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In Shadow, Insieme

I started this day obsessing over a missing fur muffler. Then I decided the remedy for such heedless materialism was a Stephen Sondheim deep-dive. I was mainlining everything by the recently deceased lyricist/composer when I learned one former suitor had just lost everything in a fire, another had died suddenly of a heart attack. With both people, my ego needs often eclipsed my compassion. Praying for their peace, I shook my head over the big deal I’d just been making over a scarf—not to mention the raw, unmatched longing derailing both relationships. Had this intuitive learned nothing? I flashed on how being unwanted by his mother had lent that same longing to all of SS’s productions, including Marriage Story, which in its own way is also a Sondheim production—at least in this (and one other) scene.

In the rest of Noah Baumbach’s thinly disguised account of his divorce, Adam Driver channels the writer/director’s fussy, righteous narcissism. But in this rendition of “Being Alive,” the actor channels Sondheim instead—namely, the redemption he personally experienced through Sondheim’s work, through theater in general. A former Marine who found outlet for his many variations of manhood at Juilliard, Driver captures that desperate desire to transform pain and isolation into something—anything!—so there’s meaning in despair. It’s a performance that embraces each of us in our imperfections. A performance that reaches across time and space.

At heart, “compassion” simply means “suffering with.” On this first night of Hannukah, the Jewish commemoration of light in the darkness, know that you are loved, you are whole, you are held. Above all, you are not alone.

Space Crone Rides the Elevator: A One-Act Play

SETTING: An extremely generic elevator in a West Village office building. It is Month Quadrillion in Quarantime.

PLAYERS: A 50-year-old broad-shouldered, broad-breasted broad, armored in full space crone gear (blonde and grey braids; fur hat, fur boots, fur fingerless gloves, sunglasses, and double mask–all purple). A 30ish cis-male of same height, clad head to toe in expensive muscles and athletic gear, including Apple Airpods Pro and inexplicably white and dry Nike Air Force Supreme trainers though outside it is sleeting.

ACT I: Space crone enters elevator car and sighs in relief upon ascertaining it is empty. Just as doors are closing, a hand snakes in and cis-male, maskless and jabbering loudly into phone via airpods, jumps in.

SC (shoving her foot in doors before they shut completely): Put a mask on or get off.
CM (into phone, without looking at her): Nobody. (He jabs “shut doors” button while SC stares at him intently, keeping foot in doors.) Some bitch, I don’t know. (Jabs button again.)
SC (fists clenched): I know you’re not deaf. So hear me when I say I will jump your ass if you don’t GET THE FUCK OFF THIS CAR. (Raises fists, takes a step forward, eyes flashing.)
CM (jumps out, yells): Crazy old cunt! (SC smizes as doors clang shut definitively.)

Of Homographic Utopias and Dowager Chic (The Sound Inside, Terminator: Dark Fate)

Critic drag with co-panelist Jack Rico.

Yesterday was kind of brilliant. The boys and I taped an episode of Talking Pictures, and for the first time since the show migrated from Spectrum to PBS achieved the right balance of jocularity and specificity. Which is to say: I got my points across with some style and minimal manterruption, and we all laughed a lot.

Link to come shortly.

Afterward I had enough cash in my pocket to eat out properly, so I joined up with my friend Little Lisa. In generosity of spirit and strength of mind she is no way little, but as we share a first name and I grew up in an Italian-American neighborhood where people of the same name are distinguished by the prefix “Big” or “Little,” Little Lisa she is. To be fair, LL is 7 inches shorter than me and a good 16 years younger.

Big of heart, though, believe me.

Once upon a time we worked together at NY1–she was often the only other broad in the studio when I was on set–but these days she’s a fancy lady producer at a major network and I’m, well–that’s a good question. What am I right now? Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy