It’s Not Where You Start: Let Go (Canto de Ossanha)

Originally published on It’s Not Where You Start

Ever since I saw this clip, in the documentary Mitzi Gaynor: Razzle Dazzle! The Special Years, I’ve been obsessed with this song. It turns out I had heard it before — Rosemary Clooney & John Pizzarelli covered it on their album Brazil — but their version doesn’t have any of Mitzi’s fire. (Astrud Gilberto did a great version, though.)

Of course, the only reason I rented the Mitzi Gaynor DVD was because I was going to see Mitzi Gaynor live and in person, doing her one-woman-show (which was basically a club act with extra patter) at a theater in Boca. My parents are retirees, which means they have fulfilled the ultimate dream of their lives: they are snowbirds. For the goyim in the audience, “snowbirds” are what Jews call their parents (and grandparents) who spend summers in the north and winters in Florida. This means that when I go to visit them, I am often treated to shows aimed at their demographic, both on the condo circuit and beyond.  Continue reading

It’s Not Where You Start: Better

Originally published on It’s Not Where You Start.

[Edited 10/7: Turns out that Make It Better and It Gets Better aren’t the same project. Both are worth checking out.]

Chances are, if you read my blog, then you’re probably aware of Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project. In response to the recent uptick in visibility of gay teen suicides — which I suspect is just that, an increase in visibility and not an increase in suicide incidence, since every study I’ve ever read has warned of the high suicide rate of gay teens in the USA — Savage and his husband made a YouTube video talking about their own difficult teen years and reassuring viewers that life got better for them, and it can get better for teens today.

The video has spawned an online movement of others making It Gets Better videos. And since many of my friends know I like to make online videos every now and then, I started getting messages asking if I was going to make one.  Continue reading

It’s Not Where You Start: You Must Love Me

Originally published on It’s Not Where You Start.

Don’t freak out, this isn’t a post about my love life. At least, not my romantic life. This is about my first love: musicals.

Within my general obsession with musical theater, there are a few areas I find particularly interesting, all of which can be grouped under the rubric of transformations. I am fascinated with the way stories are told and retold, and few storytelling arenas are as obsessed with retelling as musical theater.

I love to read/watch the books, plays, and movies that musicals were based on to see how the composers, lyricists, bookwriters, directors et al applied their craft. For example, my already huge admiration for Oscar Hammerstein II grew exponentially after reading Edna Ferber’s original novel Show Boat. The way that Hammerstein transformed the central metaphor of the book — Magnolia’s relationship with the Mississippi River — into the central metaphor of the show — Magnolia’s relationship with the musical stage — is genius.  Continue reading

It’s Not Where You Start: Angry Inch

Originally published on It’s Not Where You Start.

Did I ever tell you about the zine my friend Jennifer and I published in high school?

Don’t get too excited. We only produced two issues. We were freshmen and saw ourselves as outsiders, so it felt like producing a zine was the right thing to do. Plus, my parents owned a xerox machine (to facilitate my dad’s small tax-accounting practice) so it was super easy.

The only issue was that neither of us had ever actually seen a zine. We had read about them in Newsweek and had a general idea of what they were (edgy, xeroxed… um… creative?). So we recruited a bunch of our friends to write, pseudonymously, fired up Print Shop, and had a go.

We named our zine “Monty’s Monthly Cycle.” We came up with a really contrived framing story about a transsexual person whose sex change operation got botched, resulting in a monthly bleeding… to cope with which, he produced a zine. Or something like that. I don’t have a copy handy.

Imagine my surprise when, a half-dozen years later, I saw Hedwig and the Angry Inch!

Anyway, our plan to create the zine had a few flaws. One, we didn’t know how to distribute it, especially if we wanted to stay anonymous. We left a few copies around school and stuck inside our favorite books in the public library. Of course, this was before any of us had internet email accounts, so we didn’t really have a way to get feedback from readers, assuming anyone read it. And besides our friends who were already contributing… was there anyone who wanted to read our stuff?

So it wasn’t really a surprise to any of us that we lost interest after the second issue. Instead, I went on to take over the real school newspaper, and eventually find my way onto the internet.

But the zine established a pattern in my life that still persists. I get interested in something that’s kind of cool or edgy. But I’m not really cool or edgy enough to do it right. But I can kind of act the part. But when I get inside of whatever it is, I realize that it’s not necessarily all that cool in and of itself anyway. So then I figure out how to do the thing I actually want to be doing instead of the cool, edgy version.

And this, my friends, is how I came to be the editor of JewishBoston.com. :)

It’s Not Where You Start: Sail Away

Originally published on It’s Not Where You Start.

As I assessed my luggage and determined that I had, in fact, packed everything I’d need for four nights in Vegas (and then some), I looked at Benjamin and said, “I feel like the heroine of some cheesey romantic comedy.”

Here I was, the first day of Operation: Move On, slinging my adorable leather carry-on over my shoulder and heading off for relaxation, escape, and adventure. How very Julia Roberts of me.

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It’s Not Where You Start: I’ve Been to a Marvelous Party

Originally posted on It’s Not Where You Start.

(Apparently it’s Noel Coward week on this blog. It’s taken all my effort to avoid the obligatory “Why Do the Wrong People Travel” post, if only because that’s too easy.)

It turns out that an extended weekend in Vegas may have been exactly what I needed, and I am grateful to my brother for making it happen.

I had reason to be nervous, as I mentioned earlier in the week. My brother and I have a mostly positive relationship these days, but that wasn’t always the case. When we have fought in the last few years, it’s generally been when our parents are around. On the other hand, we tend to do best when we visit on his turf. There’s no question that this weekend, while physically at Planet Hollywood, was spiritually all his turf. It didn’t hurt that I spent time with my parents, and time with my brother, but little time with all four of us together.

About sixty guests descended on Vegas for the affair — aunts, uncles cousins; my brother’s friends from high school and college; colleagues past and present from across the entertainment industry; and more than a few of his clients, a mix of actors you’d recognize as “oh, that guy” and some younger talent who, if you have kids of Nickelodian age, you’d be clamoring to get your picture taken with.
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It’s Not Where You Start: Singing in the Bathtub

Originally published on It’s Not Where You Start.

I love to bathe.

Please don’t misunderstand. I am not obsessively-compulsively concerned with hygiene. Not do I get some sort of perverse thrill from the shower or bathtub. But I love the experience of being surrounded by fresh water combined with the pampering bath products can provide.
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