the Devil’s number… won’t you go watch and get us closer to 2000 b/c I say we are close to 2000 in the season finale, and we have 6 weeks to make that not be a lie!
GET ME OUT OF HERE
I am still VERY excited for my trip to Germany and Paris this August! See my last ledger for the link to the trip, though I think the agenda has yet to be finalized… But if you have any MUST see places in BERLIN or PARIS, please feel free to start sending them so I can compile a list!
BERLIN, PARIS, WOO!
I went to DC last weekend for a mini-vacation and got to spend the Sabbath with Aviva, Eitan & Lev. Then I went and did a few tourist things late Saturday afternoon – what a beautiful city to walk around, even if it’s really hot and sunny and full of trees! I saw Miss Piggy at the American History Museum, then passed by Washington’s monument, Lincoln, Einstein, and tried to stop by the Obamas, but they weren’t receiving guests.
Then Aaron and a few of his friends and I did the Post Hunt on Sunday! Very fun. We got 4/5 of the first puzzles very quickly (the hardest part of one was figuring out where it was going to be) and the 5th we got right before the final began. Sadly, we did not get the one AHA we would’ve needed to complete the hunt, but we did have a fantastic time… and got very sun burned. (Well, just me. I have to find a hat to wear for the rest of the summer. I think it’s under the bed?)
Here’s a link to the hunt, though, if you are interested: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/post-hunt-2014-solutions/2014/06/01/53f4ce64-e9c4-11e3-9f5c-9075d5508f0a_story.html
MEOW WITH ME
Smee sends his love. He is excited that I just went under the bed to find my Actor’s Fund cap b/c I moved a lot and he could explore. I also took advantage of that break to dust a little down there. How does dust get EVERYWHERE?!? I might have to barter some coaching sessions for some cleaning. Or I guess I could just clean myself.
Smee’s instragram is up to 364 followers, and his facebook fanpage is up to 192! Guess people really like cats on instagram. The highlights of those are featured this season on Every Day a Little Seth… in fact, I’ve upped the Smee this season, and I think you will all be pretty pleased with his multiple cameos…
Or as I call them… cameows! 🙂
F, R, DOUBLE, NO THE LONG WAY, F, R, E, E, FREE!!!
I am very excited for the summer of free. I’ll tell you you can find free things in every pocket of the city. Tango is here from Copenhagen for the week, and we had a mini-grad school reunion, walking around and such, and we kept running into free festivals and free music (though I did give a $1 to a pianist playing a grand piano in the middle of Washington Square Park – not sure how he gets it there?! The subway?) and the city is just awesome in the summer… besides the heat… besides the sun, BUT I will be wearing a hat from now on.
Bryant Park movies start a week from tomorrow (which is also the premiere date of Every Day a Little Seth – by design – this is the 3rd time I’ve scheduled it thus!) and Shakespeare in the Park has begun – I’m seeing at least 5 Shakespeare plays this summer for free… and there are more modern movies being shown on the river, and free swing dancing on the pier, and the Philharmonic orchestra concerts… and so much more!
Sadly, I am doing a lot more showcases and rehearsals this summer, and I’m gone for most of August, BUT I intend to take every free night I can (now that I have finished editing my web series!) to do as much free as freely possible.
TIME WARNER CABLE SUCKS
So I got home from DC to find out that Time Warner had removed ALL of the Standard Definition channels without any warning whatsoever, so half of my shows didn’t record b/c HD recording takes up FOUR times as much as SD!! I WAS LIVID. Seriously, I’ve never given the poor customer service people so much lip in my life – I was fuming and cursing and throwing things… yes, I am very mature. But I called back the next day and talked to CUSTOMER SOLUTIONS — this is the department you have to ask for to get the deepest discounts. So I got a SECOND DVR for $3/ month, and at $100/ month, my cable package (with HBO, Showtime, 2 DVRs, 1000 channels & internet) is $30/ month cheaper than RCN and Fios. Believe me, I checked. B/c both of those companies offer an HD DVR that can hold 90 hours and record more than 2 things at once.
TWC says they are going to have a new HD DVR that tapes 6 things at once… eventually. They mention it. But no one has ANY idea when it will be available; so until it is… I have 2 DVRs. One hooked through HD and one through SD… BUT I found out that the DVR still records in HD, so I only have 70 hours of space instead of the 85 I had when I could record things SD.
But I will be okay. I moved all my lesser important shows to the second DVR, and even though they both use the same remote code, I am beginning to work out a system for splitting duty… and now I can record 4 things at once.
So THERE. I know most people like to stream things illegally off the internet, so I am going to, once again, give the reasons why I do not like doing this:
1. Every time I watch a show like that it starts stopping and starting.
2. Finding everything I watch would take extra hours of the day.
3. I like to watch 75% of the things I tape WHILE using the computer.
4. I do not like watching things on the computer screen, and I can hook the computer up to the tv, but I cannot do anything else while I do that.
5. I get enough in life for free, and without people like me paying for HBO and Showtime, none of you would even have tv shows to illegally download.
I finished The Book Thief! I liked it. Didn’t love it. But I liked it. I might’ve liked it more if I hadn’t been spoiled by the movie… now I am reading Mindy Kaling’s book, and it’s really cute and a very fast read. I realized I could buy books on ebay for $4 if they are years old – so I got A Marriage Plot, American Wife, Casual Vacancy, Kristin Chenoweth and Sarah Silverman’s books coming in the mail… all books that have been on my list for awhile!
Also, we stopped by the Strand yesterday and I picked up the first 2 Girl with Dragon Tattoo books for 50 cents each… so I just got the last one of those on ebay too for $4. I also got Woody Allen’s Getting Even and the Invisible Man which is a classic… and Bitten which was turned into a really boring series, but maybe the book is better? All of those for 50 cents = I LOVE THE STRAND.
So I have a lot of reading material for Europe, and I KNOW it would be lighter to just have everything on my iPad but I HATE READING things on my iPad almost as much as I hate watching TV on my computer! Actually, I hate it MORE than that b/c tv on the computer is something I do more often…
I actually have not seen a single email since my last ledger 6 weeks ago! I guess I’ve been a little busy. But I do hope to see at least the new Woody Allen movie the last weekend of July before I go away… and I think most other things I might just wait till they’re on HBO. However, if there is a rainy day and my free events get canceled, it is conceivable I will have at least one movie day this summer…
I haven’t had as much time to watch TV either b/c I’ve been editing my web series so much, but thanks to the summer, I am pretty caught up on things. I am just about done with Season 1 of The Americans! I have to prioritize watching that to clear DVR space, as soon as that’s all under control, I will get to Orange is the New Black Season 2, and then House of Cards Season 2…
OH a new comedy that I’ve been watching that I love is called PLAYING HOUSE – it’s on USA, and I HIGHLY recommend; it’s hilarious!!!
In DC, I binge watched GETTING ON, which is a really good show on HBO. And I just started Silicon Valley which is fun. I wanna try the Leftovers and eventually will watch True Detective.
Under the Dome is back soon! And I will probably try the new show Extant starring Halle Berry… I tried Jennifer Falls, not that impressed… Halt and Catch Fire is actually pretty good, but I fear it will get canceled soon since its ratings were very paltry… Masters of Sex is back soon, too! YAY SUMMER TV!
I did see a bunch of theatre since the last ledger:
Too Much Sun – new off-bway play starring the fantastic Linda Lavin
Kristin Chenoweth at Carnegie – OMG she is just unbelievable – next up Audra in December!
Heathers – really fun musical based on the 80s cult film
Irma la Duce – revival of this esoteric musical from the 60s
Inventing Mary Martin – wonderful show all about Mary Martin’s life.
Broadway By the Year: 1965-1989 – 3rd of the 4 concerts this season which cover 100 years of Bway!
The Rivals – revival of this old play
Just Jim Dale – OMG JIM DALE IS JUST AMAZING. Highly recommended.
Fly By Night – Interesting, innovative new musical off-Bway
Holla if You Hear Me – new musical on Bway with the songs of Tupac Shakur who is apparently a rapper.
As You Like It – First free Shakespeare of the summer with Classic Shakespeare – where you each scene is in a different spot in the park – quite fun! 4 free Shakespeare to go!
And coming up this week, my Love Quirks collaborator’s new one man show: An Evening with Danny Kaye! Can’t wait!
Well, I did it! I finished this update with 10 minutes so spare to shower before clients come over… then I need to clean up vigorously for my TONY AWARD PARTY! Don’t forget to tune in at 8PM on CBS! Looking forward to the awards tonight – I am rooting for A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder since Love Quirks hasn’t been nominated yet… we’re doing a Tony ballot/ pool and live-tweeting, so follow me if you want to see some snarky, hilarious comments!
And one more plea… please even has the word plea IN it… please donate and forward the Love Quirks Kickstarter to EVERYone you know b/c without YOU the show will not happen. But with YOU, all my dreams can come TRUE!
August 22, 2014 — A Life-Changing Trip to Germany and Paris
What follows is an in-depth recap of an exhilarating, exhausting, emotional, fun, magical, monumental, life-changing trip to Germany and Paris. This will be a lengthy novel, so you might not want to read it on your “smart phones”. As fair warning, some of the sections will get a little Holocaust-y, but I think it is my duty to report what I have learned to the masses, and I would encourage not just all of my Jewish friends to read those sections, but all of my human friends, as well. (Day 4 is the most intense, but consequently the most important.)
I will bookend the ledger with my usual life updates, as this fall is going to be incredible and life-changing in its own way.
LOVE QUiRKS and MORE WORKS
Once again, thank you to the 240 backers to donated to our production. We were all flabbergasted that we reached our goal a week early. The money is going to good use, and we hope you will come check out our show this September 11th-28th in NYC!
For tickets, please visit: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/seth/808107 Please email me for a $5 discount code!
Other than that, on Wed, Sept 17th at 8PM we are doing a one-night reading of my musical More to Love which as you’ll remember won an award for Best Lyrics in the West Village Musical Theatre Festival this summer. (sethbh.com/moretolove)
Also, I am having showcase auditions for the 15 fall showcases and am teaching master classes in auditions and cabarets this September. (sethbh.com/news3)
Is that enough? Before I get into the trip – I am sad to say that only 52 people have made it through Season 4 of Every Day a Little Seth?! Better binge watch before the fall starts! Don’t miss out on what people (not me) are calling the best season yet! Season 5 to debut June 2015, and it will include a story on THIS very trip… speaking of…
Without further ado, here is a report on my 16 day journey overseas this August!!!
Please visit my facebook page to see the accompanying 1200 photos (investing in a new 4GB Sim card was the smartest thing I did for the trip), which took me nearly 8 hours to tag and caption yesterday. facebook.com/sethbh
PART ONE: GERMANY
INTRO TO THE TRIP
First off, I would be remiss to not talk about the trip and why I went before I start this whole thing.
The trip to Germany was sponsored by a group called Germany Close Up: http://www.germanycloseup.de/
They get their money from the German government, who after the Marshall Plan was repaid put the money they were placing towards that in a special Transatlantic Fund, which is used to foster relationships between Germany and the US/ Canada. GCU has received a grant to subsidize these trips (everything was paid for but the flight) to bring over young Jewish professionals to come see modern Germany. They do 10-12 trips each year.
Our trip was special because once a year, the trip is co-sponsored by this other company based in Pittsburgh, Classrooms Without Borders: http://www.classroomswithoutborders.org
The woman who runs this organization, Dr. Zipora Gur, provides trips to Israel, Poland, Germany and occasionally other places to foster Holocaust education, mostly for teachers. However, if you have a trip of only teachers, it would get too didactic and teacher-centric, so she invites others who teach in other ways – ala writing (ala writing this email), etc. She is a fantastic educator, therapist, supporter and friend, and we were so fortunate to have her there b/c it enhances the trip, and also extends it from 7 days till 10. Plus, she adds in a lot of culture and nightlife, so that we get a break from all the heavy talks and visits.
My friend, Jen’s family friend had gone on a GCU trip, which is how she found out about it. She invited me, and I invited my friend, Mollie, so I think that helped make the trip easier for me. In fact, most of the people on the trip – all 23-36 – came in groups, which is how we often split. However, quite remarkably and unusually, I found that I really liked everyone on the trip a lot. Tsipy (Zipora’s nickname) said she screened for exceptional people and had 12 people on her waiting list she didn’t think would fit. Anyway, I think I knew I would get along with them when at least a dozen responded quite positively to my fast-fired puns! When I said I would PUNish them with many more if they encouraged me, they laughed instead of groaned… always a good sign! Plus, by mid-trip, a few of them had already watched some of my web series… and the music video YOFO… in fact, they invented a drinking game with my show whenever Smee appeared!
Anyway regardless of who watched my series, I bonded with just about everyone, and together we all enriched each others’ lives and experiences through the emotional ups and downs of the itinerary.
And it’s time to actually talk about Germany!
BASIC IMPRESSIONS OF GERMANY
I don’t know what I expected Germany to be like, but it wasn’t that much different than the rest of Europe: too many smokers everywhere! Other than that, unlike in Dublin I didn’t find the people to be especially friendly. The one time I really had a question about the subway, only one girl stopped after I had been doing my impression of a clueless tourist for about 5 minutes. However, the Germans we got to know were all really nice once you got through that layer of detachment. They are definitely not a very emotional people. The German language sounds exactly as you expect it to… like you are getting yelled at all the time. Very harsh consonants, etc.
I felt perfectly safe in Germany, though, which is not something I completely expected. There were a LOT of blondes – especially children. In fact the whole city was very white. And bees. SO MANY BEES.
What else? Germans are exceedingly punctual which is something that I actually like. Efficiency is also prized. The German subway has a lot of redundancies so it is pretty easy to navigate around. Speaking of navigating – here is an interesting tidbit – unlike how buildings are numbered in NYC and indeed most of the USA – where there are odd numbers on one side and evens on the other – the Germans go chronologically and wrap around – so the street starts at 1 and on the other side hits 100 or whatever then 101 is across the street and 1 ends up opposite 200! Very confusing to find building this way.
One thing about the subway I found really strange (same in Copenhagen) was the trust system – you could theoretically ride the subway for free constantly, unless you are caught. They have plain clothed officers who work on commission, so if you ARE caught it’s only like 40 euros. But if you factor in that you could ride the subway at least 20 times for that, if you are caught less than 1 in 20 times… you are making a profit! I guess Germans do not think like this… regardless, they mostly bought us subway passes, and on the last day, even though I could attempt gaming the system… I bought one.
Free rides not withstanding, the subway system was fairly straight forward – S and U lines – all intersecting – it was pretty clean, and there were actual places for garbage… oh and you have to push the button to let yourself out, or to open the door… also it is really fast… at one point I felt like I was on a roller coaster it was going so quickly, but it was nothing compared to Paris… but more on Paris later. MUCH later…
DAY ONE, 8/3
I am calling this day one, though it was a very long day. The flight left JFK at 7PM EDT, but that is 1am European time… so I think that counts as 8/3! Regardless, I slept in till 1:30pm that day to get as much sleep as possible, and then I left around 4. Leaving around 4 was apparently not enough time even though it has always been enough time. It might have been closer to 4:20… anyway, the E train got stuck. Just stuck. Maybe it was because it was a Saturday. I don’t know. It just sat there between stations. Got to the next station. Got stuck again. Around 5 I started to freak out because we had barely hit Queens, and the train was going local. I could see this other guy with luggage getting a little pale, too… so I asked him if he was going to JFK, and we decided to split a cab. On the way up, we found another person going to JFK, so I ended up sharing a cab ride with 3 strangers = only in NY! It was only $15 each, but they both had $20s and I had a $10, so they let me slide with that – ah, the kindness of strangers – so it was only $5 more than taking the Air Train. But thankfully, I got to the gate with 10 minutes to spare before board commenced!
Jen was already waiting, as she had had her parents drive her, meaning she wisely didn’t have to deal with the dreaded and dreadful subway. We boarded the plane. Jen spent the trip researching things to do in Berlin which would become futile when we saw the revised itinerary with no free time. However, I believe the last night we did get to see some stuff on her list, and I think she and Mollie tried one of the restaurants she picked out, so it wasn’t all moot! We had a lovely stopover at CDG airport in Paris, and then were off to Berlin for real!
Mollie was in Rome for a few days, but she had invited her friend, Lauren, on the trip, who was coming from Chicago. We had said we’d meet by baggage claim, but the Tegel airport, but we didn’t realize we’d be coming from completely different wings. By some miracle, Lauren happened to head towards the same exit and run into us. PHEW.
The ATM machine would NOT take my card b/c it didn’t have a smart chip or something. I have never had this problem before, but I ended up taking money out at the teller, which came with a $10 fee that I didn’t know about. Regardless, cash in hand, we proceeded to follow the directions to get to the hotel since our transportation tickets would be reimbursed but a cab would not. We got our tickets from the machine with a little help from a local, validated our cards so they were good for 2 hours in one direction, got on the bus, found the subway, took the subway 2 stops and followed the map to find our hotel!
The hotel was a “3-star” hotel by European means. By American, it was clearly 2 star. There was NO AIR CONDITIONING which would become the biggest problem of the whole trip. The lack of air conditioning almost anywhere in Germany. I guess they like to save on their electric bills! Thankfully it was in the 80s and not the 100s, but it was really sticky for most of the trip.
I roomed with Jen b/c I have known her the longest, and the first thing we did was turn on the TV to find Psych on in German! Then I flipped around and found Quantum Leap! Over the week, we watched parts of the following shows in German: Scrubs, The Big Bang Theory, Spin City, House of Lies, Castle, How I Met Your Mother, The Fresh Prince, Glee, Seinfeld and my favorite dubbed voices were in… The Golden Girls!
We went with Lauren to walk around rather than sleep, even though by the end of the day we would be incredibly tired. We had really liked the area around the subway we had been dropped off at – Brandenburger Tor – this was before we realized that meant Brandenburg Gate – but we had, indeed, found the touristy section. We walked across a lovely bridge and saw a dome where people were walking. We thought “I want to go to there” collectively, and walked towards it. It turns out that this was the Parliament building and that the Toppel (what we called the dome) was meant as a spot for the people to walk above politics to metaphorically say people are more important than politics.
We waited for almost 3 hours to get passes, went through some metal detectors (almost all the Jewish places in Berlin have metal detectors, so my body has been scanned at least 50 times over the last few weeks – but I am promised it won’t cause cancer!), and then we went up to the dome. It was a lovely view (see pictures), and there were some nice mirrors lining the double spiral paths leading up and down.
We later learned that Tsipy had gotten us pre-passes for the dome Sunday night, but that allowed Jen and me to spend our last evening in Berlin exploring other neighborhoods… more on that later!
After the dome, we went out to dinner, and that’s where I discovered my 2nd least favorite thing about Germany — THEY CHARGE YOU FOR TAP WATER. What the what?! So I went waterless whenever I had to buy my own meal (or rather I filled my water bottle in the establishment’s bathroom). That night we ate at a cute trendy place on the way back to the hotel even though I was starting to get a little punchy…
We got back to the hotel, and I believe I konked out at 9:30 German time, and then woke up around 8:30am the next day…
DAY TWO, 8/4
Our hotel gave us free breakfast at least – really nice breakfast – such that I would eat an awful lot on days we only had one meal paid for us so I could skip a meal – and we went down to get that before 10am when it closed. We ran into a lot of other people from the trip, met Tsipy, and were informed if we ate fast we could join for a boat tour and a museum trip. Of course, we wanted to do that, so we wolfed down our food (a common theme once the days started getting tenuously early).
The riverboat tour was so relaxing and since I slept 11 hours, I was in a pleasant mood. Afterwards, we went to the Pergamon Museum in Museum Island. This was before I started taking copious notes everywhere, but I can tell you we had a very knowledgeable, if pedantic tour guide who had firsthand experience as an archaeologist in this dig of Babylon relics. However, due to the museum’s lack of air conditioning, this was the start of the battle to stay away during some events – one that was lost a myriad of times including this one.
We saw some huge reconstruction of Babylon gates from Egypt and there was one section that had pillars like The Muppet Show – so much so that both Jen and I made the connection instantly. The reconstruction was like a puzzle, as they had labels for where some Gods were depicted – and they could pierce together some stories from mythology. After the tour, a lot of people went to lunch, but since I had a huge breakfast and we didn’t cover most of the museum, I stayed to see the Islamic Art section.
In a rare moment of free time, I took a stroll in the rain aimlessly. Again, I recognized the name Brandenburger Tor, and thought – I will go that way. Berlin is really well labeled. If you have a destination in mind, when you are close, there are usually signs for it. So I walked towards what I would soon learn was the gate down a main road… passing the art museum, the opera, Humboldt University – a plaque for Planck – which I took a picture that I captioned – this plaque is CONSTANTly here (I reiterate the joke for those of you who will get it who aren’t on facebook and probably haven’t seen it).
I passed Marilyn Monroe at Madame Tussards, and felt like I was back in Times Square… got to the gate, took some pictures – selfies are very hard when you have a regular camera, so it took me awhile to figure out how to angle things properly… I went into the room of silence they have at the gate and had a silent moment… then I continued through the gate towards Tiergarten which is basically Central Park but more spread out and much greener. That was where I really wanted to go in actuality, and I really would’ve spent hours and hours walking around there serenely if we hadn’t had to be back at the hotel by 5pm.
Tiergarten was so nice. There are statues and sculptures and art displays spread throughout the very green trees. I found a statue for Mozart, Beethoven and Hadyn that was restored post-war — also there are labels of everything in Berlin, probably b/c it is a historical gold mine.
Orientation was fine. Ice breakery. I made them laugh pretty fast and furiously, so I felt pretty comfortable from the start. Dinner was at a restaurant called Oxymoron, and while I tried to talk only in short verbosity or funny seriousness, I found it impossible to carry on a complete conversation in just oxymoron. We all had yummy ravioli with avocado besides the glutten-free persons…
Tsipy and I had talked on the boat about going to a jazz club one night, and she does not make a promise without keeping it – she had found us a jazz club by the restaurant so a group of us went to B Flat where we were treated to a sextet ensemble of fairly cacophonous jazz. But that’s my favorite kind, so I enjoyed it much.
DAY THREE, 8/5
Well, if you thought this email was not long-winded enough, you will not be disappointed b/c this marks the start of the Germany Close Up itinerary, and we had days scheduled completely from 9-9. PLUS I took copious notes starting this day. Um… so yes, there will be a lot of text coming up right about NOW.
8:45am start really wasn’t that bad yet – it took me a few days to get back to normal. We started this day with a bus tour! This was the start of using VIP Buses – they’re awesome – and they had air conditioning – we never wanted to get off that bus. Being a cool kid, I went straight for the back, but so many people on the trip were teachers, they sat near the front! Hilarious!
Anyway, this tour consisted of driving all the way around Berlin — all around really in a big circle. We passed a big building named Bellevue – but I think it was a government building not an insane asylum. We saw a lot of the sites we would eventually see again – there were also a lot of bears around town like that art project where they put mooses in Toronto when I was there. I took a picture of a lot b/c I like things like that.
The funniest thing on this tour was seeing my friend, Alissa, on a department store building advertisement – a picture she apparently took years ago that the photographer sold after the fact. Quite hilarious!
We went passed a lot of things we saw on the riverboat, saw the American embassy… we stopped a few times – first at the Gate, where we took more pictures… we saw ground where the Berlin Wall used to be… we saw an underground library that was deserted from where they burned lots of books… and we stopped by the East Side Gallery where there is still some of the wall up but it has been painted over with art graffiti — we took a lot of pictures there then were hustled back for lunch…
After lunch we went to the Jewish Museum, and this is where this write up will get very historical for the next few days!
The Jewish Museum focused more on the entire Jewish history – not just the Holocaust. The basement was dedicated to that, though… there was an axis of the Holocaust that ended in the Holocaust Tower – a dark room with just a tiny glint of sky coming in to represent what it must’ve felt like to be waiting somewhere not knowing what was going to happen… there was also a Garden of Exile where you would walk through huge pillars and easily get lost and feel isolated… there was also a gallery of photos of Berlin residents taken away, including a woman who was musically directing a production of The Threepenny Opera when she was deported.
The ground floor consisted of a few exhibits – one was of a robot who was writing out a Torah by itself from start to finish… another was called the Memory Void and featured metal faces on the ground that echoed hollowly as people walked atop it to represent all the lost Jewish souls.
The top two floors were more historical starting with 950. This really was a chronology over 2 floors filled with facts and remnants of Jewish life through the centuries. I found the most interesting section to be about this woman Glikl who lived 1646-1724 and basically had to run her family of 12 kids once her husband died as a merchant in Hamburg. She wrote a diary about her life, and it is weird to see how similar some aspects of life are. There was also a really lame Oregon Trail game about being a Jew in those days, and let’s just say… I did not win. I picked the wrong thing every single time!
We took an extra 10 minutes to get out of the museum and consequently missed a bus and ended up 5 minutes late for the walking tour – our German guides were really upset about it – guess they’ve never heard of Jewish Standard Time!
So next we had a walking tour from the woman who started Germany Close Up, Dr. Dagmar Pruin. This tour consisted of walking around the Jewish neighborhood by our hotel. Let’s see how many of these notes I can actually read…
At the moment there are 10K-20K Jews in Berlin. It is hard to tell because obviously some will not want to write it on their tax forms – another fun fact, in Germany tax forms make you list a religion so that part of your tax money can go to that specific organization!
We went to the remains of the first synagogue in Berlin that was destroyed on Kristallnacht. Apparently that is a misnomer the Germans gave the evening, and it is now referred to officially as the November Pogrom of 1938. Why is this? Because crystal night implies that Jewish people were rich and deserved it – that they were only breaking crystal, when in fact, not only were they breaking crystal and glass, they were burning down buildings and destroying property and maiming people. QED pogrom is a much better word for it.
The first Jews moved to Germany around 1200. They were persecuted many times over the years. In 1671 a lot of Jews were deported TO Germany in a deal with Austria… and they were discriminated against for years — the reason a lot of Jews became money lenders and traders was not because Jews were good with money, but because it was illegal for them to have other jobs throughout much of European history. In fact, Jews had finally gotten Equal rights around the late 1800s and for secular Jews Germany was pretty liberal and accepting till after World War 1 when the economy crashed. In fact right up till the 1930s, Jews had a really decent life in Germany, and many of them fought among the Germans in WW1.
At the site of the synagogue ruins, there is a monument. This monument remembers a 10 day protest that non-Jewish spouses of Jewish men held when the Nazis tried to deport their husbands. It really showed that if the people had protested more, maybe less would’ve happened. However, many of the Jewish men who were returned ended up deported years later, anyway.
There was also a bench with a really friendly statue that I took a picture with – apparently that guy is there to welcome anyone of any race to sit down.
Our tour was called “Don’t Trust the Green Grass!” because of the next stop – we went to a cemetery without any gravestones – they had all been removed, and there was all this green grass where kids would play before the war was over. Now it is roped off, but it shows you that if there is nothing built on an area, it probably has a history.
In fact, 2/3 German Jews got out of Germany before the camps because while they had the plan to kill them all, it took years to build it up. Specifically, Hitler did not want to do it in his backyard where the German people could find out and protest, which is why most of the death camps were in Poland, where nearly every Jew was murdered besides the camp survivors. The Germans always use the word murdered now – it is easy to say killed or that they died – but the truth is they were murdered and the connotations of that word are very important to reiterate for historical accuracy.
Nowadays there are gold stones placed in most German cities with the Jewish names listed of the persons who lived there before the war. Not just Jews, but gypsies, homosexuals, Jehova’s Witnesses, etc. In fact, a lot of political opposers were in camps, as well. Germany kept perfect records of everyone deported and killed, but Poland and Czechoslavakia basically have none whatsoever.
Mid-tour, we were treated to free Starbucks because it was getting cold out, which shows you how generous our hosts were!
After the tour, we had to scurry to the theatre because a bunch of us (all of my friends, Tsipi and a few others) had tickets to see Cabaret Das Musical!! It was PHENOMENAL. Even though it was in German, I have seen Cabaret so many times that I had no problem following anything. It was hands down the best acted, best directed production of Cabaret I have ever seen – and I have seen many. It was even dirtier than the revival, even though it used most of its script. It was like the HBO version, I guess. The orchestra was walking around the lobby entertaining at intermission…
The show was in this huge tent theatre – Tipi Am Kanzleramt. So great! I cannot say enough great things about this production; it was definitely one of the trip highlights for me. Just to see THAT show IN Berlin. So poignant!
After the show we had late night pizza, then retired for what would be the most emotionally trying day of the tour.
DAY FOUR, 8/6
This day we went to the Holocaust Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and the museum underneath. Then we went to the former concentration camp Sachsenhausen. I am tearing up even typing those things, but I think while hard to write about, this is the section that is the crux of the emotional experience. I would not suggest reading this day while eating.
The Holocaust Memorial was debated about for awhile. Some people didn’t want to be so focused on the past, but popular vote prevailed. Once it was decided it was going to happen, then came the usual decades of arguing about where and how large, etc. I think this discussion of “we must get this right” “how do we get this right?” etc can be seen in how long it took the Freedom Tower to be built, as well. The importance is overwhelming. Eventually it was settled, and they picked a huge chunk of land right in the center of Germany. The memorial itself kind of resembles the Garden of Exile at the Jewish Museum, which apparently was an area of contention between the designers, however it was much longer – a whole field (equal to two football fields) of pillars, different sizes, the ground raising and lowering arbitrarily – so you walk around, get lost, feel isolated, feel hopeless, etc.
During this tour we heard for the first time about “guilt by birth” – how Germans today are born with this huge elephant in the room and have to pay for the crimes of their ancestors. It’s hard to think in those terms given how evil we are taught Germans are – but it is important to separate Germans from Nazis. Most Germans today are just as horrified about what happened as we are.
Going down to the museum was an incredible emotional experience given my family connection to the concentration camps. For those who do not know, my grandmother was taken when she was 14 to Bergen-Belsen then Auschowitz. I had heard about this all my life, but there’s always a layer of disconnect when you deal with it at home. As someone said at our wrap-up, you kind of have a Holocaust day, take it out of a box, then put it back in afterwards. It is impossible to do that when you are in Berlin where it all took place.
I started to feel really reticent and kind of ill going through this memorial museum. It hit me very close to home. The memorial itself was very personal and featured so many personal stories that it was overwhelming.
In one room, there were actual diary entires, letters and last notes from Jewish people written between 1933 and 1945. Letters where mothers would say goodbye to their kids for the last time. Mostly letters of people resolved to death. Then, the next room had walls of families with their stories pre and post war all spelled out – I found a Hirsch family, though that is like Smith for Jews, so I don’t think they were my ancestors… but it still hits home to see your last name even if spelled differently.
The next room had audio recordings of stories. I pushed Auschwitz because of family connection, and I heard this woman talk about how she was asked if her son was 12 and ready to work. The woman not realizing that the soldier was doing her a favor giving her a chance to have her son work instead pleaded with him that he was only 11 and too young for work. Then, she pleaded with him to let her mother go with the children and also not work. She found out after that her pleading had led both her son and mother to death. In that one split second answer, she unintentionally sent them both to be murdered.
That is about when I lost it. On the bus ride this inspired me to write a song about this woman, but even now just typing it spreads chills through my body and tears to my eyes. A split second choice can change a life.
This museum is also where I learned that Jews had to burn the corpses of those that had been gassed. That thought still vehemently sickens me.
All in all, the memorial contains 12, 000 personal biographies to remember. So Hitler failed to destroy these people’s memories.
And then we went to the former concentration camp, which was even more disturbing.
Sachenhausen started as a work camp, until later in the war when they started executing prisoners. There was a story that once all these bodies were being transported to a crematorium via truck, and the truck got into an accident and all the bodies fell out. From that moment on, a crematorium was built on site, but it was decided that most of the death camps should be elsewhere so the German people would not find out what was really happening at these camps – which is a euphemism in itself. But given how close the camps were to the local population, it was important to keep up their propaganda. I mean, there are houses even today within a few minutes walk from where all these atrocities happened which is mind-blowing.
When Sachenhausen was first built it was used for political prisoners – anyone who dissented with the Nazi regime – communists, social democrats, but then also religious prisoners – gypsies, Jews, Jehova’s Witnesses. It was used to get the criminals and homeless people off the street as a way of preventive crime fighting. On the night of the November Pogram many Jews were prisoned to later be set free. Anyone with connections elsewhere could get out and that is how 2/3 of the German Jews knew to flee.
For example, Amanda, one of the girls on the trip had a grandfather who was in one of the other ones, the Dachau camp, got released and immediately emigrated to America. He was one of the lucky ones. I had no idea, but according to my grandmother when I returned, my biological grandfather had been at Sachenhausen for awhile. I was going to say if I had known that going in, I might have had a more intense personal reaction, but honestly, I do not see how I could’ve had because I was already pretty overwhelmed.
After the war, the camp fell into the Russian hands in East Germany, so they kept it as a prison for the Nazis themselves. This also explains why a lot of the memorials seem Soviet Uniony. There is one of the Soviets freeing the prisoners, etc.
Our guide was really knowledgeable. He told us a story of how there were these 10 boys being experimented on for Hepatitis – they didn’t end up getting it – and they were ordered to be killed when the doctor was reassigned but the orderlies argued for the lives saying – what will happen when the doctor returns even though they knew it was unlikely – so there were glimmers of humanity occasionally but not often.
Given the political prisoners, there was a communist committee that would work with the guards to try to make this camp as humane as possible, probably helping because it wasn’t all Jews. They had talks about staging a mass break out, but the truth is where could you hide 10,000 refugees? So instead, this is why they focused on making the camp as bearable as possible.
When you go into the camp, there is the sign that is up at all camps: Arbeit Match Frei = Work Makes Free which is ironic because the work is what doesn’t make them free.
We were shown the bunkers where they were all crammed to sleep, the toilets they were forced to use, etc, and just being in that barracks was a little much for me. To picture my grandparents living like that hit home.
The Nazis were brilliant in terms of group psychologically – they would have daily roll call, and if anyone was missing, they would punish everyone. Thus, the prisoners would start to self-regulate to make sure everyone was behaving because they knew if one person wasn’t, everyone would suffer. This explains the lack of personal escape attempts. Also, each barrack would have a senior person who would get some incentive – better food, shoes, a single bed in exchange for policing his bunk.
We saw the laundry room and kitchen – the prisoners were told they had to whistle while they cooked so that they would not be able to eat scraps, though I am sure some people snuck a few – it was one of the cushier jobs b/c it was always warm inside.
In the most cruelest of rooms, Station Z (to contrast with Tower A, the first place they entered) we saw how at the end of the war the Nazis were trying to make killing as efficient as possible. People were told they had to come in for a physical, they stripped, they went into another room, lined up to be measured for their height, and were given a bullet through the head that was muffled so as not to alert the people waiting on the queue. The blood would trickle into an indentation, which would be cleaned before the the next victim. It was very sick how they would constantly try to improve their technique.
Finally I will end with a morbid fun fact: nowadays 88 is used as code for “Heil Hitler” since H is the 8th letter, and 18 signifies AH or Adolph Hitler, which is ironic given that it is also Chai, the Jewish word for life.
Still with me? I am happy to say that was the most intense day with the most intense information. And we are almost halfway to Paris! So let’s let the blood come back to our faces, and continue…
That night at dinner, I was still feeling off. We ate at a great restaurant in Hackescher Markt which is this deloverly area with shops and has a huge alley between outside seating. In this alley, the most perfectly timed hilarity ensued. This mime dressed clownishly was performing some street theatre. It was the funniest thing I have ever seen in my life. Ever.
He would let people pass him, then don his red nose and follow them, mimicking everything they were doing – if they were on the phone, he would use his shoe as a phone, and he would mimic their walking and their talking and then he could get out a tickler and tickle the very top of their heads – most people would just brush it off, and he would do it until they would turn around, and then he would turn around, too, mimicking them. Most people played along, though a few got a little miffed. IT WAS HILARIOUS. And then one time he was mimicking this woman and pretended to pull her bra out, and then was waving this bra like HEY WOMAN YOU FORGOT YOUR BRA.
I am telling you, the universe gives you what you need at a given moment. I was laughing so hard that I was crying. CRYING TEARS OF LAUGHTER. From everything he was doing. It was so gloriously infantile. And exactly what I needed. A huge release. I was okay again thanks to that mime. Best Euro I ever gave to a street performer (and the only). I am cracking up about it STILL, and I spent the rest of the trip popping people on head and running away.
I am forever grateful to that mime for helping rest me emotionally after the intensity of the day.
DAY FIVE, 8/7
This was the day we had to be out by 8. That was not fun. We got to the Weissensee Cemetery super early, and then had to do manual labor for 3 hours! I should elaborate – we were meeting up with another organization that works with GCU – ARSP (Action Reconciliation Service for Peace) that brings volunteers to Germany or Israel – it was mostly Russians and some Germans 16-26 who were spending 2 weeks helping to restore this massive Jewish cemetery.
We split into groups, and had a tour around seeing gravestones – some of rich people – one of the Jewish songwriter, Louis Lewandowski – I saw some more Hirschs… the reason that this cemetery survived was attributed to the fact that it was supposedly haunted (or still is some believe) and the Nazis didn’t want to disturb the ghosts.
Then we went to work weeding the gravestones. So I did volunteer work. It was worse than it sounds! Manual labor! No, no, I protest too much – it wasn’t that bad – it was a mitzvah – just a hot, sticky one. BUT I did get into it, and I had a plow and wheelbarrow, so I went around removing piles of weeds, rather than having to weed myself…
And then after lunch, I got asked if I wanted a new job… a job photographing everyone working. And I said: “Yes. Yes, I do.”
Regardless, we were all ridiculously worn out from the work, plus the early morning, such that sitting in non-air-conditioned rooms for a panel discussion on Jewish Life in Modern Germany was not-aptly timed. I cannot tell a lie. I am pretty sure I slept through most of that, and I do apologize if by some miracle of the Internet any of those panelists find out because I am pretty sure it was just the placement in the program that did me in.
I can recap it for you, though: there IS Jewish life in Modern Germany.
Anyway, we had dinner with the kids from the cemetery – this one Russian guy wanted to know all about MIT because he is a physicist – though I was having trouble dealing with poor English at my level of exhaustion, he was very nice.
Afterwards, a bunch of us went out to a piano bar Tsipi found on the river! It was no Don’t Tell Mama, but it was really nice because it was right on the Rhine…
DAY SIX, 8/8
By some miracle of scheduling we did not have to meet till 10am Friday morning. I don’t know when 10am became sleeping in for me, but it was a miracle. At this point, it was clear to me that the only way I had made it through lectures in college and grad school (which is over 10 years ago at this point, so I had long forgotten) was by doodling or writing or doing my homework or puzzles or something. Yes, it has been so long since I have been forced into an environment of sit there for an hour not doing or saying anything that I had forgotten all my coping mechanisms – but starting with this day’s talk, I started journaling, doing sudoku, etc for them all, and I was able to actually pay better attention rather than falling asleep!
I will say in my defense, some of these speakers were worse than others – we went to the federal foreign office to meet with a government official and the poor woman was very nice, but her English wasn’t great and she was in over her head when some of the group started haranguing her with questions about Israel.
The truth is the more exciting part of that trip was the elevators in the building – they had a 2 person elevator that just runs up and one that just runs down – kind of like an escalator version of an elevator – and it was SO COOL. Like seriously. WHOA. SO COOL. And we got to ride it! You just jump in when it’s there – like a subway train in Divergent – and then get off at your floor. SO COOL.
Then we actually had free time so I walked back towards Tiergarten, my favorite place, on my way back to the hotel – note: I was the only person who broke away to walk home – I also found postcards cheaper than by our hotel, too. I passed 2 free museums that were both really lame – one was some art museum with just one thing on display including a really smelly concoction – the other was dedicated to a German politician and was all in German…
I got back to the hotel in time for 2 more panels. Actually meeting with Hans Ulrich Klose, former member of German Bundestag was WONDERFUL. Now THERE was someone worth listening to. He was extremely frank, knowledgeable and a fantastic speak. That was probably the only panel I paid attention to raptly the entire time. I won’t lie, even though I put everyone from GCU on this list!
I definitely could tell you nothing about the German-Israeli Relation panel. But I bet Mollie can – if you really want to know, we can ask her. 🙂
At night we went to the Fraenkelufer Synagogue in the Kreuzberg neighborhood. When asked whom was skipping services, originally only my hand shot up, but I am happy to report at least another 4 or 5 people ended up not going either. It was optional after all and mostly in German!
Instead, I walked around this lovely, lovely neighborhood which was basically the East Village or Williamsburg – a really cheap area that artists took over and then got priced out of. There was a great bridge where people were just sitting, drinking outside (something illegal in the USA). AND there was street theatre – I came at the tail end (pun intended in a bit) of people in rat costumes singing “There’s No Business Like Show Business”! What?! I ran excitedly towards my people (theatre people) and talked to them for like 15 minutes – they are putting on a show in parks – they got commissioned by some environmental company – and it’s about recycling plastic or something?!
Here’s their webpage; sadly it’s all in German: www.Berlin-Die-Ratten-Kommen.de
Anyway, it turns out their inspiration for the show was The Muppet Show – how awesome. Very nice people; one of the actresses added me on the facebook, so if she reads this – HI!
After that, I went to the temple for the Shabbat meal, and then we almost all went out to an Israeli bar in the hip neighborhood. The subway was MOBBED going home at 1am. MOBBED.
DAY SEVEN, 8/9
Saturday was also a sleep in day – meeting at 10:15! There was a trip to a picture gallery museum which was optional but free. So about half of us went, but when we got there we were right in the Cultural Center – so close to the Musical Instrument museum that Jen had found on the plane – the only museum I REALLY wanted to go to. So much that I had started thinking about skipping some of the lectures on Sunday to make it happen. However, we got to the art museum and the tour guide was mis-scheduled (though I’m told she showed up shortly) and Tsipi looked at the musicians (myself, Jen and this pair Sam and Jeff who play string instruments) and said if we wanted to go to the other museum it was completely fine.
Given permission, we joyously skipped there! The museum was only 3 euros with student ID and was the best 3 euros I spent the whole trip! Three floors of musical instruments! What joy! I took over 200 pictures. Seriously. (So did Jeff.) I could not stop clicking. It was just fascinating – you could see the genesis of modern instruments – they had at least 50 different pianos from over the last few centuries – just crazy awesome. Seriously afterwards we were like on crack, babbling on and on about it all.
They had weird hybrid instruments – like a violin with a horn attached for amplification… pianos with 2 rows (cemballos) – some with 4 – a Janko piano – which is one made of whole notes so you can reach 2 octaves with one hand and transpose so easily…
And if that was not cool enough, we had accidentally been there at the exact time when once a week the guy demonstrates the instruments – so he was playing all these old instruments and then played 2 massive organs (that’s what she said) – like MASSIVE. The first was mostly a church one so he played that liturgical stuff, but the other one had a full orchestra attached — he played the Imperial Death March from Star Wars on it, and it was like WHOA. He also played some classical stuff like Vivaldi’s 4 Seasons and I think some Nutcracker but he ended with a fully orchestrated Theme from Harry Potter! SO COOL.
Alright, on the way to meet up with the group, I took a picture with a huge Lego Giraffe at the Sony Center, then saw a sign that it cost 50 cents to pee there. We went to Starbucks for free instead. There was a lot of stuff happening at the center – some break dancers – there was a live game of Connect 4, which we sadly didn’t have time to play. It was kind of like Bryant Park meets a mall… we met at Potsdam Place at this really old stoplight… then we took the subway to Gleis 17 then Potsdam itself.
Gleis 17, or Track 17, was the main hub where they would deport Jews to the death camps. There is a memorial there now and a railroad that lists chronologically how many Jews were transported each year. We lit Yarzheit candles and did a little service to remember. Also, the sky rained on us lightly for about 2 minutes during this memorial as if the universe was crying with us… It was probably the most touching, poignant moment of the trip. Not emotionally raw and devastating like day 4 had been, but important and meaningful just the same.
Next, we had a lovely walking tour of Potsdam with a tourguide who said YA? incessantly. We go this way now, ya? But she was pretty nice. Potsdam was in East Germany so had a bunch of USSR influence.
There were bells that rang, and I said “I can hear the bells” and no one got it. So that was sad, but then I was starting doing “Singing in the rain” when it was pouring for a bit, and a few people got THAT at least. YES I wrote those things in my notes to remember to tell you. Notes on notes. (Speaking of puns, I buzzed on about bees a lot – I should’ve written down some more of my puns b/c I was on a roll there with this group!)
Um, we saw a canal and a church, then we went to the Sans Soucci gardens which means Without Care in French. This was the hole of Frederick the Great for awhile… we heard some history story of a king that didn’t even sleep in the same castle as his wife – I said – he was probably gay – and apparently that is the rumor! I am astute. We took 132 steps up to the castle there. It was very nice – lots of flowers… I have down that Bach’s son used to play with the king’s son – not sure if that’s the same king…
Frederick was re-buried per his wishes with his dogs at foot of the castle – people leave potatoes on the grave because of an old story that he had guards guard the potatoes like they were valuable jewels to trick robbers into thinking they were valuable and stealing those instead of jewels…
It was a very nice town… then we got back to Berlin, and I ran to a concert at the HKV which is basically Lincoln Center in Berlin. It’s the cultural center – the building is shaped like a pregnant oyster, and they have concerts on this lovely roof terrace on the Rhine. So I went for their Wassermusik (water music) festival and saw the tail end of a guy from Mali’s set and then this guy Bonga from Angola. It was kind of Latin-flavored R&B… but really it was pretty much like going to an international music concert at LC, as I’ve said, but it’s exactly what I like to do, so I was happy to spend a night alone doing what I like to do. Alone as in not having to talk to anyone b/c all of that non-stop socializing was really starting to get to me.
I got some lovely pictures of the full moon, and just relaxed. There were colored lights all over the shell which was hanging over the stage, and it was a magical evening.
I heard one couple speaking English at some point, and my ear just flipped over there, so I made a note of it. I think the human brain is quite amazing in that it can pick out the language it knows instantly out of the rest of the crowd. Very strange but nice.
I took a long, meandering walk back crossing the Rhine on various bridges and walking the path right down by the river… on the way home I finally figured out why I could not find the statue of Brecht the other night – it was in a construction site – so I got a picture of it but it was really dark. Ah, well.
DAY EIGHT, 8/10
This was our last day in Berlin!
First we had two panels – one on History & Memory and one on Holocaust Education and Antisemitism (these were supposed to be two, but were combined so we could have some more free time). Some interesting tidbits: immigrants can work in Germany and then take their pensions back to their home countries where things are much cheaper and have a really nice retirement… also hate speech of any kind is prohibited in Germany, and the government employs people who speak Arab languages to check out all their signs, etc. It is very strictly enforced. And Holocaust Education is mandatory.
This would be a good place to mention a little more about the German people’s reactions to the Holocaust. It was weird to hear how so many families were mum about what went on… brushing it off to say “well, it was the war” when their kids inquired. So a lot of my generation of Germans do not even know what their grandparents’ experiences were, for better or worse. In fact, Germany has made a concerted effort to not lead any international coalitions, and the majority want to stay out of foreign affairs. Even when they won the world cup, there was a stigma that they should not celebrate “too much” because they did not want the world seeing any elements of German Nationalism.
Between the panels I read in a park for a bit, which was really nice because it was finally cooler out. Afterwards, we had about an hour free, and that is when I went on facebook for the first time in over a week. But only to friend everyone from the trip, so that when I came down I could play the game show: “NAME OUR MUTUAL FRIEND” – in which I had people who had mutual friends (which was some feat given none of them worked in theater!)… and actually very few people could do it even with help… besides NINA – the winner was NINA! But the weirdest mutual is that Linor spent 2 random days in Paris with a guy who did my showcase 4 years ago. RANDOM.
Anyway, we played this game on the way to Schoneberg to go to the Bayrischer Platz – the Bavarian Quarter.
First stop was at the library of biographies which has 148 stories of survivors from Schoneberg including 2 famous ones who were born there and got out – Billy Wilder and Albert Einstein. Then we had a quick walking tour around the district, which was basically the Upper West Side… where the wealthier, bourgeoisie Jews would’ve lived, which is why so many were able to get out.
History fans note: this was where Kennedy gave his famous “Ich Bin Ein Berliner” speech where he meant to say “I am a Berliner.”, but actually said “I am a Jelly Donut.”
So we saw an art exhibit that was put up in 1993 called “Places of Remembrance: A Memorial for Jews Living in Berlin from 1933 to 1945”. The exhibit consists of 80 signs up on lampposts throughout the district, and on the sign you see the edicts that the Nazis put up with a picture on the back – for instance we saw one with musical notes on a staff and the back read in German: “Jews are expelled from all choral groups. August 16, 1933” They obviously got progressively worse as the years went on.
There was also a historical photography exhibit in one of the subway stations there.
Finally, we went to where Albert Einstein grew up – the building had been bombed, but there is a really nice plaque in front of the modern building there now.
This was the night where a trip to go under the dome was scheduled; since Jen and I had done that already, we broke away. It was a happy coincidence that the section of town we wanted to explore was only 15 minutes away, so we walked up a really nice street towards Wittenburg Place. Around there we saw the outside of the Ka Da We and walked up to where we found an international food festival and free rock concert. We also passed some interesting sculptures along the way… and we saw a carousel by the zoo!
When we had our fill of that area, we backtracked to go to find a plaque on the building where Christopher Isherwood wrote the semi-autobiographical novels that Cabaret was based on… it was basically Chelsea. There were gay bars, one called Sally Bowles and even a plaque about gay rights…
And with that, we say goodbye to Berlin…
DAY NINE 8/11
We woke up at 6:30am. It was horrible. Then we took a train, so we all went back to sleep on it… then we took a bus from the train to Worms – that is pronounced “verms” ! We had a lovely walking tour in Worms including a visit to the Rashi House which is the oldest synagogue in Germany (though it was reconstructed since the November Pogrom) and the oldest Jewish Cemetery in Europe!
Worms was a center of Judaism ever since 1034. It has been dubbed Little Jerusalem… we started the tour on Judengasse which let to some fart jokes…
There was a community center hub that was used for deportation – they would have the Jews walk 2 by 2 so that they would think everything was alright, and they used this center to give the impression of legality. This calm method is the reason so many people had no idea what was really going on.
By the Rashi House there is an indent in the wall – the story goes horses were turning down the alley and a pregnant lady was about to get run over, so the temple gave in to save her life, but really it was probably erosion due to natural causes. (I am a scientist, after all.)
Again there was a lot of persecution off and on, especially in the 1800s. (This probably is the moral of the trip – Jews are always persecuted.) Some Anti-Semitism stems from the Jews not getting sick from the plague. The real reason they weren’t getting as sick is because they were more hygienic with their hand-washing rituals. However, to the outside eye, they were the cause of it since it did not affect them as greatly. Also, since Jews could not have many jobs and ended up money lenders, a lot of the non-Jews were indebted to them, which also made the enmity grow.
The synagogue itself has been reconstructed. It has little lockers at seats, and when someone would move or die, there would be an auction for them as they opened up. Today there are about 200 Jews in Worms, mostly Russians.
Someone related a story about Martin Luther – how he originally thought Jews would join him in his uprising against the church, but when they failed to convert to Lutheran he started hating them even more.
Also along this route, we saw a lot of dragons – instead of bears – because lindworm means dragons – I might have jumped on one and gotten a picture taken… I wanted to be like Harry Potter. (And by might have, I mean I did – and you can see the photo on the facebook!)
Anyway, we went to the huge cemetery – and I declared it a pretty grave site — we were told this one was still there because the Nazi’s had a 2 fold plan: 1. exterminate all Jews, 2. exterminate all Jewish memories – and they had not gotten to 2 yet. There was a story about a Rabbi who is buried here being in the hands of the emperor – some guy paid him everything he had to get the body back and buried here, and only asked he be buried next to him. So a lot of people make a pilgrimage to Worms just to put a stone on his gravestone.
Oh, then on the way back to the bus, we stopped off for ice cream to surprise Dena for her birthday! And Tsipy also got an accordion and clarinetist to perform – it was splendid till it started to pour… but the ice cream was SO GOOD and much needed!
After Worms we checked into a Holiday Inn Express in Heidelberg. This was my FAVORITE hotel b/c it had AIR CONDITIONING, a most COMFORTABLE bed, a fantastic shower. Man it was HEAVEN – we had tv channels in English on an HD TV and we had a free pen and pad! I LOVE FREE PENS AND PADS! I will say that this hotel did have the slowest wifi, but as I was staying offline mostly, it didn’t affect me that much.
We had dinner with some alumni from the camp program who were graduate students there since Heidelberg is a college town. Somehow that dinner turned into me telling many stories from my sex life. I will spare you those stories. The German guy we were sitting with was saying how the first German rappers were from Heidelberg… Also this night, Mollie shared some of the wine she got from Italy to toast us all – very sweet of her! Post dinner, we walked into the college town and went to a charming bar that had just finished pub trivia – sadly the trivia was in German. 🙁 Elan and I drew Dena pictures of elephants for her birthday for some reason…
And then when I got home, Jen had on the BBC news, and it was the night Robin Williams died. Very sad way to end the night.
DAY TEN, 8/12
Okay, we took a tour of Heidelberg this day! Very cute town. Remember I mentioned Amanda’s grandfather? Well her grandmother was from Heidelberg! She was able to find the place her great-grandparents got married. She also found the names of her grandmother’s friend and the boy she babysat with on a plaque for the departed Jews. The amazing thing is she met both of them after finding a box of her grandmother’s photos after her death. She was able to track them down, reunite them, and then found their names on a memorial. Truly wonderful story.
Anyway, we went to the university square of the oldest college in Germany. It’s free to the public – and 17% of the students are foreign – the most of those from China.
Mark Twain spent 4 months in this town and wrote about it – it’s a very popular tourist destination and used to have a really big American presence. They just left after 68 years of occupation.
Also, when we were walking we saw a lot of schmuck on signs – apparently that is jewelry in German. So don’t be a schmuck and buy your girlfriend some schmuck!
We visited the site where the former synagogue was – that’s where the plaque I mentioned was. We went to the River Neckar and saw the floodlines – it used to completely flood the village – there’s a baboon statue on a bridge there that Asians put their heads in… Then we went up to Heidelberg castle in a funicular that felt like we were at the end of the Woody Allen movie “Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex but where Afraid to Ask” … anyway, it was really lovely up there. We went through a lover’s gate, saw the world’s biggest beer keg (I signed the wall ala hackers at MIT) and he said that the operetta “The Student Prince” takes place in Heidelberg, and they usually do a performance at the castle, but this year they are doing “My Fair Lady” … in German.
After the tour, we briefly walked around the gardens around the castle, then grabbed lunch at this German restaurant where the waitress did not speak English and HATED us. We thought she wanted us to order, but we weren’t ready; she really just wanted us to order drinks. We had trouble conveying the fact that I would never pay for water, but finally she got we only wanted two. We had to signal the other waiter to get her back to order food, the food took a long time to come, and then we had trouble paying her fast, and she got irritated again. Ah well. The food was the most German we had the entire trip – I had Homemade Goulash with Spaetzle – it was pretty good at least.
We did some shopping, and then met the group to go back to the hotel, pick up our bags and go to Frankfurt…
We checked into a new hotel that REEKED of cigarette smoke in the lounge and hallways, but thankfully not the bedroom. At least it had AC, though it was cold and rainy now, so we didn’t really need it. We subwayed to the center of Frankfurt which has so many more skyscrapers than anywhere else we’d bee in Germany so far because it is the financial center of the country.
This was the dinner where Alice and Jen taught me a lesson on how to ask questions of people to foster better conversation; a skill I am always working on. I hope I will take those lessons with me. I also had eggplant, and it was very yummy.
Afterwards, we met up with some Jewish folk currently living in Frankfurt – a handful of Israelis – at Haagen Dazs = FREE ICE CREAM again! I ended up talking to a woman who loves Broadway, so that was really nice. Then, we went back to the hotel area and ended up a really cute beer garden before turning in for the night.
DAY ELEVEN, 8/13
This was the last full day in Germany, and my last day with this group of strangers I had grown to call friends.
We had our final walking tour – this time of Frankfurt. We went to a really fancy church. We learned that Frankfurt meant “fort of the franks” because Charlegmaine (of Pippin fame!) built a fort on the river to win some war… we saw some 80’s looking post modern houses when they were trying to get more swanky people to move…
We went on the Eiserner bridge, which is another lock bridge… there is a quote from the Odyssey in Greek on it but I forgot to write down what it said.
I saw a statue of Goethe and took a picture with him b/c I am pretentious like that… I have far more pictures of me posing as statues in France anyway.
We saw the stock exchange with the bull and bear out front… I saw a guy walk past with a Statler & Wardolf t-shirt with the writing in German, but not fast enough to take a picture… but Jen saw it, too. I would not lie to you!
We went up top the Main Tower (Empire State Building wannabe) and shot some really nice pictures of the area…
After the tour, we had free time for a bit, so we went to the famous gummy bear store where I got a free sample… I saw someone dressed up as Mickey Mouse taking pictures with kids so I felt like it was Times Square… there were some really fantastic street musicians around… Mollie got some Birkenstocks… we went to a Teddy bear store with the most integrate teddy bears – there was Shakesbear and then they had a whole composer bear collection where they all played songs, as well… teddy bear/ music box combinations…
And we were off to our final museum: The Jewish Museum of Frankfort. Well, let’s just say at this point, we were all really gone attention span wise. The lady who gave the tour was so sweet, but she tried so hard to be funny and just wasn’t! The museum was also pretty tired and lame, especially compared to the one in Berlin.
Again there was Jewish history – Frankfurt was one of the largest Jewish communities since about 1150. There was a whole Jewish row and this is where Rothschild was from – so that musical takes place in Frankfurt (yes I only know history through musicals)…
I found a plaque of Jews from Frankfurt and there was a Josef Hirschovitz deported – so maybe he is our relative b/c we used to be Hershovitz – but again who knows why we spell it with an E and no C when everyone else has an I and a C!?
The first female rabbis were in frankfort, so it was a pretty liberal and reformed place before the Third Reich came to power…
There was a picture of Goethe with Felix Mendelssohn (the composer) so that was nice to see they were friends…
And there was something for a play called Nathan de Wisse that touted that Jews, Christians and Muslims should get along that was written in 1779 — about the time of the American Revolution… history is indeed surprising sometimes, no?
Afterwards we headed back to the hotel for our final discussion where we ended up with paperwork to fill out! Surveys, etc. So we did that diligently, and then we had one final discussion about the ups and downs of the trip, and I really realized how much I liked and respected everyone on the trip, including our 2 German tour guides, who did a remarkable job, especially considering they had to put up with me! I was apparently the only person who complained about the early mornings because most of them were teachers, but still – I think one morning off would have been nice.
Regardless, it was a remarkable, wonderful experience, and while I would never pay to go on a group trip like this, I was happy to do it for the cost of just getting there.
We had a closing dinner, said goodbye to most, a few of us went out to a really smokey bar, then said goodbye…
PART 2: PARIS
BASIC IMPRESSIONS OF PARIS
Let me take a pause from the chronology to talk about Paris in general. Paris is magical. Dirty but beautiful. The French people are less nice than the Germans, which is hard to believe. But not always. The French language is so much more beautiful than German – just listening to people you feel sophisticated not yelled at… it’s much calmer and richer and less in front of the throat barking…
Also there are non-white people. Everywhere. So in a split second, it feels a lot more like NYC. Plus it is louder. Germans are polite. French people are more like New Yorkers.
A bit about the Parisian subway – it is HOT – there is no AC and it is stinky and crowded… it’s also very dirty… and finally, it is FAST. We never waited for more than 8 minutes and that was rare. It’s like a roller coaster – you get on – and it’s like HOLD YOUR HORSES. And some of those transfers are CRAZY — they even have those moveable walkways like airports in some of them… so many stairs – so many twists – but all clearly signed, for the most part… and everything is very color-coded… but always there are musicians – almost every car we were in at night! And at a lot of stops – I mean it’s like that in NYC sometimes – but these were much better quality and much more classical, less poppy. So nice! Oh also, you have to open the door yourself by pulling on a handle… and most people do that well before the subway itself has stopped! To get on the subway, you get actual tickets that go in a machine and come out DC style… and you have to hold on to it in case someone stops you on the train, not that that happened to us ever… but at least you had to swipe something – far less trusting than Germany (and Copenhagen last year)!
Anyway, why did I go to Paris? First off, I REALLY wanted to go to Paris. I mean I’ve wanted to go since I took French all through high school! Second, Celia’s twin sister, Joyce, was visiting NYC last year and said I could visit any time. When I found out we were going to Germany, my first thought was I have to go to Paris after! And it worked out perfectly because the French had a holiday on August 15th, so Joyce was off from work for a long weekend! Fantastic. Then, we ended up stopping our trip from Frankfurt, which made it even easier b/c it was only a 4 hour, $80 train ride! Fate was saying – go to Paris!
For those of you who are looking at the Paris albums, I will warn you… I took a lot of pictures of signs, statues, theaters and musicians… but by statues I mean I posed as a lot of them. And I think those pictures are the highlight of the trip!
DAY TWELVE, 8/14
Day 12 starts in Frankfurt. With a check out time of 11:30am, I was able to sleep till 11, and it was the start of a more reasonable wake up time for the remainder of the trip. I got to the train station super early – the seats are all assigned, but Germany is so organized, they told you exactly where the car you wanted was going to stop on the platform… I wrote some postcards on the train ride and perused my Paris guide book that Scott at Don’t Tell Mama had leant me b/c I did not have Jen anymore to do the research for me.
Joyce (who was a fantastic host the entire time) picked me up at the train station. We took the metro to drop my stuff off at her apartment then went out to dinner at one of her favorite spots – Bercy Village. We pre-bought our tickets to the museums, which turned out to be a very good idea for saving time waiting on queues… Then we had a lovely dinner at a cafe outside called Partie de Campagne… lovely besides the cigarette smoke everywhere making it hard to not get that smell mixed up in our olfactories…
Some interesting things about Joyce’s apartment — the toilet is separate from the room with the sink and shower?! What?! It has its own little cubby. Also, the windows have built it metal shades which were annoying to roll up and down (and I still have scratches from doing it wrong) but MAN they REALLY keep the sun out – it is AWESOME. I wish my apartment had something like that – then I wouldn’t have to clip together 2 sun-blocking curtains only to have light seep in from the top… also the whole apartment complex is gated like 3 times – very hard to break into those sorts of places. OH and her apartment door has NO number – there is NO number on any of them – so you have to tell people you are the last door on the right… very weird!
DAY THIRTEEN, 8/15
We started the first day around 10:30 which was the earliest start. I don’t think we left till after 11 anyway. I saw this cute sign on the subway with a cartoon rabbit (I took a picture):
“Ne mets pas tes mains sur les portes,
tu risques de te faire pincer tres fort!”
SO CUTE – basically it’s don’t put your hands in the doors or you are going to have a strong pinching!
We started the day where else… the Eiffel Tower! We took some great pictures with it, walked under it – way too crowded and expensive to go up – I mean I haven’t even done the Empire State Building – but we walked under! We went by Champs de Mars which was SO crowded… I bought a keychain on the street… then we started walking around town. On the way, I picked up some postcards and magnets just to get my touristy shopping over with…
One thing I will complain about Paris is that the streets are IMPOSSIBLE. They are all winding and twisting and illogical. I have an amazing sense of direction, and I think we ended up lost or turned around at least 3 times, maybe 4 over the course of the vacation. I was always able to fix it, but I learned very quickly to keep the map out and check every intersection if there were lots of curves… but this kind of chaotic design does allow for tiny nooks to just magically appear…
Anyway, we walked to the Arc de Triomphe where this woman tried to swindle us! She found a gold ring on the street and was like – is it yours? Then tried to get us to give her money for it – I just gave the ring back – but so strange! There were also guys playing that game with 3 cups and a hidden ball on the bridge – I felt bad for anyone losing $$ there…
We walked down the Champs Elysees where I sung AUX CHAMPS ELYSEES over and OVER – and Joyce had never heard of it?! I hope SOMEone from French class is reading this and singing that now! Il y a tout ce que vous voulez aux Champs-Elysees!!! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAMuNfs89yE)
We stopped for a quick lunch, and ate on a lovely bench – it rained for like 3 minutes – that happened in Germany, too – really short bursts of rain – then nothing.
Anyway, we went to the Jardins des Tulieres which was so beautiful – grass, statues everywhere – just really nice. And that led us to the Louvre, which was HUGE. One of Joyce’s friends is a Louvre-savant, so he gave us a mini-private tour around until we got kicked out at 6PM b/c of the public holiday. I was sad we didn’t get to see more, but we did see a lot…
I think it’s probably best to refer you to pictures, but we saw an awful lot of Greek sculptures and a lot of paintings… we went to the African/ Asian/ American section which was a highlight… and of course I waded through the crowd to get a picture of Mona Lisa (not to be confused with her cousin Moaning Lisa – she was having a lot more fun!)… I saw the Venus De Milo… we saw a few other DaVinci paintings…
There was a painting of the French revolution and Joyce’s friend confirmed that the little boy in the painting might have been the inspiration for Gavroche! He also pointed out a painting with a Hippograth! Other painters we saw included Goya and Delacroix… and I did make a note there was an awful lot of Jesus.
Afterwards we walked down the Rue de Rivoli towards the Hotel DeVille where there was some beach volleyball going on. On the way we found a studio with lots of workshops and we viewed a few of the works of current artists… Anyway, I left them sitting for a bit at the hotel to go get more pictures of touristy places – I got a picture of the Centre George Pompidou and then walked over to Notre-Dame – where the bells rang – so I was singing the song from the movie – and I saw Quasimodo and Esmerelda cafes on the way… and I saw the gargoyles and the bells outside…
Then I just happened to stumble on the bridge that is filled with locks – it is inundated with them – poor bridge! And then I walked to St. Louis Island where i saw a guy reading Le Petit Prince and a pianist playing classically on an upright piano – and then when I came back with Joyce the piano was gone!? Anyway, we ate dinner at a lovely brasserie on the island ending up sitting next to some nice Americans going to London for a Jehovah’s Witness convention, and then we walked to see Patheon and Sorbonne the Harvard of Paris…
Paris at night is so magical that I wanted to get a picture of the Eiffel Tower again, but we might have gotten a little lost, and we were getting very tired. Also, some of the side streets are really dark, deserted and kind of scary at night… One of the nice things we stumbled upon was a family band which was really great in a random side street. Regardless after that detour I learned my lesson: always just get to the river b/c then you can at least follow it. So we did that and finally got back to the Eiffel Tower.
So basically that day we walked in a huge ass circle.
DAY FOURTEEN, 8/16
We got an even later start the next day. I think maybe 11:30. We were walking down a street by her that had all these high walls and barbed wire, and apparently she lives right by the equivalent to the CIA… oh, also, I noticed there are public toilets EVERYwhere in Paris – it’s like Shanghai that way.
We got to the Musee Orsee by like 1 and had pre-bought tickets so there was no line… on the way we took some river pictures, though. They didn’t allow cameras in the museum which was actually nice b/c I was able to actually enjoy the art without thinking what should I take pictures of! I really liked this museum the best of the 4 we went to. It had a lot of famous painters displayed…
There was a Carpeaux exhibit – he was a sculptor… so they had an exhibit of his work throughout his career… there were a lot of Renoir, Manet, Monet (hey man-hey, show me the mon-ay!), Cezanne… there was some Degas – in fact that same Tiny Dancer statue I saw in Copenhagen, some Picasso, more Delacroix… Toulouse-Latrec… Paul Gaughin… some tinier Seurat work (always a favorite)… oh there was an interesting anonymous photo of a guy who photoshopped his head off him — or whatever they used for photoshop in the early 1900s! Cutting and pasting the film, I suppose… but actually cutting and pasting, not just control X/V.
And finally, my favorite was the Van Gogh room – I really like his work, and not just because he was on a Doctor Who episode! That was obviously the most popular room with everyone b/c it was almost like the Mona Lisa in there… but they had dozens of his paintings up. They just sparkle off the canvas.
After seeing everything (I meticulously checked each room as we got through it), we went up on the roof which was a fantastic view of the city.
On the way to the Museum of Modern Art, we passed a plaque that said Voltaire died in that building, and we saw a statue of Thomas Jefferson (that I, of course, posed with). We walked down to the riverside where they had all this summer stuff set up – hopscotch, little tents you could rent for BBQs and naps… and free 10 minute massages! OMG was THAT awesome!!!!
The MOMA was free and thus pretty small – only 20 rooms… mostly filled with abstract art… some minimalism, some cubism, a little Dadaism… the only painter they had a picture of I heard of was Matisse! And that was one was pretty nice.
Afterwards we sat for a bit because our feet hurt. And I mean my feet were KILLING me. You know I walk a LOT, but if you ask me how many 12 hour walking days I can take before my feet break… I know now the answer is FOURTEEN. OUCH. So many blisters… I was practically limping this whole day actually.
Anyway, we started slowly walking with breaks to Montmartre… but we had to hit a lot of highlights – the Church de Madeleine, the Opera House, the Folies Bergere (cue the song from Nine!)… and finally the Moulon Rouge! Took pictures all of those.
Then I took Joyce out for Chinese, which wasn’t really that good, but it was the first time I had Asian food in weeks at that point… and then we got a picture of the Moulon Rouge at night afterwards!
We walked down the sex street – lots of lights – a sex museum – strip clubs – quite exciting – and then we walked up and up and up to the Place de Tertre at the top of the huge hill in Montmarte – what a cute little area with piano bars and live musicians… then we went to St. Pierre which is this huge church at the top of the hill. The view from that hill was just WOW. Just WOW. Perfect place to be. Just like – wow. Looking at all those lights of Paris! WOO!
So we had 2 really perfect days and nights of seeing virtually everything on the Paris mandatory list.
DAY FIFTEEN, 8/17
Sunday’s agenda was far lighter. That is the best way to do trips, I find. Pack everything into the first day, a little less day 2, and start tapering off – especially after doing a ten day, nonstop group trip! So we slept till after noon (12:45), meaning I was finally adjusted to European time, and I found after a long night’s sleep, my feet were working again.
We headed to the Bastille subway stop – I got a picture of the newer opera house… then we went to the Maison de Victor Hugo where Hugo lived for awhile. This was the most disappointing museum – thankfully it was free. I can’t imagine paying for it – it was just one floor filled with things that Hugo had – there was no historical context and no manuscripts – and absolutely no mention of Les Mis, Hunchback or his inspirations for either, which is what I would’ve found very interesting… ah, well! His house WAS on the cutest square – Place des Vosges… there was an incredible harpist playing outside the museum, though, and I gave him 20 cents – he smiled – the best thing about coin currency is he had no idea if I had given him 20 cents or 2 euros!
Then we ended up meandering – saw the gardens at the Hotel de Sully… and we headed to the Jewish street – Rue des Rosiers – I mean I was a little Jewish Museumed out from Germany, but I thought it would be good to at least check out the neighborhood. I did find a plaque about Jews being deported to Auschwitz there. I also found a really cute garden where we sat and ate falaffel which was pretty yummy. And I saw the Jew Mobile!!! Those guys asking you if you are Jewish – they exist in Paris, too! Who knew?!
We went to the outside of the Jewish museum which had just closed – a trifecta now that I’ve gotten to the Dublin, Shanghai AND Paris Jewish museums when they were closed! However, as I said, I saw quite a lot of Jewish museums in Germany, so I think dayenu.
We headed to Temple Square to see the remnants of the Jewish synagogue, I took more pictures posing as statues…
We went to Republique which is a really nice square – Joyce’s favorite spot in Paris – and we sat on the banks of the St. Martin Canal on benches watching boats and drawbridges… a very nice way to spend one’s last night in Paris…
Joyce’s boyfriend was coming home for the night, so we went back to wait for him. By the time his flight got in, it was almost 11 and most of the cafes were closed, so we ended up eating at this gourmet place… Le Mickee Donaldes — I mean I figured I was on vacation, it was okay to eat it even though ever since I saw Super Size Me, I avoid it like the plague… one thing they have there and not here are frappes – which is basically a mini shake – I had a pistachio frappe for 2 euro and it was SO good!
DAY SIXTEEN, 8/18
I slept as late as possible to adjust, and woke up 1:30pm, 7:30am hometime. I went to the post office, got on the wrong line which was really long, then was sent to another line, then was told they didn’t have the right stamps for the USA, so I had to use the machine, which I would’ve used in the first place but it wasn’t in English at all – thankfully a guy on line with me heard the whole thing, and in 2 seconds set up the machine to dispense what I needed… so there was one nice French guy! But he spoke perfect English, so he was probably not French…
Anyway, I wasted 40 minutes there, then got turned around, but finally found my last destination, Pere-LaChaise Cemetery — this huge, very crowded cemetery where a lot of famous people are buried. Sadly, I went in the sideway, didn’t find maps (later I found them for 2.50 euro – what a crock!) and realized if I wanted to make my flight and not have to take a cab, I would not really get to stay for more than 20 minutes or so. So, I was not able to track down as many celebrities as I wanted… in fact, I just meandered hopelessly, but am happy to report I ran into Balzac on the way – so at least I have one picture of a famous writer’s grave!
I’ll tell you, I got out, saw a subway and decided rather than try to figure out which way I was supposed to walk back, just took it. Yes, for the record, I will take the subway in moments of panic about catching a flight.
On the subway ride to the airport, I went through all my photos, took some notes for this write up and realized what a lovely time in Europe I had. I teared up a bit knowing how much work was in store for me, especially captioning all the photos and writing this ledger… but I knew that I had a lot of stories I needed to share and that it would be worth putting in the time to tell them.
Reflecting upon my time in Paris, I was kind of sad that we didn’t get to do anything cultural at night, but most everything in Paris closes down for the summer months – theaters, operas, a lot of restaurants… but I figure I see enough cultural things in NYC. Regardless, it was a magical place to visit, but I think that NYC is the only city where I would want to live.
Well, there you have it! 16 days away. 16 very full days. Unsurprisingly, I have been worn out both emotionally and physically. I haven’t left my apartment since Tuesday, and I only did that to go to NJ to see grandparents (it was my grandmother’s 86th birthday Monday!) and get groceries (of which I’m ridiculously stocked right now). But it has given me time to reflect and introspect (but not genuflect!). What a wonderful experience! How lucky I am that the timing worked out!
In conclusion, I cannot endorse this trip more. If YOU are a Jewish professional 23-35, I think you would be extremely foolish to not go on this trip August 2015. The applications will be up mid-January! It will be a trip you never forget. Please have me put you in touch with the groups, and I will write you a recommendation myself.
Before I go back to the regularly scheduled ledger, I have added everyone from the trips to this list, and I want to publicly thank them (the Germany people and especially Joyce) for not only putting up with me, but seeming to enjoy having me there. You are all remarkable people, and I am so grateful that we had this time together. And now, onto more feline matters…
SMEE and the FRIDGE
And we’re back to the regular ledger! While I was gone, Smee learned a new trick: How to get into the fridge! Yup. He spent my time away perfectly his skill at figuring out where to paw consistently for the fridge to open. At the moment I have 5000 postcards for Love Quirks holding it shut, but I actually bought a fridge lock. The thing is… it’s for toddlers, not cats. I think Smee will figure out how to open it. We will see.
Very smart, kitty.
BOOKING THE NOVEL
Okay, since the last ledger I read The Casual Vacancy which is J.K. Rowling’s first venture into writing novels for adults. I didn’t hate it as much as a lot of people b/c I had low expectations. The book is VERY British, but I think once you get past that, it’s a well crafted novel. I enjoyed her writing very much. I also am halfway through Sara Silverman’s book, Bedwetter, which is pretty funny, as you’d imagine.
In Europe I carted around 8 (12 if you include guide books/ language dictionaries) and I read… TWO. Better than zero, though!
I read UNDER THE DOME Parts 1 and 2 by Stephen King b/c I wanted to see how it differed from the TV show… and it differs COMPLETELY from the TV show! What the what?! But at least I got some closure on the characters in case it gets canceled. Plus I learned I actually enjoy reading Stephen King novels, so maybe I will read some more in the future!
MOVIES ON A PLANE
Before I left, I saw a free preview of the new Woody Allen movie, Magic in the Moonlight. It wasn’t my favorite, but it was still quite enjoyable. Very Woody Allen. Not sure I believe Colin Firth and Emma Stone as love interests, but it gives me hope for the future if a 50 year old can win a 25 year old as hot as she!
On the plane, I was GOING to read, but unlike when I flew Delta, Air France had private watching screens with a LOT of selection for films. A LOT. So on the way there I watched:
Divergent — I FINALLY saw it – I just didn’t want to pay for it. I thought the movie was better than the novel; it closed up some of the loopholes. I look forward to see how they rewrite the 3rd book completely for a movie.
Just Shoot Me: Elaine Stritch — I was so happy to see they had the Stritch documentary b/c I felt especially guilty not watching it when she had died. It took on a new emotional depth now that she has. Very well done. What an incredible woman she was!
Nebraska — a little slow for me, but I thought this was a pretty strong film, regardless. It is worth watching just for June Squibb! OMG she is hilarious!
On the way back, I finished Under the Dome, but then still had time for 3 movies:
Fading Gigolo — I really wanted to like this more b/c I am a big Woody fan, but he didn’t write it himself, and you can tell. It had cute moments, and it was great to see my friend, Elli, in the background a lot, but overall the film fell flat for me. If you want to see a good show about a gigolo, watch Hung!
Walter Mitty — Pretty standard, enjoyable, fairly predictable movie.
Frozen — I’ll tell you this movie holds up the 2nd time… and is in fact BETTER b/c you see all the foreshadowing! And of course, I’ve had LET IT GO in my head since the flight.
BYE, BYE, TIME WARNER and MORE TV
Okay, I finally had it out with Time Warner. I came back and even with 2 DVRs, I didn’t have enough to record everything I watch in TWO WEEKS. I was gone only two weeks! RIDICULOUS. Plus, my bill with them is going up, they refuse to renew my retention plan I’ve had for 3 years. So I called up RCN and FIOS… and shockingly FIOS won! RCN is a little cheaper, but FIOS just has SO much more.
Of course, this rate I’ve negotiated for 2 years is going to go up in 2016, but then I will try my luck with their retention people, I suspect. OR I will switch to RCN in 2016??
Anyway, I am getting a QUANTUM DVR for free for 2 years. That means I can tape 100 hours in HD or 300 hours in SD. And I can tape SIX things at once. And with the FIOS app on my iPad – I can watch my DVR… ANYWHERE with internet. Anywhere.
Yes, I am sold.
In terms of summer tv, most of my shows have gotten renewed – still no word on Under the Dome or Extant, but Rectify and Halt & Catch Fire got renewals. And Welcome to Sweden… and of course Hot in Cleveland and Masters of Sex and the Leftovers…
Oh my new summer find was VICIOUS – a cute sitcom from BBC that was on PBS starring Ian McKellan – you can see them all for free if you download the PBS app – and there aren’t even ads! YAY PBS.
Speaking of BBC… Doctor Who is back Saturday!! WOO.
Other than that I did catch up on Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. I need to watch the final 6 episodes of The Killing at some point… and eventually… True Detective.
And I’m Live-Tweeting the Emmy Awards Monday night! WOO! Go Orange!
THEATRE is SWEETER
The Anthem – campy off-Bway show based on the Rand novel
Much Ado About Nothing (Central Park) – not as good as the last time they did it
Broadway By the Year 1990-2014 – conclusion to the season where they did a song a year for 4 concerts
The Village Bike – really great play off-bway starring Greta Gerwig
An Evening with Danny Kaye – my collaborator Brian Childers’ tour-de-force solo show
King Lear (Central Park) – John Lithgow as Lear. Wow. Just great. Long. But great.
Upcoming in the next few weeks: Sex with Strangers starring Emmy Winner Anna Gunn and The Money Shot at MCC.
Well, that took about 8 hours. Now I know what you full time jobbers feel like! I hope at least some of you find the time this weekend to make it to the end! If you did, YOU ARE AWESOME SAUCE.
I think I’ve said it all. Please get your tickets to LOVE QUiRKS soon because they WILL sell out.
And please send me an email about YOUR summer. I would LOVE to know what YOU are up to.
November 5, 2014 — I ought, um, to title this with a really bad seasonal pun
It’s been a few months since my last update so I thought I’d take advantage of some free time today to write about my fall so far.
For those of you who missed the countless postings everywhere, Love Quirks was a huge success!
1. We did not lose any money!
2. We had 420 people see our lovely, quirky show!
3. Audiences seemed to love the show!
4. We got FIVE favorable reviews – 3 of which were all out raves!
To see the reviews that are available online, please visit http://www.lovequirks.com/press !
We very much would like to move the show Off-Broadway, but that might take a few more years. If you know anyone who wants to help, please let me know!
And, as always, you can buy the concept cast recording on the iTunes! And if you ever want to visit the Love Quirks set… come on over because it is in my closet.
CAN CAN CAN CAN CAN CAN
It is our SIXTH annual Broadway Can! concert on Sunday, November 16th at 8PM.
As always, we are raising $$ and collecting cans for City Harvest’s Thanksgiving drive with an evening of my songs. It would be great if YOU could come support it!
Cast list available at htttp://www.sethbh.com/broadwaycan !
TAKE A LOOK, I WROTE A BOOK
I did what? For those of you who don’t actively follow me on social media… I WROTE A BOOK! Woo! In nine days. Yup, I have been a little bored with all the free time post-show that I wrote a book. Basically, I went to see Jim Gaffigan interviewed at Barnes & Noble about his second book, and I thought “He’s not THAT famous, and he’s already wrote 2.” I went to sleep, had a dream I was writing a book, woke up and wrote 2 chapters.
I am going to self publish the book in the near future, so you will be able to buy a copy on amazon soon! Question? How much would you pay for a book? I was thinking $5 for the e-version and $10 for paperback? It costs me ZERO dollars to publish this way – they only take $$ out if the book is sold, and they print it per order. It’s very exciting times, indeed.
Oh, I never actually told you what the book was about. Well, as anyone close to me will remember, I had a really rough year in 2012 filled with many losses which caused insomnia, anxiety and depression. It was a long battle to get back on my feet again, and at the time, I was told to not publicly talk about it because of the stigma against not being happy all the time (exacerbated by social media). However, I think after Robin Williams’ sad passing, it is time for those of us who have experiences with darkness to shed some light on it, so that other people going through similar things can know they are not alone.
Without further pre-ramble, here is a blurb about my (currently) 162 page memoir:
Sleep. Write. Now.
Emerging from the dark year of insomnia, anxiety, depression from loss
A stream of consciousness memoir filled with non-euphemized truth, tempered with humor and emotional epiphanies about the journey from Cloud Nine to rock bottom and finally back to the surface.
My biggest hope for the book is that it helps someone going through a rough patch. When I was going through it, I could not find any personal account like this, probably because no one wants to relive it once they are through. My first reader has compared it to The Bell Jar… though, that was before she started reading it. So we’ll see what she says when she is done.
It includes all the poems and songs I wrote that year, as well as hundreds of journal entries and emails, much self-analysis and a myriad of non sequitur comical references. Incidentally while going through some of my old songs to find the seminal examples of what would eventually do me in, I found all the classical compositions I wrote from 14-16 before I started putting words to songs. They’re pretty good! Too bad classical music has absolutely no commercial potential, or I’d do a whole evening of just piano pieces.
While waiting on collaborators to work on some new musical projects, I am making notes for Season 5 of Every Day a Little Seth to premiere next summer.
I am also planning on doing another music video… speaking of, YOFO is now over 1900 views! (If you have not seen it yet, it is here: http://tinyurl.com/yofo6969 )
And I am continuing with the weekly showcases – by the end of December I will hit 335, so we will do a 350th Showcase Celebration in the spring!
Other than that, I have a few more audition gigs this year and sporadic coachings, as usual.
EIGHT IS NOT ENOUGH
Smee is turning eight this December! EIGHT! I can’t believe it. I am throwing him a birthday party, as usual, and I know he is looking forward to getting some new toys! I have been leaving the apartment fairly cold lately because then he will actually cuddle with me more.
His instagram account now has 483 followers! In fact, he just posted a new picture in a bag today. I believe you can view this even without an account:
For the ninth year in a row, I was a cow for Halloween. I meant to get a different costume this year, but I was too lazy. So maybe we should start throwing ideas around for next year! Anyone have any ideas?? I’m totally up for NOT doing a tenth year as a cow… though I really do enjoy being a cow. I tried to cut back on the cow puns this year, though because I feel like I have milked those for too long now. Their mooooment is gone.
GYM IT UP
Due to ennui, I have been going to the gym three times a week. I mean, it’s supposed to be for my health. I find going to the gym to be a really annoying thing, and being there is not fun in the least… however, after I go, I feel like Superman! Seriously. It’s ridiculous. So, I think I’m going to keep going. I’ve been doing 30 minutes on the bike, then 3 reps of 10 on two weight machines (just went up to 80 pounds!) and then 100 crunches. Three times a week.
And if I have a friend joining (best way to gym it up is to have a gym buddy!), sometimes we’ll go into the sauna for 15 minutes, as well. It’s really hot in there. (Hot and monotonous.)
In terms of reading, I probably got the memoir idea because I read Mindy Kaling’s book and then Sarah Silverman’s book… and now I am reading Amy Poehler’s book! I actually met Amy for ten seconds because I went to Barnes & Noble (for the second week in a row… I told you, I have free time now – it’s WEIRD) and I wasn’t going to be able to watch the reading without buying the book. So I figured, why not spend $25 on an autographed book given that at Comic Con autographs are never cheaper than $40! I am really enjoying her book, too. She is awesome – I actually TOLD her she was awesome, and I said that I bet she got that all day, every day, but she said she was going to bank it for when she needed it. Which is so cool. So Amy banked my awesome. And I got to banter with her for ten seconds – far more exciting than those people who got hugs. (Selfies were not allowed.)
Between reading memoirs, I read Lauren’s favorite book, Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz – I didn’t realize it was a thriller type thing – I thought it was going to be a realistic book, but once I got past that and had a little verisimilitude, it was a fairly enjoyable read. I do tend to go for more intellectual things though. Next up: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides.
Besides books, I have been keeping up with Time and Entertainment Weekly magazines consistently. I re-gift my EW to my brother-in-law, and I had been re-gifting my Time to Melissa, but she just moved and doesn’t have room for any more clutter… so if YOU want to be re-gifted my Time a week late, do let me know!
Movie wise, I’ve only seen a few this fall. I saw Boyhood, which was great… and then I saw Gone Girl, which was also great! I do think people should read the book first so you won’t be spoiled by the movie. But I thought it was a great adaptation. And then I hopped to Guardians of the Galaxy, which I thought was really cute. I saw a free preview of the movie Ouija, which was alright… I mean it wasn’t even that scary… though, I have no urge to ever use a Ouija board again!
Up next is the 3rd Hunger Games movie which should be the last one but they’re stretching out the last book into two just like Harry Potter b/c they want more money – going to the midnight showing… which is at 8pm! Hey, if they want to do the early preview earlier these days, who are we to argue???
I also really want to see Birdman at some point… and of course, Into the Woods and the last Hobbit movie on Annual Movie Hopping Day!
Well, so FIOS has been mostly great. There was some hallway issue that lost me half my channels for 2.5 weeks. They took a really long time to fix it, and then it didn’t work for just me – so I ended up getting a new box. BUT since I had just recorded the entire series marathon of Awkward. I refused to get rid of my old one. So basically, I had 2 boxes again (like when I was with Time Warner and needed two because they got rid of all the Standard Definition channels) temporarily, and I had to call the Verizon business office and get a credit for the second box for 3 months, and then I had to get rid of all the charges for re-installation that automatically were generated by calling the manager of the technician who came. Then, after a month whwen I was finished clearing it, he came back and took away the second box, and as well as the modem (since I bought one on ebay so I didn’t have to pay $6/ month) and I had to call to fix the bill AGAIN for an hour. But I now have my own private technician that I can call if ever there is any other problem, and he is a Trekkie – so we get along great! BUT hopefully I will never have to see him again.
Speaking of, he had to come early one day, so I was awake at 11am half asleep, so I put on The Price is Right, and I must say I am hooked! I hadn’t watched it in years, and while I do miss Bob, the joy of the contestants is just infectious! I’m telling you – if you ever have a bad day, just put on The Price is Right, and you’ll be smiling in no time! Much more than watching Jeopardy, which could explain why I’m weeks behind on it… should catch up at some point…
In terms of network TV shows, the new ones I have been enjoying the most are Red Band Society, Marry Me, Blackish and The Flash . The ones I am starting to get into more are Jane the Virgin, Gotham, Selfie (I really want this to be better because I love Amy Pond!) and A to Z (which has already been canceled, but at least they are going to finish airing the season). I also have yet to try Constantine, Gracepoint and Cristela. The ones I tried and didn’t like are The Mysteries of Laura and Getting Away with Murder (I still have the rest of these saved, but I find the show to be annoying because it is constantly flashing back to remind you of things that if you were paying attention you don’t need to be reminded of).
Cable-wise, I did catch up on the entire series of Awkward.; also I am enjoying the new USA Comedy Benched (shout out to their summer sitcom Playing House!); I have heard good things about The Affair (Showtime) (and I still have to watch True Detective one of these days!) and EW says The Game on BBC-A is supposed to be good (it starts tonight at 10 – set your dvr now!). Speaking of BBC-A, their summer show Intruders was fantastic! This is not my favorite season of American Horror Story, but it is not my least favorite (2), and I hope they start getting better…
Old fall shows I still watch by day of the week (Saturday first): Doctor Who, The Simpsons, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Once Upon a Time, The Walking Dead, Castle, The Blacklist, Agents of Shield, The Middle, The Goldbergs, Modern Family, Nashville, Arrow, The 100, Hot in Cleveland, South Park and Parenthood.
Other than that, I am looking forward to the Newsroom and The Comeback coming back after ten years! (I wanna see THAT!) And finally, I am having a live tweeting party for NBC’s Peter Pan. I doubt it will compare to the Mary Martin version, but I applaud their attempts to at least try to fly.
I saw a handful of Broadway shows for free this fall because of this new app called TodayTix. They are doing a referral bonus where you use my code — NKDUN — and get $20 off… then I get $20 in credit. So far I’ve gotten 15 people to do this, so with my $300 in credit I am seeing shows left and right for FREE!!! If you haven’t used it yet, you should try it today!!!
Here’s what I have seen since the last ledger:
Sex with Strangers – pretty good off-bway play starring Anna Gunn from Breaking Bad.
If/ Then – I went back to see this a second time only because I was helping Mark (my collaborator) win tickets for his birthday… and I WON. Seriously. This was after I had won a few days earlier for my friend, Heather. I thought – this must be a sign – so I went to see it again from the front row, and Idina from the front row is just… WOW.
Piece of my Heart – off-Bway musical about the songwriter, Bert Berns.
The Money Shot – funny new off-bway play by Neil LaBute.
Sweet Pie at Joe’s Pub – went to see this old cabaret guy’s return to NYC – he was famous for playing piano naked… and that’s what he did.
You Can’t Take it With You – wonderful revival of this hilarious play starring James Earl Jones – really great production.
Billy and Ray – new off-Bway play about the writing of Double Indemnity with Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler directed by Garry Marshall who I met! Very nice guy!
The Curious Incident of the Dog Time in the Night Time – this is the hardest title to remember, but it was one of the most amazing theatrical experiences EVER! GO SEE IT!
Country House – new play starring Blythe Danner who is always awesome.
Uncle Vanya – saw an off-bway production of this classic.
On the Town – Bway revival of this Bernstein classic – lots of dancing.
This is Our Youth – Bway revival of this play starring Michael Cera – pretty enjoyable.
Disgraced – Pulitzer Prize winning new Bway play featuring Josh Radnor – this was exquisite. This play is exquisite.
Found – New musical off-Bway based on the magazine Found which I had never heard of – it was cute.
Coming up, I’m seeing Side Show next week and hopefully the Band Wagon at Encores. I really want to see A Delicate Balance but tickets are very expensive, and would cost me 50% of my remaining credits, so I am waiting to see if I can find cheaper tickets later in the run…
Well, that’s all he wrote! That was a good use of time. It was either that or do a cryptic crossword – I actually am getting much faster at solving those! Speaking of puzzles, does anyone on this list still live in Cambridge? Everyone I usually stay with for the hunt has moved… something to figure out by January…
Anyway, I hope YOU are having a great November so far. Please drop me a line to catch me up on YOUR life.
December 23, 2014 — obligatory year recap!
There have been more updates this year than in quite awhile, but I feel it would be remiss to not do an annual recap. I will try to make this short!
First off, please, please remember to vote by the end of the year, and have your friends vote, too:
2013 RESOLUTIONS FOR 2014
Well let’s see how I did:
1. Get Love Quirks Off-Broadway.
Well, we did a critically-acclaimed 3 week run Off-Off-Broadway that actually made $$! Off-Broadway in 2015?
2. Write another musical.
This is a big fail, but I have started weekly meetings with one of my collaborators to do this in 2015!
3. Beat the record yet again by doing over 59 shows at Don’t Tell Mama.
Yes, that one I did. 65 shows!
4. Write, film and edit 6 more episodes of EDALS for Season 4, summer 2014.
5. Make even more connections.
6. Continue to be a loyal friend to the connections I already have.
7. Help others whenever possible.
8. Lose weight.
9. Take more Smee pictures.
CHECK (see his instagram for proof – instagram/smeeandseth )
10. Come up with more resolutions so that the number is an even 10.
1. Raised $10K on Kickstarter and produced a 3 week critically-acclaimed run of Love Quirks (lovequirks.com/press)
2. Produced, emceed and accompanied 65 shows at Don’t Tell Mama this year, including 59 showcases and:
3. 6 concerts of my songs for the 300th Showcase Extravaganza
4. The 6th Annual Broadway Meows and Broadway Can! concerts
5. My 9th revue of new songs Not Your Grandma’s Cabaret (unless she’s really naughty)
6. Made a viral (almost 2000 views) music video of the finale of that song cycle – YOFO – sethbh.com/yofo
7. Won an award for “Best Lyrics” in the West Village Musical Theatre Festival for an excerpt of More to Love
8. Wrote, filmed and edited 6 wonderful episodes of Season 4 of Every Day a Little Seth
9. Helped write and run what is most probably the best MIT Mystery Hunt ever!
10. Second place finish on NPR’s Ask Me Another broadcast all over the country!
1. Win a BroadwayWorld Cabaret Award
2. Publish my book
3. Reading of a revised Love Quirks in the hopes to move it Off-Broadway in the fall
4. 350th Showcase Celebratory Concerts & 7th Annual Broadway Meows and Broadway Can! concerts
5. 6 more episodes of Season 5 of Every Day a Little Seth
6. Brand new music video
7. 3rd Staci & Seth Sing Sesame Street
8. Write the scores for at least one new musical, maybe two
9. Lose more weight
10. More connections, more friendships, more helping friends & connections and paying it forward
If you have not watched yet, here are links again to my new Holiday and Holocaust songs:
BUSY AS A BEE
2015 is going to be busy. I already have a few weeks booked, and it’s not even 2015 yet!
I am performing in the Longest Variety Show Ever, which is an official Guinness Record attempt. Assuming we pull it off, I will officially be in the Guinness Records (note: there is no longer a book)… They are going to LIVE-STREAM the event, so if you are not in the city, you can still watch me. In fact, if you’re in Europe or Asia, you will actually be AWAKE while I perform b/c my timeslot is Friday, January 2 at 5AM… (really late Thursday night for me). Details here:
Staying up till 6am would not normally be a problem, but I also booked a day gig all next week accompanying a lot of the “Making it On Broadway” intensive. So my body is going to be a little confused getting up early and then staying up late… but it’s worth it because I am going to be playing master classes for some Broadway stars among them: Megan Hilty, Jeremy Jordan and Anthony Rapp!
Regular Tuesday showcases start up again January 6th, and I will do them just about every week for the rest of the year and see if I can beat my new record of 59 showcases in a year…
EIGHT YEAR OLD KITTY
Smee turned 8 last week! In human years that makes him 40. So Smee is now older than I am. But he does not look a day over 7! We threw him a fantastic birthday party.
I AM NOT A BOOK
When last I left you, I was reading Amy Poehler’s Yes Please and about to start The Marriage Plot. I enjoyed both of those books, especially The Marriage Plot which is an example of true literature by a Pulitzer Prize winning author. HIGHLY recommended!!!
Since then, I read Orange is the New Black, which was not as good as the show (obviously since the show dramatizes it), but it was still good to see what part of the show is based on truth… and now I am reading The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck – one of those classics I picked up at the Strand for 50 cents.
Favorite quote so far: “No one wants advice – only corroboration.” I could not agree more.
MOVIE OUTTA MY LIFE
Dumb and Dumber To – you know it was dumb but pretty entertaining.
Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 – I suspect Part 2 will have a lot more action.
Rosewater – I liked Jon Stewart’s movie – it makes me never want to visit Iran.
Selma – exactly what you’d expect from a movie about MLK.
Top Five – Chris Rock’s attempt at a Woody Allen movie – some really great cameos.
Into the Woods – I’m seeing this tomorrow AND I CANNOT WAIT. I hear GREAT things about it!!!
Hobbit – I’m going to see this tomorrow, as well. I am expecting to enjoy it.
TV OR NOT TV
I am happy to say I am caught up on all my TV shows, so I have time to binge watch some new ones… I am probably going to do True Detective, The Affair, Season 3 of Sherlock… I also hear some great things about some BBC shows now on Netflix like The Fall and Black Mirror…
My sister has Amazon Prime, so I stayed over after my grandfather’s surprise 95th birthday party and binge watched all of Transparent. I liked it, but didn’t love it. I think it will probably win a lot of awards, though, just because of the nature of the show. Next time I will have to binge Bernadette’s new show Mozart in the Jungle, even though it is getting lukewarm reviews…
Other than that, I caught up on How to Get Away with Murder in 3 days, and although it’s not my favorite show ever, it has grown on me, and Viola Davis is INCREDIBLE. Someone give her an Emmy!!
The show I am most looking forward to in January is GALAVANT — it is a new 4 part musical comedy by Alan Menken, and I cannot wait!!!
LIVE ON STAGE
Punk Rock – this is a British import – I didn’t really like it, but Laura loved it, so who knows?
The Bandwagon – stage adaptation of the movie.
Side Show – I loved this revisal!!! LOVED it, but sadly it is closing.
Powerhouse – really great play I saw off-off Bway featuring my friend Hanley – very interesting show.
Belle of Amherst – off bway play about Emily Dickinson.
Lips Together, Teeth Apart – off bway revival of a Terrence McNally play about 2 couples.
Major Barbara – wonderful production of a Shaw classic I’d never seen.
The Real Thing – great revival of the Stoppard play!
Love Letters – saw Murphy Brown and Alan Alda in this 2 person letter reading play.
Allegro – wonderful revival with actor/ musicians of this flop R&H musical.
Constellations – seeing this tonight on the Broadway starring Jake Gyllenhaal.
Disenchanted – seeing this Sunday night – it’s a parody of fairy tales.
Into the Woods – it’s a very woody week for me – seeing this new off-Bway pared down version next Saturday night.
RECAP OF THE RECAP
Was that short? I tried really hard to be like Martin… Regardless, 2014 has been the best year in a very long time, and while I am sad to see it end, I know that 2015 will be amazing, too.
I adore you all. Thank you for reading. Best wishes for another new year.