So good. So, so, so good. Neil Patrick Harris is perfection. I first learned about Hedwig when I was still a tourist traveling to the Big Apple with my Ohio theater friends. We’d pile in a van, drive to NYC to jam-pack four, sometimes five shows in three days before the drive home.
On one such trip in 1998, Hedwig and the Angry Inch was playing Off-Broadway at the Jane Street Theater. Torn between which shows to see during my limited time, I decided to skip Hedwig in favor of some other big Broadway show. It was a choice I regretted as soon as I saw my friend Eileen, fresh from the show and out of her mind with enthusiastic love for it and its writer and star John Cameron Mitchell. I couldn’t tell you what I saw that night instead.
I’ve loved the music for years, singing, screaming and weeping out loud in my car to Wig in a Box, Wicked Little Town, Origin of Love.
Last night I remedied my mistake by seeing it on Broadway. It moved me. Not just Harris’ fantastic (definitely Tony Award nominated, probably winning) performance but the journey of the show from Jane Street to here and my own from a tourist to a 14-year New Yorker. The art and love of it all had me in tears a few times. And the music. God, I love the music.
Don’t make the same mistake I did in 1998. Go see it.
Turning 41 on a Tuesday can be pretty blah. If you looked at our day on paper, it probably was.
We slept till 10:30 and in between the rush of showering, dog walking, coffee and breakfast, I gave Christian (the birthday boy) his gifts:
1) A doggy DNA kit for our mutt Griswold,
2) Tickets to “Hedwig & the Angry Inch” starring Neil Patrick Harris, and
3) A neon sign from the set of his sitcom Are We There Yet? that an eagle-eyed photographer from the show snagged at a junk store and shipped to me from Connecticut.
Christian went to therapy and had an MRI for his knee & hip while I worked. Afterward, we took Grizzy to an empty dog park. Bummer. Grizzy was hankering for some play time. We were finally joined by a guy with a rambunctious puppy named Fliffy. Making small talk about our dogs, we asked Fliffy’s dad what breed Fliffy was (poodle, Wheaton terrier mix). He asked what Grizzy was. I said we didn’t know but that I got the doggy DNA kit for Christian’s birthday.
“Today’s your birthday?” the guy asked as he walked toward Christian with his hand extended to give a shake. “It’s mine, too.”
Weird! “Happy birthday, Fliffy’s dad!”
“What year? I’m 1973.”
WOW! WHOA! WEIRD! What are the odds?
Hungry, Christian, Grizzy & I left the park for LIC Bar. We ate Vietnamese food and drank beer in the rapidly diminishing afternoon sun followed by dessert at Monika’s Cafe Bar. We came home to swab Grizzy’s cheeks for DNA, watch TV and not much else.
Turning 41 on a Tuesday can be pretty blah. If you looked at our day on paper, it probably was.
* Give two presentations at the Fox Cities Book Festival in Wisconsin.
* Watch Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway starring Neil Patrick Harris for my husband’s birthday.
* Celebrate the release of my husband Christian Finnegan‘s third stand up comedy special THE FUN PART premiering on Netflix. Filmed at the Wilbur Theater in Boston, it is beautifully shot and directed. Don’t have Netflix? It’s available for audio-only (for now) download on iTunes and Amazon.
* Produce and promote Christian’s solo show THE GORGEOUS MOSAIC at the People’s Improv Theater. It’s 60 mins of his standup & storytelling about his 23 years in NYC and it’s solid. So saith the New York Times, so saith we all.
* Ride every ride at Coney Island as many times possible in four hours. (Thanks, Living Social!)
* Take my protege to meet Sara Benincasa at Sara’s book party & reading for her new YA book GREAT. Celebrate good times, come on!
* Atone for my sin of not watching Game of Thrones by watching all the Game of Thrones.
March ended up being like February: underachieved. I got sick –again!– and the weather stunk and I’ve been unable to focus. But I did go ice skating with my protege and didn’t fall once in two hours. I tutored her twice a week, too. I don’t know if I was of any help to her, but I liked seeing her so often. My event at RIT/NTID was awesome! Check out the video phone booth and poster from the campus. Let’s see if April can break the trend and actually go as expected or better.
I’m in a really bad mood, but my husband knows just how to pull me out of the spiral. He sent me a link to this! It’s a combination of my loves Neil Patrick Harris & Jason Segel singing “Confrontation” from Les Mis. The only thing that could make this better is if David Lee Roth flew across the stage wearing spandex pants carrying a boom box.*
Bad mood is now on the back burner set to simmer.
*ETA: The How I Met Your Mother series finale included Neil Patrick Harris dressed as David Lee Roth. Head exploded!
I saw a tweet (click pic at right or scroll down below) from the NYPD and thought it was cool. It’s cool not only that in 1988 Mary Lowery was the first woman assigned to the NYPD’s Aviation Unit, but also because that same year Mom was wiring avionics for Heli-Dyne in Hurst, TX. She was even in a Budweiser commercial during the “For all you do, this Bud’s for you!” advertising phase. One helicopter they built was for…you guessed it: The NYPD.
After the helicopter was completed, the NYPD gave everyone at Heli-Dyne baseball hats with their logo on it. Dad used it to try to get out of a traffic ticket. I was with him and acted as his interpreter. Dad told the truth to me, and I interpreted a lie to the cop which was better. We got off. We didn’t need the hat.
Years later, when I moved to NYC, I worked at the law firm that represented the NYPD in their precedent-setting licensing efforts. Less than two months after the license was granted, planes flew into the Twin Towers on 9/11 and the NYPD’s trademark became invaluable. Months were spent at Ground Zero confiscating unlicensed NYPD hats. Funny how things go full circle.
I always loved that Mom didn’t have a “traditional woman’s” job. That she excelled in her industry inspired and empowered me. With each generation we women can learn from and lean on each other. There’s something weird going on in the USA with women’s rights. I can’t fully wrap my head around it and why it’s happening now, but I have faith that it’s just a phase. We still have the right to vote, something our [great] grandmothers didn’t always have and women in other countries *still* don’t have.
Exercise that right, ladies.
Build your own helicopter and fly that baby.
Below are pics of the tweet / photo of Mary Lowery and a photo of Mom (the redhead) with two other women in avionics with the NYPD chopper, wiring other choppers and the NYPD choppers in action at the World Trade Center and the Brooklyn Bridge.
½ lb orzo
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 oz pitted & sliced kalamata olives
4 oz diced sundried tomatoes (dry or jarred)
8 oz cubed or crumbled feta
2 oz toasted pine nuts
handful of fresh diced parsley
salt + pepper to taste
Bring water to a boil, enough to cook your orzo pasta. Meanwhile, slice your kalamata olives in half, cube your feta, and dice your sundried tomatoes. Toast your pine nuts in the oven for a few minutes at 375 degrees, it enhances their flavor. Chop a small handful of parsley, and set all aside.
Cook your orzo according to the directions on the box, strain, and place in a bowl. Immediately pour the EVOO over the orzo to keep it from sticking, then stir it all around. Add the feta, kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, pine nuts and parsley on top. Toss the ingredients together, then add freshly cracked black pepper and salt to taste. Chill for an hour, serves 6 to 8 people.
The first time I saw the Oscar-winning movie Midnight Express was the summer I turned seven years old. The Academy Award-winning film was based on the memoir by a young American named Billy Hayes who was arrested in Turkey in 1970 during an attempt to smuggle hashish out of the country by taping it all over his body. His sentence of four years was, for various reasons, converted to a minimum of thirty years to life. For trying to smuggle pot. Crazy.
Life in a Turkish prison is pretty horrific as you can imagine, and Mr. Hayes’ story left an indelible mark on my young, impressionable mind. The movie is rated R for violence, a gay-lite prison sex scene (hubba, hubba), tons of nudity (including full frontal male, hubba, hubba, hubba), and a prison visit masturbation scene (hubb…oh…wait…this is heart-wrenching).
Obviously, it was highly inappropriate for me to watch it. Yet I did…alone…dozens of times thanks to a summer spent at my deaf grandparents who had cable TV. This should serve as a testament to powerful storytelling that a seven-year-old kid would watch a long, quietly intense drama about a Turkish prison experience.
Last week, I went to see Mr. Hayes in his solo show “Riding the Midnight Express”. It’s just him and a stool and a bottle of Poland Spring followed by a Q&A and book signing. He was generous of his time and gave us his all even though it was a light crowd on a Wednesday afternoon during a snowstorm.
He told the same story he wrote in his memoir — the memoir that Oliver Stone turned into a movie that won an Oscar. After winning, I’m sure plenty would think, “Hang up the hat, dude. You did it!”. Now, 40+ years later, Mr. Hayes is touring the world with a solo show.
This is encouraging to me as someone who is worried that I’ve squeezed all the juice from the lemons life gave me.
My memoir is almost two years old and even older to NYC alt comedy and storytelling audiences. Now, here I am on a train to Rochester to give a speech at RIT/NTID and am in the early stages of producing a solo show of me telling the same old story. Really? YUP!
So the timing of seeing Mr. Hayes could not have been more perfect. There are billions of people in the world and all but several thousand of them have never heard of me, my book, my storytelling, nothing. Add to that, that I actually have a *message* of hope and societal change to share, why would I stop now?
I’m reminded of Mike Birbiglia, too. I saw him tell him tell his Sleepwalk with Me story many times as a long stand up comedy bit about ten years ago, give or take. It progressed to long form storytelling on This American Life and, most recently, a feature film.
Like Mike, I have other stories to share and hope to not be telling the same story in 40 years, but even if I am? Fantastic. What a privilege it is to have people come out, spend their hard earned money and precious time to see me. Thank you, each and every one of you, who have given me that honor.
Don’t ya just love when the Universe sends a clear message? I’ve been pretty lazy about a few projects and haven’t been able (wanted?) to focus on them even though they get me excited simply talking about them. These horses have got legs, some of them are even saddled up, I’m just not hopping on and taking the reins for whatever reason(s).
Then I got an email from a reader asking me if it was okay for her to use a line from my memoir as a tattoo (see pic). I’ve shared part of that email below with her permission:
I wrote to you about a year ago after I read your book for the second time. I had told you about a passage in your book that struck me.
“Events in my life just seemed to happen to me. Now, however, I wanted to make life happen.”
You responded telling me about how you made lists and started making things work for you, having the universe respond. And again…it struck me.
I have that passage written down and look at it daily. It’s on the wall at work. It’s a note in my phone. I even have it written on a post it note I keep in my wallet just in case I need that reminder. I have held that phrase, that power, with me since I first read it.
In any sense, I appreciate your words and your kindness and I genuinely appreciate you for helping me to change my life.
How nice, right? I replied to her that, of course, she could use the line. Her email came at the perfect time to remind me that I have to hop on the saddle and take the reins.
She inspired me to live by my own words:
Make life happen.
We don’t have control over many things in life, but we do have control over how we feed our minds and souls. We control the books we read, the movies and TV shows we watch, the music we listen to, the people we choose as friends, how we spend our idle time, and how seriously we take our studies.
You hold a lot of power in the choices you make.
I hope she’ll consider this and refer back to it as she grows older and choices and life become more complicated.
(Read the full letter by clicking on the image.)
Continuing from my post / idea to remind myself of the positive plans I have in a nutshell, here is my post for what’s in store for March:
* Stay at our cabin at least once, probably twice.
* Submit my solo show to All For One.
* Travel to Rochester, NY and give presentations at RIT/NTID, the largest deaf school in the country. !!!
* Promote Christian’s dates at Gotham Comedy Club, his new hour special THE FUN PART debuting on Netflix & his solo show at The PIT.
* Tutor my protege twice a week to prepare her for the state’s standardized tests.
* Go ice skating with my protege.
* Work on a new solo show idea for myself and a full-length play I’ve been tossing around in my head for a while now.
While January 2014’s plans went as expected, February, yeah, not so much. The TV pilot moved shoot dates to a day when I was in DC, so I couldn’t be an extra. DC was great, though. I enjoyed the Newseum and the Ford’s Theater and Lincoln Museum plus a gorgeous walk through the National Mall which I had practically all to myself because of a snowstorm that shut the city down* I also enjoyed a decadent, incredible lunch at Jaleo (pics below) with the lovely Jennifer Tress, author of You’re Not Pretty Enough. She makes me happy.
But then I got sick AGAIN for another full week of being laid up with a fever. Very upsetting and turned all my plans upside down. This winter has left me feeling negligent to my needs personally & professionally, but looking at what I *have* done I can say the last two months weren’t wasted.
Hopefully March will be illness free and include some fun surprises. Mostly, I’m excited to go to Rochester to share my story and meet tons of hearing, deaf, HoH, & CODA staff and students.
Man, I love the internet. Where else can you Travoltify your name? I’m Kaci Creez, at your service…
I arrived in DC last night and quickly realized I didn’t bring any lip gloss or color. I have tons at home, so I wasn’t in the mood to spend a lot of time or money on new stuff and the corner CVS’s small inventory was raked over. This resulted in my grabbing the cheapest stuff I could easily find: Wet n Wild.
I got the standard clear stuff just to apply over my bare lips or with lip liner and then some bright pink stuff because it was $3. So why not? YOU CAN’T STOP ME. I’M CRAZY LIKE THE WIND!
Turns out, the pink stuff was Wet n Wild’s Megalast liquid lip color called “Back to the Fuchsia”. I applied it in a dark restaurant and almost immediately was like, “WTF?” I mean it looked like gloss and felt like gloss, but this was not gloss. It dried to a matte finish (Eeeewwww, why? Noooooo! The 90s were my “lost years”, and I don’t need to find them again.) and my lips actually were sticking together. The stuff is very tacky. Pun intended.
Had I not applied the little bit of clear gloss the stuff ain’t budging. Like busy-day-as-a-porn-star smudge-proof.
I’m not entirely sure the color is right for me, especially in the winter with my pale, freckled skin, but for $3 and hundreds of applications in the bottle we are talking my language: Bang for Three Bucks!*
*Also the future name of my porno in which I’ll test drive this stuff.
Continuing from my January post / idea to remind myself of the positive plans I have in a nutshell, here is my post for what’s in store for February:
* Perform the last** of my solo show workshop performances.
* Update my solo show script using info gleaned from my workshop performances.
* Go to DC over V-Day weekend with Christian where he headlines The DC Improv & will see friends while there.
* Perform on three comedy / storytelling shows. (Info here.)
* Work as an extra on a friend’s TV pilot.
* Watch two Soundtrack Series storytelling shows at MoMI.
* Attend a screening of “Network” and Q&A with David Itzkoff & Keith Olbermann also at MoMI.
* Hang out with my protege during her mid-winter school break.
** Last of this go round. I’m going to stage one more set of two or three workshops to finalize the script and have it professionally videotaped so I can submit to festivals and such.
January 2014’s plans went as expected. It was very busy, with lots of great movies thanks to those SAG screeners. The Los Angeles trip included a meeting with a screenwriter and trips to the La Brea Tar Pits and Getty Villa. Also, I hung out with my protege one day and had the best time ever. We rode down a toboggan in Times Square set up for Super Bowl Boulevard, checked out Puppy Bowl at Discovery Times Square and toured Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
So, all in all, a pretty awesome month! The only downside was that I got very sick for a solid week including one day when I had an almost 103-degree temperature. Scary! It put a damper on my rehearsals for my solo show, but I managed to pull through. The show went on and I was pretty pleased with it.
Let’s see if February shakes out as planned and if anything else fun or interesting pops up.
The holidays tend to bum me out, and I felt like I hadn’t accomplished much in 2013 and don’t have much to look forward to in 2014. That’s just the silly holiday blues talking. So, to remind myself of the positive plans I have in a nutshell, I’m going to write an entry at the top of each month about the weeks ahead.
For January 2014, I am:
Going to Los Angeles and Cleveland,
Producing & performing my solo show at the The Peoples Improv Theater,
Promoting shows for NYC PodFest,
Seeing a half dozen comedy shows or more,
Performing on a few others,
Celebrating 11 years with Christian Finnegan,
Getting a haircut and going for my tri-annual teeth cleaning.
After I wrote this, we got the mail and received a bunch of screeners from the Screen Actor’s Guild of which Christian is now a member. We’ve never gotten anything like this before so we were very excited to see our mailbox spilling out with such great movies.
I’m sure veterans of the stage and screen don’t get all atwitter for these, but to us it felt like Christmas morning! They arrived just in time for a 10-inch snowfall and bitter cold in NYC and our trip to Los Angeles, so we’ll have plenty to keep us company.
So, yeah, there is a lot to look forward to. Now let’s get this party started!
I had an especially awesome week leading up to Christmas. I had three separate dates with my protégé which was the biggest treat. We hopped aboard a vintage train (pic at right & at bottom) to Midtown where we shopped at the Disney store and Toys R Us Times Square, and got tickets at the TDF booth for Newsies the Musical. Our seats were pretty high up in the mezzanine but this musical’s set design allowed for great viewing. The choreography was phenomenal and we enjoyed the show very much.
During intermission, Jeaniah pored through the program matching each actor’s headshot and bio with their characters. A few minutes into the second act, the lead male was singing in earnest and Jeaniah whispered, “He has a very pretty voice!” I agreed and took note at how enthralled she was. At curtain call, she applauded politely for chorus, loudly for a few of her favorite supporting cast members, then screamed the highest pitched dolphin squeal that could’ve broken glass when the lead male took his bows, like we were at a One Direction concert. Her unbridled enthusiasm made me happier than any gift could.
On the subway ride home, some boys started breakdancing in our car and could’ve rivaled any dancer in the Newsies chorus. Our car wasn’t that packed so it wasn’t too obnoxious and they were seriously talented, so Jeaniah gave them a dollar.
A few days later, I picked her up after school. She opened my Christmas gifts for her: a bracelet loom, tons of rubber bands and charms for making the bracelets, and a jewelry organizer for her new bedroom. These were met with gasps of OH MY GOSH! and COOL! I also packed her bag with her favorite treats that I normally would put in a stocking like some gummy bears (Gummy bears?! I LOVE gummy bears!) and a bag of Goldfish crackers (Goldfish?! I LOVE Goldfish!). This cracked me up. I’ve known her for two years now, so of course I know what she wants and likes to eat and do and see. Her surprise was delightful.
She mentioned that she had cards for her two teachers but wished she had gifts, so I let her pick two gifts from a shopping bag of heavily discounted Christmas items I had just snagged at Rite Aid. She chose an amaryllis and a candle/holder.
Later that week, I picked her up after school to go see “Frozen” in 3D. We both really loved it and the theme song “Let it Go”. In the movie, it’s sung by Idina Menzel but when then end credits rolled, it’s this Demi Lovato version. Dang it is a catchy tune! I felt so happy from the movie, so the heck with it….I’m gonna SING! We sang what words we knew (not many) at the tops of our lungs and mumbled the rest and bounced around in our seats. I gotta take this girl to a real concert.
A couple of days later Christian and I joined her and her family at the annual Hour Children Christmas party with gifts supplied by the Marine’s Toys for Tots program. We got a few really nice pictures and made some crafts before Christian and I scooted out to LIC for the LIC Flea and the gorgeous view of Manhattan with the ESB decorated in green & red for Christmas with an awesome light show timed with music airing on 106.7. Fun! (Click here for the YouTube video of the light show.)
All in all, it was a great week in the city with all it has to offer, but I was happy to leave it behind for a long “vacation” at our cabin upstate. We enjoyed dominoes, the wood fire, Vince Guaraldi, lots of good home cooked meals, “Cheers” on Netflix, making pomander balls, way too much candy and almost too much laziness. Among other gifts, I gave Christian a pair of Hunter boots and Morrissey’s new autobiography and a bunch of tech gadgets; he gave me a gorgeous vintage tub planter, a much needed wallet and a 3,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. The latter was really a gift to him: I stayed busy and out of his hair for a whole week. ;oP
We rang in the New Year quietly around our fire, writing out our goals, the theme of which seemed based on this Samuel Beckett quote:
All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
Onward and upward to us all in 2014!
Had a long but rewarding day at 47 ASL High School yesterday. The students were about 20% Deaf, HoH and CODA and the rest hearing but immersed in a school that embraces ASL. How wonderful.
I met 180+ great teens from all parts of NYC some who shared with me privately about their hopes to be involved with producing, dreams of being a writer, and brushes with domestic violence, drugs & alcohol, mental illness and more. I donated a copy of my book to the library and signed it to the kids. I went home and collapsed –exhausted but inspired– and awoke to this nice email from the coordinator today:
“You are the talk of the town! [T]eachers and administrators who made it to your presentation were touched and impressed by the way you shared your experiences with the students. And, of course, the kids are all going to be reading your book now and they are so excited and honored to have it autographed by you!”
I was honored to share with them. I’d take a repeat of yesterday Every. Single. Day.
Jambalaya and Crawfish Pie and Fillet Gumbo! Ahhh, Hank Williams, Jr. and a pot o’ jambalaya are making me happy tonight. When folks think of jambalaya and other Cajun delights, they don’t usually think of some girl in the sticks of Texas. But before we moved into the shed on Boars Head we rented a house along a bayou in Houston.
Many an afternoon was spent trawling the bayou in search of crawdads. You wouldn’t have caught me *eating* one back then, but who doesn’t love to pull up a net and see a good catch o’ the day? We could sell those suckers, too! Throw in a pitcher of fresh Kool-Aid & crawdad stands could yield a pretty penny.
Thanks to this recipe from the Food Network, I was able to enjoy a taste of home. It’s an easy and yummy recipe with just a little bit of kick. Swap out white rice for whole grain without sacrificing a lot of taste and you’ve got a healthier dish. Throw in some more cajun seasoning and/or Tobasco sauce for a little extra spice.
This yields a lot at 2.5 pounds of meat plus all the fixings. The site said 4 servings but I don’t know what kind of monster chained in the basement they’re feeding. I’d say this should yield about 8 bowls.
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 pound andouille sausage, diced
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons Cajun or Creole seasoning
1 teaspoon hot sauce
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 pound frozen peeled and cooked shrimp, thawed
And even later:
2 cups cooked rice
Throw everything except the shrimp and rice in a slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 7 hours or on HIGH for 3 hours. Stir in the thawed shrimp, cover and cook until the shrimp is heated through. That should only be about 5 minutes, but I cooked for another hour because I once got food poisoning from shrimp. Once. Discard bay leaves and spoon mixture over cooked rice.
Bon appétit, mon chérie!
The TV show pilot I starred in called FAMILY SECRETS is re-airing on Lifetime Movie Network tonight 11/24 at 9PM & 1AM EST and again on 11/29 at 9AM EST!
I’ve been going to the same deli for nine years. Working there were two Latin dudes named Juan and Jose. One was a short order cook and the other the delivery guy / sometimes cook. Both are so damned nice considering their grueling hours and commutes that they inspire me to enjoy my life and work half as much as they do.
The problem is, I never knew who was Juan and who was Jose. It didn’t matter much since I could just say Hola Juan! Hola Jose! And they both would smile, wave and say good morning. At Christmas, we delivered two envelopes with a card and cash as their “holiday bonus” one addressed to Juan & the other Jose and handed both to whomever was closest. So, they sorted that out.
Then the short order cook moved back home. It was sudden. One day he was just gone. Who was left? Juan or Jose? We didn’t know and the more time passed the more awkward it became to find out. I listened intently to anyone who would address the remaining guy but no one ever said his name.
Last week, I hosted my 10-year-old niece for her first trip to NYC. I devised a plan to teach her some phrases in Spanish with the ultimate goal to find out my deli guy’s name. Her first day in NYC I ushered her in to the deli and introduced her to the owners and Juan/Jose:
Me: Hola! Buenos días! Esta es mi sobrina.
Her: Mi nombre es Kaelyn.
And the mucho importante part
Her: Como tu llames?
Him: Mi nombre es Jose!
(Kaelyn and I high five. Mission accomplished.)
Kaelyn: Mucho gusto.
She’s now addicted to Duolingo & trying to learn Spanish and I am now calling out to Jose by name every chance I get to make up for lost time.
Christian and I attended a special screening of Prisoners tonight at the Museum of the Moving Image followed by a Q&A with actors Melissa Leo and Jake Gyllenhaal, director Denis Villeneuve, and screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski.
Christian loved the movie. I liked it too, mostly for the stellar performance by Hugh Jackman. I expect some nominations in his future. Jake was charming and Melissa was quirky. Both were funny and I loved their interactions with the director and screenwriter.
I love this museum so, so much and am grateful to have such a unique resource within such a short walk from home. I always wonder what the A-list actors, directors, writers, producers, etc. think when they hear the pitch for a museum Q&A gig in Long Island City. Happily, they say “yes” time and again and I think they leave pleasantly surprised at what a lovely space it is and how generous the audiences are. And I’m certain they enjoy the stellar view of Manhattan on their way back home.
To me, a membership is a no brainer, but I’d highly recommend it for anyone in NYC. If anything, it’s worth a visit and super cheap and yummy happy hour at 5 Napkin Burger or a brewski at Sunswick. But if you do that, you gotta drop me a line so I can join you. :o)
Within a few hours…
I misplaced my readers.
Who wants my organs? Because I’m just gonna end this nonsense now. Ya know, my high school Anatomy & Physiology teacher Mr. Terrell used to yell at me:
“Live fast, die young & leave a good-looking corpse, Crews! You’re going to hell in a hand basket!”
So, yeah, Mr. Terrell was right. AND I’M GOING WITHOUT ANY *&*#@$ READERS!
*Update: Found them and then bent one arm. This is gonna take some getting used to!
Part way in, my cable box froze & rebooted. Murphy’s Law! From what I saw my dentist will be very angry that I have rebuffed his repeated requests to fix my bottom teeth, I need Botox, my family was upgraded to the suburbs and no one really knows or speaks sign language in the reenactments.
But my cable box came back to life quickly and the rest I saw was really well done. Even if it had been awful, I am grateful for any opportunity to share my story.
Seeing how they edited my interview was very interesting. They condensed it into an average domestic violence case (What? No shed? No trailer? No Deaf Culture commentary? Just a dude who beats and tries to kill women?) and yet still made it compelling.
Of course, personally, my CODA / Deaf experience and my dad’s childhood and our collective isolation and poverty is what fueled my story for my book, so that’s important for me to still tell and get across should I get another chance. And I learned a lesson to make sure to understand the angle the producers are going for, so I can speak to that and they won’t have to edit so much!
My sweet Paquita made a brief posthumous cameo. She is looking longingly at Christian who is lavishing love and kisses on Griswold. Awww.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it and thank you again for all the kind words and support!
*The collective outrage of the women posting on Lifetime Movie Network’s Facebook page about the movie network not showing movies is worthy of being a Lifetime movie. If I -and all of you lovely people- didn’t have a life with better things to do, I’d suggest we flood the LMN Facebook page with overflowing praise. Hopefully we’ll still get a movie made and we can tell the whole white trashtastic tale and satisfy all those disgruntled LMN subscribers. So much time on their hands these women! Sad.
It’s in NYC for a limited engagement after winning raves and wowing audiences from Paris to Sydney. You’re not gonna want to miss it and, hey, why not see it for FREE or at a discounted price of $49?
To win FREE tickets, simply enter here. Super easy, no strings attached.
ONLINE: Visit www.ticketmaster.com and use code LSMKT
BY PHONE: Call 1-800-982-2787 and mention code LSMKT
IN PERSON: Bring a printout of this offer (download it here) to the Union Square Theatre, 100 E. 17th St.
Tuesday – Thursday: 8:00 PM
Friday & Saturday: 7:00 & 10:00 PM
Sunday: 5:00 PM
*Offer valid on select seats and subject to availability and prior sale. Not valid on prior purchases and cannot be combined with any other discounts or promotions. All sales final; no refunds or exchanges. Telephone and Internet orders are subject to standard service fees. A $1.00 theatre facility fee is included in the price of the ticket. Limit 6 tickets per order. Offer does not include 11/7. Other blackout dates may apply. Offer Expires November 27, 2013. Offer may be revoked or modified at any time.“PURE ADRENALIN-FUELED ENTERTAINMENT AT ITS BEST.” – Time Out London
Appearing in a docu-drama called “Family Secrets” airing on Lifetime Movie Network (LMN) October 27th at 10PM. DVR it. Drink wine. Watch & laugh/cry.
But…lo! It is scheduled to air this Sunday, Oct 27 on Lifetime Movie Network (LMN) at 10PM EST and again at 2AM Monday, Oct 28. Since it’s a pilot, it doesn’t even have a logo or show page on Lifetime’s website, but the description and name matches what we filmed.
I’m honestly terrified to watch it because they have re-enactments by non-Deaf people and, well, re-enactments are usually kind of cheesy to begin with. I’m mostly worried about having my story in someone else’s creative, editorial hands. Who knows how they’ll piece together my words and spin it? We shall see this Sunday! And if it’s truly god awful, well, it will make for a fun story to tell on stage.
I found a junky old window, cleaned out the broken glass and caulk, got four new pieces of glass cut to size and ordered basic mats online which I trimmed with a box cutter. Then I chose four photos of bugs & a bird that I took at the Rock House, printed them out on photo paper and voila! A window pane turned picture frame for our dining room.
Highlights from my classic New York week in a nutshell:
— Worked on “The Following” where I cheek-kissed Connie Nielsen about 20 times & ogled Kevin Bacon for 12 hours.
— Ran 7 blocks through crowded streets in Queens & raced up 3 flights of stairs at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts to vote in the mayoral primary with only 30 seconds to spare before polls closed. It was as intense & stressful as any chase scene in a movie. I should’ve had German techno music playing in the background.
— Finished my Playwriting I class with a 1st draft of my solo show script.
— Got into a screaming match with a cab driver.
This week I’ll work on “The Good Wife”, hang with my protégé after school & accompany Christian Finnegan to his headlining gig in Virginia Beach. No screaming matches allowed.
I’ve been invited to perform a workshop of my solo show adapted from my memoir at The PIT’s first ever Solo Comedy Festival celebrating new works. 11/10 @ 3PM – $5 BUY TICKETS
Here at the Crews-Finnegan abode, we’re a mostly sugar-free household, so I’m always on the lookout for ways to make snacks that also satisfy the sweet tooth. Entrez le Zipzicle!
These nifty little plastic pouches can be used to make healthy, all natural, sugar free ice pops & other frozen treats. But let’s be honest, the way I found out about them was for boozing. My niece (Technically, my ex-niece-in-law but who’s counting and how annoying is that to type out?) posted on Facebook about how she was enjoying some potent margarita ice pops. I babysat this chick and she’s having all the fun? Nuh uh. This will not stand.
I decided to make my own. But how? A quick Google search led me to find Zipzicles. I can make my own boozy ice pops AND healthy snacks? Sign me up! I can’t even stand how clever they are.
I’ve actually tried making healthy, non-boozy popsicles before using plastic popsicle makers but they always crack (see photo of my 3rd & final popsicle making contraption below), take up cabinet space & the pops themselves are too big. I’m usually sick of eating it before I’m 1/2 way done & waste a lot. So, I was excited to have another way to make all the recipes I have saved in my kitchen drawer. The Zipzicle site has a short list of recipes to try, too, but a simple search for popsicle recipes yields a ton more.
So far, I’ve made & enjoyed frozen margaritas (interesting that they didn’t freeze 100%…I guess tequila has a different freeze point?) and tangy blueberry pops, both pictured below and both worthy of making again.
Next up we’re going to make Orange Dreamzicles, Strawberry Shortcake Greek Yogurt pops, and Fudgesicles. Lord knows we’ve eaten our way through enough store-bought Fudgesicles to make a hut made of leftover sticks.
The only improvement I would make to the design is to have a tad more plastic above the zip so our fat fingers can open them a little easier. That’s nitpicking, though, because they are nifty little suckers. Best part? After eating half of the tangy blueberry pop, I was done. Rather than have to pitch the rest, I simply zipped it back up and put in the freezer to eat later. I was able to rinse out and reuse all the Zipzicles twice now, so the $2.99 price for 12 packets ends up going a long way.
The kind folks at Zipzicle are giving away a package of 12 to three lucky winners! Enter to win below. I know you’ll love them, too!
P.S. No compensation was received for this post. I received a complimentary package of Zipzicles for my review and they are providing the three packages for the giveaway.
Mom mailed me two old picture frames that I’d hoped to use for two pieces of art. Unfortunately, the pictures were actually glued to the glass in such a way that would make it impossible to remove them without a huge amount of work, muscle and cursing. Instead, I repurposed them into bulletin boards. Super easy. All you need is adhesive spray and cork board that you can get in sheets at Michael’s or other arts & craft supply stores.
(Wo)Man’s Best Friend
Christian Finnegan & Kambri Crews
Originally performed by Christian, Kambri and Paquita in front of a live audience on “Yappy Hour” at UCB Theater on 11/1/10. And, yes, Paquita performed this exactly as scripted. Remarkable little girl.
SFX: Sexy music
I’ve been waiting for you.
Come to me, Paquita. Come to me now!
Paquita comes running in and leaps into Kambri’s arms.
Oh, I’ve waited so long. Kiss me,
Kambri and Paquita kiss passionately.
No no stop! No need to rush. I want
to savor every moment of this. Have
Paquita drinks from Kambri’s wine glass.
And can I offer you some…cheese?
Paquita perks up.
I knew you’d like that. But I’m
going to make you earn it, baby.
Let me take a look at you!
Kambri gets Paquita to “go around” and “roll over” a few
times, periodically feeding her cheese.
The way you move, it’s so sexy.
It’s like your some kind
of…animal! Not like my husband,
that pathetic little worm!
But he’s out of town on business,
which means we have the whole night
to ourselves. Isn’t that wonderful,
darling? High five!
Kambri and Paquita high five.
Enough with all these games. I want
you. But I need to know you want me
too! I need you to speak! Speak!
Oh, I can’t take all of this sexual
tension. Take me! Ravage me! Let’s
make our own gravy!!
Paquita starts humping Kambri’s arm. Kambri begins writhing
in sexual extasy.
Yes! Yes! Give it to me, my little
Honey, I’m home!
Christian enters, wearing his jacket and carrying a
Great news! I was able to close the
Mortensen deal, so I took an
Christian stops, in shock. Paquita and Kambri continue their revelry, unaware.
What…the…FUCK IS GOING ON
Kambri snaps out of it and clutches Paquita to her chest.
Christian? What are you doing home?
What is the meaning of this? My wife?
Nothing! I mean, Paquita just came
by to…I mean…
I knew something was going on!
After all I’ve done for you, this
is how you thank me? By two-timing
me with this little bitch?
She’s twice the man you’ll ever be!
Yeah, that’s right–Paquita is my
lover. And she does things to me
you could never dream of? Don’t
you, Paquita honey?
Kambri and Paquita kiss.
Stop it! Stop it! I can’t take this
Yeah, well what are you gonna do
about it? Ha ha ha! What a loser!
Kambri cackles while she and Paquita high five and kiss.
I can’t take it…can’t take it…
Christian slowly pulls out a gun (his hand). Kambri notices
and is mortified.
I’m a loser, huh?
Christian, don’t! DON’T!
If I can’t have you, no one will!
Die, you canine-loving whore!!!
Christian points his finger at Kambri and “shoots” her
BANG! BANG! BANG!
Kambri writhes as if being shot.
(With her dying breath,)
Unh…unh…Good dog, Paquita.
And you. You happy now, Paquita?
Was it worth it? Ruining my life,
just for a little bit of cheese?
Christian dangles a baggy of cheese. Paquita runs over.
Look at you! Even now, it’s all you
can think about! You were supposed
to be my best friend! Well fine,
Christian tosses her a morsel of cheese.
Consider it your last meal…bitch.
Christian pulls out his “gun”, stoops down and…
Paquita plays dead. Christian keeps his gun on her for a few seconds, then looks away. Paquita gets up.
Oh, still alive, are you? BANG!
Paquita again plays dead. Again, she eventually gets up.
WHY WON’T YOU DIE?? BANG! BANG!
Paquita dies in Kambri’s arms.
Twelve years ago on July 3rd, I met my best friend. Today, I buried her.
Over the last few weeks her health declined rapidly. By Sunday, I knew she was living out her last full day with me, so we spent the night on my fire escape watching the sun set over Manhattan. Nothing makes her happier than the blazing sun shining on her.
Thankfully she survived the night so that Christian could see her before she passed. He flew home Monday morning after a weekend at the Tampa Improv and we drove her to the vet. The doctor brought her fever down and gave her pain medication, so when it was time to say goodbye she was excited to see us and performed a few tricks, gave us kisses and high fives. She even did her pièce de résistance and played dead unaware of the bittersweet irony.
After her heart stopped, Christian and I gave her more kisses and let Griswold smell her. Then I wrapped her in my favorite black wrap that went with me everywhere I went, just like Paquita. I arranged her in the box with her cradling her favorite blue fuzzy toy and gave her one last kiss on her button nose.
We drove her to the cabin this morning and buried her under a tree. The Rock House was the place that made her excited the moment we turned into the driveway and smile wide for hours after she hopped out of the car. It was almost too much, like letting a kid run loose at an amusement park. She had all the woods and sunshine a girl could want; a place where she was free and happy. I had always promised her I would give her a better place to live out her retirement years than our Queens apartment. I’m so glad I made good on that. These last two and a half years were her happiest.
Over the years she gave people so much joy and laughter with her crazy smart tricks and ability to perform no matter what the setting including live comedy shows and a TV taping in front of a studio audience of 400 people screaming and clapping for her. Cheering because, damn, that bitch deserved it.
Back on July 13, 2003, I wrote this:
The best thing about Paquita is that I always have a friend willing to join me . . .
for however far . . .
for however long.
Well, it seems we’ve gone the distance and our time is up. Goodbye to my smart, funny, adventurous little Paquita. Thank you for being my friend.
Hey you! I’m super excited to say that I’ve been invited to speak on 8/21 at the New York Public Library. It’s a FREE event, open to all ages and will be ASL interpreted by Jon Wolfe Nelson from “The L Word”. Here are the details:
WED, AUG 21 @ 6:30PM
NY Public Library – Mid-Manhattan Branch
New York, NY
I will give a couple of stories presentation, read a bit , conduct a Q&A and sign copies of my memoir. Books will be available for purchase.
** For fun, check out this video of me singing a medley of songs -including “Runnin’ With the Devil” by Van Halen!- in ASL:
The reviews are in for Burn Down the Ground: A Memoir by Kambri Crews and they’re raves!
“Poignant and unsettling.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Crews’ story has heartbreaking depth and complexity... this is a rich read.” —Library Journal
“A compelling testament to the strength of the human spirit.”—Booklist
“Harrowing . . . A remarkable odyssey of scorched earth, collateral damage, and survival.” —Publishers Weekly
“Crews’ account (the title refers to lighting brush on fire to clear out snakes) is as well-paced and stirring as a novel. In her fluid narrative (she’s also a storyteller on the side, a gig that helped her develop this book), Crews neither wallows in self-pity nor plays for cheap black-comedic yuks. Instead, this book stands out for what matters most: Crews’ story, bluntly told.” —Elle magazine
ABOUT THE BOOK
For fans of Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle, an unflinching, emotional memoir by the hearing daughter of two deaf parents, about the rampant dysfunction of her rural Texas childhood and the searing violence that left her father serving a twenty-year prison sentence.
Successful New York producer and publicist Kambri Crews always knew that her childhood was unusual– she spent a portion of it in a tin shack deep with her family in the woods of Texas. But when, in her early 30s, her charismatic and adored father is sentenced to twenty years in prison for stabbing and nearly killing his girlfriend, she must confront for the first time his violent, destructive behavior. In her brutally honest, completely captivating memoir, Crews struggles to forge a relationship with her incarcerated father and revisits her unconventional family and the long road she took to her current life
To make mustard, all you REALLY need is mustard seeds and vinegar. Who knew?
Soak overnight in non-reactive, airtight container at room temperature. Pictured at right, you can see how the seeds are at the bottom and much of the vinegar is pooled on top. Then, after a day, how the vinegar is almost entirely soaked up by the seeds.
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
- 3/4 cup brown mustard seeds
Put your seeds and vinegar into a blender and pulse till blended. Anything else is optional. I added:
Let your blended mustard age another day or two for best results. The recipe as above filled a 16 0z Bell Jar.For spicier mustard, adding horseradish is an option. For less spicy mustard, go with a lighter color mustard seed.
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine (or water if you’re teetotaler or whatever they call it)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
This is yummy follow up to my easy, peasy, chocolate covered fruit recipe. Behold the frozen chocolate covered banana & peanut butter sandwiches with able assistance by Paquita, the butter knife-licking Chihuahua.
*For the chocolate, melt 1/4 cup of dark chocolate with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. For detailed instructions, click here.
A roach-type bug the size of a mouse ran across the living room. I whacked it like it was Jason and I was Tommy in the end scene of Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter. Hopefully, unlike the movies, there will not be parts 5 through 12.
Apparently my soft spot for insects of all shapes & sizes is limited to the Rock House, and I’m okay with that.
I’m seeing my protégé on Saturday, two months to the day since I last saw her.
That’s an eternity for kids but especially when the kid has been through some stuff, when she has seen mentors come and go for others. Even though I keep in touch with postcards and Facebook, there’s always the niggling feeling that this is it. It’s over. She wasn’t worth sticking around for. She wasn’t wanted or loved, relationships don’t last and people will abandon you at any given moment.
The last time I was out of town for this long, I surprised her. Her mom told her to wake up early and be ready to babysit when, in reality, I was en route to pick her up for a day together. When I walked through her front door, the look of shock on her face took my breath away. Think of your most exaggerated jaw-dropped, bug-eyed face and that was her but she wasn’t faking. She was thunderstruck; the textbook definition of blown away.
In an instant she sprang off the couch, bolted across the room and leapt into my arms. She wrapped her legs around my waist and arms around my neck and squeezed.
Squeezed like a tsunami was raging through Queens and if she let go of me, it’d be all she wrote.
I squeezed back knowing I’m not letting go.
We’ll ride this storm together, girl, and I’ll be your tree.
“Are you famous?”
“Nah, I don’t think so.”
“Well, I Googled you, and I think you’re famous.”
“Ummm…really? You Googled? Sooo…what did you find?”
The Internet should be illegal for kids under 16.
The first and only time I was summoned to the principal’s office I was in 6th grade and eleven years old. Hearing my name called out in science class sent an electric jolt through me. I felt the sting of every eyeball on me as I slunk out of the room toward Mr. Simmons’ office, a place very familiar to my older brother David but previously unseen by me.
Mr. Simmons kept a paddle hanging outside his door as an ominous warning to Not. Mess. With. Him. It was a flat, rectangular shaped hunk of varnished wood with a handle and holes drilled into the paddle to reduce air resistance and increase velocity. Ouch. David was BFFs with that paddle.
I got hotter and clammier with each step toward THE OFFICE wondering if my rear-end would become intimate with a hunk of wood for the first time. I quickly scanned the inventory of my life in search of what I could’ve done wrong to deserve this. But I had not broken a rule since I was five years old when my brother busted me stealing Cherry Smash flavored roll-on lip gloss called Kissing Potion made by Maybelline. I was a good girl.
When I entered the office, I was relieved to see a few other girls in attendance. I would not suffer this fate alone. Mr. Simmons launched into a speech that started with school bus safety. That’s when I realized the other girls also rode Bus #9 driven by Mrs. Buttercase.
I audibly exhaled and turned about five shades of pink. “That’s what this is about?” Relief swept over me even though I knew my brother was one of “the boys”. He’d thrown one of the tampons at me, nailing me in the left eye. It landed at my feet where I gawked at it wondering what everyone was so freaked out about. It was just a white hunk of cotton with a string coming out of it. What was the big deal?
“This mornin’, Mrs. Buttercase told me some of the boys were throwing feminine hygiene products.”
I’d never seen a real tampon before in or out of its applicator, but the older kids were in hysterics. They winced, convulsed and heaved like they might puke if the flying cotton came within an inch of them. Chaos reigned. Mr. Simmons was right when he yelled, “It’s a miracle Mrs. Buttercase didn’t run off into a ditch and kill all y’all.”
David was sure to get paddled again for this infraction, but I hadn’t thrown anything. I had only kicked the offending cotton under the seat in front of me.
Mr. Simmons continued, “But what I wanna know is where did the boys get such a thing? Which one of you girls knows something about this?” I could swear he was looking at me. Someone supplied the ammunition and they were going to be in as much trouble as the boys who’d begun throwing them around. My brother was usually the instigator of trouble on Bus #9. By the look in Mr. Simmons’ eyes, David had already been convicted and I was the likely accomplice. Never mind that any boy could’ve raided his mother’s or sister’s stash. Duh.
Anxious to distance myself from my brother, I shot my hand in the air. Mr. Simmons looked surprised, like he’d caught a fish without using any bait; it jumped into his boat. “Yes, Kambri, what do you have to say about this?”
“Sir, it wasn’t me. I haven’t even had my first period!”
Mr. Simmons turned a shade of scarlet worthy of its own letter. “Oh, well, umm…okay, you can go on back to class then.”
And thus began my lifelong habit of sharing Too. Much. Information.
I never ever got Kissing Potion by stealing or purchasing. The slick, yummy gloss was forever ruined for me by the shame of stealing it once in a moment of selfish passion.
Comedian and Queens resident Christian Finnegan will present free workshop performances of New York City-related stories and stand up comedy called THE NYC PROJECT.
Finnegan, a resident of New York City since the age of 18, will tell jokes, stories and other “only in New York” material during a one-hour show titled THE NYC PROJECT. Why only New York material? “Over the years I’ve written lots of jokes about this glorious mess of a town, and it’s some of my favorite to perform,“ Finnegan said. “Unfortunately, bits about Duane Reade salespeople and Astor Place skateboarders don’t travel well, so they rarely get told. They tantalize me like an overpriced artisanal pickle in a Brooklyn shop window.”
Christian’s stand up albums, “Two for Flinching” and “Au Contraire!”, are available on iTunes and at Amazon. Visit www.christianfinnegan.com for more.
SUN, JUL 14 – SAT, JUL 20 @ 7PM (SHARP!)
The Creek and the Cave
10-93 Jackson Ave.
Long Island City, NY 11101
FREE! General admission. No minimums & no RSVP required.
I was watching “Cheers” and nearly choked on my chicken when I saw the shirt Carla was wearing. I had the same shirt when I was 10 yrs old and wore it on my brother’s 14th birthday.
It’s like the trailer trash edition of Who Wore it Better?
I sang an ASL medley of all the songs featured in stories on “The Soundtrack Series”. FF to 2:55 if you want to skip to the ASL.
I came across a mustard yellow moth, perched on the sash of a window. Had it not been perched on a white windowsill, it otherwise may have been overlooked.
But I gently prodded his wings open and LO!
Moral of the story? You don’t know what beauty, talent and creativity is lurking beneath until you spread your wings.
And that’s one to grow on.
On 48 Hours Mystery, a mom explains why she was suspicious of her daughter’s new love interest. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Mom! I’ll refrain from further remarks about instilling daughters with self-esteem so they don’t run off with abusive cads. Oh. Wait. Never mind.
I’ve tuned in to two episodes of “Here’s the Thing” hosted by Alec Baldwin on NPR and find it immensely listenable. I actually ran a 10K (6.2 miles) yesterday listening to the interview with Lena Dunam. Listening to two people chat thoughtfully might not seem like a good running companion, but I was completely engaged and not aware of the intentional beating I was giving my body.
I was excited to share this new discovery of mine (It’s been around for awhile. I don’t know where I’ve been.), but he’d gotten himself into a little media brouhaha (again). So I held off.
It frustrates me. Alec’s really smart, funny and gives good radio. This constant battle with tabloids reminds me of Sean Penn during the married-to-Madonna-days. The press and papparrazzi have his number and love to push it.
Once, when I was an extra on 30 Rock* there was a little dust up with an assistant. I could share the tidbit here and that’s all it would take for a tabloid to mess with him. Whether he was right or wrong wouldn’t matter. I totally understand (too much!) his righteous anger. I, too, hate seeing bad behavior go unpunished and so I will, often to my own detriment, see it through to the end. I will “win”. There’s more to it than that, of course, which will have to wait for another time.
I hope he’ll work and work and work in spite of it all. I like him. I like what he does.
Meanwhile, here’s the thing: http://www.wnyc.org/shows/heresthething
*Oh, you didn’t see my Emmy-worthy appearance as a champagne swilling campaign donor? Well, let me remind you: