Plowing my south forty

Recently I purchased a Miracle-Gro AeroGarden, then I bought another.  Currently in the largest, Bounty version, I have cherry tomato plants.  For a while I also had lettuce, but they seeded out and the tomatoes took over.  I love tomatoes and so am getting a real kick out of harvesting fresh cherry tomatoes straight  into my mouth.  The AeroGarden is a version of a hydroponic garden (the roots are in both air and water) and so uses no soil.  This is very handy and clean in a New York City apartment.  It also has a grow light which will serve me well all winter.

My second garden is a small Sprout version that is being used for herbs (basil – delicious; dill – very nice; and parsley – struggling a bit).  I love having fresh basil to add to my beloved Caprese Salad, fresh and delicious.  I will also try making some fresh small batch pesto later.

I missed the gardening that I did in Pittsburgh, Florida and Ohio and never thought I would have a chance in a NY apartment.  Just call me Farmer Walter.

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Heisenberg

Amazing.  If you have the opportunity you must see this play.  As indicated in a previous post I was anxious to see how Simon Stephens would handle this.  Had I not known he had also written The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and Punk Rock, I would have thought they were written by three different playwrights.  He does not repeat himself and finds something new and fresh, a different voice, each time.

The very intimate setting (especially for a Broadway house) places the action on a narrow strip on the lip of the stage.  A large seating section upstage (and corresponding blocking of seats in the rear mezzanine) puts everyone close to the action and the Samuel Friedman theater provides great sightlines. A couple of tables, a couple of chairs, a pillow, some hand props and generic wardrobe is it.  The actors are exposed with just themselves and the text.  And what a text.  True to the title it plays with the uncertain reactions on the smallest scale, one to one interaction.

Fortunately we are in the  hands of extraordinary performers, Denis Arndt and Mary-Louise Parker.  They are brilliant in their roles and a joy to watch onstage.   This is what theater should be – a chance to understand the human condition close up and personal.  I really mean it.  Do not miss this show.

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Lewis Black: Black to the Future

Lewis Black is one of our foremost political comics and a particularly angry man.  Of course, that is his hook, he clenches his teeth, fingers start wagging, he shakes is jowls and growls in frustration.  All very funny in the process.

Last night he did a one man show at the Marquis Theater on Broadway (where On Your Feet runs the rest of the week).  As always he had lots to comment on, especially the current presidential election.  I’ve always been a fan of his, especially form his short pieces on The Daily Show with John Stewart.  Honestly, he is better in small doses like that format, but he was very funny last night and I am glad I had the opportunity to see him live.

His short six show run is done this year on Broadway but he plays lots of dates around the country of his stand-up gigs.  If you get a chance, catch his act, you won’t regret it.  Interestingly the playbill states that he started out as a playwright but this has proved much more lucrative.  No kidding, there is almost no way to earn a living as a playwright in this country.  Still, I would be interested in seeing or reading some of his work to see how closely his stand-up persona matches his plays.

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The Wandering Moose Cafe

While riding on US Route 7 in northwest Connecticut I have come across this delicious eatery near a covered bridge just off the road.  It is a lovely spot off a scenic road where lots of motorcyclists stop.  The menu and the food is fantastic.  There are many good choices and you should try as many as possible.  The coffee is self serve but the wait staff is great.

Pamela and I have been there a couple of times, largely because Connecticut is a helmet free state and she really likes that.  I feel OK riding on a three wheel vehicle in a way I would not do on two wheels.  It does feel great though I have to watch out to avoid getting too sun on my bald dome.

If you are in the neighborhood I strongly recommend stopping by to say hello to the good folks at The Wandering Moose Cafe.

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Playwright Redux

Coming up this season are three productions written by playwrights I have recently enjoyed, coming back for another bite at The Big Apple.

HEISENBERG is being presented by The Manhattan Theater Club and was written by Simon Stephens.  He is best known for his adaptation of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, which was pretty interesting.  I most enjoyed his play Punk Rock which played off Broadway last season.  I am very interested in seeing this play.

THE CHERRY ORCHARD was, I know, written by Anton Chekhov but has a new adaptation by Stephen Karam.  I very much enjoyed seeing his The Humans which is still on Broadway as I write this – see it if you can.  I am interested in what he will do with this script.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE is being presented off-Broadway this year by the Roundabout Theater Company.  It was written by Mike Bartlett, whose King Charles III was one of the best and most surprising plays last season.  Looking forward to seeing his riff on life in the sixties.

So, this fall I get the chance to follow new works of three artists I have come to admire.  Can’t wait!

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Hamilton – the Future

When I first saw Hamilton a few days after it opened in February 2015 my very first reaction was that I could not wait for the high school version of the script to be licensed.  Finally the drama club at your local high school might be the cool place to be.  Not so when I was growing up.  When my high school did “The Miracle Worker” I was cast as Captain Keller and we had a coup when a pitcher on the baseball team was talked into playing my son.  A jock in a play?  Got us huge audiences and lots of hooting at inappropriate times.

But the multi-ethnic casting of Hamilton plus the rap/R&B component will draw different people to be part of the drama club they can be a part of.  This is exciting because if we can draw new blood into the business it has a chance of not withering on the vine.

Not only that but Lin-Manuel Miranda has found an exciting way to present history that young people may just eat up.  I can’t wait until his next work “The War of 1812 and the Anthem that Followed.”  Should be great!

Now the controversial part.  Way back when the original Miss Saigon played New York (coming back this season) there was an uproar when Jonathan Pryce was cast as The Engineer, a Vietnamese role.  I get the concern about cultural appropriation and the long and hurtful history of caucasians cast with makeup to play Asian roles.  Not going to evade the fact that I have white man privilege but I saw Jonathan’s performance and he was great.  At the time I said the answer was cross cultural casting across the theater, which was insensitive as it was then very unrealistic as white men controlled the theater and saw everything through their lens. So I am happy to see more and more control of the theater and the central leading roles shift toward other ethnic (and gender) persons.  It will enrich and expand our art form for the better.  But there still can be no quotas or bans on white people playing other types – IF it works and enriches the work.  Sorry, I still felt Jonathan gave a great performance.  This will always be a tough topic and one which causes great hurt to some people.  Seeing George Washington as an African American, Alexander Hamilton as a Hispanic and all the other ethnic twisting that Thomas Kail and Lin-Manuel Miranda did with Hamilton provided an entirely new insight to the play.  Go with it people, we are Stronger Together!  🙂

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Hamilton – Flawless Show?

Still can’t get Hamilton off the brain, out of the head.  Because this was the second time I saw the show, I tried to watch off focus to see what was going on in the periphery.  With the double turntable it is a complicated performance.  The music and lyrics are amazing.  And of course the weaving of the history lesson endears me to it.  Lin-Manuel rightly gets huge credit for conceiving and weaving the elements together.  But even he gives it up for…

Alex Lacamoire who is the music supervisor and did the orchestrations

Andy Blankenbuehler who did the powerful and intricate choreography

Thomas Kail who brought it all together as director

These gentlemen are the real people who make this a flawless musical.  That is not to say a perfect musical which is different.  But Hamilton as a whole accomplishes all it sets out to be and beautifully so.  There is a very good reason this is such a hot ticket.  I’ll be back to see it again!

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Hamilton – Again

Today I won the Broadway Direct lottery for a ticket to Hamilton on Broadway.  I attended the Saturday matinee at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.  This is the second time I’ve seen the show.  I won a Today Tix Lottery on February 21, 2015, also a Saturday matinee.  For each ticket I paid only $10 as that is the deal for these lotteries.  Meanwhile people are paying thousands of dollars for tickets to this show.

In general I only see discounted shows.  I prefer to not pay full price and that means I miss a few.  Hamilton pioneered the lottery program that many now use and has become sort of an electronic rush option.  I have now won two Hamiltons and several other shows.  I look forward to more, because I tend to be a lucky guy.

If anyone is interested, I suggest trying to win by entering for a single ticket.  Each time I have won I was front and center with 5 couples on either side (there are 21 tickets in the lottery, more to be added next year).  Right now I intend to win the lottery and see the show each year and this one will run for many years.

Hamilton will take over this blog and dominate it for the next several posts.  Maybe many posts.  This is too big of a show to sum up quickly.  I m overwhelmed because, yes, it was a marvelous show – again.

More to come soon.

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Bob? Nobel? Dylan?

Oh yes, my children, it is true.  The greatest popular poet of our time has been awarded the Nobel.  I could never have dreamed to hear that as a young man.  Wow.  I have a substantial music collection and a good chunk of that is Bob Dylan and the many covers of his work.  Amazing.  I am thrilled.  No special insight.  Just a happy day.  I usually play music at my desk at work.  Guess what playlist I am using today.

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Oh Hello on Broadway

Had the chance to see this comic play skit recently.  It was funny but uneven.  It really was a very long Saturday Night Live sketch that sometimes hit and sometimes missed.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but Neil Simon they ain’t (does anyone else alive even know who Neil Simon was is?)  Sigh.

I may have enjoyed it more had I known the likes of the two handers Nick Kroll and John Mulaney.  There were obviously great fans of them in the house who picked up on the mysterious touchstones of their work (apparently they regularly experience peak tuna).  I enjoyed the many theatre references including the obligatory dream ballet.  That said there were many inside jokes, the theater ones I got, apparently some pop references I missed.

In today’s times this provides a very good excuse to spend an evening laughing.  Give it a try.  Ultimately I left entertained if sometimes a little confused.

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