Category Archives: Theater

This happens. This is something that happens.

I am watching Magnolia. It is my favorite movie. This probably says a lot about me; mostly about the fact that I can relate, all-too-well, to broken people, to people with flaws that run deep and don’t ever let them go, not completely.

I’m watching Magnolia today because Philip Seymour Hoffman died, and I wanted to see him in one of my favorite roles of his, in my favorite movie. I wanted to just have a minute to say my goodbye to someone whose work I respect a great deal, and whose death I’m taking maybe a little too hard because that’s a thing I do. I am talking to someone I love about how much this movie means to both of us, how much it affected us back in the days when we weren’t yet part of each other’s lives, and I am crying over this movie, and I am crying over this particular magic, this thing that brings people together at just the right time, in just the right place.

Magnolia has the recurring theme of coincidence, and connection, and how we’re all intertwined; how the smallest action can turn into the one thing that your entire life hinges on. I like this. This is the magic I hold onto in life. This is what I hang around for; those little moments where you can almost see the greater plan peeking through the velvet curtains at the edge of things.

The movie starts with some stories of coincidence, each one harder to believe than the last: a man killed in Greenberry Hill in London by men named Joseph Green, Stanley Berry and Daniel Hill; a scuba diver killed by a firefighting airplane flown by a man he’d coincidentally run into a few days prior; and a teenager attempting suicide by jumping off the roof of his building, only to have his mother accidentally shoot him as he falls past her window – and land in a net put up to save window-washers, so he wouldn’t have died, after all, had he not been shot.

After each of these stories, the narrator tells us “and I would like to think this was only a matter of chance.” Until the last story.

And it is in the humble opinion of this narrator that this is not just “something that happened.” This cannot be “one of those things”… This, please, cannot be that. And for what I would like to say, I can’t. This was not just a matter of chance. Oh, these strange things happen all the time.

I’m going to tell you a story.

Once upon a time, I lived across the country. That iteration of Amy was not one I am proud of. I suppose you need to learn from your past, from your mistakes, to form the person you are today; if that’s the case, the mistakes I made, and troubles I dealt with, while living in the western part of the country, built a big old foundation upon which to position this life, the life I am proud of.

I worked at a theater there, for a while. I was one of the broken people, while there. I drifted. I was lost. I was doing what I could to survive. I was in and out of disastrous relationships and crushes on the least-likely candidates. I cried a lot. I was one of those thousand-yard-stare people you kind of see on the periphery.

I loved my time at the theater, though. It was brief – probably 8 months, all-told – but it seems longer, in my mind. I found family there. For someone as lost and alone as I was, this was huge. I had people, and I had a place to go, and I felt like I belonged. I was still broken, and I was still lost, but I had a tiny corner where things could be alright. (Theater’s saved me many times, and I have no doubt it will again – this is a good example of one of those times.)

But I screwed it up, as I did many things back then. Things got hard, and I got nervous, and I eventually shut myself off from everyone I loved there. I left and didn’t go back. I had reasons, which were varied (and kind of ridiculous, and even as screwed-up as I was, I knew they were ridiculous) but when the going gets tough, a lot of times, I just put up walls and make ‘em thick. No one gets in. I don’t go out. And I can pretend I made that choice! I don’t need anyone! But really what made the choice is the fact that I’m depressed and I’m freaking out and it’s easier to not have anyone in your life when that happens. People are just a complication, right?

I think I ended up saying goodbye to maybe two of the theater people when I left the state. I didn’t even think that might be hurtful. I just wanted out, and I wanted to get back to where I thought I could rebuild, and things might start to be ok.

And things were ok. More than ok, actually. I got my fresh start, both due to the change of scenery and a change in me. I didn’t want to be that person anymore. I wanted to be someone else – someone who didn’t hide, someone who had friends, someone who had more blue-sky days than black-cloud days. It’s amazing how far a change in attitude can take you. It wasn’t overnight – the person I was hung around longer than I care to admit – but eventually, I shed most of her off, I kept what worked, and I became the person I am now: flawed, sure, but happy. And happy begets happy. Happy draws IN happy. It’s something I never knew, and something I was so joyful to discover.

I compartmentalized who I used to be; I didn’t shut it off, because you can’t deny things that happened, but I didn’t let it color me, either. I’m friends with a few people from those days in the now; BFF is one of them, and Mer another. They’re my best takeaways from that time, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I’m peripherally friends with a few others on Facebook, but you know how Facebook is. You like a status here and there, but it’s what you put into it, and we’ve grown too far apart to mend those fences. I don’t know that we really care enough to, honestly.

Remember the dating site? Yeah, that’s going about as well as you might imagine, but that’s not the point of this story.

The dating site sends you a list of people it thinks are good matches for you. (Strangely, most of these people are what I would consider exactly the opposite of a “good match,” but that’s neither here nor there.) The other day, I was idly paging through them (an audio track of me doing this would be “no,” “ugh, OMG, no,” “where are your CLOTHES?”, and “Why does this site think I want to date a 62-old-man?”) and I saw a photo of someone that looked very familiar.

Now, I’d assumed at some point I’d run into someone I knew. It was kind of inevitable. It’s a big area, but not THAT big. I’m not going to DATE anyone I kn0w – if I wanted to date people I knew, would I be on the dating site to begin with? – but it wasn’t someone I knew from HERE.

It was someone I knew from the theater from all those years ago. J., who’d run the theater; who’d been the one who took me in to begin with, who gave me the family I was too closed off to accept as fully as I should have. I hadn’t seen J. in twelve years. We weren’t Facebook friends. We’d dropped off each other’s radar. Not out of spite or any sort of hard feelings; I liked J. I just lost touch with J., and then compartmentalizing that part of my life hadn’t led me to look up people from that time. Honestly? I didn’t know if they’d remember me. I’d been a bit of a ghost. At first, didn’t even believe it WAS J. – I did a Google seach first, to see if he really was in the area.

Because what are the odds, right? What are the odds that someone you were close to twelve years ago, all the way across the country, would show up in your list of people on a dating site you just joined?

But it was him. He was here, somehow. And after sending him what was probably the goofiest message ever (but, in my defense, he replied with an equally “ZOMG!” email) we met up for dinner the other night.

Dinner became over three hours of talking and catching up and laughing and utter amazement over the fact that it had been twelve years and here we were, and we both looked pretty much the same (few more gray hairs, maybe, but it wasn’t like we were unrecognizable to one another) and how was he here? And what had happened in the past twelve years? And we caught up over food and the time melted away and I remembered some of the good things from all that time ago; that everything wasn’t terrible, not all the time, and the good things I brought forward with me were the things that made my friendship with J. still work.

(And before you all get excited: no, this is not a love connection. I care about J. a great deal, but it’s never been THAT kind of relationship, and never will be. Solid friendship with nothing more behind it. Sorry to burst your bubble, all of you rooting for me to find love on the interwebz.)

I totally told J. "IT WOULD BE LIKE KISSING MY BROTHER" then I realized I probably had to say that was from a movie or it was just a really rude, or slightly incesty, thing to say.

I totally told J. “IT WOULD BE LIKE KISSING MY BROTHER” then I realized I probably had to say that was from a movie or it was just a really rude, or slightly incesty, thing to say.

J. is here working at one of the local colleges, rebooting their theater program. (Can’t think of anyone better to do it; he’s got this energy that just beams from him.) Things have been going well for him; he’s also had a good twelve years. He also realized he needed a fresh start and took his life in a different direction. And I have to admit, it was nice to tell him what I’d been up to; I didn’t have much to be proud of then, but now I can say things like “writing for the paper” and “traveling to Europe in the spring” and “published a book” and MEAN all of them.

And J. and I made plans to get together again, and soon; if the world hands you a coincidence like this, you don’t waste it. You grab that puppy with both damn hands. I can’t wait to introduce him to the theater scene; the first time we met, he took me in, and made the introductions, and I was just given the chance to return the favor.

And there is the account of the hanging of three men, and a scuba diver, and a suicide. There are stories of coincidence and chance, of intersections and strange things told, and which is which and who only knows? And we generally say, “Well, if that was in a movie, I wouldn’t believe it.” Someone’s so-and-so met someone else’s so-and-so and so on. And it is in the humble opinion of this narrator that strange things happen all the time. And so it goes, and so it goes. And the book says, “We may be through with the past, but the past ain’t through with us.”

If the past ain’t through with me, I’m cool with that. I take the magic of the world where it’s given. If the world wants to bring back an old friend when I’m finally at the point in my life when I can appreciate him? I’ll take that magic. With thanks. And tears. And wonder.

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Mom always told me my big mouth would get me in trouble someday.

“When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch.” –Bette Davis

This week, I was VERY controversial.

I met with friends for dinner early in the week. When I arrived, J. said “I don’t know, should we be having dinner with such a controversial person?” and I was all, “Whaaa?” and they all giggled and then got serious faces because they assumed I’d heard and now they were tasked with letting me know what was up.

Heard what, you may ask? What exactly WAS up?

Well! Apparently, I angered some people with a review I wrote a couple of weeks ago. Angered them enough that I got two – count ‘em, two – letters to the editor written about me, and a comment on the review itself, and a private message on Facebook.

Whoo! Look at me go! Angering people all OVER the region!

A little background, I suppose, is in order.

I went to the show. It starred some of the area’s best actors. The kind of actors that, when you say their names around here, people take notice. The set was gorgeous. The costumes were perfect. The acting was quite good; the direction couldn’t be faulted.

That having been said, it was the second-worst show I’ve seen all year. And I’ve seen a LOT of shows.

It was the show itself that was the problem. It was extremely dated; it had very little to do with anything contemporary, so it was very hard to relate to. It was abnormally long; almost three hours, including intermission. It was extremely talky; a good hour could have been cut from that script and not sacrificed a single bit of the action. Sorry – “action.” That needs ironic air-quotes. Nothing that could be described as action happened in this show. Like, at all. It was painful. I wanted to leave at intermission but I was getting paid to review it so that wasn’t an option.

VERY close to me during Act II. Not quite, but almost.

VERY close to me during Act II. Not quite, but almost.

I’m not saying I need, like, a shoot-out scene or a huge sex scene or anything. (Well, not EVERY time.) But something needs to HAPPEN, dammit. And nothing happened in this play. There were some scenes that I think were supposed to be shocking, but they were just yawn-inducing. Maybe they were shocking in the 30s when this was written, I don’t know. The characters were written so flimsily and ridiculously that only a couple of them were at all believable.

It was a TERRIBLE show. It wasn’t terribly acted, directed, set designed, or costumed (or even lit or sound designed); it was just a poorly-chosen show, and poorly-written, and it was so hard to watch.

Now, I realize this is just my opinion…and you know what they say about opinions, right? Yep. Just like…elbows. Yeah, that’s it. Elbows. Everyone has one. (Or two, really, if you’re going with the elbow thing.) Thing is, I get paid for my opinion.

I don’t like to be mean. I really think there’s something to be celebrated in every piece of work, no matter how much I dislike it. I wrote a review saying how much I liked and admired the actors, set, and costumes; I even gave the director kudos (although I did say he could have cut some of the script, for our sake.) I did, however, excoriate the script. Listen, I’ve read a lot of plays. I have a decent handle on what’s out there; I have a somewhat informed opinion. That’s why the paper hired me, and not some yahoo who’s never been to the theater before.

I ended the review with the following, which I think I can share without being fired for sharing something that you’re all supposed to pay for:

“It’s a shame that, with such powerful actors on stage, their talent is being wasted in such a lackluster play. With so many shows in the area currently in production, audiences are — and I say this with regret, as these actors alone are worth the ticket price — advised to give this one a pass.”

I’ve ended a number of reviews with a similar sentiment (as have other area reviewers) – either that I recommend the show, or I don’t. It’s usually clear, from my review, whether or not I actually SAY I recommend it or not, whether or not I do. (I think that’s the point of a review, isn’t it?)

Apparently, it’s this last paragraph that upset people.

The comment on the review said they “felt (my) review was unfair-especially your final comment” because it “probably kept many people from attending.”

The first letter to the editor said the author took “exception to one of (my) comments” because “(e)veryone has the right to their own opinion; however, to come out and tell people not to see a show is going too far. People should be able to read a review if they need to, and decide for themselves…a comment (like this is) hurtful and detrimental to the company.”

The other letter to the editor said (in short; it was a VERY long letter) “Amy…advises potential patrons to give it a pass. I disagree with that.” (She then went on and on about how flawed the script was, but that the show was so relatable, and then broke down my review point by point to say why she was right in her opinion and I was wrong.)

Oh, and I also got a private message from an aquaintance on Facebook, asking me to explain myself – why did I advise people to not attend a show he’d PERSONALLY enjoyed very much?

OK. Here’s the thing.

First: I didn’t write that review to hurt anyone. I actually went out of my way to NOT hurt anyone. The only one at fault was whoever chose the show, and a lot of factors go into choosing a show. I’m not going to pick those apart; I wasn’t part of that selection process.

I stand by that last paragraph. I couldn’t recommend the show. (And I’m not naming names, but I spoke to a number of theater friends who saw the show over the couple weeks it was playing. Not a single one recommended it, either. And I got thanks – thanks for writing a review of a terrible show in such a way that it highlighted the positive, and didn’t hurt anyone. I take their praise over these letters any day. They matter to me. A great deal. These letters? Meh.)

When you read a review – a movie review, a theater review, a book review – do you read it thinking it’s an encyclopedia entry? Or do you (as you should) read it thinking it’s the author’s opinion, and when you see/read what’s being reviewed, your opinion might differ? As it’s an opinion? And what worked for one person might not work for another?

As I said, I’ve said “I do recommend this show” or “I don’t recommend this show” before. As have other reviewers. (And I don’t want to play the sexism card, here, but I’ve seen a lot more Letters to the Editor/mean comments on the reviews written by the female reviewers in the area than on the reviews of the male reviewers – and there are two, maybe three, female reviewers in the WHOLE AREA and, oh, I don’t know, maybe a dozen or more male reviewers – I just have to think that maybe men having opinions, that’s ok, but women? GAH WHAT DO STUPID CHICKS KNOW WITH THEIR STUPID CHICK BRAINS.) I don’t see anyone complaining when I DO recommend a show. So I’m allowed to recommend a show – because that INCREASES their box office – but I can’t NOT recommend a show, because that would DECREASE their box office. Because people are JUST THAT STUPID. They will read my review and walk, all zombie-like, to the theater…or they will STAY FAR AWAY.

Listen. I worked at a local theater for 8 years. We weathered both good and bad reviews. Did they have an effect our box office? Sometimes, yes. An excellent review got more people in; a bad review did tend to keep some people away. But that’s just the way the game is played. Sometimes the reviewer has an axe to grind; sometimes the reviewer only likes comedies or dramas; sometimes the reviewer is just extremely negative all the time; sometimes you luck out, and the reviewer loves the show, and you read it and you just grin. It’s just a review, in the grand scheme of things, really. It’s a quick flame of either helpful or hurtful.

But these letters and comments and private messages…

Listen, people. It was my opinion. As I say, I stand by this opinion. If I had it to do all over again? I’d write it exactly the same. (And, just so you know, my editor read that review, and ran it exactly as I wrote it. She had no problem with it, either.) Amy the reviewer couldn’t recommend that show; Amy the PERSON couldn’t recommend that show. If I’d just seen it for fun, I wouldn’t have recommended it to people. To be honest, I texted a friend while the show was in intermission who I knew was trying to find a way to squeeze it into his schedule with “DO NOT SEE THIS. DO NOT DO THIS TO YOURSELF. TALK TO YOU MORE ABOUT IT WHEN I SEE YOU ON MONDAY. DO NOT DO NOT DOOOO NOOOOOT.” And that was Amy the person, not Amy the reviewer.

I could have left that last paragraph out. Sure I could have. Thing is? Not to be too horn-tooty, people, but I’m a decent writer, and from the rest of the review, you’d know exactly where I stood. I came out and said I couldn’t recommend the show, but without saying it, I said it all through the rest of the review. That last paragraph was really just a summation of what came before. Take umbrage with it if you must, but the rest of the review said the same thing. Also? If you want a rainbows and sunshine review, and the show’s not (in my, as stated, OPINION) good? You’re not getting that from me. I don’t lie. Even if I have people I care about in the show, which has happened in the past. I will not lie in my reviews. It’s a promise I made to myself when I started, and it’s a promise I have vowed to keep to myself. I wouldn’t be able to look myself in the eye if there was something published in the paper I didn’t 100% stand behind.

And, much as I have the right to my opinion, those people all have a right to theirs. I’m so very glad they enjoyed the show; I have to say I can’t exactly understand HOW they did, but I do understand that everyone’s respective cranks are turned in different ways, and this show turned theirs, and it left mine completely frozen in place. (THE CRANK IS NOT A EUPHEMISM.)

However: I do believe I’m completely in the right, as a reviewer, to say IN THE REVIEW that I recommend or don’t recommend a show. How this affects your ticket sales is not on my shoulders. As a friend who will not be named said when I told him this story: “If you don’t want bad reviews? STOP PRODUCING CRAP.”

Also, I’m pretty sure once you start getting hate mail, you’ve totally made it, right? I’m a wicked big deal now, yo. Look out, world, I’m like the next Michiko Kakutani. It’s only upward from here. Today hate mail, tomorrow LETTER BOMBS. Whoo-hoo!


Maybe he’s leaving town – don’t let him get away! Hurry and track him down!

Remember last weekend, I went to (and then summarily snuck out of) Guys and Dolls? (Not because it was bad, but because poor cousin J. was getting antsy and I adore her.)

I was recapping Act II for her in the car on the way to the mall (in brief, because when you think about it, not a hell of a lot happens in Act II) and I was trying to think of the songs we’d missed. The only ones I was sad about were “Luck Be a Lady” and “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat” and “Sue Me” (which I love irresponsibly – this is the first song I heard from the musical, many and many a moon ago, put on a mix by a very wise friend back in the glorious heyday of cassette mixes, sigh…and it remains my favorite to this day.)

Then I realized we’d missed “Marry the Man Today” and I was humming it a little in my house that night and thought…wait a minute. Whoa.

I don’t think I ever really paid attention to the lyrics of this song before (mostly because I kind of hate this song.) And once I did, I’m totally overjoyed that cousin J. didn’t hear it, because it’s kind of terrible and the last kind of romantic advice she needs.

Let’s take a look at this gem of a song, shall we? (my comments in italics. Because I’m fancy.) Oh, a little background, in case you need it: the two female romantic leads sing this to each other while they’re deciding whether or not to marry the MALE romantic leads, who they love, but who are CADS! CADS, I TELLS YA! (They’re not really cads, they’re just really, REALLY into gambling, to the point of ignoring their ladyfolk for it.)

And if you want to listen to it, rather than read my (MOST EXCELLENT, by the way) commentary…

Marry the Man Today (music and lyrics by Frank Loesser)

At Wanamaker’s and Saks and Klein’s
A lesson I’ve been taught
You can’t get alterations on a dress you haven’t bought

At any vegetable market from Borneo to Nome
You mustn’t squeeze a melon till you get the melon home.

(So don’t mess with something until you own it. Until it’s your property. OK. Fine. Heh, Borneo to Nome. Odd.)

You’ve simply got to gamble

You get no guarantee

Now doesn’t that kind of apply to you and I

You and me.

Why not?

Why not what?

Marry the man today.
Trouble though he may be
Much as he likes to play
Crazy and wild and free
Marry the man today
Rather than sigh in sorrow
Marry the man today
And change his ways tomorrow.

(OK. This, this right here? This is where the song takes a REALLY WORRISOME TURN.)

Marry the man today.
Marry the man today
Maybe he’s leaving town
Don’t let him get away
Hurry and track him down
Counterattack him and
Marry the man today

(OK, so first you’re going to marry him in order to change him into the man you want…then you’re going to, I don’t know, stalk him, attack him, and FORCE him to marry you. That’s not at all off-putting.)

Give him the girlish laughter
Give him your hand today
And save the fist for after.

(Hmm. I don’t…I’m going to hope this just means, like, shaking your fist at him, but the way this song’s going, I think it’s about punching.)

Slowly introduce him to the better things
Respectable, conservative, and clean
Readers Digest
Guy Lombardo
Rogers Peet
Golf!
Galoshes
Ovaltine!

(Because whatever he’s into SUCKS. You know best. You gotta train him. Like a puppy. DON’T YOU PIDDLE ON THE GOOD RUG, HAROLD! *fist*)

But marry the man today
Handle it meek and gently
Marry the man today and train him subsequently

(What did I say? Train him. TRAIN HIM. Have a treat, Rover, that’s a good boy.)

Carefully expose him to domestic life
And if he ever tries to stray from you
Have a pot roast.
Have a headache
Have a baby
have two!
Six
Nine!

(If he tries to leave your iron fist and terrible household of trickery and deceit, feed him, deny him sex, or GIVE him sex, and tie him down with NINE CHILDREN. This is a great marriage. EXCELLENT advice.)

STOP!

(Yes. Please stop.)

But marry the man today
Rather than sigh in sorrow
Marry the man today
And chance his ways – change his ways – his ways
Tomorrow!

(AND SCENE.)

OK. Now, I realize this musical was first produced on Broadway in 1950. This was a very long time ago. Amy’s Dad was a wee bebeh! Amy’s Mom wasn’t even BORN yet! It was a different time! A time in which…well, apparently, women needed to trick men into marrying them, using any means available to them, then if the man wasn’t EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANTED (and they seem to want some sort of pipe-smoking dorky sweater-wearing loser with no will of his own) they wear him down using MORE trickery until he is CHANGED! And everyone lives happily ever after. Right?

Wait, not right? No?

What about the guy?

The woman’s happy as a lark, with this changed guy who’s exactly what she wanted all along…but is this GUY happy? This guy who, apparently, can’t do anything right unless he does everything the way she wants him to, and once he gives up everything he is, she’s finally happy…but who is he now? And how can he be happy, being this ghost of the person he was before?

I know love is compromise. I’m well aware of that. This situation isn’t compromise, though. This is one-sided; compromise means BOTH people change. This is sexist garbage, is what this is.

BUT AMY! you are saying. THIS WAS A SONG WRITTEN IN 1950, SURELY THIS ISN’T SOMETHING WE WORRY ABOUT NOW!

See, it is, though. I know a lot of people who’ve broken up (marriages, serious relationships, what have you) and I hear, over and over, the same thing.

I thought he/she would change, once we were together.

Or, the opposite: He/she thought I would change, once we were together.

I asked them over and over to stop doing (whatever it is) and they just wouldn’t and I couldn’t take it anymore.

If they loved me, why wouldn’t they change?

Do you remember, a long time ago, we talked about the frog and the scorpion? This is very much a frog and scorpion situation. You knew that person was a scorpion when you picked them up.

If you get together with someone with the endgame in mind that you will change him or her to better suit your needs, you are a., a jerk for getting together with someone who has things about them that bother you so much that you need to change them in order for the relationship to work for you and b., you are in a losing game, because no one’s going to end this scenario happy.

I’m telling you right now: once you get older, you learn to pick your battles. What’s worth getting up-in-arms about and what’s worth letting go. And you learn that no one’s perfect. And you learn that life’s not a rom-com. And you learn that you can love people not only DESPITE their flaws, but BECAUSE of their flaws. Because those flaws make that person more real, and more alive, and more yours; you wouldn’t recognize that person without those flaws. (And you know what? You’re not flawless yourself, special snowflake. That person’s overlooking probably a lot of YOUR flaws, too. Keep that in mind, sunshine.)

I’m going to give you an alternative to that song.

Marry the man today – if you can’t imagine a life without being married to them. Don’t attempt to change their ways tomorrow. Their ways may or may not change. Go into this with your eyes open. Can you live with the person you’re marrying if they remain exactly like this the rest of their lives? If not, how about you don’t say yes to the dress. There’s someone out there better suited to you, and someone out there better suited for him, as well.

Go ahead and marry the man today. I’ll totally cheer for you. I’m all about the romance, yo. But if you try to trick him into it (or reverse those genders, this works for the fellas, too) and then slowly chisel away the man who DID marry you, and someday you wake up and you’re married to a stranger and he leaves you because, well, that stranger no longer wants to be married to you…

…you really have no one to blame but yourself.

And they say theater is an unneccessary art. LOOK AT ALL WE’VE LEARNED TODAY.

Happy weekend, you romantic fools. Go woo like the wind. Do me proud.


In which the blog gets a new, very fancy mascot

It’s been a busy weekend, my little pumpkin pies. Here and there and everywhere, I was. Whoo! However, after this weekend, things slow substantially to a crawl, which is nice. I mean, I still have THINGS, but they’re not CONSTANT things. Not like BAM BAM BAM THINGS. Which is nice. I might actually get to sit on my couch a little and have some hang-time with Dumbcat. I know he’d enjoy that. (He’s enjoying it as I type this, actually. All snuggled up to my leg and purring like a little furry motor.)

Friday I had to review a show. The show was…um…hard to sit through. Let’s just leave it at that. They can’t all be winners. (It’s nice to still get PAID when they’re not a winner, though. I like that part of it very much.) Then I got home and you would THINK a person would be like “write the review and go to bed, it’s so late” but instead I had about an hour left of a book I was obsessed with and so I decided it was a better idea to stay up mega-late and find out what happened. (I used to do this when I was younger, too. I guess you don’t grow out of things like this.) I told Dad this and he was all “THAT BOOK WOULD HAVE BEEN THERE WHEN YOU WOKE UP!” but I had to work on Saturday and I didn’t want to wait TWENTY-FOUR HOURS to find out the ending. I mean, seriously. (Review going up soon on Snobbery, promise.)

Then work all day Saturday (blergh) and talking to Andreas‘ face that night (ALWAYS a good thing, and even better, his most wonderful little girl made an appearance, so I got to see her, too!) and then Sunday…TOTALLY had an adventure, yo.

My wonderful cousin J. lives about 45 minutes away. She is a senior in high school and one of the most joyful people I know. She makes you feel pure happiness just being around her. And why wouldn’t you want to be around someone that makes you that happy? I predict the best of things for her in the world, I really do. She has the best outlook on life and she’s very grounded. She’s just fantastic.

So when I saw her last month, we made plans to see a play together this month. It was hard to find an appropriate show for a seventeen-year-old because I’m totally protective and didn’t want her to see anything naughty. Even though she’s probably reading this right now and laughing at me because I sound like an old lady. So I thought, Guys and Dolls is fun and bright and non-naughty would entertain her. Right? Right.

So cousin J. and her equally wonderful boyfriend D. came to visit (she just got her driver’s license. I have known this kid for a very long time. I remember when she was in footie pajamas coloring at her grandmother’s kitchen table. Her being able to drive is kind of amazing to me) and D. went to the mall to hang out and wait for us, and J. and I went to the theater.

The show was already mega-long, to start. I was worried poor D. was going to be bored out of his mind at the mall. He promised he wouldn’t, but we weren’t going to meet up with him for HOURS. That’s a very long time to hang out alone at the mall. Like, I get bored at the mall in about fifteen MINUTES. Then the play started late. REALLY late. (I feel there’s really no reason for that. It’s rude to your paying audience and it’s rude to your actors who are waiting for the show to start.) It was actually quite good (I’m a big Guys and Dolls fan; Adelaide makes me happy) but I think maybe it’s harder for other people to pay attention than it is for me. And the play was, as mentioned, VERY LONG. And J. leaned over and whispered that poor D. had gotten bored and was just taking a nap in the car. (I KNEW he wouldn’t want to be hanging out at the mall that long!) So I made an executive decision and asked her if she wanted to hoof it at intermission. She said “no, it’s ok” in a way that I could tell that meant “OMG YES PLEASE” so I knew it was an excellent decision on my end. (I filled her in on what would happen in Act II in the car. I was able to do this in 2 minutes. Act II was probably going to be about an hour or so. And I was able to explain it in TWO MINUTES. This may or may not be a flaw in the show, I decided.) I tried to encourage her to watch the movie (BRANDO! SINATRA! SIGH!) but I don’t know that I was successful. Aw, Brando and Sinatra are no longer a draw for kids today. This makes me sad.

Come on. These are some handome fellas, right?

Come on. These are some handome fellas, right?

Off to the mall to rescue D. from his car-based nappery we went!

J. and D. wanted to eat at Dave and Buster’s. I had never been in a Dave and Buster’s, but one just opened in our mall. For anyone who’s never been in this restaurant, let me explain: there is a restaurant (just kind of a basic burgers/chicken/bar food kind of restaurant) and then the rest of the place is UTTER CHAOS. Because it’s an ARCADE! With many games and Skee-ball machines and gigantic wheels of fortune and some weird game where you could play soccer against Homer Simpson and most of the machines spit out TICKETS!

CRAZINESS!

CRAZINESS!

And what could you win with the tickets?

CRAP THAT WAS NOWHERE NEAR WORTH THE TICKETS!

Oh, it was just the best. SO MUCH WAS GOING ON.

So we had dinner and talked and laughed and then it was ON TO THE ARCADE!

I was not as good at the games as J. and D. were. I think it’s a youngster thing. They have better reflexes. I was good at games that required very little skill, like a random game where I got to harpoon sharks, and a game where I had to match up fruit. Anything where I had to have coordination – no no, Charlie. Terrible at that. I used to be good at Skee-ball. Apparently that left me with my ability to stay up all night and ride roller coasters (I totally can’t do that anymore. I get dizzy.) One of the employees apparently liked my uselessness and giggliness and was playing the harpooning sharks game and gave me all of HIS tickets so I was totally racking up the tickets. J. was good at large-size versions of games that were on her phone that I’d never heard of in my whole life because I am not good at games so I had to take them all off my phone or I get obsessed with them and don’t get work done I need to do, like blogging. D. was good at shooting-animals games. (Yes, this is totally a thing. At the end of it, he got eaten by a very realistic bear and it made me gasp in fear. Back in my day, kiddos, we played Mario Brothers, and there was nothing SCARY in Mario Brothers that JUMPED OUT AND ATE YOUR FACE. Well, there were those koopa things, but they weren’t SCARY.)

When we were done, it was time for me to get home and “go be a grownup,” said J., which made me laugh (I know, I’m totally a grownup sometimes) and cash in all my tickets for VERY IMPORTANT BOOTY. I had my eye on something totally special but didn’t think I had enough tickets.

Look at all my tickets. Are you so impressed? I thought you might be.

Look at all my tickets. Are you so impressed? I thought you might be.

Imagine my delight when I did.

Meet…

YOLO HAMSTER! (And Dumbcat photobombing us while he looks for treats I threw on the carpet for him to keep him occupied.)

I have no idea what is happening here. This is a RANDOM HAMSTER with a YOLO HOODIE and it is TERRIBLE and I LOVE it. Seriously. This is like my blog mascot now. It has my least-favorite saying on it, and why is it a hamster? I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS THING. It was only a zillion tickets. (I’m exaggerating. A little.) I also got two Wacky Wall Walkers for The Nephew because I loved those things when I was little and I think he’ll dig them.

Did you guys get these in your cereal when you were little? I used to LOVE these things. They were the best.

Did you guys get these in your cereal when you were little? I used to LOVE these things. They were the best.

Yolo Hamster (I think I shall name him Harvey Hoodie Hamster) can also be a badass gangsta. Check it, yo.

This is how he wears his hood when he travels to THE hood. Ha! Get it?

Justin Bieber would totally dig Harvey Hoodie Hamster for his YOLO-ness but he’s all mine, Biebs. Don’t you even think of taking him. I worked HARD at those machines shooting sharks with harpoons to win Harvey Hoodie Hamster.

I was attempting to explain YOLO (don’t you feel like that should have an unneccessary exclamation point at the end of it? YOLO!) to Andreas and he said, “So that’s a hamster that only lives once? Like any other hamster, then?” and I think that’s really the best explanation of Harvey Hoodie Hamster there’s ever been. Harvey Hoodie Hamster will NOT be reincarnated. He really has to make the best of this one life he’s got. I would assume that would take the form of drinking a lot of Four Loko and knocking over convenience stores.

(You need to watch this, if you haven’t; it makes me laugh until I’m almost sick. EVERY TIME I WATCH IT. There are piranhas in saunas!)

J. and D. got a hippo and a box of Nerds with their tickets. That was with their tickets COMBINED. You really didn’t get much with your tickets. I tried to convince them to get another Hoodie Hamster but apparently, YOLO isn’t even COOL anymore. Who knew? (I did. I kind of knew. That’s why I love it. I love it in an ironic hate way.)

Isn’t she just sunshine? Sincerely. You cannot look at this girl’s face and not want to smile. She’s gorgeous AND she’s wonderful AND she’s kind and intelligent and funny. Good genetics in my family, you see.

I promise I did not take minors drinking. Those are our cups of many tickets. And YOLO HAMSTER! Seriously, he is just the best thing. (J. and D. are adorable, right? Totally are.)

Then it was time to go and there were all the hugs and J. totally texted me and asked when we could have ANOTHER adventure. Success! I am a very good partner in adventuring! (I think it’s because I haven’t quite accepted I’m an adult yet. Plus, these two are just the best.)

Time for bed for me. Adventuring makes one sleepy. Thank you, J. and D., for a most excellent day of fun. You are the best and I smiled so much my whole face was on smile overload. You are two of the most wonderful people and I loved playing all the games with you!

Off to sleepytime. Have a good week, people of the internet! I hope you aren’t too jealous of my YOLO hamster. Don’t break into my house to steal it. It’s MINE, and you just have to deal with that, yo.


The cat who stole people’s BREATH

Lots of things going on in the world, right?

Whole damn U.S. government’s shut down. Someone shot at the White House or something, I don’t even know what the hell. People are very, VERY angry about the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare, if you like to call things by the wrong name in a sneering fashion, like my dad does, for example.) It’s October, but here in lovely New York, it feels like June.

IS IT THE APOCALYPSE?

Nah, probably not. Just Washington being especially childish. These are grown men and women who are playing a big old game of “I’m taking my ball and I’m GOING HOME” and they’re being stompy-stomp and it pisses me off that we elected them and they’re not doing their jobs and now basic things aren’t getting done and people aren’t getting paid and it’s all a problem.

Dad said, “WHY DO YOU WORRY ABOUT SUCH THINGS. THIS ISN’T GOING TO AFFECT YOU.” I replied, “It DOES affect me, as I am a human, with emotions and feelings, and I feel empathy” and he said, “UGH YOU ARE SO STRANGE.” Wouldn’t it be nice to have no emotions? I think maybe yes. (Oh, shush, Dad HAS emotions, I’m exaggerating, he’s just on the WRONG SIDE and thinks this government shutdown nonsense is a good idea. HOWEVER, in good news, he says – and he seems to be up on these things – that there’s some sort of thing that happens on – I think he said the 17th? something about the debt ceiling, I think? – and if the government isn’t up and running by then, it would be castrophic, and therefore, he thinks HIS PEOPLE will be forced to capitulate. I’m all for this, but of course I didn’t tell him this. So, if Dad’s right, we only have two more weeks of this to put up with.)

But surely there are better things going on in the world, right? We need some cheerfulness. This has been a crappy week.

Here in Amyland, things have been hellaciously busy. This past week has seen very little sleep, a lot of running around, and many adventures. Well, sort-of adventures. Busy-ness, at least. Two theater reviews, so far. (Both AMAZING shows. I love it when that happens.) Dinner with friend K. with delicious food and lots of talking and laughter. Haircut today, so for 24 hours I’ll look pretty and put-together, then I’ll be forced to do my own hair and it’s back to looking all frowzy and harried. Oh, and my car broke down so next week I have to bring it in for a billion dollars of repairs. SIGH.

Not actually me or actually my car. But close.

Not actually me or actually my car. But close.

Dumbcat is not pleased with all this running around. He would like more sitting around so he can curl up on me and sleep most sleepily; I have to admit, I miss that as well. Sorry, buddy. Very busy. Lots to do. Need to make money to buy your cat treats. The other morning he woke me up about ten minutes before my alarm with VERY LOUD SNORING because he was sleeping on my pillow right next to my face-area and snoring like a LITTLE FURRY CHAINSAW. I couldn’t decide whether it was more bothersome to be woken by him, or by the blaringly aloud alarm. He doesn’t MEAN to snore like a little furry chainsaw. It’s not his fault. He’s VERY TIRED. And snorey. And adorable.

Another play coming up, then hanging out with Mom and Dad this weekend, which should be fun-times. We will have food and shopping and presents. Because I am 4 days from a year older! Hooray!

Oh, also, I have STORIES which I have forgotten to tell you. From last weekend, when Cousin S. was visiting. She was all, “YOU NEED TO WRITE ABOUT THIS!” and I totally forgot because I was writing SO SO LATE and I was dying to read the new Stephen King book. (Which I finished. And it was AWESOME.)

So this past weekend, Cousin S. came to visit. Dad was CONVINCED we were going to get in trouble. I’m not sure that we were that much trouble as kids, but apparently Dad thought so? So he started saying, a few days before she got here, “you call me if you need bail money. I HAVE BAIL MONEY SET ASIDE. Those bail bondman, THEY ONLY TAKE CASH MONEY.” So all weekend, whenever we’d do anything, S. and I would say “Ooh, THIS is sure to make us need that bail money!” These things included eating sushi, going to the movies, and visiting the Empire State Plaza. (The last one of these is the only one that MIGHT have caused the need for bail money, because we decided we were walking somewhere maybe we weren’t supposed to when we were cruising around The Egg.) Dad seemed disappointed that we never needed that bail money.

The second thing is MUCH more worrisome.

Dumbcat tried to kill S.

I woke up one morning and walked quietly into the living room (where S. was sleeping) and was all, “where is that Dumbcat?” and looked and there was Dumbcat, ON HER CHEST, with his face all up in her face.

You know what that means, don’t you?

Dumbcat was totally stealing her breath.

Dad’s OBSESSED with cats stealing people’s breath. I think he heard it from my grandmother, and even though I explained to him it’s just a thing that people say because cats used to sleep in infants’ cribs because they were warm and smelled like milk, he STILL thinks one day, I will wake up dead (yes, he says that) with Dumbcat having stolen all my breath.

She woke up and said, “I cannot move THERE IS A CAT ON ME” and Dumbcat was all gleeful that TEH LAIDEY! TEH LAIDEY IS AWAYKE! and walked all over her with his mitten-paws most joyfully.

So I told Dad about this and he was all “I TOLD YOU!!! I TOLD YOU THAT CAT WOULD TRY TO STEAL SOMEONE’S BREATH! THAT CAT TRIED TO KILL YOUR COUSIN! WHAT WOULD I HAVE TOLD MY LITTLE BROTHER IF SHE HAD DIED BY CAT-BREATH-STEALING?”

Heh, Dad. I’m so pleased your theory came to fruition.

(Just so you’re all aware, Cousin S. is alive, well, and kicking back at home with her family now. She is not a victim of Dumbcat’s excessive love. Not even a little.)

Oh, ALSO, on a funny note, Cousin S. works in the medical field and we were talking about medication and apparently my current sleeping pill (my doctor’s constantly switching them up; she’s amazed I can’t sleep, and I’m quite sure soon I’ll be given horse tranquilizers) is also a CAT MEDICATION. I think for seizures. I am currently taking a cat seizure medication to help me sleep. Check me out, modern medicine, I AM A DAMN MIRACLE. MEEE-OW.

(SIDENOTE: cat seizure medication, which is probably sleeping pill number 5 or something, doesn’t work very well. Sometimes I sleep, sometimes I think of things like “OMG THE WEIGHT OF THE WORLD! IT IS ON MY SHOULDERS!” and then I just lie there staring at the ceiling and thinking about how most people can just sleep SO DAMN EASILY and thanks, genetics.)

Time for beddy-bye, kiddos.

Remember – per Dad, we don’t need to worry about the government shutting down. IT DOES NOT AFFECT US.

Except for those of us it DOES affect, and those of us who have empathy for the people who are affected.

If you’re one of those people, my thoughts are with you. No matter what Dad says.

And hey, government-people? Get your shit together, yo. We put you in office. WE TRUSTED YOU WITH THIS JOB. So DO your damn job. This is embarrassing. OTHER COUNTRIES ARE LAUGHING AT US.

Sigh.

Happy weekends, people of the blogiverse.


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