Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Great Big Broadway Show.....

Friday was my annual Broadway Day. Once a year, usually around year-end, during the holidays, I plot out a non-stop day of activities in Manhattan, revolving around the theater.

Of course, I WORK in Manhattan every other workday of the year. It is, after all, only an hour away by auto, bus or train. And I lived in Manhattan for over 20 years. But I like getting to feel like a tourist in my own town now and then. So I took the week off from work and got tickets to two Broadway shows for Friday, "The Drowsy Chaperone" (a musical) which had added a special holiday matinee on Friday and "The Little Dog Laughed" on Friday night.

First came the agonizing over which mode of transportation to take into the city. This was not going to be an ordinary workday. I knew I wouldn't get home until all hours, so I decided to take the train. Bad mistake. The 10:14 a.m. train (oh, I was getting my haircut in Greenwich Village at 12:30 with my old stylist, too), arrived in Princeton Junction Station jammped to the rafters. It makes exactly 2 stops before it arrives at PJS, so everyone must've been waiting for it down the line. I had to stand all the way into Manhattan. Oh, and it made about 8 more stops before we got there.

I was somewhat cranky by the time we got to New York Penn Station. ("And lead us not into Penn Station, but deliver us from evil..." is an old, not far from the truth, joke).

I hopped on the subway downtown to Sheridan Square and was promptly getting my hair cut by my beloved stylist of over 23 years. I felt safe and comforted as Stylist Z gently clipped my hair, sometimes one strand at a time, until it resembled a work of art. When Stylist Z cuts my hair I know it's going to look good not just for the remainder of the day, nor even for the following week. It's going to look good for at least a month. Stylist Z is worth every dime I pay him. I love him.

Then I jumped on an uptown train and got out in Times Square. The theater is in the Marriott Marquis hotel at the corner of 45th & Broadway. I had only to swim upstream 3 blocks. I might as well have been a salmon trying to swim up the Columbia River to spawn. It was that crowded. And not just with Americans. It was a virtual Babel of languages and dialects. German, French, English-english, Italian, God-knows-what-else. But I finally made it and settled into my wonderful seat in the 2nd row of the mezzanine (one should ALWAYS sit in the front mezzanine for musicals... that's where directors always sit for the last few rehearsals so they can see "the big view" of the show, and that's what I want to see when I see it. What the director saw.)

Chaperone is a charming piece of fluff, predicated on the flimsy plot of a theater queen, at home and feeling blue, dragging out an old album (yes, an "album") of a 1929 musical called "The Drowsy Chaperone" which he starts listening to and which then, magically, comes to life on the stage. It's charming and meaningless and just plain fun. It's more interesting for what it isn't. It ISN'T a 10-ton turkey, gang-created in the audio-animatronic musicalcomedyshops of Sir Andrew Lloyd-Disney, et fils. It's what musical theater should be, wildly improbable, occasionally "blue" in the adult sense of the word, and cute as a button.

Unlike say, oh, "Mary Poppins" which opened a month ago to universal pans from the press and which Disney, with it's infinitely deep pockets, keeps running anyway because a) they're Disney, b) the out-of-towners will see anything put on by Disney and c) fuck you, New York!

From what I've been told, it looks computer-driven and capable of doing 30 shows a day. Another nail in Broadway's coffin.

But, back to my day of theater. I came out of the Marquis tapping my toes and forgetting every song in the score. There were no memorable show tunes, but that didn't matter. I'd had a great, big, beautiful hot fudge sundae and it had been delicious.

I caught up with my college roommate and we visited for awhile in his home in the heart of Hell's Kitchen before setting out for a quick meal and then to the theater to see my second, and his first, production of the day...

The Little Dog Laughed. This is a giant hit legit (non-musical) show. It is hilarious. I won't say that it's a thinly disguished roman-a-clef because, well, because it's not just one person's story, it's the story of a lot of Hollywood denizens. The plot is simple. High-powered Hollywood Agent (Julie White) has good-looking male client (Tom Everett Scott) who is "on the verge" of mega-stardom, both of whom are in New York looking at an off-Broadway show to purchase as Star's Breakthrough Vehicle. The complication comes because Star has this teensy problem, a "slight, recurring case of homosexuality" as the agent puts it. He gets drunk in his hotel one night and calls a male prostitute (Johnny Galecki) who shows up and, naturally, the two of them fall in love. Complicating that are the hustler's girlfriend (Ari Graynor), and the gay author of the play (unseen and unheard, but thoroughly alive through one-sided luncheons and phone calls with Star and Agent).

A glance around the theater during intermission confirmed what I suspected. This show is a giant hit with show business insiders because it reminds them of entirely too many people that they know in real-life and everybody, EVERYBODY, is trying to figure out who the playwright based his characters on. ("Is it TomKat???) One Hollyweird producer whom I recognized was sitting directly across the aisle from me and spent ZERO time laughing at the play and lots of time looking at me every time I laughed to make sure the play actually WAS funny. He was obviously considering buying it for his studio and wanted to make sure that it really was worth the money. What sad little lives Hollywood producers lead. Joyless, fearful. I used to live like that. Now I laugh out loud, and to hell with the consequences.

I would see this show again in a heartbeat.

And not JUST because the male leads have a delicious nude scene with full-frontal nudity.

I didn't get home until after midnight. It was a long day. And worth every sore muscle and the heavily depleted bank account.

I'm a pushover for Great, Big, Broadway, Shows....

Friday, December 29, 2006

Str8 Boyz

I had a "date" yesterday with a perfectly good straight boy (divorced) and his 11 year old daughter. We went to see "Happy Feet" after which Mr. Y invited me to his place for a home-cooked meal with he and his child.

I have the kind of face that people like to open up to. Mr. Y likes to confide in me (and, indeed, I like it when he does). The 11 year-old and I totally relate. We read the same novels (the "Eragon" series). Mr. Y can't get over how I relate to kids.

Mr. Y is not the first str8 boy in my life, nor will he probably be the last. I have had a succession of str8 boyz in my life, stretching back to my navy days, who love to emote with me and wind up putting me in the very, very uncomfortable position of having to decide when it would be an "opportune time" to casually mention that I'm gay.

I hate this. It makes me very uncomfortable. Not always, but only if I find them attractive. Because then I wonder, "Have I waited too long? Does that look suspicious on my part? Does it imply ulterior motives?

I never have this problem with people I'm not attracted to. I never have a problem blurting out that I'm gay if I don't feel there might be consequences to be suffered for it. It's only when I fear losing that intimacy that I fear coming out.

It's all about my feelings of rejection from childhood, of course. I know that now. It's silly. These people aren't THOSE people!!! Are they? Yet all those feelings of angst and nausea and, well, FEAR, come roaring back the minute I feel as though I HAVE to tell them this one thing about myself. I don't have those same feelings over blurting out that I'm Catholic, or Irish/Welsh/English/Scots. I don't agonize over revealing that I prefer Streisand to Madonna.

You'd think that in this day and age, revealing that one is gay wouldn't be such a big deal. Yet I feel it IS a big deal because, well, because they've opened themselves up to me, made themselves vulnerable and, by revealing that I'm gay to them, they might feel somehow threatened by that.

Silly, isn't it?

I'm off to Manhattan today for a day of hairstyling and B'way Shows (matinee: "The Drowsy Chaperone", evening: "The Little Dog Laughed"). I'm glad to have this period of "enforced" separation from Mr. Y. It'll give me a chance to think about this and to discuss it with my old college roommate. We're having dinner this afternoon. He's always good for bad advice, having successfully avoided having a loving relationship for at least 30 years.

But I'll be back tomorrow. And I'll just suck it up, grab Mr. Y by the nape of the neck, drag him off into some corner, and tell him that I'm gay.

Or, maybe I'll wait until Sunday.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Bracing Blast of Insanity!

I talked to a cousin on Christmas morning. What a bracing blast of insanity that turned out to be! Suffice it to say that I have nothing to do with my family of origin for a very good reason. I'd probably get drunk again.

But I can pray for them, and so I shall.

Christmas was wonderful. I called the 'Rents down in Ft. Myers, FL and we had a very nice chat for about 10 minutes. Then I called the remains of the family of origin (see: "Cousin", above), and that was scary. Then I hopped on the NJTurnpike and, along with about a bajillion other people who, apparently, all live in Boston but have relatives in Baltimore, headed south amongst the herd to have Christmas Day with my sister and her HUGE clan. I have grown up nieces now. And they have husbands and babies. It was noisy, and fun and loud and loving. I had a great time. The little ones are very leery of me. They can't quite wrap their brains around the fact that "MeeMaw" (my sister, their grandmother) has two brothers, and that I'm one of them.

But, by the end of the day, I'd won them over and they were crawling all over, and hanging from, me like I was the playground Monkey Bars.

For dinner we had both turkey AND 'Roast Beast' (to uphold Dr. Seuss's storyline). The adults did our "Secret Santa" thingie (I got two CD's and a DVD collection) and, by 8:30 p.m., everyone was heading home, full up, sated, satisfied and happy as clams.

I'm taking the week off, so yesterday I just went to the movies (saw "Dreamgirls" -- GO SEE IT NOW). Today was document shredding day (bank statements, medical stuff I won't use, etc.). I already made my annual trip with unused clothing to the Salvation Army. Tomorrow I'm spending the afternoon and evening with a friend of mine (divorced) and his 11 year old daughter - we're going to see "Happy Feet". Friday I'm doing Manhattan as a tourist and getting my hair cut with my old stylist, seeing the matinee of "The Drowsy Chaperone", having dinner with my college roommate and then, in the evening, seeing "The Little Dog Laughed."

(I'm getting exhausted just reading all this).

I have a doctor's appointment in there somewhere. Oh, and I'm going to a New Year's Eve party with a bunch of sober gay men which, with any luck, will turn nasty by midnight (just kidding -- we're sober now).

Have I told you how grateful I am lately? My life is more wonderful than I ever thought it would be ever again. Nine years ago I was sure that my life was over.

Boy, was I wrong. It turned out that God had "other plans" for me. I'm so glad that my plans didn't work out. But I shouldn't have been surprised.

My plans rarely worked out.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve - 2006

Nothing original, just this, courtesy of St. Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make me a channel of thy peace;
that where there is hatred, I may bring love;
that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
that where there is error, I may bring truth;
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith;
that where there is despair, I may bring hope;
that where there are shadows, I may bring light;
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.

Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted;
to understand, than to be understood;
to love, than to be loved.

For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.


And, courtesy of my very dear friend and long-lost sister, Bev Sykes, here's the pointer to the Bowie/Crosby version of "The Little Drummer Boy." It doesn't matter what you believe, it's just a good time of the year to look for all the little miracles in each of our lives.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Little Drummer Boy

Christmas. There was a time in my life when the very word conjured up a dark dread in me so deep that I would just walk around in a blue funk for days on end.

Christmas does NOT bring back fond memories of a golden childhood. I could guarantee you how Christmas Day would go, weeks in advance of the event, from age 5 on. Christmas in my childhood was Groundhog Day. The same thing, over and over.

By 5:00 p.m. on Christmas, the day would be ruined, a victim of alcohol, resentments and rage. Somebody, for sure, would not be talking to somebody else. Somebody would've stormed off in an angry huff. Somebody would nurse hurt feelings with more booze. Somebody would be caught in the middle of all this. That somebody would always be me.

But, year after year, I played the part of the good little soldier. I kept my eyes and ears open, and my mouth shut. I knew it was pointless to argue, to beg, to cajole or to plead with them to at least "try" to not get so drunk as last year. They were people on a mission, and that mission was to get trashed. And if my Christmas got trashed in the process, well tough shit.

I never went without. My "wish-list" was always fulfilled. I probably should've asked for more. It never occured to me that they knew what was going to happen, weeks in advance, too, and that they were guilt-ridden enough over it to be blackmailable. If I'd only known then what I know now!

That's all gone now. Now my Christmases are about showing up for others, sober. They're about giving, not getting. I turn down invitations to Christmas dinners now. People, amazingly, want me around. It wasn't always so. Especially when, after years of denying that I would ever emulate those people from years ago, I turned out to be exactly like them.

I am still in awe of the fact that this will be my 9th sober Christmas. Sometimes I feel like the little drummer boy, banging out a notice that a great event has occured. The gift of sobriety is nothing short of a miracle.

So cue David Bowie and Bing Crosby! I wanna hear their famous duet once again!

[Edited in 2007 to embed the video of David & Bing in action]

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Winter Solstice

Just for today I'm a pagan, celebrating the passing of the Winter Solstice and the gradual return of the Sun and it's warmth!

Sacrifice another Virgin! Set another Village Elder adrift on an Ice Floe!!! Pick out some loser and strap his or her ass into the Viking Ship, set it loose from the shore and shower it with flaming arrows!!!! The Gods are appeased, and we shall all live to see another Spring!!!!! (with any luck... it's a long way to April).

Meanwhile, though, there's Christmas and New Year's to contend with and, no matter what corner of the Earth you're currently hiding in, here come the last two hurdles to staying reasonably sober for any length of time during the darkest days in the northern hemisphere in any year.

But those aren't until Monday... and a week from Monday. Just for today we can all get behind the idea that the worst is behind us and there's nothing but sunshine and happiness ahead.

I wish you all very Happy, Healthy, Joyous and Free Winter Solstice Day!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Six Weird Things About Me

I've been "tagged" by my so-called friend, Bev. I'm supposed to quote the rules, so here they are, in her own words, plagiarized directly from her blog, Funny the World, today:

So if you get tagged, here are the rules: Each player of this game starts with the 6 Weird Things About You. People who get tagged need to write a blog entry of their own 6 Weird Things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says you are tagged in their comments and tell them to read your blog

Yeah, I don't understand it, either, but what the hell! I'm Game!!!

1. I finally stopped biting my nails last year. It could've been the drugs, the year in therapy or it could simply be the fact that I've FINALLY gotten some serenity in my inner-life. Whatever it is, after a lifetime of nervously nibbling my fingertips, somehow or other I've started sprouting nails. Why didn't somebody warn me, though, that this would involve cutting, shaping and filing? Thank God I'm not female, a Tranny or a drag, or I'd have to be endlessly painting and scraping them, too! It's like owning a ship.

2. I'm an expert pistol shot. I'd never fired a gun before in my life until I went to Navy bootcamp, in 1838. We had a brief fling with rifles then, but nothing serious. A few years later, while stationed at the Naval Air Test Center in Patuxent River, Maryland, things were slow around the electronics shop, so I signed up to qualify on the standard Navy issue .45 caliber semi-automatic. This so-called pistol has the wallop of a rifle. But I shot expert on the sucker (300 points). I also became an expert at field-stripping and reassembling the weapon in less than a minute. Blindfolded. So don't fuck with me, fellas.

3. I've kicked my legs on the stage of Radio City Music Hall. It was Thanksgiving, 1994. A (then) friend and his son were visiting New York from LA and I'd gone out of my way to arrange exciting things for them to do. My college roommate, who also lived in NYC, had a roommate who was a Rockette. I arranged to get her "house seats" to a performance of the Christmas Show AND for her to meet us after the show to take us around backstage. It never occured to me that we would actually get to stand ON CENTER STAGE, though. But we did. And as we stood there, looking out at the thousands of seats, I couldn't resist the temptation to do a little "kick" in a lame imitation of a Rockette. My friends were very impressed that I actually knew a real-live Rockette.

4. I knew Olympia Dukakis before she became Olympia Dukakis. I loosely attended the University of Delaware and did a boatload of theater while there, including summer theater/stock. One summer (1975) my roommate (see no. 3, above), who ran the theater, decided to hire a professional acting company and to plug in a half dozen student actors in minor roles. So he contracted with The Whole Theater Company of Montclair, New Jersey to come and be "in-residence" for the summer. I was one of the student actors selected to work with them. Olympia came along to direct a production of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", in which I played the role of "Ruckley", the human vegetable who was constantly in a crucifixation pose and had one phrase of dialogue, endlessly repeated throughout, "fffffuuuuccckkk 'eeeemmmm aaaaallll". Olympia swore like a sailor and drank like a fish. We all loved her. Later on, after the movie "Moonstruck" came out in 1987, she became "Olympia Dukakis."

5. I've built a color television from scratch. Okay, it was a Heathkit, but I did it. I've gotten a sense of accomplishment from a lot of things in my life, but that one still ranks up there as one of the top five. I loved the look on my mom's face when those two huge boxes from Benton Harbor Michigan arrived in an 18-wheeler. I disappeared into my bedroom with those two boxes and less than a month later I emerged with a working, 18" color-tv.

6. I believe that a Power Greater than myself saved me from my own insanity. I was a falling down, hopeless drunk up until 1998. Then, in March of that year, a miracle occured. That's what I choose to call it, and that's what I choose to believe. Something, someone, somewhere, did for me what I could not do for myself, and I found myself sitting in a room attached to a church with a bunch of like-minded people who had found an answer to their common problem. In less than an hour I found a spark of hope. I was sick and weak and fearful, but I found hope. And I went back to that church meeting room the next morning, and there they were again! And hope grew. And eventually hope turned into gratitude. And gratitude turned into compassion. And compassion turned into love. And love turned into me.

It's a very good time of the year to think about little miracles, whether it's a hopeless alcoholic or junkie finding a spark of hope at a 12-step meeting in a dingy basement somewhere, or the birth of an infant who would have a profound effect on the world with a message of forgiveness and love.

I know about miracles.

I am one. Every day.

And if that makes me weird, so be it.

So, I have to tag people, too. So far I've tagged exactly one. Someone whose blog is deliciously dreamy (oh, okay, it's because he's in Paris):

Ms C Crisp

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


When I worked on Wall Street I was known for always being on the "bleeding edge" of new technology. Within my department, I put the first IBM-AT on a trading desk (Well, under it. And then some wiseass came along and slapped a sticker on it that read "Wurlitzer", after I did).

I continued to lead the pack on purchasing the latest/greatest tech for my trading floors until I walked away from the street in 1994.

And that's when I finally bought a computer for home. I also bought a Sony Rear Projection 48" TV, a Pioneer LaserDisk player, a handful of LaserDisks to play on it along with several thousand gallons of booze to kill myself with as I enjoyed the end of my life in TechniColor, Dolby-Digital SurroundSound and Wide-Screen (LetterBoxed).

Well, the booze and money ran out three years later and the tech got locked in time.

Now I've been sober since 1998 and the tv has been downsized to a 34" flat-screen Sony (Love them Sonys! It'll be the last NTSC tv I'll own.), and I got a DVD player (but I still look at "Jurassic Park" on my old LaserDisk, along with the 2nd Indiana Jones movie, "Temple of Doom" -- but only because the opening number, "Anything Goes", sung in Chinese by Steven Spielberg's wife, is a real rip-snorter!)

I like technology that helps us to work smarter or better, or entertains the hell out of us.

However.... and this is where I seem to have drawn the line ... I don't have a cellphone.

I hate 'em. I think they're the devil's own invention, right up there with Brussel sprouts, beepers, boomboxes and Crack, er, BlackBerries (and Treos, and whatever).

Wasn't the workday long enough? Do we need to invent ways to make it even longer? Weren't people annoyed ENOUGH by co-workers during the day, do they need MORE aggravation at home, or on the bus or train?

PDAs and cellphones are not improvements on people's lives. They makes lives crappier and worse. No, I don't need to be "in touch" for an extra hour or two or three a day. I'm in touch enough.

I have an answering machine. At the sound of the beep leave a message and I'll get back to you when I'm damn good and ready!

PCs were a vast improvement on the way information and, more importantly, the speed at which information, travelled to people who needed to make split-second decisions involving hundreds of millions of dollars. They didn't drag the friggin' things home with them after the trading day had ended. That came later, with the invention of another annoying application called "e-mail." People used to pick up the phone and call each other. Yeah, they played phone-tag, but not as much as they do now. People used to actually "think" about what they were going to say before they said it. Now we just fire-off e-mails, often in the heat of the moment, without taking that moment of grace to cool off and think about what we are doing.

We now live in a society that's more apt to "ready, fire, aim" than it is to calmly think about what needs to be done.

I've become a Neo-Luddite. An anti-technologist.

Not all technology is good (nor is it all bad). But sometimes it just serves to eat chunks of our souls.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Blond Ambition

I finally did my Christmas cards last night. Well, not all of them, just the ones I'd be embarrassed NOT to send.

I'm sure, as always, there'll be one or two "last minute mailers" (like me) who'll arrange things so that I get their cards on Christmas Eve (yeah, yeah, I know it's Sunday this year) so that I can feel miserable all Christmas Day and they can gloat that they've ruined my Christmas by causing me unceasing remorse and guilt.

The lousy pricks.

I don't know why I procrastinate so much (I'm just as bad as my friend, Bev, who is a World-Class Black-Belt Procrastinator -- she loves the adreniline rush she gets from snatching victory from the jaws of defeat at the last minute.) Once I actually pick up the pen and do the first card, it just seems to breeze along until I'm done. But I dread picking up the pen. No, it's much more important to kill time screwing around on the internet, shopping for bargain tickets to B'way shows, looking up the meaning of life in Wikipedia, re-reading my favorite blogs; spending hours cruising "Wonkette", "JoeMyGod", "TMZ", "The Huffington Post" and, of course, my dear friends Bev Sykes and her "Funny The World" and Steve Schalchlin with "Life in the Bonus Round" (Broadway Edition).

I've done the labels, including the return address mini-labels. I've bought the cards. Everything is sitting in a neat little pile in the middle of the coffee table just waiting .... waiting... waiting... for me to develop a little Blond Ambition.

So last night I ran out of excuses to give myself and did it.

I can't tell you the sense of accomplishment I got from it. There's something about flipping through the envelopes to make sure I put stamps on all of them and then placing them in the bag I'll use to tote them to the Park and Ride with me in the morning that's akin to successfully removing a tumor.

Or something. Bad image. Sorry. But you get the idea.

And then, this morning, when I finally opened that bag in front of the mailbox... and held the door open as I dumped my load of Christmas Cheer into the mail... I did a quick, mental calculation...

and realized that, with any luck, most of them will arrive

on Christmas Eve.


I'm a lousy prick.

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Minor Annoyance

They put one lousy stitch in my mouth to hold the flap of skin in place where my recently removed tooth used to reside. I was told that it would somehow or other "magically" disappear within a few days. That was Monday. Now it's Friday. And what had been a minor annoyance to my tongue, should it accidentally wander over that way, has turned into a major pain, no matter what I do.

It seems to have grown, too. Before it was just a single, stiff thread that sort of poked out of the hole. Now it's like having a whole ball of twine over on the side of my mouth. I guess because the swelling has gone down so much, thus exposing more of the stitch material.

I have a feeling that I'll be doing a little "at home" oral surgery when I get home tonight.

I love how they say things like "don't play with it" or "don't poke things in there." Threatening you with all kinds of dire consequences, if you do. Like infection. Well, I already have an infection, how can I get more? Besides, you can't kid me with that threat. Everybody knows there's no filthier cesspool on the face of the earth than the human mouth. It's not going to get magically filthier if I stick a small pair of scissors, which I've previously bathed in disinfectant, followed by sterile water, in there.

I'm such a good patient. You know why they call us "patients"? Because we have to be so friggin' patient, that's why.

There's also a reason why they say a doctor "practices" medicine.

Maybe I should practice a little patience and wait to see if it falls out.

But knowing me, I probably won't.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Selective Memory

We're all guilty of it. Selective remembering and, more importantly, selective forgetting.

"Oh, I forgot it was your" [turn, birthday, anniversary, jahrzeit].

My boss just had a major bout of it. A client wants to use our biggest meeting room, "The Board Room" from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. for three days running starting on Monday, January 15th.

I had to remind him that we're closed on Monday the 15th (MLK, Jr. B'day). I also had to remind him that we hosted them for 3 days last year and it was a monumental fiasco. They ate all our food, drank all our coffee and more importantly THEY HOGGED ALL OUR BANDWIDTH, for three whole days. When you invite 50 computer geeks to roost for 3 days, the arrive with 50 laptops and want to be immediately wired into the internet.

Well, that crippled our usually zippy system performance right down to something that resembled my first 2400 baud modem (yup, it was a Hayes).

And they really expected us to wait on them hand and foot for those three days. I spent most of my time making sure they got fed in a timely manner by our outside caterers and that the coffee kept flowing into the room.

When they finally departed, we all breathed a collective sigh of relief and my boss said, "We'll never do THAT again!" Which lasted all of a year. I got an inoccuous little e-mail from their operations person last week, inquiring if they could "do it again" in January. I immediately forward the e-mail to my boss and added, "YOU TAKE CARE OF THIS." Well, he didn't. So I got another e-mail today from her, wondering what was happening. I forwarded it to my boss, as well, and added, "I thought you were taking care of this."

Then I found out that he'd been sneaking around behind my back and checking with our in-house scheduler regarding the availability of the Board Room for those dates in January.

I immediately fired off another e-mail, reminding him of all the trouble they were last year. His response? "Well, we can do Tuesday and Wednesday?"

He's such a weasel.

But I should know. Six years ago, when we came to work together in New York City, it was with the specific promise that it "would only be for three years. Then we'll go back and open up a little office in New Jersey, close to home."

I'm still waiting.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Broadway Baby

While I was home recuperating yesterday I got a call from my old buddy, Mark.

Mark is this disembodied voice on the phone who works in the subscription sales department at Roundabout Theater. Last year he sold me a 3-show package to see Alec Baldwin in Joe Orton's "Entertaining Mr. Sloane", a boffo production of Brecht/Weill's "The Threepenny Opera" with Alan Cumming, Jim Dale, Ana Gasteyer, Nellie McKay and Cyndi Lauper, fer Chrissakes, and a rip-snorting production of that old chestnut "The Pajama Game" with Kelli O'Hara, Mike McKean and Harry Connick, Jr., the three of whom tore up the theater and brought down the house at every performance.

So, instead of hanging up on him, I waited to see what Mark was offering me this year. Besides, he sounds cute. Oh, I know I'm old enough to be his disembodied father, and let's face it, if he's flogging theater subscriptions by phone at night, he must be an unemployed actor by day. (Close. He's an unemployed writer. He can't help it though, he grew up in California. His mom just sold his childhood home and moved to Chicago to be closer to his sister and her family... but I digress). The poor baby sounded sick. I asked him if he had a cold. He does. My heart went out to him. I wanted to hold and comfort him and spoon-feed him chicken soup. I let him continue his spiel. I told him I might be interested, even though the season is slightly less than rousing, but I have this "problem" with most theater seats... well, that didn't seem to be a problem for him. He assured me that my "special needs" could and would be met... if only.

Naturally I said yes.

It's not because I have a crying need to see "The Apple Tree" with Kristin Chenowith. I saw her two Christmases ago in "Wicked." She's fabulous. And I know what Alfred Molina looks like, I don't need to see him in something called "Howard Katz". And I'm certainly not wild about sitting through a production of "110 in the Shade" with Audra McDonald, although she's got more "Best Actress in a Musical" Tonys than God.

I'm going because, God help me, deep down inside, then, now and always, I am a Theater Queen. From the very first network Broadcast of the Tony's, in 1967, when I SAW (transfixed) Barbara Harris doing "Gorgeous" from The Apple Tree, and Joel Grey doing "Wilkommen" from Cabaret, I knew... I knew.

Watch the Oscars then watch the Tonys. Watch the dancers and you can SEE the difference between Broadway and Hollywood. Oh, they both have their places, including in my heart. But there's just something raw, electric, edgy, about the theater. Ask anyone who's ever set foot on a stage and they'll tell you. There's no "fixing it in post" on Broadway. It's YOUR ass hanging out there, come what may.

And that's why I go to the theater. I love to watch people's asses hanging out there. I love rooting for them to pull it off and I just love it when they do.

And if I'm not there, how would I know that they did it? So I just HAD to sign up.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Hole in the Head

It's out.

My $2,500.00 root canal and crown has been extracted for a mere $700.00.

But I'm not bitter. Really! And as I examine my pie-hole in the bathroom mirror I realize that you can scarcely see it (the hole in my head). So I think I'm not going to be too quick to sign off on some sort of big-bucks prosthetic replacement for the missing tooth.

I got to my dentist's office at 1:15 yesterday. The "big panic du jour" was no cold water in the building. "What's the big deal?" I hear you ask. Well, the big deal is that most dental equipment needs cold water to work. Such as drills. And the little bowl you spit into. And the little faucet that fills the little cup you use to "rinse and spit." Stuff like that. Jerry, my dentist of 24 years, took one look in my mouth and said, "Don't move. I'm calling an oral surgeon." A half hour later I was 20 blocks uptown cooling my heels in another dental office. I cooled my heels there for 2 hours. I filled out the usual "first-timer" paperwork. "Do you suffer from: ... " Yes. I suffer from everything. I'm an alcoholic AND a Catholic. After Jews, nobody suffers better (or so I'm told by my Jewish buddies in recovery and yes, there ARE Jewish alcoholics, FYI).

There were beaucoups injections of numbing stuff. Then he "tested" the tooth. After I screamed, he pronounced it a "hot tooth" and injected more numbing stuff. Eventually he tackled it and, after much grunting and sweating, by me, it was out.

Ivana, the lovely Latvian nurse, stuffed gauze into the hole and stuck the electronic x-ray pad into my mouth to get an "after" shot. The doctor pronounced the extraction a complete success and, after prescribing tons of drugs and handing me a "travel pack" I was relieved of $700.00 and sent home to recover.

One of the drugs he prescribed was viacodin. Now this is an "iffy" drug for drunks and druggies. Although my drug of choice was always booze, I need to be wary of anything that can be fatally addicting. I got the prescription filled but, before I took it, I talked to my Sobriety Counselor about it. I told him that I had told the doctor that I was a recovering drunk and that he had said to me, "then just take one before you go to bed." My Counselor didn't seem to have a problem with that, so that's what I did.

I woke up this morning with a little bit of dried blood around the corners of my mouth, but other than that, I was good. Still, I decided to call in and to take a "mental health" day from work. I'll miss the office Holiday Party tonight which, to be honest, I won't miss too much.

I am grateful that it's done. I'm more grateful that I have doctors I can rely on, a Sobriety Counselor (he laughs that I refer to him that way) I trust, a job with understanding bosses, and enough money to pay the bills.

I'm really grateful that the pain is ended. You never know how good you feel... until you don't.

And today, just for today, I feel wonderful!

News Item of the Day:

Another Self-Loathing Queer Quits the Clergy.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Dentistry - Again

I'm in pain. I've been in pain for the last couple of days, hence no new posts.

Every root canal I've ever had done has wound up going bad, and this one is no exception. I actually had it done about 3 or 4 years ago. Just before our annual beach trip. The endodontist who did it used the latest electro-sound devices to locate the roots and fry them with virtually no pain. Then he put that percha-gutta stuff in there and sent me back to my dentist to have a post and crown put in.

Everything was fine until about a year later. The year I was preoccupied with my open heart surgery and couldn't be bothered with my teeth. For reasons I'll never understand one of the percha-gutta "points" started working it's way out the side of my gum. It hurt, but I ignored it because I had cardiologists and surgeons around me most of the year.

Earlier this year I noticed that the gum under the crown was slightly tender, and I mentioned it to my dentist two visits ago. He pulled the crown off, looked inside and say, basically, "uh-oh." He said that he could either a) do something about it then or b) put the crown back, hope for the best and wait. I opted for b.

Well, b. came home to roost on Saturday. I went to the movies with a friend and I noticed, as I happily sat there munching popcorn, that the tooth was slightly painful. But nothing more than usual, so I thought.

By Saturday night, I was in severe pain. I felt the crown being "pushed up" by the inflammation beneath it and it hurt like hell to put even moderate pressure on the crown, to try push it back down into place. I slept fitfully Saturday night, with the aid of Tylenol P.M.

I did my usual Sunday morning stuff, but I knew I'd have to call the dentist before the day was out. I finished up my duties, got home and called the "hot-line" my dentists have. I got a call back within 10 minutes.

The good news is that, because I have had a mycardial infarction and subsequent bypass surgery, I have to take a massive dose of antibiotics every time I visit the dentist, to prevent infections from entering my heart and taking hold. So I had a nearly full prescription of Biaxin in the house. The dentist told me to take one 500mg tablet immediately, another before I went to bed, and to call the office immediately in the morning to schedule an appointment for later (today).

The first pill started working within an hour. I noticed that the swelling under the tooth was easing up, so the crown was subsiding back into it's usual position. By the time I took the second pill at 9:30 last night, I was feeling much better.

I called the dentists office as soon as I got to work and they're seeing me at 1:30 today.

I have a sneaking suspicion that this is going to cost me a small fortune, and we have lousy dental insurance at work. But I have learned a very important lesson from all this.

Root-canals are witchcraft, at best. If you can avoid them, by all means do so. It's an inexact science, and they never, entirely, get the whole root.

Secondly, never ignore mouth pain, no matter how insignificant it might seem. Especially if you're a recovering drunk/addict. We have high tolerance for pain and painkillers.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Pregnant Lesbians, Grammy Nominated Bush-Haters & Chickenhawk Republican Freshmen

1. Mary Cheney is preggers. Yawn.

2. The Dixie Chicks have been nominated for a Grammy or two. Bigger yawn.

3. None of the incoming Republican Congressional freshmen has served day one in the military.

Guess which one of those scares me the most. Go on, guess. If you picked 3, you'd be right.

It's no secret that if I had my druthers military service (or national service of some kind or another) would be a prerequisite to holding national public office. This country has a history of voting for ex-military personnel as President (Washington, Jackson, Grant, Eisenhower, Kennedy and even Nixon come immediately to mind). Mostly because they're great organization people. They KNOW how to run things (in the face of overwhelming odds, I might add). Navigating the byzantine structure of the Federal Government is a LOT like navigating the byzantine structure of the military with all of it's "Catch-22" rules and regulations that make absolutely no sense at all, but things have always been done that way.

It's mostly the latter that I'm concerned with. I'd be a lot more comfortable having a Congress full of people who understand, on a gut level, the sort of nonsense that our armed forces can get into, left to their own devices. I want the people who vote for the money to know that the government spends $600 on toilet seats for airplanes, and the reasons why. I want them to know just how cozy the Pentagon is with General Dynamics and Boeing and McDonnell-Douglas, and that the Pentagon basically runs a revolving door, retirement job hunting out-placement service for retiring generals and admirals with those self-same arms manufacturers.

And I'd really like to have a congress full of people who are familiar with President Eisenhower's farewell address to the nation in January of 1961 and, especially, this section of that speech:

"This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

(emphasis added by me)

Can you say "Halliburton"?

This is why I am discomforted by the growing legions of untutored congresscritters who themselves lack the firsthand experience of the military portion of the military-industrial complex.

God help us all.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Dry Drunk

Little did anyone, myself included, suspect when YOU (or, possibly, someone you thought you knew) first elected that dry-drunk, George W. Shrub, to the Presidency, what a blood-thirsty little tyrant that chickenhawk jerk would would turn out to be.

Under the guise of liberating the Iraqi people, and more importantly, castrating Saddam by destroying his Weapons of Mass Distraction, sorry, Destruction, he has single-handedly disemboweled the Constitution, abolished Habeus Corpus, kidnapped vaguely named American Citizens and thrown them into the CIA Archipelago (which holds it's own, any day, against the KGB's Archipelago of old) in far-flung "client-nations" of ours... far away from the prying eyes of left-wing snoops/do-gooders here Stateside.

I'm disgusted by the recent articles in the NYTimes regarding our treatment, I repeat OUR treatment, of Jose Padilla, a US citizen, in military brigs over the last three years. If you're unaware of his story, I'd advise you to read it. You'll be appalled at what WE'VE been countenancing by our silence lately.

I once characterized our president as being an "untreated alcoholic". I stand by that assessment, one alkie to another. I've been to a few thousand meetings in my time and I know what untreated alcoholism looks like.

It looks self-righteous. It is blind and deaf in it's denial that there is any truth other than their truth. It is childish, grandiose and overly sensitive. It is quick to anger and lash out. It takes itself very seriously. Being around it is like walking on eggshells. You never know what's going "to set it off." Eventually, everything in the House becomes "about" it. Plans are subject to change without notice. Promises are made and broken on the spur of the moment, and without a thought to the effect it has on others. Yesterday's rules suddenly no longer apply and God help you if you don't know today's rules without prompting. It pigheadedly pursues ephemeral goals, even in the face of catastrophe. And, finally, it hopes to achieve those goals by insanely performing the same actions, over and over and over again, in the hopes of achieving a different, better, result the next time.

That is the classic definition of an untreated alcoholic. Whether they drink or not.

I was kind of hoping that the elections would turn out to be our president's "bottom." Alkies need to hit a "bottom" before they'll acknowledge their powerlessness. It seemed for a moment like it had. The firing of Rummy was a tantalizing tease. The arrival of Daddy's Rescue-Squad held promise.

But I'm afraid I was kidding myself. I'm seeing telltale signs that this President has merely applied fresh lipstick to his pig, in the hopes of making it more attractive. Even with new deck chairs, this administration is still the Titanic.

And there is only one treatment for the co-dependent who is trapped in a relationship with a drunk.

It's time for the rest of America to start going to Al-Anon.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Under the Gub

Remember the Woody Allen movie where he's attempting to hold up a bank and he passes an unreadable note to the teller which leads everyone who works at the bank to try to interpret it and all they can come up with is, "I have a gub"?

Well, I'm under the gub. My sobriety advisor has a way of dropping little bombshells on me, always unexpectedly and out of the blue. Sunday morning he dropped another one. "For 2007 I want you to continue writing your blog, but also to start submitting your work for publication. I also want you to act and/or direct, and to keep searching for a home to buy."

Oh. Is that all?

Yes, I'll rejoin Equity, get an agent, have that fabulous career on B'way I moved to NY to have (in 1887), and build a beautiful Victorian pile overlooking the Hudson River in Hastings, New York (a la Helen Hayes). Will July be soon enough?

"Whoa" I can hear you all say. "That sounds pretty extreme, from such innocuous suggestions." Well, yes, it does. But keep in mind that my sick little mind can move from "making a typo to being homeless" in less than a second. That's the way an alkie's mind works. So when someone says, "write" I hear "be Mark Twain."

Actually, his suggestions are totally reasonable. My brother (yes, I have a brother) manages to put in a full day in New York and still have a part-time life as a cabaret artist/actor, which feeds his soul.

And he has a family, too.

The real point he was making is that after nearly 9 years of sobriety, I have the sober part down, but I haven't really been nourishing my creativity and/or joy. I have to admit that seeing Steve and Jim's show brought up a lot of feelings of unfulfillment for me.

And owning my own house will give me a sense of belonging and "home" that I've never really experienced before in my life.

Dear God, will this growing up stuff never end?

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Playbill

I forgot to post my autographed Playbill for "The Big Voice" - I can't imagine what I was thinking!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Big Ol' Gay Voice - Wait! It's God AND Merman!!!

(shameless plug)

My friends Steve Schalchlin and Jim Brochu are currently appearing in the star-studded off-B'way extravaganza, "The Big Voice - God or Merman" at the Actor's Temple on 47th Street in the heart of the theater district or, as some of us call it, Hell's Kitchen.

I saw it this afternoon and it is, simply, wonderful. I just sent an e-mail to our mutual friend Bev Sykes telling her that the best theater happens when the artists ass is hanging right out there for the whole world to see.

This is what Steve and Jim have done. It's personal. It's spiritual. It's excruciatingly human. It's also funny as hell.

I probably should've warned the boys that I'm a terrific audience. I was howling and snorting at all the jokes. I must be easy to pick out in a crowd because I'm pretty sure I caught Jim playing directly to me a couple of times.

I'm not going to post any spoilers about the show, these guys have had their ups and downs over the years, and it's all right there, bigger than life, with full musical accompaniment.

I wanted to hang out with the guys after the show and, in fact, Steve was kind enough to ask me to have dinner with them, before the evening show. I was honored and flattered, but I had to decline because I'd already committed to having dinner with my college roommate and oldest and dearest friend, The Kleen Kween, who lives right around the corner from the theater and whom it wouldn't kill to spend a few bucks to see this if he's reading this.

I intend to strong-arm everybody I ever met into going.

Oh, you may be wondering about the title I gave the show, above (God AND Merman). The boys talk a bit about their relgious upbringings (okay, they talk a LOT about it), but what struck me was what they both, eventually, came to understand. That knowledge of God is not obtained by reaching OUTWARD towards the Divine, but by delving INWARD to find the Divine that lies within each of us.

God is in the voice of Ethel Agnes Merman nee Zimmerman. God is also in the voices of my friends Steve Schalchlin and Jim Brochu.

And believe me, gentle readers, they and their show are absolutely DIVINE!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Dirty Little Addictions

A friend of mine was arrested this morning on charges of sexual assault. I should've seen it coming. He'd been hanging around in cyberspace for years, trolling for "adults-only" types of friends and relationships.

He's a recovering junkie/drunk. He has a lot of time in the fellowship. Like too many of us, though, once he put the cork in the bottle and threw away the syringe he thought he was "done" with recovery. All he had to to after that was just "keep on coming" as they say in the biz. I doubt if he'd done the Steps. His last known sponsor was some guy who lived 40 miles away whom he never called or saw. He would often "take my inventory" regarding my recovery, offering direct orders on what I should, or should not, be doing.

He also has a heart of gold. He befriended me when I was pretty friendless. He let me hang around his place of business while I was "between gigs" from the temp agency. He would let me spend hours playing on his office computer, so I could keep my skills semi-fresh while I tried to stop shaking from fear and detoxing and was once again employable. He never asked anything in return, except for the occasional loan. I happily gave it to him, not really expecting to ever see it again. He has a heart of gold, but he's a lousy businessman. His wife and kids often treated the till like it was their personal ATM. He never cared.

His cavalier financial attitudes started catching up with a year or so ago. The IRS came to call and he started missing some payments on long-term debt. The hole got deeper when he got suckered into some on-line "equity financing" schemes which were little more than on-line loan-sharks.

He took more and more solace in the make believe world of "hot lesbian chicks want to get it on with you now!" type websites. He started losing touch with mundane realities. I confronted him once or twice and was rebuffed with "don't tell me how to run my program" type responses. I backed off.

Then, this morning, I got an e-mail from someone who doesn't like him very much. It was a reprint of an article in the local paper regarding my friend's downfall and arrest. The sender added a little postscript bascially gloating over my friend's misfortune.

All I can think of is how easily it happened. Denial and addiction are cunning co-dependents who love to work in unison to bring about the downfall of the sufferer.

My friend never saw his addiction to drugs gradually transform into an addiction for sex. He would've been shocked if anyone had ever suggested it to him. He was (and still is, as far as I know) a happily married man.

I don't know what I can do to help him, but I intend to at least try. I'll begin by praying for him and his family.

Meanwhile, though, I must constantly remind myself that...

There, but for the grace of God, go I.