Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Up in the Air

After a wonderful visit at home in Indiana, I am headed back to my gray city. When I left New York, it was cold and dry, and from what I hear, my street is now covered with snow. I had a very good Christmas vacation. Relaxing, refreshing, recuperative. For the past few months I have felt lost, awash. Not sure what path I am on or even where I'd like to go. This holiday was not an easy one, and it was far from perfect, but I sure believe I am in a better place than when I landed at Indianapolis International Airport. Now, as I settle in to return to New York, return to work, and ring in 2010, I am focused on 2011 and hitting the ground running. 2010 was my year for tragedy; 2011 will be the year of my comeback. And this time I mean it.

First thing on my list, lose some weight and stop looking like I am from Indiana. I mean I love my home state, but expectations go up just a little the closer I get to the Big Apple. This afternoon, I savored my last morsel of Indiana indulgence (good cookbook name, yea?), frying up some leftover roast beef for a mock Philly Cheesesteak with pepper jack cheese, rye bread, and green onions. Guiltily, I even heated up a piece of fat and ate whole damn thing: soft, salty, and beefy, melting in my mouth. And that was a lite meal. Let's just consider mashed potatoes for a moment. I could eat them for hours. But then, what am I putting into my mouth? Carbs and fat. White potatoes smashed up with cream, salt, pepper, and butter (why planes don't serve this delicious side dish still escapes me). Nothing green, no skins, no protein, no fiber, just flabby thighs. I wonder if you can add whey protein powder to mashed potatoes. Or at least fiber powder. I bet you there is some sick fuck out there who has! I just started reading The Help and like a chameleon, I will probably be writing and talking like a big Black lady for the next week. If I start going to meetin', cooking collards, or complaining about my big feet hurting, someone please feel free to smack me and tell me to take a good long look in the mirror. On second thought, please do that regardless of the circumstance. For some odd reason, I have the tricky habit of mimicking whatever I am reading or watching at the time. Having just finished Kathy Griffin's memoir before dinner last night, I held court like a pro and swore more than the rest of the Wantzs did the entire year. Sorry mother, but after a shot and a margarita, the guns are out. Don't worry, I would never fire them at you. Oh yes, back to this weight I am going to lose. As much as I'd like to imagine a six pack earned from sugar-free Redbull and Parliaments, I think I am going to have to buckle down and do it the old fashioned way through diet and exercise. Chinese takeout, you won't be hearing from me, Falafel truck I am running from you as far as my chubby tummy will allow me. And these are just the beginning of my ever growing list of splurges. Just don't take my vodka. Not yet.

Second, I am going to write in this fucking blog so help me God! Even if all that comes to mind is my grocery list or a scramble of Katy Perry/Ke$ha lyrics, I will publish something. Now looking at the coming weeks, my unlimited month of tanning is over, so I will have a little more time for typing instead of baking. I like writing. It's good for me, it helps me feel not so crazy, or at least my certain brand of craziness is fairly harmless and marginally humorous (how the fuck do you spell humorous, damn it!). If you haven't noticed, I am in the airport/on a plane, which means I am drinking, not too much, just enough to keep myself from panicking or crying. Keep those emotions nice and cool with a crisp vodka soda. And during the holidays, make it a double, you deserve it!

Thirdly, (who's still counting anyways?) I am done being depressed. Done. Done sitting in my room alone, done feeling sorry for myself, being bitter (well . . .), alienating myself from my friends, going on Benders, and giving myself excuses for being lazy or lacking ambition. According to Facebook, my sister's last thoughts were "Lovin' Life," and you know what, as she was sliding down that snowy hill I bet she was. Unafraid, balls out. That was my sister. So, it's time to take a page out of her too-short book and get off my butt and get over myself. Easier said than done, but done it will be. While I certainly could have chosen an easier career path, sleeping in instead of going to auditions doesn't help. Having a bad attitude on set doesn't help. Being afraid doesn't help. So, here goes. Round Two. I just hope I don't have to do a play with a rat number in it again. And that I can pay my rent. Paying rent is a very good thing. As I look into 2011 and my future in general, I don't know what it will look like exactly. But I hope it will see me happier and healthier. I hope it will see me in love, or patient enough to wait. Putting myself out there, being brave, falling down and getting myself right up. In the next few months I am looking to find better employment and housing, to gain some financial security and grow my roots down deeper into New York's soil. Oh, and I just learned while I was home that I might be going back on my dad's insurance. Score! I will be sure to share the details of that first physical as soon as they are at my disposal. All in all, I am feeling good, conscious of the immense work ahead of me, but ready to get my hands dirty. I count myself very fortunate that I got to go home for this extended vacation. Home always centers me, reminds me of where I've been, and where I come from. Surrounded by the safety of 400 South, I am able to come out of my shell, lower the well-built New York walls, and tap into myself once more. Plus, the drinks and smokes are a lot cheaper in Indiana. This is a very good thing. So, like this plane, I am a bit up in the air at the moment, but ready to land and continue the journey laid out before me.

Currently Reading: The Help, Official Book Club Selection, The Swimming Pool

Currently Listening to: "Upside Down" Diana Ross (don't ask), Court Yard Hounds (that's the Dixie Chicks minus big mouthed Natalie - well like her or not you can't deny she has a big one!)

Currently Watching: True Grit, Mother and Child, Little Fockers, The A-List New York (guilty pleasure/guilty dreams)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tis the Season

Christmas is in full swing, and by the looks of it, so am I. After what was a difficult fall, where I felt like I was spinning my wheels, searching for answers, and down in the dumps, I feel alive, I feel present, I feel like I'm back to being me and somewhat happy. The cold has come and with it layers upon layers of clothing. My soup and tea intake have gone up significantly in the past weeks and after a brief couple days of feeling cruddy, think I am back and moving, thanks to lots of rest and Theraflu. I love and hate the cold. At times, I love to coop myself up and never leave home, wanting warmth and comfort. On the other hand, I love to defy the cold. To layer it up and bravely go outside, go out, determined to still live. There is a certain mischievous quality to going out in the winter, a feeling of escape and triumph. Another thing I love about the winter are the clothes. You can bundle up and layer to your heart's content. You can justify that second helping or piece of pie because no one is going to see you in your bathing suit anytime soon. And unlike other seasons of the year, stress is not on dressing fashionable or sexy, but merely warm. Without a doubt the warmest person at the party is looking the best.

Revived, released from a coma of grief, self-pity, and artistic exhaustion, I feel I am ready to live, to work, to be a good friend again. Yet, while I feel my efforts should be centered on some artistic effort, whether planning my next audition, learning new music, or even writing in this blog, most of my thoughts of late have been centered around my friends and family and the coming holidays. Besides working, I have been keeping busy catching up with old friends, both in person and on the telephone, writing Christmas cards, and planning holiday festivities. Instead of grappling with noble, philosophical concepts like love, God, morality, delving into politics or critiquing high art, I am debating whether to serve ham or turkey at our coming holiday gathering, what we should drink, what I should wear, what music we should play. Now, true, this year's holiday comes with a particular bitter note, a reminder of what we have lost, a test in where do we go from here? So, perhaps all this extra pondering over matters of pie filling and gift exchanges only give witness to the true reverence of these familial celebrations: that in spite of all, we can give thanks, we can celebrate, we can continue to love and cherish each other, and perhaps even to grow. While Christmas cards are only paper, glue, and ink, gifts merely representations of money spent dressed with a pretty bow, and Christmas treats just empty calories, they are so much more than that. Through these rituals, these traditions, we learn, we grow, we are refreshed, reminded of where we have come from. For me (and for you too I hope!), there is a certain holiness to the holidays (they are after all holy-days). Each year for Christmas, I pester my mother to bring the good China out for Christmas dinner. True, they may break and cannot go in the dishwasher, but these plates are a physical marker of the specialness of the occasion, the sanctity, that it's about more than just food going into our mouths. As we head into this holiday swing, take pride and have fun in whipping out your favorite recipes and sweaters, watching classic holiday movies (I'm treating myself to White Christmas this evening), and trimming the tree.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Comeback

The blog is back and so am I. Well, sort of. After more than a month's long absence, I am holding myself hostage at Panera, demanding I crank out a much overdue blog entry. So what do I write? What have I been up to? The past month has been fairly busy with work, including my newly deemed "Head Waiter" status. Between shifts at the restaurant, I have done a little extra work (you can look for me on Gossip Girl again in 2011), seen lots of movies, a few plays, read some books and articles, and even found myself at the gym on a semi-regular basis.

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and the holiday season is upon us. This is my favorite time of the year. Deep down, a part of me looks forward to the first chill in the air, the first round of corny Christmas music, warm and bulky clothes that like a good friend hide those signs of holiday excess. Curling up on the couch with a blanket just seems a little more wonderful when the temperature drops low, even if there is a long list of things I should be doing. Despite what has happened in the past year, Christmas is still my favorite time of year. Despite what has happened in the past year, I still see so many things to be thankful for, reasons to still find joy. Despite what has happened in the past year, I'm still here (to quote one of my favorite Sondheim songs). Even though things have not always gone my way here in the city, and this year has been far from easy, I am still here, still loving it, exploring, growing, and taking advantage of all it has to offer, daring myself to live. However, my focus, my state is markedly different from Christmas seasons of the past. More than ever, I am lacking the creative drive, the steely desire to succeed, the need to achieve and be everywhere all at once. Instead, my thoughts are centered around scenes of domesticity, of family, of love. My mind constantly wanders to visions of family get-togethers, my anticipated return to Indiana, to family and cooking and laughter. Instead of hoping for gifts under the tree, I am excited to spend the entire day at home with my family.

Admittedly, I have not been to an audition in a month or so, a self-administered sabbatical. I have not had a voice lesson or been making the rounds at the piano bars. My headshot has not been dropped off or submitted, nor have you seen me in any form of acting or dance class. I have been to the theatre only once, dragged by a friend to catch a performance of the quickly closing and critically acclaimed Scotsboro Boys (if you are in New York it would be a shame to miss Kander and Ebb's last musical). Instead of hustling my wares around the city, I have taken this time to work on myself, and perhaps to rest. Reflecting, I see that my life has been pretty non-stop from high school to college to making the move to New York, spinning my wheels in order to get ahead. So for once, I am slowing down and putting a few things on hold. In fact, this fall I turned down a potential gig, a show that would have been a great opportunity and my longest acting gig to date. However, after much contemplation, I said no, not now, not today. The gig would have taken me away from New York and shortened my Christmastime in Indiana. The thought of rushing through this holiday, this year, just seemed an unthinkable idea, and so here I am, still in New York, with no clue as to my next move, but ultimately happier. I have been trying to exercise, reinstating my former courtship with yoga, trying to eat healthy, seeing the people who mean the most to me, and taking care of me. My sister's death and the accompanying grief have been more than enough to handle, but have also brought to the surface emotions, feelings, and pain that I had hidden deep within. Recently, I read cultural critic bell hook's book All About Love: New Visions. In the book, hooks (spelled in all lowercase, how fly is that?) analyzes our perceptions of love, our very human need to experience love despite our culture's greater focus on fame and wealth. hooks tells us that healing only comes through love, that we can never find the love we didn't experience in the past, but rather bravely seek out love in the present. Instead of walling up my heart, afraid of being hurt once again, I am attempting to open it back up again, to friends and family, to new experiences, and maybe even romance. With this softening of the heart, comes pain, tears, and is at times very scary. However, through this love, through this reawakening of my soul, I once again see vision for my life, hope, the promise that God does indeed have good things planned for me. Out of this love, this reexamining of myself, the world, and how I feel about it, I find myself coming back to art, coming back to a desire to express myself. What is next, I am not certain of, but I am certain there is a place in the sun on the horizon. One thing I do know is that I hope to return to this blog more often in the coming months.

So, once again I find myself getting into the Christmas spirit. While Thanksgiving was somewhat of a bust (I worked) and my birthday was mostly a mess (I worked and then I Drank), this Christmas promises to be a very special holiday. A time for healing, a time to grieve, but also to celebrate and cling very close to those big and small that are the wonders of life. My holiday season officially began last night with a very spirited tree trimming party. Up ahead, I am looking forward to writing Christmas cards, wrapping presents, and all that Christmas cooking. Oh, and a new episode of Glee this evening.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Crisp and Cool

Fall is in the air. This morning my apartment was crisp and cool, beckoning me to please stay under the covers for another five minutes. Seeing as I tend to have a problem getting out of my bed in general, the fact that I am out in public is a major triumph. I find myself once again at my favorite "diner," Sanford's. Yes, they are open 24/7, and I can order breakfast whenever I like (it's still before noon, so I'm not letting myself have any guilt today), but this is not your average grease spoon. Revamped within the past few years, the interior is chic, the glassware and plates modern. While their menu has a few standbys like omelettes and burgers, there are also visages of pestos, aiolis, organic greens, and artisan breads aplenty. There wine list is one of the best and most affordable in Astoria (in truth it probably beats my restaurant's hands down). And anywhere that invites you to get Tuna Tartare at 3 in the morning instead of disco fries or Taco Bell is A-OK in my book. Yes, here I am in this blog, yet again espousing my love for food and restaurants, this time a zinged-up diner, but what is life if not the meals we eat?

The sun is bright outside, but don't be deceived, it's not especially warm. There's a certain buzz in the air this morning. For 11:30 on a Monday morning, this place is especially packed. Perhaps some are still recovering from Halloween frolicking (as I was yesterday morning, thank you for your help Moonstruck Astoria), or celebrating the fact their rent check has gone through (or so we hope). It is the start of a new month, and as my Facebook feed has reminded me, it is the start of the holiday season. Surely, there is a coziness in the air, a buzz of expectancy, all of us a little more thankful to be warm in a restaurant, surrounding by food and friendly faces (not to mention soft lighting and smooth music), as opposed to the cold outside. Though I have been indoors for more than 15 minutes, I still have my scarf wrapped tight around my neck, decked in my sweats and sneakers. My comfort breakfast of coffee, toast, and eggs with avocado and cheese is doing just the trick, waking me up and reinforcing me for the day ahead. Of late, I have given up on keeping food in my house, as half the things I buy go bad before I use them, and I have the tendency to get trapped in my house and never leave (I also love to play "Free Refills" with anything I can get my hands on). On the agenda for today: Living my life, celebrating my life, taking stock of where I am and where I've been. Aka, tonight I finally get to appropriately celebrate my birthday with my closest friends and Spanish tapas. I cannot wait. The Halloween madness over, Back-to-School having long ago given way to midterm reports, this week we will finish the long period of fall campaigning and move into the holiday season, one of my favorite times of the year. I love the holidays, getting together with friends and family, eating and cooking and drinking, generally feasting, glad that we live in a part of the world with cold winters, bulky sweaters and coats able to hide some of our "holiday joy." This morning, I am finding myself very thankful and very excited for the upcoming festivities. For visiting with friends and family, seeing how each has aged in the past year (my little brother is growing up Fast), toasting to all that we have been blessed with in the past year. For holiday turkeys and stuffing and gravy and pies, lots of red wine and pleasures found in purple bags. No doubt, this year will be a little different than most. Well, more than a little. I have no illusions that the coming months will be without many difficulties and more than a few tears, but today I am feeling brave and ready to face what lies ahead. Nothing I can do can get my sister back, but there are so many things I can do to celebrate her life and cling even closer to the family I still have. And you know what, as we gather this year, her place may be empty at the table, but I have no doubt in my mind, that she will be with us. This past weekend, my family was in all corners of the world, my dad fishing in Alabama, my mom frolicking in Spain, myself tearing up the streets of New York, and my poor little brother left at home. And while we are more geographically divided than usual, I feel oh, so close to my family, and looking forward to the days that we will all wake up in the same house this December. And so, I am going to go forth into the cold with a smile on my face (that is until I realize I am in New York and the only people who smile are totally fucking crazy). Warmed from the coffee and heat, my belly full, it is time to forge ahead in my daily effort to Get Something Done. Let's just hope it doesn't get too much colder out. I may be a bit nostalgic for cool weather this morning, but there is nothing cute about single digit temperatures. For today, for now, I will bundle up a little extra, drink my coffee hot, not iced, and make the most of what I hope will be a beautiful day.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Today is my birthday. Twenty four years ago today my mother was quietly waiting in a hospital room in Muncie, IN, having finally decided to undergo a cesarian operation, given I was two weeks late and had no intentions of leaving my warm bed (that hasn't changed). Today, my mom is in Spain, hopefully having the time of her life, and I am in New York City at the Astoria Panera and for the most part still running late. Sentenced to a life in the food & entertainment industry, I am of course working tonight, having a very Locale Halloween weekend. I am going as a cat burglar, not the most original costume idea given I work all black when I am there anyway, but it works and we were told we couldn't show an abundance of skin or work in heels. Monday, my friends and I will gather to celebrate my birthday and no doubt get into all sorts of mischief in Manhattan ("Mischief in Manhattan" that's a great title for something, right?). I could be sad about having to work on my birthday or having to compete with this weekend's ghoulish holiday. But you know what, I'm doing OK. Last year, I spent my birthday weekend at work and in bed, slightly under the weather and mostly out-of-sorts. This year, I am also spending the weekend at work and more than likely by the end of the night will be out-of-sorts, but I am also spending the weekend with some of my favorite people, my coworkers. I also am a genuine fan of Halloween and get to play my iPod at work, so it's not that bad, right? I also have the chance to fag-out to one of my favorite movies, Hocus Pocus, for two more nights ("the bewitching hour is about to begiiin!").

23 was a hard year in a lot of ways. I moved to New York, started writing this blog, I experienced a horrible tragedy in my life, said goodbye to my beloved great-grandmother, booked my first professional theatre gigs, and bought a lot of clothes (New York will do that to you). I also made a lot of new friends, saw periods of both sobriety and debauchery, gained and lost a lot of weight, and ate a lot of food (New York will also do that to you). I have gotten my first real tastes of the business, some I am still trying to swallow, and have seen my dreams at once crystal clear and other times foggy and muddled. If I had a prayer for this coming year, it would be peace and health and sanity. Am I less than ambitious than I was a year ago? Maybe. Or perhaps more realistic. Though if you take a short walk outside your door, one will soon realize that peace, health, and sanity are lofty goals indeed. A bit of advice I have learned from this first year in the big city, simply walk outside your door and realize how well you are doing (this applies both if you are wondering down 8th avenue or through the aisles of the New Castle Wal-Mart). Do I still have dreams of fame, fortune, artistic accolades aplenty? Everyday. But a lot of my thoughts are also centered on matters more simple, more humble. I want to fall in love, start a family (maybe not today), have financial security, love my job, love my family, get a better apartment in the neighborhood of my choosing, and grow wise and loving, instead of lonely and bitter. A lot my energy has been going into staying healthy, not just for vanity's sake (so I tell myself), but to appreciate and celebrate the body and health I have been given, to make what I've been given last a long, long time. I suppose that means I should probably stop smoking cigarettes (I only had one yesterday, so it can't be that bad, right?). Today I made sure to go to the gym for a bit because more than anything, it makes me a saner person. That and I plan on indulging myself over the next few days, and isn't life just one great balancing act? A lot of days, I pray just for safety and security and peace. That people would be kind, and I would be well and happy. That sounds like I have gotten scared right? It's probably true. My quest for theatrical achievement has not quite been a blaze of glory and my sister's tragic death haunts me everyday. Some days, I'm ok, I can do it. I can put on my game face and go to the gym and eat healthy and be kind and funny and smile a lot. And sometimes I'd prefer to stay in bed (and do). This past week, I attempted to go an audition and simply felt sick waiting in that cold and lonely room. After waiting around for a couple hours, I went home, deciding my own inner peace was ultimately much more important than whatever opportunity may be waiting for me behind that door. Right before my mom left for her trip (of which, I am so, so, so jealous!), I got really worried, really afraid. My Wantz genes began to kick in on overdrive, the question, "But what if something happens?" reeling through my brain. Every time my grandmother hears an ambulance, she calls our house to make sure everything is OK. My grandmother also takes a lot of Xanex. Some days, I think I should do the same. Well, so far nothing has happened, and I don't think anything will. Fear can be so crippling, so exhausting. And fear is something I have been battling a lot this year. What do I want out of this coming year? Growth, a return to simple things, health. A trimmer waistline and lots of money? A simple pleading for happiness everyday seems a little childishness, but perhaps just the ability to take in a little bit of joy from the things around me, even when a lot things are not as they should be. As I have been reading and thinking, watching and moving, trying to grow as an artist and a thinker (though I have no visible proof, I feel I have made some progress in this arena), I do feel that I have something to say, that I do have some great work ahead of me, but in what form I do not know. Options loom in front of me: should I stay in NY, keep plugging away auditions? go to grad school? study what? acting? directing? maybe writing, or even something totally different like arts administration, English, or education? Some days, especially after reading a political article in NY mag or the Times, I think I should jump on the political bandwagon, because these can be scary times. Whatever I do, I have the strange feeling that I will need to do it my way, to follow my own path, that that's the only way any of it could ever work. I look ahead, and I see no proper prescribed path to guide me. So, maybe after get myself feeling safe and stronger, I'll be up for a little adventure. I was recently having a little talk with God, and I told Him I was ready to take a chance, to go out on a limb. I have a feeling that this opportunity may be coming along soon enough. But will I be ready to take that leap? Only time will tell. For now, Happy Birthday to Me (to quote my favorite character from A Little Night Music - can you guess which one?) and Happy Halloween to all of you.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

An Ode to New York

Do you know that I live in the greatest city in the world? Of course you do. Or perhaps you are an NYC-naysayer or even a traveler more experienced than I. True, I have never been to Dublin, Rome, London, Madrid, or Paris (or even L.A. for that matter). And while taste and experiences vary as we age, I have a feeling that New York and I have a long road together. On Thursday evening, I was fortunate enough to go see a new play by one of my favorite playwrights (Edward Albee's Me, Myself, and I) only to be surrounded by an evening of some of my favorite songs and favorite people (i.e. more debauchery at Uncle Charlie's). The show was quite good, one of the more stimulating evenings I have had in the theatre in New York, starring one fo my 'new' favorites Elizabeth Ashley (I also saw her in August: Osage County). The following two evenings were busy nights at work, surrounded by colleagues that I truly trust and even a few customers I actually like. There's nothing better than a really busy night at the restaurant then immediately going out to celebrate and let off some steam (i.e. debauchery all over Astoria). This morning I am waking up well rested, pleased with my decision to stay in last night. The cool, fresh air is coming in from my window, gently waking me, inviting the sun in. I love having my windows open. Even on the coldest winter days, you'll find my windows open just a crack. Sure, sometimes the noise from the street can be annoying (there's a small café/bar caddy corner from my apartment), but then the street's residual noise can be quite the comfort from the occasional lonelies, the energy from the world leaking into my domain, helping me make it out of bed (well, I'm still in bed, but I am upright). Not to mention, it is always helpful to keep one's windows open if you decide to stay up until the wee hours smoking cigarettes and watching movies with your best friend (not that any of you would ever do that). Now when I read plays or see movies, so many of them are set in New York, I know those places, get the references, I see the difference between Stephen Adly Guirgis's Our Lady of 121st Street andWall Street (ok, think about it and you can probably get that one too). On Monday, I had the chance occasion to see a rare reading of Stephen Sondheim's Evening Primrose. For most there, the evening's focus was on a benefit for the St. George's Society of New York. For the few of us in the cheap seats (thanks to resourceful friends and TDF), it was a chance to catch a rare performance with the possibility of a few celebrity sightings (Angela Lansbury, Tommy Tune, Marian Seldes, and Alan Cumming were all in attendance; Candice Bergen played Mrs. Monday). Set in a New York department store, it is not Mr. Sondheim's most brilliant work, but does contain some really wonderful music. After all, who has seen or even heard of Evening Primrose? I can now proudly say that I do. While this city is very expensive, exhausting, oftentimes stressful, and for a few months of the year with less than desirable weather, New York is New York, defiant, individual, different than any other place in this country (or the world for that matter). For me, it is now also home. For how much longer will either of these facts be true, only time can tell. But for now, I am loving the city and aim to take advantage of its full benefits. As we go deeper into the fall season, things begin to slow down just a tad, our clothes getting a little bulkier, our bright summer patterns and prints give way to deeper hues, our season of feasting about to begin. And feast I intend to do.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Keeping Busy

Oh, how busy these past few weeks have been. Really, I'm serious. I'm not even trying to legitimize the nearly three weeks that have passed since my last blogging. With work, auditions, friends, movies, reading, and my new fascination with hulu, a lot has been happening. I'm finding it harder to find my time to write, but also harder to find things to write about. It's not like when I first moved here and could chronicle my first subway ride, audition, meal, or shift at work. Those things have become part of my usual routine. Nor am I content to let this blog merely be a listing of my recent activities (i.e. I went to see The Social Network this evening, and it really was quite good). After all, I claim to be some sort of an artist, perhaps somewhat of a writer, so if I am going to continue this escape (which I have no intentions of quitting) for my thoughts both serious and trivial, I find I need to push myself to at least be interesting. And there are a lot of interesting things going on.

First, though I am no politico serio, there has been a lot happening in our country's state of affairs, that even an artsy fartsy type like me cannot ignore. Don't be concerned, I'm not actually voting this fall. I don't even know where I would place my vote. Recently, I received an anonymous, unsolicited call from a politician and unable to recall where this statesman even resides, I quickly said, "I'm not interested," as if I would have given this caller some of my precious time anyway. However, the political ring keeps popping into my life, from that 'bewitching' Christine O'Donnell to Crazy Carl to David Patterson on SNL and the continued coverage of the local and state races in my current issues of New York and the free subway newsies (which I'm addicted to). This year's races seem particularly heated, polarized, and even warlike. Unlike the presidential election of 2008, this year's fighst seem sneakier, dirtier, the candidates more extreme. While some of us Americans are awash in a bath of apathy caused by our continuing military conflicts overseas, oil spills, natural disasters, and murky economy, others are ablaze with extremist passion, steeped in the Tea Party's promise of a better America. While I think these people have more than enough reason to be angry at our country's state of affairs, they seem, at best, a "little" misguided. Personally, I find myself apathetic an exhausted by our president's seemingly inability to get things done. Like so many others, I placed so much Hope (was that not the catchphrase of the 2008 election?) in Obama, his promises, and dreams of a better, eh hem, more liberal America. I feel I put up my end of the bargain, casting my vote, outwardly supporting Obama and the Democrats, and even patiently waiting for things to happen. Well, Mr. Obama, your 100 Days are more than over (remember that CNN catchphrase?). At this point, Obama seems weak, unable to carry out many of the promises he made, stalled by a partisan Congress. His recent refusal to support a judge's ruling against Don't Ask Don't Tell policies in the military is embarrassing and cowardly. Instead of spending one's entire presidency attempting to be re-elected in 2012, why not throw some real fireworks in the mix and try to get things done? Mr. Obama are you content to make history solely by being the first Black president in office, or do you plan to do something while there? I find our country's recent bickering about the proposed mosque near (not on) Ground Zero disgusting, racist, and small-minded. As President, Obama should have addressed this issue more firmly, reprimanding the squabbling instead of letting it continue in foolish pageantry (i.e. Whoopi and Joy's recent walkout on The View). On top of these other issues, we have seen a new wave of homophobic violence and sentiments, from NY gubernatorial Carl Paladino's anti-gay sentiments, to a wave of teenage suicides, to the horrific gay-bashing of three teenagers in the Bronx (yes that is a part of supposed gay-haven New York City). That people should be so persecuted, physically tortured, or deemed "dysfunctional" is unacceptable. And while Sarah Palin, Christine O'donnell, Bill O'Reilly, and Carl Paladino certainly didn't torture those poor men in the Bronx or push that young man off the George Washington Bridge, their attitudes of intolerance, judgement, and self-righteousness seep into the American psyche, making homophobic violence somewhat OK and something that just happens. I am continually shocked by these people's ignorance and lack of knowledge or respect for anyone different than them. Just today, I read that Christine O'donnell didn't even know that the separation of church and state was actually in the Constitution. WTF?? I know there are a lot people in this country that know A LOT more about politics than I do and certainly more able and willing to run the country than I am, but please America, can we get it together?

Whew, that was a lot, but I had to get a few things off my chest.

In less heated news, I have been spending my free time catching up with friends, exploring the phenomenon that is hulu, and trying to get myself back into the kitchen. A recent cooking venture included baked chicken with lemon and my Jim Beam spice rub (thank you bourbon trails. on a side not, I have more than once whipped my recently acquired bourbon knowledge out for much Locale acclaim). To go with my chicken, I sauteéd some garlic, onions, bell pepper, kale, spices, and plantains together. I think my side dish would have turned out a little better if I had not mistook my jar of cinnamon for cumin, the dish now a strange mix of spicy and sweet. After courting plantains at the supermarket, puzzled at what sort of wonders these banana-like fruits could be hiding behind their husk, I finally took the plunge and attempted to use them in my own cooking. Though far from perfect, I have a feeling that our newfound relationship is not quite over. Perhaps I shall take a chance on the green plantains, supposedly tasting like potatoes (impossible!). Friend Esther and I recently cashed in on some Open Table magic to sample the offerings at Zengo. We drank spicy margaritas and munched on crispy tofu, salted edamame, and a very spice piece of barramundi (fish). We put out the fire with traditional Latin churros in dark chocolate - warm, moist, delicious. The goings on have been going on, catching up on movies/tv, trying to get myself to the theatre, work, the gym (ugh), auditions, and attempting to get myself back on TV (my recent 3 seconds on Gossip Girl was glorious). I'm doing the best to help the stars align, so that my star can be born.

*What I'm Watching: The Social Network, Me, Myself, and I, Brief Encounter, Let Me In, Case 39, Catfish, Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, Brüno, Glee, Easy A

*What I'm Reading: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Living Out, The Clean House, The Waiting Room

*What I'm Listening to: Katy Perry's cover of "Black and Gold" and her oh-so-addictive album Teenage Dream

Friday, October 1, 2010

Drink Myself Skinny

I'm going to drink myself skinny. I mean it. A theory that has been in development for months, I find I am now in possession of the ultimate diet plan. Now, you may think this sounds a bit debunct, but let me explain how liquid consumption can lead to a thinner waistline.

1) You Gotta Drink Water
Water, water, water. O calories, and if you are at home (or anywhere else really), free refills. Load up on that water and not only will be burning extra calories with all those extra bathroom trips, but being super-hydrated, you won't quite notice how hungry you are. Need a boost? Use your favorite flavor of Emergen-C. Personal favorites include the Pink lemonade (fight breast cancer!) and orange flavored Joint Health (not affiliated with any "herbal" usage). At 10 calories a pop, they won't break the bank and may trick your brain into thinking it's real food. I mean look at all those vitamins! Ride that rush of vitamins all the way into the next mealtimes! As a general rule, I drink one glass of water per caffeinated or alcoholic beverage. Hence, I am always in the bathroom. And if you need a change-up, just go the sparkling water route, its added gas making you feel that much fuller. Your body will be so busy juggling all that extra water, that it won't notice you neglected to feed it! Ample water also makes for better skin and will ease any tension in your vocal folds. Drink up!

2) If it's Hot, It's Almost Food
Tea or coffee? Yes and both and more! These brewed beverages are great hunger fighters and are filled with caffeine, keeping you going without actually ingesting solid food. Tea is full of antioxidants (and in my mind, coffee is too), helping you look and feel great. Without all the preservatives or sugar of sodas, these Hot beverages are the superior pick-me-up, even if you have to add a little milk, sugar, or honey. In fact, green tea especially has been shown to boost the metabolism and is a common ingredient in many diet pills and weight loss supplements. Instead of a nice hot meal, gulp down a nice hot beverage.

3) Get Naked
Looking at myself naked is usually reason enough to put down the Big Mac. In all honesty, I am talking about Naked Juice, the power food in a bottle. Coming in a variety of flavors, these juice drinks pack a large portion of your fruit and vegetable intake as well as health supplements like minerals or even protein. Favorites of mine include the Green Machine and Wild Berry Protein. Sure, some of them may look like pond scum, but what better way to get in touch with Mother Nature than to ingest something that looks like it came directly from her bowels! With these drinks you can get fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals, all natural and without actually putting something solid into your mouth. They make for great meals on the go. Shake extra rigorously before indulging to get that extra arm workout you have been missing.

4) Drink well, Drink often, Drink less
You want to lose weight and feel great about yourself, bring on the booze! This may sound crazy (and maybe is), but better boozing can lead to a better waistline. Just think how much more likely you are to dance the night away if you've had a few stiff ones. Opt for better quality liquor (i.e. put down the Boons Farm) as these are better filtered, have less additives, make you feel super cool, and will make you sip slower as gulping can prove rather costly. Skip the mixers, juices, and colas, and opt for your beverage on the rocks, neat, or with a little club soda. Champagne makes a great toast, and at only 90 calories a glass, will leave even Jenny Craig smiling. Plus, those added bubbles will make you feel both giddy and full. When it comes to drinking to your health, wine is where it's at. Time and again, red wine has been proven to give all sorts of health benefits and white wine can even lower insulin levels after one glass. Instead of drinking three bottles one ill-fated night, allow yourself one or two drinks a day, moderation as opposed to binges into the dark side. Go for dryer wines, as they contain less sugar and usually have a higher alcohol content. Knocked out by a nice glass of wine, your body will forget all about that cupcake you didn't have. As a general rule, I don't allow myself to start drinking until I have first been to the gym or yoga. As I enjoy drinking very much, I have frequented the gym more often of late, sometimes very early in the morning.

5) Eat Pray Love
Don't go see this movie as it will only leave you craving amazing food and wondering if this film was supposed to come with a plot. Instead, drink a big glass of water and meet your friends for happy hour. Skip the nachos and park your car as far from the bar as possible. The longer walk to your vehicle will help burn those extra calories as well as sober you up before getting behind the wheel.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Finally Fall

Though the temperature may deceive you, it is finally fall, my favorite season. The leaves are turning color, the nights become cooler, and the vacation lull evaporates. Fall is my season, the time I feel freshest, when all is possible, probably due to all those years in school. It is the time to start getting all the things you meant to do in 2010 (or whatever year) done before the year ends. Being a fall baby, I feel in my element, in my prime, secure at my current age and ready to enter the next year. As we start to pull out the sweaters and zip-ups, we look towards approaching holidays, festivities, and family gatherings. Fall is time to harvest, to celebrate, to find meaning in our accomplishments and begin storing up for next year.

Of special note to myself (and many of you out there), fall is also the official start of the season's interesting plays and movies. Kicked off by Fashion Week and all the buzz it has to offer, we can wave to bye-bye to the mostly disappointing summer blockbusters, special effects goliaths relying more on sound and editing than story or acting. Instead of Big Stars staring Big Movies (aka Eat Pray Love), we get smaller films with actors stretching their muscles and bigger films making riskier moves, hoping to earn some Oscar buzz. The theatre all but hibernates once the Tony nominations have gone out, this summer's exception being Bernadette Peters and Elaine Strich's jumping into A Little Night Music and Al Pacino's Shakespeare in the Park performance (The Merchant of Venice - which is headed to Broadway this fall). Television returns from its hiatus, bringing old favorites, promising an even more exciting season, and new offerings, hoping to make the cut. Thanks to, I have already been enjoying my share of Glee, Nurse Jackie, 30 Rock, and Gossip Girl. Yes, as the climate changes, we return from our summer adventures, put away the white shoes, and nimbly outfitted in as many layers as the requires, begin to head to theaters, both for movies and plays aplenty. Last night, I ventured over to Playwright's Horizon on West 42nd St to catch one of their newest offerings, It Must Be Him. Starring a getting-older Peter Scolari, the play was a bit wonky, awkward, short in minutes but packed with a lot of good intentions. While I could try to describe or tell you what it's about it, in short, it's not really that kind of piece. Entertaining, it certainly was and the perfect play of which to have free tickets (thank you Quinto's trendy job). WhatI can say is that it's about a middle-aged gay man getting older, struggling for love and success, but then, that is so many plays that have "come out" in recent years. Now, what I am dying to see is Playwright Horizon's other offering Me, Myself, and I, the new work by theatre icon Edward Albee. Starring Elizabeth Ashley, whom if memory serves me right was in August" Osage County when I saw it, the play is his usually absurd story about a set identical twins each named Otto and their forgetful parents. Im ready. In all honesty, if the plot of the play was "Edward Albee drinks a cup of coffee," I'd be there. Moving a couple blocks east to the Broadway neighborhood, a lot of exciting offering are popping up there as well. The revival of Noël Coward's Brief Encounter, transferred from an Off-Broadway turn downtown, promises to sparkle, as does Laura Linney's return to Time Stands Still (which I missed last season). The mammoth Spider Man musical will finally open, come November. Let us hope that what happens onstage is half as exciting as the musical's troubled journey to Broadway, full of delays, big spending, broken promises, and big star pullouts (thanks for nothing Alan Cumming). For Big Stars in Big Plays, there's Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones in Driving Miss Daisy and Cherry Jones in Mrs. Warren's Profession, both with the potential to Most Likely Put You to Sleep. What I'm most excited about is Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, the new musical based on the Pedro Almodóvar film and starring yours and my favorite Patti LuPone, alongside Sherie Renee Scott, Laura Benanti, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and a slew of other talent. If this one flops, I'm going to start watching Nascar. In movies, there'sThe Town, with my new friend Gossip Girl's Blake Lively, Easy A, this summer'sInception (which I still need to see), Devil, which I saw this week, and a pair of Facebook-tinged movies The Social Network and Catfish. While one chronicles the origins and rise of Facebook, the other serves as a cautionary tale to the excesses of Facebook. Both have been the buzz of the New York papers and advertisements and have certainly made the must-see list. Changing gears, a pair of romance-laced movies, The Romantics and Woody Allen's You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger promise to amuse and titillate (though I'm vying for Stranger to be the better of the two). Of course, this is all the tip of the iceberg (or shall we hope). As the weather continues to cool and the first chances of snow rear their ugly heads, the Oscar and Tony races will be in full swing, cranking out would-be hits and flops. Let's hope that we the audience, are again on the winning side. While summer is for play and activity, fall is feasting, something I plan to do well into the New Year.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The One Year Blog Post

A year? I've been here for a year? Well, over a year now that it has taken me a few weeks to get myself up and blogging. No longer a newbie, I call this city my home, my base; the streets of Astoria and beyond have become my stomping ground. When I pass through Times Square, I am no longer accosted by the men selling bus tours, watches, and bric-a-brac to unsuspecting tourists. I have even been deemed a rude New Yorker a few times and am somewhat proud of that fact (They should learn to get out of my way). Now, there is a whole new crop of New York arrivals, myself slowly sinking into "the establishment." So much has happened in the past year, a lot of it chronicled in this blog, a lot of it kept in my heart and head and shared with some of the amazing people I have met here. My head is filled with questions like, "What have I done in a year? Where am I going? Where have I been? Was this move a good choice?" Daunting questions for someone who has trouble picking a restaurant or getting out of bed sometimes (and yes, technically, I am still in bed at this very moment. my bed and I are very close). While I don't any Equity or SAG card to show off after one year or major booking to brag of, I have myself to show off, for perhaps that's what I have been working on the most. I have grown and learned so much since being here and experienced a whole myriad of things, some good and some bad. Like a sponge, I have soaked up and tasted as much as possible. The long subway rides and audition room waits have helped add to my reading list, I have duly exercised both my Blockbuster and library card, and between my iTunes account and the library's collection, my own library of music has steadily increased, the lineup on my iPod markedly different after one year. I've seen more Broadway shows than I ever have in my life, upping my theatre and movie attendance and even meeting a few of my idols. My mouth has taken full advantage of New York's rich set of restaurants and groceries, falling in love with things like Campari, oysters, beets, Swiss chard, quinoa, blue cheese, and falafel. I have walked more than I ever have in my life, my pants fitting better for it, and I have become more than familiar with both the Laguardia and Indianapolis airports. New York magazine now has my undying allegiance, as does Chelsea Handler, Naked Juice, and the 1.5 L bottles of Poland Springs that tend to line my kitchen. This past year and in fact even now seem a time of marinating, of sowing seeds and setting my roots, a glorious harvest somewhere on the horizon. I have become hungrier for my craft, for success, for the good things in life. Loss more painful than I could have ever imagined have made me clinger tighter than ever to the beautiful people and things around me, helping me loosen up, and see what is truly important in life. I feel closer to family than ever, though now and again I do enjoy the multiple state distance between us. I look at myself and see a stronger person, more secure in who I am, where I've come from, and what I want. I'm more able to stand up for myself and to not sweat the small stuff. Closely following my one year anniversary in New York, comes my anniversary with Locale, the job that for better or worse has enabled me to live here. From the restaurant, I have learned a lot about food, wine, beer, and service, become a master in the art of bullshit. In all, I am happy I am here and don't see myself leaving for at least another year or two (is that graduate school I see lurking out in the distance somewhere?). So, let this be the start of chapter two of my New York life and what wonders await me there. Having worked Gossip Girl for the second time yesterday, I have been keeping busy and continuing to meet new and fun people in the city. Let us hope for more work and direction to come my way soon. And let us hope now and again I make it to my "new" computer to write down all that happens - well, almost everything. After all, what is anyone without their secrets?

What I'm Reading: The End of the Affair - Graham Greene
What I'm Watching: Eat Pray Love, All About Steve, Alfie (the original), The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, A Little Night Music (with Bernadette and Elaine), Gossip Girl
What I'm Listening to: "Bulletproof," Fleetwood Mac, Jeff Buckley, The Scissor Sisters

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Tale of Two Restaurants

Last week, blessed with both Thursday and Friday night off, I decided to treat myself to a couple of wonderful dinners with friends. To start my dining excursion I met my good friend Esther and a Locale regular at LIPS restaurant on the Upper East Side. Not always located on UES, this is not your average restaurant. Part show and part dinner, LIPS specializes in the very best of "drag dining." All of the servers, bartenders, hosts, and, of course, performers are drag queens. Clearly, this was a "must" on my NYC to-do list. After a few failed attempts and some botched planning, we settled on Thursday as our date with LIPS. Formerly situated in the West Village, I expected something kitschy, campy, draggy, bitchy, and maybe even a little dingy and musty (what do you think is happening under all that makeup, hair, and padding?). While the décor was certainly draggy, it felt more like Medieval Times on ecstasy, very faux glamorous, disco balls a shining. Situated in its new location across from the Outback Steakhouse most often frequented by Liza Minnelli, its new neighborhood gives it distinctly, corporate, unbelievably conservative feel. If I am at a drag show in New York City, one wants tits, dicks, drugs, and swearing, right?

As we made our way to our table, not only did we realize that we were arriving late to the part, but also the memo that everyone else in attendance would be a white girl under the age of 20. Now, we all love young white girls, but they are not my typically accompaniment to a quality drag show. When asked if we were celebrating anything special this evening, I simply retorted, "Thursday." Unbeknownst to us, everyone seemed to believe this was the perfect location for a bachelorette or 18th birthday party as opposed to a dressed up Thirsty Thursday. "Oh Jesus," I thought, as I ordered a Frozen Cosmo, their signature cocktail. This drink proved a metaphor to the restaurant itself: tacky, supersweet, icy, and overpriced. The food was a big OK, living somewhere in between good bar food and average hotel fare. My sole with crab was tasty, but only so because of lots of butter and salt, with unfortunately unexciting texture. Esther found her pasta primavera, the only vegetarian option on the menu, decidedly bland and leaving her wanting more. As for the service, well you know I love me some queens, but they did seem a little preoccupied (we didn't arrive early enough for the balloon show - who eats dinner before 9 anyway?). As one of the only males in the room, I feel I received more than my due personal attention (aka one of them humped me), but how do you raise a fuss with a 6 foot drag queen when your friend doesn't receive a dessert menu? The show itself was entertaining, the highlight being Jesse Volt's fabulous Joan Rivers monologue and Morgan Royale's dead-on Mary J. Blige (it was celebrity impersonation night). However, I was left wondering where would these "girls" be without their glitter, gowns, and jewelry? One has surely never had this thought about yours and mine favorite Tiffany Simone Alexander. At the show's conclusion, Ester and I quickly found the check and attempted to make a somewhat quick getaway, dessert or no. After dishing out more cash than I anticipated, we ventured to our next venue, New World Stages, for the final round of Karaoke Idol, starring my good friend Alissa (who as first runner up, was ROBBED). Causing our usual mix of mischief and ruckus, we popped in and out of the bar, saying hello to friends and locating Esther's dessert just in time for Alissa's fabulous performance. Sure she had the prize in the bag, I politely excused myself, noting the next day's early film shoot. Though perhaps not wowed, this was a fun night in NYC, one I won't soon forget, and a bonding experience for me and the dessertless Esther. She now is working in a macaroon shop and doing quite well.

The next night was quite the different experience. After a day of extra work on Law & Order: SVU, I had plans to meet my good friend Ali (Velma Von Tussle in Millbrook's Hairspray) for dinner. Taking advantage of a special deal on, we decided on Essex Restaurant in the Lower East Side, serendipitiously close to the day's film shoot. Finishing filming a bit early, but without enough time to go home, I wandered around LES for a while, before deciding to step into the restaurant. Soft, loungy music playing, candles already lit, I informed the hostess who I was and that I would be camping out at the bar. After an extended bathroom trip that not only included emptying my bowels but also changing clothes, I reemerged fresh and ready to dine. Citing a corner barstool, I opted for a glass of Brüt and whipped out my usual ensemble of book, notebook, and magazine. After cautiously sipping my first cocktail (I didn't want to overshoot the runway after all), my dining companion arrived just as I was polishing off my glass. Escorted like VIP to our table, my suitcase in tote (it was a "wear 1, bring 2" day at L&O), we settled into our little corner table on one of the restaurant's upper decks. I immediately knew this was going to be the perfect quiet (well except for our respective cackling), intimate dinner after a long day's work. Oozing with gossip and lots of long time no sees, we eventually opened our menus and began to plan our dinner. Drinks, the first and most important matter settled, I decided to stick to Champagne while Ali cocktailed it to her heart's content. Eyeing their oyster selection, we couldn't resist starting with 6 of each, raising our glasses to a very fun evening. After more gossip and storytelling, we finally decided on our dining strategy. After trading favorites ("I'm feeling the duck" "I had salmon for lunch"), sharing stratagems ("If you do the scallops, then I'm doing the crab cake), and pairing palates, we established the course of the evening. "To start," I said, "We are going to share the scallop appetizer and the trio of tartares, and you know what, we better get the calabaza salad as well for something green? Then for the entree, we are going to split the duck." "Medium?" she asked. Mischief in our eyes, we replied, "Medium-rare," throwing caution and credit card balances to the wind. The oysters were delicious, slipping down our hungry throats with the coolest of cool, dressed up with hot sauce, red wine vinaigrette, or simple lemon juice. It was decided that in this battle of East Coast vs. West Coast, the West was the winner, as Ali snagged the majority of those rocky wonders (smart girl). A tray of ice and empty shells remaining, we exchanged our defrocked mollusks for our round of appetizers, thinking that perhaps our eyes were a little bigger than our stomachs. The scallops were perfectly cooked, soft, melting in my mouth, complemented by summer peaches, water melon, croutons (which I could have done without), and balsamic. Ali's trio of tartare was a little intimidating, served with tortilla chips to encourage dipping. The salmon was fresh and lemony, the tuna spiced with just enough scallion and horseradish, both sitting well on a crunchy tortilla chip. The steak tartare, while good, was a little too extreme for both of us, looking a little too much like dog food, and not tasting quite good enough to forfeit our remaining calories (as if we were counting). The salad was unique and yummy, arugula and mixed greens served with sheep's milk cheese, pumpkin seeds, and roasted pumpkin. Creamy and rich, the salad was good, but probably didn't belong amongst all of our summer seafood. Next time, we will know the wiser and order in November. Slowly eating, gabbing away, we finally finished our appetizers to see our duck was on its way. I informed the waitress that would be needing a midcourse of tobacco and nicotine, and to please keep the duck warm. Of due note: smoking kills and if we were at the Locale under my own supervision, a customer's entree never arrives until the appetizers are finished, cleared, and silverware replaced. (Become a fan of Locale on Facebook and read our smashing new review!) After puffing away, taking in the cool (thank God) night air, we returned to the table to gorge on our duck. The duck was tender, perfectly cooked and dressed with a soy-ginger sauce. The accompanying bok choy was yummy and refreshing, though the egg roll was a little to be desired. Then again, perhaps it was crispy and delicious 10 minutes before when it arrived at our table. Licking up the last bits of duck and sauce, we settled for dessert in a glass for our final course, Ali trying their Blood Orange Mojito while I opted for their Green Zinger (green tea vodka, lime, mint, and Pimms). Buzzed, but not falling down, we saddled up with our server Valerie, and headed out into the New York air. Decidedly content, we caught our appropriate trains, one returning her to Brooklyn, one taking me to Queens, having experienced a marvelous, if perhaps a little expensive, evening together. That night I slept very well, waking Saturday refreshed by my two days of galavanting, ready for another long day at the Locale.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Getting My Affairs in Order

Ahhh. The carpet is swept, the Febreeze has been sprayed, rent check written, and bank deposit made. What a busy day for this Broad Meadow New Yorker. Now of course it helped that today didn't start with a bourbon on the rocks or a hungover recollection of what I may have done last night (just kidding mother . . .). You may think going to the gym, tanning, and getting your back shaved are shallow pursuits, but they are very important to a young actor living in New York. Clearly you don't live in an area where people have ready access to the beach all the summer (not that I've been, but that's a different story). I won't say that I have become shallower since moving to the city, but I will say that I certainly have had to up my game. A typical lack of fast food drive-ups and giant Gulp size sodas seems to make for a fitter, more attractive population. That and a greater abundance of wealth and Botox. Running through my errands, carefully marked down in a neat list on a stolen Locale waiter pad, some tasks took only a few minutes ("charge phone," "look up the Arthur remake"), while others required considerably more time and energy ("gym," "blog"). After hitting the gym, I did usual circuit of tanning/library/bank/grocery, looping from my place to Steinway, to Broadway, and back again. While the tanning and the iced green tea from Starbucks that accompanied it were fairly easy, both the bank and the library attempted to throw me a curb ball. Checking out my usual load of books and movies (it's research, I swear), the automated self-checkout informed me i owed $21 in fines. Having just paid a large set of fines the day before, I informed the attendant that this simply was not true. While she tried to make sense of the squibbles on the screen, my persistent righteousness and piercing glance told her she better get her braids in a ball and call the supervisor. Enter a very white male librarian. After he too was confused by what he saw on the screen, yet tried to tell me I had no idea what I was talking about, I pressed harder for freedom, eventually getting him to wave the fees. Sucker. Now, such a sanction would never have been granted, if I was the Latina lady standing next to me with her litter of children. Sorry bout it. Crossing the street to the bank, I got in the long line to deposit to tiny checks. Enter my next customer service wonder, a plump business woman in shiny spike heels and business coat named "Ntina." Like a siren, she lured me to her desk to complete my deposit, me thinking I was some sort of Chase VIP. After filling out my deposit ticket, she confirmed my name, address, telephone number, employer, shoe size, Zodiac sign, and eye color. Then she offered to open another credit card for me, a savings account, a rewards program, and a new feature called "Person2Person Pay" that allows you to email people money. After fervently saying "No," to each of her questions, I finally had my transaction completed. On leaving the bank, I duly noted there was no line. For some reason, the Chase associates make me feel more naked than a 7th grade physical.
Returning home from my Astoria circuit, I took a shower and gatehred steam for my last to-do. In my quest for completeness, I ventured to industrial Woodside, walking next to a major highway, in search of my case of Zagat-recommended wines. Noticing a great deal in the mail, I could not pass it up, exchanging my credit card # for 12 bottles of wine plus this special offer of 4 tasting glasses and tasting notes for each wine (!!!!). After a few failed deliveries, and one troubled conversation with 1.800.Fedex.Go, I realized that I would have to put in some real work to get my discounted wine. Having lost one online purchase to the Post Office, I was determined to Get That Wine. Noting the chain metal fences and broken down cars, I was glad I was performing this chore in daylight. How quickly cheery little Astoria melted into deserted streets, warehouses, and highway. After trekking on foot to the Fedex Home Delivery Office (not as flashy as your regular Fedex/Kinko's), the associate helped me locate my package, kindly letting my Indiana ID slide for proof of age and residency. If my cardinal-embossed license should attempt to interfere with my next wine pursuit, I may just have to make a visit to the local BMV (the NYC/Queens BMV? Now that is a blog waiting to happen). After noting its exorbitant weight ("Shit, that's heavy. Oh, excuse me"), she retrieved my package from the back, scanning it into the system as "picked up" and looking at me like I was crazy for walking to the Delivery Center. "Don't worry," I said, "I am going to call a car." Pushing SEND on my contact "Taxi Cab," I hustled my box to the corner and waited for a creeping black car. After an initial worry the car couldn't find me, I waved my hand, large box in tote, attracting the attention of another yellow cab and strange looks from the local residents. Waving the cab along, I stepped into the car sent especially for me. Wine in the trunk, I did my best Anna Wintour, sitting cross-legged with sunglasses mounted on my face in the back seat, silently taking in the car ride. I recalled that moment at the end of The Devil Wears Prada when Meryl Streep turns to Anne Hathaway and says, "This is what everyone wants to be." Looking over my crazed afternoon, I thought, "Yes indeed."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

And How Do You Like Your Eggs, Honey?

I have a special phone voice. Well, not so much a special phone voice as that my voice is special, and that quality particularly translates well via the telephone. Now, I know there are many things that make my unique voice wonderful (thank you, Patsy Rodenburg), like the fact that in my opinion, I enunciate my words clearly and speak a somewhat educated version of English (unless, of course, I am calling you 2+ martinis in the bucket). But perhaps its most special quality is the fact most people think I am a woman on the phone. Yes indeed, a woman. Not even a girl, not a young, pretty thing, but a full fledged woman. As my voice teacher Will put it, I have a "grande dame" quality about me (this came in quite handy for my audition on Tuesday that consisted of a monologue from Love! Valour! Compassion and my Judy-inspired version of "Smile").

Now, as a young male-child growing up in rural Indiana, this specialness really bothered me. Countless times, tele-marketers, family, and some of my mother's more colorful friends would ring up our home on 400 South and immediately greet Susie and ask how she is and such. From some of these greetings, one would get the impression that my mother is a very fun gal. And while I thought such mistaken identities would end after puberty, I now know to answer any phone but my own with, "This is Bradley." After initial embarrassments, I have moved on, moved out, and moved East where I capitalize on my superpowers whenever possible. Many times at work, owner Johnny has called upstairs to "discover" the cute, female bartender has developed a cold. No she has not; the person on the other line is Bradley. Or yesterday, as I waited on hold, begging Chase to give me even more credit, I was referred to as "Ma'am" for the majority of the phone call, despite the fact that my name, address, spending habits, shoe size, and who knows what else lie in plain sight on their computer screen in Mumbai. Even this morning, I unknowingly played a trick on the man delivering my omelette (in fact, it's on its way now). He wanted to know what I would like, kept calling me honey, kindly asking me for my phone number, address, and how I liked my coffee. Considering he now knows this personal information about me, he may be somewhat disappointed to discover that his mid-morning coffee date was with a fairly hairy Midwestern boy by the name of Bradley. Alas, no worries. He never has to know. When singing, my friend Esther and I have generally agreed that most times I sound like a mix of Elaine Stritch and Stevie Nicks, with a few moments of show choir boy clarity. Of course, this is all fine and dandy, both these grande dames earning equally impressive accolades for their vocalizations. But when I try to tell a casting director I am a young Stevie Nicks, it for some reason just does not communicate all that I want it to. My fine-tuned whiskey voice of a 50 something woman works great when I give an inspiring performance of "Poor Unfortunate Souls" at Uncle Charlie's, but somehow falls short when attempting "If I Loved You" from Carousel. However, this is no means for alarm or caution, for my talents are many. It's often been confirmed that I have the best legs in Astoria, and there are few waiters who have given such rousing renditions of the daily specials as I do each night at Locale. Boy, oh boy, a man of many talents am I. Oh, I think my omelette has arrived! I hope he doesn't mind I didn't shave this morning.

If any of you out there should ever be taking my breakfast order:
1 Spinach Omelette
Made with Egg Whites
Fresh Fruit instead of Homefries
Wheat Toast
Coffee with Skim Milk and 1 Splenda on the side

or if I am really hungover and/or being a fucking fatass:
1 McDonald's Bacon, Egg, & Cheese Biscuit Combo
Very Large Diet Coke
(and if it's a really unhealthy day)
1 Breakfast Burrito with Hot Sauce

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Movies and Mayhem!

How busy this summer has been! After my stream of blogs and days off, my time has been taken up with lots of time at the restaurant, keeping in contact with my NYC friends, and even trying to get some sleep. On top of that, I have been doing some "extra" work for Central Casting. This past Thursday, I made my major motion picture debut on the film Friends with Benefits starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Cunis. From sundown to sunup, I portrayed a Times Square passerby (along with many others), who for reasons unbeknownst to us, break out into a choreographed routine surrounding the young starlets, abruptly stopping and reengaging in our NYC lives just in time for Mr. Timberlake to say, "Huh." Tomorrow (OK, this has also actually already happened), I am scheduled to work on Gossip Girl. After an unsuccessful formal wear attempt with Wall Street 2, this time I am armed with my tuxedo (which I haven't worn since high school) and ready for an artificially fabulous gala. Perhaps there will be champagne? Work has been just fine, just work and a lot of it, as my coworkers take turns taking vacation each week. In my reading quest, I just finished Chelsea Handler's third installment Chelsea Chelsea, Bang Bang to much pleasure and a few LOL on the train. Following her example, I too have been contemplating how I might better use such devices as lying and storytelling to enliven my workplace. Whoever said a little mischief is uncalled for? Any success in said exercises will appear in this blog forthcoming. On the audition front, there has not been a lot going on. I was planning to attend another round of auditions for Naked Boys Singing, but to my mother's joy I will be working on Gossip Girl instead (where I will likely not be naked or singing). This past Sunday, I brought my songbook to a new venue as my vocal coach Will had a gig at the Path Café in the West Village. Belting out my best Judy Garland, Willie Nelson, and Noël Coward numbers, I made friends with the owner-bartenders and sampled a majority of their wine list (big surprise!). No doubt, they will welcome me back with open arms this week (in fact, they did - and there was more wine and even some cheese tasting). Oh! And in Indiana news, my first friend in the whole world Ashley Rae has given birth to her first child, a girl, Laney Sue. Once the Post-partem disengages, Ashley will realize that I, in fact, named her child during a drunken night (ie me being the drunk) sitting around our kitchen table in Indiana. Hopefully, one day I will have some Ling-Ling or brown babies for Ashley to name for me. I am really looking forward to holding Ashley's new little munchkin. I wonder when I will be in IN next? (Can I just say that at this point, I have been trying to finish this blog for 9 days??? clearly my life has been reeling out of control. It's time to hit the brakes and get my life in order!). Tomorrow (yes, the real tomorrow), I am traveling to New Jersey to audition for a bunch of theaters at a big unified audition (my first one!). Let's hope I can shake off the restaurant rust and give them a sparkling performance. I am scheduled for tomorrow at 5:30. If you can, think Liza thoughts for me. That's all for now, I promise to write something really earth-shattering next time. For now, I am going to go tanning and get some f-ing Starbucks. It's hard out here for a pimp!

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Kids Are All Right

Last night, I ventured to the Upper East Side to catch one of the summer's biggest movies (well, in my world anyway). And no, I didn't gorge myself on another viewing of Sex and the City 2. This evening's feature was The Kids Are All Right, the new lesbian-family comedy starring Annette Bening and Julian Moore. The film centers on a close-knit, non-traditional family living in sunny California. Bening and Moore play mothers to two children, their oldest, a girl named after Joni Mitchell, about to venture off to college. At the prompting of her younger jock brother, Lazer (played by future heartbreaker Josh Hutcherson), Joni sneaks into her mothers' private papers in order to contact the sperm bank from which she and her brother received half of their chromosomes (imagine, a bank that deals solely in sperm). Following some secretive phone calls, their father is none other than Mark Ruffalo, still looking affably boyish, a restauranteur playboy who also likes to play gardner. Upon meeting their "Dad," the reluctant Joni finds a kindred spirit in her supposed father, while Lazer finds disappointment in his would-be male role model (though to be honest, Annette Bening does a fine a job at that - but more on that later). Before anyone knows it, Ruffalo is having dinner at their home, popping up on their iPhones, and eventually giving Moore's new gardening business its first "gig." The film is funny, witty, lavish in color and detail without being a special-effects epic or mere showcase for spectacle. The film shares a kindred spirit with the mise-en-scéne of fellow female director/writers Nancy Meyers (Something's Gotta Give, It's Complicated) and Nora Ephron (Julie and Julia), living in a world of candle-lit silhouettes, traipsing with interesting, personalized costume choices, and frame after frame and sumptuous looking food. This film (and the others mentioned) carry a certain, undeniable feminine look, soft, balanced, the beauty of a quiet blooming flower rather than the booming and stormy energies behind the works of Polanski, Scorsese, etc. (though my own little theory/assumption is delightfully overturned by Kathryn Bigelow's heartbreakingly stark The Hurt Locker).

Bening and Moore are at their finest as the power-lesbian couple, a pairing of two of America's finest and most sensitive actresses. They are also perhaps the two most deserving actresses, yet to win an Oscar (how, how can Hillary Swank have 2 Oscars, and these women have none). Though it's a little early to start playing the Oscar prediction game, one can relish in the fine work of this film's two leading ladies. Bening is stunning as the slightly butch Nic, a gynecologist with a booming career (at times a detriment to her relationship with partner Jules) and a taste for red wine. Looking and acting older than her lover, Bening captures a woman beginning to slowly lose touch with her children and her lover, the family she has worked so hard to build momentarily falling apart around her. One of my favorite and perhaps the most heartbreaking moment in the film occurs when Nic discovers that perhaps a little more than gardening has been happening at sperm-donor Paul's sprawling villa. Bening has been high-powered, high-strung career women for years, often to stunning results (note her two previous Oscar nominations), and while Nic certainly does share a thread with American Beauty's Carolyn or even the title character from Being Julia, Nic seems distinctly more balanced, more loving, less selfish and less controlling than these other women. Moore delights as the slightly loppy, hip Jules, the younger, "lipstick" partner, part stay-at-home Mom and part wandering career woman. While Bening typifies the 21st century power lesbian mother, Moore creates a character that is distinctly womanly, her matter of orientation a secondary characteristic. Her children about to leave the house and with no steady career to draw self-worth from, Jules is curious, restless, looking for some adventure in middle-age (and boy does a rugged looking Mr. Ruffalo give her just that).

This a unique film, and though not a big Hollywood release or popcorn blockbuster, it certainly lives in the mainstream, readily available to both metropolitan and middle America. While most of popular Queer and Gay cinema centers on gay men (Milk, Brokeback Mountain, Philadelphia) or men dressing as women (The Birdcage, Two Wong Foo, Priscilla Queen of the Desert), this is a woman's film, a film about two women in love, but more interestingly two women in love with a family. The film does not center on a battle of gay/straight or matters of acceptance or Pride pageantry, but rather tells the story of a modern family, growing and in transition. This is not necessarily a new story (Mom is getting older; the children leave the nest), but is told in a new way, a new setting that continues a greater portion of American family units. While we have not seen this story on the screen before, surely similar situations have happened to the children of gay parents before. The film flips our expectations, the parents gay and the children straight, a feeling of normalcy given to what was once queer. How refreshing to hear a story about homosexual people that does not center on AIDS, hate crimes, or drugged induced club experiences. This film (and surely many others that I have never seen) diversifies the canon of gay works, telling a new story that has certainly been there the entire time. How exciting to live at a time when we can go to the mainstream cinema and watch The Kids Are All Right or tune in to a weekly episode of Modern Family on ABC. This film is funny and brimming with feeling, heartfelt but not requiring too much tissue, a refreshing break from the cymbal crash of traditional summer blockbusters.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I Missed the Bus

It happened again. I missed the bus. I knew when the bus was leaving. My e-ticket clearly said which corner to be at, to be there 15 minutes, and to have my reservation number in hand. Somehow I found myself running to the wrong corner hoping the bus was running late, only to find an empty sidewalk devoid of fellow travelers and no sign of the Megabus. Perhaps it wasn't meant to be? Perhaps God was keeping me from some hidden dangers in North Central PA or teaching me a lesson about following directions. Or maybe I am just late everywhere I go? Yesterday, it was my intention to visit my former castmates at the Millbrook Playhouse to check out their current production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Instead, I spent most of the day in my room watching movies. Perhaps my current movie-binge has turned into a real addiction, trapping in my house and separating me from human contact. I'm going to go see a movie tonight (with a friend, in a theater!). This could be a real problem. So, friends and family at the Millbrook Playhouse, I apologize I teased you with a surprise visit. Looks like we will have to wait until you all return to New York or I return next summer for more work. My first missed Megabus experience when my dear friend Matthew and I attempted a venture to Chicago during Spring Break (we eventually made it). At least that time we saw the bus pulling away. I was really looking forward to that bus ride too! I had my book, ready to finish, a magazine, and a play. Having actually made it on the bus once (Aaron and Boston, you are very lucky!), I was planning to take full advantage of their unlimited Wi-Fi and outlets. Instead, I finished my book on the exercise bike at the gym this morning and hauled my backpack and pillow to Midtown for nothing. It's one thing to miss your bus, it's another displeasure to haul your crap to and from Midtown during morning rush hour. Pillow and backpack, I found myself a sweaty, hair-gelled mess as the sun was rising. On my shameful walk back to the subway, I managed to pass two lines of homeless, getting their morning rations from the local churches. I returned home ashamed and afraid. This afternoon I watched The Accused with Jodie Foster and knew exactly how that poor girl felt. So, now I am in New York, the hour not long past when I would returned theatre-d and hungover from Pennsylvania, my phone and camera full of drunken inspired tech-bites. "Well maybe, next year." "Send in the Clown" indeed.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bradley From the Broad Meadow, Part 2

A month and a half, give or take. That's how much time I have taken away from this blog. During that time, I completed my contract at the Millbrook Playhouse, made a lot of new friends, and returned to New York to a Heat Wave, a new manager, and a lot wondering as to what my next move will be. I decided, semi-consciously, to take a break from this blog, this vehicle that has chronicled the first part of my New York journey, in part so that I could entirely immerse myself in my PA theatre experience, and in part because I felt fatigued, out of ideas, in a rut. Now, I may be back in New York, but out of the rut I am not sure. Certainly, this is a time of transition for me. As I near my one-year anniversary in the City, I am no longer a newbie, a tourist; I am no longer "trying it out." In the past few weeks, I have been contemplating how long I will stay in New York, what my next move will be. While that previously mentioned move remains to be seen, for the time being it will not be away from New York. After all, I feel I just got here. Having had a year to acclimate to the city and truly dirty hands with "the business," let's see how far I can go, how hard I can push myself to work towards my dreams, to achieve greater artistic vision and clarity, to be a better me, to entrench myself in this city, this business, and the fabulous people I run into. I have been maxxing out my Queens Public Library Card, renting movies both new and old, trying to keep up with what's happening now and what has come before (I have made serious headway on AFI's 100 Greatest Movies List), and searching the stacks for literary inspiration, running the gamut from Carson McCullers to Chelsea Handler (now, that's a English seminar course, I'd like to take). My ears have been searching for new music, both for listening and performing, looking to add songs to both my book and my iPod. After my pre-Tony binge, I am looking to go to the theater again, but hoping to venture off The Great White Way and see what New York's smaller theaters have to offer. I am buying and reading plays, learning the new authors and searching for monologue material. I think it's ironic I recently filled up and cashed in my Drama Bookstore Frequent Customer Card, a month shy of its one year expiration date.

I am in transition. As my family and I move from our time of grief (does grief ever end?), the initial period of shock, of constantly retracing steps, clinging to conversations, looks, texts, we venture out into the world again, somewhat scared, but strangely stronger and at peace. Under the hot summer sun the past months, I have allowed myself to let loose of some of my walls, to let some of the grief and sadness melt away, to surrender to my own profound brokenness. I feel like new skin after the scab has gone away, new and complete, but still fragile, sensitive, and red. While I was in Pennsylvania, I didn't share the tragic story of my sister's death with many people. Still, it's hard to think about, too hard to fathom, to attempt to get my mind around. Though I'll never stop sharing memories of my sister, for now, I prefer to stop the story in December 2009, not January 2010. With the exception of a minor breakdown on our closing weekend, I kept my grief to myself, not out of shame, but because I have chosen to not let this one tragic event define my life ongoing. No doubt it has and will shape, color, and rattle my little world, but I refuse to wallow in my grief, to hold it like a crutch for the rest of my life. In short, I choose to live my life, live the kind of life my sister so generously reveled in every step of the way. Looking ahead, one of my oldest and dearest friends is about to have her first child (now, how did I get so old that people are having babies?), and I couldn't be more thrilled. It is time to celebrate, to rejoice, for new life and new hope.

I am in transition professionally. As I look for work again in the city, I am attempting to challenge myself as a performer, to work as an artist, and to be my own business. How far can I go? How much energy can I put out? How much noise can I make? For now, I am looking for my next big break, but also contemplating creating opportunities of my own. Who knows what could be just beyond the horizon? As for Locale, the near-constant since I have been in New York, I am back to the grind, though the grind has not been near as back breaking. Now, sure, summer and a little vacation definitely help keep the work blues away, but there is one big factor at play - STEFANO FINALLY GOT FUCKING FIRED! While away in hilly PA, the owners sought to it to replace their oily Italian buffoon with a younger, hipper, female manager. Though she and I are still becoming acquainted with one another, I can see things are going to run more smoothly and be more enjoyable for all involved. With some new fancy cocktails and unique beers and cheeses, I feel very at peace with my current employer. Let's hope this feeling finds no end soon, and we can all focus on taking care of customers (people whom for the most part I genuinely enjoy), rather than running from our drunken Italian dictator. As I have seen many of my co-workers come and go, I can only say in summation: Survivor: Locale - Outwit, Outplay, Outlast.

It's good to be back, and I hope to write soon.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Susquehana Mama

As my life has been abundant with travels far and wide, it is only appropriate I chronicle my recent bus trip to Mill Way, PA. Dazed from my recent return and departure from Indiana, reeling from matters of lost luggage (now found) and mixed-up sublets (now straightened out), I made my way to the Port Authority Bus Terminal early Sunday morning, ready to embark on my theatrical journeys. The trip began in tranquil fashion, a grand total of three of us departing from New York (though others would soon join). I adjusted my pillows, spread my legs and blanket, and settled into my seat for the 7+ hour trip, luckily finding sleep as we traveled westward. As the morning gave way to noontime, our bus became more and more populated, weary travelers making their way through New Jersey and Pennsylvania. After about 4 hours on the bus, a toothless wonder I have deemed the Susquehanna Mama, mounted the bus and soon after launched into one of the more impressive monologues I have given witnessed. After approaching the bus driver to ensure that she was indeed in the right place, she made her entrance, clad in tank top, pony tail, bitchin' sunglasses, and even a sweater wrapped around her shoulders (a lady after all). Immediately attaching herself to the young gentleman seated behind her (thank God I was asleep or adequately "disinterested looking"), she began telling him the better part of her life story. Toothless mouth a flapping, she modeled the great finds she had recently purchased at the local CVS, little things to help her kids know they love them. Who knew one's love of the Dollar Store could run so deep? Hey, she may not be perfect, but she does what she can to be a good mom! "You don't got a girlfriend, do you? Mind if I call you sometime? I don't got too many friends, you know, and I get along better with guys. I mean I ain't got no man or anything, I mean my baby-daddy, but he's not really in the picture, so it's not a big deal. Now, here's my married name, but sometimes I go by my maiden name as well. So, if I call you, you aren't gonna pretend you don't know me, right?" It was then that I realized I was coming dangerously close to West Virginia. Toto, we are not in the city anymore. Apparently her ticket was being for via the hospital (???), but my fellow horrified city clicker dramatist and I were not able to accurately piece together that aspect of her story. It was only after our talking traveler left that I dared look at her unlucky victim. A look of relief and wonder spread across his face, indicating that he indeed did not know this woman, nor would he be calling her anytime soon (apparently he gave her a wrong number as well - ballsy). Now, how did he get so instantly friendly with this Appalachian Amazon. Smoking. One shared cigarette led to what would undoubtedly be one of the more terrifying experiences of my life. Remember kids, smoking kills. The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful, our bus making it to the Williamsport station before transferring on to Lock Haven. Along the way, we did pick up a couple of other theatre gypsies, one director, two carpenters, an electrician, and one actor (me) in total. Now, here I am, in the mountains, in the middle of nowhere, energies completely focused on theatre for the first time since school. Strange faces soon becoming familiar, who knows what tales I will have to tell about my new company/family and the show we are contracted to create.

In Defense of "Sex 2"

These past few weeks have seen me busily preparing for my current summer stock gig, cramming in voice lessons and plays, finishing out my final shifts at Locale, and spending a much needed week back in the Broad Meadow. During this time of coming and going, I fortunately had the chance to catch this year's edition of Sex and the City. After an early morning audition, my friend Alissa and I snuck over to the Regal Cinema in Times Square to get some opening-day Sex before noon. Now, I must admit, I am a huge Sex fan. I love the TV show, I loved the first movie, and everyday I try to more and more channel my inner Samantha. No doubt my recent transplant to New York was in at least some way prompted by this monumental series. After all, while the series certainly centers on the four ladies' love lives, it also chronicles their love affair with New York (it is indeed called Sex and the City, not Sex in the City). So, I may be the least bit biased to this treasured series. However, since its debut, this desert-clad movie has received nothing but flack, bad reviews, and even some unwanted wrinkle counting. While I am not foolish enough to deem this early summer blockbuster (it has already grossed over $100 million worldwide) a cinematic masterpiece, it is a film that I believe should be watched and celebrated. Not meant as some great dramatic piece, social commentary, or special effects wowzer, the film relies on its fabulous destinations, both exotic and domestic, its star studded cast (not to mention glittery cameos), and witty dialogue (while it may be short on plot, it is stacked with zingers) to capture audiences. Many critics have condemned the film's shameless glam and excess, deeming it inappropriate during our current economic downturn. However, as Samantha says during an opening scene, "This recession has been a bitch, and I'm tired. We're going on a fucking vacation!" And you know what, I couldn't agree more. The film is camp, it is kitsch, it is fun. This sometimes silly ladies run around in pretty clothes, lapping up luxury, and continually getting themselves into the most ridiculous of situations - what's not to love? My friend and I were nothing but laughs for the good part of the film's two hours, our fellow audience members joining us in belly laughs and cat calls. In fact, the lady next to us had snuck away from work in order to catch the flick. Why not join these four ladies on their dessert escape? It should be noted that this is probably one of the strongest casts in the summer blockbuster landscape (because who really goes to the movies to watch Megan Fox act?), each in roles that play to their strengths and make their stars shine brightest (with the exception of Tony winner Cynthia Nixon, most of the cast has struggled to find success post-Sex). While some of the camp does go a bit overboard (group karaoke numbers tend to leave me feeling the slightest bit uneasy), in generally, the shameless, no holds barred comedy is right on (OK, the giant white bulge was perhaps a little too much; well, not for Samantha). If men can get away with ludicrous humor of this year's Hot Tub Time Machine, who's to say the ladies cannot get into the fun as well? Might I add that most film critics, are (straight) men, not the target audience for a film this, per se. Might these sniveling cinephiles be just a bit intimidated by our sexy sirens? Oh, and there is one more big reason to catch summer's flashiest movie. LIZA MINNELLI. My word, I couldn't breathe. I haven't been that excited, since well, I saw her in the hallway at Chelsea! Now, for those who find more enjoyment from say, John Wayne than Judy Garland, this may not be such a strong draw for you. However, if glitter and legs jive your turkey, you are in for a treat. The legs, the hips, the singing, there she is, Ms. Minelli in the flesh and not missing a beat. Looks like there is life after David Guest after all. "Single Ladies" indeed. So, if you dare, ignore the critics, forget what you have heard, and dawn your highest heels and biggest hat (and whatever other gaudy, flamboyant wardrobe you can find), feel a little bit ridiculous, and head over to put the Sex back in your life.