Reading: “The Days Grow Short…”

In this post I discuss “The Prague Sonata” by Bradford Morrow and “The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells” by Andrew Sean Greer, .

I have read much less than usual this month for reasons joyous and not so; friends and new beginnings belonging to the former category, my continuing health saga and personal stressors belonging to the latter. The relevance of beginning a book blog entry with this self-involved I-paragraph being I have become increasingly stingy with my time and increasingly prone to dropping off to sleep during what used to be my reading time. And it’s September, not just in 2017, but, in my life — for me, on this go round, it is at least Fall, if not Winter, and so my time — what I do with it and how I think about it — is of paramount concern. Which brought September Song by Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson to mind. This lyric:

Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December
But the days grow short when you reach September
When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame
One hasn’t got time for the waiting game

Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few
September, November
And these few precious days I’ll spend with you
These precious days I’ll spend with you

I am — during these, my precious days, careful with which books I choose to share myself, my thoughts, my heart. So you can be sure if I write about one, it has been at least a pleasant companion. Otherwise, I just fold after about page 50, thank it for its efforts, and move on. I don’t write about those books because even though I didn’t enjoy them, they are the product of someone’s heart and love and good intentions (almost always) and time, and I think to say unpleasant things about books (or, most anything except the current administration and all sorts of bigotry and hatred) is more damaging and revealing about the speaker than it is about the book.

Kindness is always a better choice, and very much needed in the world these days — so I am striving to have kindness be my default, even (especially?) in those instances when rage was once my go-to.

So, here are my latest reads, both of which, as coincidence (or not) would have it, have to do with time.

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, Andrew Sean Greer, Hardcover, 289pp, June 2013, Ecco Books

I recently read and loved Andrew Sean Greer’s latest novel, Less [which I talked about here] and so I determined to explore his backlist, thus, this 2013 book.

In 1985 Greta’s beloved brother, Felix, has died. Soon after, frustrated by Greta’s lack of energy for anything but mourning, her partner, Nathan, departs. Despite medication and the support of her devoted aunt, Ruth, Greta is inconsolable. She agrees to electro-convulsive therapy, the first treatment of which finds her awakened in 1918.

In 1918 she wakes with her 1985 consciousness, but is somehow connected to another version of herself which is both different and the same, surrounded by the same — but again, different — people in her life from 1985. And 1918-Greta is also having treatment for depression which sends her(them?) to the 1941 version of the three (one?) of them.

It’s a little complicated and we only hear inside 1985 Greta’s head as she tries to change the lives of the 1918 and 1941 versions of herself and others, which, it seems, the 1918 and 1941 versions of Greta are also doing as they hop around in time.

I am a huge fan of Andrew Sean Greer’s writing. It is rich in heart and forgiveness, insight into human nature, and the ability to evoke both the frailty and strength, foibles and fine points, light and dark of characters and situations. In this ambitiously structured novel he draws parallels between  the massive, tragic, and mostly needless loss of lives from AIDS, the 1918 flu pandemic, and World War II; in doing so he creates many beautiful images, heartbreak, and the lyrical, near poetic sentences I so loved in Less. Late in the story, speaking about her ex-lover (in 1985’s iteration) Nathan, Greta says this:

Those separate men, the different men he was, in different worlds. Perhaps it’s because I knew Nathan so well, and knew his moods; of him thinking beside me: so quiet! Of him silencing the alarm so I could sleep another hour: so kind! Of him reading some infuriating news in the paper: so angry! I could roll them all into one ball and put it in my brain as one person. Even before my travels, I had met and lived with these different men: the quiet one, the kind one, the angry one. Just as Nathan had lived with those same men himself. For others are not the only ones forced to face our other selves; above all, we must face them. On my last visit to 1942, Felix showed me a photograph of the two of us. It had been taken the week before. And while I knew it was not me, I could not tell which one it was. Perhaps one day they will invent a camera to capture the fleeting self — not the soul, but the self— and we can truly see which one we were, on any particular day, and mark the shifting lives we lead that we pretend belong to one person alone. Why is it so impossible to believe: that we are as many headed as monsters, as many armed as gods, as many hearted as the angels?

It’s something like the aha-moment/magic discovery of the book for Greta, or, the discovery of magic, when she begins to comprehend all the possible Me’s who exist in each I. And while I sometimes found parts of the narrative to be difficult to follow, and here and there a little self-help-y prosaic and banal, even those passages, like the above quoted, were grounded in wonder and hope, two elements of which there can never be too much and which make a fine foundation for any novel.

The Prague Sonata, Bradford Morrow, Hardcover, 528pp, October 2017, Atlantic Monthly Press

[I requested a copy of this novel and was sent one. I do not know the author, and have no connection to the publisher, I found the synopsis intriguing and so asked to be included in the list of bloggers/book people who got advance reader copies.]

I have not read any of Bradford Morrow’s eight previously published works of fiction, so I came to the Prague Sonata fresh, unencumbered by expectations other than this — like The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, about which I just wrote — the novel was blurbed and praised by Michael Cunningham, a writer whose work I very much admire, and in synopsis it sounded like a thick, rich, sprawling epic of old school heft.

That, it was. Its five-hundred-plus pages play a score of emotional richness, its themes and motifs introduced, reiterated and expanded, crescendo after crescendo — each memorable and developed in singularity — merging, melding to become a whole which has been artfully puzzled together into something symphonic, seamless, an entirely unique composition meticulously created from its various counter-themes into a harmony of a textured, layered, masterful epic.

It is early 20th century when Otylie’s father dies, a casualty of war, having left his nine-year-old daughter who he’d been training to be an accomplished pianist with a music manuscript she knew to be his most prized possession. Otylie swears never again to sing or play music and in 1939 Prague when war again intrudes into her life, she divides her father’s treasure in three, knowing by then its provenance may be historically important making it a valuable artifact she does not wish to lose to the invading German beast-Nazis. She keeps one movement for herself, sending another by messenger to her husband who has disappeared into the underground resistance movement, and a third to friends.

Fast forward to the beginning of the 21st century when neophyte music historian Meta Taverner — whose father in a very different way had encouraged and ended her career as a concert pianist — is given the middle movement of the sonata by Irena, friend of Otylie who carried the manuscript out of Czechoslovakia when she survived the death camps, and now, in New York, chooses Meta to unearth the first and third movements, thus fulfilling the promise Irena made to Otylie, whose fate she does not know.

All of this plot is performed in the first fifty pages and advanced and refined in the next 475 during which Meta pursues her quest to make Otylie’s sonata whole again and, too, to discover its composer. The narrative moves back and forth through time following both Otylie and Meta in their separate trajectories until those paths melt into one another in a finale of rhapsodic consonance.

Bradford Morrow interweaves many themes through each time period: Music. War. Love stories. Friendship. Truth and Lies for Good and Evil. Ambition. Parent-Child. And others. There are elements of mystery-writing, tinges of gothic villainy and distress, romance novels, and all of this delivered in an enrapturing literary fiction format that transports the reader into other worlds. It is tempting to speed through to discover the fates of the characters, but then one would miss the abundance of historical detail, musical scholarship, and well-crafted prose. Listen to this excerpt (borrowed from the Grove Atlantic website for the novel, [CLICK HERE]):

With reverent delicacy, she turned the pages one by one, eyes traveling across the busy staves that filled each leaf. This wasn’t going to be easy to play. Unaware she was doing so, she hummed an occasional phrase, tapped her toe gently on the floor. Meta might have sat down with the manuscript at her piano and performed it then and there. But she didn’t want to listen to it until she’d had time to study the piece, learn what its composer was saying.

This was not your everyday second movement of a sonata, despite Irena’s recollecting that’s what it probably was. Brazen in its initial runs, the music settled now and again, only to move away into knotty clusters of sixteenth notes, like an impish acrobat who pretends to teeter off his tightrope high above the crowd, flails his arms as if he’s about to fall, until, nimbly, in slow motion, he moves on.

Then, a plunge off a cliff—everything shifted to blacker registers. Gone was the acrobat. Gone were the playful, bucolic pace and tone of the earlier passage, which was, it now occurred to Meta, a feint, a dramatic setup. The meat, the soul of the dolorous passage had such a rich, slow sadness to it that, surprised, she turned back to the opening and reread the movement up to this radical shift in mood.

With its moments of staggering power and slyness, the music seemed as fresh that day, to this young woman in her barbell flat, as it must have sounded when it was conceived. Who was the conceiver, though? And where were the fore and aft of this noteworthy craft?

Lovely, yes? Musical and poetic and evocative and compelling; which neatly sums up Bradford Morrow’s The Prague Sonata.

**********

And so, I finish here, exiting to get back to cherishing and contemplating time in these Septembers — the current month, and the Fall of my life. Fall has always been my favorite season with its voluntary shedding of its summer clothes and the faith in the promise of Spring renewal such shedding implies. I leave you with the inimitable and brilliant Miss Betty Buckley and her version of Weill and Anderson’s September Song. Enjoy my dears, and please, don’t waste your time on the waiting game. Much love and light and, my dear ones, truly, thank you for spending these precious days with me, I am so grateful you read me, it has brought me much joy. Now, here I am, going.

 

 

Saturday Night Sondheim

Honest to MaryMartin, sometimes, the only thing standing between me and suicide, is the fact that Stephen Sondheim songs sung by brilliant divas exist. I am feeling really really really not so great, and so, turn to Sondheim songs – maybe not the best choice, but, you see, at least I am sobbing FOR A REASON.

Continue reading

Diagnosis: Bitterary Disease

I have removed myself for the time being from the Twittersphere because I’ve been feeling unwell, not myself.

Although, “not myself” might not be such an awful thing to be. Or, not be. But first, Adele dropped her new video. Why do they say “dropped”? Whatever. I love this. LOVE THIS.

Okay, that was to prove I’m not completely involved in my own lugubrious dwelling on my illness. Yes, illness.

Oct 2015

Me – looking like my ridiculous, exhausted self – and Momma – impatiently waiting to be broken out of hospital last Friday. She is my hero. My rock. My role model. Rock & role-model; Mommy.

The illness I thought had been diagnosed, drugged, and done away with, returned. I spent much of last week attending to my dear Momma during and after her surgery and contending with all the family dynamics such events roil; it went remarkably well on every level, about which I would write were I feeling better, more certain I could tell the story without offending any family members or other characters who showed up during the course of those days. In my current condition of physical exhaustion and the emotional upheaval the fatigue brings, I think it better not to tell those stories right now. Rather, say this: Many different kinds of healing took place before,during, and after my Mom’s surgery, and it was not just her carotid artery scraped clean of debris; Mommy managed to bring us together again, as always, by example rather than lecture or harangue. She is effortless in her Love, plugging along, accepting, doing what was best and right, without rancor or accusation or judgment.

So, she was released on Friday and later that night, I got the back of the neck chills feeling that means I have a fever, tossed and turned in fugue-half-awake, can’t stop obsessing on an imaginary event, night-sweat, no sleep sort of night. By Saturday morning I was crampy and afraid my own personal plague was returning, and by Sunday, it had, with full-on, gastrointestinal terrorism. I was (sorry to be blunt and disgusting) unable to do anything but evacuate every fifteen minutes or so, ugh, oh no, losing two pounds a day, sick, sick, down for the count again.

Long/short: Called physician Monday at 8 when they opened. No one answered – including a machine – until 8:45. No one could (or would) see me in until Thursday. I suggested this was a relapse of same illness which had JUST required MANY appointments and testings for them to figure out, that the antibiotic course had not been sufficient to kill the parasite and couldn’t they just prescribe another round? I was informed that ALL OF THE PAs I HAD SEEN DURING THAT ADVENTURE FROM HELL WERE NOW ABSENT FROM THE PRACTICE. Thus, no one was willing to re-prescribe antibiotics AND I had to come in to get a new referral for my specialist appointment on Monday AND no one could do ANY OF THIS UNTIL THURSDAY!

So, friends, staying sane has been – well, that’s not even an option, rather, it has been difficult not to go TRULY nuts. Speaking of nuts . . .

Warwick Rowers 2016 Calendar from Low Fat Media on Vimeo.

Yes. The Rowers, because, well, English and French accents and the countryside and the wardrobe (and lack of) and I want an English-accented-lover and well dammit just LOOK AT THEM . . .

I am emotionally on edge because I am exhausted from being unable to actually digest food and take in nutrients. I learned from last go-round with this disease (parasite?) that horrifying as the cramping and bathrooming every fifteen minutes are (would that I were exaggerating) it is worse to follow one’s instinct and stop eating so as to avoid the bathroom trips; not eating only results in worse weight loss and weakness so intense one can barely walk up and down the stair from the Batcave. Thus, forcing myself to eat and hydrate; I spend much of the day in the bathroom (and then cleaning the bathroom, because that is who I am); and, trying to read.

There is where my patience has worn even thinner. Truth: when it comes to bitter, I am most easily annoyed by things going on in Literary World – I suffer from Bitterary Disease: a malady of the wanna-be-writer who cannot believe the things that get published, get popular, win prizes. Or, don’t.

clegg, did you ever

Click cover for Mr. Clegg’s site and book information

I have not recovered (will likely never recover) from Bill Clegg’s Did You Ever Have A Family not having won the Man Booker Prize, for not even making it from Long to Short list. I was further annoyed when it didn’t make the cut for the National Book Awards shortlist.

However, I promised myself when I started book blogging that I would always be a cheerleader for literature, not a hater. So, I picked up the winner of the Man Booker, Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings (click on title for more information). I started reading its 700 pages. Yes, 700 pages. First of all, when a novel begins with a cast-list of more than 70 characters divided into six sub-divisions, I should know myself well enough to just stop right there. Second, when a novel is written with large sections of dialect and patois, much of it impenetrable and without handy glossary, then I should, well, know myself well enough to stop right there. But, this was a Man Booker winner so, I didn’t stop until page 200 – where I had to stop, because one can’t really read a book one has just thrown across the room.

I am sure this is my shortcoming. I am sure this prize-winning novel, lauded by people with MFAs and jobs in the literary world is an achievement of heft and writerly acumen the likes of which I can only dream about. And I am equally sure that most of the judges didn’t even really read the whole damn thing. AND I AM EVEN SURER that these prize-awarding-committees ought to have NON-INDUSTRY, real readers – like, perhaps, ME – on the panels. This is the second of the Man Booker (and, not so coincidentally, National Book Award) shortlist tomes I have read and had to stop reading in frustration, abashed and flummoxed. Oh well.

Capture Kerry McHugh

Click pic to explore Kerry’s blog – you really should

Here’s the thing, happy for Marlon James success. Happy for anything that inspires more people to read (and write) and, as the very wise bloggist and Shelf Awareness writer, Kerry McHugh (click here for her blog, Entomology of a Bookworm, you really should check it out) said to me recently — and I’m paraphrasing, she said it far more elegantly — “It’s okay not to like a book. I love books other people hate, and I hate books that lots of other people like. That’s what makes literature so great, there’s room for everyone, everything, and it’s okay to disagree and discuss.”

city on fireShe is so right. My cavil is that I think some books are the lit-world equivalent of The Emporer’s New Clothes. Someone in power (or a really good publicist) decides a book is brilliant or buzzy or the next big thing, deigns it so, deems it so, and the rest of the Woolf-pack jumps on and agrees. For example, the latest example of this is that 900 page first novel that earned a $2 million advance and has been twice-reviewed in The New York Times, multiple mentions in The New Yorker, New York, and every other book-y blog, Twitter account, and publication – before it was even RELEASED to real readers.

Am I bitter? Yes. I guess I am. Literary bitter. Bitterary. Like I said, the REAL illness from which I suffer.

And I own that. I am bitter because I’ve not come up with the pitch or cover letter or connection (I don’t actually DO connections, not my thing – I would NEVER ask someone to read my book, to give my book to an agent, to anything – not an asker, never have been, never will be – some of us are just here to answer) to sell myself. I’m not that person. And, in some ways, I am content with the thousand or so people who check in here each day — although, truth, lots of those hits are searching for dick-pics, thus the Warwick Rowers, I know my audience and I like a naked ass and English accent as much as (well, probably way more than) anybody else — and I’m not so bitter that I haven’t reserved that buzzy book at library (I’m next in line, by the way, so, it isn’t all that buzzy here in Frederick). I am just hoping that I can make it past page 200 without throwing it across the room and screaming, “WHAT THE HELL DID THOSE PEOPLE READ WHO LOVED THIS THING?!?!?!”

Okay, going, time for some pro and antibiotics and tons of water and coffee and hoping my guts calm a bit today.

P.S. Not sure who reads this, not an issue, but yesterday in my non-Twitter-ness time, I wrote letters to Cody, Rachel, and TwitLit folks, Hope and Nandini – mailing this morning, watch your mailboxes!

Sunday … endings, beginnnings, waitings, continuings

10:00 a.m.

My final day at this house/pet-sitting adventure. I’ve been up since 4:30. Tess and Gwennie are early risers. I Sunday morning pre-gamed last evening at Dunkin Donuts, and the New York Times – the real one – is here delivered, so the early rise and ensuing hours were akin to Christmas morning.

I’ve also changed the sheets, cleaned and tidied, emptied the trash, loaded my car; there is nothing now but to nap and read and wait for 11pm, when the owners of this warm and welcoming home return from the rodeo (I think).

Last night, while I was crawling into the luxe-comfort of the beautifully wrought, iron-framed bed in which I sleep when here, I was uncharacteristically – and quite briefly – lonely. The thing is, I have never long (or short) term, consistently shared my bed with a lover. My lovers have been – by and large – people for whom I was not the primary concern, first choice, actual spouse, someone about whom they wanted others to know. I was a secret, a diversion, a decision never really made. So, I am quite accustomed to and fond of sleeping alone. I am an introvert and a solitary man, near hermit-like in my habits, usually content to have my secrets, silence and my books, a few very dear friends, and – of late – my Twitter-actions.

But, last night, quite briefly; Lonely. A loneliness brought on by my undressing. Not like that. In the many quick-pick-up-and-get-the-hell-out moves I have made in the last decade, along with all the skins and people I have shed, I’ve let go of many belongings, including clothes, paring my wardrobe to a small collection of a few pair of jeans, black T-shirts, gym clothes, and lounge-wear, that last consisting of souvenir shirts from the few shows I’ve seen so important to me I could not let the Ts go. My favorite, and the one I was taking off last night to get into bed, is from the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia’s genius production of the legendarily-failed, cult musical, Sideshow.

I love Sideshow. The original was an obsession. My aunt, Sissie, was still alive when it opened and I visited her at Record Street – the same assisted living home where my Mom has now ended up – when Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner were on the Rosie O’Donnell Show, performing numbers from the show, and, too, I spent Thanksgiving morning there with Sissie, in her room, and watched them perform in the Macy’s Parade. Too, I tried to see the closing weeks of the show but was thwarted by my involvement as director/producer of a production of Annie, and by someone who did a lot of thwarting of things that meant the world to me. Too, I later produced and directed a version of Sideshow, which marked a very dark period with a group of very ungrateful kids for whom I’d sacrificed a great deal over the years and who treated me like shit during that show, and it was – in retrospect – when I ought to have stopped teaching; alas, I went on another ten years. And then, most recently, I attended the revival pre-Broadway tryout at the Kennedy Center with dear ones, and sort of erased – or, at least, eased the pain of – some of those memories and made new ones.

So, yes. Sideshow means a lot for me. Echoes. Reverberations. And I’ve now lost enough weight that the extra-large T-shirt, in addition to stretching, un-ravelling at seams, and wearing thin and smooth in that way material can come to hug and caress one as it ages, is also rather long on me, almost like a nightshirt. I’m standing by the bed, stripped down to just the shirt, and from nowhere I hear the sentence in my head:

“Wouldn’t it be nice for once in my life to have someone to sleep beside who understood what Sideshow meant and means to me? Someone who would stay?”

And I cried a little. Because that isn’t going to be my life, because that has never been my life, and because I will never know what that is like. And, maybe, I missed something.

And my aunt, Sissie, was the same. She slept alone for all of her nine decades. She died at Record Street. Alone. I was not even called the night it was happening. I still feel guilty. After Sideshow, she became less and less lucid, often thought I was my father, and we didn’t talk about musicals anymore. Now, my Mother lives there. Now, in four days, my Mother is having a risky operation. Now, I have these books and these memories and these T-shirts that hold me, and a life not unlike Sissie’s was, and I am near 75% like she was and 25% like my Mom and 100% elated I have had both of them to love me and shape me and see me and embrace me, warm and aged and worn, both of whom loved me, love me, as I am.

So, dear ones, while I am often here lugubrious in my contemplations, I have a contentment that few people have. I love getting into bed, with my books, with my peace and tranquility, with my knowing – now – that I have taken the bulk and hulk of all that was my life and chiseled and whittled and sculpted it down into something small, and private, and beautiful, and true, and me.

Yes, I sleep alone, have always slept alone, but it was that sleeping alone, that choice, that made me these souvenirs, like the Sideshow shirt, well aged, and worn, and smoothed, and shaped, and now wrapped around me like an embrace – the warm embrace of the life I have lived, the peace I have earned.

Love and Light, dear ones – and wishes for souvenir shirt embraces of your own.

I Remember … and so, on to forgetting

House sit Oct 2015

{What? Yes. 3 days in a row. I’m shocked, myself. And this post is only 750 words. So, my do not exceed 1000 words semi-promise, also met. As my dear Aunt Sissie would have said, “Huzzah!”}

Mornings chill enough to require wrapping in a blanket, Autumn. Here, where I am house/pet-sitting, there are chimes and smiling busts of goddesses, the names of whom I do not know. The pups wake me at five a.m. and I feed them and then coffee myself, out here, in silence, stillness, the soft embrace of the solitude of a world mostly still asleep.

Although Fall is my favorite season, September and October are full of difficult rememberings, navigation of which require of me much forgetting. But, unless one has lived one’s adult decades in complete denial and practiced ignorance – both, sadly, increasingly common – one can’t help but have discovered that a good deal of remembering is, finally, forgetting.

This week contained birthdays of three people I loved deeply, albeit in very different ways, all of whom are now dead: A sister. A lover. A friend.

It would be so much simpler if one-word labels could contain or communicate the truth of who those three were to me, but all the words in the world can’t capture the total truth of any relationship. Moments pass, and what seems in the now to be acid-etch-eternal, will, in the later when that now becomes then, transform into something less-so, or, even sometimes, fade completely.

I recall with what seems to me absolute clarity of detail a class-walk through a Continue reading

A cockeyed optimism . . . Mary and Kelli and Happy Days . . .

(I wrote and posted a version of this last night, but realized I’d more to say. So, updated and further explored my burst of cockeyed optimism. Love and Light, dears. Love and Light. 3/5/15 11a.m.)

True confessions: it’s coming up on the date of my aunt’s death. I am working diligently to remember all the joy she brought to me, but, I’m not terribly good at this. Joy was not a skill much valued nor encouraged in my upbringing, which was a journey peopled by those who were well-intentioned but barely able to cope, prone to disappearing for months on end into bedrooms, silences and sorrows, screams, and terrifying mood swings marked by violence, after which they would tearfully apologize, make excuses for themselves which often included an element of blaming me, and, too, there would be long nights in my bed during which Continue reading

Song of the Day(Life):I’m An Unemployed Sweetheart

The things about which I want to write and/or talk would be considered in the categories of either Too Much Information and/or My Problem I Need to Solve Myself.  Once again I seem to have done something — without knowing what it was — to cause someone to distance his/herself from me. Here’s the thing, too, if you spend an early life being trained in loss and not good enough, if you get thrown up against enough lockers, dunked into enough toilets, you start beating yourself up first so as to prevent the pain of others doing it; then, shit, it still happens. Often it’s caused by your own behavior, your own self-denigrating beliefs, you make others weary. It becomes a self-fulfilling, regenerating cycle. I get it. But, I’m not dwelling there. I have other shit to which I need to get . . .  and I’m a bit lonely . . .  and confused by it, so, this . . .

Part 3: Existential Cozies, Comforts, and Joys

Well my little hall-deckers, if Christmas it must be, then the Yuletide ought always to be like last night! Maybe there is, after all, something to this keeping an account of my cozies, comforts, and joys. So, Part 3.

MEGAN HILTY

andrea and charlie

Me and my Andrea between shows. Big drinkers; me with a coffee, Andrea with a Coke. Yep. Whoo-freaking-hoo!

Big fan. First saw Ms. Hilty as Galinda in Wicked. Next saw Ms. Hilty as Doralee in 9 to 5: The Musical. Next, became rabid fan of Smash, founding member of Team Ivy. Then, my dear Andrea birthday-surprised me earlier this year with tickets to see Ms. Hilty in concert at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theatre. And then AGAIN, a few weeks ago, Andrea surprised me with tickets to see Ms. Hilty’s Christmas Concert at the Kennedy Center for last night’s 7:30 show. It was only yesterday afternoon that Andrea told me she had gotten tickets NOT ONLY to the 7:30, but, also, the 9:30. And so, the two of us, front row, aisle, house right — for the first show, somehow, despite it being sold out, we were the only people in the front row, and for the second show, the only OTHER person in the front row was a yawning, unkempt looking fellow in aisle seat, house left. I don’t know HOW Andrea gets these amazing seats, but, uhm, she always does.

About Ms. Hilty. Wow, the last time I saw her, my birthday concert (yes, MY BIRTHDAY concert), she was quite preggers. She delivered the girl-child, Viola, three months ago, and is back, better than ever. She can belt with the best of them but she is also able to quietly croon you to tears. She invests each song with its beginning, middle, end, telling the story with an expressiveness of voice and emotional depth I think is rarely equalled among current singers and Broadway performers. She really is a treasure. Listen to this — which she did last night in an arrangement of mostly guitar (as played by her husband, Brian Gallagher, more below).

And, MOST OF ALL, the relationship between Megan and her husband, Brian Gallagher, who plays guitar and sings with her during these concert appearances, is so freaking beautiful. I want to be one of them. The love they share just radiates from the stage, envelops you in its warmth and fairy-tale goodness. Ms. Hilty sang the song A Place Called Home from the Broadway musical version of A Christmas Carol, and she started weeping just introducing it and speaking of having found “the love of her life” and having a child. Not only was she crying, but as she sang it, so did Mr. Gallagher weep. Both shows. It wasn’t performance, it was life, and love, and so much Light on stage. Great show. If you’ve a chance to share some time with these people, you really ought to. And for me, being there last night (BOTH SHOWS!) with them and Andrea, so much comfort and joy.

COMFORTS, JOYS … quickies

  • And gas is really cheap right now, which is great, as I will soon be returning to Aftermath — where I love to be, which bucolic setting is twenty minutes from the gym. So, cheap gas is good.
  • And, thanks to a niece, found Starbucks Christmas Blend Keurig Cups for 8-something a box. This is a VERY good thing. I know it’s ridiculous, but I don’t think I could function without a Keurig.
  • And I have discovered (thank you TwitterLiterati) the Agatha Raisin mysteries by M.C. Beaton. Delightful fun. Happiness.
ford penis necklace

Tom Ford $800 Penis Necklace

  • And Tom Ford is selling what appears to be a gold phallic symbol. [See New York magazine article here.]  How cool is an $800 dick necklace? I’ll tell you how cool — Bill Donohue of the Catholic League [click here for the fucking moron] is upset about it. And, an idiot. I mean, who even THOUGHT this was supposed to look like a cross? I mean, now, every time I see a nicely arranged set of male genitalia, I’m going to connect it even more vigorously to my memories of my catholic youth — those years when my knees were hardened and trained to the tasks and sacraments for which the catholic church so lovingly prepared me. Thank you to the catholics for making me so good at so many things involving being on my knees … speaking of which ….
  • And, at the gym yesterday, a really good-looking guy came on to me in the showers. I have no idea why someone as good-looking as he was would come on to someone like me, I didn’t see any mistletoe hanging on the shower head — but — without going into details — this was not another one of my hallucinations. He actually, really and truly, did come on to me. I did not reciprocate nor respond except to politely indicate the gym-showers were not a location where I intended to frolic. Truth, I am still snotty and unwell — this cold thing — and it would have been not just dangerously undignified (and, possibly, illegal?) to fool around there but, too, I’d have been spreading cold germs. But, you know, HOPE —

SPEAKING OF HOT MEN … Russell Tovey is cheating on me …

russell tovey nude looking

Russell Tovey on top of the home-wrecker and fantasy-killer, Jonathan Groff

Andrea broke it to me last night that she’d seen a preview for Season 2 of HBO’s Looking and it seems as if Russell Tovey — who I claimed as my own YEARS ago when he was in The History Boys on Broadway — is continuing — in the plotline — to have sex with Jonathan Groff’s character. I am not happy about this. And, clearly, the universe and all the demons of hell sent after me because of my lapsed catholicism and ever-increasing atheism (wait, that doesn’t make sense, well, so what) have conspired to torture me because this morning, Russell is everywhere. He posted this one of himself:

Tovey, Russell Dec 2014

Tovey by Turner

CLICK HERE FOR the website Cocktails and Cocktalk, and a whole series of new hot Tovey photos.

And, as if that wasn’t enough to get me all … well, whatever it is a man my age (who, I hasten to add, was COME ON TO in the showers yesterday — WHILE NAKED) gets, then, I was assaulted by this photo to the left in my Twitter TL. An entire new set of Tovey photos. Dear god (in whom I do not believe) STOP!

SPEAKING OF GOD … final comfort and joy of the day …

Andrea. My dear, dear Andrea, she who allows me stays at Aftermath with her dear, dear Judah, yes, Andrea is a Pastor. Pastor Andrea. A person of the cloth.

I know, right? I can hear many of you exclaiming — as did my family and some other friends when I spoke of Andrea and they inquired as to details — “How is a Pastor friends with you?”

Well, here’s how. In a life you meet/have a very few people — if you are lucky, and I am INCREDIBLY lucky in this way — who “get” you. These people see you, who you are, at the soul, at the source, at the center of your Love and Light. They don’t judge you, they don’t try to change you, they don’t forgive or accept, they don’t have to — they KNOW you. They never see anything but the Love and the Light. If I believed in God — and when I did believe in God — it was that sort of seeing I thought defined God. My complicated cosmology didn’t have room for sin or hell or right or wrong — but, rather, had space only for the aim of seeing only the Love and Light at the source, at the core. Not saying there aren’t people who behave in heinous ways, saying, instead, the job of a God — the job, I think, of everyone, all life — is to believe PAST all of the heinous, to believe that — ultimately — the Love and the Light, no matter how distorted they may become, are all that are. All That Is, the truth of the Love and the Light. Everything else is illusion, temporary, words, labels, not important.

How does Andrea stay my friend? Because for Andrea, that is all there is. Andrea is what anyone who wants to do God’s work should be, a person who works always to live in and see in others that core of Love and Light, and believes in it — no matter how those others parse it or fuck it up or hurt themselves and others or fail at life — Andrea sees and encourages and cultivates and BELIEVES in the Love and the Light.

That’s faith. Faith. That’s God. And I am incredibly blessed and comforted and cozied and joyed and un-deserving of having found this late in life (although I hasten to add I was come on to when naked in the shower yesterday by a very attractive much younger man — ARE YOU LISTENING RUSSELL TOVEY?) a friend, a dear one, a treasure, like Andrea. Andrea, a Pastor who doesn’t measure me by whether or not I profess to believe in God; Andrea, who doesn’t measure me at all except by the glow of my Love and Light, and finds me to be friend-worthy. I love her. So much.

Here’s wishing all of you have an Andrea and such blessings as do I to count, and, my dears, at least one who sees your Love and Light like Andrea sees mine.

Love and Light kids.

 

 

 

Part 2: Existential Cozies, Comforts, and Joys

It’s STILL the holiday season. I’m gonna be merry or die trying goddammit. So, first of all, my daily dose of HAPPY FUCKING HOLIDAY visuals. Here’s a Christmas tree.

ahs freak dandy christmas

Oh, and Finn Wittrock’s ass from American Horror Story.  You’re welcome.

I was shared a lot yesterday. Oh, how I wish that were true in an entirely different way. However, clicks and re-posts don’t lie. You loved yesterday’s blog [click HERE for Existential Cozies etc Part 1] and I can only conclude that your concern for me, your love for me, your wish for all good things for me drove the shares: You people LOVE it when I’m happy.

On the other hand, it may have been the pictures of half-naked men. Or, fully naked men. Never underestimate the power of Ben Affleck’s penis. Or, Colby Keller’s anything and everything.

So, being an enabler from way back, and desperate for any sort of popularity — no matter how shallow and temporary — now, I give you: More things that make me happy.

COLBY KELLER (again…get used to it)

Layout 1He’s on the cover of Next Magazine [click HERE] from which I lifted these shots. I don’t know when it happened, and certainly my friends would be amazed — had I any to whom I regularly spoke — that my obsession with etiolated, heroin-junkie looking, bean-stalk, malnourished youths has evolved into unrequited longings for flannel wearing, bearded, stocky, crush-you-without-thinking-about-it bears.

Keller, Colby NEXT MAG 1 Keller, Colby NEXT MAG 2I’m not the only one who loves Colby. There is also an article about him in The Huffington Post: Porn Star and Artist Colby Keller Opens Up About ‘Colby Does America’ [click here to read & view slideshow].

Mr. Keller also has an Instagram account. I don’t do Instagram. I can barely keep up with Twitter and this blog, so, I don’t do anything else. But, here is a link to COLBY KELLER INSTAGRAM: COLBYDOESAMERICA [click here].

COLBY

From Mr. Keller’s Instagram

Of course I am attracted to his body, and his open enjoyment of sex — but I’m also fascinated by his world-view, his communism, his commitment to breaking boundaries and exploring edges. Clearly he finds the reactions of the world to him — to everything — to be largely hypocritical, un-examined, full of inconsistencies and cruelties, twisted moralities and arbitrary judgments, dangerous games with plastic rules and deadly consequences manipulated by power-hungry, corrupt, unprincipled liars and murderers and opportunists. AS DO I.  I don’t consider what Mr Keller does debauched or pornographic; I think what Dick Cheney and George Bush and congress and CitiBank and Amazon do qualifies as licentious and degenerate. If there is such a thing as sin, it’s the politicians and the capitalists and the power-brokers who are going to hell. Not people who enjoy sex.

Look, if you’re not a prude, if you think you can take it, here’s an XTUBE link to Colby doing Maryland. Probably would be considered “porn” by a lot of people. I don’t think sex should be called porn. I think it should be called sex. But, so you know, he’s naked and he jacks off and all that — BUT LISTEN TO THE WORDS. It’s kind of genius. AND I CANNOT BELIEVE HE WAS IN MARYLAND AND I DIDN’T GET TO BE THERE.

CLICK HERE FOR COLBY KELLER DOES MARYLAND ON XTUBE

Thank you, Colby.

AND SPEAKING OF HYPOCRISY…Nasty Pig (& I don’t mean Dick Cheney. This time.)

Time-Warner Cable pulled this ad for Nasty Pig Underwear. [read story here in Towelroad]  Why? I have to watch and listen to constant bullshit about erectile dysfunction, incontinence, vaginal dryness, depression, undergarments for the oversized, discount furniture all of which reclines including coffee tables,  etcetera (can you tell I watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy every night?) but and ad promoting healthy sexuality is too much for the world? Really? I DON’T GET IT!

Were I the kind of fellow who listened to advice and somehow got my own domain and built a monetized website, I’d want NASTY PIG [click HERE for their website – and buy me some underwear – in a totally socialist way, thanks as a sponsor. Instead, I’ll just free-post them. I’m sort of a communist, I guess, or socialist, or, well, pandering to Colby?

And another voice saying “LOOK LISTEN” …  Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore [click here]

endofsanfran

Click on book to order from City Lights

Last night I finally finished reading Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore’s The End of Francisco. I say “finally” not because it wasn’t immensely readable, but, rather, because I loved it so much, was so moved by it, I kept putting it down. In ways too personal to describe at the moment, we shared experiences — not together, not in the same room, but, somehow, in the same heart and soul space. This is a memoir of a “radical queer troublemaker” — but, Mattilda made no trouble, Mattilda told the truth and had trouble then thrust upon her like shade, like hell, like what happens to people who speak from the center of the Love and Light in which they live honestly in a world where such things are frowned upon. Mattilda had courage in ways I never dreamed — or, if I did dream, I was too chickenshit to explore. I love him. I loved the book. And when it ended last night, I wept, because I felt as if Mattilda and I were finished, our conversation. I want more. You should buy this book. Read it.

MEGAN HILTY

Tonight, 7:30, Kennedy Center. Megan Hilty. I’m there. Early Christmas gift from my dear, A, who is going along. Megan. Hilty. This:

Tonight, she’ll be singing Christmas tunes. If only Colby Keller sang … Christmas … oh, wait … look what I found.

AND BEN … oh Ben … again …

It always comes back to Ben, doesn’t it? Just in case he’s the only reason you’re here … here. So, if you’ve been wishing for Ben’s dick for a long time — well, that can wear a person out. It’s good of Ben to share. Good Ben. Good bye. Happy holidays.

NOTE: JAN 12, 2015 — FOX HAS NOTHING BETTER TO DO THAN COME AFTER HARMLESS, LOW-HIT BLOGGER LIKE ME AND DETERMINE MY USE OF IMAGES FROM FILM NOT FAIR USE — AND DESPITE WORDPRESS FIRST PARAGRAPH, THEY DID IN FACT DISABLE THE IMAGES. READ:

Hello, 

We have received a DMCA notice (https://www.eff.org/issues/bloggers/legal/liability/IP#dmca) 
for material published on your WordPress.com site. 

Normally this would mean that we'd have to disable access to the material. 
However, because we believe that this instance falls under fair use protections, 
we will not be removing it at this time. 

Section 107 of US copyright law identifies various purposes for which the 
reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, 
comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. You can learn more 
about that here:
http://www.copyright.gov/title17
http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

While we believe that your use of the material is protected (we have fought for 
our users in similar cases in the past - http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/striking-back-against-censorship/), 
please keep in mind that the complainant may choose to continue to pursue this 
matter, perhaps directly with you. If you would prefer, you are still able to 
delete the content from your site yourself.

The notice we received follows.


— BEGIN NOTICE —
To whom it may concern:

We are writing to you on behalf of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and 
its related entities (collectively "Fox") which own intellectual property rights 
in the motion picture film Gone Girl Image 81313611/CA2014005206. It has come to 
our attention that one or more images purportedly from Gone Girl Image 
81313611/CA2014005206 were posted on your website at the URL(s) listed below 
without authorization of Fox. This conduct infringes Fox's intellectual property 
rights.

http://pmchollywoodlife.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/p1gicsogfodfghavvis2.gif
https://herewearegoing.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/affleck-dick-1.gif?w=300&h=150
https://herewearegoing.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/affleck-dick-3.gif?w=300&h=150
https://herewearegoing.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/affleck-dick-2.gif?w=300&h=150
http://pmchollywoodlife.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/p1gicsogfodfghavvis2.gif?w=636&h=264


We must demand that you remove the images from your website immediately. 

I have a good faith belief that the use of the material at the URL(s) listed 
above is not authorized by Fox, its agent, or the law and I declare under 
penalty of perjury that I am authorized to act on behalf of Fox and the 
information in this letter is accurate.

Please confirm via e-mail that you will comply with our request.


/Kasimira C. Verdi/

Kasimira C. Verdi
Director – Intellectual Property
Fox Group Legal
2121 Ave. of the Stars, Rm. 2234
Century City, CA 90067
310-369-3110
foxip@fox.com

 

 

Love and Light, kids. Love and Light.

 

 

 

Saturday Night

Colby Keller never called. Oh well. I got to see my Cody. And, Her Grace checked on me. Those things are beautiful. I am grateful for the ways I am loved. But, oh dear, I’m exhausted, my Lights and Loves. I am truly, truly exhausted.

charlie up a tree_edited-1 (2)

June 12, 2014 7

Charlie attitude

Cody and Charlie theatre

Cody and Charlie at Bridges

charlie at 3

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Garbo I Want To Be Alone

Sissie 3

once was my heart

feb 3 2014 5

alone2

DC Jan 2014 3 NY Times Press Seat at White House

shot to the head

C PURPLE4

C PURPLE3

C PURPLE2

allen

Mommy & Charlie 1 001

April 2013 5

I need to laugh more often. I believe that lack of laughter is why I am so tired. Saturday night.