March | June | September
March 14, 2017 — A Snow Pi Day Update
Well, since I had to cancel my showcase because of snow, I thought I’d take advantage of the free time to write up a life update. I think this will be rather short because so much in my life is hush hush, but I realized I hadn’t done one yet in 2017, and why put off till tomorrow what you can do today?
PROJECTS, NOT ANTI-JECTS
I have new projects! I can’t talk about them publicly! But if you’re curious, respond, and I can give you the low down. I’m sorry that I can’t actually update you in an update, but the projects are at their nascent stages.
I can tell you this: one of them is a movie musical, and one of them is an adaptation of a short story by a literary master.
Other than that, the regular showcases continue weekly through April… then on April 27th, I hit my 10th Anniversary of doing (mostly) weekly showcases at Don’t Tell Mama.
So, we’ll be doing 3-5 concerts of my songs starting April 27th!
Of course, I’m in the process of setting all that up, so I’m sorry I don’t have any more details for you yet, but check sethbh.com in a few weeks if you are interested in attending!
Other than that, auditions were quite busy in February, and I still have a few days of accompanying them for various companies at least once a week in March. It’s been nice to get out there to see people, but it’s exhausting to wake up before noon so often. And don’t get me started on the time change!
LIVE FROM NEW YORK, IT’S SMEE
For those of you on Facebook, I hope you have been seeing my new Facebook Live series: Music Mondays. I started Music Mondays in the fall with classical music, but this year, I have moved on to singing songs that I haven’t written. It’s actually quite refreshing to be able to perform songs that aren’t my own again, as it’s not something I get to do that often. Last week I did “On the Street Where You Live” and this week some Tom Lehrer songs. I will continue every Monday at 3 for the forseeable future.
Smee also has been enjoying doing these. He usually grooms himself while I play, and he is thrilled at the comments he’s been getting! In fact, he was so into it this week that he plunked some notes WHILE I was performing. What a ham!
TRIPPING ON ACID
I think the theme of this email is I can’t really talk about things yet, but my friend, Niki, and I are planning to take our 3rd European vacation together this May. I don’t want to jinx it, but I will tell you if things go as planned that after Memorial Day you will get to read another fantastic trip review!
Other than that, there has been preliminary chats on doing a vacation with Kevin/Samidh in August, and I have submitted to a bunch of summer festivals with the TV Pilot, though that is completely out of my hands. And I usually go down to DC for the Washington Post Hunt, but it has been canceled due to lack of funds this year. Bummer, dude!
Speaking of, I haven’t much to report about Every Day a Little Seth either, other than to say please keep watching and forwarding it! It’s over 2000 views, but 200,000 views would make it easier to get picked up… I have been actively pitching and cold-calling managers and production companies, and will continue to do so until I get my show on TV, I promise.
Oh, while we’re in the vacation section: I never sent an email about New Years in Dallas! I had a lovely time visiting Alexis in Texas. I went to a few museums, including a great early Monet exhibit; we also went to Forth Worth to the Stockyards where we saw a cattle drive and took 31 minutes to solve a life-size maze. I had a lot of fattening food and practiced my Southern drawl, y’all! It was a super fun time, and I ended up cheating on Smee with Alexis’s dog, Woofbear, for a few nights’ sleep.
Alright, here’s what I’ve read this year so far:
Seinfeldia – lovely book on the history of Seinfeld.
Bright Lights, Big City – Cyrus gave me this classic, very enjoyable.
The Silkworm – JK Rowling’s 2nd book as Robert Gilbraith – it was pretty good, better than the first. I have the 3rd on my shelf now…
One More Things – BJ Novak’s short stories are great for right before bed – I haven’t finished yet, but they’re very funny.
The Virgin and the Gipsy – I got a few D.H. Lawerence novelettes at the Strand. He’s such a good writer. Really enjoyed this one.
Perks of a Wallflower – Borrowed this from Staci. Very quick read. Liked it better than the movie, and I really liked the movie.
Nineteen Minutes – This is from Lauren. She likes Jodi Picoult a lot, and now so do I! Very emotional book, but very well-written. Looking forward to borrowing her whole oeuvre next!
The film is okee-dokey!
Why Him? – Saw this comedy in Dallas. It was surprisingly very funny! We also had dinner while we watched b/c it was a dinner movie theatre!
The Red Turtle – Jackie and I struggled to not fall asleep in this animated movie without dialogue. It was good, but dialogue is very nice. Also nice was the fact that at the indie movie theatre not a single person touched their cell phones the whole time.
Split – I enjoyed this M. Night Shyamalan thriller, even if I didn’t get the ending since I haven’t seen Unbreakable…
The Space Between Us – I haven’t a good thing to say about this one besides I adore Britt Robertson, even when she’s miscast.
The Great Wall – Mediocre, but quite a nice spectacle – I had a free preview, so it was fine for not paying, especially b/c 3D movies are $24 now!
Beauty & the Beast – Going to see this on Thursday! Super excited, though I hear horrible things about Emma’s singing.
I’m so behind on clearing my DVR still! That means I have yet to try anything streaming in awhile. I do want to get to Luke Cage and Iron Fist… and the second season of Love… and Series of Unfortunate Events… and The OA… maybe this summer… Here are my favorite things on TV right now:
The Americans – THIS IS THE BEST SHOW ON TV. Best drama period. Best writing/acting. Period, period, period. You should be watching this show! Season 5 just started, and I’m hooked.
This is Us – Tonight is the season finale of the breakout hit, This is Us, and I bet I will need a lot of tissues. I’m glad that they moved The Americans to Tuesday, though, so I still have something to look forward to post-showcases.
The Detour – This is my new favorite comedy! It’s on TBS, and it’s hilarious.
The 100, Colony, The Magicians, Legion – These are my sci-fi/fantasy pics right now. The first 1 is in season 4 and just got renewed for 5, the next 2 are in their 2nd seasons; Legion is in its first, and it’s wacky but great.
Big Little Lies – This is my new HBO show. I’m really enjoying this mini-series with Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley.
Trial & Error – I have high hopes for this well-reviewed new mockumentary sitcom starring John Lithgow as a possible murderer that starts tonight!
The theatre season is finally starting up again. Here’s what I’ve seen this year so far:
Yen – dark comedy off-Broadway.
Romeo & Juliet by Gounod – what a great Met opera, though we already knew the ending.
Dolphins and Sharks – another dark comedy off-Broadway.
If I Forget – family dramedy off-Broadway.
Wakey, Wakey – this was a wonderful new off-Broadway play starring Michael Emerson (Lost, Person of Interest) where he’s giving his own eulogy. There was free food after!
Sweeney Todd – saw a great production in Brooklyn Heights at Theatre2020 of this masterpiece.
The Price – Arthur Miller play on Broadway a few nights after Obama went – Danny DeVito stole the show.
All the Fine Boys – Wonderful dark comedy off-Broadway starring Abigail Breslin.
War Paint – My new pick for Best Musical this year – Patti LuPone & Christine Ebersole were amazing as sparring make-up entrepreneurs. All perfect rhymes and complex music = my kind of score. Such a wonderful new musical!
Everybody – I am actually seeing this tonight now b/c I got in off the waiting list for ushering. So I’ll have to report on it next time, but this sounds better than ruminating all evening about a canceled showcase.
I think that might be the shortest ledger in Seth-story! I’m sorry that there is so much I can’t really discuss right now in public, but if you want to know more about anything I cryptically mentioned, I’m happy to privately tell you more.
I hope you are enjoying Snow Pi Day, and let’s hope that spring will be springing soon.
June 2, 2017 — The U.K. is A-OK!
And it’s time for another recap of another remarkable European trip! This time Niki and I embarked on a week-long drive around the island of the United Kingdom, seeing cities and sites in England, Wales and Scotland. For the 719 pictures, please visit my Facebook page. If you’re not on FB, as always, I will email you the “best of” pictures!
Niki’s recap goes like this: “We saw a bunch of stuff and drove a lot in the car…” If that’s enough for you, you can stop reading. For the rest of you, here’s a full trip report:
MONDAY, MAY 22ND: A PLAIN, PLANE RIDE
Monday afternoon I put all my affairs in order, and headed to JFK to take my flight to London. Personally, I had no flight issues, and I had an uneventful plane ride where I watched 3 movies and read my Entertainment Weekly magazine.
Unfortunately, Niki did not have the same plain plane luck. She was coming from a Spartan Race (some athletic thing) in Austin, and the plane to JFK got delayed so much, it would’ve been impossible for her to fly out of NYC. Thankfully, Niki is exceedingly smart, so she was able to trade her tickets and fly through Detroit and then on to London. Unfortunately, this meant that she was 3 hours delayed, and I ended up sitting in the Hertz rental place for 3 hours waiting, having not slept at all.
TUESDAY, MAY 23RD: A STONEHENGE BATH
By this time, of course, it was Tuesday morning in the UK, so I should move this under the next day… So, Hertz has a very nice office in London, however, with free Wifi, so I was able to finish all the planning and mapping for the trip while I waited. When Niki got in, we proceeded to get the car, and the rental agent was so impressed that I was from NYC and had musicals and a TV show that she upgraded our car for free!
Let me do a quick paragraph on driving in the UK. As those of you who either have known me for years or have caught up on my webpage know, this is Niki and my 3rd Europe trip together. The first one, Ireland, also featured left-side driving, though that time we got bumped up to an automatic. Our second trip to Iceland, I drove a stick shift the whole time; however on the right side of the road. So, having to drive on the left side of the road in with a left-handed stick shift was a tad daunting. I am always up for a challenge, though… I found the streets in Wales and Scotland to be mostly tiny with reckless drivers on both sides. It was a tad scary and fairly frustrating at times, but I’m happy to say we survived without any accidents! (Sorry for the spoiler alert, but I thought you’d want to know there are no deaths in this email.)
Anyway, 3 hours delayed on our itinerary, we went straight to Stonehenge after booking tickets online for 3pm. It turns out that you can actually get the tickets early, so we were not as delayed as we were afraid of.
There’s really not much to say about Stonehenge because we forwent the audio tour, and didn’t read many of the signs. We just wanted to go and experience it, though, of course, there were millennials there taking all sorts of boomerangs or snapchats that made it less of an idyllic experience. I did save the little pamphlet, though, just so I could report back to you that:
“Stonehenge is an ancient temple aligned on the movements of the sun. The stones were raised 4500 years ago by sophisticated prehistoric people.” If you want more than that, feel free to wikipedia.
After taking the shuttle bus to the actual site, we walked back slowly through the Stonehenge Cursus. It was there we met some cows. It was a very e-moo-tional, moo-ving experience! Niki even dared to pet one. There were also some bulls, and two of them obviously had the hots for each other… There was also a mock-village, which kind of looked like Smurf huts.
From there, we went to Bath since a bunch of people had recommended it. Unfortunately, it took us a long time to find parking since I was still getting used to driving and although I had caffeinated tea that bumped me awake for a bit, I was still pretty tired from the all-nighter on the plane.
The Bath Abbey closes for visitors at 5:15. The Roman Bath houses closes at 6. However, I failed to note in the guide book that the last tour is at 5. We got to the town center after parking at 5:20. So, womp, womp, we did not do either of the things we had planned in Bath. This would prove only the second most upsetting thing on the trip. I did get pictures outside of both, though. We had dinner at a lovely pub called Hall & Wood House. This was the first of many pubs where we ordered at the bar, then waited for the food at our table. I had a burger. I was very good, mostly because I was starving.
After that, we walked around Bath, which was quite a charming city. I’m glad we got there, though that is where we could’ve used an extra hour or so.
Trying really hard to stay awake, we blasted music and got into Cardiff, Wales at little before 10pm. I’m happy to say that visiting Wales meant we could check off another country in on Been apps!
We had problems figuring out where the hotel wanted us to park and ended up going in circles for awhile, but thankfully finally found it. At this point, I should say we were very lucky that Niki has unlimited data and an International phone because the GPS was essential. Of course, my internal GPS, especially with the aid of actual maps, is very good and we used that quite frequently, as well, but it was very helpful to have an iPhone to double check some things. Even though, finding that parking entrance was a maze into itself. It was a-maze-ing we finally got to the hotel, especially given how tiny the parking garage was, and how inept I am at parking. Niki had to talk me into that infinitesimal spot.
The hotel was quite charming, but it doesn’t matter that night. It had a bed; I completely conked out after staying up almost 30 hours, and slept 11 into the next day.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 24TH: WALES HAS NO WHALES
We spent a few hours in Cardiff, the capital of Wales. It was a really nice city!
First stop was the Doctor Who Experience!!!! Honestly, this was the main reason we went to Cardiff. (Though, it was convenient to stay in since it was very close to Bath.) I LOVED THE DOCTOR WHO EXPERIENCE!
The first thing the experience starts with is an adventure you go on with The Doctor. Peter Capaldi was nice enough to record a video that the tour guide at the experience had dialogue with. Smartly, they dress the guides in a weird unisex dress so that he can’t tell the gender of the guide, so he says “boy/girl” the whole time, allowing for either to work there. Also, we were given VIP passes, with were crystals that vibrated and had different colors throughout the rooms we went through…
First we entered the TARDIS, and I’m happy to say that: I DROVE THE TARDIS FOR A BIT! However, on our journey, aliens attached themselves to us, and to get rid of them we had to find 3 crystals that were (very obviously and easily) hidden in a few rooms. We got off to the first room and it was a room of decommissioned Daleks. I volunteered to get the first crystal, but as soon as I took it out, the Daleks came alive. (It was definitely not that scary, especially compared to The Walking Dead Experience I went to in Universal – in fact, this whole thing was kind of low tech and a little cheesy, but I loved it regardless.)
Next room had the weeping angels, so we couldn’t blink. They actually didn’t move, which was disappointing. The final room was an old BBC radio studio in 1963 (this is where DW started, and indeed the WiFi password was TARDIS1963), and this room the video was in 3D so we donned some glasses… Once we had all three crystals, we put them in a thing, and the aliens went away. Also, Peter said goodbye, and the TARDIS disappeared behind a scrim. Sadly, I know how scrims work, so I knew it was still there. But I tried to have some verisimilitude…
After the experience, we went to a few floors of a museum where they had three TARDIS sets and a bunch of autographs, costumes and props from the decades of the show. It was kind of like the Star Trek thing they just had here, but for Doctor Who instead.
In the gift shop, I got my very own sonic screwdriver to go with my Harry Potter wand. The difference is the screwdriver was way cheaper and actually lights up… I also got Sarah’s postcard there and a cheap sticker of Peter for my apartment.
Overall, I really enjoyed this whole thing, and I’m thrilled we were able to get it taken care of on our first full day!
Next, we walked around Cardiff Bay and the Mermaid Quay. (FYI, “quay” is pronounced “key”.) We also saw Roald Dahl Plass, which sadly was just an open area without a statue for me to take a picture with. We walked through the town, took some pictures outside the castle (we have a one castle per trip rule, so we didn’t pay to go in this one).
We headed on to Hay-on-Wye, but before we could get there, I am sad to say that due to the tiny streets and not being completely okay on the left side of the road, and a car zooming past me, I swerved a little too fast and ended up jumping a curb… This caused a FLAT TIRE. This is the first time I’ve ever had a flat tire. Thankfully, there was a gas station on the next corner, so I pulled in, and we paid a guy there 20 pounds to put on the spare. Sadly, we realized the spare wasn’t going to work longterm, but we wanted to get to Hay for lunch.
I LOVED HAY. Hay is a charming little book town that Melanie recommended. There are dozens of used bookstores everywhere. I have never seen so many books! It was like a city of Strands, though some of the stores were larger, I think. Of course, I decided I shouldn’t buy too many books, so I ended up only getting some really tiny books for 40 pence each – one with a few Poe stories and one with a Rudyard Kipling story. We also browsed a few crafts stores.
We ended up having lunch at a charming cafe in a bookshop called Richard Booth’s. I had delicious and inexpensive pancakes.
At this point, we had a little bit more time to process the tire issue and decided to get it fixed. We found a place that was open till 5:30, and it was 4, so we head out. The detour took us a little out of the way, but it was worth it. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the same exact tire, and Hertz refused to reimburse us for it even though we had super insurance. I am probably going to spend hours this week talking to them on the phone till the did. Regardless, we ended up being in Kington, England which had a cute sign proclaiming it was the “centre for walking”.
From there, we sped over to Snowdonia National Park, which was a few hours away. Here’s a thing we learned about national parks in the UK – they are not parks. They are regions of park-like things with little towns. We couldn’t actually find much to do in the park besides driving around up a mountain, and checking out a mini-waterfall called Swallow Falls (as opposed to Spit Falls)…
Speaking of driving, we would see these red phone booths in the middle of nowhere. Niki got a picture with one. Also, we had a Sheep Crossing sign, and then actual sheep crossing, and we realized that they were all spray painted, probably so people could keep track of which was theirs. Also, some of the routes were 4 digits. We drove on Route 4518 for awhile, which just seemed like a lot of routes. Another thing is our car had automatic lights! Who knew cars did that now? I couldn’t figure out how to turn them on, but then at night, they were there without me doing anything… While I’m here with driving, after Iceland’s lack of radio stations for awhile, I put a mix on my iPhone. I made us a mix of Madonna, Avril Lavigne, Billy Joel and Muppets since Niki requested no musicals. It was a 12 hour mix, and we definitely got through most of it…
Anyway, after Swallow Falls, we headed to Conwy which was Tarang’s suggestion. Unfortunately, it was 9:30pm and most of the restaurants had already closed. The whole flat tire thing lost us almost 2 hours, and that was the most disappointing thing of the whole trip. However, on the grand scheme of things, getting a flat tire right by a gas station was on the low end of car accidents, so we did consider ourselves lucky in that regard.
We ended up eating in a tiny Mediterranean place where I had chicken nuggets (they had shish kabob and pitas and stuff like that) and chips, which turned out to be fries. I mean, I knew that chips were fries, but I was so worn out and hungry, I forgot… but I prefer fries to chips, so all’s good!
Conwy was quite a charming city. Unfortunately, it was pretty dark by the time we got around to doing our walking tour. We ended up not being able to go up the Castle wall because there was some weird guy hanging out in the dark on the steps. I picked the wrong way to walk to find more steps, and we ended up just skipping to the Harbor area. It was a very nice harbor, and we took a picture outside The Smallest House in Great Britain. Apparently, the house is so small that it didn’t have a bathroom, but only a bedpan, which would be rinsed in the harbor…
Anyway, another interesting fact is that the Castle Wall surrounds the entire city of Conwy. It was definitely a great place to stop by, though it would’ve been nice to be there a little earlier, had we not had a flat tire…
We head out to drive to Liverpool, had to go through a really long tunnel, then the GPS lost us for a bit. It was again a really hard hotel to find the entrance to with a tiny parking spot, but we made it, and I slept 9 hours that night, still adjusting to jetlag…
THURSDAY, MAY 25TH, LIVERPOOLING TO HOGWARTS
Oh, before I start the next day, I should say we had incredible weather luck! It was gorgeous almost every day, and there was only a sprinkle of rain in Inverness and London.
Alright, so our first stop in Liverpool after waking up at 10 (*I* woke up at 10. Niki always wakes up before me, sometimes by a few hours, sometimes just minutes) was The Beatles Story. Thankfully, everything we wanted to do was walkable, so we didn’t have to find parking. On the way, we actually saw a sign that said: Humped Zebra Crossing. I’m still not sure what that refers to…
The Beatles Story is a mildly overpriced exhibit, but I mean, if you’re in Liverpool, it’s the thing to do. They had many artifacts from The Beatles including a lot of memorabilia (even a few board games), original costumes, John’s glasses, Ringo’s drumsticks, etc. It also came with an audioguide which had some videos. It basically told the whole story of The Beatles from their inception, through all the ups and downs, including Ed Sullivan and their meeting with Elvis…
Some things I found interesting: The Beatles were endlessly rejected at the start. Just like all great artists! They performed in a bar (The Cavern Club) and all their underaged fans had to listen from outside. Their brilliant manager booked them on Ed Sullivan for 3 nights for $10K instead of the usual $25K for 1 because he knew the publicity and exposure was worth way more than $$. 40% of the USA watched that night. George Harrison put in the $$ for Monty Python’s Life of Brian, giving them their film start.
We took the free shuttle to the annex museum, which was mostly not worth it besides getting to pose with The Beatles statue outside and getting a few drum lessons from Ringo.
After that, we walked to the Cavern Area to see the outside of the Hard Days Night Hotel and The Cavern Club where The Beatles premiered in Liverpool. They had a recreation in the museum, but the real thing was way cooler. They had a sign that said people weren’t allowed on stage and free WiFi.
For lunch we saw a sign that said 2 meals for $9.99. We could not pass that up! After that, we walked through the center of town and went to the Liverpool Cathedral, which is the longest cathedral in the world. It was pretty big, not going to lie. Next, we headed back to our hotel through Chinatown, which was literally just one block, and set out for some more of England…
On the way to our next stop, we took a brief pause to explore a waterfall at Aira Force in the Lake District National Park region. It was a nice pitstop and a quick nature walk. We had to split up the 3 hour journey somehow because by this point, I was getting a little tired of driving long distances. This was probably the most driving out of any day.
So, we got back on the road to the first Harry Potter thing on the trip! We went to see Alnwick Castle, where they shot Hogwarts for the first two movies! Alnwick Castle is in (you won’t believe it) Alnwick. Of course, we got there way after it closed and had the one castle per vacation rule. But I took a few pictures of it, and I feel really good to have seen it. After that, we were starving, so we asked Trip Advisor and Googlemaps for an Italian restaurant. We were driving on the smallest back roads, some without street names, and were starting to lose faith in our technology, until we came upon a tiny little pocket of town with some inns and… Sambuca. Sambuca was a fantastic restaurant, and I had delicious creamy pea, mint, asparagus gnocchio – even typing it is making me salivate! For dessert I had an orange sorbet, which came in a frozen orange. YUM!
It turns out the inns were there because they were very close to the beach. We took a little stroll down to the North Eastern coast of England around sunset (which was around 9:30 daily making it easier to see (literally see) more sites than we could’ve in another season). It was lovely.
Then, we head back out for another few hours drive to our hotel just outside of Edinburgh, Scotland! Notes I have from that drive are as follows: we were on A69 for awhile. There were no street lights, but then there were red and green floor street lights. There was some deer crossing, and I actually said “oh dear, oh deer” because I am very punny. Anyway, we got to the hotel around 11:30pm, and I planned the next day, and went to bed around 1:30am.
FRIDAY, MAY 26TH, EDINBURGH
Complimentary breakfast at this hotel was done by 10, so the next 2 days I had to be up by 9:30 if I wanted to eat for free. After breakfast, we took the bus for 15 minutes into the city center. Not knowing anything about taking the bus, it turned out you needed exact change for 1.6 pounds, but I was really bad at figuring out what all the coins were still, so much to the bus driver’s chagrin, it took me like 5 minutes to put in my money so as not to lose 40 pence.
First stop for the day was the Scottish National Gallery. On the way, we walked through the lovely Princes Street Gardens and saw a few guys in kilts playing the bagpipes on the street. We had a little trouble finding the entrance since the main one was closed because Obama was in town for some conference. The gallery was mostly old stuff from un-famous people, but they had one Leonardo da Vinci and two of my favorites van Gogh and Monet… and one Seurat, and a few Cezanne and Rembrandt… and they were all mostly in one really great room which I lingered in for a bit. They had some Anthony van Dyck paintings, but no Dick Van Dyke… that sounded funnier in my head, but I will leave it as proof that I make imperfect jokes sometimes.
After the museum, we walked uphill towards the Castle. As we had heard from multiple sources the Edinburgh Castle was must see, we made that our one castle for the trip. Just like the Salzburg Castle, this one included many tiny museums including the National War Museum, The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Regimental Museum, the Museum of the Royal Scots and the Royal Regiment, the Scottish National War Museum and the Prisons of War Exhibition. Some of those were better than others… We also saw some memorials and heard (we couldn’t see with the throng) the one o’clock gun be shot off at 1. There was a dog cemetery for all the fallen pups, and we also got to see The Scottish Crown Jewels. Finally, I learned that a castle battery is a defense wall, not a power charger.
After a few hours at the castle, we split up for a bit. Niki went to the Scottish Whisky Experience, and I got my postcards, stamps and magnets from a store before heading to the Writer’s Museum. The Writer’s Museum was underwhelming (especially compared to the Irish one in Dublin), but they had free WiFi so I sat there for a bit to get my fix since we had rushed out that morning. The Writer’s Museum consisted of three sections on three Scottish writers: Robbie Burns, Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson who was the only one of the three I really had heard of. (To save you a google, RLS wrote Treasure Island and Jekyll & Hyde.) It was mostly busts and photographs and portraits and some of their effects like pipes and chess sets. I was hoping for some original signed books or something, but nope!
I picked Niki up at 3pm, and we proceed to walk down High St, also known as the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace Holyrood House. On the way, we saw a sign that said FREE 18+ ADULT-THEMED WALKING TOUR. Well, there were 2 of my favorite words on that sign (free and adult-themed), so how could I say no? The next tour was at 3:30 and it was already 3:15, so we milled around a bit and then returned for the tour. A really nice Scotsman in a kilt proceeded to walk us around telling us historical stories with a ribald, irreverent tone. For instance, he told us a long story about a statue of a guy on the horse, and the punch line was about how huge the horse’s balls on the statue were.
*I should put a disclaimer that if you don’t like filthy things, you might want to stick some of these story recaps!*
Next, we were told a story about Parliament and how people would spit on the heart in front to protest and that is how they would gauge public opinion. So if they sentenced someone to death and no one protested, they would go through with it, etc. So, we all spit on the heart for good luck (walking on it would’ve been bad luck, and lots of tourists do that without realizing it)… We walked to the Writer’s Museum, where I had just come from, and he told us a story about Robbie Burns that was NOT in the museum. The most famous poem Robbie Burns wrote is “Auld Lang Syne” by the way, the New Years song. So, apparently he was kind of a womanizing asshole. He seduced this girl Mary who was a waitress at a bar, and the night after came into the bar with a three line poem about her… a poem that basically praised her breasts and pubic hair (warned you not to read if you didn’t want details!). Poor Mary was embarrassed and then fired after this verse about her hairy “see (c) you (u) next Tuesday” and then became pregnant. She managed to avoid being taken by the Catholic church (at this point he basically went through the plot of that movie Philomena) which would rip babies from their mothers after a year and then enslave them as nuns. She wrote Burns to say she wanted to be a kept woman, and said that she knew he had 4 other women he was supporting. It turns out, Burns was actually supporting 7 other women and didn’t want an 8th, so he sent back a rope. The rope could’ve been used as a noose or an abortion instigator, but instead Mary had the baby, only to freeze to death with the child 3 months later. Nothing like a happy ending!
Next, we walked around the corner and saw a motorcade and people waiting for Obama to come out of some talk. Sadly, I was very busy paying attention to that, and didn’t quite get the historical story, but I heard something about how kilts and bagpipes were banned for awhile, which I learned the next day that was part of a Jacobite rebellion (more on that in a bit). Some of the people stayed to wait for Obama, but having had many years of stage door experience, I realized he might not come out, and he might be rushed to the car so quickly no one could get pictures or anything, so I encouraged us to stay with the tour.
Anyway, we walked back to where the tour started and he told one final story about the Romans trying to conquer Scotland. Apparently, there was no counting in the original Scottish language – it was only one or many. They weren’t the best mathematicians back then, I suppose. The Romans tried to buy them off, but they didn’t quite grasp the concept. So, they decided there was going to be a war. Back then, to have a war, there would be a parley where the heads of both armies would decide how and where the battle would be. However, the Scottish had never heard of that, so they killed the people who came to parley. They did this a few times, and then the Romans just decided to tell them where the battle would be. The Scots showed up to the battle with tiny little knifes (this was before guns) and were naked, painted blue and had their dicks in their other hands. They started screaming and waited for the Romans to charge. The Romans were unprepared for this and lost the day. The next day, the Romans planned and plotted for any contingency, but figured the Scots wouldn’t be so dumb as to try the same tactic twice. However, that night the Scots got super drunk, and figured if it worked once, let’s do it again. They did it again, the Romans were again caught by surprise; they gave up and instead of conquering Scotland, built a 75-mile wall to keep them away. (Yes, he made the obligatory reference to today’s politics.)
So, it was a great walking tour, and we gladly tipped the guy the 5 pounds each he requested. In case you are ever going to Edinburgh, the company is called: “See You Next Tour” and they have a haunted one and a pub crawl, as well. I think it’s brilliant strategy to do one for free every day and then advertise your two at night. I thought our guide, Justin, was great, and you should totally take this tour if you’re in the city!
After the tour, we resumed our walk down the Royal Mile to go to Holyrood Park where we had heard the best thing to do was hike up to Arthur’s Seat. According to Wikipedia: “Arthur’s Seat is the main peak of the group of hills in Edinburgh, Scotland which form most of Holyrood Park, described by Robert Louis Stevenson as ‘a hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design’.” It is the remains of a volcano. It was quite a strenuous hike. I can handle about one every few years. So much uphill climbing, but we finally reached the top, and the view was phenomenal! And what a gloriously beautiful day!
At this point, we had tickets to a show at 7:30, so we couldn’t linger too long. Going on the walking tour was impromptu and it ran over by 30 minuets, so we were tight for time. In fact, the only reason I probably got up that mountain so fast was knowing we had show tickets! We went back down the hill, and we hustled and made it to the Traverse Theatre at 7:15! PHEW!
The show we saw was called “Music is Torture”. It was by Louise Quinn and started Andy Clark, Harry Ward and also featured “A Band Called Quinn” featuring the playwright Louise Quinn and Bal Cooke, Robert Henderson and Steven Westwater that played some live music throughout the play.
We really enjoyed the show, which was about a washed up composer who works as a recording engineer. His friend talks him into trying to write something poppy, and his first attempt had too many notes, so then he writes something really stupid with just a few notes, and of course it wracks up millions of views. I, obviously, completely related to writing too many notes to be popular. So, the song gets picked up by the US government to use a torture song, where they just keep playing the song on repeat (ala what they did to Daryl in The Walking Dead last season). Some lawyer finds out about it and ends up making a lot of money for the guy. But then there’s a huge out-pouring of hatred from people who find out that he wrote “torture music”. Apparently, this was based on some real facts about this sort of thing. It was a very interesting, deep, profound play, well written and well acted. I’m very excited we got to see good theatre in Edinburgh because it is known for having it.
My favorite thing about the show was there was a Doctor Who reference and a little Dalek on the desk, which brought us back to our Wales days…
We were starving after the show from the hike, so we went to the first pub we found. I had a chicken and bacon salad trying to be healthy, but then after that had oreo cheesecake because I was on vacation and deserved it!
After that, we found some live music in Grassmarket Square at Fiddler’s Arms. It was two guys playing some folk guitar, but Niki’s favorite thing was the Scotch was only 3.50 pounds, where as in the USA it would’ve been $14 which is almost 3 times as much (after conversion)! My favorite thing was that the WiFi was very fast since the hotel we were at these days had a sluggish connection.
We walked home for 45 minutes because it was quite nice (also I didn’t want to risk another bus driver’s ire) and on the way back, we passed a shop that did 3D cakes, and I took a picture of a 3D Smurf, Yoda and Cookie Monster cake! #socool
SATURDAY, MAY 27TH, THE ROAD TO INVERNESS IS PAVED WITH LOTS OF GREEN
Alright, we set out after breakfast on Saturday to drive towards Inverness. On the way, we drove through Cairgorms National Park and took some scenic pictures. The first actual stop was the Dalwhinnie Distillery, which was Niki’s trade for the Dr. Who Experience. I mean, I’m not really a whiskey or an alcohol fan, but it was interesting to hear about the lengthy process of how it is made. There were huge vats and we smelled some things… I don’t know, I didn’t really pay attention because I was really tired from having to wake up for breakfast again. The whole process just felt really like whoa – I mean, who is the person who thought to do this huge process to make a drink? There’s a three year maturation minimum – so, like I don’t know how you just stumble upon that. Anyway, in case you care, the whiskey there ages in American oak barrels, and they only keep the heart, losing the head and tail of the mixture.
I tried the whiskey. I didn’t really like it, so I gave the rest to Niki. But they did give us a little bit of chocolate in between, and I did enjoy that. Plus, I got a little souvenir dram and a photo opp!
After the distillery, we went to Culloden Battlefield. This was something that was highly recommended in the guidebook and by one of Niki’s friends. It closed at 5:30, and we got there a little after 3. Basically, this was a huge exhibit about Scottish history… something I really couldn’t care less about. I mean, maybe I *could* care less, but I don’t care enough to try to. I do NOT recommend this unless you like history and want to read lots of panels about it. There was a 5 minute room where they re-enacted this huge battle that took place on this spot; however, it wasn’t very realistic (especially compared to watching Game of Thrones…). I did get to try on a Scottish officer outfit, which didn’t really fit b/c I think it was for kids… And then, we went out to walk around the actual battlefield and saw lots of graves of Jacobite soldiers and the Memorial Cairn which commemorated the area.
Here’s the gist of the history, from what I was able to glean from skimming: The British took over Scotland. They outlawed things like kilts and bagpipes and anything Scottish. There were a lot of people who were annoyed. They formed a rebellion called the Jacobite rebellion. The French helped them (because they’re obviously great with revolutions), and then the British encouraged them to fight and then slaughtered them. So I guess it was almost like if we lost the Revolutionary War. Another tidbit: this was the last hand to hand combat war in Europe before the invention of guns.
Since we breezed through it, we thought we’d try another thing on a recommendation list: Fort George (especially since we got 20% off with our receipt from Culloden). We got there at 4:45 and it closed at 5:30, but we figured we would be fine since we had gotten through the Battlefield so quickly. Fort George was phenomenal! We had a great time, and took lots of pictures. Sadly, we missed at least one museum exhibit b/c it closed at 5. We had an audio guide included, and I managed to listen to every single track in the 45 minutes we had. The fort has a great view because they didn’t allow any trees to be planted for miles around it. And the view of the sea was exquisite. We took lots of pictures, some of them really quickly since we were running around.
So to recap: if you have to choose, go to Fort George and skip the Culloden Battlefield (it’s also cheaper!).
After that, we ran our bags to our hotel for the night, which was a little B&B in Tomatin since all the hotels in Inverness were over priced. Since it was run by just one woman (who is obviously a super morning person), we had to check-in before our usual midnight check-in (she requested 7pm). So we checked in at 6:30pm so we could drop off our stuff, and Niki could change for Saturday night in Inverness. It rained a bit on our rides to and fro Inverness, but it was mostly fine when we were walking around.
Inverness is a charming, if tiny, little town. The best thing is unlike most of our other stops, there was free parking (after 6)! We walked down the River Ness, and walked up to the castle grounds. We walked across the Bouncy Bridge (which was kind of scary). We saw a town clock, a Music Store, and there was a “Pound Land” which was clearly a Dollar Store. We came across gelato, and since we’re adults we had dessert first since it was going to close at 9. I had a double cone, which was actually a cone with a spot on the left for a scoop and a spot on the right for the scoop, which was like the 2-headed-monster on Sesame Street. It’s such a great invention because the two flavors (pineapple/mango sorbet and passionfruit cheesecake) didn’t bleed at all, and also was easier to eat it before it melted.
We went out to dinner at Number 27, which was a recommended restaurant from Trip Advisor, and also our B&B hostess. I had a delicious lamb and mint burger. Afterwards, we stopped by the Hootananny pub for some live Scottish music, then, headed back to our hotel for a record early night, getting in at 10:30! On the way home, down the darkened path to the middle of nowhere, an actual deer (oh, dear!) did cross my path, as well as some bunnies and frogs (but no pigs). Also, on the way home we saw a sign that said: “HEAVY PLANT CROSSING” = what?!?!
At the hotel, I actually had time to browse TV, and Jaws was on. However, they cut into it with the news and said Jaws would be back in 15 minutes (I’ve never seen a 15 minute break from a movie before on TV?!) and then I found this old music special from 1983 was on, which is just very bizarre. So we watched some 80s stars including a young Boy George till that was over… Oh, and I filled out all my postcards, which took an hour or so…
SUNDAY, MAY 28TH, LOTS OF LOCHS
Sunday I slept in!!!!!!!!!!!! I fucking needed it. Niki went for a run, so we were both in far better moods on Sunday. Also, since I wasn’t up yet, Niki went to the Tomatin whiskey distillery since it was a 3 minute walk from where we were staying. So she was doubly in a good mood! She liked that distillery tour better, so I’m glad she got to do it. If you have to do only one whiskey tour, do Tomatin!
So, basically Sunday we drove from Inverness to Glasgow, down the west side of Scotland. First up was Loch Ness. We took some pictures, and I tried to find the Loch Ness Monster, but sadly he/she did not make an appearance that day. We went to the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition, which was the better rated of the two attractions. There were almost a dozen rooms with video presentations on the topic of the monster. Loch Ness is the largest fresh water lake in all of the United Kingdom. They had all these people going into the lake with submarines and sonar to try to figure out if there was a monster. They had live interviews playing of senior citizens remembering seeing Nessie after 1933. I mean, the chance of the monster still being there 84 years later is very slim. Whether or not it was actually there in the 30s is a mystery we’ll never know. They also showed some photographs of the monster, and then proceeded to show how most of them were doctored. However, the monster is a “mirror to our imagination”!
The gift shop had so many cute toys that I just had to get my nephew a finger puppet of Nessie. I kind of want to keep it myself, but I will settle for playing with it when I see him…
We took a few more Loch Ness pictures on our way to Fort William. We were also trying to take a picture of Ben Nevis, a huge mountain, but we’re not sure we actually found it. It seemed pointless to drive an hour out of the way for something we weren’t going to climb (it sounded far worse than Arthur’s Seat!).
Fort William is a quaint little town with one street of activity. It was recommended to us, but we didn’t find it that exciting. It was nice to walk around for a bit and stretch our legs, and parking was cheap (though not free on a Sunday!?).
After that, we went to Glencoe Village. We found that underwhelming, so we google mapped where Hagrid’s Hut was, and headed up there to some of the mountains of Glencoe. There was breathtaking, and we had a lovely time walking around there and sitting on a rock for a bit. This being one with nature is something we probably could’ve used more on of this trip… maybe if we had had one more day!
We did find where I *think* Hagrid’s Hut was in the Harry Potter films. Obviously, they didn’t leave the hut there. This and the Hogwarts Castle were the two Harry Potter things outside of London to see according to harrypotter.com…
Oh, by the way, on our driving, we found a Broadway radio show on the BBC 2 station, and it turned out that West End/Broadway star Elaine Paige hosts one every Sunday at 2! I had NO idea, and I was so thrilled to catch half of her show…
So after Fort William, we kept driving South and drove around Loch Lomond (which is mentioned in a song in Brigadoon!). Loch Lomond was beautiful, and we took some pictures there, as well.
Finally, we ended up in Glasgow for the night. We found free parking by the University of Glasgow, which was highly recommended. It was kind of like an older Harvard Square. Then, we went out for Indian food at a restaurant called Ashoka that was highly rated. Niki really wanted Indian food, and it’s apparently really big in the UK. Unfortunately, even a “mild” Indian meal with pistachios and chicken didn’t quite sit well with me… but it was definitely not as bad as it could’ve been!
After dinner, we walked around Kelvingrove Park with Kelvin river and a Kelvin statue (all named after the mathematical physicist) before heading back to the car.
We opted to have Hertz fill up the gas tank because their gas rate was cheaper than what we had been paying (gas is VERY expensive in the UK!), so we had been driving on empty. Thankfully, the car actually counts down the amount of miles you have left, and we returned the car with 53 to go… We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express right next to Glasgow Airport, so we were able to take care of the car return the night before. I mailed my postcards at the airport, and timed how long it would take me to get to security the next day.
We actually ended up in the hotel early enough to watch one episode of season 3 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt together to end our wonderful vacation week.
MONDAY, MAY 29TH, A FOGGY DAY IN LONDON TOWN
So, Niki had work on Tuesday, but I decided since I was already going to have to fly back to London to complete my round trip that I might as well stay an extra day there. I found a hostel for 25 pounds, which was worth 25 pounds. It was smaller than the tiniest room I had in my tiniest apartment. It just had a bed and a stool and (thankfully) a power strip, which a common bathroom.
Before I made it to my hostel, first I had to take a plane, a shuttle bus, a train and the subway. I had the alarm set for 8am (eesh!) since the cheapest flight (besides the even cheaper 6am one, which would never have happened in a million years) by far was at 9:35. I got up and left within 8 minutes, had some eggs at the complimentary buffet breakfast, and then took my zip locks and their to go bags and packed some mini blueberry muffins, croissants, bananas and apples for lunch.
I made it to the airport in 4 minutes, made it through security exceedingly quick (it was a small airport) and made it to the gate just as they were boarding around 9:05. The flight was uneventful, and then, since I had to fly into Luton Airport instead of Heathrow, I took a shuttle bus to the train to the city itself. Thankfully, my friend, Dan, is a London-expert and gave me the low-down. I had exact change (2.10 pounds) for the bus this time! I took the 11:07 train into St. Pancras Station, which was conveniently near my first stop… King’s Cross Train Station, which is where Platform 9 3/4 AKA the platform to Hogwarts is!
I waited for almost an hour on queue to get my picture taken going into the wall with a green (Slytherin) scarf and the Elder Wand (which I have my own one from my trip to Universal in LA). I made friends with a Canadian girl on line behind me so that she would take my picture, since I wasn’t paying 15 pounds for one (though apparently it comes with an acceptance letter to Hogwarts). I think the picture was worth the wait!!!!
Then, I took the Tube to Acton Town where my hostel was (conveniently on the Piccadilly subway line, which also goes to Heathrow). The Metrocard equivalent in London is the Oyster Card. However, rather than $1 for the card, it is 5 pounds to “lease” the card. You can return the card to get your 5 pounds back when you’re done using it. So, I had calculated all my trips – I had 3 2.80 pound trips, but the card caps you for the day at 7.70. So, I realize that I could’ve subwayed an unlimited amount that day, but I still chose not to because I wanted to see as much of the city as I could. My trip the next day to Heathrow would be only 1.50 since I was already in Zone 3 (Heathrow is Zone 5), so I put 10 pounds (only using 9.20) on the card, 15 pounds including the 5 pound deposit. Make sense? Anyway, the Tube is very clean, and everyone gets their own tiny seat with armrests. The lines all have the times when the next train is coming and a really pleasant British almost Siri-like voice letting you know where you are and what’s next, and even though you have to mind the gap, I find it a much nicer experience than the NYC subway.
For those of you who have been my friend for almost 2 decades, you will know I went to London in April 2002 (see the April 4, 2002 Ledger in the Ob-Seth-ed section of sethbh.com to relive that trip!). So, I didn’t feel the need to actually see any museums, as I did a bunch of those. And I went to Shakespeare’s Gold Theatre already. So, I just took a walking tour to take photos of things because when I went in 2002, I didn’t have a digital camera because THEY DID NOT EXIST YET. (I know I just blew the millennials reading this’s minds!) I actually think I have an album of those photos somewhere, but the chances of me digitizing all my old albums is very low. Maybe when I’m super famous and have a few personal assistants for such things…
Anyway, after taking a half hour of so to chill at the hostel, I headed out to London for my 4 hour walk! Yup, you read that right: I walked around for FOUR hours without stop! No wonder my legs are still tired…
I took the Piccadilly line back in the other direction towards Cockfosters (and giggled every time I saw or read that). First I started at Hyde Park Corner so I could stroll through Hyde Park. I walked around a lake there, and I saw and took pictures of: Diana Memorial Fountain, Kensington Gardens and the Peter Pan statue. After an hour and a half circling the park, I came out at the Wellington Arch, walked past Buckingham Palace, the Victoria Memorial, Westminster Abbey, the Palace of Westminster, which includes Big Ben. I tried to take some selfies with Big Ben, though the gray skies made it hard… It rained a tiny bit while I was in the park, but was mostly just overcast. I walked down the River Thames Walk and took pictures of various plaques and statues and things across the river like the London Eye (which is a ferris wheel). I took pictures of Scotland Yard and of bridges including the Millennium Bridge, which was featured in the final Harry Potter movies (all in all, I did 4 stops on the Harry Potter suggested tour, aka all the free ones).
At this point, I crossed the street and went through Victoria Embankment Gardens, where I found a statue of the famous scientist Faraday on my way to Savoy Place to purchase a 20 pound ticket to Dreamgirls. (20 pounds = $26. I paid $26 for a FANTASTIC seat in the 6th row, albeit all the way on the side, but with unobstructed view and I prefer the aisle anyway. $26 for a PRIME SEAT! Broadway shows need to have tiered pricing like this!!!!)
Then, I got back on the Thames, where I took more pictures including the London Bridge (which is NOT falling down! (Incidentally, I made this same exact joke in the 2002 ledger. Great minds think alike. or the same great mind thinks alike 15 years later!)) and the Tower Bridge. I took some pictures of the outside of The Tower of London (I apparently went in it in 2002, but had zero recollection till I read about my journey just now).
I circled back to the west by taking Great Tower st which eventually turned into Fleet Street, where I found a barber shop AND a pie shop! Kind of creepy. Don’t worry, I didn’t go to either in case Sweeney was around… I passed the St. Paul’s Cathedral and walked through Strand St seeing lots of theatres on my way to my show.
I got to Dreamgirls at 7:23 for a 7:30 performance. AKA I hustled like a mofo! When I got in, I checked the cast list. Now, I knew that Amber Riley from Glee was out for the weekend, but I had no idea that one of her standbys was my friend, Marsha Wallace! I guess that’s what I get for not ever going on the Facebook newsfeed anymore (I also get a lot less anxiety!). Anyway, I was SO EXCITED. Marsha actually sings a parody version of “And I’m Telling You” in my “Broadway for Hillary” music video. She is absolutely MARVELOUS, BRILLIANT and PHENOMENAL. It was on my bucket list to see her do this role some day, and that wish was fulfilled!
The production was stellar. Casey Nicholaw did a fantastic job with the staging, directly and choreography. The whole thing was flawless. I cried almost every time Marsha opened her mouth, and was part of a small standing ovation at the end of her big anthem. Overall, I was incredibly moved by the whole production. I had never seen a live version of the show, only having seen the movie and listened to the various cast recordings, so this was a real treat for me. I messaged Marsha at intermission to tell her I was there, and she said to meet her at the stagedoor after. I took pictures for her fans for awhile (I’m a mensch) and then briefly caught up with her. I ended up telling a few of the stage door fans about my music video she was in (I’m a whore, I know).
Afterwards, I finished my London tour with Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. Sadly, my camera doesn’t work so well at night, but I did manage to document these areas a bit. It was a happy coincidence that Leicester Square is really the center of touristy nightlife in London since I hadn’t managed to get there during the day. Since I had all my buffet leftovers for lunch, I had made it all day without spending any money. However, after walking for four hours and seeing a three hour musical, I was famished. I bought two slices of dollar pizza, which were three pounds each!? I actually had 9.21 pounds left, so then I was down to 3.12. I went to find dessert, and ended up finding frozen yogurt for 3.25. I explained my situation to the young man behind the counter, and he gave me a 13 pence discount for my guava yogurt, which completely hit the spot. He said that when he was in Boston a similar thing happened to him, so he was happy to pay it forward!
My final note on London is that I kept seeing signs that said “TO LET” which is obviously “TO RENT”, but I kept reading it as “TOILET” and thinking London has an awful lot of them around… of course, in London, those are WCs…
TUESDAY, MAY 30TH, AND I THINK TO MYSELF: I’M GOING HOME
I woke up Tuesday, took a whore’s shower (I wasn’t going to trust that shower – it looked a little gross) and head out for the airport. I got stuck on the tube for awhile on my way to Heathrow, and ended up later than I expected. Then, I had to return my Oyster card, but they wouldn’t do that at the kiosk because I had just got it the day before. So I had to wait on queue at the visitor’s center, which took longer than I wanted it to. BUT I got my refund of 5.80 pounds. Then, I had a trek to Terminal 3, which also took longer than I had anticipated, but I started sprinting a bit because I was starting to freak out I’d miss my flight. I had issues figuring out what my confirmation number was for at the Delta kiosk, but finally printed my pass. Then, I got through security after 20 minutes or so, and ran to the Money Exchange because who wants pounds? She gave me $5 for the 5 pounds, which means she took about $2, but I found out my gate was a 20 minute walk away, so I didn’t have time to haggle… I walked very quickly and got to my gate 45 minutes before my flight… just as they started boarding (who ever boards that early!?). PHEW! Actually, the flight was all ready to go 20 minutes early, so it’s really great that I made it with time to spare. I wasn’t really worried, but it was cutting it close, even for me!
I had a lovely flight back, and then it took almost an hour to get through customs. And then another hour to get home to Smee, but I did it, and I made it, and I’m ready for a NYC summer. Speaking of…
SUMMERTIME AND THE LIVING MAY OR MAY NOT BE EASY
If you’ve made it this far, you must really like me. I just wanted to do a brief summer preview:
1. Save the date for Broadway Meows 9: Monday, July 17th at 7PM at Don’t Tell Mama.
2. At Meows, we will be premiering some new songs from my new, almost-finished musical: The Diamond as Big as the Ritz, based on the F. Scott Fitzgerald short-story entitled (you guessed it): The Diamond as Big as the Ritz.
3. I am going to fill the June, July and August showcase slots in the new few weeks. Details on sethbh.com soon! And while we’re talking about Don’t Tell Mama, I have some big news: they are redoing all the posters in the bar, and the manager has agreed to put one up for my shows!!!
4. Summer is my favorite time in the city with so many free concerts, movies and activities. I’ll be sending out an itinerary to my NYC hang-out list this weekend.
5. I have a few weekend trips planned, potentially to PA, DE and Denver, CO…
SMEE MISSED ME, MISSED ME, NOW HE HAS TO HAVE KISSED ME
Smee has been super clingy today and even napped right by me instead of by the kitchen. (He posted a picture on his FB page.) I think he missed me more than he cares to admit!
Smee and I will be back doing Facebook Live: Music Mondays at 3PM for the summer. It’s my sister’s birthday on Monday, so she has picked a song for me to do. Thanks to everyone who tunes in every week!
I went a little book crazy. I think I got another dozen or so for cheap on ebay, and then another dozen or so at the Strand’s 50 cent bin… Since Mark finally let me get rid of the Love Quirks set from our 2014 production, I was able to free up room in my walk-in closet for my ninth bookcase! It’s ruby red, and I love it. And now my closet is organized again! That said, I realized just how many books I have that I haven’t read yet (haven’t officially counted yet, but it’s a lot), so I think I’m going to have to go on a hiatus from buying any new ones.
Anyway, since the last ledger, I read the following:
Black Spring – I really liked Tropics of Cancer/Capricorn in high school, but I found Henry Miller’s book very hard to get through besides a few ribald passages.
The Luzhin Defense – I love Nabokov and got 5 or so of his novels. This one is about a chess master, and I loved it.
The Pursuit of Happyness – This was a Lauren borrow, though she hasn’t read it yet. I found the story remarkable, if the writing was a tad lacking. Very inspiring, though!
The Handmaiden’s Tale – I was too busy this vacation to read that often. That was the saddest thing about getting in so late every day and driving so much. However, the last few days I managed to get halfway through this book that they just adapted for TV, and I’m loving it. If only I could get myself to watch shows on Hulu, but I hate those tiny ads so much, that it’s doubtful I can get myself to…
I only saw one movie in the theatres since the last ledger, so I will put the movies I watched on the plane, here:
Lego Batman – this was a very fun sequel to the Lego Movie!
All 3 movies on my flight there were based on true stories:
Hidden Figures, Lion, Florence Foster Jenkins – I liked all three very much, and they all made me cry, though Lion made me cry the most (obviously).
On the way back, I watched:
Dr. Strange – took awhile to get good, but then I enjoyed it.
The Great Gilly Hopkins – fantastic cast, a little cliched story-wise.
Elvis & Nixon – what a quirky movie dramatizing their real-life meeting.
I probably will stick mostly with free movies for the summer, but I do feel like I should see Wonder Woman at some point…
I’m still behind on season finales for anything that aired the last few weeks, but here are some shows I’m looking forward to this summer:
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – excited there’s a new season, only watched 1 episodes so far!
American Gods – I am LOVING this show on Starz even before Kristin shows up…
Nashville – Even without Connie, I still have a fondness for the show (which got renewed for season 6!)
Nightcap – This show is so funny and is back next week!
Orange is the New Black – New season! OMG! YAY!
Orphan Black – final season of the clones!
Playing House – another of my favorite comedies returns this summer…
The Strain – final season of this vampire show, can’t wait!
Episodes – final season finally premieres in august!
There isn’t that much new I’m looking forward to either this summer of in the fall because I already have way too many shows on my docket, but I’ll keep you updated if something looks good. I will definitely watch Seth MacFarlaine’s Star Trek parody show, The Orville, this fall, at the very least…
It’s been a very full theatre spring; here’s what I’ve seen since the last ledger:
Man from Nebraska – solid Tracy Letts play Off-Bway…
Daniel’s Husband – really great play about gay marriage…
Broadway by the Year: the 1940s – fun concert at Town Hall…
Present Laughter – great to see Kevin Kline in person…
The Play That Goes Wrong – there were some really funny moments in this show, though it was no Noises Off…
Antipodes – enjoyable existential Annie Baker play off-Bway…
Vanity Fair – thrilling adaptation of the old novel…
A Doll’s House, Part 2 – Laurie Metcalf is exquisite…
Pacific Overtures (CSC) – pared down off-Bway version of a Sondheim musical…
Six Degrees of Separation – Allison Janney is always remarkable, and I really enjoyed the play, too.
Groundhog’s Day – musical adaptation of the Bill Murray movie… also, FYI, this is the 350th Broadway show I’ve seen (not including repeats) – see sethbh.com under the Ob-Seth-ed tab for them all!
Not That Jewish – very funny one-woman show about growing up Jew-ish…
Ernest Shackleton Loves Me – adventurous, eccentric off-Broadway musical…
Der Rosenkavalier – saw Renee Fleming’s final opera, and though we stood for 4 hours, it was worth it…
Sweat – Pulitzer Prize winning play about the working class…
Broadway Unplugged 2017 – another fantastic evening at Town Hall…
The Glass Menagerie – I really enjoyed the staging of this production starring Sally Field…
The Golden Apple (Encores) – one of my new favorite old musicals! What a great show!
The Little Foxes – wonderful revival starring the incomparable Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon… also always love Lillian Hellman…
Venus – good, new Off-Broadway play…
Dreamgirls (London) – I will mention again that I just adored this production in London!
Siren’s Den – I saw my BFF Rori Nogee’s passion project musical last night
Can You Forgive Her? – really good new off-bway play at the Vineyard theatre…
Whirligig – seeing this tonight, but putting it in anyway…
I’m looking for to a summer full of free theatre, including a bunch of Shakespeare…
It was an incredibly exhausting jam-packed trip, but I have no regrets (besides the flat tire). All in all, I believe we drove for approximately 24 hours over the course of a week… Phew! Thanks, as always, to my BFF Niki for co-planning a most amazing adventure! We have a potential trip planned in 2019, but as that’s pretty far away, I will keep the location to myself, for now.
Thanks for reading! I hope you all have an opportunity for an amazing summer vacation, too.
Drop me a line if I haven’t heard from you for awhile!
September 2, 2017 — Colorado recap, Autumn revealed, Television recommended…
It is time for another trip recap, this time my Colorado adventure! Before that I will reveal my fall schedule, and after I will have my usual reviews of entertainment I absorbed this summer.
Astute readers will see I left a hidden message in the subject, which will also be touched upon. So, let’s begin the beguine…
FALL-ING IN LOVE AGAIN
I joked on social media a few weeks ago that even looking at my planner for the autumn makes me exhausted. This is not an understatement! I think you might be tired after seeing my calendar. Here’s what I’m up to chronologically:
1. Facebook Live Music Mondays, weekly starting 9/4, 3pm (Happy birthday, Samidh!): I’m back Mondays at 3PM for the rest of the year, singing with Smee!
2. Weekly Showcases through 12/19, 7pm: I’m starting up showcases and showcase auditions on Friday! I’m hoping to have enough people to fill slots weekly through the end of the year. (Also, unrelated to my own projects, I am accompanying at least 5 days of auditions in September and anticipate a bunch more for October.)
3. Broadway-Tonight! cabaret, every other Monday starting 9/11, 7:30pm: I am now the resident pianist at Broadway Tonight! at the Treehaus (broadway-tonight.com), which takes up every other Monday night.
4. Sing for Hope Cabaret, 9/20, 5pm: This will be our 4th Rush Hour Rhapsody cabaret at Port Authority, Wed, 9/20 at 5pm. It’s always a super fun time! (http://www.singforhope.org/rush-hour-rhapsodies/)
5. Company, 9/27 & 9/29, 6:30pm: I am musically directing a staged reading of Company the last week of September at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. That is going to take up a lot of my time the next few weeks, but should be epic! (http://www.westbankcafe.com/laurie-beechman-theatre)
6. #34andSingle, 9/29, 11:30pm: I’m accompanying and side-kicking my BFF, Celia Mei Rubin’s, solo cabaret duet, and also making my full show debut at the glamorous 54 Below for a late night show! I also wrote her a hilarious opening number! (https://54below.com/events/late-comet-celia-mei-rubin-34andsingle/)
7. Seth’s Solo Cabaret Showcases, 11/3, 9:30pm: I’m producing and accompanying 3 solo cabarets at Don’t Tell Mama this fall (11/3, 11/10 & 12/1) featuring showcase alumni who wanted to put on full shows!
8. The Diamond as Big as the Ritz industry reading (tentatively), 11/9, 4pm/7pm: Still waiting to solidify this, but we will 100% be doing a reading of my new musical this fall, and then hopefully recording a cast recording before the year’s end. We did a table read on 8/14 that went super well. We’re reworking a few songs, including adding a new one, and are very happy with the way the show is going.
9. Broadway Can! #9, 11/13, 7pm: The 9th Annual Broadway Can! concert for City Harvest (raising $ and cans) will feature a bunch of new songs from the …Ritz musical and more! I can’t believe it’s been 9 years…
10. Staci & Seth Sings Sesame Street #3, (tentatively), 12/9, 5:30pm: It’s finally (hopefully!) happening! Staci & I are back with our 3rd show dedicated to the songs of Sesame Street for the holidays!
Well, that’s about it. I mean keep in mind some of those are weekly or bi-monthly, so you can imagine my schedule is pretty, pretty packed.
ALL-WRITE, ALL-WRITE, ALL-WRITE
So, I just wanted to elaborate on the new musical. Here’s what my collaborator, R.C. says about it:
An original musical version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novella, The Diamond as Big as The Ritz, is a wildly satirical tale of rich Americans desperate to build, preserve and protect their wealth. As told to the audience by foreigners challenged to immigrate to the U.S., the tale is given a new and engrossing prospective.
Less than a year ago, I read the novella and thought “OMG it’s a musical” and even though I have been mostly moving on to TV/film, I knew I had to tell this oddly timely story. So, I asked R.C. whom I had met at a writer-speed-date thing awhile ago if he’d be interested, and he was. We wrote the show in about 6 months, and are very happy with its progress. I am very proud of it, and hope it will find its audience.
Other than that, I have a full season of Every Day a Little Seth outlined. I have been pitching it a few times a month, and I know that eventually I’ll find the right person to help on its journey to a network/streaming platform. If you haven’t seen it yet, go watch it now (or if you have, why not watch it again?)! sethbh.com/edals
Things with the movie musical are going very well, but Mark is a very private and superstitious person who won’t let me publicly talk about things till they’re almost done.
And finally, I have started work on my third book, which I would love to finish writing this year so I could publish on my birthday, but I have so little time for writing that it might not happen. However, my October afternoon schedule isn’t so full yet. If that stays that way, I should be able to write the other 20-25 chapters.
THE HIDDEN MESSAGE WAS CAT
If you don’t see it, do let me know. Smee wanted me to say hi. In fact, he is meowing and staring at me right now. It could also be because he wants more food. He doesn’t like it when I write ledgers because I get really focused and don’t get up to feed him as often as if I was procrastinating on something. Actually, let’s be honest: I rarely procrastinate, but sometimes I like to take breaks in between tasks. And this is a major task, though I suppose I could take a break between sections more.
Anyway, Smee wants you to know that he is turning 11 this December 18th. 11! Can you believe it? They grow up so fast! He says that he doesn’t look a day over 8. Speaking of Smee, he is currently working on his second cat-pter for my new book. (Second since he had his first one in Every Page a Little Seth.) He is currently pontificating on the next cat-pter’s subject while he licks his paws.
DELAWARE TRIP RECAP
So I was going through my planner, and it occurred to me I had a mini-vacation before my vacation, and that should be talked about first! For the second year in a row, I joined my friend, Anne, on her trip to her family’s beach house on Fenwick Island in Delaware. It was a relaxing evening besides the drive back when we hit floods and traffic, and ended up getting the car back 20 minutes late, there by incurring a lot of extra fees that I spent the next week getting refunded.
The trip itself was lovely. I spent 2 hours on a beach, which was plenty of beach time for me. I even went into the ocean until it started trying to kill us. I did get sun burned, and learned the lesson that the ocean isn’t effective sun screen for my back. Other than that, we went out for unlimited lobster (and I got over-priced fried chicken), played mini-golf (I won, but it was a tie between Sean and me because I had 2 holes where I psyched myself out), I did a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle while watching Star Trek marathons on BBC (first original then Voyager), finished a book, had grilled food and brunch various days, ie ate lots of food, and went to the boardwalk where I went on a rollercoaster (lost my hat, but thankfully one of the guys on another ride was able to retrieve it for me) and a dizzy ride.
Overall, it was a lovely weekend, though not long enough a vacation for me, which is why I scheduled in another one before the summer ended…
COLORADO TRIP RECAP
And finally, we have come to the promised (hopefully) brief recap of my lovely trip to Colorado that was promised in the subject of this very ledger. I say brief because compared to all those educational and jam-packed European trips, it should be. So, I went to visit my friend, Rebecca, who I hadn’t seen high school besides a few Thanksgiving reunions during college. And I’m happy to say that when you are close to someone at some point, that closeness doesn’t really dissipate over time. It was as if we had never said goodbye! We had been talking on the Facebook, and I had said that Colorado was definitely on my to visit list ever since I got this app, Been, that tells me I’ve now been to 48% of the USA (24 states including the newly added CO). Anyway, once I expressed the idea of visiting, she was like, please do and we decided that August would be a lovely time for both of us. I got an economy ticket on Delta Airlines for only $228, and had a wonderfully relaxing vacation. Here is a summary of that trip:
DAY ONE (Tuesday: Traveling)
I have to call this day one because that’s how I did the photos. OH, if you haven’t yet, I posted and captioned 315 photos of the trip on the Facebook! You can go view them in tandem with this write-up…
My flight was uneventful, watched 2 movies (see below), had no issues. Rebecca picked me up from the airport, and we planned out the whole trip itinerary (yay, Type A!) and before bed, I started my HuluPlus binge for the week. (I hate Hulu b/c of the ads, and I don’t have access to it in my apartment, so I took advantage of the fact that she has Hulu Plus which is ad free for Hulu Originals, which is all I was watching.)
DAY TWO (Wednesday: Lakewood, Golden)
So, the air in Denver was very thin because of the elevation. I was mostly fine, except whenever I was exerting myself. Unfortunately, the main road that would take me directly to Dinosaur Ridge (my first stop on the first day) was under construction and closed for sidewalks. Thus, I had to go this roundabout way which was full of hills and dales (much nicer than hills!). It was exhausting and took me twice as long, partially because I wasn’t used to the bike I was borrowing, partially because the roads were windy and curvy, and not in a grid, so it was impossible to navigate without using my phone (which is already a hard thing to do given it keeps changing its orientation, more on that in my third book) and mostly b/c I kept getting winded (not to be confused with the roads that were winded (aka winding)). Anyway, it was also way, way, way too sunny and there was very little shade.
After about an hour of what should’ve been a 20-minute commute, I made it to Dinosaur Ridge. I had to invest $6 in 3 Gatorade bottles because I was completely dehydrated. (I also invested $1 in M&Ms b/c they were only $1, and M&Ms are my favorite.) So Dinosaur Ridge was a really cool place. They had actual fossils and footprints and bones that had been preserved in the rock. There was also a visitor’s center where I learned that it was there that the first stegosaurus was ever found. I also saw a footprint that had been returned to the area after a bunch of poaching that had gone on early on. There was a 45-minute bus ride and guide that went up the hill, and it was much nicer than biking.
It took me another hour to make the 20 minute commute back to the house, and again I kept getting turned around because there are roads that are actual circles. Finally, I got back home, and resumed my Hulu-ing till Rebecca had finished worked and retrieved her 3 kids (6 year and twin 3.5 year olds!).
That night, we went to Golden (where we met up with her husband, A.J. coming from his work). Golden is a sweet little town, and there were lots of statues to pose with (continuing my posing as statue photo series). We found a curvy slide that the kids and I went down multiple times. There was a view of the Coors factory (I think they make beer). We had a lovely dinner at a hotel restaurant (I stuck with a salad, attempting to be healthy), and then went home.
DAY THREE (Thursday: Denver)
Thursday, I was on my own because Rebecca had work then a band rehearsal (which actually ended up canceled). I rode my bike to the commuter rail, which was thankfully mostly downhill. I took the commuter rail into Denver itself! Denver is a very nice city. It’s pretty quaint, and downtown is definitely a city-city. The weird thing about how Denver was designed is the main area was developed on a diagonal so when you get out of the main grid, everything shifts like 45 degrees. But once you get your new bearings, everything is fine.
I took the free mall ride bus down 16th St to the end, and got off and headed for the library. At the library, I got a free pass to the Contemporary Museum of Art, and then I proceeded to walk to Molly Brown’s house.
I got to Molly Brown’s house at noon, and was able to get on the tour that was about to leave. Of course, I know Molly Brown from the musical and also from the movie, Titanic. (She looked so much like Kathy Bates that it’s insane!) Apparently, she was never called Molly in real life. The person who wrote the book the musical is based on liked it better than Margaret, apparently. Her house was very nice, and has a lot of artifacts from the era. Upon entering, there is a statue with a tray for calling cards because that’s how people would know who had previously visited. There were some nude statues from Europe, but her friends got offended, so she had little clothes made for all of them. There was also an actual polar bear rug, and two pianos: a grand and an upright in separate rooms. Apparently, rich people would have two – one for parties and one for the kids to practice on. Also, rich people would have separate rooms for husbands and wives. There was an old school radio and record player. Her original view in those days would’ve been wonderful even though today it’s completely blocked. She had a balcony she used to yodel on, or there would be a band there if she had a party. In fact, the entire top floor was a huge party room.
Other interesting facts; she was friends with the Romanovs, aka Anastasia’s family. They had day beds for naps because it was rude to the help to mess up the main bed. They had fainting couches because when those corsets (which tried to get a waist down to 18 inches!) were removed, all the blood would come rushing back, and people would faint. They had an enunciator, which is a machine that would tell you which room a person had buzzed you from. Very fancy for those days!
While in Egypt, a soothsayer said Molly would have dangers with water, so she always carried a talisman, which could have possibly helped her survive the Titanic. However, being a first-class white passenger probably played a part in that, too.
After the lovely Molly Brown House, I went to the Dallas Art Museum. It was a pretty good art museum, though at some point, they all start to look the same. I did see two Monet and a Picasso, and though they said they had a Van Gogh on the website, I was sadly unable to find it. There were some contemporary pieces, including one by Ana Teresa Fernandez who painted her whole body black ala a Facebook profile pic that had been changed to black to protest something. There were sections from all the sections of the world for the most part, and I actually took fewer pictures than ever before in a museum knowing I have so many pictures from so many museums. For only $13, though, it was a fine way to spend a few hours.
By this point, I had seen advertisements for Frozen everywhere, and since Rebecca had a rehearsal, I decided I should probably go see it. I was saddened that all the $25 tickets were sold out, but I decided to splurge on a $50 one because I was on vacation, and also because I was eating free breakfast and lunch (PB&J sandwiches) every day.
After getting my ticket, I jumped into the free Money Museum. I got there at 3:45 and it was closing at 4, however, I had plenty of time. It was basically just one quick room. I also got free money… shredded money, and that’s a really nice free souvenir (and I got a back for Rebecca to thank her for hosting, too!). One interesting fact I noticed on the screen was that they only allow perfect bills into circulation so they basically destroy $2.2 million a day that have minor errors.
Next, I wanted to get myself a Colorado magnet, but Googlemaps took me on a wild goose chase to what turned out to be a closed store; so I took the free mall bus back to the free touristy area, and was able to find a $3 magnet. Then, I walked back down the main street, 16th st, while talking to Niki on the phone. (She had very good timing, in that she finished work right when I was walking.)
I went to the Contemporary Art Museum, which was basically 2 quick exhibits, aka I’m glad I got a free pass. They also had free wifi, so I sat in their cafe a bit just catching up on the world.
Next, I checked out the Tattered Covers Bookstore, because my friend, Karen, had recommended it. It was a lovely store where they had lots of recommendations for their readers. I saw a book I had meant to get, and then ordered it on ebay for $4 while I was sitting in their conformable chairs…
For dinner, I had Chipotle which was $1.50 cheaper than NYC! And then, I saw Frozen before anyone in NYC can! Woo!
Rebecca picked me up, and then it was back to HuluPlus…
DAY FOUR (Friday: Denver Zoo)
Friday, I’m happy to say I made it to the commuter train without getting off the bike once! I was finally acclimating to everything. Unfortunately, the stupid phone told me to go to a “closer” bus stop then the one I had been planning on to get the 32 bus to the zoo. Sadly, it was a 2-way street and by the time I realized I was on the wrong side, the bus was long gone. Though, I didn’t see any bus at all, so it might’ve been there before I got there, anyway. Regardless, that bus that goes directly to the zoo entrance only leaves once an hour. So I had to traipse to another bus 10 minutes away after having wasted 20 minutes waiting for Godot. I ended up going down this cute river path, but then I couldn’t get back up to the right street. Thankfully, I made it to the bus stop with 5 minutes to spare and took bus 20 to the intersection where you can walk to the zoo in another 10 minutes.
So, I got to the zoo a little before 2, instead of 1, meaning I had to miss 2 zoo shows. I will forever regret this fact, but such is life. At least Rebecca had a free zoo pass, so I didn’t have to pay! I managed to go to all the other shows that day, which were only 15 minutes each: Elephant, Sea Lions, Tiger, Penguin Feeding and Pelican Feeding. Other than that, I saw every single animal that was in the zoo, and I do not feel the need to iterate them because… well, I assume you have been to a zoo. I know I got to everything because I checked them off one by one on my map.
Anyway, Rebecca picked me up after picking up her kids, and we had a lovely Shabbat dinner that night with her brother and his kids, as well… and then we watched my sitcom pilot, which is still really funny even though I’ve seen it quite a few times at this point.
DAY FIVE (Saturday: Red Rocks, Fort Collins)
Saturday, Rebecca and the kids and I went to the Red Rock Amphitheatre which is a famous outdoor concert arena. We walked up over 300 stairs to get to the top. It was a really nice view of everything, including the red rocks. We went to the visitor’s center where they have a list of everyone who has performed there since 1904. There were some memorabilia including a guitar signed by James Taylor… After that, we went for a 40-minute hike around the red rocks themselves, and it was truly spectacular.
After dropping the kids at home, Rebecca and I took a field trip to Fort Collins because the producer of the Midtown Arts Center gave me 2 tickets to their production of Hair since I’ve played their auditions for the last 7 years or so. Fort Collins was a charming town with a lot of eccentric shops and a lovely Town Square where there was free (pretty bad) music playing all day. We even found parking for only $1/hour, and the first hour was free! After hanging downtown for 90 minutes, we headed to the theatre. Our tickets included free dinner, as well as the show. It was actually my first time at a dinner theatre… they actually serve you dinner before the show, and then you sit in those chairs to watch the show!? It’s crazy!
DAY SIX (Sunday: Idaho Springs, Rocky Mountains, Frisco)
Sunday, we had to wait for the kids to go to a birthday party, then Rebecca and I went to Idaho Springs, which is a mining town on route to the Rocky Mountains. We went to a cute visitor center, and then walked around the one strip of quirky stores. A.J. picked us up 90 minutes later with the kids, and we all headed up to the Rocky Mountains! We stopped at the Continental Divide, and then took a brief hike up the mountain for an exquisite view! My, it was just breathtaking. GO LOOK AT MY PICTURES RIGHT NOW!
After that, we drove to Frisco and took a really nice nature walk to see the Rainbow Lake. Then, we went to dinner at the Mint Steakhouse, where you cook your own steaks! It also comes with unlimited salad, so I had a lot of healthy food before the steak. I actually did a decent job cooking it! Who knew?
I somehow managed to stay off my phone till they all went to bed, so I could watch the Game of Thrones season finale unspoiled. Phew!
DAY SEVEN (Monday: Green Mountain, HuluPlus)
On my last full day, I went for a walk and then a hike on Green Mountain, where I did a Facebook Live you might have seen. I listened to some Kander & Ebb (Kiss of the Spiderwoman then The Scottsboro Boys) and meandered around enjoying the view and taking advantage of my last day of zen-ful recuperation.
When I got home, I cleaned a bit so I could earn my keep, and while cleaning I had Alexa play the Snow White soundtrack so I could truly whistle while I worked.
I finished my HuluPlus binge list, and then we went out to this special restaurant… The Olive Garden! I just had cravings for the big salad and unlimited breadsticks after seeing a few locations around. It’s not like I’d never go in NYC because there are way better options, so it was kind of like reliving my childhood, which makes sense b/c Rebecca is my high school friend, after all. And I’ll tell you, that Olive Garden looked and was laid out exactly like the one in NJ by my parents’ house! Exactly.
DAY EIGHT (Tuesday: Traveling)
Not much to report on my final traveling day. Rebecca had to bring me to wait in a lobby of an elementary school while she had a meeting, and I felt really tall because everything was so tiny for the kids. I basically just read my book the entire day, which is good because I was shirking given that first I finished both my EW and Time Magazines before starting it, and then I watched movies on the plane and watched a lot of TV at the house. There were not any other movies I wanted to see on the plane, so I managed to get through a good portion of the book, though I still have to finish it. Maybe I’ll do that when I finish this! Actually, I need to vacuum, then send all the sheet music to the musicians for Celia’s show and then create 4 choreography tracks for Company so that I can get 2 rehearsals off…
Anyway, I do want to publicly thank Rebecca and family for their hospitality. I had the BEST time EVER. It was a WONDERFUL vacation. And if YOU have a house and live in one of the 26 states I haven’t been to (pretty much anything not on the east/west coasts), do let me know. My schedule is open for summer of 2018! (Plus, if you have HuluPlus!)
BOOKS (no to be confused with BO OKS which is what happens when Bo signs off on something)
Well, it looks like I have gotten a few books read this summer. Not as many as my record of 17, but not so draconian that I’m embarrassed by it:
Handmaiden’s Tale – I actually had a copy of this in my closet, I think I found it on the street at some point, but now that it has a TV show, I had to read it and it’s definitely an eerie classic.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close – Working my way through Foer’s books, and I really enjoyed this one. That reminds me, I have to return it to Rob’s husband in January.
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo – Picked up Amy Schumer’s book at the library, and thought it was pretty insightful.
American Gods – Jen M. bought this for me at the Strand and I devoured it after watching the TV show (which is very different in a lot of ways). Then I bought another 5 Neil Gaiman books…
One More Thing – Finally finished B.J. Novak’s short stories that I had been reading before bed for awhile – very funny, very funny.
The Girls – Read this “summer” (ie quick, run read) book in Delaware – quite engrossing.
The Enchanter – Slowly reading all of Nabakov’s novels, this was the precursor to Lolita and it’s even more disturbing…
Career of Evil – J.K. Rowling’s 3rd book as Robert Gilbraith about Cormoran Strike, PI. I always enjoy her writing, and I still haven’t figured out the ending with 150 pages to go… (which is rare for me)
Other than that, I am very much looking forward to Hillary’s new book What Happened and will somehow find a way to get a signed copy since I’m incapable of waking up at 6am to get a wristband at Barnes & Noble. (Any volunteers?)
MOVIES (not to be confused with Mo Vies, which is what one of the Stooges does when he competes)
Summertime means easy living and lots of free movies outside. I only saw a few movies inside, and I’ve included what I just watched on the plane:
Wonder Woman – OMG, this is such a WONDERful movie! I am so glad I went opening weekend (I had a free movie on my rewards card). Definitely worth seeing.
Current War – I had a free preview to this movie that’s coming out this winter. It was okay, not great, but not bad.
The Beguiled – Wonderful movie with Nicole Kidman and Elle Fanning, etc, about a man in the Civil War who is healed by a pack of women.
The Last Word – I saw this movie on the plane. It has Shirley Maclaine in it, and I cannot say enough good things about it. I highly recommend this movie if you want a life affirming movie starring an 80-year-old icon. I wrote her a fan note after seeing it, and hope to have a new autographed picture for my wall soon.
Table 19 – I thought this would be way better than it is given the cast includes Anna Kendrick and Lisa Kudrow. I thought the idea of the movie was so good, but the execution was lacking and cliched.
TV (not to be confused with VT which is a state)
Summer is a great time to catch up on streaming shows. I’ll put those after regular TV in the list below:
The Strain – I just have to give another shout out to this vampire show, b/c it’s really fantastic, if gruesome.
The Guest Book – This is my new summer comedy. It’s by Greg Garcia who wrote My Name is Earl & Raising Hope – it’s absurdist and makes me chuckle!
Halt and Catch Fire – This is the best drama no one is watching (after The Americans) about the rise of the computer era. Catch it if you want a good drama!
Room 104 – This is a really bizarre show on HBO that is completely different every week (this week was a no-dialogue dance for 20 minutes) by the Duplass Brothers.
Game of Thrones – Of course, I had to give a shoutout to this season, though it was incredibly stressful to watch it before being spoiled…
American Gods – Loved this show on Starz. Bryan Fuller is the best for cinematography.
Killyjoys/Dark Matter – Shout out to my 2 SyFy summer shows, the latter of which just got canceled 🙁
The Sinner – This thrilled with Jessica Biel is really intriguing.
Handmaid’s Tale – As mentioned, Rebecca had HuluPlus, so I was able to catch up on The Mindy Project and also imbibe this wonderful adaptation of the novel where they open the world up and make it even crazier and creepier… This is my Emmy pick! (See more below.)
Atypical – Now onto, Netflix, I just loved this show! Go watch it! It’s only 8 half-hour episodes!
The Defenders – I skipped Luke Cage & Iron Fist, but greatly enjoyed this Marvel compilation…
Chewing Gum – This is a hilarious BBC show on Netflix, very dirty.
Catastrophe – Another BBC show, this is on Amazon Prime – very funny, includes Carrie Fischer’s last TV appearance.
Red Oaks – Another Amazon Prime show, quite adorably about Jews in the 80s…
Oh, before I finish this section, I thought I’d list my Emmy picks (not to be confused with predictions, as they aren’t the same):
Best Drama Stuff: The Handmaid’s Tale, Sterling K. Brown, Elisabeth Moss, Ron Cephas Jones, Chrissy Metz (I was going to say This is Us for everything before seeing The Handmaid’s Tale.)
Best Comedy Stuff: Silicon Valley, Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis-Ross, Alec Baldwin, Anna Chlumsky
Best Limited Series Stuff: Big Little Lies, Riz Ahmed, Nicole Kidman, Alexander Skarsgard, Jackie Hoffman (b/c I know her personally!)
Other than that, I support Full Frontal with Samantha Bee for all the Variety categories.
THEATRE (not to be confused with the atre, which isn’t a word)
Marvin’s Room – Wonderful production of this heart-warming play on Broadway.
Somebody’s Daughter – Really enjoyed this play off-Broadway.
The End of Longing – Matthew Perry attempts to write a play.
The Rivals – I love going around the park for NY’s Classical Theatre’s productions.
Napoli, Brooklyn – Off-Broadway play about a family in Brooklyn.
Hello, Dolly! – I LOVE DONNA MURPHY! She is RADIANT!
Assassins (City Center) – Not as good as the 2004 revival, but always nice to see Sondheim live.
The Traveling Lady – Revival of a Horton Foote classic.
Parallelogram – Loved this play at Second Stage off-Bway as it had time travel.
In and Of Itself – I think I watch too much of Penn & Teller’s show b/c I figured out how this guy did every single one of his magic tricks.
Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare in the Park) – This was possibly the best production I’ve ever seen at the Delacorte. So wonderfully done.
Van Gogh’s Ear – This was a combination of Van Gogh letters with French classical music and his art projected.
Prince of Broadway – So many fantastic moments in this Harold Prince tribute.
Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812 – I really enjoyed being at this show, and getting a quick backstage tour after from Celia. So sad it’s closing tomorrow!
Frozen (Pre-Broadway) – As I mentioned, I saw Frozen pre-Broadway. I think the show is in very good shape for an out-of-town tryout, and I’m happy to have seen it for a reasonable price.
While I’m here, just a quick reminder that The Band’s Visit is exquisite… is it? YES! Go see it when it opens on Broadway this October!
Wow, okay, that always ends up longer than I think it’s going to be. (That’s what she said?) Regardless, I hope you are ready for a productive fall, as well!
If you haven’t responded in awhile, shoot me a note to let me know what YOU are up to.