Monday, November 23, 2015

A Farewell to A Kidney

So, the OEM parts may not be all they're cracked up to be.

Showing on a ct scan done in preparation for hernia repair surgery was a nasty tumor on one of my kidneys. Last week, I had another surgery to take out that kidney. I still have a good one left, which is all to the good. I'm hopeful that the upcoming pathology report will be promising.

It's been a whirlwind of medical procedures, doctors, nurses and hospital rooms. It has not been the very best of months that I can recall, but, on the other hand, living in the twenty-first century in the NYC area has certainly proven to have its advantages.

The big city turns off a lot of people, with its traffic, crowds, dirt, crime, pace and impersonal character. But, the big city is still, and always has been, where the big dogs come to play. With all its faults, the big city has the very best of everything also. The highest culture, business, finance, widest choices, entertainment, science, education and medicine reside here in the big city.

That's the city I know and will always be thankful for. 

What Fools These Mortals Be

In the typical idiotic hysteria about disallowing refugees into this country, the realities of our own history are cast aside with blithe contempt.

When every tinhorn leader of every faction is done dividing up the spoils in Syria, what spoils will there really be? A burned out husk of a hellscape, no civilization, no infrastructure, no culture, nothing will be left. The ashes of Syria will burn for decades and all of the death and destruction will ultimately be for nothing.

However, the refugees that escape and are given safe haven to live peacefully will flower and spring forth with families, artists, workers, professionals, scientists, inventors and others that will no doubt change the world.

Will America turn it's back on it's own heritage of welcoming and replenishing itself with the "wretched refuse" of the world and sink into the mire of its own making?

To listen to the leading Republican Presidential candidates, that would seem to be just the path that they would take this country down.

In the slogan of a leading xenophobic Republican bigot, let's "Make America Great Again". How? The way we were made great before. Let us welcome the latest additions to the 'great melting pot' and watch as we thrive. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Deep Bench


I'm looking forward to returning to work next week after my terribly inconvenient surgery. I'm fortunate that in my absence, my staff at the Lyceum, Melissa, Shari and Ree have carried the load and we are all fortunate that they got a helping hand from Al, who in spite of preparing for a new show at the Belasco, filled in for me while I recovered.

My heartfelt thanks go out to them all.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

What the Doctor Ordered


One shouldn't wait until convalescing to take this to heart.

Yet, I invariably do. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Fair is Foul, and Foul is Fair

   Image result for macbeth of the oppressed

Yet another take on Macbeth? Gender reversals? Is it really necessary?

Yes, yes, and oh my, YES.

A lovely and small production at the 14th Street Y, Macbeth of the Oppressed was an interesting and highly entertaining show with a wonderful cast that did a superb job.

The gender switched key characters revealed a Shakespearean world where sexuality, be they gay or straight, occupy the same standing in society with a refreshing lack of apologies or explanations. Husbands with husbands, wives with wives, and female warriors equal to any male illuminate the always overlooked truth of our own day to day reality.

As always, it's the text that invariably shines through, and except for a few semantic rough edges created by the unusual gender of the characters, the committed and energetic cast soars.

Macbeth of the Oppressed is a refreshing and exciting twist on an old and familiar standard. I had a great time with it. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Broadway Musicals, Big Draw in Brazil for a Decade, Lose Their Audience - The New York Times

Broadway Musicals, Big Draw in Brazil for a Decade, Lose Their Audience - The New York Times:

'via Blog this'

How odd!

Economic dislocation hurting sales for Broadway-style musicals. Who'da thunk it? That could never happen in New York, could it? Unthinkable!

I hear the trees grow to the skies on Broadway.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Next Stop, Willoughby?


I had just gotten off the train after work a few weeks ago, and had returned to my car. I wasn't prepared for what I saw.

My car was parked in a Handicapped Accessible spot, and on my windshield was a ticket that said I must pay $180.00 for this infraction. And I was, indeed, parked in this well marked Handicapped Accessible spot. Blue painted lines, zebra stripes and a sign planted into the asphalt that could leave no doubt that this spot was reserved for cars that had the proper hang tag visible from the rearview mirror.

The only thing was, when I parked the car that morning, the spot was not marked as a Handicapped Accessible spot! Was I losing my mind? Gone off the deep end? Lost my marbles? 

I expected to see Rod Serling step out from behind my car, smoking a cigarette, saying, "Submitted for your approval...".

I thought back to the morning. I remembered parking in this specific spot, and it was unmarked in any way. But, the blue paint seemed dry, the sign planted in the asphalt was solidly in place.


I looked at the parking ticket. It was written at 9:24 AM. I remembered parking at this spot at about 7:30 that morning. Could it possibly be that the spot was painted while my car was parked in it? In less than two hours?? 

I had no other explanation. It had to be! In the space of less than two hours, the spot my car was parked in was painted and marked with signage as a Handicapped Accessible spot, and I received a ticket!

I knew that this explanation would not play well with the traffic court judge, but I was innocent. I'd fight this ticket!

A few days later, I had an idea. Who was responsible for installing Handicapped Accessible spots in my village? I live in the land of Joey Buttafuocco, and I have little confidence in the local yokel government, but maybe I'd get lucky. I got the address of the Department of Public Works for the Village, and I went down to the Town Hall to investigate.

I spoke to the gentleman from the village, and explained my plight. I asked if any records were kept that would show when Handicapped Accessible spots were installed. I thought I imagined an ever so slight glimmer in his eye, when he didn't dismiss me outright as a lunatic. He took a copy of my summons and phone number, and said he would "look into it" and get back to me if he found out anything.

About a week later, I received a letter from the Village in the mail. SWEET JUSTICE! They revoked the summons!

I wondered about the traffic enforcement agent that originally ticketed me. He had to have seen the installation of the spot around my defenseless car. He had to be aware of the situation, yet he gave me the ticket anyway, in a spot that minutes earlier was a "legal" spot!  My anger was tempered by my relief that I wasn't losing my mind.

Over this, anyway.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Take Surge Pricing to the Limit. Then Go Further. - The New York Times

Take Surge Pricing to the Limit. Then Go Further. - The New York Times

Well, $750.00 for a generic medication seems outrageous. But $750.00 won't even pay for two tickets to Hamilton.


Good, Better, Best

I went out for a few drinks with my friend again the other night. You may remember him, he's the one with the idea of selling no show seats again to increase Broadway show revenue. He's got lots of "ideas", apparently. I prefer to meet him in a public setting.

We were chatting about world events, but as he is wont to do, the conversation eventually turned to Broadway.

"Wow, how about the commodities markets, eh?" he sniffed. "The China chaos is doing a number on everything, huh? Oil, coal, metals, it could be years before things get back to normal. Zero inflation!" I agreed, but had nothing to add. Like most things, commodities are cyclical. Up and down, ebb and flow.

So before the world were to end, I asked my friend what he'd have to drink. He wanted Chivas Regal, and he reminded me it was my turn to buy. Though I didn't exactly remember it being my turn, I didn't make a fuss. It was no big deal. For me, the house brand would do.

"Hey, since we're talking commodities, have you ever noticed how much Broadway, as a whole, has become commodified?" he asked. I was anxious to have my first sip, but I answered, "How so?"

"Well, for years Broadway has been catering to a lower and lower level, hasn't it? They've turned away from the classic New York audience in favor of tourists, and shows that will play well in Peoria, and the rest of the road, right? Jukebox musicals, English imports, star vehicles, versions of movies, revivals, and Disney. Very little challenging fare, wouldn't you agree?" He was able to say the longest sentences in one breath. I was and continue to be amazed by his talent.

I countered, "That may be partially true, but what about a show like Fun Home, or Hamilton? They seem fresh, no?" Shorter sentences and longer sips is my motto.

"Some may say so. Not me. The country at large has finally come to terms with gay issues and themes. I think Broadway is trailing on this. And now we have our second successful rap musical. Doesn't seem very fresh to me." I think he gets argumentative when he drinks. He was on his second one now. He can really put it away.

"You are certainly entitled to your opinion, my good man." I tried to lighted up the moment. His eyes had that burning look I know so well.

"You need to look at the big picture. That's where you'll find the truth!"


"That Broadway is, in fact, a commodity. Look, these shows are basically interchangeable. And, the proof of my theory lies in how these shows are sold." He sounded like he was about to climb up on a soapbox, so I took another sip of my drink.

"Take, for just one example, the pricing of tickets. These days, you have a choice of "Premium", "Mid-Premium" and, for lack of a better term, "Regular". Does this scheme ring a bell?" I didn't realize there'd be questions, I could only muster a slurping sound, as I has the last drops of my drink in my throat. I ordered us another round.

"Don't be a shmoe! This is easy. We were talking commodities just now." My eyes darted back and forth, unclear about what he was getting at.

"Gasoline, you knucklehead! What do you see when you fill up your car? A gas pump that offers "Regular", "Plus", and "Premium". Why do you think they do that? Especially when the overwhelming number of cars on the road today are recommended to use "Regular" by their manufacturers? We know that there is no material difference in gasoline among brands, gas is gas. Yet, space is made for these higher priced formulations to appeal to ignorant drivers that think higher priced gas is somehow superior. It's a complete joke, and yet, it continues." He made me feel special, as I always buy off brand gas. I knew better! The house Scotch tasted muy fine.

"Well, you are right about gasoline, but Broadway shows? What's the connection?" I wondered.

"It's the same con! Good, better, best, be it gasoline or Broadway tickets, just allows customers to pay more for the same commodity. It's a windfall for the oil companies, and it's the same on Broadway. What makes seats in a Broadway theater worth more than adjacent seats? These theaters are a hundred years old. Did the world change fifteen years ago and the physical properties of these seats change? No. Only how they were sold. Customers have always overpaid for gas, now they happily overpay for theater tickets! It's been a boon to Broadway!" I couldn't turn away from the little bit of spit in the corner of his mouth.

"So, is it a bad thing?" I knew he'd have a ready answer.

"Bad? Hell no! It's brought Broadway into the Golden Age! Who cares about customers? They want gas, or Broadway, they gotta pay up! That's success, doncha know!"  He almost, but not quite, slurred his speech.

I couldn't argue his reasoning, but I wondered, "If there's no difference in gas, or Broadway shows, apparently, what does it all mean?"

"It means that consumers are stupid, that's all. it's just a basic fact of life. And, those that understand that can exploit that fact." He was calming down now. Five Chivas Regals will do that to you.

I was very convinced, but very drunk too. Maybe it was the crappy low end house Scotch. Next time I'll spring for a mid-line brand.