February | March | June | August | December
February 12, 2020 — Come see Love Quirks off-Broadway!
For those of you who haven’t heard, after 10 years Love Quirks is finally heading off-Broadway! It’s a miracle we pulled this off. To that end, I need every single one of you to come to the show and to promote the show actively. It takes a village to have an off-Broadway hit, and I’m counting on all of you.
EVEN WHEN LOVE WORKS, THERE ARE ALWAYS LOVE QUIRKS
After the November reading, there was a massive amount of interest in the show. I was able to move quickly and decisively to start previews on my birthday weekend. Thus, our first preview is Friday, February 28th, and I cannot imagine a better birthday present than having sold out houses all weekend! So, please, please come!
We are performing Fridays at 8:15pm, Saturdays/Sundays at 2pm and Mondays at 8:15pm. We are going to be at the amazing off-Broadway space, the St. Luke’s Theatre on W46th St, basically across the street from Don’t Tell Mama. Our official opening night is going to be Monday, March 16th, and we will have a limited amount of seats on sale for that performance, if you like dressing up fancy and attending shows with Broadway stars!
We just announced the cast today, and you can read more about that, here:
Here is our blurb on the show, also on lovequirks.com:
Love Quirks is a new musical fable based on actual events as a group of thirty-somethings explore the bizarre tribulations of love, friendship, and all the blurry lines in-between. Four broken hearts must face the past and look to the future, as they march march into the strange and often hilarious world of love on the island of Manhattan. What they find is never what they expect, and they must face up to their own Love Quirks to move forward.
Ways to get tickets:
1. At the box office. (In order for you to save fees, I can give you a code that will match any prices you find online, just message me for it!)
2. Telecharge, either on the web or by phone.
3. Anywhere you usually find your show tickets.
I do ask that anyone who can afford to pay full price, please do. I know that will be very few people, but I thought I’d ask! If I were you, I would not buy the back row seats. I would instead ask me for a code to discount the better seats which is comparable price-wise.
If you are super poor, we are going to have twenty $25 rush tickets available the day of the show when the box office opens. (stlukestheatre.com has the box office times.)
This weekend will be three years since I started dating Emi. I have never been happier, and I wanted to publicly thank her for putting up with me. There is no way I would’ve been able to produce Love Quirks off-Broadway without her love and support. Thank you, Emi, and happy anniversary!!
Speaking of those who live with me, Smee is currently napping.
While I’m here, if you haven’t seen my most recent standup act on empathy, it is up on my comedy YouTube channel:
At the end of the month, I will be going on hiatus from my popular Instagram story series, “Songs with Seth!” while we prepare to open the show, and I will put up the last half of the first season of those on YouTube, as well.
Speaking of hiatuses, I’m currently on one from the showcases, but will be returning later in the spring.
OH, SAVANNAH, DON’T YOU CRY FOR ME
In January, I went to the South to visit my aunt and my BFF Niki. Niki and I spent a lovely weekend in Savannah, and I just wanted to mention it in a ledger for posterity. I highly recommend the city, which was basically a combination of New Orleans (ghosts, squares) and Charleston (architecture, food).
First off, we ate really good food:
Treylor Park – I had a delicious grilled chicken apple pie sandwich.
Maple Street Biscuits – absolutely yum!
The Olde Pink House Restaurant – lovely jazz music played, had a great burger.
Leopold Ice Cream – wonderful, wonderful!
Savannah Bee Company – free honey tastings.
Byrd’s Famous Cookies – free cookie tastings, had a dozen different flavors to try.
We saw the outside of the Hope of Israel Synagogue, walked through Forsyth Park, walked around the marketplace and then the squares, admiring the architecture. We also walked down the River and saw the waving girl statue, which was exactly what it sounds like.
There was a charming bookstore called The Book Lady. We went to the very interesting Prohibition Museum, and at night we had a fantastic Hearse Ghost Tour. (Getting driven around in a hearse beats a walking tour!)
A wonderful weekend away, which I took because I really can’t take any vacations until summer with the show going up so soon.
I won’t elaborate, but at the moment I’m endorsing Amy Klobuchar for the Democratic nomination after my other 3 choices (Harris, Castro, Booker) dropped out. If you want to hear my reasons, feel free to reach out. I do not like anyone else running anymore, but I will vote for whomever wins the Democratic nomination, obviously.
Ada, or Ardor – Finished Nabokov’s last and longest novel. Not the easiest read, but I feel very accomplished.
Slapstick – I found this Kurt Vonnegut book at The Book Lady. It’s typical Vonnegut, a fast and fun read.
Best Babysitters Ever #3: Miss Impossible – Next up, is my friend Carrie’s 3rd book in this hilarious series. Another fast and fun read, I’d imagine. Then, I’ll probably go back to some modern literature.
Incidentally while I’m in this section, my aunt took me to this huge used book store in Chattanooga called McKay’s, and we traded in her books, and I might’ve come home with 17 books, which I managed to pack in my bag and get on the plane even though I was flying Spirit airlines…
I haven’t been to the movies much this year so far, but here are a few I’ve seen in 2020.
The Marriage Story – I downloaded this movie on Netflix to watch on the plane, and it was fantastic. Just fantastic. Writing, directing, acting = top notch.
Mascots – I finally watched this movie, also on the plane, and it was cute, not as good as Guffman, but I always like Christopher Guest movies.
Little Women – My aunt and I went to see this new adaptation, and it was very good.
Rori and I are going to see Parasite next week, and I’ll let you know if it lives up to its hype.
I find it really hard to watch TV these days with all the different streaming platforms. I’m waiting for them all to be consolidated. I’m forever behind on everything I want to try, but here are some things I’ve watched this year that I’ve liked:
Star Trek: Picard – It’s wonderful. Just wonderful.
High School Musical the Musical the Series – Couldn’t stop watching! It’s the perfect guilty pleasure show.
Everything’s Gonna Be Okay – This is a hilarious new sitcom on Freeform/Hulu, and it’s one of the rare shows that makes me LOL.
Sex Education – Season 2 did not disappoint; glad it got reviewed for season 3.
Shoutout to my favorite ending series:
BoJack Horseman – What a fitting finale, but so sad to see this one go.
The Good Place – I didn’t find the final season that funny, but I still appreciated its message.
Modern Family – I am absolutely devastated that they aren’t doing a full season this year. When I saw a commercial on the Oscars that said only 5 episodes were left, I started crying. I love MF so much. I have seen every episode the week it aired, and it is one of the shows I most look forward to. I am so sad it is ending, but so grateful for its existence.
Sing Street – Won the lottery to see my former client, Sam Poon, in this new musical based on the movie.
Chekhov/Tolstoy Love Stories – Off-Broadway production of adaptations of two Russian stories.
My Name is Lucy Barton – Laura Linney is just amazing.
Harry Townsend’s Last Stand – Len Cariou and Craig Bierko showcased some great acting chops.
A Musical about Star Wars – Quite entertaining show that we are playing in repertoire with at St. Luke’s, though I still vastly prefer Star Trek. Super fun regardless!
Hot Wing King – Caught the first preview of this hilarious new play at Signature Theatre off-Broadway. Highly recommended, though don’t see it hungry!
I’m actually seeing quite a few things over the next few weeks, but I will leave those for the next ledger.
I mean, there’s only one conclusion this month. PLEASE come see LOVE QUIRKS. PLEASE post about it and text about it and email about until all your friends are also coming. This is my big break, and if it doesn’t break, it is unlikely I will ever have this kind of opportunity again. So please, I am counting on all of your support. And I appreciate it, and I’m so grateful and humbled by it, as well. So, thank you.
March 17, 2020 — Self-Isolation Musings
Well, since it looks like there’s no hurry to get through my to-do list, I thought I would send a note to see how everyone is holding up.
I’ve seen a lot of people posting about being quarantined. We are NOT quarantined… yet! We are self-isolating in order to keep up with social distancing. We should use proper semantics whenever possible! Of course, most of us would only be mildly affected physically from this virus, but the goal is to keep its spread as contained as possible for those people who wouldn’t be only mildly affected. So, to that end, I have not left my building since Thursday, though I might go to the grocery store in a bit just for a change of scenery.
I am also still going to the gym downstairs, which will remain open until they stop allowing people with non-essential jobs to come in. Who knows when that will be, but I’m hoping they don’t make that ruling because I really like having a gym, as it gives me a reason to leave my apartment 3 times a week. And don’t worry, I’ve been wiping the machines down, then washing my hands for 2 minutes before I come back upstairs, where I again wash my hands for 2 minutes. But my thought is that if it has made it into the building, there’s no way we’re not all getting it anyway, so I don’t feel the need to freak out so much about it.
Speaking of freaking out, I am really not panicking, and I don’t think people should. Things are not as under control as they would’ve been if Hillary were President (I mean, it would never have gotten into America, if she was), but Cuomo is doing a great job, and the scientific reasoning behind everything they are doing is solid. Also, even in Italy, grocery stores are still open and decently stocked. Now, if they really do give us all $1K, I wouldn’t mind it, and I do hope at some point they let people not pay their rents and mortgages for a month in exchange for a 1/12 off property taxes… but I guess we’ll see. Obviously not having any income right now is a little disturbing, but it seems they are going to do some things to alleviate financial grief, at least in the short term.
Regardless, I’m hanging in there (like that cat poster!), and I’ve come up with many projects to do while I’m here:
1. I’m going to catalog all my books, so I can keep track of what I haven’t read yet.
2. I’m going to read my books! When it’s nicer out, I can hopefully still go on the roof terrace and read.
3. I’m going to redouble my efforts to learn Japanese, which is something I’ve been lax on. Now it’s going to be an hour of Duolingo every day!
4. I’m going to watch an opera every night thanks to the Met Opera, which is providing a free opera nightly.
5. I’m going to watch a list of a few dozen old Broadway show TV broadcasts that I found on Twitter linking to YouTube. (I just watched Applause and then it started to auto-play the 1970 Tony Awards!)
6. I’m doing a new Facebook Live series 3 days a week, MWF at 3pm called “The Making of a Musical: exploring Love Quirks” where I talk about all the songs and how they came to be.
7. I’m going to finish writing a cello part for the eventual Love Quirks cast recording and also put the incidental music into the score.
8. I talked to 3 collaborators about working on new projects, and I hope to get some work done on those.
9. As long as they don’t close the dance room downstairs, Emi and I are going to do weekly Zumba videos. (Though, I suppose we can figure a way to do it in the apartment, worst case.)
10. And I’m doing a virtual game night Thursdays, and a weekly Family Facetime Tuesdays.
While I’m here, I wanted to remind everyone to be grateful for a few things, like streaming platforms and the ability to video-chat! Can you imagine not having a zillion options of things to watch, and only being able to call people on the phone? And even social media is something to be grateful for these days, unlike usually when it’s a nuisance.
EVEN WHEN LOVE WORKS, THERE ARE ALWAYS LOVE QUIRKS
Well, I had the best birthday weekend of my life a few weeks ago. The show started previews off-Broadway, and it’s been getting amazing word of mouth and buzz. But don’t take MY word for it:
It’s been incredibly sad to not have the official opening night for the show (which would’ve been last night), but we do have every intention of re-opening when this crisis has subsided, which it will. And regardless, we have had 8 wonderful performances so far and I consider my goal of having a show off-Broadway reached at this point. However, we should be re-opening as soon as the emergency has passed, and I also intend to go ahead with recording the official off-Broadway cast recording eventually.
Also, right before everything closed, Broadway cast member Maggie McDowell and I had the pleasure to stop by Jim Caruso’s Cast Party at Birdland Monday night. We premiered a cabaret version of one of the songs in the show combined with its reprise. Tada:
Here is a list of authors I recommend (alphabetical by last name), if you are looking to read more, which you should be because it’s something easily done while you’re isolating!
Margaret Atwood, Michael Chabon, Jeffery Eugenides, Elena Ferrante (“My Brilliant Friend” is the best book series ever!), Jonathan Safran Foer, Jonathan Frantzen (skip his first 2), Robert Gilbraith (AKA J.K. Rowling), Khaled Hosseini, Haruki Murakami, Paul Murray, Audrey Niffenegger, Celeste Ng (both of her books are fantastic), Tim Perotta and Curtis Sittenfeld. (I also hear good things about Sally Rooney, but haven’t read her books yet).
And for classics, my favorite authors are D.H. Lawrence and Vladimir Nabokov, both of whom wrote LOTS of books and stories, so you have plenty to catch up on!
I haven’t been to the movies in awhile, and now won’t be going for even longer, but I did watch Parasite with Rori on demand, and it was really fantastic. I was pleasantly surprised it lived up to its hype. If you’re looking to binge movies, I would suggest picking a director or actor you like and trying to find all their movies. That will give you a fun viewing project!
Multiple people have asked me for TV recommendations, so here’s a thorough list of shows I recommend that are available on the following apps in alphabetical order, and * means it’s new or will have new seasons:
Netflix: The 100*, All American*, Altered Carbon*, Anne with an E, Arrested Development, Atypical*, Baby*, Better Call Saul, Big Mouth*, Black Mirror*, Breaking Bad, BoJack Horseman, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina*, Daredevil, Elite*, Community, The End of the Fucking World*, Episodes, Everything Sucks, Freaks and Geeks, Gilmore Girls, Glow*, The Good Place, Halt and Catch Fire, The Inbetweeners, iZombie, Jessica Jones, Legends of Tomorrow, Mad Men, The Magicians, On My Block*, Orange is the New Black, Ozark*, Parks & Rec, Rectify, Russian Doll*, Sense8, Sex Education*, The Shannara Chronicles, Star Trek (all 5 series), Stranger Things*, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The West Wing, You*.
Amazon: The Americans, The Boys*, Catastrophe, Dead Like Me, Friday Night Lights, Good Omens, Marvelous Mrs. Maisel*, Modern Love*, Mozart in the Jungle, Mr. Robot, Orphan Black, Red Oaks, The Tick, Undone*.
Hulu: Better Things*, Brooklyn Nine-Nine*, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Everything’s Gonna Be Okay*, Future Man*, The Handmaid’s Tale*, Killing Eve*, Man Seeking Woman, Rick and Morty*, Seinfeld, The X-Files.
HBO: Barry*, Bored to Death, The Comeback, Curb Your Enthusiasm*, Game of Thrones, In Treatment, My Brilliant Friend*, The Newsroom, The Night Manager, Sex and the City, Show Me a Hero, Silicon Valley, Six Feet Under, Treme, Veep.
CBS Access: Star Trek: Picard is fantastic. And you can also catch up on Star Trek: Discovery, and make sure you watch the Star Trek Shorts because they fill in some gaps in the storylines!
If you’d like more details on any of those shows, do let me know. And if I’m missing anything, let me know, and I’ll add it to my personal queue.
Here’s the theatre I’ve seen since the last ledger:
Jerry Herman Memorial – I forgot to mention this in the last ledger, but I had the privilege of attending the Broadway studded memorial for Jerry, and it was the best concert I’ve ever been to in my life. Bernadette sang “Time Heals Everything” for the first time in years, and I still have chills just thinking about it.
Dana H. – This was a one-woman “play” at Vineyard where the actress basically just lip-synced to an interview.
The Confessions of Lily Dare – Charles Busch never disappoints.
We’re Gonna Die – A rock cabaret about life’s futility.
Mack and Mabel – Happy to have caught this Encore production of Jerry’s best score. So sad that “Love Life” was canceled, as I was looking forward to seeing it tonight.
All the Natalie Portmans – Play about a girl obsessed w/ Natalie at MCC.
Seesaw – Saw this charming revival of a forgotten Cy Coleman gem at Theater Row.
Broadway by the Year: 2000-2004 – Now I know how most attendees of this series feel, as I actually had seen almost all the productions that were performed from.
Intimate Apparel – This opera adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning play, was absolutely phenomenal, and I’m so glad this is the last show I’ll see for awhile b/c it was stunning.
I don’t know what I will do without theatre to attend for a few months, but I am glad we are being as safe as possible. I look forward to when theatre is open again, and I know that everyone will flock to it in a massive way.
I hope you are holding up okay. There is no need to panic. Just make yourself a list of things you want to get done, then a schedule, and just take it day by day. We will all get through this. No one is alone. Truly. We are all in this together. Every single human on the planet is being adversely affected by this crisis. So, hopefully that puts things in a bit of perspective.
Never hesitate to reach out. Smee and I are here and are available for emails, texts, FB messages, phone calls, and even video conferencing!
And a reminder, if you are super bored, you can always go re-read my 3 books, rewatch my sitcom pilot & web series (31 episodes!), rewatch the Facebook Live “Music Monday” series (80 episodes!) and rewatch the “Songs with Seth!” Instagram series (actually that reminds me, I want to put up the second half of those on the YouTube this week, so check back soon!). Also, if you haven’t seen all 160 videos of my songs, on my music YouTube, or the 4 wonderful music videos (YOFO and “Gym It Up!” are still hilarious!), get thee to http://youtube.com/sethbh42 stat!
June 10th, 2020 — I’m getting married!
No, it’s not April. I cannot even count how many people asked if it was April when they heard the news! Anyway, I’m not going to bury the lede. It’s right there in the subject so people who usually ignore my emails will actually click on it and be like what?! Is this true? YES, IT’S TRUE! EMI AND I ARE GETTING MARRIED!!!! It was Emi’s birthday on Sunday, and I proposed. She was incredibly shocked. You can watch the whole thing, here:
Our engaged announcement on the Facebook has garnered over 900 likes making it more popular than both the announcement of “Love Quirks” going off-Broadway and my amazing selfie with Hillary. Anyway, with the state of the world as it is, it’s very hard to plan a wedding, but we are starting the preliminary discussions, and of course, I will keep everyone updated. Speaking of the state of the world, I hope everyone is staying safe, sane and healthy. It’s been quite a disappointing year for most, and I hope that this news fills you with some temporary joy. This will come as no surprise but our wedding will feature: a mini-cabaret, a mini-puzzle hunt and Zumba!
WHAT ELSE IS NEW?
While New York City is slowly reopening, it is still unknown when cabaret or off-Broadway will be back. There has been a lot of conjecture on these points, but clearly no one really knows anything. However, I remain optimistic they will both be back sooner rather than later. Of course, it’s very depressing to have suspended performances of “Love Quirks” 3 days before opening, but we intend to reopen whenever we are allowed. I’m hoping we can record the Off-Broadway cast recording when the city enters Phase 3 later this summer.
In case you have missed any of my pandemic projects, here is a complete list:
1. The Self-Isolation Song Cycle concluded last week with its finale “We Will Get Through This” which people are hailing as the best of the bunch. If you missed any of the dozen songs, or if you want to revisit them, you can watch the entire song cycle in less than a half hour, here: tinyurl.com/sethsongcycle
2. My podcast: “Millennials are Ruining the World? an Xennial perspective: bridging the gap between Generations X & Y ‘I’m not woke, but I’m awake!’” returned last week for its 13 episode second season. In fact, there is a new episode up there today where my friend Laura and I discuss our LIFE ON PAUSE. (The premiere was a charming episode my friend Helena and I taped in October about TRAVEL.) www.sethbh.com/podcast
3. My talk show “What Day Is It!?! with Seth & Kelly” has its 9th episode tomorrow at 4pm. It will be an episode on Spirituality Mentality. We did a special serious episode on racism last week that has garnered good feedback, and I highly recommend it. My friends Reji and Linseigh talked about their life experiences, and it was an authentic, honest discussion that opened my eyes even more to how prevalent racism is in our society. www.sethbh.com/talk-show
4. I finished the 30 episodes of my Facebook Live show “The Making of a Musical” where I delved into every song that was in “Love Quirks” at some point with deep lyrical and musical analyses. I even cried a few times!
5. I started a new Facebook Live show, Mondays at 3PM on Memorial Day. It’s called “Seth Sings Bisen-Hersh” and delves into 20 of my projects over the last few decades: one project each week, and I sing 6-8 songs in each episode and try to have at least 1 that isn’t available anywhere online.
6. We have now done 9 virtual showcases featuring 6-8 singers each. They have been really fun and way more attended than the live ones. Currently I am booking Tuesdays in July. The shows are mostly at 7PM, though on June 23rd, we’re doing a special one with a lot of UK folks, so that one is at 3PM EDT. If you’d like to watch any of the previous ones, they and are still available on a playlist on my 3rd YouTube channel: tinyurl.com/sethbhdotcom
7. We have done 3 virtual play readings: one Durang, one Chekhov and one “Amends” by our fellow acting class friend, Joe Hoover. If you missed any of those, they are also up in a playlist on tinyurl.com/sethbhdotcom.
8. Finally, for those Zumba fans out there, Emi and I have put out 12 episodes of SethEmiStreet Zumba now, and I know at least my father does them every week! (And incidentally between weekly Zumba and a 20 minute workout Celia gave me to do 3 days/week, it seems I have shaved off 10 pounds!) tinyurl.com/sethemistreetzumba
VIRTUAL IS THE NEW IN PERSON
Other than that, it’s been a full few months of Zoom, Google Hangouts, FaceTime and Skype. I know none of that can replace face-to-face, but the upside is I have stayed in closer touch with a bunch of people I hadn’t talked to in awhile. I have weekly ones like Virtual Game Nights on Thursdays, FamilyTime FaceTime on Tuesdays, and then a few groups that try to meet up once a month, including my friend Anne’s virtual book club. I also use Skype on my iPad to virtually watch TV with some friends — tonight Lauren and I are starting the final season of “Homeland” since we finally got through “The Affair” last time.
If YOU would like to virtually hang out, never hesitate to ask because I would love to virtually see YOU!
SMEE GETS A NEW MOMMY
Smee seems to be okay with having a mommy. He has finally seems used to having Emi living here after over a year. Indeed, he tends to get fed more often because Emi passes the fridge more than I do. Smee has been a part of almost every virtual performance this spring, and he has really earned his naps! Additionally, he has been posting every Caturday without fail (I wrote it in my planner weekly), and he misses when lots of people would visit him. However, he’s happy that I am home almost all day, every day. So, that is a PURRk, I suppose. (That’s perk spelled in cat speak.)
I have been very good at having a daily routine. I have always been a scheduled person, and I think keeping busy with so many virtual things and checking in on dozens of friends weekly has kept me sane. I am looking forward to going out a little more (with a mask), though I will severely miss all of the free concerts over the summer.
I am so thankful for the Met Opera. They have put out a free opera every night for the past 13 weeks, and by the end of the summer, I will have watched over 100 operas! Okay, half watched. But I feel like it’s been a crash course, and I no longer regret not taking the opera course at MIT which covered every Verdi and Mozart opera because now I have seen them all! Besides the Wagner operas (not my favorite), it’s been a truly delightful thing to look forward to each day. Though, I do prefer when they are under 3 hours, I admit.
While watching the opera, I do the New York Times daily crossword. Incidentally, I keep trying to get one of my puzzles into that paper, but still have yet to succeed. However, I think the one they have right now to review is the best of the bunch, and I’m hopeful that will be the one that breaks through. And I just had an idea for my next one, so I will keep trying! Creating puzzles from scratch (unlike a lot of constructors) is very tedious, but I find it’s a great use of brain power and a great way to kill a bunch of hours, which we all have a lot of these days being mostly employed.
Other than that, I have been trying to read for an hour a day (and I succeed about half the days) and have been doing a half hour of Japanese on Duolingo most nights. Of course, that did not help me from going up on my lines during my proposal, but I was incredibly nervous and emotional all of a sudden. I’m just relieved she said yes!!!!
One of my early pandemic projects was compiling a list of my books so that I could keep track of what I had and what I haven’t read. I actually found I had 4 duplicates of classics I got at the Strand for 50 cents… oops! This list also was helpful for bookclub because I prefer not to buy new books if I don’t have to, given I have about 550 and there are over 200 I have yet to read… You can check out all my books, here: www.sethbh.com/list-of-books
In general, between book club books, I have chosen my longest hardcover ones since those are the ones I would never bring on vacations where I used to do most of my reading. Anyway, here’s what I’ve read so far this spring/summer:
The Upward Spiral – I was given this book on depression from a friend for my birthday, and it was a helpful summary of things I’ve learned over years.
The Mark and the Void – This is Paul Murray’s 3rd comic novel, and he never disappoints. I highly recommend all 3 of his books, especially “Skippy Dies”.
The Sword and the Stone – King Arthur’s origin story.
Telegraph Avenue – This is Michael Chabon, and he never disappoints either. I have another 4 or 5 of his books in my closet to read.
Things Invisible to See – This was a book club book, and a fast, enjoyable read with a sweet love story and some fantastical elements.
Here I Am – This is Jonathan Safran Foer’s third book, and it was phenomenal. As you can see, I mostly read modern award winning novels, and this one deserved all the awards it won.
Stardust – We switched to fantasy for book club this month, and Neil Gaiman also never disappoints. A most enjoyable read!
I currently just started “Fates and Furies” which I like a lot already. We’ll have a new book for book club soon, which will force me to finish this one and that one within a month. Deadlines are lovely!
Well, I haven’t been to the actual movie theatre since January. Emi and I tend to watch a few movies together, but I rarely watch them alone, so I mostly stick with comedies or animated films. My friend Charise recommended “My Life as Zucchini” on Netflix, and I now recommend it to you! Charming movie! Oh, and we watched “Rocketman” which is now on Amazon Prime. I can recommend that one, too. I am sorry that’s about all I can think of to recommend at this point movie wise…
If there’s a movie on Netflix or Amazon you think we would like, please let us know!
Here’s another section that isn’t affected by the pandemic. I have been watching about the same amount of TV as usual, as the opera takes away a lot of hours of the night. Here are my latest TV recommendations:
My Brilliant Friend — season 2 of this HBO show based on the amazing book series was tremendous! This show is a must see!
Upload — This new comedy on Amazon Prime was wonderful. I hear good things about “Tales from the Loop” so that’s next for me.
Dead to Me — Second season just as good as the first! (Netflix)
One Day at a Time — I finally got around to watching Rita Moreno’s sitcom, and it’s such a wonderful show to put on right before bed! I LOVE RITA MORENO.
The Great — I found this Hulu comedy about Catherine the Great a joyful watch. (It’s by the guy who wrote “The Favourite”.)
Stargirl — I am so happy that there is something on actual network TV to watch this summer b/c I still pay for cable. Thank you, CW! This new superhero show is SO fun and well-written.
The 100 — Shoutout to The 100 which is ending this season. Never a bad episode!
Agents of SHIELD — Speaking of network TV, the final season of Shield has been great so far, and I look forward to seeing Agent Carter again!
What We Do in the Shadows — This vampire mock-umentary show is SO FUNNY. Highly recommended. (FX/Hulu)
Killing Eve — Season 3 of Killing Eve did not disappoint… so sad it’s over already!
Quiz — This is a 3 part mini-series about the 2001 “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” scandal in London, and it’s fantastic. (AMC)
Nora from Queens — Emi and I started watching Awkwafina’s new show, and it’s cute so far — I’m told it gets better as it goes on, so we look forward to that. (Comedy Central) We are also now in season 5 of “Bob’s Burger’s” so almost halfway to being caught up!
I actually have barely made a dent in my queues, and my DVR is still at 85% right now, but I suspect there won’t be much new TV till 2021 so that shall give me a chance to catch up. If you have a recommendation, though, please let me know! I am considering the 17 seasons of the Stargate series if I start to run out of newer options.
This is the first ledger in the history of Seth that does not have a section on theatrical shows I have seen, and that is really sad. I will say the best virtual show I’ve seen (besides my own) was Sondheim’s 90th birthday concert. However, even the best virtual show cannot compare to a live one, and I find that it’s mostly depressing to watch it online.
So, let’s hope that we get a vaccine soon!!!
Well, there you have it. Please feel free to let me know how YOU are doing, and if you ever need someone to talk to I am here. I hope we can all meet in person again soon, but until then, I promise to keep putting out virtual entertainment!
August 27, 2020 — LQ fundraiser concert + more
Greetings! As September approaches, I’m happy to announce we will be recording the Love Quirks Original Off-Broadway cast recording in a few weeks! I’m producing a virtual fundraiser concert 2 weeks from tonight, Thursday, September 10th at 7PM on FB and YouTube, and I hope YOU will tune in and donate a little (or a lot).
This is a perfect opportunity for all of those people out there who wished they could’ve invested in the show but could not afford it. The concert will be broadcast live, but be available forever afterwards. No donation is too small! Please tune in and share with all your friends!
Watch on FB Live: @lovequirks or @sethbhdotcom or on YouTube on my LiveStream channel: tinyurl.com/sethbhdotcom. Donations (which we are accepting whenever) can be made at: paypal.me/lovequirks (or if you prefer, you can always Venmo me: @Seth-Bisen-Hersh just make sure you mark down it’s for LQ).
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
1. The concert features songs from my Self-Isolation Song Cycle, which can be found, here: tinyurl.com/sethsongcycle if you’d like to compare my renditions to that of the LQ cast/production staff.
2. My podcast: “Millennials are Ruining the World? an Xennial perspective: bridging the gap between Generations X & Y ‘I’m not woke, but I’m awake!’” just wrapped up its phenomenal 2nd season. If you missed any of the episodes, which were both educational and hilarious, you can check them out, here: soundcloud.com/sethbhdotcom. This season’s eclectic topics were Travel, Life on Pause, Artistic Value, Productivity, Instagram, Tik Tok, Conspiracy Theories, Medieval Times (the restaurant), Sondheim, Writing Reality (where my collaborator and I discuss how he wrote the script of LQ), Mental Health, Entitlement and Relationships.
3. Our talk show “What Day Is It!?! with Seth & Kelly” did 15 great episodes this season. If you haven’t checked out our poignant and frank discuss of racism in episode 8, I highly recommend you tune in. www.sethbh.com/talk-show
4. My Facebook Live show “The Making of a Musical” covered all 30 of the songs that were ever in LQ, and now on “Seth Sings Bisen-Hersh” I’ve been talking about my other projects for 14 weeks now with at least another 8 to come.
5. Not that anyone besides my father has watched them all, but there are now 21 virtual showcases online, and I will be doing these through at least October, Tuesdays at 7PM: tinyurl.com/sethbhdotcom. (Also up there are the 3 virtual play readings I did with my acting class friends if you missed those!)
6. SethEmiStreet Zumba hit episode 23 this Sunday on the 23rd! If you’re like me and just sit around at a desk all day, it’s a great idea to get up and dance at least once a week! http://tinyurl.com/sethemistreetzumba
OTHER PEOPLE’S STUFF
If that wasn’t enough for you, I’m going to be on some other people’s shows coming up. (What a relief to not have to produce them myself!)
First, if you missed it, I was the musical guest on the 14th episode of the Homemade Sketch Show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVHau3iZ79k
Next, I wrote the closing song “I Wish You Well” for this new puppet show for kids, Bryan’s Backyard (highly recommended for 4-7 year olds!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh5r6nK3OxM (Oh, I’m also featured in the pilot, too!)
Tonight (Thursday, 8/27) I’m going to be interviewed on Thirsty Thursday at 8PM while 2 performers sing my songs; here’s the direct link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0tTUSQYgCA (Also on FB: @NoraLynKennedy).
I’m going to be on Hi! Drama this Saturday, 8/29 on FB at 1:30PM on NYC Cable, but you can watch it on YouTube, here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6vu0O5x41c (or on Facebook Saturday: @hidramas).
If that wasn’t enough, 3 of my podcast guests invited me on their podcasts! First up, I was on Joshua Desjardin’s podcast “Grateful Goodnights” Episode 5: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/episode-5-its-time-to-check-in-with-seth-bisen-hersh/id1516666579?i=1000481783769
I’m going to be on David Davila’s “Defending Your Diva” podcast, though David accidentally lost the file before he generated it, so we are rerecording this weekend to air hopefully soon. Oh, and of course, I’m defending MISS PIGGY! https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/defending-your-diva-an-ultra-gay-podcast/id1526322043
And finally, my friend Gia Doxey has a podcast about “Jersey Boys”. Since I accompanied auditions for the Broadway production around 2006, they interviewed me a bit about that process. I won’t be on till October, but you can bookmark the link now: https://anchor.fm/silhouettes-jb-podcast
Smee says “MEOW!” and wants me to go feed him, so I’m going to take a quick break. HOLD ON! Okay, I’m back. It’s actually around 14 years since I adopted Smee! Can you believe it? Where doth the time goeth?
Smee still spends most of his time napping in his box or begging for food. He has been a part of a bunch of my live broadcasts, but his rates have gone up, so I have been using him a little more sparingly these days.
In other news, I’ve been doing a bunch of virtual puzzling! In addition to finishing writing a few more crossword puzzles that will probably be rejected by the New York Times (16th time’s a charm?), I had fun participating in the Lollapuzzoola competition, and I did not finish last! I also did a few other puzzly things, including a 3 hour virtual puzzle hunt and a 3 day one with some of my friends. Of course, the MIT Mystery Hunt is going to be all virtual this January, which will mark the first year in 22 years I have not gone back to MIT for it…
Also, we tried a virtual escape room. It was kind of weird because the cluemaster had to be our avatar, so it made it impossible to split up. Thus, they can really only offer easier rooms that are solved sequentially this way, and we got out fairly quickly without any speed bumps… But it was nice to do one without leaving the apartment!
Other than that, not quite the same as puzzles, but still intellectual stimuli: I’ve been playing Scrabble Go and Words with Friends, and still using Duolingo to learn Japanese for a half hour most days.
It will come as no surprise to anyone that I am emphatically endorsing the Biden/Harris ticket. I adore Kamala Harris, and she was my top choice in the primary, so I am over the moon that she will hopefully be our next VP! If anyone hears anyone saying anything negative about her, please give me their phone number so I can call them up and talk some sense into them!
I watched all 10 hours of the DNC, and I thought they did a great job bolstering Biden, who I think is quite a mensch. I think it is imperative that everyone votes and that everyone gets everyone they know to vote (especially in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Florida & Arizona). Most of my friends’ livelihoods are on the line (until this virus is under control and managed by someone competent, there will not be any live theatre), and millions of people’s actual lives are on the line. We cannot sit back and allow this fascist regime another 4 years to destroy this country piece by piece. As Michelle Obama declared, things can get much worse.
Thus, it is unconscionable for anyone to do any of the following: 1. Not vote 2. Vote third party 3. Heaven forbid vote for the current abomination. If anyone you know is planning to do any of those 3 things, then I suggest you tell them to take a really hard look at themselves in the mirror and question their lack of empathy. IT IS NOT ABOUT THEM. Feel free to send me phone numbers of anyone who is intending to do any of those 3 things and I will do everything in my power to get them excited about Biden/Harris!!!!!
This ends the soapbox section of this ledger.
The best news of the last month is that the library has opened up for pick up/drop off. That means instead of waiting to buy books years later after they’re on eBay for cheap then adding them to my 9 bookshelves stuffing them in with my other 550 books where they will accrue dust forever, I have been able to reserve some of the most popular new books and read them while they’re still hip! I’m literally number 500 for a few, but here is what I have read since the last ledger:
Fates and Furies – Really enjoyable “Gone Girl” style book about a marriage that is seemingly happy…
Euphoria – This was a virtual book club pick and was a very dull book about an anthropologist…
Manfried the Man – Leah lent me this cute graphic novel about a society where cats are men and men are cats…
The Rainbow – I read this 500 page D.H. Lawrence novel b/c I realized I hadn’t been reading enough classics – I want to read the sequel “Women in Love” at some point soon, but it’s kind of gotten pushed behind all my library choices… it’s just as well b/c the print is so tiny I need reading glasses to read it…
Normal People – Sally Rooney is the millennial ‘it’ writer these days, so I checked this out – it was okay, I really don’t like her choice to not use quotation marks when people talk, though.
If Beale Street Could Talk – Another book club choice; I really liked this one, and I’m glad Karen picked it! I then watched the movie afterwards, and I prefer the book.
The Testaments – Thanks to the library, I finally read the sequel to “Handmaid’s Tale” which was fantastic. I have a few of Atwood’s other books here, and eventually since I’m a completist, will try to read them all.
Rodham – Again, thanks to the library I read one of my favorite authors, Curtis Sittenfeld’s new book the week it came out!! It’s a revisionist history about what would’ve happened if Hillary hadn’t married Bill…
Conversations with Friends – This is Sally Rooney’s first novella, and I think it is better than “Normal People” and NP actually seems to repeat some of the things in this one. Still no quotation marks for dialogue, though = WTF?!!?
Looking for Alaska – After watching the Hulu adaptation, I gave in and got this John Green novel, and it was a really fast read, and I might just read his other books to stay hip and young.
Even This I Get to Experience – I just finished Norman Lear’s memoirs last night, and jeez! He really had a wonderful life and career, and he’s basically friends with everyone famous. He didn’t have much success till his mid-40s, so that gives me hope for my career!
Coming up: I have quite a few books on reserve, just waiting for them to get to me… including the new Elena Ferrante book (!!!) and Alex Trebek’s memoir! I actually have 20 books that I really want to read on my list, though I’m spacing it how to try to only have 3 out at a time… then, there’s another 30 or so… so, once I finish these 50, then I can go back to the 200 in my apartment that I haven’t read! But I’m taking advantage of the library while I have the time to commit to getting the books read and back in time!
Furthermore, the library also has DVDs, so I got a few of Normal Lear’s movies coming. (Incidentally, I also watched the pilot to “All’s Fair” on the YouTube b/c Bernadette was in it, but it’s pretty clear why it got canceled after a season, and also parts of the “I Love Liberty!” concert he produced, including the Muppets’ skit.) These DVDs are usually only available for a week, but they give you an extra week to pick it up. Also, the books are usually 2 weeks for new ones, but I get 3, and 3 weeks for the older ones becomes 4. This makes it way easier to commit to getting things, and since there’s really not much else going on in my life, it’s nice to have an excuse to leave the apartment once a week.
Other than that, the movies I’d recommend that we watched recently are: Eurovision on Netflix and Palm Springs on Hulu. I’m sorry it’s not really much more than that!
I really want to watch Jojo Rabbit, which is on HBO right now, BUT HBO IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE ON ROKU. As my iPad is too old for HBO Max, the only way I can access it is on my computer, and the desk is too far away from the bed (b/c my apartment is so big!) and the volume doesn’t quite get high enough, so I can’t really watch a movie on it. (This is the reason I still haven’t seen the Kimmy Schmidt interactive special b/c my Roku is too old to use the features…) I have complained to HBO and Roku multiple times, but they are still at some sort of greedy impasse. Same with Peacock, but thankfully they have very little to watch on that one…
Anyway, I really wanted to see the second Wonder Woman movie on a big screen, and I’m not quite sure when that’ll happen…
I actually mentioned most of my summer shows in the last ledger. So many are on hiatus, and a few shows I liked got canceled even after being renewed (“The Society”, “I’m Sorry”) so that was pretty sad. Though not as sad as the Theater Row Diner shutting down for good. Anyway, here are some shows I got into in the past few months since the last ledger when out early June:
Love in the Time of Cholera — This was a 4 part mini-series from the creator of “The Fosters” that just aired this weekend on Freeform, and I actually really enjoyed it. Sadly, this is the only thing on this list on actual TV as “Agents of SHIELD” is over forever, “Stargirl” ended its season, and I already mentioned “The 100” last time and it only has 5 episodes left anyway… one of these days I might actually get rid of cable, but I need MSNBC through November at least…
Never Have I Ever — I actually just forgot to put this on the list last time. This Mindy Kaling comedy on Netflix was perfect.
3% — The 4th and final season came out on Netflix, so I took my friend Lauren’s suggestion to try this Brazilian show, and it was fantastic. Highly recommended for anyone who likes “The Hunger Games” and dystopian futures, who doesn’t mind subtitles.
The Umbrella Academy — Another Netflix show — the 2nd season was fantastic!
Warrior Nun — More Netflix, this just got renewed — it’s kind of like Buffy meets the DaVinci code, but not as good.
Raising Dion — I guess I’ve been on Netflix a lot — this one and the newly canceled “I’m Not Okay with This” are cute YA superhero shows that I binged pretty quickly.
Hanna — Let’s switch to Amazon, home of my favorite already mentioned last time quarantine shows “Upload” and “Tales from the Loop” and give a shoutout to the wonderful 2nd season of this coming-of-age international spy show.
Normal People — Onto Hulu, I thought the TV adaptation of this was actually better than reading the book.
Looking for Alaska — More Hulu, though I actually watched this before reading the book, and I also preferred this to the book, which is weird b/c usually books are better.
Lower Decks — The new animated Star Trek show on CBS All Access isn’t great, but I’m still watching it, and I tried the new “Twilight Zone” and “Why Women Kill” also on CBS, and I like both, though I’m not done with either yet.
Sally 4Ever — Before I lost HBO Now, I watched this one and “The Righteous Gemstones” which were both very funny, though Sally is probably the one that made me laugh more. Oh, also “Watchmen” is very good, even though it’s super confusing for the first half.
If anyone has any new suggestions, please let me know! There are a few series I want to watch on HBO Max if it ever comes to Roku. I also would like to watch “Muppets Now” but I absolutely hate Disney these days, so I refuse to pay for Disney+. Finally, the other one I’m completely missing is Apple TV, and maybe one day I will upgrade my phone or tablet and get a free subscription to check out its shows… While I’m paying so much for FiOS cable, there is a 0% chance of me paying for any more streaming apps…
This is really sad. Should I just leave this section off? I ended up watching all 100 operas that the Met App has available. The amount of virtual theatre stuff has kind of ebbed as the summer has gone on, and since I spend so much time live broadcasting myself, it’s not my favorite thing to watch anyway.
One day we will have theatre again, and this section will return!
Well, there you have it. I really hope YOU will tune in in 2 weeks for our concert and will consider donating some money to fund the Love Quirks original off-Broadway cast recording. We are beyond thrilled to get that out to the world, and we hope it builds excitement for the show to return sometime in 2021.
Other than that, I’ll be here live-broadcasting, reading, puzzling, and learning Japanese. Gambatte!
December 31, 2020 — Seth’s 2020 Year Recap
Well, I put this off as long as I could, but with the clock ticking, it’s time to do a recap of 2020 — everyone’s favorite year! As always, I will start by looking at my 2020 Resolutions, and then… um, well maybe I’ll just push most of them to 2021… or 2022…
2020 RESOLUTIONS REVISITED
1. Produce Love Quirks off-Broadway.
I DID THIS!!!!! I REALLY DID THIS. I know it’s hard to remember, but after 10 years, I did actually manage to get Love Quirks off-Broadway! Remember? This happened! 2 weekends of previews! Yasss!! Okay, so let’s chalk that up to a big win!!!
2. Write the score to a new musical.
Um, you know, I could’ve done this, I suppose. I did write a new song cycle, does that count? And RC and I did start a new musical aimed for the Broadway in 2030, and we have almost finished 4 songs. So, that’s a start at least… so maybe a half point?
3. Produce more film projects.
Sadly, the planned film project for this fall had to be postponed, and it might end up being spring 2022…
4. Write more episodes of sitcom.
Aw, how cute is this idea! Well, no, the sitcom has kind of been on indefinite pause this year, too.
5. Make my NYT Crossword Puzzle debut.
NOOO! Does getting more rejections from the NYT count? I do have 3 more in the queue, and maybe one of them will be the debut in 2021…
6. Write a new book.
OH, I actually did write a new book at the end of last year, but it’s about Love Quirks, so it’s on hold till the show is back and a hit. But I didn’t say PUBLISH a new book, so I’m taking this point!
7. Do a new season of my podcast.
I DID THIS ONE!!! I DID! There was a wonderful second season of my podcast — did YOU listen to it? It was really great, and done via Zoom! But I had 13 wonderful guests, and we discussed a wide range of topics including productivity, relationships, entitlement, mental health, writing reality, Sondheim and even Medieval Times!
8. Get The Diamond as Big as the Ritz produced somewhere.
Fail! But in my defense, there wasn’t any theatre produced anywhere.
9. Check off more states/countries in my Been app.
UGH!! The only travel I did in 2020 was to go to Savannah — that doesn’t check anything new off. Boo!
10. And the hardest one: finally get a literary agent or manager.
Nope. That didn’t happen either. Um, so I’m a 3.5/10 for the year! UGH, but at least I’m not 0. Let’s focus on what I actually did this year instead, shall we?
1. I ACTUALLY GOT LOVE QUIRKS OFF-BROADWAY!!! A remarkable professional production that hundreds of people got to see!!! AND WE WILL BE BACK!!!!
2. I got ENGAGED. That’s a pretty big thing, and at 1,420 views: the proposal video is the most watched video I put out in 2020.
3. In addition to my 4 regular showcases (including 2 Sondheim ones) early 2021, I produced 39 virtual showcases featuring 224 singers from 35 states and 7 countries with some of the shows garnering over 2K views! And I even did a show when my cable modem died, and used my phone as a hotspot! — If you missed any of these, you can always catch up: tinyurl.com/sethbhdotcom
4. I wrote 12 songs to make my Self-Isolation Song Cycle, which is my 10th cabaret/song cycle. Who knew there would be something that inspired me to write another one? — tinyurl.com/sethsongcycle
5. I produced and co-starred in 15 episodes of my talk show “What Day Is It!?!” including a poignant, educational, mostly serious episode about racism — sethbh.com/talk-show
6. I put out 13 episodes of season 2 of my podcast, “Millennials are Ruining the World? an Xennial perspective” — sethbh.com/podcast
7. I did TWO Facebook Live Series: 30 episodes of “The Making of a Musical” about the songs from Love Quirks and 24 episodes of “Seth Sings Bisen-Hersh” about songs from my other projects over the last 20 years — facebook.com/sethbhdotcom
8. Emi and I put out 37 episodes of “SethEmiStreet Zumba!” — tinyurl.com/sethemistreetzumba
9. In addition to all of that, my friends from acting class put on 3 live play readings, and the cast and crew of Love Quirks put on a concert of my new song cycle raising $$ for the CD.
10. Speaking of, we did record the Love Quirks original Off-Broadway cast album this September! We are currently in the mixing process, and will release it a few weeks before we reopen!
Also, this year: I watched 100 operas on the Met app, practiced a lot of Japanese, slimmed up from my gymming it up 3 days/week and started playing chess again online more actively.
I mean, it feels really hard to do resolutions this year, but I don’t think anything can be as bad as this year… so let’s just reuse most of the other ones…
1. Reopen Love Quirks off-Broadway!!!!! We will be one of the FIRST shows to resume performances!
2. Write the score to a new musical. 4 songs down, 16 or so to go!
3. Produce more film projects. Yes, I would like to do at least one tv/film project in 2021. Let’s hope!
. Make my NYT Crossword Puzzle debut. I will keep trying for this one!
5. Produce live cabaret again! Please! Even if it’s outside!
6. Another season of my podcast!
7. Read 50 more books! (This year I got to 49… so close to 50! Though, if things reopen, then I will be less likely to make this one, which I will be fine with!)
8. See a Broadway show! It’s weird to put this on the list, and it’s not completely up to me, but I’m hopeful for a return to theatre, and I’ll even pay!
9. Check off more states/countries in my Been app. This has to be doable in 2021! At least one more state!
10. HAVE A HUGE WEDDING!!!! I am very hopeful we can have our big wedding in the fall, though this might get pushed back to 2022 depending on how fast they get the vaccine out…
SMEE TURNS 14
Can you believe Smee is 14?! I would say he’s about to go through puberty, but I mean, in cat years, he’s really more like 70. We had a lovely Zoom party for him a few weeks ago, and I made three rounds of trivia on this teacher app Kahoot! I did a “How well do you know Smee?” quiz, then a “Famous Cats” one and a great quiz on trivia about the number 14. Almost 30 people attended, which made it the most attended cat party of Smee’s life! He is staring at me right now, hoping for more food, so I should try to write faster…
BIG LIFE CHANGING NEWS
For 2021, I have finally decided to be a cord cutter! What?! No, I’m not a millennial, but I am switching from FiOS cable (keeping the internet) to YouTubeTV! For $65/month (plus tax), I will have access to just about every channel I ever watch. Also, YT has an unlimited DVR, so I can tape as many shows at a time as I want, and as many shows as I want, and everything is available for 9 months. My sister and brother-in-law speak highly of it, so I am hoping I will like it, too. I am going to set it up today! It’s the first thing on my list for 2021, and this is the last thing for 2020. Heaven forbid I go out of order!
This also means I will be getting rid of my landline! WHAT?! BUT do not get too upset — I am paying $2/month to have the iconic NYC 212 number stay mine. It is going to be on a site called Number Barn, where you can hear a 30 second message telling you to call my cell phone if you are a real person and are NOT asking for money! So, this solves all the problems: I don’t have to have robocalls anymore, and I can still give out that number for mailing lists and online.
I know going without actual cable it’s a HUGE change, but FiOS keeps raising my price, and I’ve had HAD it. I ended up getting a new Roku for $25 because my old one couldn’t have Peacock or Apple TV+. My friend Josh nicely gave me a code for a free 3 months for Apple, and although I could access Peacock on my computer, I hate watching things on the computer, so I figured $25 would be a good investment to have 2 more platforms on the TV. Also, HBO Max is FINALLY available for Roku, and life has never been better in that regard!!! My new Roku is SO FAST, and so tiny and sits right on the top of my TV! It makes me understand how people can actually live without cable b/c it’s so efficient! My old one would take 5 minutes to switch which platform I was watching, and it would drive me NUTS! But now it’s instant! So woohoo!!!
So, that’s why I feel it’s okay to switch to YouTube TV. I also got the I Heart Radio app so I can continue to have classical music on — though unlike the Music Choice channel there are sadly ads. But I can access a bunch of classical stations and just switch during commercials, so it’s okay. It’s going to be a HUGE life adjustment, but I’m excited for 2021.
TOP 20 BOOKS I READ IN 2020
Here is a list of 49/50 books (the 50th is top secret b/c we’re adapting it into a musical) I read this year (the first 21 have been in ledgers before, but I figured you’d want it all in one place). FYI, the first 3 were pre-pandemic and starting at 15, it’s mostly library books, which is why there’s more new material. Afterwards, I have the top 20 books I recommend from this list. Note: this is not a best of 2020 b/c the majority of these books weren’t published this year and also “best” is subjective… it’s what I personally enjoyed the best.
1. Ada, or Ardor by Vladimir Nabokov – Finished Nabokov’s last and longest novel. Not the easiest read, but I feel very accomplished.
2. Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut – I found this book at The Book Lady in Savannah (my only vacation this year in January) for $3. It’s typical Vonnegut, a fast and fun read.
3. Best Babysitters Ever #3: Miss Impossible by Caroline Cala – My friend/collaborator Carrie’s 3rd book in this hilarious series was another fast and fun read.
4. The Upward Spiral by Alex Korb – I was given this book on depression from a friend for my birthday, and it was a helpful summary of things I’ve learned over years.
5. The Mark and the Void by Paul Murray – This is Murray’s 3rd comic novel, and he never disappoints. I highly recommend all 3 of his books, especially “Skippy Dies”.
6. The Sword and the Stone by T.H. White – King Arthur’s origin story’s was a bit dull.
7. Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon – Chabon never disappoints. Intricate, imitate dysfunctional characters in Oakland.
8. Things Invisible to See by Nancy Willard – This was a book club book (#2), and a fast, enjoyable read with a sweet love story and some fantastical elements. (FYI, #1 is a book I read last December that I picked: “Exit West” b/c I wanted to talk about it)
9. Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer – This is Foer’s third book, and it was phenomenal. As you can see, I mostly read modern award winning novels, and this one deserved all the awards it won.
10. Stardust by Neil Gaiman – We switched to fantasy for the 3rd virtual book club, and Neil Gaiman also never disappoints. A most enjoyable read, unsurprisingly better than the movie.
11. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff – Really enjoyable “Gone Girl” style book about a marriage that is seemingly happy…
12. Euphoria by Lily King – This was the 4th virtual book club pick and was a very dull book about an anthropologist…
13. Manfried the Man by Caitlin Major – Leah lent me this cute graphic novel about a society where cats are men and men are cats…
14. The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence – I read this 500 page D.H. Lawrence novel b/c I realized I hadn’t been reading enough classics – I want to read the sequel “Women in Love” at some point soon, but it’s kind of gotten pushed behind all my library choices, which is just as well b/c the print is so tiny reading this one gave me a headache, making me get a pair of reading glasses from my father, which I now regularly use…
15. Normal People by Sally Rooney – Sally Rooney is the millennial ‘it’ writer these days, so I checked this out – it was a good read, but I really don’t like her choice to not use quotation marks when people talk, though, which is something a few other younger authors on this list eschewed as well. The Hulu series is better than the book was, which is rare.
16. If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin – Another book club choice (#5); I really liked this one, and I’m glad Karen picked it! I then watched the movie afterwards, and I prefer the book, although I kind of preferred the movie’s ending.
17. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood – Thanks to the library, I finally read the sequel to “Handmaid’s Tale” which was fantastic. I have a few of Atwood’s other books here, and eventually since I’m a completist, will try to read them all.
18. Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld – Again, thanks to the library I read one of my favorite author’s new book the week it came out!! It’s a revisionist history about what would’ve happened if Hillary hadn’t married Bill… kind of depressing to read, but nice to spend some time in an alternate universe for a bit.
19. Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney – This is Rooney’s first novella, and I think it is better than “Normal People” and NP actually seems to repeat some of the things in this one. In fact, I would recommend people start with this one if they want to check out her work.
20. Looking for Alaska by John Green – After watching the Hulu adaptation, I gave in and got this Young Adult novel, and it was a really fast read, and I might just read his other books to stay hip and young.
21. Even This I Get to Experience by Norman Lear – Norman Lear really had a wonderful life and career, and he’s basically friends with everyone famous. He didn’t have much success till his mid-40s, so that gives me hope for my career!
22. Adele by Leila Slimani – This was a good book about a sex addict in France.
23. The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue – Very well written and exquisite story telling, but it’s about the 1912 flu pandemic, and so it wasn’t the most pleasant read.
24. Antkind by Charlie Kaufman – This 700 page book is absolutely insane – I can’t even describe the plot, as there are parallel universes and absurdities abound. It was also very intellectual. It was kind of like Nabokov meets Vonnegut meets Kafka meets Woody Allen. If you like Charlie’s movies and those 4 authors, you’ll probably enjoy this!
25. The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante – Elena’s writing is unparalleled in modern fiction these days. While it has some points in common with “My Brilliant Friend” this story about a teenage girl going through her awkward upbringing takes the narrative in completely different directions. I highly recommend this (and all of Elena’s) book(s)!
26. Bunny by Mona Awad – This odd somewhat supernatural tale takes place at a college where an unpopular girl is indoctrinated into a sorority bunny cult.
27. Trust Exercise by Susan Choi – This book is phenomenal. It starts off being about a high school theatre club and then branches off in unexpected ways. This is the book I rate as number 1 that I’ve read this year, and I highly recommend it!
28. Apropos of Nothing by Woody Allen – Woody’s memoirs were definitely enjoyable to read, though I wish they had been a tad funnier. But you do understand him better when you are finished, at least.
29. There There by Tommy Orange – This was our 6th book club book, and is an amazing modern novel about a dozen Native American’s whose lives intersect.
30. Sex and the City and Us by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong – This was a lovely, light romp through the making of one of my favorite shows. I enjoyed her book on “Seinfeld” a few years ago, as well.
31. Trinkets by Kirsten Smith – I enjoyed this YA show on Netflix, so I got the book. The series is actually better. I find with YA books, the adaptations are better because they can expand the world. Also, one of my friends from acting class turned up in season 2!
32. My Sister is a Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite – This book was so good! And it’s a very quick read. Just a thrilling ride – I believe I finished it in 2 sittings.
33. The Topeka School by Ben Lerner – This was on a book list, and while I enjoyed it, again, the lack of quotation marks really leaves me with a bad taste and it didn’t make the top tier of what I read this year.
34. Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner – This book is hilarious, and very well written about a Jewish man in his 40s going through a messy divorce. Anyone looking for some levity, should check it out!
35. Daddy by Emma Cline – This collection of short stories was another fast, enjoyable read. You wanted to know more about most of the characters, which is the sign of a good short story collection!
36. Sisters by Daisy Johnson – Another book on one of those lists of modern fiction. I figured out the twist really early, so I wasn’t that enamored by it, but it wasn’t bad or anything.
37. Everything Was Possible by Ted Chapin – A wonderful recounting of Ted’s time as a production assistant on the original production of Sondheim’s “Follies” which was the last musical with such a huge cast (54 people) and full orchestra.
38. All Adults Here by Emma Straub – This is another comedic book about a dysfunctional family, and it is very well written and layered.
39. Chemistry by Weike Wang – Book club book #7 was my pick, and this book about a Harvard student who quits her PhD and can’t figure out what’s going on with her life was a relatable read.
40. Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of “Fiddler on the Roof” by Alisa Solomon – A comprehensive book exploring Fiddler’s journey from the original short stories to its current legacy.
41. The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel – Not as amazing as her Pulitzer Prize winning “Station Eleven” but still a wonderful, intricate, incredibly written novel.
42. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins – The prequel to “The Hunger Games” was very well done and explores the backstory of the villain of the original trilogy.
43. Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline – Sadly this fantasy sequel wasn’t half as good as the original and it was fairly predictable.
44. The Answer Is by Alex Trebek – I appreciated that Alex did short vignettes rather than long chapters. He will be missed!
45. Such of a Fun Age by Kiley Reid – This novel started as a really fun read with great characterizations. It was on Time’s best books of the year list and I was like: “Well it’s cute, but is this really the best book of the year?” But then I got to the last part, and the brilliance of how everything came together was clear. This is now on my best books of the year list, as well!
46. La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman – After watching season 2 of “His Darkest Materials” it occurred to me the reason I hadn’t started on the new “Book of Dust” trilogy is b/c I didn’t want to purchase them all. So, I plan to catch up on all the HDM books through the library. (I already own “Lyra’s Oxford” but there’s another short prequel, and then the 2nd book of dust, and now there’s a book that takes place in between 2 of the original trilogy – and then the final book will be out eventually, but isn’t even titled yet.)
47. A Promised Land by Barack Obama – 700 pages! Ye gods! And this is just the first part, as it only gets to the killing of bid Laden! Obama is a good author, but it’s not as insightful as Hillary’s book. Also, I spent the whole primary rooting for her to win this time, so it’s kind of anti-climatic because you know the outcome most things! But it did give me more respect for what Obama managed to accomplish, especially once the obstructionist Republicans took control of Congress. Obama likes to do bios of everyone he talks about, and also put everything in historical context. I think you could’ve trimmed this down to 600 pages, and man the tiny print hurt my eyes, but there’s no denying this is an important read and contains some good anecdotes.
48. Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon by James Hibbard – Speaking of respect, this comprehensive account of what it was like to turn “Game of Thrones” from a book series to a global phenomenon TV show, also increased my respect for the creators. It was nice to hear intimate and sometimes hilarious stories from almost all of the cast members. Hibbard was Entertainment Weekly’s reporter for GOT and had exclusive access for years, so he managed to get a quote from almost everyone besides Diana Riggs, who clearly was too cool for that sort of thing. (And Jonathan Pryce apparently!) Regardless, it brought back memories of watching the show weekly with my friend Aaron, and reminded me how important art is in society’s culture.
49. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller – When I posted some library books on the Facebook, one of my friends mentioned she was finishing up this one, and then another said it was one of his favorites. So, I am ending my year on this one; it’s a highly digestible, sweet retelling of the Achilles myth.
And if you’ve made is this far, you are now rewarded with my favorite 20 books I read in 2020:
20. A Promised Land by Barack Obama
19. Everything Was Possible by Ted Chapin
18. Chemistry by Weike Wang
17. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
16. Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
15. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
14. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
13. The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue
12. All Adults Here by Emma Straub
11. If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin
10. Daddy by Emma Cline
9. Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
8. My Sister is a Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
7. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
6. The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
5. Such of a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
4. There There by Tommy Orange
3. Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer
2. The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante
1. Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
Up next in my library queue are mostly popular books from 2020: Jerry Seinfeld’s “Is This Anything?”, “Luster” “Leave the World Behind”, “White Ivy”, “The Orchard”, “Shuggie Bain”, “The Vanishing Half”, “Breasts and Eggs”, “Girl, Woman, Other”, “Nine Perfect Strangers”, “Where the Crawdads Sing” and the 5th book in the Cormoran Strike series: Troubled Blood. Also, my book club is going to read the first book of the Infomacracy trio, so I probably will get the next two after that. I also have a bunch of books that have been adapted to TV shows I want to read at some point including “Altered Carbon”, “Dash & Lily”, “Mrs. Fletcher” and “The Queen’s Gambit”.
TOP 20 MOVIES I SAW IN 2020
I didn’t really see 20 movies in 2020. I did see “Little Women” early on, but that’s really a 2019 movie. Here are some movies I liked on different platforms, though!
The Trial of the Chicago 7 — Aaron Sorkin makes history exciting!
The Prom — We very much enjoyed this adaptation of this sweet Broadway musical starring the incomparable Meryl Streep
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm — This is a hilarious sequel to the first one, and it made me laugh a lot, which is a hard thing to do.
Uncle Frank — This was such a charming movie by Alan Ball.
Palm Springs — This Groundhog’s Day like film was incredibly fun!
Happy Season — A feel good holiday film about accepting yourself!
Wonder Woman 1984 — Not as good as the first one, but still a thrilling sequel!
An American Pickle — A quirky adaptation of a great short story about a man who falls into a pickle vat and wakes up 100 years later and befriends (and be-enemies) his great-grandson.
I also want to watch Superintelligence (Melissa McCarthy) and Let Them All Talk (Meryl Streep, Dianne Wiest Candice Bergen) at some point.
Onward — This Pixar film had so much heart! I hear good things about “Soul” too, but sadly, my free trial ended…
TOP 20 TV SHOWS I WATCHED IN 2020
I usually do top 10 lists, but since it’s 2020, and there have been an awful lot of TV shows coming out, I decided to do a top 20. Here is a list of what I consider the best TV of 2020. I have only included shows that have had at least 1 new episode this year. There are many, many, many other shows I have enjoyed, but these 20 are shows that I mostly watched the night they aired on my DVR without fail, or binged exceedingly quickly even though I prefer to watch an episode of a week, rather than binge like a millennial.
20. Modern Family (ABC) — While its last few seasons had ebbed creatively, you’ll be hard pressed to find another show on its level for consistently making you laugh out loud. I will always miss having a new episode to watch every Wednesday night. It truly was one of the best parts of my week for 11 years. (The only other network sitcom that makes me actually LOL is “Brooklyn Nine Nine” but I didn’t think this season was that strong, and I miss Chelsea Peretti and the show isn’t quite the same since she left. After that, I’d go with “Superstore” but it’s also not as funny as it once was. After that, “American Housewife” but it’s not really LOL. And “The Goldbergs” and “Blackish” are past their heyday, which is quite a strange word. I’ll shout out “One Day at a Time” here, too because it should be a network sitcom, but instead got canceled twice.)
19. Agents of SHIELD (ABC) — Another show with a final season, but this final season was one of the best of the whole series making me glad I stuck with the show over 7 years. (Other shows ending this year I loved that probably could’ve made the list but for the fact I ran out of space for ending shows: “The 100” (though it was quite bad this season), “The Good Place” (first few seasons were better) and the good every single episode “BoJack Horseman” which probably should be on this list, but I don’t know what I would cut…)
18. Doom Patrol (HBO) — The first season was better than the second, which is technically what aired this year, however, I still am putting it on the list because I think it’s a really great show, with great actors and great writing. It’s super quirky, and it gets compared to the “Umbrella Academy” which had a tremendous season 2 after a rather lackluster season 1, so I mean, I was torn, but I think I’m going with DP b/c I love all the character backstories. The other contender in this genre is “The Boys” but it’s a little too violent for me; speaking of violence, if you don’t mind it and like coming-of-age stories, I highly recommend “Wayne” on Amazon, which doesn’t qualify for this list because it originally came out in 2019 on YouTube Premium. But it’s such a sweet show besides all the blood and gore!
17. This is Us (NBC) — Sometimes there are episodes that feel superfluous, but I have to hand it to the acting and writing on this drama that keeps me coming back every week. This season has been strong so far, even if it’s my preference to watch shows that ignore reality. (Didn’t we get enough reality this year?)
16. Raised by Wolves (HBO) — This science fiction adventure show had so many twists and turns that it was fairly unpredictable, which is exceedingly hard to pull off these days. Wonderfully shot, written and acted, as well. It’s a testament to how much I like all the shows on this list that this came in at 16 because it’s really wonderful.
15. Everything’s Going to be Okay (Freeform) — Sometimes the episodes meandered, but overall, I found this new comedy unique, refreshing and hilarious.
14. Stargirl (CW) — This is a perfect coming-of-age superhero show and quickly became my favorite current DC Comics show (and I watch them all). Quirky and fun!
13. Dash & Lily (Netflix) — I knew a few people in this one since it shot in NYC, and I thought, “Well I hate the holidays, but I guess I’ll try it anyway,” and I was pleasantly surprised by how charming it was, and it features my favorite bookstore: the iconic Strand! Talk about binging, I watched the whole thing in one sitting! I thought it would be more of a guilty pleasure like “High School: the Musical: The Musical: the Series” (which I also watched in almost one sitting) but it transcended its genre. I look forward to reading the books to find out what happens next!
12. 3% (Netflix) — I decided to watch this show after the 4th season came out this year, and it was so good! Anyone who likes Dystopian futures like “The Hunger Games” will really love this show, too. And so many unpredictable twists and turns!
11. Hanna (Amazon) — I loved this show’s 2nd season. It’s coming-of-age meets action/adventure, and I don’t think there’s really another show out there like it. And the acting and cinematography is fantastic. And it’s mostly unpredictable, as well.
10. Upload (Amazon) — While we’re on Amazon, I found this half hour comedy to be a true delight, and I enjoyed its science fiction conceit, as well. Another show I binged very quickly.
9. Sex Education (Netflix) — This show is so much fun! Its second season was just as good as the first, maybe even better, and Gillian Anderson is always wonderful in everything. Who doesn’t love shows all about sex?
8. Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access) — This season of STD (not the coolest acronym), has been on fleek! I won’t spoil the plot for those of you who have yet to watch, but the best part of the season is there’s a new “Star Trek” cat!!!!
7. Never Have I Ever (Netflix) — Mindy Kaling’s new comedy is hilarious and features lots of nerdy characters, which reminds me of my own high school experience! It feels both fresh and authentic.
6. Dead to Me (Netflix) — This is a darker comedy than the rest, but the writing is fantastic and mostly unpredictable. At its core are the two remarkable performances by Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini.
5. Better Call Saul (AMC) — I think that this “Breaking Bad” prequel has started to be even better than the original. Rhea Seehorn has been snubbed for the Emmy Award too many times. She is unbelievable. And it’s such a compelling drama you can’t take your eyes off the screen.
4. What We Do in the Shadows (FX) — It looks like my favorite comedy of the year is this hilarious mockumentary about the supernatural, which makes me guffaw aloud sometimes unlike most modern “comedies”. Puns, silliness… and vampires! If you like all three of those and are not watching this show, then you are truly missing out. It’s way funnier than “Buffy”!
3. Tales of the Loop (Amazon) — This cinematic masterpiece is a wonderful 8 episode mini-series with some timey-wimey things going on and some super sweet poignant truths about humanity, as well. Everything about this was just beautiful to watch and the acting and writing was top-notch, too. It stayed with me long after I finished it.
2. My Brilliant Friend (HBO) — I fell in love with this show in season 1, and then I read all 4 novels, and now Emi is reading them. It’s without a doubt the best non-fantasy book series ever, and the TV show has done a remarkable job adapting it. The second book is my favorite, and the second season did not disappoint. If you haven’t read these books, what as you waiting for?
1. The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix) — There is no question in my mind about which show deserves the number 1 slot this year. I love chess, and I loved every moment of this miniseries, which went so far as to hire chess masters to make every single game authentic and thrilling to watch. I hadn’t intended to binge this show, but the episodes bleed into each other like one giant movie, and I simply couldn’t stop watching. I wish they had a reason to do a sequel!
As social media addicts will know, I put this list out on the Facebook a few weeks ago (I waited on the book list till I got my 50th, but I mistakenly thought I was done finding great 2020 TV shows). Since then, I have been clearing my DVR and caught up on a few other shows that might have made the list:
Flesh and Blood (PBS) — This 4 episode mini-series was one of the best things I’ve seen in 2020, so I’m sad I didn’t get to it before this list came out. Starring Imelda Staunton, it’s part family melodrama and potential murder mystery. All the characters were so watchable, and the writing was fantastic. I highly recommend this! I think it’s probably available on the PBS app/on demand. It’s four 45 minutes episodes, so you can treat it like a 3 hour movie if you like!
Snowpiercer (TNT) — I don’t know that this would’ve made the list. The season started slow, but got good by the end, and I’m glad I caught up in time for season 2.
Lovecraft Country (HBO) — This show was a bit inconsistent, but overall it was wildly original.
In terms of old school sitcoms, I watched 2011’s Suburgatory on the CW Seed and saw the final few unaired episodes of 2013’s “The Michael J. Fox Show” on Crackle. And a special shout out to the new season of “Mad About You” now available on Amazon Prime which was pure 90s nostalgia!
Up next, I intend to get to Apple+ TV before my free trial is over: “The Morning Show”, “Central “Park”, “Ted Lasso”, “Dickinson”, “Mystic Quest” and “Servant”. And of course, season 4 of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and season 3 of “Cobra Kai” both on Netflix this weekend. In terms of new shows I’m going to DVR on YouTube TV: “Elizabeth is Missing” on PBS, “Call Me Kat” and “The Great North” on FOX, “The Watch” (based on Terry Pratchett’s “Discworld”) on BBC-A, “Mr. Mayor” on NBC, “Trickster” on the CW, “Call Your Mother” on ABC, “Resident Alien” on Syfy, “Clarice” on CBS and “Superman & Lois” on the CW. Not sure if any of those will be good, but I am hopeful. Now that real TV is back, I’ll have less time for streaming platforms, but I did manage to catch up on a lot of shows I have been meaning to watch since 2016. (For those who like raunchy college humor, I’ve been watching this BBC show from 2016-2019 on Amazon Prime called “Fresh Meat” and it’s very funny.)
WHERE IS THE THEATRE SECTION?
This is the first year since 1992 that I didn’t see a Broadway show. I saw a bunch of off-Broadway ones early in the year, including 8 performances of Love Quirks, but let’s hope in 2021 I will get to see one again!
I miss theatre so ridiculously much, and let’s hope we can reopen soon!
FINAL 2020 THOUGHTS
What a year it has been! Who could’ve ever foreseen it? So much Zooming! Don’t you wish you had bought stock in it?
I wish I was in a profound mood today. I mean… we did it! We got through the worst year of the century. So, congratulations! It’s been a really rough year of trying to find the silver lining, but you know — we survived. And I got to reconnect with so many people virtually, and that was lovely. Plus, I met 200 new singers to add to my roster and widened my audience worldwide.
I know things won’t instantly be better in 9 or so hours, but it will be nice to turn the page.
I wish you all nothing but the best for 2021!!! Hopefully by the end of the year, you will all be able to come visit and see Love Quirks off-Broadway!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!