Culture Vulture

Another week of busy busy, but almost all fun, or at least pleasant, stuff.

Last Sunday, I did my monthly visit to the cemetery, which is always lovely and peaceful, then to the nearby diner, which is always fun. Putzed around for the rest of the day until it was time to go into town. Back when I’d moved to New York City, but my college roommate Vance was in Detroit, as I bragged about going to Broadway shows or the opera or whatever New Yorky thing I was enjoying, he’d envy my “That Girl” lifestyle. But since he and Craig moved to Connecticut, they are far more “That Girl”y than I – they see shows and concerts much more often, and go to entertaining gay stuff a lot too. Which is how I ended up getting invited to Drag Bingo at Pieces. V&C are old hands at drag bingo, but I’d never been, and since I’d just had dinner with them the Friday before, they gave me the scoop on how it all works, what time to show up, what to expect as far as buying bingo cards and drink specials and the prizes and such. Also, this particular Sunday, a new queen, Chaka Khanvict, was taking over.

So I showed up and V&C had already snagged a table, and I got a round of mimosas and, once shop was set up, one of us got the first round of bingo cards. ($5 for one, $10 for a sheet of 4, and $20 for 3 sheets of four. We were playing two cards a game, for six games, so if you do the math, we each ended up buying one round of 3 sheets each.) The setup was generally: queen does a number, then runs a bingo game. First round was standard bingo, but others were “block out an O” or “block out an L” or (for the last one) “block out the entire card”. Winner spun a wheel for prizes, and the cash prizes went up and up over the evening – you could potentially win $1,000 in one game. Also, Miss Chaka was handing out autographed pictures to the winners.

So we started the first round, and amazingly, I won! I was like, “did I get this wrong?” but no, I really won! Went up to get my prize, spun the wheel and won 75 bucks!

So that was my high point, but the whole event was super-fun. Not only did we consume many mimosas, but every time O69 was called, they passed out free shots (of what? could have been anything, whatever they were trying to get rid of) to everyone. That happened four times! So we were quite plastered when we left.

What I should have done is immediately go get something to eat, to counteract the booze, but decided to go home to JH first – and managed to trip and fall in the subway station, like an idiot. Clumsy and drunk is not a good combination. I wasn’t hurt hurt, but I have a pretty massive bruise where I landed on my elbow, even now. So maybe next time I’ll skip the shots.

Went home, did get some lovely greasy food at the Mexican restaurant, and went home and watched Top Gun: Maverick, which was fun for what it was. Or maybe I watched that on Saturday night. Whatevs.

Wednesday, I went into town to go to the office, but also to go to a concert that night, presented by LOONY. Operetta favorites, directed, produced, accompanied and performed by a bunch of my friends (and I knew half the audience too). It was a lot of fun. It was presented as a ‘second round of auditions’ which allowed the singers to do their party pieces, but gave it a theme and allowed for improv’d comedy. (It shared a lot of DNA with the first act of a show we did about ten years ago, where we were auditioning for a production of Trial by Jury, and ended up performing “Miss” Trial by Jury, a gender-reversed presentation.) There were numbers from Merry Widow, some G&S, some Cole Porter, a surprise “Can’t Help Lovin’ that Man” sung by David Macaluso, delightful and entertainingly set up. Also, they finished with a competition-winning song by Julian Sydney Rosenblum, the son of two friends of mine, all terrific performers. So, a lovely evening. (As is typical of this sort of thing, though, I run into friends I haven’t seen in a while who either haven’t yet offered their condolences, or hadn’t actually heard about ‘the thing’, so I had to offer that info in a nice not-depressing way. It’s fine, that’s going to happen regularly over the next year or so.)

I had a bunch of buddies doing a concert “Iolanthe” with VLOG on Friday and Saturday, but I had a software deployment on Friday. Not a big deal, but something I have to do every few Fridays. Basically, the developers do the work of the deployment, and then the rest of us ‘smoke test’ – just enough of a test to make sure the system is basically working. For me, that’s creating a new test customer. If my system is talking to the other systems properly, the end result is that the test customer should get a welcome email. Then there’s a similar function to manually send a welcome email to an existing customer. And that’s it (for me, at least) – two simple tests, two emails arriving (or not). The only minor drag is that it’s usually after 10:00 pm when this happens, and so I have to be very moderate in my wine intake during dinner and TV time. (well, I should always be moderate, but even more so on these nights) (Gosh, is this post all about my drinking? I’m not a lush, I PROMISE.)

So I went to Iolanthe on Saturday. Minor bummer – it was at Symphony Space and years ago, C and I had discovered this awesome Greek restaurant called Teleo just a few blocks south that was our go-to pre-show dinner place for there – but… they’ve moved! They’re over on Columbus, farther south. Plus, the 7 train is down on weekends for a while which meant that the obvious L-shaped route of 7 to the 1 to get me to the Upper West Side wasn’t gonna work. Once I finally got to the 1, I ended up going up one more stop, to 103, because the online maps showed lots of restaurants there, and had a really nice meal at Serafina. Cosmos of course (but they were small and pricey), a lovely green salad, a great pasta dish with a shrimp cream sauce, and tiramisu for dessert.

Off to the show. I’d only bought my ticket that morning online, and the place had filled up, so I ended up in the 2nd-to-front row, looking square at the cast’s shoes. But it was fine. Iolanthe is a lovely show – would be my favorite G&S except it really is a lot about very old British politics, and Ruddigore will always be my #1. My friends Martin and Chaz were the Lord Chancellor and Strephon, both roles they’d done before, and they were fantastic. Other friends Casey, Tyler and Laura were the Fairy Queen, Private Willis and Celia, and they were all delightful. Widening the scope a bit, the other leads were middling and the chorus was mostly fine – but a lot of people were on book and still having trouble with words. There were a lot of missed opportunities for funny – but a lot of grabbed ones too (it very much depended on the actor). I was actually impressed how well the ensemble music went, considering it was led from the piano by the musical director, never ideal.

I will also say that while the MD played it just fine, there really wasn’t a point in giving us the overture played on piano, unless it was staged, which it wasn’t. That overture is a marvel of orchestration, which you totally lose in a piano reduction. Again, nicely performed, but didn’t seem to add value. Sorry if I’m seeming a little critical of a show with a lot of friends in it, but it’s very much these types of issues that I spend lots and lots of time thinking about because it’s my job.

Other than that, it was a quiet weekend, got a lot done. Didn’t watch the Superb Owl, of course, had a nice dinner out and then watched various TV shows.

Oh, yes, Valentine’s Day is Tuesday. I am not going to celebrate it, but I am also not feeling resentful about it. I had 28 lovely Valentine’s Days in a row with the most lovely human being, so I’ll probably just raise a glass and call it a day. (well, unless some local bakery has a decorated cupcake or something, maybe I’ll pick that up) I won’t launch into Hello, Young Lovers, but by all means, if you are celebrating V-Day tomorrow, I hope it’s delightful and warm and that you enchant each other all over again!

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