Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday - June is in the history books (almost).

I have just finished doing the stats for the month of June, which was another interesting and event-filled time. In checking my daily log (log, not diary - real guys don’t keep diaries) I find that in June 2008 I saw/attended/did the following (assuming, of course, that the game tonight is not rained out):

1 Broadway show (Cirque Dream Forest Fantasy); 14 Off-Broadway shows; 1 rock concert (Ringo Starr and His All-star Band); 3 classical music concerts (all New York Philharmonic); and, 5 baseball games.

I spent time with Gordon Warner and his new significant other Carole and student/bartender/manager Scott Reed. Had my semi-annual HIV test (result - negative). I was out of town 5 nights to be with my son Bill in Orlando during and after his ear surgery; and, spent only 2 nights in the apartment without attending some entertainment activity during the day or evening and that maintains my goal of attending some entertainment event 9 out of 10 days/evenings.

Not bad, not bad at all for a 74 year old guy, however, I have to acknowledge that some of you have expressed concern over my frenetic schedule, as per an excerpt from a recent email from a longtime, but here unnamed, friend:

...“The entertainment schedule you've set up for yourself recently makes me think you're getting very close to needing Professional Help with that problem”...

Hum? I wonder if she/he/it means a Shrink? Nah .... no way ... she/he/it obviously means a Personal Assistant ... yeah, that’s it. I wonder what she/he/it will think when I post the 6-month stats later on this week?

Moving on ... the past weekend was fun. I did not march in the Gay Pride Parade because of the heat and humidity and then ensuing rain. The rap-musical “Bash’d” was extremely well performed but you really have to pay attention because there is almost no dialogue and the story is told in rap-verse.

Sunday night was the new version of Forbidden Broadway called “Forbidden Broadway Dancing with Stars,” and it was very well performed and very funny although a lot of the jokes are very insider and aimed at the theater-savvy crowd. They poked fun at all of the new Broadway shows and also included bits directed at longer running shows. It was 90 minutes and I left with a smile on my face.

Tonight is the beginning of my baseball frenzy. I will go to a baseball game out at Yankee Stadium 9 out of the next 10 days/nights. Yeah, I know ... what can I say. Four of them will be games against the Boston Fucksox and their outcome will go a long way in determining if the Yankees can make the playoffs this year.

Speaking of playoffs - can you believe that as of today the Tampa Bay Rays (I still think of them as The Devil Rays) are in first place in the AL East and are tied with the Chicago Cubs for the rest record in baseball? Un-fucking-believable!! Yes, they seem to have undergone an exorcism when the “Devil” was removed from their name.

Time to get ready to head out to The House That Ruth Built.

Go Yankees!!

Billi Pod

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Saturday - baseball is a strange game

Who could have predicted the two Yankees/Mets games yesterday, the afternoon blowout at Yankee Stadium when the Mets routed (and that is a kind word) the hapless Yankees by a score of 15-6 thanks largely to the 3 for 5 nine RBI game by Carlos Delgado, followed by a complete reversal in the evening when the Yankees shut out the Mets at Shea Stadium 9-0, with Delgado going 0-2? No one could have/would have predicted the two outcomes, no one, not even the most rabid of fans. Thank God I was at Shea rather than Yankee Stadium. The pictures are obviously from Shea. The weather was nice. My seat was excellent and at least the Yankees got a bit of revenge. But, honestly, the scores in each game highlight the basic flaw in both teams and it is called ... tada ... PITCHING. It is going to be a long and frustrating season for both teams, mark my words.

I just got back from having a nice lunch with Gordon Warner of Tavares, FL and his new significant other Carole. They have been in the Big Apple in advance of a Mediterranean cruise. We had a great lunch at a Cajan restaurant on 9th Avenue. For those of you who don’t know, Gordon was married to my former wife, Donna, for almost 33 years. She, unfortunately, died a year ago. Over the years the three of us had maintained a caring friendship/relationship, certainly a rarity in the days of tumultuous divorces and their aftermaths.

I am awaiting the Yankees/Mets game that starts at 3:55 at Shea Stadium.

Tonight I have added a show (surprise surprise). It is an Off-Broadway rap-musical called “Bash’d” - “Canada is not an obvious breeding ground for great white rappers but the Caucasian Canucks behind "Bash'd!: A Gay Rap Opera" have skills. Their 65-minute concert-cum-musical not only puts a smart spin on gay rights but also delivers some radio-worthy hip-hop. Musically and dramaturgically, the rapped-through show is a study in aggression. Telling the story of a gay Canadian couple whose marriage is marred by violence, narrators T-Bag and Feminem argue whether the young lovers should fight back or simply move on.”

The show has gotten excellent reviews. I am also “intrigued” by the song list: "Cocksuckaz," "Coming Out the Closet," "Grab Some Ass," "Love Theme/Baby I'm Your Man," "Marriage Proposal/Debate," "The Wedding Day," "Bash'd," "The Support Group Meeting," "Straight Bash'd," "Heaven," "Reprise/R.I.P."

Anyway, it is now time to post this and then watch the game.

Oh, yes, thanks to all of you flamers - I did make a mistake - it is Dave Barry not Dave Berry. My bad. Now do you feel better?

Go Yankees!!

Billi Pod

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday - more thoughts while watching the game

And, to quote Dr. Seuss: “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind."

Right on.

Billi Pod

Friday - something funny on a gloomy day in The Big Apple

It is a gloomy day and rain is predicted any minute so the 2:00 Yankees/Mets game at Yankee Stadium is very iffy. It is supposed to clear up for tonight’s 8:00 game at Shea Stadium and I will be there.

So, what is funny you ask? Well, an unnamed fraternity brother and former roommate who lives in Gainesville and Paris, but who is nameless because of possible prosecution for copyright infringement, sent me a very very funny column written by former Miami Herald humorist Dave Berry about his experience with his first colonoscopy. This is it in its entirety --

“I called my friend Andy Sable, a gastroenterologist, to make an appointment for a colonoscopy. A few days later, in his office, Andy showed me a color diagram of the colon, a lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one point passing briefly through Minneapolis. Then Andy explained the colonoscopy
procedure to me in a thorough, reassuring and patient manner.
I nodded thoughtfully, but I didn't really hear anything he said, because my brain was shrieking, quote, “HE'S GOING TO STICK A TUBE 17,000 FEET UP YOUR BUTT!''

I left Andy's office with some written instructions, and a prescription for a product called ''MoviPrep,'' which comes in a box large enough to hold a microwave oven. I will discuss MoviPrep in detail later; for now suffice it to say that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of America's enemies.

I spent the next several days productively sitting around being nervous. Then, on the day before my colonoscopy,I began my preparation. In accordance with my instructions, I didn't eat any solid food that day; all I had was chicken broth, which is basically water, only with less flavor.

Then, in the evening, I took the MoviPrep. You mix two packets of powder together in a one-liter plastic jug, then you fill it with lukewarm water. (For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a liter is about 32 gallons.) Then you have to drink the whole jug. This takes about an hour, because MoviPrep tastes --and here I am being kind -- like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of lemon. The instructions for MoviPrep, clearly written by somebody with a great sense of humor, state that after you drink it,' 'a loose watery bowel movement may result.'' This is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof, you may experience contact with the ground.

MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative. I don't want to be too graphic, here, but: Have you ever seen a space shuttle launch? This is pretty much the MoviPrep experience, with you as the shuttle. There
are times when you wish the commode had a seat belt. You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently. And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink another liter of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet. After an action-packed evening, I finally got to sleep.

The next morning my wife drove me to the clinic. I was very nervous. Not only was I worried about the procedure, but I had been experiencing occasional return bouts of MoviPrep spurtage. I was thinking, ''What if I spurt on Andy?'' How do you apologize to a friend for something like that? Flowers would not be enough.
At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I understood and totally agreed with whatever the hell the forms said.

Then they led me to a room full of other colonoscopy people, where I went inside a little curtained space and took off my clothes and put on one of those hospital garments designed by sadist perverts, the kind that, when you put it on, makes you feel even more naked than when you are actually naked.

Then a nurse named Eddie put a little needle in a vein in my left hand. Ordinarily I would have fainted, but Eddie was very good, and I was already lying down. Eddie also told me that some people put vodka in their MoviPrep. At first I was ticked off that I hadn't thought of this, but then I pondered what would happen if
you got yourself too tipsy to make it to the bathroom, so you were staggering around in full Fire Hose Mode. You would have no choice but to burn your house.

When everything was ready, Eddie wheeled me into the procedure room, where Andy was waiting with a nurse and an
anesthesiologist. I did not see the 17,000-foot tube, but I knew Andy had it hidden around there somewhere. I was seriously
nervous at this point. Andy had me roll over on my left side, and the anesthesiologist began hooking something up to the needle in my hand.

There was music playing in the room, and I realized that the song was Dancing Queen by Abba. I remarked to Andy that, of all the songs that could be playing during this particular procedure, Dancing Queen has to be the least appropriate. You want me to turn it up?'' said Andy, from somewhere behind me. ''Ha ha,'' I said.

And then it was time, the moment I had been dreading for more than a decade. If you are squeamish, prepare yourself,
because I am going to tell you, in explicit detail, exactly what it was like.

I have no idea. Really. I slept through it. One moment, Abba was shrieking``Dancing Queen! Feel the beat from the tambourine . .. . and the next moment, I was back in the waking up area in a very mellow mood. Andy was looking down at me and asking me how I felt. I felt excellent. I felt even more excellent when Andy told me that it was all over, and that my colon had passed with flying colors.

I have never been prouder of an internal organ!”

Very funny and it reminded me of what happened to me when I had my first colonoscopy about 25 years ago. I was very nervous about the procedure and discussed my feelings with a colleague, David Patterson of St. Petersburg, who had just undergone his first colonoscopy.

David told me I had nothing to worry about and it would be much easier if I remembered to ask the people to relocate the monitors so I could watch the whole process as it was happening. He said I had to ask them otherwise the monitors would not be viewable from where I would be. Kinda odd thought I but what the hell, David just did it so I’ll give it a try. I mean, how often does one get a chance to watch a 17,000 foot cord jammed up one’s butt? Right?

So, on the appointed day as I was laying on the table on my side after all of the prep work I asked the nurse if she would move the monitor around so I could watch the procedure. She just stared at me and then asked me to repeat what I had just said. I did. There was another pause and then she said I would have to ask the Doctor.

When the Doctor came in and we were about to begin I asked him if he could move the monitor so I could watch the whole thing. There was a pause. He looked at the nurse, then at me and then told the nurse to move the monitor around so I could see the screen. I remember he had a slight smile on his face. She did and he asked if I could see OK and I said yes and then he said ... OK, let’s do this ... and ...

The next thing I remember is waking up in the recovery room. Damn David Patterson, damn him to Hell!!!! He had really gotten me. When the Doctor and nurse came in with the favorable results we all had a big laugh although I was very red in the face. The Doctor said it was a first for him and that he could hardly wait to tell his colleagues.

When I got home I called David, cussed him out and then we had a big laugh. It turns out that a friend had done the same thing to him. He never let me forget it. Never.

Go Yankees!!!

Billi Pod

Thursday - so much to report

What an interesting couple of days it has been, starting with a terrific concert on Tuesday night at Radio City Music Hall - “Ringo Starr and His All Star Band” - which included two of my favorites, Billy Squier and Edgar Winter. The concert was sold out and my seat was excellent, in the orchestra about 15 rows from the stage. I was very surprised at the number of teenagers in the crowd and also the number of preteens with their parents. I have seen Ringo three times and each concert has been very enjoyable. The band played a lot of 70-80s standards and Beatles hits but the number that got the biggest ovation was Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein.”

Wednesday was a double-header, starting off on a high note with the confirmation from one of my ticket services that I indeed have a ticket (full price) to Friday’s Yankees/Mets game at Shea Stadium. How they were able to score these tickets I have no idea. It should be interesting. I, of course, will be in full Yankee regalia.

My matinee show was at 2:00 down in the Village. It was Neil LaBrute’s “Reasons to Be Pretty,” which I described in some detail in the last blog. There was an insert in the Playbill to the effect that the show will be moved to a Broadway venue by the same group that produced the hugely successful “August: Osage County,” winner of the Tony for best play. The show is a 4-person piece where everyone screams and cusses at whoever is sharing the stage with them at the time. The theme is the male obsession with beauty. As much as I expected to like this show, for some reason it just didn’t work for me. I didn’t hate it but ... The acting was excellent, however. I also have to add on a positive note that the weather was beautiful and had I not had the concert up at Lincoln Center I probably would have walked back to the apartment.

But, I didn’t. I took the subway back and just had time for a quick shower, a change of clothes and a small fruit and cheese plate. The concert started at 7:30 and I had to meet a representative from one of my ticket services to pick up my ticket. I couldn’t believe that I was getting a complimentary ticket to a New York Philharmonic Orchestra concert. I was sure it would be in the upper nose-bleed section, but no matter. The annual subscription series is over and this is part of their Summertime Classics Program. I was almost speechless when I got my ticket - it was in the orchestra, row T, house right - awesome.

Avery Fisher Hall was full. The title of the concert was Moscow on the Hudson. The first half was: Shostakovich’s “Festive Overture,” and Prokofiev’s “Selections from Romeo and Juliet.” The second half was Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 2,” with the familiar theme in the second movement made popular by Frank Sinatra as “Full Moon and Empty Arms.” All during the concert I kept thinking: “This is almost surreal, Bill, you are in the orchestra section for a New York Philharmonic Orchestra concert and it cost you only the $4.00 service charge. Only in New York, only in New York.” The performances were awesome (there’s that word again).

The concert was over at 9:15 and I knew that I was going to walk back to the apartment. The weather was great - 78 degrees with a nice breeze. As I strolled back I listened to the Yankees/Pittsburgh game on my trusty Walkman and the Yankees kicked butt - way to go Joba!!. I chose a route that took me south on Amsterdam (10th Avenue) to 57th Street, then East on 57th Street to 2nd Avenue and South on 2nd Avenue to 51st Street and the apartment. Gosh, it felt great to be in The Big Apple. The distance was 2.0 miles and I was back in the apartment at 10:00. Fixed some pasta, watched Jon Stewart and Letterman and crashed at the usual 2:00am, thus ending an outstanding day.

Today’s entertainment event was a very good comedy/drama by A. R. Gurney called “The Cocktail Hour.” It has gotten very good reviews and they were justified. The house was full. In the show (which I described in the last blog) the family is only semi-dysfunctional and there is no screaming although voices are raised a time or two. The show closes this weekend and I am so glad that I got to see it.

The show was over at 9:15 and I had planned to walk back to the apartment while listening to the final Yankee/Pittsburgh game, but, it was rained out. That didn’t change my plans, however, and walk back I did, a little over 2 miles.

Tomorrow should be interesting. The Yankees and Mets are playing a doubleheader, the first is a makeup game at 2:00 at Yankee Stadium and the second, for which I have a ticket, is at 8:00 at Shea Stadium. Right now the weather forecast is kinda iffy, so we will see.

I am happy to report that my sister Ann made it through her artery surgery OK. Hopefully she will not have to go through another one of these procedures. Oldest grandson Alex will be roasting at Arizona for about a month as part of his training reactivation. Don’t ask, it is too complicated to explain here.

So, it is almost time to crash ...

Damn, I am so lucky/blessed - Thank You Higher Power.

Go Yankees!!!!

Billi Pod

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tuesday - What An Awesome Upcoming Two Weeks!!!

I got back to my E. 51st Street apartment at 3:15pm on Saturday and I am happy to report that The Norris Travel Curse did not raise its ugly head on my return flight from Orlando. I was even able to score an exit row seat.

It felt soooooooo good to be back home. I sorted through the accumulated mail, went to the grocery story to restock fresh fruit and Fresca and then to a local pizza place to get a slice and a sausage and pepper roll for later.

I had a show scheduled for the evening, something I don’t usually do on the evening I return from out-of-town trips but the show sounded so interesting that I decided to give it a chance. It was a workshop performance by the cutting edge LAByrinth Theater Company (and, yes, that is how it is spelled, it is not a typing error) at The Public Theater at Astor Place. As a note, the co-Artistic Director is Philip Seymour Hoffman who won all kinds of awards for his portrayal of Truman Capote.

The show, Sweet Storm, is set in September 1960 in Lithia Springs, FL. The story-line blurb is: “In SWEET STORM, rain clouds and a heavy wind blow love, revelation and honesty into the lives of two tree-bound newlyweds in a story of a honeymoon in a treehouse,” but that doesn't do the show justice. The male is a late 20s preacher who built the tree house as a honeymoon surprise for his virginal paraplegic new wife. It was really eerie to hear references to Brandon, Tampa, Clearwater and St. Pete. The show was excellent and it got a roaring standing ovation from the sold-out house. I feel rather confident it will have an Off-Broadway run. I had a complimentary ticket.

On Sunday I had another brush with Philip Seymour Hoffman when I saw a one performance benefit production by the LAByrinth Theater Company of the award winning show “Jesus Hopped the A Train,” at Town Hall. It was directed by Hoffman and was a reunion of the original cast. It is set in Riker's Island - “Angel and Lucius are in lock-down, spending all but one hour a day in their cells. That hour they spend outdoors "together", albeit in separate chain-link cages. Lucius is a serial killer awaiting extradition to Florida for execution; he has found God. Angel is a rough but essentially good young man awaiting trial for shooting a religious cult leader who got his grip around Angel's best friend. He didn't intend for the man to die -- his defense is that he shot him in the ass -- but he died. Confused, traumatized and filled with rage, Angel doesn't know himself, much less God.” I had a complimentary ticket. It was a great show.

Monday was another two show day/night. In the afternoon I saw a staged reading (with a complimentary ticket) to a show called “The Onion Man,” about a dysfunctional English family whose father, the head of an onion farm, wants to break away from the farm, his nagging wife and the world in general by become a first-time novelist. His novel is about his dysfunctional marriage and his dysfunctional family. It was very funny.

Then for the evening was a Broadway show, “Cirque Dreams - Jungle Fantasy,” in previews - “This exotic circus extravaganza is inspired by natures unpredictable creations and features an international cast of 25 soaring aerialists, spine-bending contortionists, acrobats, jugglers and musicians. The astounding feats are enhanced with over 150 spectacular costumes and set in a fantastical jungle ignited by striking visual effects, including an aerial ballet of butterflies, balancing giraffes, gigantic flowers and trees.” The advance buzz on this show has been good and I certainly agree. It is the ideal family show but with plenty of adult humor too. The performances are breathtaking. I had an excellent seat, 5th row, Orchestra. (discounted TDF ticket).

OK, that brings us up-to-date. So, this is what the upcoming two weeks will be for me -

June 24 - Tuesday - 8:00 - Ringo Starr and his All Star Band @ Radio City Music Hall. (full price ticket).

June 25 - Wednesday - 2:00 - "Reason to be Pretty" - “Greg's tight-knit social circle is thrown into turmoil when his offhanded remarks about a female coworkers pretty face (and his girlfriends lack thereof) get back to said girlfriend. But that's just the beginning. As their relationship crumbles, their friends are pulled into the fray, and all are forced to confront a sea of deceit, infidelity, and betrayed trust in their journey to answer that oh-so-American question: How much is pretty worth?” (discounted TDF ticket);

7:30 - New York Philharmonic Orchestra Summertime Classics - “Moscow on the Hudson.” (complimentary ticket).

June 26 - Thursday - 7:00 - “The Cocktail Hour” - “In A.R. Gurney's delightful play, a writer returns home to ask permission of his parents to produce a show that he has written about them. Over cocktails, the family rehashes old slights and reopens old wounds but, with unflagging humor, they look toward the future.” (discounted TDF ticket)

June 27 - Friday - 8:00 - Yankees vs. Mets @ Shea Stadium

June 28 - Saturday - noon - meet Gordon Warner of Tavares, FL, and his new significant other for lunch

June 29 - Sunday - noon - Gay Pride Parade. I will probably march with the GMHC group this year;

7:30 - “Forbidden Broadway Dances With Stars” - “This special summer edition features past favorites in addition to hilarious new spoofs. Watch us waltz away with Kelli O'Hara in South Pacific, foxtrot with Patti LuPone in Gypsy, and samba around In The Heights - plus Sunday In The Park With George, Grease and more - all in one evening! Featuring jaw-dropping costumes, hilarious spoofs of Broadway's best songs, and madcap impressions by a stellar cast.” (discounted TDF ticket).

June 30 - Monday - 7:05 - Yankees vs. Texas Rangers

July 1 - Tuesday - 10:00 - eye doctor appointment;

7:05 - Yankees vs. Texas Rangers.

July 2 - Wednesday - 2:00 - “Some Americans Abroad” - “A group of partying American college students, accompanied by their pretentious professors, embarks on a literary tour of England. With a crammed itinerary and barely enough time to digest the sites, their behavior devolves from appreciative to appalling in this humorous comedy.” (discounted TDF ticket);

7:05 - Yankees vs. Texas Rangers.

July 3 - Thursday - 7:05 - Yankees vs. Boston Fucksox.

July 4 - Friday - 1:05 - Yankees vs. Boston Fucksox; evening - fireworks show.

July 5 - Saturday - 3:55 - Yankees vs. Boston Fucksox

July 6 - Sunday -8:05 - Yankees vs. Boston Fucksox

July 7 - Monday 8:00 - “{title of show] on Broadway” - “This new Broadway musical portrays two nobodies named Hunter and Jeff who decide to write a completely original musical starring themselves and their attractive and talented lady friends, Susan and Heidi. Their musical, [title of show], gets into the New York Musical Theatre Festival and becomes a hit. Then it gets an off-Broadway production at the Vineyard Theatre and wins three Obie Awards. Then (drum roll if you’ve got a drum) its announced that their musical is going to Broadway (hooray!).” (discounted TDF ticket). I saw this very funny show in each of its earlier incarnations and loved it. I hope it can make it on Broadway. It has a history similar to Avenue Q.

July 8 - Tuesday - 7:05 - Yankees vs. Tampa Bay.

July 9 - Wednesday - 1:05 - Yankees vs. Tampa Bay

OK, OK, I know you are thinking: “this is way too long” and I totally agree but I just wanted to record what my schedule is going to be. Rest assured - future posting won’t be this long. Promise, sorta.

In closing - Bill is doing well and my sister Ann Parker, now living in Indio, CA, is in my thoughts and prayers as she has yet another surgery to unclog some arteries.

Go Yankees!!!

Billi Pod

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday - Report from Orlando

Bill the Third (or as some of his friends say - The Bill) had his ear surgery on Wednesday and it went very well. We were at the hospital in Celebration at 6:30am and Bill was taken back to the prep area at 7:00. I am not sure of the exact time his procedure was begun but at 9:00 his surgeon came out to tell me that, is his words, “the results were excellent.” He had successfully dug out the polyps and gook and rebuilt the area next to the brain. Thank you Higher Power.

By 10:00 were had checked out and I drove us back to his house in my rental car, a very nice PT Cruiser. I have to admit that he looked like someone had hit the left side of his head with a sledgehammer. He had a large earphone-like bandage over his left ear. He has in moderate pain. Actually “moderate” is probably not the appropriate word but he has experienced so much pain in his back over the years that this pain was classified as moderate, in his words. I think I would have been rolling on the floor and crying. He was also experiencing dizziness. I was in my Hovering Nun mode.

Later that afternoon Bill had an appointment with a pain specialist to address the recurring problems with his back. Of course I drove him to the appointment and was with him as he talked with the Doctor. They spoke a language I barely understood. Bottom line - beginning a week from Monday he will have a series of three injections in his lower spinal area and he has been prescribed a new anti-inflammatory medication. We will keep our fingers crossed.

So, let me tell you - Wednesday was a long long long day for both of us.

I am happy to report that on Thursday he woke up feeling much better although his ear was seeping blood and gook but that was expected. Later on in the day we discussed his situation and he is comfortable with the Hovering Nun coming back to NYC on Saturday morning, as planned.

I have to say that I have watched more TV in the last several days that I would have watched in 6 months in NYC. I have gotten along well with his giant Rottweiler Zeko - 160 pounds. Bill had to put down the older female Zookie about a month ago. The house feels a little strange without the two of them, it really does.

Tonight I am taking Bill and two of his buddies, Randy Haag (friend from High School) and Ken (a golfing buddy), to dinner at a steak house. I leave on Saturday morning and Bill will go golfing with some of his buds.

THE NORRIS TRAVEL CURSE - ADDENDUM. There is one more thing that happened on my nightmare flight down to Orlando. We touched down at the Orlando airport at 5:40, exactly 4 hours after our scheduled arrival time. When we got to the baggage claim area it was a madhouse with luggage for 5 incoming flights all on the same carousel. Those of us on American Airlines flight 1617 sorta huddled together and our luggage was the last to arrive, or, at least “their” luggage was the last to arrive, my duffle wasn’t. It was just me standing there with my computer case. I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me. What the fuck. Fuck and double fuck!! My duffle is lost.

I asked one of the baggage guys where the lost luggage office was and he pointed it out to me and then he asked what flight I was on and I told him and then he asked when had I checked in and I said I had checked in very early. His response was that the bag was probably in the office. That is crazy thought I.

But, when I presented my baggage claim ticket to the nice young lady on duty she immediately went back to the rear of the office and came out pulling my duffle. What the fuck? This can’t have happened, thought I, I have gone crazy. She told me that because I had checked in so early they had put my duffle on an earlier flight so it had arrived in Orlando before I did. Now that is crazy, isn’t it, absolutely crazy.

I mean, when my original flight was delayed as it was, suppose I had decided to change my mind or go on another airline or whatever? Why my duffle would have already been in Orlando. How can they do that to us? How can they?

OK - I have vented enough.

The Yankees are playing great ball and that makes me very happy. And, how could the Mets management have been so crass in handling the firing of Willie Randolph? No class, no class at all.

Talk with you from The Big Apple.

Go Yankees!!

Billi Pod

Monday, June 16, 2008


Well, it hasn’t been a very good day so far. My flight was late in boarding and once it did there was a delay. They finally told us that the delay was because they were in the process of replacing a navigation device, so we waited and waited and waited. Then they announced that the plane would have to be taken out of service and we were told to deplane. It was 1:15. Fuck!!

We have just been informed that another plane is “on the way” but that the earliest boarding will be 2:30, yeah, right!!

It is ironic that on all of my 10 flights as part of my Japan/China Adventure there were no delays what-so-ever but on a routine flight to Orlando I have all of these problems.

Speaking of problems - I wasn’t able to access the website for the All-Star Game tickets due to “extreme usage," their words, not mine. When we got off the plane I thought I would give it another try, but I get the same message.

And, I am now running low on battery power and I haven’t been able to find an outlet to recharge.

So ... will I make it to Orlando today/tonight? Only time will tell.

Billi Pod

Monday morning - On to Orlando

I am at the American Airline flight gate at Laguardia Airport way in advance of my 11:00am departure time down to Orlando, where I will be until Saturday.

Why am I so early, you ask? Well, first, I usually arrive early and always have. Secondly, and really iffy at the moment - the MLB All Star Game will be at Yankee Stadium on July 15th and as a season ticket holder I have an “opportunity” to purchase tickets in advance of their going on sale to the general public, if ... and a big if ... they are “available.” Meaning - if the Corporate Vultures haven’t scarfed them up. And, the real kicker - they go on sale at 10:00am today and my flight boards at 10:30, so I will have a 30 minute window to access the site, find a ticket at an affordable price, and finalize the purchase. Oh, the pre-sale lasts until 10:00pm but whatever available tickets will be long long gone by then.

So, I am going to post this in a minute and then lurk at the website until 10:00.

One final note - I skipped my 8:00 show last night and watched the Tony’s and I thought Whoopi did a terrific job. And, yes, you are right, all of my predictions were correct - Billi Pod went 8 for 8, right on.

Oh, and the Yankees are finally on a roll even though they may have lost Chien-Ming Wang for a while.

Go Yankees!!

Billi Pod

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Saturday morning - my Tony Predictions and other things and stuff

THE TONY AWARD CEREMONY - The 62nd Annual Tony Awards will be broadcast on Sunday at 8:00 on CBS from Radio City Music Hall so I know all of you out there in cyberspace are anxiously awaiting my predictions, so here goes:

Musical - “In the Heights” wins over “Passing Strange.”

Play - “August: Osage County” is a lock to win even though I personally found this 3+ hour dysfunctional-family-reunion play to be boring and way way too long.

Musical, Revival - The magnificent “South Pacific” will nose out “Gypsy.”

Play, Revival - “Boing-Boing” over a lackluster field.

Actor, Musical - Paulo Szot as the leading man in “South Pacific.”

Actress, Musical - This is a cat-fight between Patti LuPone in “Gypsy” and Kelli O’Hara in “South Pacific” with the award going to - tada - Patti LuPone. I have to say that her portrayal of Mama Rose was absolutely breath-taking.

Actress, Play - Someone from “August: Osage County,” I really don’t care.

Actor, Play - Mark Rylance from “Boing-Boing.”

So there you are. And, for those of you who carefully follow everything that I post, yes, I admit it - I inadvertently scheduled a show from 8:00 Sunday night - The Musical in Mufti Series @ The York Theater production of “Grind.” Will I eat the $23 ticket and just chalk it up to stupidity? I don’t know. I think I am going to chew out my friend Jim Morgan, who is the Artistic Director of The York Theater, for scheduling something that conflicts with the Award Ceremony - his bad, not mine.

ORLANDO TRIP DETAILS - this is my schedule for my upcoming trip down to Orlando to be with Bill --

Monday - June 16 11:00am - depart LGA - American #1617
01:50pm - arrive Orlando

William A. Norris, III

Wednesday - June 18 - Bill’s ear surgery in the morning

Saturday - June 21 11:00am - depart Orlando - Delta #1484
01:41pm (yeah right) arrive LGA


1. As with many others I am still shocked over the sudden death of Tim Russert. He will indeed be missed.

2. Thursday was a great day starting with an excellent late lunch with student/bartender/manager Scott Reed at one of my favorite Lower Eastside restaurants, Schillers. After lunch Scott took me over to the place were he is shift-manager, the mega-trendy bar called Spitzers. He gave me a tour and introduced me to the staff.

When I left Scott I had intended to go up to Union Square to catch the 4:40 showing of the movie “Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay” and then stay in the Union Square area because my evening show “The Perfect Couple” is playing in the area. Well, I got to the movie theater at 4:35 only to find out that the correct show time was 4:20, which was the actual start of the movie, not the usual preview bullshit. Damn. I came on back to the apartment.

“The Perfect Couple” was an OK comedy/drama but it didn’t set me on fire as I had thought it would. It was only 75 minutes, without intermission. When it was over I walked back to the apartment via Park Avenue, a distance of about 2 miles, while listening to the Yankee game and they won.

3. Friday night I saw a great, and I mean A GREAT, performance of “The Bully Pulpit,” a one-man show about Teddy Roosevelt on his 60th birthday, written and performed by Michael O. Smith. He looked just like Roosevelt. The show was 2 hours with a 10 minute intermission. He got a roaring standing ovation. When it was over I walked back to the apartment, a distance of 2 miles, while listening to the Yankee game and they won.

4. Have a 2:15 matinee this afternoon, “Vincent River,” and then tonight at 8:OO is “Tosca” by the New York Philharmonic @ Lincoln Center.

OK, I got things to do, so ... later ...

Go Yankees!!

Billi Pod

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thursday - picture of typical Japanese meal, and more ...

Thought I would entice you with this picture of a typical Japanese meal. Man, do I miss them now that I am back in the good old US of A. Oh yes, I miss my noodles and salty, slimy eel, oh well ...

Speaking of meals - yes I was speaking of meals, listen the fuck up - I will head downtown around noon to have lunch with student/bartender/manager Scott Reed at a trendy Lower Eastside restaurant, Schillers, at Rivington and Norfolk. It is one of my favorite places.

You know, they say that every high is followed by a low and, well, they (whoever they are) are right. When I got back to the apartment last night I was flying high and could hardly wait to post about the awesome New York Philharmonic concert at Carnegie Hall. As I was writing I was also watching the Yankees/Oakland game which started at 10:00 EDT. It was awful and the Yankees lost 4-8 and were never in the game after the first inning. The loss put them back into the .500 mire that they can’t seem to extricate themselves from. I guess they are at .500 because they are, in fact, just an average ball club this season. What a downer. Needless-to-say, I switched channels. Better to watch Fox News or QVC that this drek. Barf.

On a more positive note - I added two additional shows to my already outstanding upcoming entertainment schedule --

Saturday - 2:15 - Vincent River - “Olivier Award-winning actress Deborah Findlay and newcomer Mark Field star in the New York premiere of Philip Ridley's Vincent River. The play will be presented as part of Brits Off Broadway. This gripping thriller focuses on the meeting between a grief-stricken mother and a young boy who is in some way connected to the death of her son.” (complimentary ticket).

Sunday - 8:00 - Grind - “The York Theatre Company continues its acclaimed Musicals in Mufti Series (musical theatre gems in staged concert performances) with GRIND. This musical comedy features music by Larry Grossman, lyrics by Ellen Fitzhugh and a new book by Brad Rouse. It portrays a Chicago burlesque house during the depths of the Great Depression where racial tensions explode.” (discounted TDF ticket).

Oh, I want to thank my grandson Lex, of Elgin, South Carolina, for his “positive” comments to my Wednesday in the Big Apple post. I am asking for DNA samples from him and his Mother and I will pay for all of the testing. ‘Nuff said.

Billi Pod

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Oh My Gawd - just back from Carnegie Hall

I cannot adequately put into words the truly breathtaking performance by the New York Philharmonic of The Ring Without Words, written by their conductor Lorin Maazel. Without altering a note of Wagner’s majestic Ring Series, Maazel reduced the running time from 15 hours to a concert-length condensation of 75 minutes.This was the Carnegie Hall premiere of The Ring Without Words.

Maazel created this work in 1987 at the request of Telarc Recordings and a CD was recorded that same year with the Berlin Philharmonic. I have that recording and I highly recommend it to you opera-lovers out there in cyberspace: Telarc CD-80154.

My seat was super-excellent, prime orchestra, row J, seat 9, and kinda expensive at $88. The combination of a prime seat and the outstanding acoustics in Carnegie Hall (so much better than Avery Fisher Hall) made this concert one to remember forever, and I am not exaggerating. The concert was sold out and every seat was filled.

The concert was performed without stops between the four operas, beginning with the first note of Das Rheingold and finishing with the last chord of Gotterdammerung. When the final chord finished and the performance was over the audience rose to its feet as one and began a roaring ovation that resulted in Maazel returning to the stage at least 8 times, something I have never witnessed at either Carnegie Hall or Avery Fisher.

Yes, this is another testimonial to why I now live in The Big Apple.

Billi Pod

Wednesday in The Big Apple

Let me share with you once again why I am so taken with living in The Greatest City in the World. What I am about to describe may seen trivial to some of you, or even perhaps, all of you, but what it does is partially explain why Billi Pod is so smitten with this city.

As you know, my regular drug store, Rite Aid, was damaged when the crane collapsed up the block in March. It has not reopened meaning that my nearest Rite Aid store is at the corner of 30th Street and 2nd Avenue, exactly one mile away. I needed to go there today to pick up my monthly meds refills. Also, I needed to go up to Lincoln Center to exchange one of my New York Philharmonic concerts that is scheduled for the timeframe I will be in Orlando with Bill.

Monday and Tuesday were extremely hot days, in the upper 90s, but last night rain came so the temperatures this morning were in the 70s. I decided to walk down to the drug store rather than bus or subway it. Dressed in a T-shirt, shorts, a messenger bag with water, and my iPhone and Nano, off I went at about 11:30.

It felt great and I felt great. I determined to walk at a leisurely pace rather than my usual ... "hey, get the fuck out of my way - I am more important than you" ... NYC pace. I headed south and there was a very nice breeze hitting me in the back. Lots up suit-people walking around talking on their cellphones.

It took me a bit over 20 minutes to get to the drug store. Picked up the meds, thanking my Higher Power again that I am fortunate enough to have a good prescription drug plan.

Then I walked over to Park Avenue and picked up the northbound 6 train at the 28th Street station. I got off at Grand Central (42nd Street) and walked to the Shuttle to Times Square where I got on the North bound 1 train that delivered me in 3 stops to Lincoln Center.

One very nice thing about being a New York Philharmonic season subscriber is that they have a very generous exchange policy and really go out of their way to accommodate requests. I was able to change my ticket to the 8:00pm Saturday performance, which is a staged-concert production of Puccini’s Tosca.

It was about 1:00pm when I got my ticket. I knew I was going walk back to the apartment, so I headed over to Central Park and slowly strolled through it, down to the 59th Street entrance. It was so pleasant inside the Park with lots and lots of kids and families. I stopped several times and I took several pictures, two of which are at the top of this post.

The picture of people laying out in the sun is the area where I use to go to catch rays until I decided that I had tempted fate once too often and took sunning off of my to-do list. A wise decision on my part I am certain.

It was about 2:30 when I got back to the apartment. I calculate that I had walked about 4 1/2 miles. I immediately went online because I needed to schedule something for Thursday and Friday nights. Within 10 minutes I had booked these two Off-Broadway shows:

For Thursday - A Perfect Couple - “A Perfect Couple is about three best friends and their young next door neighbor. Over a long summer weekend in the country, secrets are revealed and bonds are tested, forcing these friends to discover who they are now, versus who they thought they would become.” I think this is the first preview performance (complimentary ticket).

For Friday - The Bully Pulpit - “The Bully Pulpit, a new play about the extraordinary life and turbulent times of Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt, our 26th president. The solo performance is written and performed by Michael O. Smith, and directed by Byam Stevens. The year is 1918. The scene is in Sagamore Hill, New York, Roosevelt's beloved home. Ten years out of office and coming to grips with his legacy, The Bully Pulpit takes the audience on a passionate journey behind Teddy's gruff exterior into the complex persona of a true American legend.” This show has been running for some time and received uniformly good reviews (complimentary ticket).

So, my dear cyberspace friends, this is what the remainder of the week is:

Wednesday - 8:00 - New York Philharmonic Orchestra @ Carnegie Hall - Orchestrations from Wagner’s The Ring Cycle (full price ticket)

Thursday - noon - lunch with student/bartender/manager Scott Reed; 8:00 - A Perfect Couple

Friday - 8:00 - The Bully Pulpit

Saturday - 8:00 - New York Philharmonic Orchestra @ Lincoln Center - Puccini’s Tosca.

Tonight after the Carnegie Hall concert I am sure I will walk back to the apartment while listening to the Yankees/Oakland game, which starts at 8:00.

Yep, this is why I am here.

Go Yankees!!

Billi Pod

Monday, June 9, 2008

Monday - The New Yankee Stadium, the game, and other stuff.

As these pictures show, the construction of the New Yankee Stadium is moving along and everyone is predicting that it will be ready in time for the Opening Day for the 2009 Season.

It was very hot and humid during this afternoon’s game and both Mike Mussina and the Royal’s pitcher, Luke Hochevar, pitched excellent games and the score was tied 2-2 going into the top of the the 9th. The Yankees brought in closer Mariano Rivera and he promptly gave up what turned out to be a game-winning home run. We had a chance in the bottom of the 9th with the bases loaded and 2 outs but it just wasn’t meant to be. We lost 2-3. The sellout crowd was stunned and the Yankees fell back to .500, where they have been most of the year. It just doesn’t feel right, it really doesn’t. This was only my 7th game of the season, but their record for those games is 3-4.

To add to my misery, my nose began to run and I sneezed a lot, all, I hope, due to the extremely high pollen count. I really feel kinda blah even now.

I have nothing planned for this evening and nothing has shown up on any of my services, so ...

Please don’t tell Mayor Mike that I will be staying in for the evening.

I don’t think I have posted that I will be out of The Big Apple for most of next week. On Monday I will fly down to Orlando to be with my son, Bill, when he has surgery done on his ears to clear away some polyps and whatever. The surgery is outpatient and was originally scheduled for Tuesday but has now been moved to Wednesday. I will have the responsibility of looking after his two massive Rottweilers, Zookie and Zeko. Assuming everything goes OK, I will come back to NYC on Saturday the 21st.

More to come later.

Billi Pod

Monday - Headed out to Yankee Stadium

As soon as I post this I will head out to Yankee Stadium to see the final game of the 4 game series against the Kansas City Royals. The Yankees have won 2 out of 3 and I hope it will be 3 out of 4 by this evening.

It is very very hot and humid with the predicted high in the upper 90s. Thankfully my seat is in my usual area, in the shady Loge section.

Have almost finished the travel observations regarding the Japan portion of the Japan/China adventure and it should be posted this evening.

I was, frankly, surprised at the number of emails I received regarding Part One of the Travel Observations, especially the number of you guys who are interested in more details regarding the air travel and who wanted a breakdown of the mileage on each leg/flight. So, here goes:

JFK to San Franciso - 2,586
San Francisco to Tokyo - 5,133
Kyoto to Shanghai - 868

Shanghai to Guilin - 497
Guilin to Xi’an - 621
Xi’an to Beijing - 567
Beijing to Hong Kong - 1,222
Total China - 2,907

Hong Kong to Tokyo - 1,827
Tokyo to San Franciso - 5,133
San Franciso to JFK - 2,586
GRAND TOTAL - 21,040

And, finally to DW - I don’t loathe fat/over-weight people. I am, however, very very concerned that otherwise intelligent and worldly people have made a conscious decision to pursue and maintain a life-style that impacts their quality of life and impairs their health. I feel the same way about people who still smoke.

Anyway, on that happy note, it is off to The Bronx.

Go Yankees!!!

Billi Pod

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Japan/China Adventure - Observations - Part One

1. THE TOUR OVERALL - As I have written before, the entire trip and every aspect of it, exceeded my expectations. Of course there were bits and pieces that I had slight quibbles with (such as not having an additional night in Tokyo) but nothing that distracted from my overall satisfaction with the tour. Interestingly, toward the end of the tour I found out that this particular Japan/China configuration was a first for Globus, which explains why our tour director Mark was taking copious notes regarding our comments as the tour was winding down.

2. THE GROUP - There were 32 people in our group, 12 couples and 8 singles. The oldest person was 76 and the youngest 19. We had one family traveling with their two sons, 22 and 19, and one kissy/kissy early 40s unmarried couple. Unfortunately, the majority of the people over 50, both male and female, were overweight and one couple was almost morbidly obese, with both weighing over 250 lbs. They were a very interesting couple however - he, Paul, is a retired college history professor and she, Sandy, a retired elementary school teacher. At first you could feel some tension between some of the group because the couple was always the last off the bus and the last to get on and they walked very slowly slowly. But, as the tour developed their outgoing personalities overcame any criticisms and the single guys made a point of staying with them during the walking portions of the tour, to be of assistance if necessary. And, frankly, often assistance was necessary. At our last dinner as a group, in Beijing, our tour director announced that Paul and Sandy had bought a round of drinks for the group in appreciation of our patience and understanding - nice. By the end of the tour we actually ended up admiring them for their willingness to undertake such a physically demanding tour.

But, don’t get me started, though, on how out-of-shape American tourists are. It is just a fact. 90% of the guys over 50 had a potbelly and this was the same percentage with all of the other tour groups we saw. Man, something has to be done, it really does ... OK ... enough ... sorry about that.

Back on track - as a group we got along very well although the married couples almost all fell into what I have named “The Married Tour-Group Cycle.” What is this you ask? Let me explain ... in my years of traveling as a single traveler with tour groups I have found that almost without exception married people go through 3 phases during the tour, each phase of about equal length:

a. First 1/3 of the trip: “We are the happiest couple on earth and we want to tell you all about how happy we are to have found one another. Have we told you how happy we are and how much we love each other? Let us tell you again.”

b. Middle 1/3 of the trip: Bicker, bicker, bicker and more bickering, especially on the tour bus. To which I want to scream: “Come on people, you are not at home sitting on your couch in front of your blaring TV - we can hear you already - shut the fuck up,” but, of course, I don’t. Bicker, bicker and bicker - it is a fact of married life, I guess.

c. Final 1/3 of the trip: Ice cold silence with no eye contact between them. When talking to others they refer to their spouse in the third person, if at all. It is particularly difficult because there is very little opportunity, if any, for them to be away from one another for any length of time. This phase, unfortunately, is taken with them back home and, thusly, I have no idea how long it lasts once the tour is over and I don’t think I want to know.

3. THE TOUR GUIDE. Our tour guide was Mark Nichols, who was born and raised in New Zealand but has lived in Tucson, Arizona, for the last 25 years and has worked for Globus for about 20 years. His specialty is Asian tours. He was excellent. Polite but in control. Tactful. Understanding. Knowledgeable and very well read on Asian cultures and history. I rank him in the top 2% of all the tour guides I have had with Globus, or any other group for that matter.

He was particularly adept at supervising our luggage transfers, hotel check-in, inter-China flights, restaurant and shopping recommendations and basically helping to keep the collective stress levels under control.

Each of the local tour guides were good although I got the impression that those in China were not as open and responsive to questions as their counterparts in Japan.

4. OH MY GOD - THE TIME IN THE AIR. OK, I already knew we would spend a lot of time in the air on this trip and that we would have to fly to each city in China, but ... wow ... it was almost overwhelming, it really was. But, everything went just as planned and the Norris Travel Curse did not factor in at all on any leg/flight. I was particularly impressed with Japan Airline and with all of the airports in Japan and China.

Now, here is a statistic to end this portion of my trip observations - I flew a total of 21,040 miles. The circumference of the earth is 24,900 miles, so on this trip I flew 84% of the way around the world. Awesome, fucking awesome.

More to come later, hopefully.

Billi Pod

Friday, June 6, 2008

Friday - What An Upcoming Weekend

I have just finished making the final reservations for my weekend and it looks to be another interesting time for moi in The Greatest City in the World.

Tonight I head back out to The House That Ruth Built for the Yankee/Kansas City game, the beginning of a 4-game series. I also have a ticket for Monday’s 1:05pm game. Nothing, of course, could equal the game yesterday afternoon that ended with Jason Giambi hitting a 2-run walk-off game winning home run in the bottom of the 9th inning, giving the Yankees a 9-8 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. Yes, I was there at the very end. Luckily I was able to leave my nosebleed seat at the end of the 3rd inning and find a much better seat in the Loge area even though the game was technically a sellout. I would estimate that about 25% of the fans left before the bottom of the 9th - their bad.

This is what my upcoming entertainment pallet looks like --

Friday night - 7:05 - Yankees/KC (full price ticket)

Saturday - 2:00 - The Hired Man - “Set in rural Cumbria in the early part of the twentieth century, The Hired Man tells the timeless, moving story of a young married couple and their struggle to carve a living from the land, just as the rhythms of English country life are being interrupted by the gathering storm of war in Europe. Featuring stunning traditional British chamber music, this haunting, thrilling and stirring production is unlike any musical on the New York stage.” (complimentary ticket).

8:00 - Judy & Me - “Judy and Me addresses the issues of both homophobia and domestic abuse as it recounts the true story of sixteen-year old "Anthony," trapped in the narrow-minded suburb of Elmont, Long Island. An outcast at Sewankawa High School in Floral Park, Anthony is the daily target of verbal and physical torment from his classmates. His life at home is equally tenuous; his volatile, violent father is a constant source of pain to both Anthony and his mother. The teen finds his only escape in the music and entertainment of the legendary Judy Garland, who comes to life before his eyes and counsels him through his daily struggles. Through her compassion -- and through Anthony's passion for (and camaraderie with) Garland -- the boy learns to deal with his dysfunctional family, his school life, and the realization that he is gay.” (complimentary ticket).

Sunday - 6:00 - Tony Talk - “Ars Nova presents TONY TALK 2008, a heated discussion of Broadway’s best and worst, moderated by the deliciously controversial New York Post columnist Michael Riedel. Riedel and his panel of Theaterati will discuss the current season while taking an in depth look at the 2008 Tony Award nominations - who got them, who was snubbed and what it will all mean in the end.” (complimentary ticket)

On Monday I have the Yankees/KC game in the afternoon and on Wednesday I have a full-price ticket to the New York Philharmonic Orchestra performing the operatic score (Opera Without Words) of Wagner’s The Ring Cycle, performed at Carnegie Hall. This should be awesome.

OK, it is now time to get ready to head up to the Bronx.

Go Yankees!!!

Billi Pod

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Thursday - Forgive Me Father/Mayor Bloomberg, For I Have Sinned!!

In recognition of the importance of full disclosure to all of my loyal readers out there, I have a confession to make about a major New York City transgression I intentionally committed last night. How could I have done it I am asking myself this morning?

What, you ask? What did I do that requires this public display of humility with an admission that I, Bill Norris, aka Billi Pod, may have character defects like the rest of you out there in cyberspace? OK, take a seat, take a deep breath, and ... here it is ...

Oh God, this is difficult - but ... as many of you know I have been a subscriber to the New York Philharmonic Orchestra concert series since 1999. For the past several years I have subscribed to 3 series, totaling 21 concerts. As a reward for being a subscriber, each series comes with a voucher for a free concert in the same seating location as your series. In my case, rear orchestra, house left. Excellent seating in Avery Fisher Hall.

I had selected Wednesday night’s concert, Mahler’s Symphony No. 9, a majestic work of epic proportions, running about 85 minutes. It was the only thing on the program for the 7:30 concert, meaning the program would be finished around 9:00pm.

During the day yesterday I did a lot of stuff, not the least of which was having my semiannual HIV test at a Doctor’s office on Central Park South. Following the test I walked back to the apartment, stopping along the way at the awesome Apple Store at 59th Street and 5th Avenue to buy a protective case for my iPhone (at last). When I got back to the apartment I called the Dr.’s office for the test result, which was NEGATIVE. Thank you Higher Power, Thank You.

I then did more things and stuff including grocery shopping and before I knew it - it was time to get ready for the concert, meaning I had to leave the apartment no later than 6:15 to make sure I would have plenty of time to be in my seat because no late seating is permitted. I planned to carry along my old but trusty Walkman so I could listen to the Yankee/Toronto game on the way back from the concert.

OK, here it comes - I, gasp, suddenly decided to skip the New York Philharmonic Concert so I could watch the Yankee game on TV. Oh my God, what I am saying is that I passed on seeing one of the premiere Orchestras in the World perform a classical music masterpiece in order to watch a fucking midseason baseball game on TV. Yes, that is exactly what I did. It began to lightly rain in the 2nd inning and I thought ... “how fitting it would be for the game to be rained out”... but it wasn’t and the Yankees won 5-1 in a very exciting game.

Now I know several of my readers out there are classical music affectionatos and are thusly having difficulty in understanding how I could make such a choice. To them and to you all - I ask for your patience and understanding that even someone like moi can have a character defect or two hidden under the aura of perfection.

So, Father/Mayor Bloomberg, this sinner is asking for your forgiveness. I would ask for your understanding but even I know that is too much to ask/expect.

Whew, I feel as if the burden of the World has been lifted from my aching shoulders.

Oh, I am going to this afternoon’s Yankees/Toronto game, so I have to post this and do the prep work. My seat is in the nosebleed section.

Where are the observations about my Japan/China Adventure you are also asking? Have patience, please, they cometh anon.

Anyway - Go Yankees!!

Billi Pod

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tuesday - Joba’s First Start Tonight

Well, the Yankee Nation is all a-buzz about Joba Chamberlain making his first major league start tonight against the Toronto Blue Jays and I will be there, of course. This will mark a major change in the Yankee rotation and bullpen since Joba’s role last year and at the beginning of this year was in the bullpen as the 8th inning setup man for closer Mariano Rivera. He has excelled in that role. One of the local headlines is: “8th Wonder Cut Loose in Bronx Zoo.”

Frankly, I think it is a rather sad commentary on the state of the Yankee team because so far their decision to rely on the young arms of Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy has tanked and the Yankees are still playing lackluster ball, putting it kindly, and can’t seem to get hits with men in scoring position. My gut tells me that the rest of the season is going to be very very difficult and that Joba will not be the Savior people are looking for. I hope I am wrong, but ...

I mean, look guys, the season is now 1/3 over and you are below .500, trail the league leading Tampa Bay Rays by 7 games and are exuding the same confidence level as a band of Austrian Zombies. Not a fitting ending for the final season in The House That Ruth Built. My Gawd, Tampa Bay has the best record in the American League? What is happening here? Yep, it is a zoo for sure.

OK, OK, on to other things - Monday night I saw a really funny musical show called: “Bombs Away! The Worst of the Best of Broadway.” This was a staged reading before an audience of potential investors. It had been performed in a cabaret setting at Don’t Tell Mama and the creative team is hoping to move it to an Off Broadway theater. The hysterical story line is: “The show centers on a fictional Dr. Barry Mishkin, curator of the American Musical Theatre Archives in Washington, DC, who has amassed a collection of numbers and scenes allegedly dropped from Broadway's classic musicals. Dr. Mishkin and his troupe of actors present his collection against the wishes of the writers, their estates, their lawyers, the Supreme Court of New York, and more recently, the FBI's Musical Comedy Fraud Division. Undaunted by his legal troubles, Dr. Mishkin will not be stopped in his compulsion to present these rare, raw, frequently embarrassing pieces of Broadway history.”

A sampling of selections includes: "Krakatoa," from South Pacific; "I Own a Nail Salon," from Miss Saigon; "I Shake Me Green Shillelagh" from Finian's Rainbow; "See Ya in IKEA," from Mamma Mia; "You’ll Have A Bris," from Fiddler on The Roof; “We’re French and We Are Revolting” from Les Miz; “I’m Going Down with You” from Titanic; and, the precursor to "Age of Aquarius," "Age of Uranus," from Hair.

Very funny and very very dirty and risqué. I liked it a lot.

I really appreciate all of the “welcome home” emails and calls. Thanks so much for taking the time. I am working on the Japan/China observations and observations is the operative word because I don’t intend to give an after-the-fact daily narrative of the entire adventure. That would be too boring. I think the first segment will be ready for posting tomorrow.

Another topic - I am a staunch Hillary supporter but it is now time for her to toss in the towel and begin working on uniting the party behind Obama. It will be an interesting race, that is for certain.

Finally, Sunday, June 1, was a very important milestone for my daughter Kathi Bendeck of Columbia, SC. “Kathi, I am so proud of you. Keep on keeping on. Love, Dad.”

Enough for now - Go Yankees!!

Billi Pod

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sunday - June 1 - Back into my Big Apple routine

On Wednesday evening at 9:15pm my flight from San Francisco landed at JFK and a little over an hour later I was opening the door to my apartment, thus ending my once in a lifetime Japan/China adventure. I was tired and my body clock was trying to determine just which time-zone was correct. I gave it a boost by immediately ordering in pizza and wings. I am happy to report that as of today everything seems to be in-synch.

Thursday was a day of catching up, sorting through and reading 3 weeks worth of accumulated mail, paying bills, taking stuff to the laundry, restocking the fridge etc. etc. etc. and becoming one again with my beloved Big Apple. I definitely had jet-lag though.

Friday was an excellent day ending with The Eagles concert at Madison Square Garden. It was outstanding. On Saturday I got back into my theater routine by seeing two Off Broadway shows: “Three on a Couch” - about a famous author who fakes his own death so he can read his obituaries and the effect it has on his wife and his Shrink; and a one-man show by Mike Daisey called “How Theater Failed America” - excellent.

For the upcoming week I have already scheduled the following: Monday - “Bombs Away” Off Broadway; Tuesday - Yankees vs. Toronto; Wednesday - New York Philharmonic; Thursday - Yankees vs. Toronto.

Now, about my Japan/China Adventure - it met and exceeded all of my expectations. I was unable to post anything on this blog once I reached China because the Chinese government has blocked access to all known blog sites, yes, that is correct, the sites are blocked.

So, what I want to do is create an overview of the trip with my thoughts, comments, and observations. I am working on that now and should be able to post it/them in manageable segments during the upcoming week.

I will, however, post the following observation about what I consider to be the highlight of the entire trip, walking The Great Wall of China. This is an excerpt from a family email --

.....I hope to write about my thoughts in some detail later but the highlight of the entire trip was The Great Wall of China. We were there for about 4 hours on Friday. When we got to the entrance our tour guide said we had two options, on the right would be the "normal" side and on the left, the steeper more difficult side. Most of our group opted for the "normal" side. Did I? You already know the answer to that. Yes, this 74 year old guy chose the steeper, more difficult side and off I went with 6 other people from our group.

Well, it was one of the dumbest things I have done in a long time because the steps were irregular and very very very steep. But up and up and up we went until about 45 minutes later we reached the top viewing point for our entrance station. I took lots and lots of pictures and had mine taken when I finally reached the top.

When I turned around to begin the descent it became obvious that this part was going to be much more difficult and dangerous and I was right on both points. I was very very careful going down because one misstep would have had dire consequences. It was also very hard on the knees.

About half way down I thought to myself - you egomaniacal asshole, why do you always do things like this? It's not like CNN is going to carry a special news flash: "Breaking News from China - Bill Norris has just walked The Great Wall of China via the "more difficult" path - more news as it develops."

I have to admit that I was tired, sore and drenched in sweat when I finally reached the exit area. But, I had, in fact, walked The Great Wall of China via the more difficult route. Yahoo!!!

I later bought my first "things" on the tour - a black T-shirt that says: "I Walked The Great Wall," and, an authentic Beijing Olympics T-shirt, also black....

So, my cyberspace friends, it is great to be back in The Big Apple in the good old United States of America.

Billi Pod