January | April | May
January 11th, 2018 — I Am Amsterdam In India
Well, yesterday I slept 12 hours, but today after 5, my body said “nope, no more”. I’m taking this jet-lag as a sign that I should get up and get this trip recap done so I can enjoy my weekend in Boston participating in my 21st MIT Mystery Hunt more. Before I start, a reminder that The Diamond as Big as the Ritz Studio Cast Recording is currently available for downloading and streaming on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and more! Go listen/purchase today!
Especially for this vacation, I highly recommend my 1,281 pictures which I posted and captioned on the Facebook yesterday. I will send highlights to those of you not on Facebook as a supplemental email.
SUNDAY, 12/31, TIME TO DEPART
As usual, I will be doing my trip chronologically. As I sent a ledger a few weeks ago at the end of last year, I won’t have my usual entertainment sections. The book I read on my trip was “The Twenty Seventh City” by Jonathan Franzen. I have read every other one of his novels, but his first. Sadly, his first is his worst (much like that popular children refrain). It was good in parts, but overall, not my favorite. Regardless, I’m glad to have checked it off. My OCD makes me do things like read the complete works of a person or add the 2 photos to the Facebook album that didn’t upload, and then spend 20 minutes getting them in the correct order, and doing a trip recap even though I am exhausted and trying to set everything up for the spring showcases.
Anyway, since flights were way cheaper on New Years Eve, I decided to make that the start of my trip. Unfortunately, I had to flight out of Newark, which is not the most fun to get to. Usually I would take the cheaper route of the PATH train to the Newark local bus, but given the holiday, I didn’t trust buses. So, I went to Penn Station and got a $13 trip. Sadly, the conductor took my ticket, even though I needed the bar code for the Newark Airport Air Train. This means I had to spend an unexpected $5.50 to get on the train. Very upsetting, I know! And I only had $20’s b/c I brought exact change for the NJ Transit machine, and rather than get 18 $1 coins back, I used my credit card. Ew, I know. Whatever.
I zoomed through security, had 2 hours to kill at the airport, and then boarded the plane. The first flight was uneventful. I sat next to a really nice woman who works for an animal shelter, so we had some nice conversation. The movies I watched on the plane were all very good: Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Spiderman: Homecoming and Goodbye Christopher Robin, which was about A.A. Milne and his son. I highly recommend all 3.
MONDAY, 1/1, 24 HOURS IN AMSTERDAM
When we landed, it was already the 1st, 1AM in NYC, 7AM in Amsterdam. Actually we got in early at 6:45, so I was able to get through customs, go to an ATM, and get to my hotel shuttle for the 7:20 instead of the planned 8. I dropped my bags at the hotel, got directions into the city on my way earlier than anticipated. Unfortunately, the train machine would not accept my credit card (American cards seldom work in Europe, I find) and only took coins, not bills. So, I had to walk back to my hotel to get change. I lost about 20 minutes, but I was running earlier than I had expected, so it was okay. The train was pretty straightforward, but when I got out I was confused what to take. The hotel guy mentioned 2/5, but I thought that meant train track. However, he meant take Tram 2 or 5, not train. I’m not sure if he said it wrong or I just heard it wrong from his accent. Regardless, I asked someone at the Metro what to do, and she said Tram not subway. The 2 Tram wasn’t actually running for some reason, but I waited 15 minutes for the 5 while I took pictures of where I was.
I’m happy to have taken a Tram ride. It was a charming town to be driven through and helped me get my bearings. Also, that machine didn’t even take coins, but thankfully the conductor took cash. It was 3 euros for the tram (it had been 11 for the roundtrip train).
Amsterdam is a lovely city. There are pretty canals everywhere and looks of bridges. It was chilly and a bit windy, especially early in the day, but certainly not as cold as NYC was that week. I got off at the Rijksmuseum stop, and instantly saw the “I Amsterdam” sign which I think you’re supposed to read I Am Amsterdam since the Am is in different letters from the Sterdam… I didn’t realize how popular it was because that early in the day (9:15) it was fairly deserted. I was able to get a picture with the full sign! (When I left the museum, it was so mobbed, you couldn’t get any pictures at all without other people in it.)
The Rijksmuseum was fairly empty at 9:15, but by 11 got pretty full. It was a really lovely museum filled with wonderful art, and it took me almost 2.5 hours to finish. Though, I did take a tea break. I was lucky that at 11 a little cafe opened up, and the woman was nice enough to give me hot water for free, which I put in a teabag I brought from home. Having tea around 11 was enough to get me through bedtime.
Anyway, the Rijksmuseum gave me a map, and I saw everything, but made sure to take pictures of all the highlighted stuff. In addition, as usual, I took pictures of anything with a cat, cow, piano or chess (and even a backgammon set). There was a bit of confusion at this museum because a lot of the stairs are on either sides of the main hall. The floors don’t connect to each other completely, so I had to constantly go to the second floor to hit everything. Also, when I thought I was done, I found a whole section in the Philips Wing including the Asian Pavilion.
One of the staff told me I should hit the 2nd floor first, so I did that. There was a large set of rooms called the Gallery of Honour and that is where the most popular stuff was. I’m glad I hit it first because it was much more crowded even a half hour after I was there. There I saw some Vermeer paintings (Little Street & The Milkmaid) and Rembrandt’s “The Jewish Bride” and the very large, very famous “Night Watch”. On the first floor, there were 3 Van Gogh, who I think is probably my favorite painter now (sorry George Seurat).
Speaking of Van Gogh, his museum was my next stop. The Van Gogh Museum is incredibly popular, and I had to get my tickets weeks in advance. This allowed me to skip the huge stand-by queue, though! Before my time to go in (1pm), I got an “I Amsterdam” magnet for 4 Euro. And then I saw a whole bunch of cute magnets for 2 Euro right next to the official store I was at. Oops! Thankfully, I never saw the same magnet I got, so I think it was exclusive at least. I also grabbed some quick lunch at a food cart – just a cheeseburger, but it was yummy.
The Van Gogh museum was EPIC. Unfortunately (or fortunately because I could actually enjoy it since I probably would’ve taken a picture of everything), they don’t allow photos. However, so many people were taking them anyway, that I took one myself. Just one. But of the sunflower painting, which is the most renowned. Every single person was doing it, so I jumped off the bridge and did it, too. The museum had 4 floors, all filled with Van Gogh. There were also paintings of people who inspired him or he tried to emulate, as well as a room of people he inspired. The first floor was all his self-portraits, and then it was mostly chronological, getting into his later stuff on the top floors. Van Gogh’s style changed vastly over the years, as he was very influenced by other people. There was Seurat and a Monet, and then you could see his paintings that were in those styles. Van Gogh was very prolific, and painted almost nonstop, which is why there is so much work even though he committed suicide so young.
In particular, he painted a lot of flowers (sunflowers, irises) and orchards, which were quite vibrant, but also chairs and he went through a peasant phase (“The Potato Eaters”). He did a bat or a “Flying Fox”. Also, portraits, views of where he was (The Yellow House artist colony he set up, Paris, the gardens of his asylum) and lots of water and seascapes.
Also, the museum had some iPads with lessons on how Van Gogh painted using gridlines for perspective or painting over old works. The museum also has 820 letters he wrote his brother in their collection. All of his art was left to his sister-in-law after his brother died, and then his nephew sold it all to the city of Amsterdam.
No one knows why Van Gogh cut off his ear besides the fact he was mentally ill, but apparently he had a fight with Gaugin around then. He did a portrait of Gaugin’s chair at some point, so I guess they made up?
Van Gogh’s paintings are dynamic, vivid, vivacious, the emotions drip off the canvas, and I was just in awe of his brilliance being there. You can get lost completely glaring at his work. It was definitely a highlight of my trip to spend a few hours with it.
After that, I took my time walking over to the Anne Frank House. Amsterdam is a lovely, beautiful city to walk through. I even passed through the Hirsch passage on my way. I had also gotten my Anne Frank tickets way in advance; they were very strict about time, so I couldn’t get on line till 5 minutes before my assigned time (4pm). Again, there were no pictures allowed, which was good so I could really experience it. I did take a picture of the outside and of her statue in the plaza on the side of the building. There was an audio guide that you listened to on your way up and down from the annex where Anne and her family lived, but in the actual residence area, you just experienced it.
I read Anne Frank’s Diary in seventh grade, and the work has always stayed with me, so I was glad to finally pay my respects to her. Going up to the resident, there was a lot of documents on their life before the word, including a postcard sent to Anne’s aunt saying they were all going to be fine signed by all of the family. The stairs were incredibly steep, and the rooms were very small. I cannot imagine being trapped there for long. Although the attic where she went so often was closed, you can still feel her spirit in her room.
Coming down, there were original copies of some diary pages on display. Apparently, they had announced on the radio they wanted people to keep journals for publishing after the war, and she started to rewrite the diary and self-edit, so there were copies of that version, as well. And it makes it clear she would have been happy to know her diary was published. There were also copies of all the death cards of the occupants, since the Germans kept such good records, which were chilling to see.
Before the exit, there was a large movie projected where famous people such as Natalie Portman, Whoopi Goldberg, Nelson Mandela, John Green, etc, discussed Anne’s legacy.
Afterwards, I walked through Dam Square, which is basically Times Square, and made my way to the Red Light District. Before I got there, I stopped off for a waffle with chocolate and fruit (healthy, right?) because it looked too good not to eat. I also had a slice of pizza. Thankfully, my navigation skills are top-notch, and although I wasn’t quite sure where I was, I asked the guy at the cafe, and he was like make the next left. So, I was pretty good at steering myself.
The Red Light District had, you guessed it, red lights. I did see a few actual prostitutes in windows, but I was actually there for the Museum of Prostitution because it got great reviews. I came out of it with a little booklet that actually has everything that was on the walls, so anyone who is interested, come over and read it!
The museum itself was quaint and a little underwhelming. They had an audio tour included, and a woman named Inga told us stories of her life. There were many facts about legal prostitution on the walls. And there were displays of things like beds and an S&M room, where you could strap yourself up. Unfortunately, I didn’t have anyone to take my picture in the room, so I didn’t bother, though I did lock myself in the jail for a bit and take a selfie there. They had a test at the end, and I only got 7/12 which means I was pretty tired at that point. On the way out, you could write your dirty secrets anonymously, and there was a wall of the craziest stories ever! Since my life is pretty much an open book, I couldn’t think of any secrets, but I was happy to take pictures of some of the other people’s.
I walked back to the train station in the rain (glad I packed my umbrella), which was quite close. I literally walked back on the path the Tram had taken me to the Museum row, with a few detours. I missed a train by 2 seconds since I lingered to take photos (I didn’t actually know the times of the train), so I had to wait 20 minutes. I got back to my hotel, fell asleep very quickly around 8:30PM and got up at 5AM the next day. (Sleeping 3:30PM-11PM in NYC time after staying up all night.)
TUESDAY, 1/2, TRAVEL DAY
The first hotel shuttle to the airport was at 5:40, so even though my flight was at 7, I took that. They had free breakfast at my hotel, which wasn’t completely set up, but the kind woman gave me a bag and I filled it with bread stuff (croissants, muffins) after eating a bowl of fruit salad. The airport was far more crowded on the 2nd than the 1st (wonder why #sarcasm), so I really was pushing it. And it was a large airport, so I ran like the wind to get to the security (thankfully had the boarding pass on my phone) and then to the terminal. Amsterdam has a very high level of security, and I guess since my umbrella was still a little wet, I got stopped for a bit. Thankfully, I still got to the gate just as boarding commenced. I don’t like Lufthansa airlines very much. The seats were incredibly cramped. The guy next to me was coughing a lot, and I was really uncomfortable. I was on that flight to Munich for an hour, then had a 4 hour layover at Munich Airport, which was quite nice. I found a comfortable chair and caught up on crosswords. I then took my flight to India, and watched Girls Trip (mildly funny), Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (I really liked it, though the leads had no chemistry; also, I fell asleep for a bit, so I ended up rewatching parts of it), and Despicable Me 3 (cute).
Arriving at India I was greeted by the worst air I have ever breathed. It was thick, smoky and foggy. I accidentally drank from the water fountain without thinking, and thought I was going to die, but thankfully didn’t. (I mean, the airport should probably have filtered water since so many International people go through it daily). I had a snafu at the ATM when I tried to take out 100,000 rupees instead of 10,000 (math error was my fault), but then realized my error. It’s fortunate it didn’t let me take out so much! Oops! I got into a cab to take me to Unnati’s mother’s and then went straight to sleep.
I’m going to take a break from my chronology to just talk about India. When deciding where to go for the first week of the year, when I know everything is dead in NYC, I just wanted to go someplace warm with free housing. My friend, Unnati, who I had met randomly in NYC when she was visiting from India and then became close to had been trying to get me to visit for awhile. I decided it was the right time, especially after she suggested I do a city on the way like Amsterdam. My high school friend, Huy, had just been to Amsterdam, and after looking at his pictures and hearing about the Van Gogh Museum (and already having had the Anne Frank House on my list of things to visit for years), I was like I’m totally doing that. I was able to find a $1200 flight ticket that did 24 hours there on the way, and then my mind was set.
I actually stayed at Unnati’s mother’s house because it had more guest rooms. I want to publicly thank both Unnati and her mom and their entire family and staff for hosting me, while I’m talking about them. It was super nice, and I am so appreciative to have gotten to explore a whole new culture thanks to them.
Speaking of the house, since it is usually really hot out, all the houses in India are designed to be cool inside. So in the few months of winter, it is actually colder inside than outside. There is no central heating, but there are heaters in each room, so I was warm in my own room. Also, every toilet in India has a little shower spout next to it. I’m not sure if that is to clear yourself or the toilet? Oh, also, there are water heaters, so you have to actually turn it on, wait for the water to heat, and then shower. If you forget to turn it on, the water will be very cold.
Unnati’s mom has a staff of five, and Unnati has a staff of three. The first thing I had to get used to was this class system. While here, I’d find it completely weird to have people living in my abode ready to do whatever I need them to, in India it’s perfectly normal. Also, they have a driver for everywhere they go. Originally, I thought I’d just take public transportation places or at least walk part of the way from thing to thing. That proved impossible. Walking in India is not fun, and crossing the street is downright scary. I would’ve loved to drive myself, but the driving was also insane. There were barely any street signs, and there was a need for constant u-turning. Also, I have never seen so much chaotic traffic anywhere. Cars were coming from left and right everywhere we went, swerving at top speeds as if on a video game. It is a miracle I wasn’t in an accident! On the way from the airport, my driver went through multiple red lights. And not only were there cars crammed into a lane, there were little cab cars and motorbikes and regular bikes and people and horse-drawn carriage and cows all sharing the same roadway.
Speaking of cows, while driving around the cities and then the highways, there were also monkeys, dogs, pigs, donkeys, goats and even camels just lining the streets, sometimes walking in it or crossing it. A monkey even jumped on the car in front of us to cross the road in Jaipur.
Going back to general India thoughts, chaotic is a really good word for it. Cramped is another good word. Everything was so crowded, there were people everywhere. In fact, it was exactly like the movies, Lion and Slumdog Millionaire make it out to be. Every queue I was on, the person behind me would be up my ass. It was very uncomfortable. Also uncomfortable was the amount of poverty everywhere. There were beggars everywhere you looked and there were lots of huts and shanties where the lived, and when we were stopped at major intersections, kids would try to sell you things. Some girls were doing somersaults and trying to make money that way. Apparently, they are probably a part of some ring of kids, like in Oliver, where they have to make quotas to be fed. Very disturbing, very depressing, oh and while we’re doing d’s: very dirty and dusty. So much sand everywhere. Oh, and there were guys peeing everywhere; it was urinocial chaos!
In fact, I was racially targeted everywhere I went because they assume white people have money. And compared to most of India, I do. So next time you are feeling poor, remember in the grand scheme of things, you are not.
So, yes, that was hard. Also, breathing was hard, as I mentioned, though I got more used to the air as the week went on, and it was definitely worst in the airport. I also couldn’t drink water anywhere but Unnati’s mother’s house, so I just refilled my bottles there, and then kept getting water bottles: 20 rupees or 30 cents for a huge bottle. Speaking of money, everything was ridiculously cheap. So, I guess that was a perk.
Food-wise, I had one Indian meal for lunch, and even though it was mild, I did not handle it particularly well. So, after that I stuck with the mildest of mild.
I am happy to say unlike most people who visit India, I did not get sick at all.
WEDNESDAY, 1/3, JET LAG DAY IN DELHI
I had figured I would be tired, and I would sleep in as long as possible on Wednesday. Unfortunately, like today, my body was too confused and I woke up after 6 hours. I went to Unnati’s (about 5 minutes from her mother’s) for breakfast with her and her cousins. Unnati had a cousin and her 2 sons in town, which worked out really nice timing wise. Since I had thought I would sleep, there wasn’t really anything on my agenda, so I went with her cousin and her mom shopping. I got $30 of souvenirs because everything was super cheap, including a new green sleep mask with eyes as its design for $6. I got a little cat case to put rubberbands in, and a coaster, and little musician statues. So I felt good having all my souvenirs found early. We went to a mall called Santushi, and we had to go through security detectors multiple times in the complex complex. That’s another thing – metal detectors everywhere, and then they would grope you really intensely while they were patting you down. We went to a grocery store where every American import was very expensive (peanut butter $8, Oreos $10, cereal $12) while spices (anardana, dalchi?) and other things I’ve never seen before (seeds called pulses?) were very cheap. We had Mexican for dinner at Unnati’s, which was very edible for me. I also had to sing for my supper a bit, but it’s nice to have an attentive, appreciative audience.
THURDSAY, 1/4, AGRA
Since Unnati’s cousins were in town, the good news is we were able to take her driver, and the 5 of us were driven to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. Getting to Agra was indeed agra-vating. We left at 7:30am, but really didn’t leave till 8. The road was so foggy that it was worse than anything I’ve ever seen before, even in London when there’s a foggy day (in London town). And so many people were on the road that it was a little scary. We had our double blinker lights on the whole way. Also, in India, it is customary to beep to say “I’m here” especially when it’s foggy, so it was incredibly noisy. And the roads are so bumpy that between that and the noise, it’s impossible to nap (at least for me). When we stopped for gas, the car would not start up after, and we had to push it to the side. However, after a few minutes, it worked normally again, which was quite a relief. The trip up took 5 hours, which was more than the 3 hour distance.
The Taj Mahal was worth the whole journey. It is a wonder of the world for a reason! Wow. Just wow. When we got there, I ended up getting postcards, and I learned a lesson. Always give exact change to street peddlers. Instead of giving me change, he kept trying to up-sell me with other things. Thankfully, I did get my change, but I always tried to have small bills for things after that. The ATMs gave out 2000 rupee bills, but I had trouble getting change for 500 ones often.
We ended up getting a guide, which I could’ve done without, but when you’re with a group, you have to make sacrifices. The guide did get us through the queue very quickly, at least. And he took wonderful pictures for me, and that was worth having him. Those pictures are on my Instagram and Facebook (instagram/sethbhdotcom should be viewable for those without an account?), and they were another trip highlight.
When going through security, the broke my pencil tip. I guess that could’ve been used as a weapon?
Anyway, Taj Mahal stands for beauty crown palace, and beautiful it was. It took 200,000 men to build from 1631-1638. All the stone art in the white marble was done by hand. The building is symmetrical from any angle, and the tomb is in the exact center. We had to wear shoe covers on our feet (better than leaving our shoes to get stolen), and while we couldn’t take pictures inside, I took an awful lot outside. Just breathtaking.
Afterwards, this little boy harangued me till I bought 3 magnets form him for 100 rupee ($1.50), but since I had exact change, I gave in to have some magnets to give to people. Before that I actually bought a fancy handmade magnet etched into white marble for 550 ruble ($8.46) because it’s so pretty. And now it’s on my fridge to remind myself of that wonderful day!
On the way home, we stopped for lunch at an Indian restaurant (or I guess just restaurant), and even though we specified mild food, it was too spicy for me. Eating it, I was fine, but on the way home, I was not. Unfortunately due to traffic, the fog, and getting lost for awhile, it took 6 hours to get home. Let’s just say, it was fortunate that people reliving themselves on the side of the road was so prevalent in India.
FRIDAY, 1/5, DELHI SIGHT SEEING DAY ONE
Alright, so originally I was going to do a bus tour, but when I looked at the itinerary, there were things I wanted to do that weren’t on the list and things on the list I didn’t want to do. Also, the bus comes every 40 minutes, so there would be all this wasted time getting off somewhere and waiting for the bus if it took less than 40 minutes, or if it took an hour, waiting 40 minutes. So, Unnati suggested I just get a private driver for the day. I was really weirded out by this concept, because it makes me feel like a 1%-er. However, it was only $40 for the day, so I figured it would be worth it. And it was! My driver, Bunty, was super nice, and took me everywhere I wanted. And then he just waited for me to come out! He was professional and punctual, and I’m really glad I broke down and got the car, even if for some reason, there weren’t any seatbelts in the back seat.
The first stop for the day was the must-see Red Fort. The architecture was just amazing. Even though I read the signs, I didn’t retain that much. So I assume it was home to someone important. I spent two hours exploring the fort and going to 4 tiny museums. I think you really have to see the pictures to gauge what it was like to be there. And it was a beautiful day in the low 70s. The only sad thing was the WiFi, while free, required a text confirmation to your phone. And since my phone doesn’t have service abroad, I couldn’t receive it. Though, I think it’s nice being off the grid all day when you’re away. Also, the toilets were pay at all the Delhi monuments, which caused me to sing “Privilege to Pee” often. I did spend 3 rupees (5 cents) to use a urinal by the end of the day, just because I wasn’t going to be one of those street pee-ers!
I saw dogs everywhere in these monuments, by the way. So many stray dogs, but not a single cat the entire time! Also, while I was there, I took my first selfie with some Indians who were really excited to meet a white person. I felt like a celebrity!
Afterwards, we drove to Jama Masjid, a huge Muslim temple. It was so mobbed, and there was no parking, so I just took pictures of the outside as we drove by. Next, we went to Birla Mandir, a Hindu Temple, which was also very nice outside. Inside, it had a beautiful gold and crystal Buddha, marble floors and some statue elephants. I left my shoes in the car, but they made me put my phone and camera in a locker, even though I was just going to bring it back to the car. And then the guy asked for a tip for doing this simple task. This is when I learned that I should not let anyone do anything for me because they were going to ask for a tip. This was another recurring theme. While I don’t mind paying people for services, I do mind when I don’t know that I’m going to have to, on principle. Even though I got really irritated by the amount of people who would try to do things for me assuming as a white person I would give them money, I tipped most of them anyway. At least this guy he gave me a Hindu guy, so I have a souvenir and if I cared could learn more about its philosophy!
Continuing our temple tour, we went to Gurudawra Bangla Sahib, which was another Muslim temple. My driver stayed by my shoes, and I went into the large temple complex. (Incidentally, since all the temples required you to go shoeless, all my socks got really dirty very fast, so it’s good I brought some extra pairs since Niki always gets annoyed when I reuse socks on vacations, I’ve gotten into that habit.) They put a little bandana thing on my head, but at least I was able to take pictures inside, so I could selfie it. Again it was a very ornate temple with lots of gold and marble around.
Also on the way, we stopped by the India Gate, which I took a bunch of pictures with.
Next stop for the day was Humayun’s Tomb, which was actually a bunch of tombs. It was quite idyllic there with lovely gardens. There were a lot of steep steps, so I felt like I was getting exercise. The tombs were set up in really wonderful memorials. This guy who was on staff started taking me around and telling me about the tomb. Naively, I thought that was just part of his job, but afterwards, of course, he asked for a tip. I was so mad at him because I don’t like guides and tours, especially when they speak fractured English! It takes too much energy to translate what they are saying, first off, and second off, I can read. I don’t need audio tours or guides because I am capable of reading. I also process things better visually rather than aurally. After I tipped this guy, I started avoiding anyone who wanted to talk to me, and waiving them off saying I didn’t have any cash left.
After that, we went to Qutab Minar, which was definitely my favorite thing in Delhi. Oh, so all of these monuments were really cheap. Even the Taj Mahal was only $15. But there was a separate price for foreigners (more expensive, but cheap for us) and usually a separate line, sometimes through security. The line is way shorter, which I guess is because we are spending more money.
Qutab Minar is a muse-see. Again, I don’t really think any description could do it wonders. There was a tall iron pillar and lots of architectural relics. Just gorgeous and so serene. And there were really cute green birds.
Anyway, the final stop for the day was to go see the musical, Zangoora. On the way, we hit what my driver called “Peak Hour” and it was wall to wall cars for awhile; it was the worst traffic I’ve ever seen. We drove past the Cyber City, which I think is basically Silicon Valley. And we headed towards The Kingdom of Dreams, which was the gorgeous theatre complex.
My show ticket was about $30, but I ended up having to spend another few to get an English translator. Unfortunately, the dialogue is live on stage but the translation is pre-recorded. It often didn’t line up (I think English takes fewer words to say something than Hindi?), plus some of the dialogue had obviously been changed. However, it was good to understand what was happening. Though, the show is about an orphaned prince, and I think you can figure out the entire plot just from those two words. Go ahead, I dare you to try!
The show itself was not like Broadway musicals because when the songs started, everyone lip-synced. So, no live orchestra, no live singing. However, the dancing was superb, and there were some Circ de Soliel elements with some flying, magic and a giant projection screen.
Anyway, the audience was so rude. A lot of people came late, including the people in front of me and next to me, and I might have given them an evil glare.
Also, you could bring food in, and they did. I also got some tomato soup to eat for dinner, but I finished before the show. At least the theatre had free bathrooms and ample seat room, especially compared to a Broadway theatre. Another difference was there was no program. After the show, the screens had credits like a movie, and they announced the cast before each act. After the show, there was so much traffic, but I eventually got home and went almost straight to sleep.
SATURDAY, 1/6, DELHI SIGHT SEEING DAY TWO
Saturday, my driver picked me up at 9:30, and the first stop was the President’s House. On the way, we drove down Shanti Path or Embassy Lane. I got out for a bit around the President’s House and Parliament and took some pictures, but there was low visibility because of early morning fog.
The next stop was the Gandhi Museum, which was free until this guy forced himself on me as a guide for the multimedia part. However, since it had been free and he showed me the entire thing, I tipped him. Before that part, I took a selfie with the Gandhi statue, read a bunch about him, saw his actual glasses. By the way, in case you didn’t know Gandhi was assassinated. There was a memorial where he was shot in the back of the garden. There were cute dioramas and facts and quotes about him all around. He was in jails in South Africa and India. He lead a salt rebellion. If you want to know more, wikipedia him! 😉
Next stop was the Train Railway Museum. I took a lot of train pictures for those of you who are into trains. There were 79 trains from around the world, and I took a joyous train ride around them all. Then, there was an inside museum with train parts and they had a huge miniature train model of Dehli upstairs, which was really cool.
After that it was time for the National Museum, which took me about 90 minutes to peruse 3 floors. There were some great sculptures from the BCE (before common era), and a lot of elephantal art (art featuring elephants). Also, there was a room of antique musical instruments, and those of you who remember my Berlin trip, know I took pictures of pretty much every single one.
Finally for Saturday I went to Akshardham Temple, which is basically India’s Disney World if instead of cartoons, it was about a Buddhist guy. They don’t allow cameras or phones, so I left that stuff in the car, which made me feel really naked. I didn’t think it was going to take 3-4 hours like Unnati said, but it did. First off, I walked around the Bharat Upvan (Garden of India), then I went to the Temple itself, which was really gorgeous, as usual. Next, I went to go to the exhibits, which included one of those walk from room to room thing as there are live displays that take you on a journey things. I had to wait a half hour b/c they needed enough people to do an English group. After that, we went to the boat ride, which was like It’s a Small World except it was all about India and its impact on the world (like inventing chess and some psychics). After that there was an iMax movie about the teenage-yogi Neelkanth Varni (Bhagwan Swaminarayan). It was filmed in 108 locations in India featuring 45,000 people (according to this booklet I have), and was pretty well done, even if I have never heard of this guy it was about. Finally, there was a water sound and light show that was wonderful with spouting fountains and multi-colored lasers, even if I couldn’t understand anything they were saying.
I’ve never seen people exit things so fast; the entire throng just moved like the wind to get out of there. I guess people in India are really used to being in massive crowds. Anyway, I went to Unnati’s for my final dinner in Delhi and prepared for my next few days to Jaipur.
SUNDAY, 1/7, JAIPUR, DAY ONE
We left at 8am on Sunday to drive to Jaipur. My driver offered to do the two day trip for 10,000 rupees, which is $154. That seemed pretty reasonable given it also doubled as transportation back to the airport (which was 1,000 from the airport to Unnati’s mother’s anyway). The highway to Jaipur was so much better than the one to Agra. In fact, it was almost like an American highway with a lot of animals on the sides. On the way, my driver stopped to pay his taxes in a little window in a non-descript building, which I found very odd.
The first stop was the Amber Fort. We didn’t hit much traffic till we were on the queue to get into the parking lot. I have never seen so many cars jammed into a tiny lot in my life! I walked up to the gate, and all these people kept saying: “Make sir, good price” but I kept saying no. I had issues finding where tickets were and the entrance was because it was so mobbed with people all the signs were hidden from view.
Anyway, the Amber Fort (also know as Amer Fort) was amber. It was also really huge and quite amazing. I think you should go look at my photos. This gigantic palace had so many rooms, and they really let you walk pretty much anywhere. It was almost like a maze (or a-maze-ing). Again, this guide attached himself to me, and I tried to get rid of him, but eventually he got the fact I did not “have any cash”. I walked around for a few hours exploring everything. The King apparently had 12 wives, so there were 12 wife rooms. I saw a goat and a bunch of stray dogs walking around. I walked through a tunnel up the whole hill to get a great view of Jaipur.
After that wonderful experience, my driver took me to a garden that a lot of people get couple photos at, so much so that they charge for all wedding/engagement photos. And then we took pictures of Kanak Ghati and Jal Mahal outside. Jal Mahal is a beautiful palace in the lake. And my final stop that night was the village Chokhi Dhani!
Chokhi Dhani is such a fun place. You to pay for a buffet dinner, but then most other things there are very cheap. (The dinner was only $11, too.) Food wise, I really didn’t want to get sick on my final few days in India, so even though the server kept trying to get me everything, I kept saying JUST RICE and NAAN. I took a few sweet things, but couldn’t really stomach them, even though only the spicy stuff would give me actual trouble. (Unnati said the food there was too spicy even for her, and also Bunty mentioned it, so I really knew to stay away from everything.) I ate a lot of rice and naan. A lot.
Besides the food, there were all sorts of things to do like skee ball, and there was a whole section on different religions in India, and also there were lots of shows. There was a magician that was pretty good. He produced a bird out of basket, and then made it 3. That’s pretty impressive. He did some coin tricks, too, which I’ve seen on Penn & Teller’s show before, but the bird trick was very impressive. And there were some Indian dancers and a fire breather. And I got henna on my hand, but I needed the hand, so I ended up washing it off pretty quickly after taking a picture. Oh, I also got a red dot on my forehead, but that woman forced me into tipping her for that quick blessing. Also, I got a quickie really tough massage. I got serenaded by a flute player who then forced me to tip him, too. I bought two hand-made puppets for $2.50 from their craft area. I went through an easy maze pretty quickly. And I rode an elephant, then a camel. I RODE AN ELEPHANT AND CAMEL!!! Though, I spent too much of my time on them trying to get a decent selfie (which didn’t happen). But man, that was SO COOL, though going up and down on the camel was a little scary.
Additionally, I had my palm read and got my numerology done for really cheap. There was also bird astrology, which consisted of a bird coming out of its box and choosing an envelope for you, but that one somehow seemed less scientific, so I didn’t do it. The palmist said that my 30s were very good for success and love. Apparently, I’m going to have a really crappy thing happen around 43 or 44, but after 45 my life will be joyous. I will easily live to my 90s given my huge lifeline, and by the end of my life, I will be incredibly wealthy. He said I will never have any money problems, but didn’t realize it’s b/c I’m so good at saving it. He did say something about me having more success if I moved to another city, though.
The numerologist said that I clearly don’t like to do things the way others do. And he says I don’t give out free advice (true) and that I don’t get up early, but if I did, I would have more success. I also splurged for the printout because that way I wouldn’t have to remember things. According to that, I have problems spending too much money, so I know it’s not 100% accurate. Other highlights: Good results for Kids’ happiness (does it mean cat’s?), Fame and Profession. I suffer from: “Mental unrest, hurdles in gain of wealth… different fears and worries persist… success in work is delayed.” That’s true, but this gives me hope: “However, the native also gets a miraculous time in life. After delays, native may achieve success and wealth.” And by “may” I assume it means “will definitely and finally”. Apparently green IS my favorable color, and my lucky number is actually 2. Finally, the worst day of the week for me is Tuesday, when I do my showcases: “Be extra cautious on Tuesday, which may bring you worries and financial losses.” Uh, oh!
So, apparently, combining those, I should move to LA and get up earlier. Sadly, neither is going to happen. Regardless, it seems both are saying that I will eventually get the success I deserve. I just don’t know if I can make it till 45 at this rate!
Anyway, after a few hours at Chokhi Dhani, I left and we drove to my home for the night. The hostel called the Wanderer’s Nest I stayed at was only $16 for the night and part of that money went to their school. It was definitely a hostel, and I had to take a really crappy shower in one of those showers that’s just a shower head and a drain. But the WiFi worked, and that was enough for me.
MONDAY, 1/8, JAIPUR, DAY TWO
The final day of the trip, my driver picked me up at 9. Our first stop was driving passed Hawa Mahal and taking some pictures of it. Next I went to Jantar Mantar and for the first time all trip, I saw a lot of other white people. Jantar Mantar means calculation of things. There were all these fascinating, large tools for calculating various astrological things. I pretty much took pictures of everything. There was a giant sun clock that was accurate to 20 seconds, as well as calculators of planetary distance, and a zodiac circle of 12 instruments used for measuring the celestial longitude and latitude. I took pictures of all the signs explaining things, if anyone is interested.
Next I crossed the street (scary, scary) to City Palace. Oh, I must give a shoutout to my non-expired NYU ID – even though some of the people looked at me like I was way too old to be a student, I got the student rate for everything in Jaipur. City Palace had a bunch of little museum exhibits in a really beautiful palace including costumes, paintings and an armory. I also paid a tip of 10 rupees to get a picture with the guards. Actually, as usual, they forced me to do it, but I was okay with it because it’s a cool picture. There was also a nice hall there where they have weddings. I enjoyed being there a lot, as it was another beautiful day, and I sat in the courtyard for a bit on a whim. It’s a good thing I did b/c I got two pictures out of it: this guy had the longest mustache I’ve ever seen, and then this boy from Dubai had my sunglasses (that’s what I get for getting the kid ones with neon green for 99 cents on eBay), so we took a picture together.
After that I went to the Doll Museum, which was less than a dollar for a few rooms filled with dolls from all over the world. I was literally the only person there; the guy turned on the lights for me. It was restored in 2014 after going into disarray and disrepair, but it was apparently very popular before that in the 70s/80s. I hope it becomes popular again because it was really nice, and the money goes to the school for the deaf where it is found.
My final museum of the trip was the Albert Hall Museum. It wasn’t my favorite, but I had the time, so I figured I should go. There were a few musical instruments and chess sets, at least! After I got through the museum fairly quickly, I sat in its garden reflecting on my trip and watching a crow eat some naan (which you can see in my soon to be Pulitzer Prize winning photo: “Crow eating naan”).
The final stop of the trip was to Jaipur’s Birla Mandir, which was yet another nice Hindu temple where I had to take off my shoes and couldn’t take pictures inside.
On the way to the airport, we stopped off at the Hotel Highway King, which is a 24 hour restaurant on the highway. Oh, before that, we stopped for gas, and I saw them put car into a hole under the hood (wha?) instead of the side of the car. At the restaurant, I had cheese pizza, which was actually really good with the little spices they had. And I had exactly 40 rupee left, and as usual, I spent my last currency on ice cream. I managed to find WiFi at the place, but I think it was someone’s phone’s hotspot (it actually said “Mi Phone”). I mentioned that to my driver, and he said he also had that on his phone. The first day he had said to me I could use his phone for internet. I thought he meant that I could take his phone and use it (which I would never do b/c it wasn’t an iPhone). But he meant he had a hotspot! Stupid language barrier!!! I could’ve had WiFi any time I was in the car!!!
However, I did finish my book on the plane, and that wouldn’t have happened if I had WiFi the whole ride. Anyway, I took advantage of his WiFi to catch up on crosswords and news, etc, for the last few hours drive to the airport. As there are no speed limits on the highway, we were zooming. He even tailed an ambulance for awhile to take advantage of its path that opened between trucks. Once there, I gave him his 10,000 rupee with an extra 1,000 tip and a thank you card (from my grandfather’s card stash). His eyes lit up when he saw his tip, so I think that was money well spent. (To recap: when I hire someone for a service, I always tipp very well. Also, FYI, I left a tip for all of Unnati’s mother’s staff.)
Getting through Delhi Airport customs and security was horrifying. I was actually there 4 hours early, which is good because it took a full hour to get through, and if I had pushed it like I pushed that Amsterdam day, it would’ve been horrible. I waited at the airport without Wifi, without plug chargers, without water to drink (since I was out of $$ and couldn’t have brought any water in), without breathable air (really horrible at the airport), but at least they had the radio on.
I flew home on Swiss Airlines. It was a 2am flight, and I had woken up at 9am. I was so tired I managed to sleep for a few hours, but I woke up in major pain b/c the seats were so cramped! I had neck pain and legs pain. Eventually I realized I could get more leg room if I moved my bag out from under the seat, and I got another few hours of sleep. Once they start making noise and putting the lights on, I was woken up, though. Swiss has really good food, at least. I managed to watch a movie for the last few hours of the trip: Patti Cake$. It was cute, but I was hoping it would be funnier.
TUESDAY, 1/9, A VERY LONG COMMUTE HOME
I got to Zurich Airport at 6am local time. Zurich Airport was incredibly clean and nice. The air smelled amazing, and the water was delicious and pure. And for those of you without phones who can’t get a text to confirm the WiFi password, there are kiosks that print a code when you scan your boarding pass. I sat by the terminal chatting with people (it was only 1am at home when it was 7am so plenty were still up) until they made us go back upstairs to pass through yet another passport check.
I managed to sleep another 4-5 hours on the second flight, falling asleep during the slow movie Maudie – Ethan Hawke and Sally Watkins were very good, but it was slow. When I woke up, I watched the rest of it. Then I watched this adorably funny movie Brigsby Bear, and I highly recommend it to everyone! Again, Swiss has good food, and I also got a Swiss pen when they had us fill out custom forms that we didn’t really need b/c they have kiosks at JKF now. By some miracle, I got through customs in JFK in 3 minutes with their new system, and somehow pushed myself awake till 2am when I collapsed and slept for 12 hours only waking up when Smee tried to get me up around 10 (I had to put him in the bathroom so I could sleep late).
Speaking of Smee, he was very aloof my first day back, but has since gotten over me leaving. He was pretty confused why I was up so early today, and I’m sure he’ll be really annoyed when he realizes I’m going to Boston for the weekend.
Alright, I did it! Thanks to the jet-lag, I managed to finish this whole trip recap before my 3PM bus to Boston! Hallelujah!
Overall, I really adored Amsterdam. It was a perfect city to do in just 24 hours.
For India, I’d say I loved all the destinations I went to: the monuments, the memorials, almost all the museums. I would give most of those 5 stars, and it was definitely worth going for those. That said, getting to everything was a nightmare, and sharing everything with so many people everywhere was also really claustrophobic. I found being there pretty emotionally taxing given the income disparity and the constant begging going on. I also really felt like a fish out of water since I couldn’t actually drink the water… or eat the food… or breathe the air… and I still feel weird saying that I had a driver.
Regardless, I’m really happy I went because I feel like seeing the rest of the world is the best way to gain perspective in our own lives. We are lucky to be in America, even with everything going on here.
And one final time: thank you to all of Unnati and family for hosting me and allowing me to experience this once-in-a-lifetime journey!
April 5th, 2018 — April Snow Showers Bring May White Flowers?
2018 has been such a busy year that I haven’t had time to send an update since my trip to India. So, here I am trying to rectify that, even though I have only 90 minutes… this might be the shortest ledger in history!
LIFE IS A CABARET, OLD CHUM
This April I’m doing 2 regular cabarets, 2 special cabarets, 1 kid cabaret, 1 geek cabaret and 4 concerts of my songs on the same day… and boy are my arms tired!
We are hitting 500 showcases that I have produced, emceed and accompanied in the past 11 years this April, so to celebrate we are doing an all day Wall-to-Wall SBH concert on Saturday, April 28th. The 4 parts are 1pm, 3:30pm, 6pm and 8:30pm, and discounts will be given the more parts one attends! 100 songs with over 70 singers. The cast will be announced this weekend, but you can find more details
I do hope that some of you will come to the cabaret to celebrate this huge milestone! It breaks my heart that even though we are doing 100 songs, that is only about half of my oeuvre; however, I feel like my fingers will be done after performing so many…
THE WRITE STUFF
I hope that YOU have bought my new book, Millennials are Ruining the World! by now, but if you haven’t, maybe this 5-star review will get you to:
“While I can understand one’s hesitation to buying a book with a title that generalizes a group of people, I can assure you, as a millennial, that Seth is merely exaggerating for comedic effect. And it works! Exaggerated titles are often best-sellers…not to be confused with basements full of wine, which are often considered best cellars. (A lot of similar jokes to the one I just made are in this book, so be prepared for puns.) His latest book of essays discusses the many things he doesn’t understand about the younger generation, and he includes personal stories to help us understand and relate. But it doesn’t feel at all like a book full of complaints about 20-somethings. Rather, it gives us a chance to laugh at ourselves and say, ‘Yup, we’re known for that.’ He also gives great advice about relationships and how to further your career, which I found helpful and reassuring. His cat, Smee, returns as a guest-writer to discuss all the ways cats are superior to millennials (although, let’s face it, cats are superior to humans in general). And he dedicates a chapter to the ways millennials are improving the world. I definitely recommend this book to all generations!”
And, you can stream (or download if you’re old-fashioned) the studio cast recording of The Diamond as Big as the Ritz on any platform. We are producing another reading of the show with a revised script, and a few new songs in June.
Other than that, I’m happy to say a few of my projects that have been on the back burner for years have seen new prospects. Unfortunately, I don’t want to jinx anything, so I’m not going to publicly talk about any of that yet. I’ll tell you, though, everything in life just takes way longer than you ever think it will or should or could. I continue to believe that with persistence, perspective and patience, I will eventually get where I believe I should be. Like Heinz ketchup, waiting in life produces a quality product to put on burgers and fries!
TAKE ME OUT OF MANHATTAN
Since April is ridiculously full, I thought I would start planning my summer trips. First off, Anne, Charise and I are going to New Orleans for the Jazz Festival in May! We are going to see performances by such people as Lionel Ritchie, Beck, Lyle Lovett and Sheryl Crow. While, I don’t know many songs by the last 3, I have at least heard of them! Also on our itinerary: a swamp tour, a ghost/vampire/witch tour, the voodoo museum and… all that jazz!
Since I will probably never go to that Southern part of the country again, I am going to rent a car and drive it to visit Niki in Atlanta stopping by Mississippi and Alabama on the way, so I can check those states off my Been app! I’m going to see Gulf Islands National Seashore and perhaps De Soto National Forest in Mississippi, and in Alabama: Mobile, Montgomery and Selma, including a Fitzgerald museum and the National Voters Rights Museum.
Next up, Emi and I are going to see Celia in Chicago… the musical… in New Haven in June. Also, I hope to have a weekend in July in Pennsylvania and the annual one at Anne’s family’s beach house in Delaware in July or August.
I think it’s very important to have a lot of vacations lined up to get through the busy days, and I look forward to seeing more of the country and the world this year.
SMEE AT LAST
Smee just wanted me to say hello to you all. He has not been minding the cold weather because he never has to experience it. He also finds snow pretty, so it hasn’t fazed him that it is still flurrying in April. He is beyond thrilled that we are hitting our 50th Facebook Live Music Monday on April 16th! Now he seems to be trying to get me to feed him another spoonful of food, so I guess it’s time to move on to sadder topics…
AND NOW THE TIME HAS COME
As anyone on social media will know, the great man, Elliott Taubenslag, who ran my theatre camp for 50 years passed away last week. I’m pasting my eulogy here for those who did not see it:
It is with great sadness and streaming tears that I type this Facebook eulogy to acknowledge that one of my mentors, Elliott Taubenslag, has passed at the age of 88. According to his son, it was, thankfully, an easy, painless passing. I don’t even know where to begin. There is no doubt in my mind that Elliott is one of the people who has shaped my life and my career the most. Elliott ran Children’s Summer Theater, an incredible 6-week summer camp in my hometown. When I was in elementary school, I was in the elementary school camp, and we would see the theatre shows every Friday morning.
By fifth grade, I had declared myself a thespian, so it only made sense to join the Summer Theatre troupe. I spent 12 summers with Elliott, starting out as a camper, then becoming a CIT (Counselor-in-Training), then a counselor, then musical director and one of the head counselors, playing various iconic roles from my first one: a fish in The Little Mermaid to the Prince in The Little Mermaid, the Beast, the Pied Piper and Willy Wonka. Looking back, it is a marvel that we used to pull off doing 6 shows in 6 weeks, and that training has stayed with me to this day. In the later years, Elliott would delegate to Nancy and me, but in the beginning, he taught the whole show by himself without a script. He was truly a force of nature.
From Elliott I learned so many lessons. Here are just a few:
*If you have fun, the audience will, too. I have lived by this credo for years, and, indeed, I always remind performers to have fun, because if we’re not having fun, why are we doing this to ourselves?
*Every part of theater matters. Even though I was eventually MD, I always pitched in with the sets, costumes, lights, etc.
*No one is better than anyone else. We all had our strengths and weaknesses, and at the end of the day, only the finished product mattered.
*Adlib like crazy when things go wrong. There were times Elliott would just take over a scene if it went off the rails. And if people weren’t projecting enough, he would repeat the lines louder and say, “did you hear she said she loved him?” I can trace all my ability to improv like a master back to summer theatre.
*Translating mumble: Elliott had a habit of mumbling or not articulating what he wanted with words, and it was a skill to figure that out. He would tell me often, “play sinister music” here or “that should be happier” which has allowed me to work with collaborators who don’t speak music very easily. Indeed, I still to this day have recurring Elliott dreams where I am trying to figure out what he is telling me to do.
*Following kids. I think the reason I am so adept at following singers stems from years of following kids, plunking out random melody notes, and jumping when they missed beats.
*Lyric writing. I wrote my first lyrics with Elliott, learning to mimic the proper scansion and proper rhyme scheme.
*Be entertaining! Elliott would always go for a laugh, and would always make people smile. His shows were always about 2 things: tell the story and make people laugh, which I think is why I’ve written so many comedy songs.
*How to self-produce. One summer when Elliott didn’t want to produce a night show, a few of us took it on ourselves to mount a performance that benefited Camp Daisy. The seeds of self-producing were sown, and I still do charity concerts twice a year, in addition, to everything else I self-produce.
*How to have a poker face at auditions. Sometimes we would get some really untalented kids audition for the talent show, and Elliott would always smile and congratulate them on a great job done. He would mark their forms with 999. I asked him why he would rate the worst kids so highly, and he said it was in case any of the parents saw the sheet so they would think their kids were the best ones. (The actual best ones would get 100-105 with 105 being the best. 200s decent, 300s mediocre, but 999 were the worst by far.)
*You can make a living doing theatre.
*And finally, don’t jump off the stage because someone 7 years ago broke their leg.
Thus, I am truly grateful to have spent a dozen summers of my life with this larger-than-life hero, whose work among other things was once deemed “Best Children’s Program in the United States”.
A few months ago, his son posted it was Elliott’s 88th birthday, and I sent a message asking him to tell Elliott I said: “Happy birthday!” He told me that he read my message to him, and Elliott smiled and waved hi. I hope he will continue to smile on me and those of us whose lives he enriched for years to come from Beggari, Rotterdam or, really, any place that will let use the microphone.
READ ME (BOOKS)
Well, I guess I have been too busy to actually read much because most of the things on this list are very short. Hopefully I’ll find time to read on vacation in May, because I doubt I’ll have time in April…
Lyra’s Oxford – I realized I had never read this sequel to the Dark Materials trilogy, but it’s like 40 pages.
Muppets Comics: Peter Pan & Snow White – I was recommended to check out these comics and they didn’t disappoint.
Gonzo Girl – This is the one actual novel on the list this month.
A Wrinkle in Time – I reread this childhood classic in anticipation of the movie, but then the movie got really bad reviews, so I’ll just wait till it’s on a plane or HBO.
I think I need to make myself read a classic next.
SCREEN ME (MOVIES)
Here are the movies I’ve seen so far in 2018:
Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri – This was a wonderfully written and acted picture.
The Maze Runner 3 – I felt obligated to finish this series, and while the movie was fairly entertaining, they changed so much from the book and left some glaring plot holes, it was hard to enjoy.
The Dark Crystal – I went to a Fathom Events to see this classic Jim Henson movie on the big screen, going to see Labyrinth at the end of the month, too!
Hearts Beat Loud – This was a great indie movie starring Nick Offerman, besides the grammatical error (LOUDLY) and the fact it should be called “We are not a Band”.
Black Panther – This Marvel Super Hero movie actually lived up to its hype!
Cock Blockers – Got a free preview to this HILARIOUS movie. Seriously, it’s filthy and HILARIOUS.
Ready Player One – I was pleasantly surprised that the adaptation of this fantastic novel was also fantastic. We paid $26 to see it in iMax, and while nothing was worth $26, it was just wonderful from start to finish.
WATCH ME (TV)
My poor DVR is very full right now of shows I’m lukewarm on, and trying to get myself to delete. But here are shows that I am Leia-warm on!
The Americans: I cannot tell you how happy I am the best drama on TV is back for its 10 final episodes. I cannot imagine this show ending without some of its regulars dying, but I’m looking forward to its conclusion anyway.
Legion: This Marvel show is SO WEIRD, but I like it anyway.
The Magicians: Speaking of weird, the 3rd season of this one was splendid, and I can’t wait for Season 4!
Gotham and Agents of SHIELD: Shout-out to 2 shows that have had creative resurgences this season.
Muppet Babies: I am so happy that Muppet Babies is around just in time for my nephew to watch! While the show is obviously geared towards kids, I’m happy to have it on in the background while working.
BoJack Horseman: Emi and I are watching this satirical cartoon that is funny and sad at the same time.
The Tick: This Amazon show that is a comedic superhero romp is wonderful.
The Crossing: The pilot for this new show from the LOST team intrigued me enough to keep going. Either I’m prescient by telling you this, or it’ll be canceled in 2 episodes.
Black Mirror: Finally, I started this show (was going to use its acronym, but then deleted it for obvious reasons) with my friend, Roger, and we are loving it, at the same time as being completely scared of how accurate it can be.
In more streaming news, I plan on getting to Jessica Jones Season 2 and Love Season 3 eventually.
EXPERIENCE ME (THEATRE)
And finally, here is the theatre I have seen in 2018 so far:
Party Face – Off-Broadway play starring Hayley Mills.
A Walk with Mr. Heifetz – historical play that took place in Israel and had a live violin player.
Hey, Look Me Over – Encores put up excerpts of 7 musicals, including the wonderful Mack & Mabel.
Amy and the Orphans – Good play Off-Broadway about a woman with Down Syndrome.
Cardinal – Off-Broadway play about a small town trying to make a name for itself.
L’Elisir d’Amore – Charming, comical Donizetti opera at the Met.
Hello, Dolly! – BERNADETTE is giving the performance of her career right now!
In the Body of the World – Eve Ensler’s touching one-woman show about her battle with cancer and her mother’s death.
Broadway by the Year 1930/1964 – 18th year of this Town Hall staple.
Fire and Air – Off-Broadway play about the Ballet Russes.
Stomp – Finally saw this Off-Broadway long-running show. Not much plot, but a lot of banging…
Jerry Springer: the Opera – This was so hilarious! So much profundity operatically sung! Loved it!
Assassins – Production of Sondheim’s masterpiece in Brooklyn.
Grand Hotel – Wonderful concert revival of this musical that I’d never seen before.
The Amateurs – Off-Broadway comedy at Vineyard Theatre.
At Home at the Zoo – Revival of this Albee play. I think he remains my favorite playwright.
Lobby Hero – Broadway revival of this play I saw Off-Broadway when I moved to NYC. I didn’t remember the plot at all, which is good b/c there are a lot of twists. Oh, also Michael Cera and Captain America were in it.
Broadway by the Year 1947/1966 – Second of the new format where they do one year in Act 1, and another in Act 2.
Good for Otto – 3 hour play about 2 therapists and their eccentric clients, where I realized I am basically a young Mark-Linn Baker.
Other than that, I’m trying for Harry Potter play tickets via the lottery every week, and I would like to also see Three Tall Women and Mean Girls before summer.
C’EST TOUT… FOR NOW!
I apologize for the shortness of this update. I am incredibly busy right now, but I thought it was important to remind everyone of the big celebration on Saturday, April 28th!
May 10th, 2018 — A Trip to the South
Last week I took a vacation to New Orleans for the Jazz Festival, then I saw a bit of the surrounding Louisiana, then a patch of Mississippi and a few cities in Alabama before spending a night in Atlanta. I am officially now up to having been to 27 states, or 54% of the country! What follows is a recap of a lovely trip. As always, I highly recommend checking out my photo album on Facebook. (It took 2 hours to caption 720 photos. It is a very inefficient interface, and I have it straight from Samidh that Facebook hasn’t been investing a lot of time in optimizing “desktop mass upload use cases” which is just bigotry against non-mobile users!!!!) But, anyway, I (as usual) digress… first, I should mention a few things before the trip synopsis…
SETH’S EPIC 500TH SHOWCASE EXTRAVAGANZA
Before I left, we did a 4-part concert of my songs. We performed 100 of my songs, and had 60 performers. It was actually epic. There are many videos up on social media, but here are direct links to the songs that are new to YouTube (3 world premieres, 4 older songs revisited):
It’s All Going to Be Fine
Vote for Me
Exploring the Fridge
THE DIAMOND AS BIG AS THE RITZ
We are doing a reading of a revised version of the show (I actually still have to write one new song) on Monday, June 18th at 7pm and Tuesday, June 19 at 1pm. We will announce the cast soon!
Other than that, I hope to get a lot of writing done on another project this summer, and, as always, there are still plenty of projects on pause that I hope will get unpaused in the near future.
DAY ONE: WEDNESDAY, 5/2, NEW ORLEANS
Alright, here we go into the part you are probably awaiting! This was only a 6 day trip, so I anticipate this being a shorter ledger than usual… though, my short is still pretty long compared to anyone who is doing anything on a mobile device (not to be confused with the city, Mobile, which I went to on day 5!).
First off, the idea for the trip happened when I was having shiva for my grandfather in September. Somehow my obsession with my Been app (an app that lets you count every state and country you’ve “been” to, hence it’s name), and Mollie and I realized we had both never been to New Orleans… Anne said she loved going down for the jazz festival years ago and would love to revisit. So, we decided we could go down for Jazz Festival in May. Mollie ended up not being able to go, so I asked a bunch of friends since the Airbnb (supposedly) fit 2-4 people, and my friend, Charise, who lives in LA these days, was very excited. She loves New Orleans, loves jazz, and said yes to the address, so quickly!
Wednesday afternoon, Anne and I flew down to Atlanta for an hour layover, where we met up with my BFF, Niki, who I would see again at the end of the trip. Then, we landed in New Orleans around 7pm CST, and Charise had also just landed 15 minutes before us! We found each other, and went to rent our car. For me driving is part of the fun of vacation b/c I rarely get to do it! Though, by the end of the trip, I was ready to not be driving again any time soon.
Anyway, we dropped our stuff off at the Airbnb. Now at this point, I want to preface this writeup with the fact that I’m going to gloss over some of the unpleasantness of the trip. There wasn’t actually that much, but I don’t see the point in documenting it for posterity. Thus, I will just say that I gave the Airbnb 3 stars, and leave it at that. (It was cheap for a reason.)
Of course, we headed directly into the French Quarter, where we ate dinner at the Governor’s restaurant (which had a mural of all of Louisiana’s governors on the wall). I had chicken and waffles, which was way better than any chicken and waffles I’ve had in NYC. Way, way, way better.
Next, we walked down Bourbon Street. It wasn’t actually that crowded, probably b/c it was late on a weeknight, but I’m glad we got it checked off before the weekend. I was excited to see so many bars named after cats (Cats Meow, Fat Catz, etc). We walked around Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo, which was really cool. We saw some great architecture, took pictures outside of Louis Armstrong Park, walked through Pirate Alley to Jackson Square. And, I had my first of many beignets at Cafe De Monde. #yum After that, we walked a bit down the Moonwalk on the Mississippi River… Seeing it, I decided to count it… so I went: ONE, MISSISSIPPI… HA, HA, HA… and um, that was it, there was only one. Anyway, we called it a night shortly thereafter.
DAY TWO: THURSDAY, 5/3, NEW ORLEANS
Thursday, we headed to our first day at Jazz Fest. It was really a fantastic experience. First, we drove around trying to find parking, and settled on a $10 lot that was a bit of a hike, but for New Yorkers, wasn’t so far. We got acclimated a bit, and ended up starting in the Blues Tent where we watched the J Monque’D Blues Revue. It was, as you’d imagine, very bluesy, and he surrounded himself with some kids, and they all looked like they were having a grand time. After they finished, we caught the last 5 minutes of Pat Casey & The New Sound in the Jazz tent. On the way, I ended up having beignets again. Afterwards, we looked at some of the crafts booths, and headed to the main area. We saw a few parades. I had a delicious pineapple mint sorbet. We stopped by the zydeco stage to see a bit of Bonsoir, Catin. We watched a live blacksmith presentation, then saw the Native American Pow Wow: Native Nations Intertribal do a pow wow. At the end, we pow wowed, so we became Indians for the day!
After that, we saw a big of Cyril Neville’s Swamp Funk at the Congo Square Stage, then went to the Economy tent to see a bit of Preservation Brass, where we ended up dancing in a conga line behind a really old man who was really shaking a leg! By that point, we realized how nice it was to actually sit down in a venue with shade (the good kind), so we sat and watched Tatiana Eva-Marie and the Avalon Jazz Band at the Lagniappe Stage. I think Tatiana was French b/c she did a bunch of French jazz songs, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
For dinner, I grabbed Lamb Tagine and a Tunisian Salad from one of the food booths… and then, we went to see the legendary, iconic LIONEL RITCHIE. Lionel looks AMAZING. It was really a trip highlight, and maybe even a life one! Lionel sang “Hello” and “Dancing on the Feeling” and “Brick House” and “We are the World” which he apparently co-wrote with Michael Jackson and then ended with my favorite “All Night Long”! I enjoyed it so much, I even was millennial and took some videos, which you can find on my Facebook page…
After the festival, we sped like crazy folk to make it on time for our Ghost, Voodoo & Vampire Tour. (Though, there weren’t really any vampire stories?) On the two hour walking tour, we heard stories about various ghosts. For instance, there was one bar where someone had jumped off of, and that the ghost of someone reenacting that death appears occasionally. We heard about Marie Laveau: apparently, she could predict things because she got her gossip from all of the servants who overheard various things and she would blackmail men who were having affairs for money and influence city officials to help the poor by hosting lavish sex orgies. Also, we learned about Delphine LaLaurie (whom Kathy Bates portrayed in American Horror Story: Coven). Most of the horrible stuff about LaLaurie torturing slaves and trying to create a cream from their blood to keep herself looking young was true. Also, the entire house was haunted still and anyone who owns it ends up with really bad luck. Apparently, Nicolas Cage was the owner for a few years, and in that time, all of his movies failed in the box office. On the advice of a voodoo master, he ended up buying a tomb in the famous cemetery to get rid of his luck, and it was actually hit by lightning! Finally, he told us about Julia Brown who was a legendary voodoo priestess. She famously said once when she was feeling taken for granted: “”One day I’m going to die and take the whole town with me.” When she died, the day of her funeral, there was a huge hurricane that came out of nowhere and destroyed the town and killed many people… and also exactly 99 years after, her house randomly collapsed one day.
When the tour ended, we were a little hungry, so we had some Mexican food at Felipe’s, which I think was a chain. (I prefer Chipotle.) After that, we called it a night so we could get up earlier on Friday.
DAY THREE: FRIDAY, 5/4, NEW ORLEANS
We started Friday in the garden district. The garden district is a really posh neighborhood to walk around. There are multi-colored mansions lining St. Charles Ave. We ended up going around in a circle, but on the way, we stumbled upon the historic Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. It’s actually quite fortuitous because Anne had expressed regret we didn’t have time for a cemetery tour. When we got to the entrance, lo and behold, there was a woman offering a free tour (for tips). All of the graves in a New Orleans cemetery are above ground because of the fact that the whole area is already under sea level. They build the tombs, skyward, and often families are all buried in the same ones. They wait 5 years, then smush the remains up to make space for the next person. Indeed, there were temporary tombs for anyone who died less than 5 years apart. And for poor people, there were mass graves where sometimes 100 people are buried. Also, people can lease their name being on the tomb for a period, and then their relatives have to renew it perpetually. The oddest moment on the tour was when we saw a tomb that was made up of stones, apparently a more affordable option that they learned from “the Jewish” when they were in the Warsaw Ghetto. And that’s about all she said about the Jewish, but that was the only moment on the whole trip we realized we were not in Kansas (or NYC) anymore…
Other interesting facts: many movies and TV shows (including Buffy!) have shot scenes in the cemetery, which is owned by the city, so they try to get as much money as possible from it. However, no one is allowed to touch or climb upon the real tombs, so there is a little plot that is left empty for movies/tv shows to erect prop tombs that they can climb out of or upon, etc.
We also learned about the etymology of a few cliches. In the old days, people didn’t realize that a person in a coma wasn’t actually dead yet. So, they would have a wake, where they would see if the person would wake up. Eventually, they would bury them in the tomb, but leave them a string attached to a bell, so if they did come back to live, they could ring it to alert the person working the “graveyard shift” overnight. Indeed, that person would then be “saved by the bell” and be called a “dead ringer”.
Afterwards, we headed to our second day at Jazz Festival. The second day was easier because we knew where to park, knew where to eat, knew where to pee, etc. We started out in the jazz tent where we saw the Wess Anderson Quintet while we ate lunch. I had the most delicious BBQ, I have ever had. The meat just fell off the bones; it was literally finger-licking good. I also had peach cobbler because while I’m on vacation, I eat a lot of dessert… we meandered around for a bit, and then ended up at the Gentilly Stage for the incredible Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Unfortunately, this was 3pm in the afternoon, and there was no shade. Even sitting, the sun was blaring down on us. I dowsed myself in suntan lotion, but it was not enough. It felt like we were roasting. So, we had no choice but to go somewhere with less potent sun rays. We saw about 5 minutes of the 79rs Gang Mardi Gras Indians at the Jazz & Heritage Stage, but they were pretty repetitive. We ended up splitting up for a bit; I sat in the nicely shaded Economy Tent to watch the Players Ella & Louie Tribute Band (it’ll surprise no one that I like old school standards). Afterwards, I couldn’t resist my second dessert of the day: a homemade ice cream sandwich.
Reunited (and it feels so good), we saw most of Aaron Neville’s set. Aaron Neville has previously performed with Ernie! (Though, according to my Muppet expert friend, Ryan, it was Zombie Ernie because it was Jim Henson re-cut since it was after he died but before Steve Whitmire took over as Ernie.) Aaron sang mostly covers like “Don’t Worry: Every Little Thing is Going to be Alright” and it was very enjoyable. He has a very high voice. Also, his brother recently passed, so it was filled with emotional pathos.
During Aaron, we kept inching closer to the barrier between the regular section and the VIP section with the goal of being to lean on the barrier for Sheryl Crow. By some miracle, a woman asked us to hold her spot, and then didn’t return till the last 5 minutes of Sheryl. So, I did get to lean on the barrier! Phew! Sheryl Crow was wonderful. I hadn’t realized that I knew some of her songs (I think I knew 3 – “All I Wanna Do” and “Every Day in a winding Road” 2 of them). Also, Sheryl is a fantastic musician and performer, playing piano, guitar and even harmonica. For a second, she got a little bit political before singing a song “Halfway There” about meeting halfway. But when she started to say how crazy it has been lately, the whole audience got very quiet, and she gave a laughing look to her band, and let it go without inciting a riot. (Again, we were not in NYC anymore.)
Thankfully, we didn’t have anywhere to rush to, so we took our time getting to Frenchmen Street for the evening. Frenchmen Street is in the Marigny district, and was so much nicer and less overwhelmingly crowded than Bourbon Street. We ate at Marigny Brasserie and Bar and I had a most delicious burger topped with garlic aioli, goat cheese and spinach. Charise and I split bread pudding for my third dessert of the day… I was sad that our restaurant choice didn’t have live music, and by the time we left… it did! Next, we went to the Palace Market to see a lot more arts and crafts from local artists. And we ended up lingering on a corner watching a street band for a bit before calling it a night.
DAY FOUR: SATURDAY, 5/5, LOUISIANA
On Saturday, we started at the Pharmacy Museum. Before that, we were lucky to find cheap and quick breakfast at Antoine’s Annex. $2 for scrambled eggs made up for the fact a banana was $1.25… Anyway, Charise had really wanted to check out the Pharmacy Museum, and I’m really glad she made us go! It was only $5, and it was fascinating. They had lots of old instruments used for diagnosing. There were all kinds of old medicines. Also things like: a one-eared stethoscope, anti-colic nipple clamps for babies, love potions, voodoo dolls, old hypodermic needles, old dental equipment, a birthing chair, miracle elixirs, an old enema bag, glass eyes, and our favorite: rectal dilators!
On the way back to the car, we got pictures of Jackson Square when the sun was out, and then it was time to drive for a half hour out of the city for our Swamp Tour! We went on a Jean Lafitte Swamp Tour, and it was really idyllic. We rode down the canal, saw the bayou and a marsh. There were alligators enjoying the balmy day, and in fact, we got to hold a live alligator on the way! (I also got my nephew a really cute stuffed alligator!)
After the tour, we had to run to the airport to drop Charise off. The airport was on the way to our next stop, Laura: A Creole Plantation. Celia had recommended we go there, and I was happy she did. The plantation is a historical site, where you learn about making sugar and, also, slavery. The place was given its historical landmark status because the original French copy of the Uncle Remus stories (Zip-a-dee-do-dah!) was found in the cabins there. In the little museum we perused before our tour, there were a lot of interesting histories of slaves who once worked there. The most famous was Fat Domino, whose family had been on the plantation for generations.
The plantation was originally called the Duparc plantation, but it’s now been renamed in honor of Laura Locoul who was the granddaughter of one of the three children of the original owner. Laura wrote a memoir, which offered an intimate glimpse into the workings of the plantation, revealing all of the family secrets we found about on the tour.
First off, I made a new feline friend: Lotoya. She was hanging out in front of the house, and I went over to say hello. When we came out of the back of the house, she was waiting for me! The tour guide said she obviously liked me because she doesn’t usually wait for the tour to exit. Cats are so smart! But don’t worry, Smee, I didn’t take her home with me!
I’ll spare you the details about the family tree. Suffice it to say, there were a lot of cousins marrying each other. It turns out that Laura’s great uncle raped a bunch of slaves and fathered many children, and that those are the only familial lines that are still living. There were slave cabins where each family would get one room, no matter how large the family was. Those rooms were way smaller than my apartment… Also, after slavery ended, they all got salaries, but were paid in tokens they could use to purchase things they used to get for free, like food and medication. They could cash out at the end of the year, but most often, no one had any tokens left… and indeed, most probably owed some to the plantation owners. In fact, the last families left the cabins in 1977, which was really eye opening to how long the entrenched racism stayed in the South.
After the tour, we went to the New Orleans Business district, where we got a picture of the Superdome on the way. I had googled Cinco de Mayo and found a block party at this restaurant called Casa Borrega. We listened to the live salsa band while we waited for a table. Then, I had chicken quesadillas for dinner.
Finally, we went back to the Mississippi River to walk off our meal. We walked through Woldenberg Riverfront Park which was open till midnight on Saturdays, but had been closed at 10pm on Wednesday when we were by it. There we found some statues and sculptures and also an artistic Holocaust Memorial, which is not something I expected to find in the South… Of course, we were right by Cafe du Monde, so I had to have a final round of beignets… and while walking back to the car, there were fireworks on the Mississippi River, which was the perfect ending to this part of the trip!
DAY FIVE: SUNDAY, 5/6, MISSISSIPPI, MOBILE, AL
Sunday morning, I woke up early to drive Anne to the airport, then I came back to clean up our Airbnb. Around 10:30 I was ready to embark on my next adventure! First, driving in the South is so fast. The speed limits are all 70, and there are no tolls (!?!) and no cops anywhere, so it was pretty fast getting from place to place.
My first stops were in Mississippi, just so I could check it off my app. I spent an hour or so on Biloxi Beach, chatting on the phone while walking the sidewalk (too small to be considered a boardwalk). Next, I went to the lovely Gulf Islands National Park where I walked around Davis Bayou. I did a half a mile Nature’s Way Loop Trail, which was so nice because it went in a circle. After a half hour, that was enough nature for me, so I crossed the bridge, took pictures of a large alligator in the freshwater pond, then headed to Alabama.
My first Alabama stop was Mobile. My former intern, Kelly, had recommended I go to Battleship Park, so I did. Battleship Memorial Park has all these old World War II vehicles and also some war memorials. Then, there’s the U.S.S. Alabama, which is a battleship that you can tour. Now, I thought it would be very similar to the Intrepid, but for $15 I was willing to do it anyway because I needed to do SOMEthing in Alabama. But it was INCREDIBLE. They basically let you go on the ENTIRE battleship, all 10 levels, and the tour was so easy to follow. They had arrows on the floor and numbers so you didn’t skip anything. It was so very comprehensive, which I really appreciate. Highlights included getting to walk around the entire engine room, getting to touch missiles, going inside a turret (those metal containers where the guns are) and going all the way up to the tippy top where the captain commanded from. Also, the view of the ocean was fantastic.
After the main battleship, I had 10 minutes left to peruse the hanger and the U.S.S. Drum submarine, which was pretty much like the one attached to the Intrepid, so I didn’t feel bad I had to rush.
For dinner, I went to Cathedral Square, which is supposed to be the hip area. Most things were closed on a Sunday night, but I did find the theater and symphony halls. Quite coincidentally, there was a poster for SethFest, which I guess is another Seth’s version of a concert… I ended up having a BBQ Sandwich (my last Southern supper) at a bar called Heroes. Then, I drove to my Airbnb in Montgomery, which was a 2.5 hour drive.
DAY SIX: MONDAY, 5/7, ALABAMA, ATLANTA
My Montgomery AirBnb, which cost only $22 for the night, was so much nicer than the New Orleans one. A really big, comfortable bed! Also, the owner of the house I stayed in had 2 dogs (but they were quiet and docile) and a very friendly cat. I caught up on Westworld, and fell asleep relatively early b/c I was exhausted from sleeping in a closet for 4 nights… I woke up around 10:15 and headed out for my last vacation day.
In Montgomery, I went passed Alabama State University on my way to the Fitzgerald House where Zelda grew up. Sadly, the museum there was closed on Mondays (what can you do?), but I took pictures outside. Then, I went to the brand new National Memorial for Peace and Justice (aka the lynching memorial), which I thought was really well done. There were some harrowing sculptures and they had tombstones listing all the people who were lynched, organized by counties. Then, as you walked in, the tombstones got higher and higher, representing the victims being hanged. There was also a waterfall representing all the nameless people.
Next, I drove an hour to Selma, where I walked over the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge. I walked around Selma’s Civil Rights Memorial Park. Then, I went across the street to the National Voter’s Rights Museum, which was alright. Basically, there was a lot of historical stuff about voters rights with rooms for every race, and one for Suffragettes, and one for Jesse Jackson, and then an Obama shrine at the end. It took about 15 minutes, but I’m glad I went because I felt like I saw some important historical locations in Alabama.
It was time to drive 3 hours to Atlanta, where I returned my car, and Niki picked me up! We went to our traditional dinner at the Cheesecake Factory (at MIT we would go twice a year for our birthdays) where I had chicken fettuccine alfredo (how I missed Italian food!) and then shared a Hershey’s Chocolate Cheesecake, which we DEVOURED. Afterwards, I showed her my pictures (we hooked it up to her Smart TV) and then when she went to bed, I watched Netflix.
I won’t bother to put Tuesday in a separate header. Basically I watched Netflix, HBO, took the MARTA train to the airport, got on my flight, got home and unpacked. Smee was pretty happy to see me; he sometimes gets irascible when I’m gone for awhile, but I don’t think I was gone that long this time because we were copacetic again fairly quickly.
OBLIGATORY BOOK SECTION
Well, as I mentioned in my last ledger, I circled back to a classic. I read Candide, which actually really holds up all these centuries later. (It was also only 100 pages, so I could get my classic requirement out of the way quickly.) I wanted to read more on vacation, but it was too hot and muggy on my Mississippi day to linger. I did get started in this dark comedy novel, Skippy Dies, which was on the list of best books of 2010. (I usually google the best books of a year 3 years after so I can get them all on eBay for a penny each, plus shipping.)
OBLIGATORY MOVIE SECTION
The two movies I watched on the plane rides (one each way) were:
Murder on the Orient Express – This wasn’t as good as I was expecting, but I still enjoyed it, and I had completely forgotten the ending b/c I read the book over a decade ago.
Coco – This movie was SO GOOD. The ending made me cry. 🙁
Other than that, it’s only been a month since my last ledger so I’ve only been the movies once:
Labyrinth – I saw this Jim Henson classic on the big screen!
Avengers: Infinity War – Then, I went to see the big hit movie, and it did not disappoint! I don’t know how we will all make it a year till the conclusion…
OBLIGATORY TV SECTION
A few new shows I’ve watched since the last ledger are:
Barry – this is a great dark comedy on HBO – it already got renewed for season 2, so you don’t have to worry about it being canceled!
On My Block – I binged this Netflix show at Niki’s and I totally am relieved to say this got a season 2, too!
Speaking of shows not getting renewed yet… here are a list of my TV shows on network TV that are on the bubble… We should know by next week, which are canceled, but I’m hoping they all get renewed: Life in Pieces, Speechless, American Housewife, Agents of SHIELD, Gotham and Brooklyn 9-9.
OBLIGATORY THEATRE SECTION
Spring is a busy time for theatre, and even though it hasn’t been so long since the last ledger, here’s the theatre I have seen since:
When Pigs Fly – I’m so happy I got to see my friend, Brian Charles Rooney, in this one night concert of this campy musical.
Mean Girls – My friend won the free pink tickets, so we were front row center for Tina Fey’s adaptation of her movie.
Symphonie Fantastique – Puppetry dancing to Berlioz’s masterpiece.
Transfers – Off-Broadway play about affirmative action.
Rocktopia – Saw my friend, Reji, in the choir of this concert at the Broadway Theater!
Three Tall Women – This revival of the Albee Pulitzer-Prize winning play was INCREDIBLE.
Travesties – I also loved this revival of Tom Stoppard’s insanely brilliant play.
Audra McDonald at NY Philharmonic Gala – OMG, Audra is just incredible, and it turns out they’re putting out a CD of this concert, much like how they put out a CD of Bernadette’s Carnegie Hall concert, which I also attended!
Me and My Girl – Charming revival at Encores of this show I did my Senior Year of high school. Encores’ production was better.
There are a few more shows I’m seeing this month, but I’ll save them for the next ledger. And hopefully by then, I will win the Harry Potter play lottery!
Vacations are so nice. I spend an awful lot of time in my apartment working, so it’s hard to relax here. When I’m somewhere else, I can focus all my energies on figuring out trip logistics, and, thus, I get a hiatus from waiting for my projects to come to fruition. Vacations are essential to my peace of mind and sanity. Speaking of, coming up: my girlfriend and I are taking a weekend trip to New Haven to see Celia in Chicago (the Musical). And in August, I am going to visit Scandinavia: Denmark (to see Tango, I’ve been there before, but I’m going to do different day trips this time), Norway, Sweden, Finland (to see Mike Solomon) and probably a day trip on a ferry to Estonia (thanks, Roger, for the idea!). Is it August yet?
Regardless, summer in the city is my favorite time. So many free things to see, and I can go read books on the highline again!
I hope YOU have the best summer yet! Feel free to send me a note to catch me up on YOUR life.