Charlie Updates

october-2016

The Latest Selfie. Keeping track of myself in case I am actually fading away.

Update: five minutes after initial posting. Ugh. My memory — Please watch the video at the end of the post.

I’m busy exploring my deciduous essence; who and what I am has always been about desquamation, and never has the tearing away of the scales and the shedding of skins been more the primary characteristics of my being than in the last five years or so. One does worry, sometimes, that the affirmative reduction process has or is in danger of eliding into a pathological diminishment of self, until I’ve subtracted myself into non-being — but if spiritual cleansing works like dieting, not much chance of that, as the weight loss is going slower with the passing of time. Damn. I used to be able to drop twenty pounds with little effort. No more. Funny, keeping records on a phone app, watching my dieting/exercise progress, and wishing there was a like-spiritual app. Instead, I take selfies. Okay then, that, and updates on where I am (and am not) going.

TWITTER

It’s now been more than a week since I have opened Twitter. I wish I could parse for you the emotional or psychological or spiritual impetus for the retreat, but, I can’t, not really, except to say the Latin root of the word impetus means to attack/attack, and while the people I follow on Twitter are everything lovely, there was a process going on inside me the result of which was I felt discontent, covetousness, an isolate in another world where I didn’t really belong. These are my issues, they were caused by Continue reading

Beautiful

“Take my hand. Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

Since I began writing, ages and ages ago, I don’t think I have ever completed a project that hewed to its original outline. When I was teaching theatre and wrote four or five plays a year for my students, I would begin by imagining an overall theme, then create characters to match the strengths and needs of the student-cast, and I would plan and plot,  scene by scene, the action, where the song breaks would be following formulas for placement of exposition/getting to know you numbers, the character numbers, the I WANT and I AM numbers, the comic relief numbers, the eleven o’clock numbers (and, as you might imagine, wordy as I am, and having LOADS of students needing their own moments, sometimes — despite the ages of my charges — they really were eleven o’clock numbers) and then, after all of that charting and index carding and careful calculation I would start to write.

And by the time the characters took over, none of the original plan remained.

So, it should come as no surprise to me that the project I’m now working on, a story meant to be about two lonely men who end up running a boarding house type of home for the wayward, who both have secret lives they share with no one, who find solace from their pasts in their friendship, new ways of connecting in a social media, virtual world, and a new definition of family, home, and love, should SOMEHOW have taken me back into the 1930s and 1940s backstories of the mother and aunt of one of them and the house in which they live. I keep telling whatever is forcing me back there; “I DON’T DO HISTORY DAMMIT. I’M NOT THAT KIND OF WRITER.” But, the characters won’t listen. The muse demands.

So, I’m moving VERY SLOWLY, because I know next to nothing about this area in the 1930s and 40s, and while the muse whispering the plot and action (well, SCREAMING) at me is forceful, I’m not sure of the veracity of the voice. So, RESEARCH. Ugh.

But, it’s beautiful, because, dear ones, it’s been a while since I heard the voices in the way I used to when I wrote for the kids. I loved those voices. I felt as if they came from the needs of my students, as in, the voices were the energies of stories my charges wanted to tell, wanted to make sing in the universe, from that glorious life-force those kids embodied and wanted to birth into the real world; I felt like the work we did together gave them the strength and spine and courage and skill they needed to go out and tell their life-stories to a universe badly in need of love and truth and song.

So, yes. I welcome the voice, even though it is challenging me.

Meanwhile, the universe blesses me with a banquet of salves and gifts to encourage me during this challenge. Like, uhm, oh let me see — my glorious New York trip. And if that wasn’t enough to keep me smiling until I reach my nineties, yesterday I found out that Idra Novey,  the brilliant author of the novel Ways to Disappear, had quoted me on her website. Look here WAYS TO DISAPPEAR/IDRA NOVEY’S WEBSITEthere I am alongside Amy Bloom, Karen Russell, Leslie Jamison, Booklist, Kirkus, The New York Freaking Times! Such an honor to be included with such luminaries and, even more, to have someone of Idra Novey’s gifts and insight and talent think I belong there. Great day, right? Yes. (In case you missed it, click HERE for the blog in which I wrote about Ways To Disappear — which, if you haven’t read, you MUST.)

And other blessings, like I’m reading a wonderful new novel by Molly Prentiss called Tuesday Nights in 1980 about which I’ll be writing soon. I mentioned it on Twitter and a dear one DM-ed me with a warming message and is sending me another book she thinks I will love. Still more joy, and then a dear one gave me Ruth Reichl’s Tender at the Bone, which I also love and will be shouting out soon. And another dear Twitter-pal posted a pic of Julia Murney, who I have long loved, and I commented about my adoration (semi-stalking) of her and she thanked me. (Small world note: the child who started my writing of shows, the one for whom I first KNEW I had to make theatre specific to her talents; Beth C., as a grown-up appeared in a show with Julia Murney!) The world is a lovely place, and the Twitter world is even lovelier. And I have made plans to meet a dear Twitter friend in real life later this month! And I am having dinner with my dear Diane tonight. And this Sunday is Mother’s Day, and two days later is the birthday of my dear sister, Debbie, and so this weekend I am making a feast for family, fifteen so far, for which I’ll be concocting and composing and cooking chickens and hams and macaronis and cheeses and red velvet cupcakes and yellow cakes with peanut butter icings and chocolate lava cakes and . . . it will be a fest of family love and celebration.

Beautiful, right?

I have a lot of love. And I have a lot of research to do. And the character, Hughes, just this morning whispered to me another secret about his aunt, and now I’ve got to find a way to access old newspapers around here for supporting facts for the fiction he’s given me and so . . . darlings, I leave you with Julia Murney singing about a Beautiful Boy (the lyrics of which supplied the opening quote of this blog entry) because I am a beautiful boy (wow, that is SO HARD to type, but, I did it for the Duchess and Sissie and all the others whose love has taught me how much I am loved, how beautiful I am, and I must honor them by believing it and living it every day, not surrendering to sorrow and self-deprecation) and while this life is NOT what I planned, while all of my original outline has bitten the dust (and swallowed it, and digested it, and shat it out, and … you get it) well, the energy and life-force of it– the yet to be told stories — wants to be expressed, and if I don’t, then who will?

Happy Day, my dears.

Tonight at Eight . . .Random Charlie

It’s eight o’clock on a Friday night … I’ve changed my sheets! WEEKEND!

Okay, well, I’m not just changing sheets; I’m also listening to the original Broadway cast recording of Hamilton: An American Musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda. I am listening to it because there is no possible way I will get to see it when I am in New York City for my birthday in LESS THAN A MONTH! Hamilton is sold out until — well, a long, long time.

WHO LIVES, WHO DIES, WHO TELLS YOUR STORY?

It’s okay I won’t see Hamilton. I’ll be there in New York from the 13th to 19th. On the 14th I am seeing Frank Langella in The Father. On my actual birthday, the 15th, I am seeing American Psycho and getting a backstage tour. On the 16th I am seeing Miss Barbara Cook and may even get to meet her — so, yes, the 16th will very likely be the day of my death. Thus, I think when I get off the train on the 13th, after checking in at the hotel, I will head to TKTS and try for seat to She Loves Me because I love the music and I think Laura Benanti is grand and I have never seen Jane Krakowski live, so, yes —

I had forgotten how much I loved the entire score from SHE LOVES ME, especially Tonight at Eight, and so, yes, I should try to see it on the 13th because, though I’ve nothing booked for 17th-19th, like I said, I’ll probably die on the 16th meeting Miss Cook.

My sister, a smartass (imagine that, in my family?) suggested I record myself and what I want to say to Miss Cook since in all likelihood I will be weeping with such vigor should I manage to make it into her presence that I will be unable to speak, thus, I could just hold my phone up to her and press play. Hmph.

I AM SEEING BARBARA COOK THE DAY AFTER MY BIRTHDAY! So ridiculously happy about this. I have been listening to all of her recordings again, over and over, too.

Listen to her voicings of the words “close” at 1:13-1:15 and “wrong” at 1:21-1:22, and “want” at 3:01-3:02, every single time she sings “losing” (god, so so so much pain into two syllables, again and again, how can you not weep?), because each of those words has so much story in them — she gives you hours of subtext; you can SEE the life the singer of the song has lived IN THOSE WORDS. And, holy mother,  the “sleepless nights” at 4:16-4:18 actually has a sob in it without distorting the notes, the visible and audible defeat in “mind” from 4:36-4:42 when the note ends but she CONTINUES the emotion in her AMAZING silence until she comes back in at 4:50 with “I want you so” in such a way it seems she is fighting speaking, the way one fights the confession to someone you know no longer wants you but you simply cannot help yourself, so obsessed are you, so in need of them, and she builds and builds the breakdown (totally in control vocally, though) until the “kind” from 5:42-5:46 which morphs into the closed eyes/turning away from the horror of the final self-admission, the facing, the oh god please kill me I’m losing my mind of realizing, “You don’t love me” and WORSE, “I cannot stop loving you – I am losing my mind.” That end, that final note, that reaching vocally and physically for that love she will never have. NEVER has this song EVER been better sung and it never will be. She is without peer. She makes every single song a journey like this, an emotional tale of truth, beautifully delivered with such intelligence and honesty, nothing false. She is a genius. Brilliant.

Confession: When I sang, it was Miss Cook I strove to please. I wanted never to breathe in idiotic places or sing songs to which I could not bring my soul, always trying to deliver the goods in a way that would meet with her approval.

SUCH A BIG DEAL. Miss Cook and listening to music.

Why is it a big deal that I am listening to music? After a long life of listening to music daily, singing along, knowing the lyrics to nearly every musical written, keeping up with new ones, when I had to leave my last world in which music and theatre played such a huge role, one of the many things that slipped away from me was music. So, playing music in my room as I change sheets, write this, it has a huge-ness. Weird. Feels so weird. Listening again. Will I ever sing again?

I doubt it. But, some days, I miss it. (Confession: I sing alone in the car all the time.)

Weird — this need tonight to confess — confession.

Fitting. This has been a week of weirdness, darlings. I let my feelings be hurt a few times — a couple of times on Twitter. A couple of times by my family. A couple of times by men who think I am English or 40-ish or both.

Then, today, I got my car insurance renewal thank you letter. First of all, I don’t remember being asked if I wanted to renew. Secondly, bright side, since I’ve been with them for more than fifteen years with no tickets or claims I now qualify for no future surcharges no matter how many accidents I have. What? Okay. So, discount for good driving. Hoorah. THEN, I am informed I qualify for the “Over 55 Discount” — WHAAAAT?!?! This was my first “senior” discount and I burst into tears.

Smartass sister again: “You are so eager to die, you’re going to have to get older to do it.” Well, not if the notice of a senior discount or meeting Miss Cook gives me a coronary event. So, HA!

And, might I add (of course I might, I write too much, I’ve been told. And talk too much. So many too much-es about which I’ve been told in my life. I cry too much. I tell too much. I act too much like a girl. I have sex too much. I say no too much. I say yes too much. I want too much. I don’t take care of myself enough (somehow there’s a too much in there) and — well, anyway, TOO MUCH.) that even WITH all the good driver and old man discounts, my insurance still went up. Albeit, only a dollar – BUT STILL!

Oh darlings, I’m tired. It’s been a long week. Gluten-free, sugar-free, corn-free, diabetic friendly, chemical-free(mostly), healthy, clean cooking is so complicated. Everything requires multiple kinds of flour, experimenting with ingredients and temperature and such. I’ve been cooking a couple of hours a day. Which I love to do for my dear ones. I do. Still, my Mom is wonderful, but being with her, watching out for her balance, trying to make sure she is happy, earning enough through random copy editing and ghost blogging and dog/house sitting to pay for her lunches and groceries and such so she doesn’t have to panic about running out of her “monthly funds” — sometimes it is exhausting.

And someone told me this week my blog here would benefit from vigorous cutting. Yes, I know this. But friends, this is a diary, not a short-story. Let’s face it, I’m not a writer, never will be. This is me venting and letting loose and getting out (sort of) the things I need to say — even if it’s just sent into the ether.

So, I have changed my sheets, I have said no to the twenty-year old, I have been listening to Hamilton, I have stomach issues again, I am tired, I say yes too much, I did not say no enough (those are two VERY DIFFERENT things), and Carol is now available on-demand, so maybe I will watch that or read one of my twelve library books (I’ve done it again) or say yes to one of the people who think I’m English and 40-ish — and some said I couldn’t act!  HA! I will have you know, when I played Sweeney, my accent was SO ENGLISH they asked me to pull back by half because no one outside of London would understand me. I don’t know why I’m throwing that in there. I will add that the Baltimore papers reviewed me and said I was terrifying and brilliant and had “crystalline” diction. So, there too.

Uhm … maybe I am losing MY mind.

Love you dears.

Goodnight.

ZeitBites: Eggs and Andys and Hollys and Dickory Docks

Monday Morning, December 7, 2015

sunset blvd gifI woke up this morning wishing one of you out there in the dark was here in the dark so I could just spit this all out really quickly and be done with it rather than having to blog it — and since MOST of my followers (for some reason) and hits come from European countries, I like to delude myself that my lack of having someone with whom to share my life (and my rantings and ravings) is to do with me having been born in the wrong country (or, in the wrong era, but that’s another blog — which I’m pretty sure I’ve already written somewhere but I’m old and wake up all night and I can’t remember these things, dammit) and so, it is a comfort, thinking of all of you over there who’d love me as I am, honor me and all that and Listen To Me. But until that time I get a passport renewed and money enough to sail (I’d sail, you know, rather than fly. Just seems more 1930s and, like I said, I was born in the wrong era — I did say that, didn’t I?) I’ll just have to blog all these fleeting, random thoughts I have.

(I know, you’re saying, “Have to? Maybe just shut-up, Charlie? Ever thought of that?” Yes. I have. But, I can’t really. You readers — European and non — and even those just clicking in because I have old tags saying DEREK HOUGH NAKED — are the closest I have to lovers, real companion type lovers, so, pretend you like this or remain silent — or, if you want to be truly like my past lovers, abandon me saying you never much enjoyed me in the first place and were just killing time until the kind of blog you wanted really came along.)

— but since you’re not here, here goes. Why did I get up at 5:55 a.m.?

  1. I have been tossing and semi-weird-waking since I lights-outed at 1:00 a.m.-ish with the half-fever worry that I needed to get the eggs out of the refrigerator and bring them to room temperature for today’s continuation of Christmas cookie baking. So—-
  2. — Christmas makes me think of Andy Williams because my Momma loved Andy Williams and it was really Christmas when she got out the Andy Christmas albums. And-My Momma worked in an egg factory which brings me back to the eggs at room temperature worry, plus —
  3. —I have been doing this odd thing where I wake at 2:22, 3:33, 4:44, 5:55 – and despite my lack of faith or belief in anything, this frequent waking I do and the feverish-fugue into which it puts me, triggers childhood fears and despite knowing it is completely impossible, I worry that if I go back to sleep, the next time I wake I will see 6:66 on the clock and the Baby Jesus will never be born because I have sinned. Thus —
  4. — I get out of bed to shake it off (and get the eggs out) and I weigh myself and I look awful and I think, “This is all your fault, Andy Williams, because you are Christmas and all that cookie baking and tasting yesterday is to blame for this weight this morning and FUCK YOU, ANDY!” Which —
  5. dallesandro and woodlawn

    Joe Dallesandro & Holly Woodlawn

    — Reminds me that Andy Warhol Superstar, Holly Woodlawn [click here], died yesterday. And I think, “Holly” – deck the halls with boughs of and all that. Weird. I miss Andy and his Superstars and the thrill of discovering them and all those connections and when I was away at theatre camp and introduced to Lou Reed’s music and — shit, Holly inspired Walk On the Wild Side and Joe Dallesandro — who I follow on Twitter — announced her death there yesterday and posted all those pics of his younger self. I miss my younger self. Joe was my first trade-crush, I think. He was so beautiful naked. dallesandro joe dallesandro warhol Why am I alone? Cause of porny crushes on beautiful naked guys for whom I will never be their type? Like —

  6. colby christmas

    Colby Keller coming down the chimney, down

    — Colby Keller. Oh, he did all those Christmas shots last year. Shit, I need to wake up and get busy on these cookies. Christmas. Andy. Williams. Warhol. Holly. Dallesandro. Colby. Get the eggs out. Jesus I look awful naked — JESUS? Did I actually worry this morning in some haze of old-man-back-pain-too-many-hours-on-my-feet-Christmas-cookie baking-frenzy-brainfade that Baby Jesus wouldn’t be born because my clock might say 6:66 if I committed the sin of going back to sleep. And, see —

  7. —  that whole sin thing, which in my egg-factory, Andy Williams Christmas, hallucinatory youth
    dallesandro rolling-stones-sti_3287029k

    Dallesandro’s dick on Rolling Stones album cover

    thing was conflated with wanting to hickory dickory with Joe Dallesandro who I discovered because the theatre camp bad influences (perfect influences) introduced me to Lou Reed and we talked out loud about wanting to fuck Mick Jagger and it was only years later I learned that the dick on the front of Sticky Fingers belonged to Joe Dallesandro and — art and porn — like Colby Keller Does America [CLICK HERE] is doing now and —

  8. — here I am, blogging.

 

But, those lyrics:

It’s the holiday season
With the whoop-de-do and dickory dock
And don’t forget to hang up your sock
‘Cause just exactly at 12 o’clock
He’ll be coming down the chimney
Coming down the chimney
Coming down the chimney, down!

Tell me this: What the hell does dickory dock mean?! I mean, you are aware of what dick-docking is, correct? Were the Christmas tunes of Andy Williams that my mom played — over and over and over — sending me subliminal messages?

(According to the ever-reliable Yahoo Answers, “hickory, dickory, dock” means eight, nine, ten. From a British nursery rhyme. SEE, EUROPE AGAIN. Come on, Neville, FIND ME! Anyway, who knew? [CLICK HERE FOR YAHOO ANSWERS DICKORY DOCK INFO- NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH DICK-DOCKING INFO- LINKS FOR WHICH I  TRUST YOU CAN FIND ON YOUR OWN SHOULD YOU BE INTERESTED.])

And while I’m Zeit-bite blabbing: Is it just me, or have large eggs gotten smaller?

cookie dayLike I said, I spent yesterday making Christmas cookies. This effort required a $200 trip to the grocery store Saturday night, an $80 trip Sunday morning, and another $50 trip Sunday afternoon. So far. Now, after the baking of three kinds and the concoction and refrigeration of dough for a fourth —

(The New York Times Cookbook best chocolate chip cookie recipe EVER, which people ask me for all the time — not the recipe, the cookies, because most people are too lazy to do the weighing and waiting required — plus, I use a secret combination of six kinds of chocolate for the chips, chunks, pieces — so, there’s that) 

— with eight more varieties to go, I’ve already run out of storage containers and need a few more ingredients, one of which is butter — HOW DID I NOT GET ENOUGH BUTTER?

But, I swear, eggs have gotten smaller. Or, is this a trick of age? When I was a child — from age six to, I think, twelve — my mom worked in an egg factory. It was a simpler, kinder time, and Mommy would sometimes take various of us to work with her, and we would be allowed to do some of the jobs there. I did candling, which was the job my mom and her friend Helen alternated, a job no one wanted as it required hours of  standing in a cold, dark booth watching eggs roll by on an lit-from-below conveyor belt and plucking off those eggs with bloody or fetal yolks, tossing them into a waste-bucket which smelled. I also used what I called “the sucker”, a vacuum type affair egg candlingwhich picked up lots of eggs at once and fed them onto the belt that led to the candling booth. And, too, I packaged, which meant I stood at one of the chutes down which the eggs were rolled after the post-candling machine sorted them into sizes. I usually manned the extra-large or the small chutes. The large chute required a very skilled and speedy packager because the majority of eggs fell into that classification and handling the volume at that station — getting the eggs into cartons, getting the cartons into cases, moving the cases to yet another conveyor belt — turned me into Lucy and Ethel in the candy factory. It occurs to me now that the working conditions in that egg factory would not pass OSHA standards for adults today, let alone children, but I loved being there and feeling needed, important, useful.

And, I swear, those large eggs were bigger than the large eggs now. I tried (not very hard) to find information on-line about when standardized egg sizes changed in this country, if they changed, but all I managed to determine was this: What is considered large in the U.S. would be medium in Europe.

From this — it being Monday morning weigh-in, me being me, and without benefit of gastrointestinal parasite to help me maintain my recent hard-won slimness, and seeing my naked self in the mirror as I stepped on the scale this a.m. — I thought, “Well, I may be large in the U.S., but in Europe, I’m medium!” So, there. BUT THEN, me being me, I thought, “Well shit, I’m no Dallesandro in more ways than one, so if Large in the U.S. is only Medium in Europe, then my Average in Europe is probably small. DAMMMMMIT! I’ll never get a lover there either.”

And we’re back to where I started. All babble. No one to listen. Eggs. Cookies. Christmas. Andy. Warhol. Woodlawn. Dallesandro. Dick. None. I’m fat.

So, I’ll leave you with Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side, with images of Holly and Joe and Edie, too.

And if you, like me, prefer something a little less safe for work and more Joe — well, it’s the holiday season — so, hang the holly or Joe is hung or something someone more clever than am I would say. This is Lou Reed again, Make Up — which is really just an excuse for naked Joe Dallesandro.

Later. I have cookies to make and more loneliness to explore. Cuz, you know, this isn’t Europe and I am large and not large and I sleep alone and it is up to me to make sure we all avoid the 666 which will keep the Baby Jesus from being born. I mean, I guess I really do miss feeling useful, needed, important, like I did as a child, carefully handling those eggs, watching them roll by, looking for the flaws, looking for the bloody yolks, watching how few were extra large or extra small, so many larges. Ha, large. What does that even mean? Jesus. I mean — Baby Jesus? Shit. I wish Colby Keller was coming my way. So to speak. I think – maybe – I need a nap.

(Yes, I know, you are saying: CHARLIE, REALLY, SHUT UP!)

Reading: October; That’s A Wrap

I began reading the Fall-Big-Book-$2 million-advance-juggernaut and much to my surprise and chagrin, I am enjoying it. I’ll get to that. First things first, or, last things last. October was a crazy month during which I was quite ill, my Mom was in and out of the hospital twice, I had to cancel my long-looked-forward-to trip to NYC/Algonquin, I generated some much needed income with house/pet-sitting gigs (people, I STILL have Thanksgiving open – are you telling me NONE of you or people you know need me?), and I started doing the hand-written/drawn/full of clippings and pictures correspondence thing (if you’d like to be added to the rotation, send me your address in a private message and I’ll send you some Charlie-fun too — wow, that sounds a little – well, WHATEVER, it’s CHARLIE FUN!) — I am in love with this return to the snail-mail-hand-wrought missive trend — and, with all of that, managed to blog quite a bit, catching up and keeping up with the titular reason for this thing: Book Blogging. Thus, my latest reads.

this is your life harriet chanceThis Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! , by Jonathan Evison, Algonquin Books, 296pp My first sampling of Mr. Evison’s work was prompted by coming across it on New Release shelves in the library, Ms. Jami Attenberg’s blurb calling Mr. Evison a “ridiculously gifted storyteller”, and its subject matter of a woman nearing life’s finale, accepting her “diminishing capacities” while taking stock and discovering the truth of what has gone before. With a Ralph Edwards-ian, omniscient-ish narrator hurtling us through a guided tour of the milestones (and millstones), we revisit from birth the people and places who made her what she is — and is not. While the tone is light-hearted and suffused with humor, the elegiac subject-matter and theme to do with choices, lack of choices, bad choices, and chance, is ultimately quite grim. The discoveries and revelations are less than uplifting, often involving betrayal and deceit, a life-story full of hiding, shame, and purposeful ignorance of the obvious as survival technique. It is a fast read, it is well-written, but ultimately, its message seems without hope: Here was a sad life, any possible redemption happens only in death. It left me a bit blue – which may have been the aim, the point, its purpose, but, it’s not the romp its blurbs led me to believe it would be.

simon vs the homoSimon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli, Balzer & Bray/Harper Collins, 303pp My foray into Young Adult lit for the month was longlisted for the National Book Award. About a 16 year old, closeted gay boy who is blackmailed out of the closet and, in the process, anonymous pen-pals his way to true-love, learning life-lessons and being imperfect in that cutesy-irresistible-happily-ever-after fantasy, cultural-romance trope manner all too prevalent in gay-YA-fiction. Look, far be it from me to say we ought not have fantasy-worlds in which closeted jocks come out in a blaze of geek-loving glory, but, uhm, this is the sort of story that results in Grindr & CraigsList internalized homophobic postings of “Masculine Only” and “looking for men who act like men” sort of thing. Yes, the world is changing but I’d really like to read some coming out/Young Adult/ Adult-Adult fiction involving gay characters in which the happy ending has less to do with someone stereotypically straight embracing someone semi-stereotypically-gay than it does with the hard-slog of realizing life is about discarding those culturally-entrenched stereotypes and re-shaping the world if one ever expects to find union, happiness, love and or light of one’s own.

Interesting (to me) that Harriet Chance — the journey of a senior woman — was penned by a youngish man, and Simon — the journey of a young gay boy — was penned by a straight, 30-something(guessing) woman. I am not of the school that believes authors ought only write about their own cohort, but I think the reason these both failed for me was a lack of authenticity; the experiences of Harriet and Simon ultimately seemed observed rather than lived, looked at from a distance rather than experienced.

city on fireSo, there I was – gone, the tenth and eleventh of my October reads, and here I am, going, starting on my November reads with the buzziest of buzzes, City on Fire, the 900-plus page, $2 million-advanced (I know, how many times am I going to harp on that $2 million advance? until I finally shut-up? Your guess is better than mine – I’m bitter, but, old, so will forget about it eventually – although, I am QUITE gifted at grudge-holding) novel being talked about everywhere. I am on page 300 and while I promised myself I would get to at least page 100 before throwing it across the room (although I would NEVER actually throw it – since it’s a library borrow), I find that I (shhh- whispering now) actually am enjoying this book and finding it well written — it’s keeping me interested and involved and dammit to hell, I think I’m going to have to –if not jump on its bandwagon, at least not throw brickbats as it passes.

razzle dazzleWhile reading City, I’ve also delved into Michael Riedel’s Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway because I love Broadway and I had to cancel my New York City/Algonquin trip because of my Mom’s and my own illnesses and because, there it was on the New Releases shelf at the library and I have absolutely NO WILLPOWER WHATSOEVER.

Thanks for reading along with me. Now, have to dash and check out the LONG LIST of Book Bloggers I follow and see what they are up to and what else I ought to add to my list. What are you reading this month?

Love and Light, friends. Love and Light.

ZeitBites Monday: Reads

charlie sweeney

Long ago Saturday Night Sondheim – when I was Sweeney

My life is lived to a score. Well, many scores. (See Saturday night’s post HERE SATURDAY NIGHT SONDHEIM –if you’ve any doubt, or, well, you know, care a whit?) Whether it was all my years of Broadway wanna-be/gonna-be-ism or a genetic predisposition that resulted in my translation of every moment of my life into musical theatre is a discussion for another time (and a therapist) but my point was — is — I wake up nearly every day of my life with a song in my head, sometimes, in fact, this morning, I am singing when I wake, and sometimes, in fact, this morning, the song I am singing does not exist in the real world. Today’s lyrics:

I told you YES. NO. Yes-terday. No-today. Yesterdays. Noterdays. Told-you-days.

It was sung to a catchy little tune, too. While I’ve a proclivity (or, wait, should I say predilection since choice is also involved? No, sticking with proclivity since the urge seems to Continue reading

Week in Review

Greene's new pup October 2015Biggest news of the week? My dear friends, the Greenes, welcomed a new puppy into their lives. I am both incredibly happy for them and almost as intensely envious (self-pitying) – I WANT TO BE LIVING A LIFE I CAN SHARE WITH A PUPPY! Look how cute!

It’s Sunday. the fifth day of my self-imposed “wah-wah-poor-me” Twitter/social media/life break, and in other news this week: Went to the doctor — again — feeling marginally better — again — going to the doctor — again — tomorrow. This will be my first specialist in decades. Enthralling, that; yes?

I know. Well, there it is. And, here it was. Not being on Twitter seems to increase my need to blog. I don’t delude myself that anyone is listening, yet, I’ve this insatiable Continue reading

Zeitbites: The Lost Weekend (this is what happens)

Ray Milland in The Lost Weekend

Ray Milland in The Lost Weekend

It’s the Monday morning after my most recent Lost Weekend. Not Ray Milland-y, alcoholic haze lost, but, rather, an existential sort of wandering (and, thus, wondering) around: gym, coffee shops, bookstores, retail outlets, parks, here and there in order to afford some privacy and space to the people with whom I live, who put up with me. And, since most of my friends are fictional, virtual, long-distance, or busy, most of my pursuits are solitary. In the process, I become many different people: these are their stories.

Djokovic 1

Novak Djokovic – not bad for a man his age.

 

WIMBELDON & NOVAK DJOKOVIC’S ASS Serena won Wimbeldon again. I love Serena. I love watching her play. I love that she won. But holy crap, have we not evolved beyond the coded (and blatant) misogyny, sexism, and ageism that suffused the coverage of her win? The New York Times in particular should be ashamed. But, I’m a bright side kind of guy – thus, in an effort to spread the gender-bias-objectification-judge-y shit around, here’s some Novak Dojokovic objectification. He won Wimbeldon too. I was surprised the ass on a man Novak Djokovic’s age was so firm and juicy. Good thing too, because his shorts were tight. No doubt he wanted to show off his rumored-to-be very large package. He’s still hot for someone his age, and, wow, he can still play. Sadly, he hasn’t the Nordic-blonde-Aryan beauty of Lleyton Hewitt, or who knows how much money he’d be making from endorsement deals. (What? He’s worth in excess of 90 million already? That’s my boy! And Djoko – is that dick pic floating around the web really yours? If so, nice one.)

UNEMPLOYED & BROKE & NORMA DESMOND I AM NOT . . .

It’s July and I’m home … this is not good. Not good because the prevailing cultural norm suggests one ought to vacation during the summer months. Well, not only am I not vacating, none of my usual clients are vacating either. So, I am stuck in the batcave during the sunny (although, not so much with the sun this year) summer months generating zero income. But . . . (Another aside: I would be happy to discuss house sitting or pet sitting for you – all you people out there, my people, out there, in the dark.) It’s a life theme, that; Generating Zero Income. So, going with it, here I am, blogging for free. Why the hell not? I hereby promise to Zeitbite you more, darlings, meaning; I shall spread my particular brand – Sure, I have a brand, why the fuck not? – of Love and Light more often. Which means regular doses of dash & aside & idiosyncratically punctuated blathering; sometimes happy & funny & snarky, other times insightful & deep & contemplative, and other times dark & sad & suicidal. (See how I use ampersands/& when grouping adjectives but write out “and” when moving to a new-ish topic? That’s me – idiosyncratic. AND WITHOUT AN EDITOR BECAUSE I WOULD SURELY DRIVE ONE – or, a few – TO DRINK.)

JUSTIN BIEBER’S ASS (is this ass thing a theme?)

Bieber's ass - Summer 2015

Bieber’s ass – Summer 2015

Other things happened this weekend. Justin Bieber deleted his ass pic. He has feels. Listen:

“I deleted the photo of my butt on Instagram not because I thought it was bad but someone close to me’s daughter follows me and she was embarrassed that she saw my butt and I totally wasn’t thinking in that aspect. I felt awful that she felt bad. To anyone I may have offended I’m so sorry. It was completely pure hearted as a joke but didn’t take in account there are littles following me!”

Oh Justin, I know what it’s like to have Littles following you. In fact, just last night JustinBiebersLyrics followed me on Twitter. I blocked it, like all the other bots. Anyway, your Bieber-ass is pretty enough – but you’re no Djokovic. (Notice how easy it is to type the words “Justin Bieber” and “ass” close together? Poor Little Biebs – although – Biebs – is that dick pic floating around the web really yours? If so, nice one.

SPEAKING OF ASSES 3 (or, make that 15 now I think). . . . . .  insert here the name of any of the GOP Presidential candidates. I refuse to type them.

SPEAKING OF ASSES literary . . . . . . I am a book blogger – sort of – so I ought probably to write about the big release tomorrow but my feelings about it are all tied up in having spent a lot of time in my life with people in their eighties – especially those in assisted care, and having a lot of manuscripts and writing of my own packed and boxed away, and how I might be persuaded – should I live into my eighties (and please I do NOT want to) and have need of a trusted someone to manage my affairs, how I might be persuaded by that someone – no matter how good their intentions might be – to reveal/publish/share things I NOW, sound of mind and body (well, sort of, shut up) would choose NOT to share. The whole thing makes me feel dirty and I’m not going to read it. (Confession – I didn’t care much for TKAM anyway.)

SPEAKING OF ASSES . . . mine . . .

July 2015

July 2015

Yesterday at the gym a fellow who is in no way someone with any interest in any sort of shenanigans with me said, “You are really looking good.” That was nice. I have worked hard to lose nearly thirty pounds in a healthy way – a pound or two a week for months, exercise daily, good food. It was nice for someone with whom I have no relationship other than sharing a gym to tell me my consistent efforts were noticeable even to strangers. Thank you, Universe, for that Love & Light. (No ass pics nor dick pics of me floating around anywhere – that crazy I am not.) The pic was one I posted on Twitter. You should follow me there. I’m kind of funny (sometimes) and sad (other times) and I’ve been singing little snippets of songs for my darling, Her Grace, the Duchess Goldblatt (you should follow her, too, because she is the Queen of All Things.) In the past 24 hours I’ve talked about the gym, teens eating all my frozen diet treats, Chet Baker and how I love singing “My Funny Valentine”, my late night trolling of the Algonquin Hotel website, the thickness of mattresses on fold-out-couch-beds, Djokovic’s ass, Troubles by J.G.Farrell, new shoes I want, being judge-y about other people’s depressions, and more. I’m a renaissance man, a flaneur of the interwebs. FOLLOW+ME+DAMMIT+ (and re-tweet me and publish me and stuff – you don’t want to be an ASS entry, do you? Wait . . .  ass entry . . .  never mind. Love and Light, dear ones.

Reading: Recent Reads (and more Ann Patchett)

Trying to honor my promise not to allow twenty-plus books to accumulate before I blog about my reading again [click HERE for that LONG post from March 27 – Books Are My Religion and a Lesson from Ann Patchett], here is my Recent Reads round-up.

OLD RELIABLE GENRE FUN-BON-BONs

Again, I am a lover of genre reading. For me, a quick, fun, fast book from which I know what to expect is like sitting down with some really good chips, con queso, and salsa and digging in. I can’t do it all the time, but I must do it regularly because it tastes good and it’s great fun. I have visited with a number of my regulars of late.

CAUGHT by Harlan Coben and THE FOOL’S RUN by John Sandford were two of my not-so-guilty pleasures in the past few weeks. I’d go into plot summaries but you are either a Coben/Sandford type (which I now am) or you’re not (and I get that as I long eschewed both, myself – without ever having read one) so there’s little point in plot-precis; they are what they are. MY TRIGGER WARNING: Fool’s Run is from 1996 and about 2/3 of the way through there is casual use of the derogatory gay-slur “F”-word which very much upset me. I didn’t think it was required or character driven, so, you’re warned. BUT, I especially enjoyed the Coben, full of twists and surprises.

I also read another in the Agatha Raisin series, the tenth; AGATHA RAISIN AND THE FAIRIES OF FRYFAM. I’m a great fan of M.C.Beaton and this series though Continue reading

READING: Books are my religion . . .a lesson from Ann Patchett

A LONG INTRODUCTION . . .

Charlie Smith 3

I am inserting this picture, taken the day AFTER I posed with Ann Patchett, because in THAT photo I look HUGE and AWFUL — and so, I wanted to prove I am still a hipster cat-burglar who gyms it up 6 days a week.

Apologies (and thanks) to those asking if I’m okay and why my entries have been so infrequent. I’m immersed (not to say, drowning) in yet another edit of “LIBERTYTOWN” and, too, a couple of other writing projects which came banging at the doors of my brain/heart/soul, even as I hid away, weeping, whispering, “There’s no one home!” Somehow, the stories and words inside me, or, floating around me, or, something, will not let me do what I’ve been trying to do, which is to surrender to the fact that in the same way I was not a Broadway star, not the first American Pope, not someone who was ever going to be successfully in a love relationship, not someone with an actual income and home of his own, I was also NOT A WRITER. Which, is an overly long (SURPRISE!) way of saying, “I’M TRYING TO WRITE AND I CAN’T BLOG WHILE I’M DOING THAT!” I spent hours yesterday trying to finish ONE SENTENCE, and I never really did – it is slow going, my dears. In the meantime, I am reading. And, since this is sort-of, sometimes, supposed to be a Book(ish?) Blog – thought, “Ok, I’ll catch up with that!” So, here I am, going.

CATCHING (YOU) UP ON MY READING . . .

Ann Pachett and Charlie

This is Ann Patchett after I told her I stalked another writer, and still, she bravely posed with me. She is a wonderful, lovely person – radiates warmth, wit, intelligence, and a glowing goodness.

Monday, March 23, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Ann Patchett. She was the featured speaker at Frederick Reads, and not only was she smart, charming, funny, brilliant, engaging, and fun, she gave book recommendations and said (far more eloquently) “Books are my religion.” Mine too. In the days since, procrastinating while I ought to have been editing, I ventured to her Parnassus Books site [click here], and from there, her blog [click here], and in doing so realized I’d not spoken about what I’ve been reading since January when Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You [click here], rocked me. I am still talking about it, talked about it and wrote down the title for Ann Patchett even. But, I have read 23 books since then, and here, in brief, we go, highlights only.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE LAST 23 BOOKS

M.C. BEATON’s AGATHA RAISIN SERIES

I am a huge fan of the Agatha Raisin mystery series, written by M.C. Beaton and edited by Hope Dellon of St. Martin’s Press. I read #6: Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist; #7: Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death; #8: Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham; and #9; Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden. Every visit with Agatha is like Continue reading