Monday, May 25, 2009

Holidays

Unlike most people I'm not a fan of holidays.  Oh sure I like having a day off here and there, of course, but I mean in general holidays are pretty much not much to me.

It started when I was a kid, this ennui about holidays.  Actually I outright hated them.  The delight of not having to go to school (because I hated school with a bloody passion) was always quashed by the dread of being home.  Holidays meant 'bar the door 'cos the fightin's about to start'.  Especially the summer holidays.  Summer + beer = my father's drunken rampages.  So not so much fun for me, the holidays.

It sucks that any joy (pardon the use of my name) that would have been a part of a family gathering (when they happened) or just a lazy day off was sucked out of holidays for me by alcoholism and violence.  What continues to suck is that I still don't enjoy them much.

I never really learned how to like them.  Never really participated in gatherings of the holiday-ish sort as I became an adult because... well... I just don't really know how to.  Still don't.

And frankly, I still feel a sense of dread at the thought of them.

Holidays for me mostly mean a lot of quiet.  I usually clean, or watch movies or if I'm feeling really decadent I read.  

What I don't like to admit, but I'm going to, is that I'm jealous too.  I'm jealous of people who make plans for holidays, jealous that they have people who want to see them and make an effort.  I'm jealous of people having a good time on holidays, and I'm jealous of people who have memories of fun family gatherings.

It's not pretty, but I never said I was pretty.

It would be nice to not feel that way, nice to have that holiday-thing that people have.  But frankly it's a skill I never learned, and I'm not sure it's one that you can learn especially when it means unlearning dread.

When I'm in a particularly good mood I can let go of the 'jealous' a bit and bask in the relief of knowing I never, ever again, have to be trapped in a place with people stumbling, slurring and fighting.  Never have to be subjected to people I do not like and who actively terrify me for the sake of 'family holidays'.

But when I'm blue it's harder.  It makes for the lonely and the self-pity.  Which is soooo not attractive. Nor appealing.

What's even more difficult is the pretending.  This happens when well-meaning, more mainstreamy type people ask "do you have plans?"  Because I have to go into my standard schtick.  The "oy vey, no way all I want to do is sleep!"  Because to do otherwise would open a kettle of fish nobody wants to smell.  And why would I want to do that ... oh wait, I'm doing it now.  Well, at least you have the option of not reading.  In person it tends to make people uncomfortable and that's not something I enjoy... unless there's a laugh to be gotten from it.

So holidays.  Summer holidays.  Cheers. 

Sunday, May 24, 2009

This Blogger Speaks.... not sure that's a good thing

video

I think the sound is a little low...  Sorry.  But if anyone wants more of this, I'll try to fix that.  

Friday, May 22, 2009

Is it an emergency?

Not half an hour ago the pipe under my sink sprang a leak. When I touched it to see just where the leak was coming from the entire thing fell out. I called the building's management company, because the super... not so much. After telling him what happened the guy at the management company asked: is it an emergency?



I dunno... what do you think?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Transition

My P.C. has been giving me grief for at least a year - there's always something and it's always slow.  Not to mention the terrible noise.  Yeah, my hard drive was so loud people would ask if someone was running a lawnmower outside.  Outside here being a NYC street... not so much with the lawnmowers.

So I finally decided to bite the bullet, part with the bucks and switch sides.  I got a Mac.

The few times in the past that I've encountered a Mac I've been so thoroughly disoriented that I swore I would never switch.  Of course I said the same thing when the big Windows change came, you know the one that went from keystrokes to using a mouse.... and before that programming the kooky thing yourself using BASIC.  I'm sorry, is anyone old enough to remember those days?  Methuselah, you reading this honey?

Well, several of my friends have made the transition from Windows to Macs and they speak with the fire of the converted.  I've been through enough crap reformatting hard drives, reinstalling new drives, having to deal with dying P.C.s to finally join the ranks of the Apple people.

I've had it for just over a week and I'm still feeling like I never used a computer before... okay that's an exaggeration, but after decades of doing it one way it's a little confusing.  I kind of miss knowing what I had to do to make something happen, and where things were and how to fix things that were broken but change is good and learning new things keeps the brain from atrophying, so I'm embracing the new.

I'm really embracing the quiet too.  This machine is so quiet I wonder if it's actually plugged in.  I mean I hear NOTHING from it.  The P.C.s have always rattled and quaked so much I wondered if there really WAS a little man in there turning the drives.  

I still have a way to go to feel like I really know how to use this thing properly, but I figure it'll come.  And it will be worth it when I finally master the new programs and have things actually work the way I know they ought to. Everyone says Macs are easier to use but when you've spent so much time with P.C.s and have an intuitive feel for them (easy for me because they are clearly as wacked as my thought processes are) it's maybe not so easy as it might be for someone who had trouble with learning P.C.s.  But I'm going to persevere.  

I miss my right click a bit though, gotta admit.

Monday, May 11, 2009

What makes a two-hour train ride worthwhile?

Saturday night, as you can see from the previous post, I was attending Comic Tales of Tragic Heartbreak's CD release party. It was an AMAZING evening. Seeing them play in a bar/club setting is fun - seeing it in a theater with appropriate lighting and a great sound system where Robert Whaley can really let his inner thespian out is even better.

My very wonderful BFF Gary dragged himself away from a ton of grad school work to travel into the city from the farthest reaches of .... far away (I honestly don't know what is outside the borders of NYC...) to see this show with me. Because I asked him to and he is a good friend (and knew I'd kill him if he didn't! :) But it meant a lot to me that he came because it was a bit of a hassle for him. But I also knew that he would LOVE it. And he did. The proof is here.
video

Now not everyone enjoys this sort of attention, but those of us with our very useful degrees in THEATRE, well... we kinda love it... we actually EXPECT it. And happily it seems to happen with some regularity: Keely Smith, Debbie Reynolds, Shockheaded Peter, the lovely Miss Coco Peru... I could go on, I'm just pointing out that these 'interactions' with a live show + the Joy & Gary show are nothing new.

I got a good solid half hour of Saturday night's show on video - if my memory card was larger I could have gotten the whole 90 minutes - plus the celebratory dance party that happened after the show. Because you know, this Comic Tales of Tragic Heartbreak isn't a typical show. It's theater, music, and of course dance.

I'm only posting one song, this is the one that Gary responded to the most so as a 'thank you' to him for coming I thought I'd share it with everyone.



I can't wait for them to do this show again, and if you can get to, or are in New York, you should come too - you'll get a gold star in my 'book' if you do! Like my friend Hélène who also came even though she was swamped. (She didn't get pulled onstage so I focused on Gary here, but I also want to put it out there that I appreciate her coming too!)

Monday, May 04, 2009

In New York City on Saturday?***

CD Release Party -
Comic Tales of Tragic Heartbreak
The Theatrical Experience of C T T H!

Date:
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Time:
9:30pm - 11:00pm
Location:
45 Bleecker Street Theater, Downstairs
Street:
45 Bleecker St.., off Lafayette Street
City/Town:
East New York, NY


Description

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: John Lacy (212) 475-2504
reasonmusicmanagement@live.com

Comic Tales of Tragic Heartbreak – CD Release Event!

(New York, NY) May 9, 2009 – This show has been going gangbusters all over New York City, with a hotly anticipated release on Triple R Records (www.tripleRrecords.com) scheduled for May 9, 2009, at 45 Bleecker Street Theater (downstairs), at 9:30 PM - doors open at 9:00 PM, with general admission seating.

This CD release party will be unlike any Comic Tales of Tragic Heartbreak show you've seen before. A not-to-be-missed unique, intimate theatrical event, featuring a bit of comic stand up, some tragic stories, a few fantastic songs from the new CD (including new material), and of course - a little interpretative dance.

Just print out and bring in the coupon from the Comic Tales website for a special $10 ticket - that's half off the normal price!

“Lunacy? Spectacle? And music, too?” Rene Chun, New York Times

“The best show I’ve seen in months.” Dan Aquilante, New York Post

Comic Tales’ lead singer, songwriter, and trumpeter Robert Whaley previously fronted NYC rock legends, The Niagaras. With a penchant for interpretive dancing on tabletops and hilariously satirical rants on a broken childhood, Whaley electrified national audiences with appearances on Good Morning America, the Oxygen network, and Fox. The Niagaras were a hugely popular staple of the Manhattan scene for nearly two decades, attracting celebrities, controversy, and packed houses along the way.

Seeking a return to the R&B roots that got him into music in the first place, and informed by an almost pathological aversion to anything post-1974, Whaley joined forces with pianist and arranger Aaron Wyanski, industry veteran Michael “Miguelito” LaMorté (Mini-King, Grupo Miguelito) on bass, and longtime Niagaras drummer Dylan Wissing (Johnny Socko, Novel) to craft an organic, literate, deeply-grooving collection of semi-autobiographical songs.

Written in a tiny studio filled to bursting-with-20th Century literature, and inspired by a massive collection of obscure vinyl, Comic Tales of Tragic Heartbreak have managed to create a sound and a show which is both timeless and cutting-edge. The sweat-drenched performances along with the rapidly-disappearing ability to deeply engage and entertain a crowd really leave a lasting impression. Sounds like hype, until you experience it in person.

More information, with sound files, video, and photographs can be found on:

www.comictalesoftragicheartbreak.com

www.myspace.com/comictalesoftragicheartbreak

# # #

HERE'S WHAT THE CRITICS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT Comic Tales of Tragic Heartbreak:

"It was a performance Jim Morrison would have loved. Lunacy? Spectacle? And music too??"
Rene Chun, New York Times

"...the best show I've seen in months. It was a fit of deliberate performance that riveted every eye..."
Dan Aquilante, New York Post

"...A high-turbo blend of manic songs and clever and whacked out improv. Robert Whaley should be a Ritalin poster boy. And I mean that admiringly."
Cynthia True, Time Out New York

"Sharp dressed showmanship and sharp witted pop."
New Yorker Magazine

"It's painfully obvious why Robert Whaley is part of one of New York's longest-running acts. His songs are odd hybrids of Beatles-esque melodies and Zappa-esque rhythms."
Dawn Eden, New York Press

"Singer/cornetist/clown prince Robert Whaley tosses Bowie/Morrissey and Quentin Crisp into a Ventures blender, adds a dash of grenadine, a splash of mescaline, hits ultra-whip and splurt! It's all over the ceiling."
Steve Santos, Alternative Press

"Musicians can get by on mere talent. But beauty turns talent into a luxury. Comic Tales is a handsome quartet who dress like Harry Connick Jr. and sound like a cross between Leonard Cohen and David Byrne."
Rob Kemp, Musician Magazine

"Stars fall for these guys."
Candace Busnell (creator, Sex and the City), Vogue Magazine

***I know this was sort of a cheat of a post.... but I do love these guys and since they'd already prepared this information, who am I to change it? (oh my god am I lazy or what????)

Saturday, May 02, 2009

running

I really love to run but over the winter I pretty much stopped altogether. I wanted to run outside but the weather kept me from it, I could have run at the gym on the treadmill but I just ... didn't. Inertia, it's a beautiful thing.

I started running again a couple of weeks ago and was surprised that I could still manage it. I figured all the endurance I'd built up would be gone and I'd have to begin re-training slowly with a minute running, two minutes walking repeat, repeat. But shockingly, while I've lost the speed I'd worked up to I am still able to do the distances I was doing before I stopped. A nice surprise for sure. But even with this happy discovery I didn't manage to work in more than a once a week run. How lame.

Last Saturday I actually ran to and from a dog-walking job across town. 1.5 miles each way and was delighted with myself. The next day I went to a wedding, fortuitously it seemed everyone I met there was a runner. Not just 'oh I run' (like me) but multiple-marathon runners. Talking to them, and listening to the advice they had about running, gave me the oomph and motivation to get my sneakers back on the pavement (or treadmill). One woman in particular gave me a reality check on my running vs. my weight. I've been very cautious with my running because I'm fearful of overdoing it (as I will tend to do) and injuring my knee again, so that has always translated to running a maximum of 4 times a week and most often only 3 times. This multiple marathoner, who was a ball of fire and funny as hell, told me to run 3 miles six days a week. That if I did that there was no way it wouldn't show up on the scale and that if I did not push myself to that degree I'd never push to the next level in running.

I got so fired up by this advice that I've been running at night AFTER spending the day walking dogs. I'm usually more of a morning runner, but running later seems to be working for me. I feared I'd be too hyper to sleep if I ran at 8pm but instead I find I am passing out and sleeping really well. Hmmm. Not bad.

Ideally I'd have run every day this week, but I just couldn't do it. My knee did indeed start to assert its option to STOP so I had to take two nights off this week to let it rest, which seemed to do the trick. Typically I'd be really angry at myself for not DOING IT RIGHT, but I'm finding that in some areas I'm really learning to be kinder to myself. Taking a night off from the running to make sure my knee has time to recoup is smart, not weak. Maybe next week I'll only need one night off, maybe I'll need two again, but I know if I'm careful I can build up and get to the point where I can run 6 days a week and then raise my mileage.

When I first started running and I could barely do a mile before my knee was a blaze of pain, I never thought I could run 3 miles. Now I know that I can. If I can do a 5K (3.2 miles) 6 days a week, then I can eventually do 10K. And when I can do that.... well, maybe you see where this is going.

I really would like to run the NYC Marathon one day. It's something I've thought about for many years. Years before I ever attempted to run. There's something about completing a marathon that has a strong appeal. Not just for me, obviously the race wouldn't exist if there wasn't something that appeals to the spirit.

I've never been good with slow and steady. I get impatient and I've always been big on total immersion in something and then completely losing interest. Running is something you can't do that with - your body rebels. But training slowly, while it is time-consuming, does work and it's worth it and maybe, just maybe in 2011 I'll be running that marathon on the streets of the city I love.

When I see the treadmill clock in at 3.2 miles I can't stop smiling. Because that's ME running that far. ME? RUNNING? It's still amazes me, and I like that about it.