May 2005

Every once in a while, I see a bunch of Broadway shows in rapid succession. This month is one of those onces.

A couple weeks ago I went with my family to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Beauty and the Beast, and Spelling Bee (which I had already seen off-Broadway).

Chitty was rather lousy except for the amazing flying car. You’ll seriously ask yourself, “How’d they do that?” Other than the car, though, expect a long show full of boring dialogue and painfully-simple songs. Thank goodness for Marc Kudisch’s spoiled-childish portrayal of the Baron of Vulgaria, which was the saving grace of Act II.

Beauty and the Beast was exactly what I expected, basically a staging of the movie, with some beautiful sets and some funny supporting roles, but overall unimpressive. The leads left something to be desired, but I suppose that’s to be expected from a show that’s been here for so long.

Spelling Bee, on the other hand, was just as hilarious as it was off-Broadway, and is definitely my favorite new musical this year. The music isn’t great, but the play is amazing, and it’s complemented by brilliant direction and acting. Also, Circle in the Square really is the perfect venue for this show; it feels like a school gymnasium.

This past weekend, I finally got to see Sweet Charity. Christina Applegate is not a singer, and that was painfully obvious, but her acting (and dancing) more than made up for it. Overall, the show was quirky, fun, and beautiful to behold. The dances were bizarre, as are the musical numbers in general, but it’s really the book that makes this musical great. Neil Simon’s script is perfect, and my favorite scene in the play (as it should be) was definitely the elevator scene between Charity and Oscar (played perfectly by Denis O’Hare). I actually didn’t care for O’Hare’s performance in Assassins last year, so I was pleased to see him redeem himself in another role.

Tonight I’m going to see The Light in the Piazza, which is one of the two remaining Best Musical nominees I haven’t seen. After this, I just need to get tickets to Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and I will have successfully seen all the contenders.

I immediately placed an order for Sondheim Sings, Vol. 1: 1962-72 when it came out today. I read about it on Playbill:

The disc, the first in a series produced by Peter E. Jones, “utilizes the demos held in Stephen Sondheim’s private collection, and consists of the composer-lyricist singing and playing songs from such shows as A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Anyone Can Whistle, Company, Follies and A Little Night Music, among others, all digitally remastered.” [Read more.]

I know I’ll enjoy this (even though I’m sure Steve isn’t a great singer) for the same reason I liked hearing (and seeing) William Finn and Jason Robert Brown playing and singing their own songs: There’s just something so perfect about the way a songwriter interprets the meaning of his own song.

1:55 pm Reviews Comments Off on Singer/Songwriter Stephen Sondheim

My parents and my cousin are coming to visit for a week, starting today. I’m taking a few days off work to spend with them, and I think we’ll have a good time. Our only set plan is seeing The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee on Saturday night. We’re looking for other family-friendly ideas. What is there to do in New York City?

I went shopping with the idea, “I need khaki dress slacks.” I found khaki dress slacks with pink pinstripes at Express Men. I am very pleased.

I just saw an Applebees commercial that made me all misty inside. The Applebees employees are watching the local football team (college or high school, I’m not sure which) playing a game on TV, and they lose. Then the manager is like, “I guess it’s time to close up.” So they start closing down for the night, but then a bus pulls up outside, and the football players get out of it. They look at the closed Applebees and are disappointed. But then the employees look at each other and are like, “I can stay a while longer… me too…” So the manager opens the door and says something like, “You guys must be pretty hungry.”

It made me all misty because it’s so true. The Applebees in La Habra used to stay open late just for us, because they knew we were performing and they knew we’d come to Applebees afterward. They loved having local organizations come in even if they had to stay late, and they usually gave us (since we were a non-profit) a cut of the profits as a donation. They’re so cute like that.

An odd cosmic thing just happened. The accordion player at the 59th and Lex subway station was playing a song in the same key as (and with a harmonious chord structure to) the song I was listening to (“To Be Alone With You” by Sufjan Stevens). It sounded like he knew what I was listening to, and he was jamming along with it. Twilight-zoney, eh?

12:49 pm Comments Off on Psychic Harmony

We’re letting our lease expire June 30 (because we’re not terribly fond of our location, our building manager who takes months to get things fixed, our super who can’t fix things himself and who doesn’t speak English, our cafeteria tile floor, our mouse, and so forth), and we’re looking for a new apartment for June 1. We want a month of overlap so that we can paint the whole place our own colors, really design the interior, and take our time moving.

In a normal city, we’d start looking 1-2 months in advance. In New York City, the recommended time to start looking is 3 days in advance because they like to rent things immediately. There isn’t really a shortage of real estate, as the brokers would have us believe; they just don’t like to advertise an apartment until it’s truly ready for a tenant, and then they hope to get a tenant in there immediately. If you’re not ready to move in for a month or two, they’d rather keep looking for a tenant who’s ready sooner. Of course, that’s not to say they’ll find one, so often you’ll find the same apartment is still available when you’re ready for an immediate apartment.

Also in a normal city, you wouldn’t pay a broker half of your limbs, but in New York City they control, and solely represent, most of the buildings you’d want to live in. It’s a winning situation for the landlord, since the broker takes care of the advertising and screening and doesn’t charge the landlord. It’s a losing situation for the tenant, because the broker does very little work and gets paid an exorbitant amount, but the landlord and broker don’t care.

Today I contacted several brokers whose apartments were listed on Craig’s List. I’m going to view one of the apartments today (because I called that one instead of emailing), and I’m crossing my fingers to find what I want without too much hassle.

11:34 am , Comments Off on You Can’t Spell “Broker” Without “Broke”

My boss asked me today, “Have you used Movable Type?”

Turns out they’re planning to use it for a bunch of projects here at work, and they need someone with expertise to administer it. And it just so happens I have that expertise, since I’ve been using Movable Type for almost three years.

So it seems like I should now be able to write off all my time spent working on my own web site as a business expense. Of course, as my boss helpfully pointed out, I can’t actually write anything off, since I’m not a freelancer. Oh well.

2:26 pm Comments Off on Publishing with Movable Type

To all my friends in California, if you’re planning to visit Yosemite anytime soon, you should definitely consider staying at the Best Western Yosemite Gateway Inn. Just check out the generous amenities listed on their sign.

9:35 am Comments Off on Only in California

This weekend I was fortunate enough to stumble upon three street fairs while going about my business in the city.

There was one on 2nd Avenue which blocked my bus from reaching Urban Outfitters (my destination) on Saturday, but it was rather disappointing. There were very few vendors (each had his own block of the street, it seemed) and even fewer visitors. I think it was basically rained out.

The next one was on University Place, and I walked into it while wandering around Nolita later on Saturday. It was bustling with people, crafts, cheap wares, and great food. I was very excited to get my first street fair corn dog of the year. I also tried something new called an arapa, which is mozzarella between two sweet corn patties. It was… interesting. And of course, no street fair would be complete without an excellent nutella-filled crepe. My friend Michelle joined me, and we wandered up and down University for hours, enjoying the food, the occasional rain, and the vibe. It was definitely good times. We decided that the calories don’t count as long as you keep walking the whole time.

I ran into the third street fair on Sunday, as it was located on Broadway in the nineties, in front of the theatre where I was seeing a show. It was basically the same as the previous street fair, but it was more crowded (to the point of being “too crowded” instead of just “delightfully lively”). I grabbed a corn dog and then left.

Apparently there will be more street fairs throughout May, and I’m excited. I want more corn dogs.

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