Saturday, October 9, 2010

Measuring a Year


"It's time now to sing out,
Though the story never ends.
Let's celebrate,
Remember a year in the life of friends.
Remember the love!"
Jonathan Larson

DAY 365:  On Saturday, October 10, 2009, I launched this blog ... My Online Gratitude Journal, My OhGeeJay.  Exactly one year later, I'm posting my last daily entry.  I'd like to think I've been fairly successful with and faithful to my "once-a-day" promise of grateful-ness, except for a few times when I was a touch "delinquent" in my duties.  When I started, I wasn't in a particularly great place ... I had recently suffered some heartbreak that had thrown me for quite a loop and had just finished a theatre project which was a bit, let's just say ... challenging.

It's been a terrific year to be expressing gratitude, particularly in theatre. Directing three great award-winning, critically-acclaimed, and box-office-busting shows.  A new school year with terrific kids and a wonderful schedule.  An amazing trip to Ireland and nearly a week with my mother's family who I haven't seen in THIRTY years.

But there are even more things to look forward to ... two shows coming up with roles that I'm dying to audition for.  My big 50th birthday bash during the holidays.  A classic drama, and one of my all-time favorites, to direct.  A potential summer visit to Seattle along with an Alaskan cruise.  And another BIG BIG BIG musical, important-innovative-challenging, to direct as the season opener at Players by the Sea in September, 2011 (pending Board approval) ... Sunday in the Park with George!

What will the future hold for this blog?  Don't know.  Maybe I'll come back once in a while if the feeling hits me and there's something to write about for which I'm especially grateful.  Who knows?  Maybe I'll start a whole new blog on a different subject ... if I do, I'll let you know with a post here!  Thank you SO much for following my year of gratitude - I appreciate your love, friendship, and comments.

Friday, October 8, 2010

ONE


DAY 364: The final countdown continues ... Number ONE in the "Top Five Things Michael Lipp Is Grateful For" list (appearing in 55 of my blog posts) ...

THEATRE

Thursday, October 7, 2010

TWO


DAY 363: The final countdown continues ... Number Two in the "Top Five Things Michael Lipp Is Grateful For" list (appearing in 52 of my blog posts) ...

MUSICAL-MUSICAL THEATRE

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

THREE


DAY 362: The final countdown continues ... Number Three in the "Top Five Things Michael Lipp Is Grateful For" list (appearing in 48 of my blog posts) ...

TEACHING-JOB-WORK

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

FOUR


DAY 361: The final countdown continues ... Number Four in the "Top Five Things Michael Lipp Is Grateful For" list (appearing in 40 of my blog posts) ...

DIRECTING

Monday, October 4, 2010

FIVE


DAY 360:  The final countdown ... only FIVE more days until my year of gratitude blogging has come to an end.  I have been as diligent as possible "labelling" each of my posts with appropriate keywords, so I thought I'd do a "Top Five Things Michael Lipp Is Grateful For" list.  Number Five in the list (appearing in 30 of my blog posts) ...

FRIENDS

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Three Perfect Songs

DAY 359:  Say what you will about Facebook - it's incredibly addictive and causes way too much oversharing (and I'm totally guilty on THAT count).  It has created an absolutely TERRIFIC film (RUN and see The Social Network if you haven't yet) and alerts me to wonderful YouTube clips that I've never seen before.  Over the past three days, I've seen three YouTube clips featuring three of my all-time favorite showtunes delivered with staggeringly beautiful honesty and technique by three outstanding performers.  I'm grateful for having these videos to share ... and here they are.

I've made no secret that I consider Stephen Sondheim to be the greatest Broadway composer-lyricist EVER.  There is one song of his, from the musical Follies, that remains my favorite Sondheim song of all time.  Here is a performance of "Losing My Mind," delivered with flawless control and understatement by the originator of the song, Dorothy Collins.  This is a textbook example of one of my strongest beliefs when it comes to acting ... "bigger" ISN'T "better."


"The sun comes up,
I think about you.
The coffee cup,
I think about you.
I want you so,
It's like I'm losing my mind.

The morning ends,
I think about you.
I talk to friends,
I think about you.
And do they know?
It's like I'm losing my mind.

All afternoon,
Doing every little chore,
The thought of you stays bright.
Sometimes I stand
In the middle of the floor,
Not going left,
Not going right.

I dim the lights
And think about you,
Spend sleepless nights
To think about you.
You said you loved me,
Or were you just being kind?
Or am I losing my mind?"
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Another one of my all-time favorite songs is from a Broadway flop. The musical Ballroom tells the story of a lonely widow and a postal carrier who find late-in-life love at a local dance hall.  The song "Fifty Percent" is delivered here with such grace and passion by its fabulous originator, Dorothy Loudon.


"I don't iron his shirts.
I don't sew on his buttons.
I don't know all the jokes he tells
Or the songs he hums.
Though I may hold him
All through the night,
He may not be there
When the morning comes

I don't pick out his ties,
Or expect his tomorrows,
But I feel when he's in my arms
He's where he wants to be.

We have no memories,
Bittersweet with time,
And I doubt if he'll spend
New Year's Eve with me.

I don't share his name.
I don't wear his ring.
There's no piece of paper
Saying that he's mine,
But he says he loves me,
And I believe it's true.
Doesn't that make someone
Belong to you.

So I don't share his name.
So I don't wear his ring.
So there's no piece of paper
Saying that he's mine.
So we have don't have the memories.
I have enough memories.
I've watched enough mornings.
I've cried enough evenings.
I've had enough birthdays
To know what I want.

Life is anyone's guess -
It's a constant surprise.
You don't plan to fall in love,
But when you fall you fall.

I'd rather have fifty percent of him
Or any percent of him
Than all of anybody else at all."
Lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman
Music by Billy Goldenberg

Finally ... my favorite living performer - the inimitable Audra McDonald.  There is NO ONE, I repeat, NO ONE, who can match her.  She has perfect technique, a voice from the heavens, and acting talents that cannot be ignored.  I've seen her live in concert twice (once from the FRONT ROW) and both have been unforgettable experiences.  Pair Ms. McDonald with one of my favorite Gershwin standards, and it's nothing short of a religious experience.


"There's a saying old says that love is blind,
Still we're often told 'seek and ye shall find,'
So I'm going to seek a certain lad I've had in mind.

Looking everywhere, haven't found him yet.
He's the big affair I cannot forget.
Only man I ever think of with regret.
I'd like to add his initial to my monogram.
Tell me, where is the shepherd for this lost lamb?

There's a somebody I'm longing to see.
I hope that he turns out to be
Someone to watch over me.

I'm a little lamb who's lost in the wood.
I know I could always be good
To one who'll watch over me.

Although he may not be the man
Some girls think of as handsome,
To my heart he carries the key.

Won't you tell him please to put on some speed,
Follow my lead, oh how I need,
Someone to watch over me ..."
Music by George Gershwin
Lyrics by Ira Gershwin

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Let Me In


"These violent delights have violent ends ..."
Shakespeare

DAY 358:  I love a good scary movie ... but it has to be an INTELLIGENT, well-crafted scary film.  However, I'm definitely not a fan of "slasher movies" or "torture porn" films that are so rampant today.  When a friend suggested Let Me In, a new movie based on a highly-praised Swedish original (that I'll be watching later this weekend), I thought "oh boy, another vampire movie."  I am VERY grateful that I was wrong ... this was an astonishing film. 

This is a story of quiet, stark beauty, of loneliness and loss, of first love and coming-of-age.  Set against the cold emptiness of a white snowy background, it tells the story of a lonely, bullied boy who befriends and falls in love with a young girl who moves in next door.  Their touching story is punctuated by moments of intense horror and graphic violence as the boy realizes the true identity of his new love.  It's a REMARKABLE film, but definitely NOT for the faint of heart.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Browsing


"For suddenly I can see, the magic of books!"
Sheldon Harnick

DAY 357:  There's something wonderfully calming about a bookstore ... I'm not quite sure what it is.  When I want a little quiet "me" time, but still get out of the house, I run for the local Barnes and Noble.  Now bear in mind, I have a Nook (the Barnes and Noble e-reader) so I'm probably not going to buy anything.  I'm grateful for just browsing ... it's a solitary thing, but not a lonely thing.

As I browse, I make notes of the titles that intrigue me and need to be added to the Wish List on my e-reader.  I wish I had more time to read.  As a lover of words, there's also something almost sacred about being surrounded by all those books.  Each jacket synopsis is an invitation to a new world ... and I want to jump in right away. 

The jacket covers also elicit another reaction - the need to write.  It's a strong need that I have, though one for which I don't give myself nearly enough time ... well, beyond this blog.  Each story makes me think, "what a great idea ... why didn't I come up with that?"  Or better yet, "I could come up with something like this ..."

Finally, my trips to the bookstore serve a slightly more personal purpose.  I always notice lots of other single guys browsing just as I am, and I have to think that some of them are other solitary men like me.  Intelligent, literate, lovers of words.  I usually don't make eye contact and I'm never the first to engage a stranger in conversation - my mother seems to have that gift, but I never got it.  And, need I mention that I am CLUELESS when it comes to reading "signals," even if there were any? 

Bottom line, though, I suspect most are finding that same tranquil "me" time ... and I shouldn't interfere.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Happiness Indeed


"Life is pleasant,
Life is simple ...
I have everything I need -
Life is happiness indeed."
Stephen Sondheim

DAY 356:  Life is very good at the moment ... happiness indeed ... and I'm grateful. 

The weather is starting to cool and I've been able to open the windows wide at night and breath the fresh night air while sleeping.  And, boy, do I sleep ... the past two nights, I've slept like a rock - eight full uninterrupted hours each night! 

This morning I awoke to an extra $1500 in my bank account courtesy of an unexpected merit pay bonus that I had not even considered receiving this year.  As a result, my small credit card balance was paid off (with money left to spare) and I'm once again "debt-free." 

I have all of my lessons and school work planned and finished through the end of NEXT week - and that includes all of my grading and all handouts, tests, and quizzes for that time period (written AND copied)! 

For the past month and a half, I've been watching my diet - eating completely vegetarian and as much organic as my local Publix and neighborhood natural foods store will allow.  I also gave up diet (and regular, for the most part) sodas - the much tougher choice, but after a week or two, I was fine ...  So, I certainly feel much healthier, particularly since I'm no longer eating a lot of late-night post-rehearsal junk.

When the school day is finished, I can go home and RELAX for the rest of the evening.  I get in my jammies pretty early and do next to nothing for most of the night.  It's really quite wonderful NOT having to deal with any theatre projects for a change!  It's been a long time coming ... since January 2010 ...

So ... there are only two things missing - exercise and someone with whom to share this contented and happy life.  The first I can and WILL do something about, the second will happen when and if it happens.