Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Quick Update

Tomorrow, Wednesday, is a big day entertainment-wise. I guess it can properly be called a doubleheader. As I have previously posted, at 2:00 is Arthur Miller’s drama “All My Sons” and then at 8:00 is Horton Foote’s new drama “Dividing the Estate,” both clocking in at 2hrs. 15mins. with an intermission. I doubt I will come back to the apartment between shows.

Let me give you a quick report of the shows I have seen since the last posting on Sunday --

Sunday night was “Spamalot” with a discounted TDF ticket, which was in the front of the mezzanine - very good. I was really in the mood for a zany funny show and this filled the bill, as I knew it would. I think this was my 4th time since it opened nearly 4 years ago. As I posted, it is closing on January 18, 2009, although I have heard that the actual closing date has been moved up to January 11th. Clay Aiken is listed as the “star” but it is really an ensemble cast of very talented and funny actors. Needless-to-say, I left with a big smile on my face.

On Monday night was the new comedy/drama “Zero” which I have described in an earlier posting. I think this poster pretty much sums up what the play is about. It was very well written and performed but, you know what ... I guess it is because I have almost 19 years of sobriety, but ... 2 hours of drinking, puking, passing out, blacking out, wasted effort and then remorse etc etc etc - finally began to wear on me. I think it would be better at 90 minutes without intermission. Oh well

The New York Philharmonic Concert tonight was excellent, especially Schumann’s Symphony No. 4, which ended the program. I had previously exchanged a ticket for this concert and my seat was terrific, very center of the orchestra, row KK.


Time to post this and crash, so ...

Talk with you later.

Go Gators!!

Billi Pod
wanjr@aol.com

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Last Week of November

I have just finished making the final reservations for the upcoming week and as usual my entertainment pallet is full. Some shows are on a “holiday” schedule which means weird performance times in order to make up for Thanksgiving, when most Broadway shows are dark.

So, without further ado ... tada ... here is Billi Pod’s schedule for the next 7 days --

Sunday - I will stay in for the afternoon and watch the Jets vs. Tennessee game, and then ...

7:00 - “Monty Python’s Spamalot” - Broadway. Clay Akin heads the cast of this very funny show, which is closing on January 11, 2009. I have seen it several times and just wanted to see it one last time before closing. It is a lot of fun if you like Monty Python humor (and I do) and I feel in the mood for a zany show. (discounted TDF ticket).

When I get back to the apartment and thaw out I will turn on Comedy Central to see: “A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!” In NYC it is showing at 10:00 and then a repeat at midnight but check your local listing. The advance buzz is very good.

Monday - 8:15 - “Zero” - Off Broadway. “A shockingly hilarious, gritty day in the lives of six distinct characters that offers a glimpse into the speed bumps a man goes through as he realizes he's crossed that threshold into the dreaded adulthood he fears, wants, worries about, and wrestles with. At what point is he forced to let go of who he was in high school and stop making getting drunk and 'getting some' his number one priority? Or does he ever? Warning: Zero is intended for Mature Audiences Only, and is not a play for children or younger teens due to crude and sexual humor.” (complimentary ticket).

Tuesday - 7:30 - New York Philharmonic Orchestra @ Avery Fisher Hall. The program is: Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 1; Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5; and, Schumann’s Symphony No. 4. (subscription series).

Wednesday - 2:00 - “All My Sons” - Broadway. This revival of Arthur Miller’s 1974 drama stars John Lithgow, Patrick Wilson and Kati Holmes and is about a businessman’s World War II dealings with government. It has gotten generally very favorable reviews. (discounted ticket).

8:00 - “Dividing the Estate” - Broadway. “The decay of values, in both property and personal conduct, is the subject of Horton Foote’s latest elegy for small-town American Life. A multigenerational Texas clan sorts through its material and emotional heritage in this 13 character production.” (discounted TDF ticket).

This show has just opened and it has gotten decent reviews.

Thursday - HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY!!

2:00 - “The Big Apple Circus: Play On!” @ Lincoln Center. “If music be the food of love, PLAY ON! So begins the BIG APPLE CIRCUS 31st season. Set to a jazzy mix of classical, rock and soul, Play On! features tightwire acts, feats of balance, juggling, acrobatics, trapeze artistry, clowns and more, with focus of one ring with no seat more than 50 feet away.” (discounted TDF ticket).

I try to catch a performance at least once a year. It is always different and usually very entertaining.

Friday - 2:00 (yes, that is the correct time and date) - “The Seagull” - Broadway. “This complex romantic ecology of Anton Checkov’s 1893 classic is a daisy chain of she-loves-me-nots and stars award-winning actress Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient).” (discounted TDF ticket).

I have to admit to having second thoughts about booking this show. I know I have seen it before but I remember nothing about it except leaving the theater wondering ...”what the fuck was that all about?” I hope I have it mentally mixed it up with some other show. It has gotten very good reviews, however. it clocks in at 2 hours and 50 minutes with one intermission.

8:00 - “Prayer For My Enemy” - Off Broadway. “Between wars, what is there to do but recall the last and plan for the next? As the Red Sox fight the Yankees for the AL title, and an enigmatic outsider unspools a tale of filial responsibility, an American family confronts its demons - a son returning from Iraq, a father battling the bottle, and a triangle of unresolved romantic tension. Crag Lucas’s new play is a keenly-layered drama about the preciousness of life and the grace to share common ground even with those we love the least.” (discounted TDF ticket).

This is in very early previews. Doesn’t it sound interesting? It has an outstanding cast, including Jonathan Groff, late of “Spring Awakening.”

Saturday - 3:30 - Gators vs. FSU @ Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, FL - carried on ABC. The Gators should kick-butt again. Hell, I could write a whole posting about this rivalry but I won’t except to say that I continue to pray that Bobby Bowden remains the ‘Noles head coach for as long a Joe Paterno is at Penn State. Go Gators.

So, my faithful and loyal readers, I know you will agree with me that the upcoming week will be very interesting.

But, wait - there’s more to report. What you are breathlessly asking? Well, about things and stuff I did since the last posting on Thursday, so ... Oh, come on now ... keep on reading ... you know you love it ...

On Tuesday night I saw “Dust” in very early previews, maybe even the first preview performance and ... it was strange. I wanted to like it because of the lead actors, Richard Masur and Hunter Foster, but it just didn’t work for me and it had one of the oldest of all theater clich├ęs ... a gun on stage, meaning, someone has to die, and, I didn’t care a flipping fuck who it was. Funny thing happened ... as the female character was leaving the stage in a scene she had trouble opening the apartment door and had to yank at it several times before it finally opened. It was awkward.

The New York Philharmonic concert on Thursday night was excellent, except for a discordant cello piece by Penderecki. All was made well though with a rousing performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5.

I had more classical music on Friday night, The Dresden Staaskapelle, performing at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. My complimentary ticket was very good, Tier One, row AA. The concert was opened by Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 - awesome. At intermission I ran into my theater-going friend Phil Parnes, who is a retired violinist, and he told me of some open orchestra seats, so I left the First Tier and joined him in the rear orchestra, not far from where my NY Phil seats are located. Oh man, the concert ended with Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 - wonderful. A great concert with a comp. ticket - it doesn’t get much better than this in The Big Apple.

Saturday was a busy day. It was very cold. I had a matinee ticket to see a show called “The Language of Trees” - Off Broadway. “When an American translator is sent into a U.S. war zone in the Middle East, a friendly neighbor volunteers to help out his wife and young son. As events abroad spiral out of control, the lives of all the characters are turned upside down. The Language of Trees is about the fragility of language, the ecology of war and the meaning of neighborliness in an age of terror.” (complimentary ticket).

This show was very thought-provoking and very well acted and I am glad I finally got a ticket to see it.

During the afternoon The Gators kicked butt, beating The Citadel by a score of 70-10. Wow!! The game was not carried locally.

I stayed in Saturday night (hey, don’t be critical - I am retired so every night is a Saturday night for me) to watch the Oklahoma vs. number 2-ranked Texas Tech game, with The Sooners favored by 7 points. My son, Bill, is a huge Sooners fan and we talked several times during the game, which as you know if you are a football fan, Oklahoma won by a jaw-dropping score of 65-21 Who could have possibly foreseen this? No one, that’s who.

I would love to see The Gators play The Sooners in the BCS Championship game. All we have to do it get by FSU and ‘Bama, not an easy task.

OK, folks, this has gone on for too long, so ...

Talk with you later.

Go Gators!!

Billi Pod
wanjr@aol.com

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"Billy Elliot" Is Terrific


I am very happy to report that, in my humble opinion, “Billy Elliot” successfully made the transition from London’s West End to the bright lights of Broadway’s Great White Way, and, based on the response from the sold-out show last night, this opinion was shared by the enthusiastic and diverse audience.

One of the concerns I read about in advance of the transfer was whether an American audience would understand the depth of the labor movement’s animosity toward Margaret Thatcher and her role in the privatization of the coal industry. I thought it was very clear from the outset and was handled in a straight-forward manner. It wasn’t a problem.

There was also concern over the heavy accents and profanity but both are integral to the story and even the profanity spewed out by the children feels real and in character for the times and situations.

The young teen playing Billy was Kiril Kulish and he did an excellent job and it is certainly understandable why it is necessary to rotate the 8 weekly performances between the 3 boys.

The only thing that really struck me about this staging verses the 2 that I saw in London, was the depth of the anger and frustration between Billy’s father and Billy’s older brother. In this staging they get physical and I don’t remember that in the London productions.

Frankly, the only quibble I have about the show itself, Broadway and London, is the appearance of the Ghost of Billy’s mother. It added nothing to the story, in my opinion, and was overly and needlessly dramatic. But, this is a minor quibble.

So, bottom line - I restate my prediction that “Billy Elliot” will have a long-life on Broadway and I highly highly recommend that you add it to your “Must See” list.

Speaking of Broadway - two of my favorite shows, “Spamalot” and “Spring Awakening” are ending their Broadway runs in January 2009. I just had to see them one last time, so I have discounted TDF tickets for the Sunday, November 23rd, performance of “Spamalot” and “Spring Awakening” for Wednesday, December 10th.

In reviewing my recent postings I noticed that I failed to mention that I saw the movie “Role Models” on Sunday afternoon, November 16th, and that I loved it. The show stars Paul Rudd and Seann (yes it has 2 n’s) William Scott as two frat-pack guys with dead-end jobs who get into trouble with the law and can only avoid jail by agreeing to participate in a Big Brother program for troubled kids. As might be expected they are paired with two kids who have a world of problems. One of the kids is played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse who played McLovin in the 2007 hit movie “Superbad” and his performance alone makes “Role Models” worth seeing.

Meaning, if you like gross-out jokes, cussing and frat-boy humor then this is the show for you. If not, stay the hell away.

In closing - in a posting last week I discussed an Off-Broadway show, “Garden of Earthly Delights,” and mentioned that my jury was still out regarding it. Well, the jury has returned its verdict and it is overwhelmingly favorable in all of the reviews I have read. Let me quote The New York Times ....”this singular work of dance theater is without a doubt one of the most eerily hypnotic spectacles of flesh in motion ever put on a New York stage.”

Oh, an interesting bit of political gossip is going around. What, you breathlessly ask? Well, here it is: Obama appoints Hillary as Secretary of State and then Governor Patterson appoints Bill to replace her in the Senate. Hey, I like it. So, if it happens please remember where you heard it first.

Hey, I report - you decide.

Go Gators!!

Billi Pod
wanjr@aol.com

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesday - Reporting from The Big Apple

It is cold in the Big Apple and I guess I can say that Winter has actually arrived. I think the combination of getting older and my blood-thinner meds have made me much more sensitive to the cold. Please understand, however, I am not complaining or whining because I am in New York City this time of year by choice. I could literally be anyplace in the World I want to be and I have chosen to be in The Greatest City in the World. I mean, why be warm and bored? Right? Yes, I thought you, my faithful and loyal readers, would understand.

Now on to other things - I am still basking in the glory of the Gator’s crushing those little cocks from South Carolina. There is no question about it - the Gators control their own destiny - win out and we play in the BCS Championship Game. To my amazement the local sportswriters in all three of the daily papers have become enamored with the Gators, with the writer for The Daily News ranking them as his number one team.

The basketball team is also off to a good start, winning Friday over Toledo by a score of 80-58 and then over Bradley (wherever in hell that is) on Sunday by a score of 81-58. The Bradley game was carried locally, which is a rarity.

After the game on Saturday I went to an 8:30 show, The Sandbox and The First Time, at the theater on 59th Street. The small theater was full. Both shows, which I have previously described, were funny and very well acted.

On the way back to the apartment I stopped at my favorite pizza place, Ray Bari’s @ 56th and 3rd, and got several slices and some wings. That took care of my “dinner” for the next 3 nights.

Last night was an excellent concert at Town Hall called “Broadway Unplugged,” which I have described in a previous posting. My discounted TDF ticket was great, in the orchestra, house left, 11 rows from the stage. The house for the 3 level theater was full, and it being a Monday night when most of the Broadway shows are dark, the audience was full of theater-type folks. All of the performers sung without microphones.

I have previously described the Off-Broadway show that I am seeing tonight, Dust, starring Richard Masur and Hunter Foster. Luckily it is only a block away from the 43rd Street subway exit, so I won't freeze.

Now, the big news - I scored a super excellent seat for tomorrow’s performance of “Billy Elliot,” which just opened to mostly rave reviews. The press blurb: “Based on the film about a working-class British boy with dreams that run contrary to family expectations, the London smash-hit musical arrives on Broadway. Set in the North East against the backdrop of the 1984 miners' strike, Billy Elliot is a funny, heart-warming and feel-good celebration of one young boy's dream to become a ballet dancer and triumph over adversity.”

I love this show. I first saw it in London in 2005 just weeks after it opened to rave reviews. It went on to win all kinds of awards, including Best New Musical. I saw it again in London in 2006. Last Thursday I went to the box office and was amazed that I was able to get a super-excellent seat in the front mezzanine.

As some of you may know, the role of Billy is alternated between 3 young (13 year old) dancer/singers. I predict that it will have a long long life on Broadway.

When I left the Billy Elliot box office I then went on a Broadway rampage and got excellent discounted tickets to see the revival of “All My Sons” for the November 26th matinee and “Shrek - the Musical,” for December 11th. More about them later.

Thursday night is The New York Philharmonic Orchestra @ Avery Fisher Hall. The program is: Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 6: Penderecki’s Cello Concerto No. 2; and, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. (subscription series)

For Friday evening I was able to score a free (complimentary) ticket to a Great Performers concert at Avery Fisher Hall by The Dresden Staaskapelle, which was founded in 1548. The program will be: Brahms’ Symphony No. 4; and, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Awesome.

At the moment Saturday and Sunday are open. I do know that the Gator/Citadel game is not being carried locally.

Huge question locally about whether Hillary should become Secretary of State, assuming the position is offered to her. Frankly, I would hate to lose her presence in the Senate. She has done a good job for the State of New York. I do, however, think she will accept the appointment, despite Bill’s baggage, and will be confirmed.

Go Gators!!

Billi Pod
wanjr@aol.com

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Leonard Bernstein @ Carnegie Hall & 1957

On November 14, 1943, 25 year old Leonard Bernstein made his New York Philharmonic Orchestra directorial debut when he stepped in at the last minute to replace an ailing Bruno Walter for a concert at Carnegie Hall. Just two months earlier Bernstein had been named the Philharmonic’s assistant conductor - the first American and the youngest person ever chosen for the position. The next day the story of his debut made the front page of the New York Times.

Now, 65 years later to the night I was sitting in the best seat I have ever had for a concert at Carnegie Hall, center orchestra, row K, seat 106, a ticket purchased only a few days earlier. I was mega-charged, as was everyone seated around me, for the "Bernstein: The Best of All Possible Worlds" concert.

The conductor for the evening was young Alan Gilbert who was recently named Music Director beginning in the 2009-10 season.

To say that the evening was electrifying doesn’t do it justice. The opening number was the Symphonic Suite from “On the Waterfront.” Awesome. The second was a 33 minute work called “Serenade (after Plato’s Symposium) for Violin,” featuring Glenn Dicterow, the Concert Master for the Philharmonic. Beautiful.

After intermission came the pieces that everyone was waiting for - works from the ground-breaking 1957 musical “West Side Story.” The first piece was Suite No. 1, featuring a Tenor and a Soprano in the roles of Tony and Maria. They sang: Maria; One Hand, One Heart; Somewhere; and, The Balcony Scene. This received a roaring ovation. It was breath-takingly beautiful.

Then a group of 25 singers came on stage to join Tony and Maria. They were from the New York Choral Artists. The final number of the evening was Suite No. 2: I Feel Pretty; Jet Song; America; and, Tonight. I cannot adequately describe how wonderful this was.

At the conclusion the audience gave everyone a roaring standing ovation. Luckily, it wasn’t over. They did two encores: Rumble from West Side Story and The Overture to Candide.

I was once again reminded about how much better the acoustics are in Carnegie Hall versus Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center.

During the West Side Story numbers I felt my mind drifting back to 1957 and my unique experience involving the show when it was in its out-of-town previews. I will share the story now in the form of a verbatim copy of a posting I made last year to the New York Theater Chat Board called “All That Chat” --
++++++++++++++++++++++++

“In the summer of 1957 I was coming to the end of my tour of duty in the Army and was stationed in Washington, DC, living off-base with a bunch of army buddies, including one who had a part-time job with the afternoon newspaper (the name escapes me).

One night he came in from work and told me that his Editor had given him two tickets to a musical that was finishing up its out of town tryout and would soon open on Broadway. He asked me to go with him because he knew of my interest in the theater, even back then, and, also, the tickets included an after-performance party with the creative team, cast members and the press.

I asked him about the show and he said all he knew about it was that it was a musical based on a modern version of Romeo & Juliet. To this I replied - “no f**king way am I gonna see something like that, no f**king way.” He begged me and begged me to go with him and kept emphasizing the party afterwards. Finally I gave in and said I would go. According to some old notes I have the date was August 19, 1957 and it was the opening night at The National Theatre in Washington, DC.

Well, we were both blown away by the show. It was like nothing I had ever seen before, or, frankly, since. I remember though that some of the older people (I was all of 23yrs. old) seated around us were horrified by the “coarseness” of some of the lyrics, especially in “Gee, Officer Krupke,” and there were audible gasps with the final line:

Gee, Officer Krupke,
Krup You!

I don’t remember too much about the after-party other than it was at one of the posh hotels and had plenty of free booze and food. Someone pointed out a person named Leonard Bernstein and a very young looking guy named Sondheim, but neither name registered with me at the time.

The rest of the story is history., of course. I don’t know how many times, thousands I am sure, that I thanked the Gods of the Theatre for making me go to see a musical of a modern version of Romeo & Juliet.

Bottom-line I count this as the highlight of all of the theater experiences I have ever had.

Bill”
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Let me summarize my feelings about the concert - ONE OF THE BEST EVER!!!!

I have just scored tickets to some major Broadway shows and will share the info with you in a later posting.

It is raining and ugly out and I am killing time until the 3:30 kickoff of the Gator/So. Carolina game on CBS.

Go Gators!!

Billi Pod
wanjr@aol.com

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thursday - A Man for All Seasons (and more)

I am writing this on Thursday afternoon and it is nasty out - chilly, windy and rainy. Thankfully the apartment is nice and warm and cozy. Hopefully things will clear up before I head out this evening.

On Tuesday evening I saw the revival of “A Man for All Seasons” starring Frank Langella in the role of Sir Thomas More. This was part of my season subscription to The Roundabout Theater Company so my seat was excellent. I was a bit apprehensive about the show for several reasons: (1) I have seen the show numerous times, on Broadway and in regional and community theater productions; (2) it is kinda long at 2:45, with an intermission; and (3) this production has received basically luke-warm reviews.

Well, all of my apprehensions were for naught (damn, I wonder where that stilted phrase came from?) because I found the show to be riveting and Langella’s performance Tony-worthy. Yes, it is long but it is great theater, in my humble opinion, and I am so glad that I had a chance to see it.

Last night, Wednesday, was an excellent concert by the New York Philharmonic, concluding with Stravinsky’s "The Firebird Suite." I did have a problem during the concert, however. I became highly annoyed with the older couple seated in front of me. Why you ask? Well, she kept dozing off, laying her head on her husband’s shoulder and then suddenly jerking back upright when she woke up. She did this about every 2 minutes. He was dozing off too. I prayed they would leave at intermission but they didn’t and the cycle repeated itself during the entire concert. What was I to do? I just didn’t feel comfortable saying anything to them, so ... I mentally repeated the Serenity Prayer several times and focused on the orchestra.

This is my entertainment schedule for the next 6 days --

Thursday - 7:00 - “The Middle Ages” - Off Broadway. “A. R. Gurney’s play focuses on the family. Set in one room - the trophy room of a men's club - from just after World War II through the late 1970's, the play illustrates the conflict between long-standing traditions and the pressure for change. Son Barney needs to break free, but his father Charles, the president of the men's club, locks him in the trophy room when he misbehaves. On one such occasion, he meets the shy Eleanor, falls in love, and spends the next 30 years trying to win her over. Meanwhile, her mother, a social climber hungry for stability, strives to break into this rapidly failing world.” (complimentary ticket)

Friday - 8:00 - The New York Philharmonic Orchestra in concert at Carnegie Hall. This is the Carnegie Hall press blurb: “Bernstein - The Best of All Possible Worlds Festival. Arguably the most symbolic concert of the entire Bernstein series, tonight’s event marks the 65th anniversary of Bernstein’s first podium appearance with the New York Philharmonic in the hall where it happened. This all-Bernstein program includes selections from ‘West Side Story’ and ‘On the Waterfront.’” (full price expensive ticket).

How could I pass this up? I couldn’t for many reasons - I love the NY Phil, of course, and they sound soooooooooo much better in Carnegie Hall, and, West Side Story is my all-time favorite musical, for reasons I will detail later. My seat is in the orchestra, row K, in the middle - super excellent.

And, speaking of the New York Philharmonic - as I have posted numerous times I am a 3 series subscriber and a modest donor, and have been so for a number of years. Somehow this combination has earned me “membership” in the Philharmonic-Symphony Society of New York, which I believe is the orchestra’s governing board. I got a notice of the annual meeting on the afternoon of Thursday, December 3. It asked whether I would attend the annual meeting, and if not, granting my proxy to someone.

Hey, thought I - this sounds interesting and another first for moi, so I returned the card stating that I would be attending the meeting. If it gets too boring I will just leave. I am sure they will have nice snacks and stuff too. Will report about it.

Saturday - 3:30 - Gators vs. South Carolina on CBS. Hopefully the Gator coaching staff will not let SteveS get into their heads and we will continue our journey to the BCS Championship game.

8:30 - “The Sandbox and The First Time” - Off Broadway. “These two one act comedies are presented as part of the Made in Poland Festival. The Sandbox is about a couple's inability to articulate emotions, except through the language of globally mass-marketed brand names and advertising. While sitting in a sandbox, Him and Her try to figure out how to love each other despite their linguistic challenges. In The First Time, He and She try to have a sexual relationship, but are thwarted at each step by the weather, family, hunger, and the punctured illusions of a post-communist society.” (complimentary ticket).

This is being presented at the 59E59 Theater, one of my favorite venues. It is only 8 blocks from the apartment.

Sunday - open at the moment. Will probably see the just opened movie “Role Models.”

Monday - 8:00 - “Broadway Unplugged” @ Town Hall. This is an annual concert involving at least 20 current Broadway performers who will sing without the usual sound enhancements. I have attended several of these in the past and they have all been very good. (discounted TDF ticket).

Tuesday - 8:00 - “Dust” - Off Broadway. “Martin is an executive with money and a paunch. Zeke is an ex-con with street smarts and a minimum wage position. Early one morning, in the fitness center of the Essex House, the battle of will begins over the most trivial of requests. And when Martin's daughter Jenny becomes entangled in the situation, the stakes are raised even higher escalating a war for respect into one for revenge and survival. Who will be standing when the dust settles? Starring Emmy Award nominee Richard Masur and Tony Award nominee Hunter Foster, Dust is a new thriller in the old tradition it will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final curtain!” (discounted TDF ticket)

Oh, is anyone else sick and tired of seeing Sarah “wink-wink” Palin in every known news media in her pathetic attempt to put a positive spin on the disaster known as the McCain/Palin ticket? Lady, you lost and you were a major reason why your team tanked, so get the fuck over it. YOU LOST!!!!

Go Gators!!

Billi Pod
wanjr@aol.com

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday - Belated Report on My Weekend Things & Stuff

Sorry my faithful and loyal readers for the lateness in reporting on my activities since the last posting on Thursday. Truth-be-told I did so much that I just didn’t feel like taking the time to post - my bad.

I had previously posted my scheduled activities and I added to them by scheduling two frat-boyish gross-out type movies: “Sex Drive” for Friday afternoon and then “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” for Sunday afternoon.

So, let me give you my reactions to the various events in an abbreviated/summary fashion (hey, please hold the applause, OK?):

Thursday - “Cirque du Soleil's Wintuk" - my seat for this show was excellent, center orchestra 11 rows from the stage, in the smaller Madison Square Garden venue. I only wish the show itself had been as good as my seat, but it wasn’t. I think the smallness of the venue had a larger impact on the production than had been anticipated. It felt more like a vaudeville show than a circus. I didn’t hate the show but it didn’t set me on fire as I had expected it would.

Friday - afternoon - “Sex Drive” - “’All you need for a movie is a girl and a gun,’ wrote Jean-Luc Goddard. Sex Drive has both, plus raunch, a 1969 GTO and Seth Green as a sarcastic Amish farmer. Our nerdy hero is encouraged to pursue an IM crush in Tennessee and complications ensue - jail time, violent hicks, a raging older brother, etc., yielding sly and lowbrow laughs.”

I couldn’t have said it better. I loved the movie and laughed a lot.

8:00 - “My Vaudeville Man” at the York Theater. This was the first preview performance and the story is based on a series of letters between the young tap-dancer and his disapproving mother. A great show and very well performed.

Saturday - afternoon - “Mouth to Mouth” - I had earlier posted that I had misgivings about this show about an HIV positive writer and his relationship with his female best friend and her family. I still have misgivings. It is a powerful show and the acting is outstanding but ... why must playwrights portray most of their gay characters as “nellie-queens?” I find this to be very distracting.

8:00 - Gators vs. Vandy. Well, as you know, the Gators kicked ass again winning 42-14. The score could have been 84-0 had Urban Meyer not pulled his starting offense and defense midway into the 3rd quarter. The win means the Gators will play Alabama for the SEC Championship. A win there will probably propel the victor to the BCS Championship game. Go Gators.

Sunday - afternoon - “Zach and Miri Make a Porno” - “Faced with a mountain of debt, longtime roommates Zach (Seth Rogan) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) decide to make a porno and self-distribute it. Zach and Miri’s friendship is obviously love but for them to realize it, they much first do a porn scene together. Think of it as When Harry Fucked Sally.” Oh, yes ...

OK, back off - this is the kind of movie that I love, so there. If the above description piques your ‘interest’ then I highly recommend this show, if not - then stay the hell away. It’s as simple as that.

Which makes a good segue to the evening’s entertainment event - “Garden of Earthly Delights.” I described this show in detail in the last posting and this is what I predicted: “Make no mistake about it - I will either love or hate this show, there will be no middle ground.” Well, the jury remains out because I am still trying to process what I saw. This is what I mean ...

First, it didn’t help things that the show was delayed for 30 minutes for “technical reasons.” I almost bailed but decided to give it a shot. It is described as ...”A seamless fusion of theater, dance, music and flight”.... The Playbill lists the scenes as: “Paradise. Seven Deadly Sins. Hell.”

Well, the dancers did indeed fly around the stage in a hour long twisting whirl involving, among other things: vaginal and anal sex, violence, urination, death, torture, impaling with a Cello (don’t ask) and farting. Yep, it was different, to say the least.

Monday - night - “Basic Training” - as previously posted, this one-man show is about the writer/performer’s experiences in the Air Force as a member of the entertainment troupe “Tops in Blue.” He portrays 23 different characters. The show was 80 minutes and it totally captured my attention. I highly recommend it.

So, this brings you up-to-date. It is dark and gray and cold out as I am writing this on Tuesday afternoon. Tonight I have “A Man for All Seasons” which clocks in at 2 hours and 30 minutes with an intermission. I know I will need my before-the-show-begins coffee jolt.

Go Gators!!

Billi Pod
wanjr@aol.com

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thursday - Things and Stuff

First of all - I am happy to report that my sister Ann Parker, now living in Indio, CA, has successfully completed what is, hopefully, her last surgery addressing clogged neck artery issues. And, thank you Donna Parker Jadamec of Denver, CO, for your willingness to be with Ann during her time of need.

There is still an almost surreal feeling in The Big Apple over the election results as the significance of Obama’s historic election sinks in. Yesterday all of the daily newspapers sold out. I have all three and will store them together with the papers dated 9/12/01. Maybe one day in the future my great-great-great grandchildren will find them interesting.

Now, on to other things, like my entertainment schedule for the next 7 days. Do I need to use the term “awesome,” or do you loyal and faithful readers now automatically utter that word without my urging? I don’t know, but ... here it is:

Thursday - 7:30 - “Cirque du Soleil's Wintuk" - “Wintuk is an exciting adventure about a boy's quest for snow. This celebration of winter weaves thrilling acrobatics, breathtaking theatrical effects and memorable songs into an extraordinary journey to an imaginary land called Wintuk. The boy and his companions –- a mysterious female shaman, a fearless young girl and a yellow-bellied man –- deliver endless excitement, exhilaration and intrigue. The show is playful, musical, and bursts with the energy of the city and the magic of a wonderland. Featuring a cast of 50 performers from Cirque du Soleil, this seasonal story will have the whole family wishing for snow!” (complimentary ticket).

Friday - 8:00 - “My Vaudeville Man” - Off Broadway. “A rousing tap dancing new musical based on the life of legendary eccentric tapper Jack Donahue. Jack’s mother struggles to get him to see vaudeville as a ridiculous pursuit and that he needs to come home to work alongside his father at the docks. As Jack tap-dances his way to stardom, will his family finally recognize he’s meant for greater things?” (discounted TDF ticket).

This show is playing at the York Theater in the basement of the Citicorp Building. I have been a financial supporter of the York Theater Company for almost 10 years and I consider their Artistic Director, Jim Morgan, to be a friend. They usually do very good stuff.

Saturday - 2:00 - “Mouth to Mouth” - Off Broadway. “Frank, a gay writer living with AIDS, attends a party at his friend Laura's house to celebrate the return of her teenage son from abroad. As the story shifts back and forth through time, it's clear that Frank may have played an unscrupulous part in the unraveling of his best girlfriend's family. Nominated for an Olivier Award for Best New Play, Kevin Elyot's West End smash is a haunting, twisting tale of undeclared passion and the fine line between intimacy and betrayal.” (complimentary ticket).

I have to admit to having mixed feelings about this show but several of my theater-going buddies (all female) have recommended it so I thought I would give it a shot before it closes.

8:00 - Gators at Vanderbilt - ESPN2. I hope the Gators don’t look past this game because Vandy has a good team and they have given the Gators a hard time over the last several years. Go Gators!!

Sunday - 7:00 - “Garden of Earthly Delights” - Off Broadway. “The performers fly through the air as if they were heavenly bodies released in space in this breathtaking flight of imaginative genius from Martha Clarke. A seamless fusion of theater, dance, music and flight,that is at once sensual, stunning, disturbing and unforgettable. Using state-of-the-art aerial devices Clarke takes you on a journey from creation through Eden, earthly existence, damnation and redemption.” (complimentary ticket).

Make no mistake about it - I will either love or hate this show, there will be no middle ground. This show, following so closely on Cirque du Soleil, may result in sensory overload on my part. I hope not. We will see.

Monday - 8:00 - “Basic Training” - Off Broadway. “Basic Training, created by and starring Kahlil Ashanti, is a new comedy based on one soldier's outrageous experience in the U.S. Air Force. It chronicles Ashanti's amazing tour as a member of the elite entertainment troupe "Tops In Blue" in the U.S. Air Force. A life altering event forces his attention home to face the childhood he tried to forget. Ashanti plays twenty-three unforgettable characters that tell his funny true story.” (complimentary ticket).

Tuesday - 8:00 - “A Man for All Seasons” - Broadway. “A revival of the award winning drama about Sir Thomas More, played by Frank Langella, who stands up to government on moral principals, with disastrous results.”

This show is part of my Roundabout Theater subscription series. Unfortunately, it has gotten just lukewarm reviews.

Wednesday - 7:30 - New York Philharmonic Orchestra @ Avery Fisher Hall. The program is: Violin works by Lyadov, Khachatorian, and Kancheli (none of whom registered with me) and then Stravinsky’s "The Firebird Suite." (subscription series).

So, there it is - for the next 7 days: 1 Broadway show; 4 Off Broadway shows; 1 Circus performance; 1 New York Philharmonic concert; and 1 Gator game broadcast on local TV. I very likely will add a Sunday and a Wednesday matinee show.

Yep, the word “awesome” certainly leaps into my mind as it knocks aside “entertainment-excess” and “obsessive-compulsive behavior.” What do you think?

Hey, I report - you decide.

Much more to post concerning past events. Will do so later, I promise.

Go Gators!!

Billi Pod
wanjr@aol.com

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

NOVEMBER 4 2008 - AMERICA WINS!!


I was born in the deep south 74+ years ago and attended segregated schools. Fortunately the most influential person in my life, my mother, Ruby, was a progressive liberal in the truest sense of the word and as a result, I always thought of myself as being “color-blind” on the racial issue.

In my wildest dreams, however, I never imagined that a black man would be elected President of the United States of America, in my lifetime - no way could it happen.

At 11:00pm EST on Tuesday, November 4 2008, when all of the media declared that the President-elect was Barack Obama, I felt a wave of emotion I hadn’t expected and these emotions built until they reached a crescendo at midnight when the President-elect, his wife, and their two children, took the stage at Grant Park in Chicago. I was witnessing history in the making. I thought his remarks were right on, setting the proper tone for his upcoming administration.

A short time before, Sen. John McCain showed that he is indeed a classy man of character and integrity. I predict that Obama will reach out to McCain and ultimately he will become part of the Team for Change. Just remember where you heard it first.

I know that in the heavenly upstairs two of my dearest friends, Bill Mullon and Marvin Mounts, are smiling with Ruby.

The people have spoken. It is now time to begin the process of changing campaign rhetoric into action.

Mr. President-elect - the ball is now in your court.

Oh, I think I did a pretty good job in my predictions, especially calling the results in the swing states.

Billi Pod, a Proud American
wanjr@aol.com

Monday, November 3, 2008

Election Day Predictions

OK, my faithful and loyal readers, who span the voter demographics of this wonderful country of ours, the United States of America, your wait is now over. Yes, I have decided to post my predictions for the outcome of the election tomorrow.

So, without further ado or fanfare, here they are:

POPULAR VOTE:

Obama - 52%

McCain - 44%

Other - 4%

ELECTORAL COLLEGE:

Obama - 353

McCain - 227

In the so called “Battleground” states the results will be:

Ohio - Obama
Pennsylvania - Obama
Colorado - Obama
Nevada - Obama
Virginia - Obama
Iowa - Obama
Florida - Obama

Missouri - McCain
North Carolina - McCain

I also predict that the Democrats will add to their margins in both the House and the Senate but will fall just short in the Senate of reaching the so-called “filibuster-blocking” 60th seat.

In planning your evening on Tuesday - I also predict that the major news sources will begin calling the election in Obama’s favor between 11:30 and midnight. I have a show scheduled for Tuesday evening but will be back in the apartment around 10:30.

Am I correct? Who knows. These predictions do not necessarily represent my personal views because I remain committed to fair and unbiased reporting, so, “I report - you decide.”

Oh, a totally off-topic moment - yesterday was the running of the New York City Marathon. Did you know that Billi Pod ran in and successfully completed both the 1978 and 1979 New York Marathons? Well, I did and I have pictures to prove it. Of course I wasn’t known as Billi Pod back then. Just thought you might like to know this bit of biographical information.

Go Gators!!!

Billi Pod
wanjr@aol.com

Sunday, November 2, 2008

October 2008 - Another Awesome Month!!

I know, I know - I use the word “awesome” too much, especially as it relates to the life-style that I am so blessed to be living in The Greatest City in the World, but please understand, I am not bragging or anything like that, I am merely reporting. OK?

I have just finished reviewing my daily log (log, not diary - real guys don’t keep diaries) for the month of October 2008 and it confirmed my feeling that it was another “awesome” month entertainment-wise. I find that during the month I saw/attended/did the following:

2 Broadway shows (Speed the Plow and American Buffalo); 18 Off Broadway shows; 2 New York Philharmonic concerts; and, 1 movie (Nick & Nora’s Endless Playlist). Noticeably missing is any reference to post-season activity on behalf of The Yankees.

Was able to spend an evening, including dinner and theater, with Sandy Mullon of Anna Maria, FL, and have face-time twice with student/bartender/manager Scott Reed. Got my annual flu shot and finally got around to filing my 2007 tax returns (we won’t go into the reasons why I always, and I mean always, get an extension).

Reconnected with some of my old AA buddies (you know who you are) and we have been able to share and discuss some of the stresses caused by the current economic implosion. It ain't pretty. Hang in there guys, One Day at a Time.

I was in Paris for 7 nights with my former roommate and fraternity brother David West of Gainesville, FL, and Paris, FR, in his rental apartment in the Latin Quarter on the Left Bank. We had a terrific time together, including out-of-Paris day trips to Giverny to visit Claude Monet’s residence and to Napoleon and Josephine’s chateau at Malmaison. We also had excellent meals at various restaurants. I had several days on my own to visit the Pompidou Center, Napoleon's Tomb at the Hotel des Invalides, which also houses The French Army Museums, and the Musee d’Orsay.

Again, David, thank you so very much for your continued friendship and hospitality. I look forward to seeing you back in Paris in the Spring of 2009.

With all of these activities I was somewhat surprised that I had, gasp, a total of 4 days/nights during the month without some entertainment event. Oh well ... what can I say?

In accordance with my promise to keep my loyal and faithful readers up-to-date I posted 23 times to this blog, making a total of 144 postings since the blog was created on April 6, 2008. Yes, you are indeed welcome.

I have lots of other things and stuff to write about but will post this and then will probably write another post when I get back from tonight’s show, an Off Broadway play called “Romantic Poetry.”

Go Gators!!

Billi Pod
wanjr@aol.com

49 - 10. It is Great to Be a Florida Gator!!


Yessir, yesterday’s major ass-stomping by the Gators over those pathetic puppies, Oh, excuse me, I meant - the Bulldawgs, made up for last year’s un-sportsman-like conduct by the Georgia team, an act that will live in football infamy.

Let me share with you the headlines in the local papers:

“GATORS ROMP & STOMP - Tebow sizzles, Urban doesn’t call off Dawgs.” The Daily News

“GATORS RUB IT IN ON EMBARRASSED DAWGS.” The Post

“FLORIDA SETTLES SCORE WITH GEORGIA.” The New York Times

I had to leave the apartment with 5 minutes left in the game and the score 49-3 - I had a show downtown and had to pick up my ticket by 7:00pm. I wore the usual outfit, black, except for my Orange and Blue Gator cap. During the trip downtown 4 people hollered out - “Go Gators, etc. etc.”

As I was waiting in line to go inside my theater two women in their early 60s came up to me and said - “Go Gators.” Both had graduated from UF and both had children who were Gator grads. As I was leaving the theater after the show a young guy came up to me and said: “You guys played a hell of a game.”

On the subway back to the apartment I got a thumbs up from a huge black guy wearing a Penn State cap.

Yep, I am still glowing, basking if you will, over being a part of The Gator Nation. We are everywhere.

Can we go all the way to the BCS Championship Game? That I don’t know. We have two tough games as part of the regular season, South Carolina and Florida State, and then the SEC Championship game, probably against Alabama. Time will tell. We pretty much control our own destiny.

In the meantime, I just hope we take it one game at a time.

Have lots of other stuff to post and will so do later.

Go Gators!!

Billi Pod
wanjr@aol.com