When Mama Rose asks Gypsy Rose Lee: “Just one thing I want to know. All the working and pushing and finagling, the scheming, the scrimping, all the lying in bed nights figuring how we’ll get to the next town, how we’ll all eat on a buck, how I’ll make an act out of nothing. Why did I do it? You say I fought my whole life. I fought all YOUR life. So tell me now, what did I do it for?
Gypsy: “I thought you did it for me, Mama.”
When I started to blog about my adventures as a spouse of someone who got a kidney transplant, I told myself that I could write it in such a way that it would still allow Michael to have his privacy. But after the recent post I realize, there’s no way to do that, really. You see, Michael hates all this “sharing” online to begin with and I thought that after writing and re-reading my journal posts that they wouldn’t be too intrusive to his privacy. Turns out, I was wrong. When I read today’s post again, I cringed for him, knowing how he’d feel if he saw these posts. Out of respect for him, for us, I think these are writings best kept as a journal of the events that have taken place for me and not to be shared with the world.
So although there is more written, it won’t be appearing online. If I find a way to tell how I feel without taking away Michael’s privacy, maybe I’ll post some more but for now it just feels like an invasion of privacy.
We both appreciate the support and love that has been afforded to us by everyone we know. We’ve still got a couple more weeks here in Arizona before we get to head back to Vegas. So thanks for the good thoughts, that’s all we need at the moment. He’s progressing nicely and we’re looking forward to getting home and welcoming this new phase of our life. Hope to see you in it!
I’ve also realized, like Rose comes to realize in Gypsy, “I guess I did it for me.” Gypsy: “Why Mama?” Rose: “Just wanted to be noticed, I guess.”
2:40 am the day (middle of the night, really) after the release from the hospital
So after three days in the hospital (sleeping on a chair by his bedside that didn’t fully extend so you had a lump in your back the entire time, you know, like the one in your throat), they said he could check out. New kidney, old spouse, new anxieties and the old hotel where we had stayed previously for our visits to Mayo Clinic, wondering when we would get the call to come and get Michael’s new kidney.
We weren’t prepared. I don’t think you can be, to be honest. Oh I’m sure some people have the “hospital bag” poised at the front door, waiting for the call but we were not that couple. Hell, we didn’t even have a real plan for someone to watch the cat (thank God for the kindness of current and past co-workers jumping in). That said, we were as prepared as we could be for us when the call came on a Thursday afternoon at 12:30 pm (October 4, 2018). I was at work. They had a kidney, it looked good but there were biopsies to do once the kidney arrived at 9 pm so they would call us around 10:30 pm. That bought us time to ready ourselves. While Michael got his head around the idea that he was getting a kidney, I was doing what I do best, running. A dash to Walmart to buy enough cat food for 14 cats for 14 years, even though we only had one cat. Filling 5 gallon water bottles that were empty, that we wouldn’t need on our trip, just because. Calling the hotel and finding my faith in humanity lifted when the operations manager offered to get us a room on the Mayo campus at an enormously reduced rate and asked, “Is there anything else I can do for you?” Throwing everything out of the refrigerator and cleaning it like a mad man (I clean when I get stressed - I should only be stressed more often, then the house might be cleaner!) The call came at 9 pm, we were on the road in the next 45 minutes. By 2 am we had arrived at Mayo Clinic. At 5 am they wheeled him into surgery and at 7:20 am on October 5, 2018, the doctor came out to say the surgery was uneventful and that he was glad Michael wasn’t “bleedy” - a good thing.
The next three days in the hospital, you’re living moment to moment. First there are the thousand tubes and machines he’s hooked up to. As he was taking his first steps around the hospital floor, I remarked to the physical therapist and nurse, who were holding all of these cords so he could shuffle along, “Wow, maybe someday he’ll get to be a real boy and not have these strings.” No response. Either they were too young to have seen Pinocchio or we were in the ward for those without a sense of humor. Everyday there was something new. Hell, every few hours there was something new. A new medication, a different dose, a different benchmark for his blood pressure, decisions to give him hemodialysis as he had a “sleepy kidney” (not uncommon in organ transplant, especially when the donor had been deceased). So much new that you don’t really have a lot of time to think about being stressed.
I found moments to get a shower or fill the refrigerator at the hotel for his arrival “home” while he was in treatment or sleeping. I sent texts, called his mother with updates, called my mother with updates and all the while I would get texts from friends that said, “Don’t forget about self care!” It was day three, this was hardly the time to ask Michael to wait on his next round of meds so I could go to the spa. People, designed only to annoy, it seemed.
I wrote a pithy and emotional post on Facebook. Michael despises social media but had authorized I could post something. Well, friends from a thousand years ago, who had no idea Michael even needed a kidney started posting. Some seemed passive aggressive to me, “Wow, can’t believe no one told me about this before seeing this post, I’m shocked. Please send him my best.” (You have to know the people. I could hear the tone coming through the iPad screen.) And yet, in the moments when I was in a bathroom or somewhere by myself, I re-read my post and the comments (old and new) over and over again. It made it real. And felt like support. Wasn’t this self-care?
If you’re dealing with someone going through this, just know it’s never a “good time” to send the text or call but go ahead and do it. It’s a distraction and allows me to roll my eyes at the people who just don’t fucking get it. “Everything ok?” Is the text equivalent to a booty call text, “You up?” I know you’re trying to be nonchalant but he just had his abdomen ripped open and someone’s organ placed inside so “Everything ok?” REALLY? “It’s a fucking sideshow and I feel like the one armed carny trying to sell tickets, while pasting the beard on the bearded lady without anyone noticing.” Yet, I simply answer, “Yup, can’t text, more later.” When I don’t answer at all, that’s self-care. Maybe not a spa, but feels good not to answer when I’ve always prided myself on having the answer or being able to find it for someone.
I fell asleep on the couch at around 9:30 pm and Michael woke me, telling me to go to bed. I slept until he came to bed around 2 am and then I was on high alert. He has these horrible hiccups, preventing him from sleeping (they last for hours) so I got him a Xanax (which he’s allowed to have, as needed) but when you discover you’ve doubled the dose of what he’s supposed to have and he has to be up for labs at 5:30 am, you stare at him for awhile to make sure he’s breathing and then, convinced you’ve killed him or hurt his recovery, you get up, start writing notes for the doctors for tomorrow’s visit and find yourself a blogger again (if only for yourself) as you listen for sounds of breathing from the other room. 30 minutes of sleeping sounds, 3 trips in to stare at him sleeping, 3:30 am, the fucking hiccups returned. ARGH!!!
I am fortunate that I’ve been a lot of “things” in my life. I often say I’ve reinvented myself more than anyone I know. That’s both professionally and personally however there has been one constant in my life for the past 30+ years, Michael.
Michael is a private person. Michael thinks the Internet is up to no good. Michael sees no reason for social media. Michael is a performer but only on stage, not online. The day I met Michael I said to myself, “I’m going to know this person the rest of my life.” I’d never had that experience before or since. Love at first sight? Maybe. Cosmic intervention? Maybe. The Lord doing his/her j-o-b? Maybe. All I know is I’m grateful for him in my life because he loves me as I am for who I am (even if that changes from moment to moment).
When I recently started (over six months now) working for a well-known charity, in a “get to know you” exercise, they asked, “Tell us something we don’t know about you.” I said, “I believe in my heart, I’m a writer.” (Confused but supportive looks.) My Mother believes she’s a writer, my aunt IS a writer, my niece is a writer so I guess it’s no big leap that I would think I was one too.
In 2006 I was chosen in a national contest to blog for Project Runway Season 3. My blogs appeared on the Bravo website every week and they encouraged me to start a blog. I did. I blogged for four or more years but it became more of a chore than a joy so I stopped.
Three years ago Michael was having extreme fatigue and they kept sending him for iron shots. He was anemic and they couldn’t figure it out. Finally the diagnosis came that he was in renal failure. The kidneys were in such bad shape they didn’t biopsy them to see what happened. They suspected years of undiagnosed high blood pressure (get yours checked) and thus began our journey. For more than six months he ignored it, then he fought even the idea of dialysis, then he accepted it but we also went to Mayo Clinic to get on their transplant list and finally, he began peritoneal dialysis in the home. It started as 6 hours a night, then 8 then eventually 12 ½ hours. Recently they determined that it wasn’t working, it wasn’t cleaning his blood. Every night, I would ready the machine, carefully wiping everything down with bleach solution to ensure it was sterile and safe for him. He would hook up, he would take thousands of pills, and while he initially felt better on the dialysis, we were coming to a new phase where his doctors told him, much to his horror, he was going to have to go on hemodialysis. We dreaded it. Physically and emotionally it was the one thing we didn’t want. Then, because things happen when they’re supposed to, the call came from Mayo and within 24 hours he had a kidney placed in his body and we were off on another journey. The journey of recovery for him, for me, for us.
As Michael is a private person, this is not meant to share intimate details of his journey but rather to document and assist me in figuring out my place in all of this, as the wife from the musical Ragtime sings, “I will be journeying here, my love. As you go.” What happens when what you’ve been hoping for, for over two years, happens? Why isn’t it all sunshine, happiness and delight? Who the hell are you going to be now if you aren’t the person whose spouse needs a kidney anymore?
So why share all of this? Because I’ve always been and will always be a performer. I try to hide it but I guess I’m not a very good actor. As my mother says, “The people, everyone, they love the show business.” And it’s true for me too. I still long for applause. To hear an audience laugh or cry. To move people with my life’s work, it’s choreography, if you will. And therefore, here’s my latest work that I’m directing. My thoughts, my words, out in the universe for those that choose to read them, journey with me and hopefully laugh, cry and buy the t-shirt along the way. Thank you for reading. (Curtain slowly rises.)
I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a Jew, gay or just someone who wants everyone to not just “like” me but adore me but as I’ve said numerous times, “No one apologizes as good as me.” If they gave out Olympics medals, I’d make Phelps and the rest of those athletes look like amateurs. I too have honed my craft after years and years of spending a lot of time in my head (instead of the pool or gym, obviously) working on how best to apologize, getting my timing just right and ultimately getting the desired result of people not only accepting my apology but sometimes, the apology is so good, they actually apologize to ME when alls said and done. So when it comes to apologies, I know my way around them better than anyone.
That said, we as a society need to stop with some of the apologies. I reached my breaking point recently when I saw that Cinnabon had to apologize for the above tweet. Seriously? Are we all that serious that a) we don’t think it’s funny and b) we can’t commend the millennial who came up with the idea to pay homage to Carrie Fisher AND market their delicious cinnamon buns at the same time? Should we start a boycott? Should we blame Cinnabon or go directly to the source and blame the spice, cinnamon that starts the whole process of a delicious Cinnabon? How far back should we go? When is enough, enough?!?
And while we’re on the subject, people need to lay off Steve Martin for tweeting (and then deleting) that when he first met Carrie Fisher he thought, “When I was a young man, Carrie Fisher she was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. She turned out to be witty and bright as well.” He was not demeaning her nor trying to say that was all that she was was a piece of ass, he’s just saying when he was a young man he found her hot. Do you know how much I’d pay to have someone write that about me? But what happens? The “world” gets offended and he has to take it down and do you know who loses? All of us, we lost our God Damned sense of humor somewhere people and no longer know what’s offensive and what’s funny!
So here’s the leap. What is NOT funny is all the tweeting and talking by our soon to be Asshat in Chief; talking about grabbing women by the pussy, and all the other shenanigans that he’s saying and tweeting and actually believing as well as his supporters that are goose stepping along with him. I think this is where the “right” have us “lefties” beat. We work ourselves up so much about “inappropriate” Cinnabon tweets about someone who is dead when the Fuckface elect is going on a blue streak about how he was offended by Saturday Night Live, knows more about the Russian hacks than our national security agencies and thinks one of the world’s enemies, Putin is “very smart.” (Putin is smart, he helped Trump get elected and he got exactly what he wanted for Christmas while we all got a lump of orange coal in our stocking.) Wake up, people, this isn’t someone just refreshingly speaking his mind (or marketing delicious cinnamon buns) these are things you would normally hear someone through a pointy hood talk about, not the soon to be leader of the free world. And guess what, my Democrat friends? Cinnabon is not going to take away health insurance for most of a nation that is sick from the crap our government has allowed manufacturers in the US and beyond to put in our foods to make us dependent on the pharmaceutical industry or start a nuclear war because he has no sense of accountability for his actions or take away the strides we’ve made for equal rights in this country. No, it’s the all right, all white government we “lefties” have allowed to get into power while we were busy being “offended” by tweets and trying to pander to people who were already voting for Hillary with a Will and Grace reunion instead of realizing there were a lot of people in this country who don’t think like us, are angry, want change and vote. Democrat leaders, where’s YOUR apology? I caucused, I bought the Hillary action figure and all I got was an out of touch party leadership that was too confident to realize we were getting bit in the ass (and while as a gay man or anyone who enjoys the occasional solicited bite in the ass, this is not what I’m talking about here.)
All this to say, there are times for apologies and there are times when we as gay men and the women and men who love them need to take a breath and say, “Does this really require an apology?” Let me help you, @cinnabon and @stevemartintogo I’m want to apologize to you for anyone who pressured you into an apology. Meanwhile, @thedemocrats you owe us all an apology and need to get your ass in gear to protect us from this mess you helped make for the next four years. (See how good I am at apologies?)
I was never one to have posters of pop stars in my room (in fact, what I did have in my childhood room was glossy white wallpaper with black velvet/flocked images of old movie stars from Shirley Temple to Clark Gable - I know, I know). But the recent news of George Michael really got me thinking about my life in the 80’s, how much I wished I had his hair, body, etc. Unfortunately for me, I looked much more like his partner-in-Wham!, Andrew Ridgeley so as the news of his death spread, I wondered, “Dear God, if you had to take someone, couldn’t you have taken Andrew Ridgeley?”
Can we discuss that George Michael was only 53? What the fuck? A year older than me? When my pal, Greg texted me the news of his death (way ahead of any news app on my phone alerted me, I’ll have you know) I have to admit I was more stuck on the age than the fact George Michael was dead. “If George Michael was dead at 53, what chances did I have with what undoubtedly is my last year on the planet before I turn 53?”, was the first thing to go through my mind.
You see, in the 80’s and beyond, I was so enamored with George Michael and thought he was so cool that I was sure he was a much older man when I was loving him and his short shorts in the “Wake Me Up” video and beyond. He seemed so hot and sexy that he had to be much older, right?
Truth be told, I didn’t have crushes on celebs like George Michael like other kids. I didn’t want to sleep with him or have him sing a song just for me - I guess that should have been in the reverse order. What I really wanted was his celeb, action-packed lifestyle. I wanted that five o’clock shadow that only he and Barney Rubble seemed to have naturally. I wanted to be able to wear leather jackets and have them look like they belonged on me. And as someone who has always been a “rule” following, one man at a time sort of guy sexually, I even wanted his wild gay sex romps in public bathrooms too. As a gay kid in the 80’s, bathroom sex with anonymous strangers seemed about the sexiest thing that could ever happen to you. I would only later find out that bathroom sex is mostly reserved for closeted Republicans. (I would also discover that the men who walk around naked in locker rooms never look like they do in porn movies, their balls are dragging the floor and are the only part of their genitalia you can see from their huge bellies that seem to hide any notion of what sex they really are besides the “masculine” hairy backs that make them look like gorillas - not in a good way.) As a bit of a clean freak, I’ll also admit that I can’t even imagine the whole bathroom sex thing. There aren’t enough disinfecting moist towelettes I could carry in my pockets to wipe everything down (including the person) to make that happen.
So as I ponder the young death of George Michael, I’ll listen to his music, consider buying a “Choose Life” t-shirt and wonder why dear God, you made me in the image of Andrew Ridgeley instead of George Michael. It’s a little (okay very little) like Tevya from Fiddler On The Roof, <sung to If I Were A Rich Man> “Would it spoil some vast eternal plan? If I looked like George Michael?” Stay healthy, Andrew!
This came to me (not on a midnight clear) a couple years ago on Christmas Eve. Sometimes I write and it just all comes straight out to the keyboard (as in this case).
To date it's one of my favorite things I've ever written and my dream is one day to meet a talented graphic artist who can make it into an illustrated book for me!
I hope you enjoy it as much as I still do - like it, comment on it, share it and know someday I'll sign a copy of the book for you!
I honestly don’t know how these ideas come to me…but I'm so glad that they do!
The Tale of Schlomo, The Jewish Elf
While there are so many holiday stories, here’s one you may not have heard.
So you may know the 3 wise men were named Balthasar, Melchior and Gaspar but what you may not know is that Balthasar and Melchior were lovers/spouses/partners/whatever the hell you called it back then. In fact, they had been together a long time (one black and the other Jewish - sound familiar?).
Anyway, Balthasar saw the light in the sky and exclaimed, “Melchior, put down the menorah, there’s a big light in the sky and I think we should go check it out.” Melchior, who had been polishing for hours said, “Oy, what did you say? I don’t even listen to you anymore. What? A light? Okay, it’s the only way you take me out of the shtetl anymore, we’ll go. We should call Gasp, he just got out of a ten minute relationship with a yutz that had the face of a camel and could use a getaway.” (Gaspar was known as “Gasp” as whenever you told him any good gossip, he would gasp and grab the imaginary pearls around his neck. He was the friend that could never keep a boyfriend or a camel so Balthasar and Melchior always took him along, like their “plus one.”) “Tell Gasp it’s a mirror ball in the sky and that we think Donna Summer is playing, that’ll get him over here faster.” said Balthasar.
As they started to leave, Melchior said, “Oy, let’s not be schmucks, quick grab something we can take to the people under the light, I hear it’s a newborn king.” Balthasar looked around and said, “I dunno what to take, maybe I’ll take that extra gold, after all, he IS a king.” Melchior said, “Then I’m taking that myrrh your mother gave me for our anniversary last year. Like I didn’t get her hint that it’s an embalming oil.” Melchior said to Gasp, “What are you taking?” Gasp clutched his pearls and said, “I’m taking poppers, I mean frankincense, I hear it’s a damn barn there and since Donna Summer is playing there, it should smell nicer, no?” They started for the door when Melchior screamed, “Jesus, what are we doing, we can’t go with these gifts like this, wait, better yet, I’ll wrap them.” And Balthasar got a big smile on his face and said, “My Schlomo, the Jewish elf!”
For 29 years I’ve been Schlomo the Jewish elf, wrapping Christmas gifts for my lover/spouse/partner/whatever the hell you call it nowadays’ family on Christmas Eve. I love every minute of it and him. So to all those Schlomos out there like me, wrapping like me tonight, keep wrapping! After all, what would our Balthasars do without us, right? Of course, right. Back to work!
For anyone who has ever needed a little “help” in the sleep department and turned to Ambien, I’m with you. I don’t take it every night but I used to and when I did, I would wonder how I would go to the gym, watch what I was eating and still I got fatter and fatter. My spouse finally fessed up and told me that when I took Ambien I would allegedly forage through the kitchen like a raccoon at a campsite. According to my spouse, at one point I was apparently sitting on the sofa with my arm elbow deep in a box of Cheerios, shoveling handfuls into my mouth, not giving a shit how much was ending up on the sofa (not as much as was going in my gullet, I can tell you that, friends) with a glazed doughnut look on my face.
“Why didn’t you stop me?” I yelled at my spouse. “And lose a finger?” was his reply. It’s a fair comment.
My mother always says to me, “Oh God, Scott you’re not on The Ambien <Pronounced: Ahm-Bee-Un> are you?”
I’ve tried to not use The Ambien but every now and then, I take it. Such was the case last night. Now I don’t ever remember details about the foraging, normally I wake up the next day and I’m like, “Hmmm, my breath is so minty this morning. I wonder why I was dreaming about that last box of Junior Mints I hid in the freezer.” Yup, a quick look in the garbage and there’s the evidence, the jumbo box in the trash, without a Junior or Mint in it.
So last night, I went on a forage and I thought it was great that I actually had some memory of standing in front of the refrigerator eating but then my first bowel movement happened and it was green. I don’t mean the usual greenish poop color, I mean full fledged, I ate green bagels and green beer, almost a bright Kermit green. I’m a Jew, so of course at first I thought I was dying but then The Ambien thought dawned on me. “Ahhh, the Ahmbeeun (you’ll never say it the same again)!” I thought as I stopped texting my spouse where to find my will. But what in God’s name did I eat that would cause the bright green poop?
I remember years ago helping throw a Grease 2 inspired Rock A Hula Luau for my friend, Tara. We made “Blue Hawaiian” drinks which consisted of fruit juice, a lot of vodka and blue food coloring. We all went a week before we could broach the subject with one another, sheepishly asking, “Are you still shitting blue from last week?”
I’ve been through the refrigerator and from what I can tell of the missing items, I see nothing that could have caused the green shit. I certainly didn’t get into the baby spinach, nope, all there, packaging not even touched. It couldn’t have been the tzatziki with the pita chips, not green enough. Nor the rest of that huge bag of popcorn with the pink Himalayan salt. What is that piece of plastic on the stove? It looks like, could it be, hmmm, sorta looks like the inside liner from a cereal box. A quick look in the garbage and there it was, the enormous box of Fruit Loops. I do not recall how much was in it before I got to it, I don’t remember opening the whole milk (I’d gotten to bake cookies for a work event that I never ended up baking) all I know is that I ate enough Fruit Loops to make my shit the Willy Wonkayist color I’ve ever seen and hope to never see again.
I don’t know how long it will be this color but I figured I should provide this public service announcement for anyone on The Ambien or anyone that eats a lot of Fruit Loops in one sitting! You’re welcome.
Anyone who saw the original movie Hairspray by John Waters, and had a musical theatre background could have called the evolution of this work becoming a Broadway musical but now it’s come into our homes in a new format and unfortunately, Hairspray is as flat as an Aqua Net doo that got wet.
Here’s the thing, the original movie was arguably the most mainstream of all of John Waters movies (however I don’t know that’s what he intended at the time). It had everything from Divine as Edna, Ruth Brown as Motormouth Maybelle and even Pia Zadora in a small role. Yes, it had everything for many of us and it had a real message about segregation. If you watch the original today, you won’t be disappointed and for this musical theatre gay, I have to say the original (even without snappy songs sung by its characters) is still the best incarnation of this story.
The Broadway musical made the whole thing fluffier than the hard hitting racial theme of the original film, the 2007 movie was a big miss with Miss Travolta trying to play Edna and this new television adaptation appears to have tried to right some wrongs of it’s predecessor (but there’s still a lot wrong with it).
The original Broadway book writer and Edna, Harvey Fierstein returns as Edna and as the writer of the teleplay. His performance is the big win of this production, his heartfelt portrayal of Edna brings out a reminiscence of the amazing performance by Divine but it’s still all his own. I also attribute him with making Martin Short, as Edna’s husband, more likeable than in any other performance I’ve seen him do in movies, television or stage. The two of them bring a realness that makes them stand out in this production for good and bad reasons.
The problem with this production appears to be in the hands of its co-directors, Kenny Leon and Alex Rudzinski who may have been directing two different productions and maybe that’s what caused the television performance to seem so schizophrenic.
Problem one is most of the casting. None of the “kids” in this version are charismatic enough to make you care about them and I’m including Derek Hough in this with a performance that seemed more like the directors said, “Just be you and sing the songs, it’ll be fine.” And it is “fine” but it doesn’t draw you into the performance or the story as this character should do for you. In almost all of the cases of the “kids” not sure if it’s the lack of direction or they just can’t act but I certainly didn’t care about any of them. I get that this is not Spring Awakening, this is a big, brassy, Broadway musical so why didn’t the directors? Choosing to not do any sort of real bumped up characterizations becomes a problem with the pace and energy of the production. You must lift the hair (and characterizations) and keep it at that level, then you spray it if you want it to stay UP! This falls flat repeatedly.
Hold onto your pearls queens because both Kristin Chenoweth and Jennifer Hudson are both miscast too. Sure, they can sing the roles and that’s great but what about them being right for the roles? Watch Debbie Harry and Ruth Brown in the original and you’ll be shaking your head at the casting of both Michelle Pfeiffer and Queen Latifah in the movie as well as the current TV two and why they thought they’d repeat the miscasting for this television production. Chenoweth doesn’t reek of regret and evil and Hudson singing about being “big, blonde and beautiful” when she’s not big anymore just seemed stupid. I get it, “stars” bring people in but once you get us there, the star has to take us there. These two did not take us anywhere by no fault of their own other than accepting the roles as they’re just not right for these roles.
Believe it or not, the “stage” for this musical is too big. The sets swallow the cast and in most cases is too dark (I get it, they filmed it at night on a backlot) but turn the lights on as even “Good Morning, Baltimore” that opens the show feels more like “My Time of Day” from Guys and Dolls (“My time of day, is the dark time. A couple of deals before dawn.”) making the show seem as moody as a teenager for NAR (No Apparent Reason). The sound is uneven and doesn’t allow you to feel as though you’re watching live performances and the choreography by veteran Jerry Mitchell is a “meh” as it doesn’t seem to really represent the time period and feels awkward on both the kids and the “adult” stars doing their star turn version of it in big numbers such as “You Can’t Stop The Beat.”
The valiant effort award goes to poor Darren Criss, breaking the fourth wall into commercial breaks, helpless to make any sense of why he was there, being ignored as he’s shouting the cast’s real names at them while they ran to the next part of the soundstage for their next number and poorly conceived break aways to cities across the country. I will say, the live commercials were one of the things that really worked in this production and were the part that was the most fun.
The biggest problem this musical has is that it was 3 hours and no one wants to watch a fluffy musical for 3 hours unless it’s delightful. This was more delight-less. They miss the most important piece, fast is funny and nothing makes you laugh out loud in this production largely because it plods along at a very slow clip clop. In addition to all of the above, the book seems to go careening out of whack at the end where the cast and the writers appear to have just gotten tired. The end simply doesn’t make sense. The resolution seems to be the cast just looking at one another, trying to figure out what happened, giving up like us and then just singing more of “You Can’t Stop The Beat” followed by a gratuitous number by Jennifer Hudson and Ariana Grande that no one cared about or made any sense.
And yet the music is good, the numbers are dance recital good and it makes you feel good that as John Waters said about the original Broadway production, (I’m paraphrasing) he’s glad high schools all over America will be doing this show with a drag queen as its star. So if you enjoyed it, great but if you’re like me you’re thinking it could have been a lot better and you’re already cringing thinking about J Lo as Rosie in Bye, Bye Birdie next year!
For lo, these many years, I’ll admit I’ve been no better than that crazy person on the street corner with the sign proclaiming the world is ending if you don’t take Jesus as your savior into your heart and to Pinkberry. It made me feel as if I was doing “something” by screaming at the world from my Internet soapbox. But in this day and age, it’s time for a new tact, people.
I can no longer look at your forwarding of some poll, study, “news” article that supposedly proves your point that Trump will be the end of us, will be our savior or won’t change anything. I get it, at times it seems like an old joke, “How many white supremacists can one President-elect, elect? Or does it take to screw in a lightbulb, screw the country or can closeted Republicans screw who are voting against LGBT rights?” (By the way, the answer is that it doesn’t matter how many it takes, everyone gets screwed. That’s the pain we ALL feel in our asses.)
The time has come for all of us to stop posting these memes and stories and start moving. Do you believe the new Head of Education is really going to put more Jesus in the classroom from that forwarded news story that your “friend” you haven’t seen since third grade posted? If so, don’t post it on your timeline as if it’s the gospel and you’ve really done something, go to your kid’s classroom, meet with their teacher and ask what they need from you to help them better educate your kid and all their kids in their overcrowded classrooms. Become involved where it will matter, with the teacher who is feeling just as lost as you as to why they’re no longer getting support from the government or the community when they’re devoting their lives to shaping young lives that will eventually lead this country. For those of us who don’t have kids, let’s send some supplies to teachers instead of saying, “Well, I don’t have kids so it’s not MY problem cause YOUR kids are already getting my tax dollars.”
If nothing else, this election has taught us all to not be so much paranoid (as is our tendency) but realize that we’ve turned our society into a “reality” based television show. For those of you who don’t know, reality television is scripted, rehearsed and has re-takes to make “good” television. And it’s coming to the White House and our Congress this January.
Back when the world was young and news programming was not considered a money maker for networks, we had news anchors who would never dream of letting us know how they “felt” about the news, they simply reported it. But now the stakes are higher, they have to get ratings, advertising dollars and so they have to become a reality star too. It’s supply and demand. We’ve demanded it with our blood lust to see people we think are bigger idiots or fatter than us to make us feel better about ourselves even on the nightly news, if only for a half hour (so why all the 2 hour Biggest Loser episodes, I’m sure I don’t know why, when a ½ hour of watching fatties will make me feel thinner and not make me fatter by making me spend more time on my couch...ah, that’s what they want, it’s a conspiracy to make me fatter, slower, dumber...it’s working). So you really want to be outraged that Brian Williams said he was on the chopper that got shot instead of the chopper behind the chopper that was shot? I appreciate your mock concern and outrage but we created this when we made Anna Navarro a star for screaming, “pussy” and put Anderson Cooper on the spot to tell us his sexuality instead of just reporting the news. None of us have clean hands so stop making Kellyanne Conway Lady Macbeth, “Out damn, spot.” We all have blood on our hands.
And while I’m going all Shakespearean on your asses, you’ll pardon me Bill, but many of us believe, “Now is the Spring of our discontent made global warming by this son of Television.” Trump may or may not make our country worse but sitting on the sidelines screaming at it like an uncontrollable soccer parent hardly seems to be the way to go anymore. Sure, it’s easy and cozy, just hitting that “share” button but it just seems to me we need to make better choices. Sure we could choose to not watch the trainwreck that is Mariah Carey or Trump’s White House on our, “all reality television, all the time, on all networks” but that won’t affect change. If you want comfort from your computer, sign the petitions or send money but if you really want to hit Trump’s Whitest White House Party Ever where it lives, question everything. Make your Representatives question everything. Not in some lame attempt to block Trump like the Republicans have done to President Obama but to say, “We’ve got our eyes on your mother fuckers so you’d better step up to the demands of We the God Damned People you represent!” And if that fails, just know that Trump’s reality show won’t last enough seasons to go into reruns...we hope. <steps off soapbox>
Please don’t say I’ve “passed on” as I never passed on anything that I thought would be fun or right for me. I will have died. It’s okay to say, “Well, Scott’s dead.”
Originally I thought I might like a big funeral. First, I would insist on certain people being kept out. You know, the ones that were looking for forgiveness a little too late. Like a good nightclub, if you weren’t on the list you wouldn’t get in. (Even if you tried to tip the bouncer, Vicky Saunders, who has already volunteered for this position). I thought of choreographing the whole event ahead of time. March of the Siamese Children from King and I would play as everyone came down the center aisle in the funeral home (since I got this idea, whenever I hear this song, I think of everyone of consequence in my life smirking and rolling their eyes as they’re walking to take their seats). I would have someone sing, “For Good” from Wicked and would have handwritten notes I’ve written ahead of time (obviously) to everyone that were printed on the front, “I’ll be with you, like a handprint on your heart.” I’m always disappointed more people don’t send notes anymore.
But the more people that die around me, the more I begin to re-think what my send off might entail. I’ve decided to be cremated (shhh, don’t tell my Jewish relatives) after donating whatever organs are useful to someone else, so really, seems silly to have a bunch of people looking at an urn so I started thinking that there shouldn’t be an actual funeral. Maybe everyone should just do “independent study.” As they say to you before you audition, “In your own time.” So whenever and whatever you feel like doing, do it. Yup, independent study seems best to me. Just do whatever you want to do to remember me. I’ll be dead and there’s nothing I’ve done in my life that hasn’t crossed the line of good taste more than once or twice so whether you decide to burn candles and incense in reflection or hire a prostitute in my memory, it’s all up to you and thank you in advance.
Now the next piece we need to cover is when you’re talking to one another after my death. I’ve made a lot of shit up in my life and my best friends are good liars too so feel free to “have at it” and make up whatever you want. “There was this time we were on the Matterhorn in Disneyland with Scott and he stood up and mooned the Abominable Snowman.” If it makes you or the person you’re talking to laugh, then even if I didn’t do it, I would probably have liked to do it or lied about doing it myself so go for it. Of course mention my great style, tiny waistline, hair, writing and other things but here’s what NOT to do. Please don’t say I’m dancing or putting on a show with everyone else who died before me. I will not be dancing with them because I won’t have a body (see getting cremated a couple paragraphs up). And when you hear a song that makes you think of me or something else that makes you think of me, then just enjoy that moment without posting or tweeting that you know I was with you. Most likely I’ll be doing much more important things than altering the playlist on a radio station after my death. Frankly, I’ll be running the God Damned place, wherever I end up. (Even if it’s just running my ashes in the urn, I’ll be like I Dream of Jeannie in the bottle. Oooh, note to self, get Jeannie bottle instead of urn or Aladdin lamp for ashes.)
For so many years I’ve been told I’m going to hell because I haven’t taken Jesus as my savior, because I’m Jewish, because I’m gay, because I’m a pain the ass, the list goes on and on. So should I end up in hell (although to be clear, I’ve always believed there is no greater hell than the one we make up in our own minds while we are here on earth) I’m going to make sure I get there first so that when my friends get there they’ll have to live with my color scheme and set up. Here’s a shocking glimpse, don’t expect throw pillows, can’t stand ‘em.
There’s truly so much to think about as you get older and death gets closer. Sure, I could get hit by a bus tomorrow but I don’t really live in a city where I walk around so probably not happening that way. Here’s hoping however it happens, it’s quick. I do NOT want to linger. I’ve always said I would not be one of the people living under the ground for ten years on cans of tuna if there’s a nuclear holocaust. I want to be the person saying, “What’s that lig…” and dead before I finish my sentence.
Yup, I feel as though I’ve got this death thing covered. It’ll all be organized ahead of time so no one has to go to the trouble of wondering what I would like (and so they don’t fuck it up). And should you miss me after I’m gone or have some piece of juicy gossip you want to tell me, just call my number and tell or leave a voicemail for whoever has my phone number after I die. I know they’ll appreciate (and so will I).
I did one of the most adult things you can do last night so why do I feel like a little boy with a broken heart?
We had seen the two cats in the neighborhood for weeks. Due to it being Vegas and transient, it’s amazing but there are many people who leave their animals behind (even when they move across town). These assholes should be killed but that’s for another day’s blog. Anyway, it was a summer evening and our air conditioner was on the fritz so we had the front door open to the condo. Michael said, “Hunney, look over there.” As I looked into the kitchen I saw this little black and white ball of fur with scottish fold ears and half a Hitler mustache looking back at me. She had stopped before hitting the kitchen as if to say, “Someone coming over here to make me something?” We had seen her and a larger cat that looked just like her around the neighborhood but here she was IN the condo. She did not leave hungry, nor had it been her first time here, Michael would tell me later. The larger cat spent more time trying to figure out if we could be trusted. Due to their size difference, I assumed the big cat was the Mom and the little one was the runt of the litter that she had somehow saved from the Vegas jungle. After much coaching, the larger cat came into the house too and we discovered it was a boy. They have the same markings on their nose so they’re definitely related and on that fateful night back in the early 2000s when they both had entered our home, the deal was made.
Oh sure, at first Michael said, “Let’s give them one week of living in luxury and then we’ll find a no-kill shelter where they can be adopted.” First of all, I was naive (having only owned one pet previously) and thought this made sense and could happen that way. That was until I could see them sleeping with their paws around one another, see him wait for her to eat before he ate (no doubt how he protected her when they were on their own) and when he laid his chest on mine, whiskers brushing my face as we watched television together, I was hooked.
I wanted to name them, “Lockwood and Lamont” for the first show we had done together, Singin’ In The Rain. Michael hated those names. Finally we settled on Fiyero and Elphaba from the musical Wicked we’d just seen in New York. They were both about four minutes away from being ferrel with anyone but us and much like us had their own quirks. Fiyero had to finish every conversation and at times, just loved hearing himself talk so much that he would go into the bathtub to hear his voice reverberate. Elphaba was quiet, I swear if we ever got her tested, she’d be “on the spectrum” as they say but we love them.
They remained indoor/outdoor cats and Fiyero loved to “can it” as Michael put it. He would bring home half eaten pork chops from garbage cans along with bites from other cats (he was one of those bullies, where his mouth would write a check his ass couldn’t cash, but could be bitten and cause a $500 vet bill). He loved to get dirty, hated to be bathed (though I secretly think he did it on purpose sometimes when he wasn’t getting enough attention). Yes, he was my penance for my childhood. Never shutting his mouth, always needing attention and with me every minute of the day. He had to be in the bathroom with me and at night, he stood guard. Literally, he would sit beside my head checking my breath all night and should I make the slightest indication I might be awake, he would meow until I was fully awake to pet and love on him. Made for some creepy times when I would wake up with a start to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and find myself face to whiskers with him. But how I love him.
So when he started throwing up on a more regular basis (again, a lot like me, I spent a lot of my childhood throwing up too) it was finally time for a vet visit. It’s amazing how much I learned from my parents without knowing it. When I was a child, throwing up, it was my father whose hand was always on my back making circular motions, talking me through it, calming me and letting me know he was there with and for me. When Fiyero began throwing up I would hear the other worldly, “I’m about to throw up here” yowl he was making at 1am, I would jump up, get him off the bed and onto the floor (so I didn’t have to change soiled bedding) and there I would be, right next to him making circular motions on his back telling him it would be okay. I don’t know if it helped him, I hope it did because having my Dad there always helped me.
The $600 diagnosis was kidney failure. And although it was just x-rays, blood work, a scan and urine test, by the time I got him home he wasn’t our Fiyero anymore. So strange, for weeks it was him as him and then once a night he’d “throw up a river” and go back to being himself but somehow once the vet put a name to it, that was “all she wrote” as my father would say. We tried some medicine but after two days of no drinking or eating, the fear became he would have one of those horrible deaths by dehydration so you become a grown up, you do the right thing, you hold him and take him in and let them quietly, “put him down.”
They took us to a room at the vet and then we waited..and waited. Then I had to pull a little Shirley MacLaine and go to the front desk. “We’ve been waiting for 20 minutes here, this is not easy and you’re really not helping us here.” Girl Assistant, “They haven’t brought your cat in?” Me, “I’ve got no cat, no doctor, NOTHING so would you please get someone on it? NOW?!?” She scurried away, they brought him in with the catheters in his forearms and then the doctor finally came in talking about a cardiac arrest in the other room he was dealing with and apologizing. Down to business. Fiyero was laying there looking from Michael to me and back again. The doctor explained the 3 shots in the series and how he would react to each one, asking us to let him know how much time we wanted before he proceeded. Michael was a mess, his tears and snot landing in Fiyero’s fur. My hand on Michael’s back making circular motions, I looked at the doctor and said, “Go, do it. Do it now.” One shot, just water to ensure they could get everything in his system. Second shot, like a Xanax but as soon as it went in Fiyero stood up, tried to change position and then went back to his original laying position, his nose wetter than it had been in days, his eyes just looking forward, not focusing on Michael or me, a manufactured calm. Third shot, the lethal dose. Fiyero still staring ahead as the doctor used his stethoscope to tell us he was gone and to take as much time as we needed. The vet wiped his own tears away, shook our hands and then there we were, just the three of us but really only two, for one had already left the building. Michael kept trying to close Fiyero’s eyes with no success. I thought I saw an ear twitch. We both lost it, got it back and lost it again, held him, held each other and didn’t really want to leave that room.
Seeing him laying there naked (we left his collar at home) on the steel table I couldn’t help but think we’ll all end here some day. I hope I look so regal (and thin) laid out as Fiyero, I hope I have the people who love me most there to comfort one another that I’m no longer there. I cried like a little kid last night, those quick, short, intakes of air that really does no good as the tears and snot pour. I haven’t cried like that in years. I haven’t been reminded in years that I’m still the kid I always was and although I do a lot of grown up things, this is one that is best left for the child in me. To be heartbroken, unable to catch my breath or comprehend why (even though the adult in me understands) why I had to be an adult and let go of my best friend last night.
Warning: If even one motherfucker talks about the “rainbow bridge” for pets in comments I’ll kick the shit out of you until you’re visiting the God Damned made up rainbow bridge.
I know the great joy of clicking the “unfriend” button and now that I’ve looked through my list of Facebook “friends” it appears you do too. Bravo! Good for us!
Technology keeps getting better and better so I’m thankful for it. One simple click and that person you haven’t really spoken to in years is potentially gone for good? How can you NOT love that?
I’ve done a lot of clicking of the “unfriend” button lately and I must say, I feel a lot lighter thanks to it so the people who really need to see this post, probably won’t in fact, see it. Damn, for someone who has great timing, this admittedly could have been timed a little better. Oh well, I’m okay with it.
So many people are like, “you can’t unfriend me over politics, you’re a whiny baby” <click> “you say you want freedom of speech and yet when I disagree with you, you unfriend me? Not cool.” <click> The list of reasons goes on and on and the result is the same, <click>.
You see, Facebook states that it’s MY page (although many of my conspiracy theorist friends would say I’ve given my life, including this writing, over to Facebook and they now own everything including my favorite pair of jeans) so the good thing is that much like my life, this is what I want to make it. I don’t need to see posts from people I don’t agree with or don’t agree with me and that’s a good thing. This has nothing to do with freedom of speech for as Marlo Thomas taught us, you’re “free to be you and me.” And to be clear, I don’t just unfriend people over politics or my rights, I unfriend them for a zillion reasons but mostly because the novelty of seeing someone from grade school who I didn’t know that well then and sure as hell don’t know now is no longer a curiosity. I’ve seen the kids, the grandkids, the animals, what they ate last night and frankly I wonder if we were ever friends back when we were potentially eating glue together in first grade in the first place. (To be clear, I was not an eater of glue, I would spread Elmer’s on the back of my hand, wait for it to dry and then peel it off, amazed how much it looked like my skin and how rejuvenated my skin was afterward, like a quick light peel in history class.)
I’ve always been one who was not afraid to get rid of clutter. So if you think that the current political situation is going to be okay for everyone, you’re officially clutter when it comes to my Facebook page. If you think everyone should own semi-automatic rifles because you never know, you’re clutter. If you voted for Trump because you thought he was going to bring prayer back into schools, not allow women the right to choose what to do with their own bodies (which you see as a good thing), be able to fire people for who they fuck, then you my so-called friend (and if you were still my friend you would know who you are) are a shit ton of clutter that’s getting dumped. To be clear and fair, I’m aware I’m considered clutter in some circles too (as I looked and saw “friends” who were actual and not so real friends unfriend me). But by all means, let’s be grown up about it and not unfriend people and then call them out on another right-wing crazies' page - although thank you for that because it gave me someone else to unfriend.
So here’s to cleaning out and cleaning up. It’s not just for the closet Pence wants to put us back in anymore. <click>