Sunday, March 29, 2009

Strong to the Finish

I wanted to give a special shout out to the guys over at Sailor Man. My good friends Peter Cook and Scott Peterman, and fellow awesome people Ryan Iverson and Lauren Blumenfeld, for creating the spectacular blood-fest known as Sailor Man. Sailor Man had a run in the Fringe Festival last summer and has enjoyed a nice Off-Broadway run this year. I had been wanting to see it for such a long time, but was being a lazy-ass when it came to actually putting it in my schedule. Part of the problem of some long-running shows is that you always think you'll find time to see them later and then somehow you miss them altogether. I was determined not to let that happen this time! I almost fell into the trap, but I did manage to see it on it's final weekend. I am super glad that I did. The show is basically three vignettes chronicling the tortured relationship between Popeye, Bluto and Olive. They basically meet and start beating the crap out of each other. They throw everything they have at each other and it's awesome. There is much bloodletting. There are punches, of course, but also bricks, bottles, garbage cans, knives and buckets and buckets of blood. It was really delightful and gory and hilarious. I'm very proud of them for creating something so thoroughly entertaining. I'm sure it's bittersweet for them to see Sailor Man close, but I eagerly look forward to their next project. Bravo, guys.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

False Idols: A Bit Too Proud To Beg

Sarver. you seem like a nice guy. I did not mind you like I've minded others like you in the past. or how I continue to mind Gokey. Mo Town was not your thing, Dawg. It was pitchy. It was not in your pocket. It was a hot mess. I don't know that it was actually the WORST performance of the night (see below) but between you and Matt not getting saved by the Judge's Vote? I pick you. So you have to go home, which must be sad for you, but you get to see your baby girl, so that's good!

Let's be honest: you were no longer in it to win it. I actually think it's a rather high percentage of contestants over the years who get to the top 10, 12, 13-whatever, and then realize they are done with the pace and the rigors of televised competition. I could feel through the screen that you were ready to be done. Not with music! Just with the show. It has to be a very unreal experience. I don't blame you. Hug and kiss your baby girl, and enjoy that Idol tour!

Contestant on the Edge:

Matt! Oh dear. I thought we were gonna have another Alexis debacle on our hands for a hot minute. I don't know what the problem is. Maybe going early screwed you. I like you and I liked your performance. Keep on doing what you're doing. Sing the hell out of things and if you can hang in a couple more weeks and this happens again, maybe those crazy judges will save your ass. I want you to stay around for a nice long time.

Rant of the Week

Megan Joy. Girl. Are you okay? Are you sure whatever got you last week was Influenze B? Really? Cuz that was craaaaaazy. Not Fantasia Crazy (unfortunately). Not Sanjaya Crazy (thank goodness). It was a little 8 Days A Week Crazy (I can't remember the girl who sang that last year) which means it was frantic and unsettling. The judges called it a train wreck and it totally was. There are only 3 females left in this competition. I don't need this competition to be a total sausage-fest by the time we get to top 6. So fight a bit harder and pick songs that work WITH your inherent craziness, not against it! Please!

Gokey. You're just not my kettle of fish. Don't take it personally. I'm not a fan of Adam either, though I can respect his talent and impressive vocals. Last night, I didn't enjoy your performance for all the reasons Simon articulated. You should know better than to go against the legendary guest mentor's advice, if you want the judges to give you decent feedback. I don't think you're going anywhere anytime soon, but I'm hoping it works out that when you get eliminated, the Judge's Save won't be available to you. Because I know they'd want to save you and it would tickle me that the Judge's hands were tied. Again, it's not you, it's me.

p.s. Better clothing this week, Anoop! Keep it up!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Owen and Rafa Both Love Chocolate Chip Cookies

On Sunday, my Rafa won another tournament. This one was in Indian Wells. The name of this tournament is something else, but it's always referred to as Indian Wells. It's out in the desert somewhere. The point is, Rafa won. Hooray! That's two big hardcourt titles to start the season. It's too early to start hoping for the US Open, but Rafa knows he has it in him to win on the hardcourts against all the big boys.

Watching the Finals on Sunday, I could not believe how in the tank the commentators were for Rafa's opponent, Andy Murray. It was crazy! Rafa's No. 1 in the world and Murray's No. 4. They were falling all over themselves to praise Murray. They would say totally ridiculous things like "Murray is going to be the next #1 player in the world!... who isn't Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer." So i guess they have given up on Jokovic. But then Rafa wins the first set 6-1, and they say "it's really only a few points that separate the two. Murray can quickly change the momentum right here!" And of course Murray then loses the second set 6-2. I didn't really watch the second set because I knew the outcome already (thanks for the ridiculous time delay, FSN!) and i couldn't take the commentary. I bet they praised Murray right up until the last point. It's not like I hate Murray. I think he's a good player and one of the few on the tour right now that has a legitimate shot day in-day out to beat Nadal. But to favor him OVER Nadal is too much at this point in their careers.

The next day, I happened across this article on It's a really good read about how awesome Rafa is in every single way, but my FAVORITE part is pasted below:

—At his press conference after his quarterfinal win over Juan-Martin del Potro, Nadal shows up with two chocolate chip cookies and starts to eat them as he talks.

Q. I'm surprised to see you eating cookies. Are they chocolate chip cookies?

Nadal says "Yeah," but his smile says, "So? What about it?"

Q. I was wondering if you have things like that quite a bit? I always think athletes have a very regimented diet and don't indulge. 

RAFAEL NADAL: Not me. (Laughter.) 

Long pause, Nadal flashes what you might call a s--- eating grin.

"My opinion, you can eat everything. Well, before the match maybe don't have five cookies or one steak, but my opinion, you can eat everything in the right time. If I eat right now, 20 cookies, maybe I gonna have indigestion tonight. If I eat two, three cookies, maybe it's OK.
Maybe not for the stomach, no, but for the head it's better. (Laughter.) In the end, the important thing is to be mentally okay.

Q. Better mental preparation? 



Rafa! I love chocolate chip cookies too! This would be my "in" if we were ever so fortunate to meet and have a conversation. It's not even just that he likes cookies. But that he would consider eating 20 of them as an acceptable choice. I didn't know my love for him could deepen, but it did when i read that. Oh, Rafa. Someday. Somehow. Somewhere...

Kick some ass in Key Biscayne, this week Rafa. The tournament is not called Key Biscayne. I actually know this one is now called the Ericsson Open, but everyone still calls it Key Biscayne.

My President Is Smarter Than You

Yesterday I was home sick. AGAIN! This is some sort of record in me taking a sick day two months in a row. But whatever this cold is that's going around it is no joke and I needed a day on the couch to recover and blow my 300 times over the course of 24 hours. As coincidence would have it, the last time I was home sick was also a day where the President was making a Prime Time Address. So again much of the day was spent with the TV on MSNBC watching the time to the press conference tick down in the bottom right hand corner of the screen, like it's some kind of News Cycle New Year's Eve. Just like last time, the punditry tried to figure out what he would say and how people would react. It was different this time though, because there's been an extra month of Obama being in office. And Treasury Secretary Geithner has had a rough go of it, but then sorta found his footing this week and the Markets are happier with him. As the day went on and Obama came out to answer the questions, a recurring theme that came out of the discussion was "Will the President get what he wants in his budget?" Some people said yes, and some people said no, but let me tell you why I think he definitely will.

President Obama is smarter than the people that oppose him - and he has all the power!

The things with Obama, is that stuff needs to get done and he wants to do it. While people might disagree they don't really have a comprehensive alternative. Not the Republicans. Not the "Conservadems." Nobody! President Obama gets on TV and he answers questions thoughtfully with long answers full of details. So even if you don't like what he's saying, you have to acknowledge that he's thought about it. There's an examined thought process that brought him to his conclusion. So since he's in charge, and he has a plan, and because his party has big majorities in both houses, my money is on him for finding a way to push his plans through.

The people who oppose him always sound like nay-saying dummies. There basic arguments make no sense. "The deficit will be out of control!" The deficit IS out of control, but everything's broken, so we have to spend on fixing it. There's no other alternative. Every time someone from the opposition gets on TV and says, "Spending Freeze!" it sets the opposition 10 steps back because that is an absurd idea that no one takes seriously. So basically it just tells America "we have no other real ideas." Also some naysayers say, "you're doing too much! just focus on banks!" but the WHOLE system is broken so everything needs some amount of attention. We don't have the luxury to look at just one problem. So we need to have plans to fix everything. Which i think, on a basic level, most people understand and are ready for the changes.
Then there are the "new leaders" of the Republican Party. Sarah Palin! Bobby Jindal! Michael Steele! You might think they have heartfelt opinions, but they are all mentally out to lunch. I know Jindal is an educated guy, but he was well out of his depth in his response to Obama's speech last month. And CHENEY? Why does he insist on reminding people how much they hated his belligerent pugnacious approach to governing? It's like all these people can do is remind people of their worst qualities while demonstrating there's no alternative idea to get us out of this mess.

The people want shit to get done. Obama is planning to get shit done. The time is now. I believe Obama will capitalize. Because people want him to succeed. Because he is smart. Smarter than me. Smarter than you. That's how he got to be President. He's on a mission: Change We Believe. Change We Need. He succeeds. We Succeed. Simple math we can all get behind.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Don't Pass-It-Over!

Saturday I went to see Haggadah (or The Passover Show) at La Mama ETC. The show was created by Witness Relocation, and it's their "long-waited dance/ theater / spectacle version of the Passover Story... Moses, Pharaoh, slaves, plagues, angels of death, the whole deal." My DDR buddies Sam and Wil are a part of it. I saw a previous performance piece by them called Blue Bird, which I don't know if I wrote about, but I enjoyed.

I think Haggadah is even better. It's an hour long and tells the story of Moses through a really intelligent mix of dance, drama and multimedia elements. It's engaging and funny and really well put together. I highly recommend it. It will be running through March 29th. And yes, Metallica factors into Passover in a see-it-to-believe-it 6:30 minute way. I loved it!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Alphabet Soup

The Alphabet, as recited by a very cute, very small child outside my building on Saturday:

A, B, C, D, E, S, G! H, I, J, K, L, EMMO, B! Q, R, S! T, U, P! W, S, Y, N, D!

Adorable. Priceless. Wrong.

Keep up the studying, little guy!

End Of Line

Oh, Battlestar Galactica. You are over now! End of line, indeed. Long have I anticipated your series finale. Would anyone survive? What would happen? I had my theories, none of which exactly turned out to be accurate. I have too many friends who are not caught up with the series (for they watch it on DVD) so I will not spoil you for them here. I am still processing the finale, anyway. I've watched it twice this weekend. The thing that made me most pleased with it, i think. is that it told the story the creators wanted to tell, and didn't really consider what the audience might want to know. It was really about the characters. I can see that there are many things that BSG fans would be polarized about in the finale. A couple deaths here, an unexplained mystery there, the 2 minute epilogue. I really had no problem with any of those things. I thought that it ended with a lot of love, and finality, and that really worked for me. For me the story is done, but my enjoyment of the series will live on. I'll be interested to see the TV Movie about the Cylon "plan" this Fall. We know the "plan" was really just a marketing ploy in the first ssason and there was no plan. If anyone can retcon a "plan" in and give us some more answers it's Ron Moore. My toaster-lovin' ass will be frakkin' eating it up in November. So say we all.

Pretty and Witty and Not Particularly Gay

Thursday night I went to see Reasons To Be Pretty at the Lyceum. I had a very nice time with my friend Sarah, who I've learned is even a bigger Theater Dork than I am, but we have similar sensibilities making the viewing experience so much fun. Reasons to Be Pretty is the new play by Neil LaBute who has written such feel-good fare as The Shape of Things, Fat Pig and In The Company of Men. I was accordingly prepared to walk away from this play with a few new reasons to hate the human condition. However, I was mightily surprised! The play actually is kinda hopeful in the end. Don't worry LaBute fans. On the way to a bit of maturity at the end the play still has the requisite men who act like children and bitchy women with image issues. But it had some nice things to say about men and women actually coming to understand each other in a non-hateful way. Very nice.

While I liked the play itself, the production, which is still in previews, was rather uneven. I thought all the actors were very good. I just thought Act I clipped by at actually too fast a pace. The dialogue had a bit of a manic delivery about it. It didn't feel like what they were saying was unbelievable, it was just too quick. It sounded a little too clever. I wanted it to have more room to breathe. Act II was much better in that regard. I felt like things developed more organically. The one problem with Act II was that there was a big fight scene that was very awkwardly staged. It was very obvious that the punches were not landing. It took me out of the moment. My problems with the play though will probably lessen as the run goes on. The ingredients for a good production are there, they just haven't found their footing yet. Given a little more time, I'm sure they will.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

False Idols: Alexis, We Hardly Knew Thee

Oh, Alexis. Jolene screwed you over. Big Time. If it's any consolation i don't think she listened to Dolly Parton either. She's a bitch that way. And the arrangement of your Top 11 song didn't help you at all. It just wasn't good this week. I hoped they'd use the Judges' Save on you, but what more could you have done with that song? Not much. There wasn't a lot for the Judges to grab on to in your second go around with it There are normally some power notes in that song, but they all fell a bit short this time. I will really miss you. I do not think you should've gone home. Finding you at the bottom was a shocker and it's a shame you won't get to go on tour. It just goes to show how vulnerable everyone is during the early rounds of this show. Best of luck in the future!

Contestant on the Edge:

Sarver. I thought he'd excel this week, but he did not. If he's not gonna e able to nail country week, where is he gonna make his mark? Plus all of America knows his 3 year old daughter thinks he hates her for being away so much. They might feel compelled to let him go home and correct her assessment of the situation.

Rant of the Week:

Anoop. I think you are cool. Please get a stylist. Your clothes make you look like all that awaits you in the coming day is calculus and behavioral psych. It is the most casual of old navy basics. Your polos are not even fitted polos. Look around you. The others are trying to style themselves. Please up your game. I like your voice and your personalirt. Wrap yourself in a snazzier package and you'll go far.

Adam. There is no need to make up for Anoop's lack of look by going 120 mph in the other direction. Your ring of fire performance was CRAZY SAUCE. I understand you've got a Bowie thing going on, but it's too much. It makes me think you'd be better served on RockStar: INXS than this competition. You've gotta dial it down, because you're gonna run out of room to top your antics, unless you star biting the heads off bats on stage. And that's not something Fox can handle in the 8pm hour.

Letters To The President: Veteran Health

As submitted at

Dear President Obama.

I am writing to you today about the White House proposal that would require veterans to use private insurance to pay for treatment of their combat and service-related injuries. Echoing the thoughts of Rep. Glenn Nye (D-VA), I believe such a proposal ,"could harm our veterans and their families in unintended, yet very serious ways, jeopardizing their families' health care and even negatively affecting veterans' employment opportunities."

While I strongly support your plans to increase funding for the VA by $25 billion over the next five years, I believe the proposal to bill veterans' private health insurance plans for care and treatment of service-connected injuries or disabilities is an unfair burden on our military families. Please listen to the opposition presented by veterans' groups and abandon this proposal.

Best Regards,
Owen Panettieri

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Happy St. Patrick's Day. I will not be celebrating with Irish Soda Bread, Corned Beef and Cabbage or Beer, but I've got my green on and I'm having a nice day. I hope you are too! Shamrocks and Leprechauns in the HOUSE!

And just in case we need another reason to love Michelle Obama, there is THIS!

Born To Be A Dancer

Sunday i saw Paul Taylor Dance Company at NY City Center. A few weeks ago during a lazy sunday afternoon, i saw a documentary on the dance company on pbs and was really taken with it. When i saw they were doing a run of performances at NYCC, i was eager to see it. Since i was heavy in rehearsal for the Woman during its run the only day i could go was the final performance yesterday. The one downside of this was that i was hoping to see their new piece that is set to music by the mamas and the papas - one of my favorite all time music groups. But that was not on the schedule for Sunday so it was not meant to be. Maybe sometime in the future!
LE SACRE DU PRINTEMPS (THE REHEARSAL), EVENTIDE and BELOVED RENEGADE. They were all remarkable and were reflections on art and death and it was really a great show. The REHEARSAL was first and seemed the longest. It was also the most confusing because there seemed to be a lot of story. After it ended and the intermission curtain fell, the girl sitting next to me turned and said "Excuse me. Did you understand what was going on?" "No." I replied. But i wasn't really trying to understand what was going on. There were a bunch of characters and some stuff happened, but who cares? The movement was amazing and very emotional. So even though someone was hiring someone else to kill some baby (that's my best guess in terms of plot) it was not really what drew me in. EVENTIDE and BELOVED RENEGADE were also very good. It's really impressive that the company can have so many complex dances in their repertoire at once, that you could come see the show several times and never see the same pieces performed. I'm very glad I went to see this. My only lament was that it took FOREVER for them to change the floor during the intermissions. I swear it turned an 1:45 minutes of Dance into a 2:30 minute event. Still it was beautiful and evocative and inspired, so i guess long intermissions are a small price to pay. I hope next time I can see them they bring back the Mamas and the Papas number. I NEED IT!

Blinded By Love (and a Dagger to the Eye)

This past weekend i completed the run of a show called the Woman. It was my friend Andrea's grad directing thesis at columbia. I had done two other shows with Andrea, and it was really nice to work with her again on her final production there. The plot of the show centers around the fall of Troy and then an island adventure some years after. The script is a total monster. We made it work though! The show was just under three hours long. I don't know if i've ever done such a long show. I really enjoyed the run though. The cast i worked with were really just wonderful people. I had so much fun being with them and working with them on stage. It was a large cast and there really wasn't a bad apple in the bunch. Everyone was so generous and positive, even when we were there for long hours. I will certainly miss seeing them everyday, even if i don't miss the train ride from morningside heights to astoria at 11:15pm this week!
Congrats again to Andrea, cast and crew for what we accomplished together! And a special shout out to "Jim" The Gnome for standing in as our Goddess of Good Fortune throughout the rehearsal process!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

All My Behlmanns

My buddy John Behlmann was on All My Children yesterday. I often yell at him when he does not alert me to Behlmann sightings on stage and screen and yesterday's episode proved no exception. He was busy though and forgot to DVR it himself. Despite his aversion to self promotion, another friend was lovely enough to send along this clip, so the whole world can take in his hunky glory. I might have to talk to wardrobe about that sweater he's wearing, but I hope this one of many more episodes featuring Behlmann still to come! Feast you eyes!

Their moves were fast as lightning

My brain is very tired, and this makes me laugh. Enjoy.

I especially like how he tries to keep swinging the nunchucks after missing the flip. Battle on, guy.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Tech-nically Still Alive

Dear Friends,

I am writing to you from tech. There is no internet signal in this theater. None at all! Not even a password protected signal. What kind of strange voodoo magic is going in the basement of Riverside Church? Clearly, Jesus doesn’t hate the internet, right?Almost the entire cast is asleep right now. If all of the good sleeping spots had not been taken I would be asleep as well. They are teching a long scene that doesn’t involve most of the ensemble and I don’t have the mental fortitude to keep going. If you are reading this online, than it means one of two things. 1) I survived and made it back to an area with a wireless signal or 2) I perished under the strain of not being able to surf the web, but they found this typed out on my computer and posted it with an in memoriam message. I’m guessing option 1 is more likely, but you never know. The tech is actually going well. We’re all just tired and losing an hour of sleep to Daylight Savings Time didn’t help AT ALL. I’mg going a bit stir crazy. As they say in Les Miz, something’s gotta happen now or something’s gonna give. It’ll come, It’ll come, It’ll come….

With Love,

Let Sleeping Dogs Die

There are many things I love about my apartment. The size is good for me, the location is good for me, it’s within my ability to pay for it on my own. These are all great things! If there was one thing I could change about it, however, it would be that it would not be situated under an apartment that housed two insane dogs.

I hate the dogs that live above me. I hate them so much. I don’t always notice that they are there. They don’t bark constantly. But they choose to make their presence known at the randomest of times. They love to go completely crazy at 6:30am on a Sunday morning. They bark like crazy and I can hear their hellion paws scurrying all over my ceiling. Sometimes I want to throw open my window Elaine Benice-style and scream…

I feel like my upstairs neighbor does nothing to try to quiet them. So I also hate my upstairs neighbors. It must be much worse noise for the people who live next to them. It’s amazing to me that in desperation for some quiet, they haven’t broken into the barking dog apartment and killed every living thing inside. If someone did, and it went to trial, I would testify on behalf of the defense.

Sometimes I wish for the people above to me move, and sometimes I just wish for the dogs to die. I really have no preference as to which comes to pass as long as I no longer get waken up by them in the morning. Every once in a while the dogs will fight with each other, and there will be a terrible snarling noise and the heavy thudding on the ceiling of doggy-sized bodies get knocked around above me “Oh, good!” I think as I hear the noise. “One is finally killing the other one.” In my head, I envision one dog sinking its neck into the other. It’s a mortal wound, so the crazy snarling will be excused this one final time. In its death throws, Dog 2 somehow manages to scratch out the vocal cords of Dog 1. It’s not enough to kill Dog 1, but Dog 1 will never bark again. So after this final battle, one dog is dead, one can no longer make noise and Owen has some peace and quiet. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Neverending Awesomeness

Shout Out to Dawn for posting this on Da Book today. I don't really know what I can say about it. Kids Incorporated was a show I watched all the time as a kid, but i honestly couldn't tell you what the show was about. I don't think that's so much my faulty memory as perhaps the show had no discernible storyline. There were kids, they talked to each other about some stuff and then they performed 80's pop songs as a performing group. Perhaps they were, in fact, incorporated. It wasn't a good show, but it was AWESOME.

Now comes this clip of incorporated kids singing a song of immense importance to me in my youth, the theme song to The NeverEnding Story. This clip is made even more relevant given the fact that there is an ABSURD project being launched to remake the movie, incorporating (no pun intended) more of the original book. This is a BAD idea for three reasons (1) The original movie is a total classic, even if you think the special effects don't hold up, or you are a NES literary purist who doesn't like the cuts, (2) the book is great but there's a lot of plot, the original movie ends where it should, setting up a sequel for the rest of the story which leads us straight into... (3) the sequels that have tried to deal with the rest of the story BIT IT BIG. They are terrible movies! I have no confidence that a young adult movie made today could really capture the sense of darkness and dread that is pervasive in the book and captured so well in the original movie. Most of the plot of the movie is told in the odd lyrics of the theme song. I'm pleased that Kids Incorporated did the whole song. You could easily cut out a verse and nobody (but me) would notice or mind. Stoh-o-REEEEE!!! Ohhhhh.... When is this movie being released on Blu-Ray? I NEED IT.