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


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) ...


Thursday, October 7, 2010


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) ...


Wednesday, October 6, 2010


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) ...


Tuesday, October 5, 2010


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) ...


Monday, October 4, 2010


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) ...


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 ..."

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


"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.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Road Ahead

"Don't try to think what move might be best;
Use the heart that beats within your breast.
Never rest! Don't quit while you're ahead.
Sing out: 'There's more in store for me!'"
Rupert Holmes

DAY 355:  The road ahead, at least for the next week and a half, looks sunny and carefree.  I'm grateful that I've managed to have all of my lesson planning finished through the end of NEXT week - this includes having all of my handouts, quizzes, and tests written and copied.  And did I mention all of my grading is finished, too?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sometimes It Does

"Spending every dime
For a wonderful time.
Now, if you're blue
And you don't know where to go to -
Why don't you go where fashion sits?
Puttin' on the Ritz ..."
Irving Berlin

DAY 354:  I got some great news today that I wasn't expecting!  I'm grateful to report that I'll be getting the annual Merit Bonus in a couple of days ... a substantial amount.  Since I taught mostly "standard" level students last year, I didn't think I'd qualify for the bonus since it is based on State test scores.  I guess they did better than I thought they would!  Thankfully, this bonus will allow me to pay off the small balance I have on one credit card (Best Buy, of course) and continue my comfortable "debt-free" lifestyle ...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Box Office Champ

"I've taken my bows
And my curtain calls.
You brought me fame and fortune
And everything that goes with it.
I thank you all ..."

DAY 353:  I just found out today that my production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee broke the previous box office record at the theatre, playing to 100%-plus capacity for all but one performance.  So ... three productions directed at three different theatres in 2010 ... two of them were awarded "Best Production of the Season," and now the third is crowned the All-Time Box Office Champ.  I'm grateful for a very successful year of directing!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Drama-Free Zone

"Take off your makeup,
The party's over,
It's all over,
My friend ..."
Betty Comden and Adolph Green

DAY 352:  Well, it's finally finished ... the THIRD production that I directed in 2010 closed last night.  It was an "interesting" weekend of theatre ... most of it off-stage ... and I'm VERY grateful that I'm now OFFICIALLY drama-free, in all its forms, for at least another six weeks (and maybe more, depending on the results of an audition in early November).

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ghost Light

"Success is like failure,
It's how you perceive it.
It's what you do with it,
Not how you achieve it ..."
Stephen Sondheim

DAY 351:  As my final production of 2010 closes this evening, I'm grateful that I've had the opportunity to direct three financially and critically-successful shows at three different theatres this year.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Greener Grass Ain't

"Ah, the grass is always greener
On somebody else's front lawn ..."
Lee Adams

DAY 350:  So, we're a month into the new school year ... number 27 for me ... and it's been a pretty terrific year so far.  I'm trying some new things and they're working pretty well ... all in all, a big improvement from the past couple of years.  SO, I'm grateful that I turned down the offer to teach at a new school this year!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Autumnal Equinox

"Try to remember
The kind of September
When life was slow
And, oh, so mellow ..."
Tom Jones

DAY 349:  September 23 ... the Autumnal Equinox ... the official beginning of Fall.  In astronomical terms, it's when the sun's rays are shining directly on the Equator and the length of day and night (at least at the Equator) are the same.  I'm grateful for Fall - it's my favorite season of the year.

When I lived in Connecticut, autumn was marked by a distinct, crisp, and totally refreshing chill in the air ... not frigid cold, but just enough for a light coat and enough to get your blood pumping.  There's a smell of fireplace smoke coming from chimneys and then, of course, there's that INCREDIBLE display of leaves.

I do miss New England autumn ... it's still consistently in the upper 80's and it will probably be a while before there's anything that even resembles "cool."  I'm waiting!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

History Got Sexypants

"A wise woman once wrote
That illness is not metaphor,
So why do I feel sick
When I look at you?
There is this illness in me
And I need to get it out ..."
Michael Friedman

DAY 348:  One of the things that excites me the most, and for which I'm particularly grateful, is the release of a new Off-Broadway or Broadway cast recording.  It's like Christmas when the CD arrives at my door, typically courtesy of Amazon.  Today, I received the recording of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.  This is one that I've been waiting for ... when I was in New York last April, it had just hit the stage at the Public and was taking audiences by storm.  I wish I had been able to see it, but it's opening on Broadway in mid-October (after previews that began this week) ... so maybe, just maybe ... 

It sounds like the kind of wildly theatrical presentation that I love so much - a short anachronistic history of Andrew Jackson featuring, believe it or not, an emo-rock score!  The show's tag line ... "History just got all sexypants."  From the press release - "It asks the question, is wanting to have a beer with someone reason enough to elect him? What if he's really, really hot?"  Sounds like fun, huh?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Time In a Bottle

"But there never seems
To be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them ..." 
Jim Croce

DAYS 341-347:  Well, I've done it again ... I've let a full week go by without a post in My OhGeeJay.  The days are counting down ... only 18 days left until my Journal's one-year mark.  I've been keeping track of what I wanted to write each day this past week (that I never got around to writing).  A number of them happen to be about time, in one way or another.  Here goes!

I can't remember the last time I was really sick ... I'm grateful for a pretty solid constitution.  What's better than that?  How about a cold that lasts TWO DAYS!  I had a terrible sore throat that kept me out of school this past Monday and I was CERTAIN that it would lead to a full-blown cold or flu.  It's standard for the beginning of a school year being surrounded once again by sneezing, coughing, nose-blowing students.  By tonight, though, it is nearly GONE!

This "old dog" is trying a new trick this school year.  I'm offering my extra help sessions about an hour BEFORE the first bell two mornings a week.  Now I'm FAR from a "morning person" and this is a very radical idea, I'll tell you that!  It is awfully nice, however, to be able to fly out the door each afternoon following the final bell.  So what am I grateful for?  Since I'm currently theatre and rehearsal-free, I can get to bed quite early so that getting up for the "dark-o'clock" help session is not that much of a trial.

I'm grateful for the comments I'm already getting from students that run something along the lines of "Mr. Lipp, I've never really learned anything in my math classes until THIS year!"  It's really nice to hear ...

It's been a couple of weeks since I've been free in the evenings and have stopped the late-night post-rehearsal junk-food binging and it's been bothering me a bit that my weight had not budged, particularly since I've started eating a much healthier, organic, vegetarian diet.  The good news?  My weight has started to drop again as of this morning!  I'm grateful my body has finally "figured it out" ...

Whew!  That was close!  Last night as I was entering a local Best Buy, an "ex" of sorts was exiting on the other side.  I'm fairly certain he didn't see me.  About a year ago, I was dating this person whom I trusted completely and was starting to fall for.  COMPLETELY unexpectedly, I was unceremoniously dumped for someone I discovered this total heel was dating at the same time.  I was incredibly hurt and depressed for a short time.  I'm grateful to say that I did not feel one twinge of ANYTHING when I saw him last night, except maybe for pity.  He was accompanied by the "other guy," and he's HARDLY a looker.

I haven't made a secret of the fact that I do use online dating sites.  I obviously haven't had much success, but I have noticed one thing.  Boy, I look good for nearly 50!  The guys around my age look SO much older than I do.  I'm grateful for looking youthful ... it often surprises people when I tell them my age.  Good Irish and Austrian genes?  Staying out of the sun?  Whatever it is, it works!!

Last night was my TWENTY-FIFTH Open House as a teacher.  I've been in the school system for 27 years, but I don't count the two years of temporary insanity that I spent "downtown" in the School Board building.  I'm grateful that I've started to teach children of former students ... it's great to see these "kids" who are now adults with kids of their own and it certainly helps to have built-in supporters (something that's hard to come by with parents these days)!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I Walk Alone

"I walk a lonely road,
The only one that I have ever known.
Don't know where it goes,
But it's home to me and I walk alone.

I walk this empty street
On the Boulevard of Broken Dreams,
Where the city sleeps
And I'm the only one and I walk alone.

My shadow's the only one that walks beside me.
My shallow heart's the only thing that's beating.
Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me -
'Til then I walk alone.

I'm walking down the line
That divides me somewhere in my mind ...
On the border line
Of the edge and where I walk alone.

Read between the lines -
What's f-d up and everything's alright.
Check my vital signs
To know I'm still alive and I walk alone.

My shadow's the only one that walks beside me.
My shallow heart's the only thing that's beating.
Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me -
'Til then I walk alone."
Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt

DAY 340:  One of the joys of music (particularly musical theatre), are those moments when the music or lyrics unexpectedly and completely reflect your mood and feelings at the time you're listening to it.  I recently ordered the Broadway Cast Recording of American Idiot, a "punk rock opera" featuring the music of the band Green Day.  I've been listening to it over the past couple of days and yesterday I came upon this song.  I'm grateful for such an expression of how I've been feeling recently, and it does help to hear those feelings expressed so beautifully in song.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sub For Sicko

"You can spray her wherever you figure
The streptococci lurk.
You can give her a shot for whatever's she's got,
But it just won't work."
Frank Loesser

DAY 339:  I'm grateful that I don't get sick very often ... in fact, I can't remember the last time I was.  HOWEVER, I developed a seriously sore throat yesterday that kept me awake most of the night.  I'm also grateful that I have a job where I can go online and request someone TO DO THE JOB FOR ME just an hour or two before I'm due at work.  How great is that, huh?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Vegetarian

"The day that I became a vet'rinarian,
I had a sudden overwhelming wish -
To be a pure and simple vegetarian
And give up eating all that meat and fish."
Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley

DAY 338:  OK ... so I've been doing this vegetarian thing for over a month now and I've been VERY successful.  I haven't touched ANY meat in all that time.  While I was in Ireland, I read a marvelous book called Skinny Bitch, which extolled the virtues of an organic vegan lifestyle.  In this book, there were a couple of chapters dealing with the horrors of slaughterhouses, along with the dreadful treatment and regulation of livestock in this country ... I was sold. 

Now, there was NO way I was going to give up dairy (read CHEESE) or eggs (read BAKED GOODS), so I knew vegan was not the way for me.  Though I'm still considering dropping the dairy as well (for reasons that are explained in the book), I don't think there's any way I'll go totally vegan, which means NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS of any kind. 

The more difficult thing was giving up DIET SODA!  Wow ... has THIS been tough.  The book also had some very convincing arguments against refined sugar and artificial sweeteners, particularly the latter.  They are nothing less than poison.  I learned that firsthand years ago, when I made the discovery that flooding my body with aspartame (Nutrasweet) in the form of cans and cans of Diet Pepsi led to migraines.  I switched to Diet Coke with Splenda, and the migraines went away.  The Skinny Bitch ladies have convinced me that even Splenda isn't healthy.

I'm grateful for my switch to a more healthy diet and lifestyle.  Unfortunately, I have discovered that a vegetarian lifestyle can quickly become a "carbo-tarian" lifestyle and it's HARDLY a method of weight loss unless monitored very carefully.  It's been particularly difficult while doing theatre and its late-night post-rehearsal binging on high-calorie, high-fat food.  But theatre's over for at least a couple of months, and I've vowed to keep my refrigerator fruit and veggie-rich while getting back to exercise (that I love SO much ... oy)!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Eat Pray Love

"Hey, Groceries ...
Believe in love again."
Elizabeth Gilbert

DAY 337:  Today was my first full official day of freedom from ALL responsibilities ... I had NOTHING to do - no errands, no school work, no theatre.  It was MARVELOUS!  Late in the afternoon, I decided I should celebrate having the time to take myself out to dinner and a movie by TAKING MYSELF out to dinner and a movie!  After a healthy salad (so I could have popcorn later without guilt) at my favorite haunt, Jason's Deli, I looked at the movie offerings for the weekend.

I wasn't too excited about anything in the list ... I didn't want a mindless testosterone-induced action flick or a horror movie (though I do like both from time to time).  There were a couple of "chick flicks" in the list - a comedy, "Switch" ... eh ... and "Eat Pray Love," which I surprisingly had heard very little about.  I did know, vaguely, that it was about a married woman pulling up stakes and travelling around the globe to "find herself."  So, swallowing my dislike for all-things-Julia-Roberts, I gave it a go ...

Boy, am I incredibly grateful that I did ... I cried through nearly the entire movie.  It's been quite a long time since a movie has touched me personally and spiritually like this one did - "chick flick" or not.  Elizabeth Gilbert's story definitely resonated with me ... her dissatisfaction with her personal life, her inability to sustain a happy and loving relationship, her feeling that there's "something more" that she needs to find. 

I was fascinated by her quest - to find pleasure (through food, mostly ...) in Italy, then "God" in an ashram in India, then a healthy BALANCE of both in Cambodia.  I've ALWAYS been drawn to Eastern spirituality and religions ... heck, Siddhartha is one of my favorite books.  Through her travels, Liz discovers self-acceptance and most of all, self-forgiveness.  There were such amazing lessons in her story - I fully expect to see the movie again and the book has already been downloaded on my Nook!  For a person who has battled his own demons with unsuccessful relationships, love, loneliness, spirituality, self-loathing, and desertion, it really hit home.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Never Seen Anything Like It

"Big shows 'n small.
We've seen 'em all.
Even seen performers
Who were ten feet tall!
And of them all,
We'd like to make it very, very clear,
That we've never seen anything 
Like what we've seen here!
We've never seen anything like it in our life!"
Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley

DAY 336:  I'm not quite sure what happened to my DVD of the 1967 film version of Dr. Dolittle (the only REAL version!), but I ordered a replacement from Amazon that arrived a couple of days ago.  Since then, I've been watching it little by little in the few hours I have between work and rehearsal.

Now, I may be extremely picky about my stage musicals, ususally eschewing the more old-fashioned, traditional Rogers-and-Hammerstein-type fare for the more contemporary, minimal, edgy material, BUT give me a BIG BUDGET OLD-FASHIONED movie musical and I'm in HEAVEN! 

I'm grateful for those wonderful old live-action movie musicals, the likes of which we no longer see, particularly those with scores by the Sherman Brothers, Leslie Bricusse, and Anthony Newley.  Is there ANYTHING to compare to Dr. Doolittle, Willy Wonka, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mary Poppins, et al? 

I've never seen anything like 'em in my life!

Thursday, September 9, 2010


"Spell it!
No, the long way!
Stephen Sondheim

DAY 335:  The light at the end of the tunnel is bright, inviting, and warm!!  Tonight is my LAST rehearsal as a director for 2010!  It's been a non-stop journey since January with three VASTLY different shows in three different theatres.  It's also been a personally, theatrically, artistically, professionally, and financially successful trip ... three powerhouse shows and I'm proud of all three productions. 

But I'm seriously burned out on theatre and directing, and I'm ready for a break.  I will have AT LEAST two months THEATRE-FREE ... free evenings and free weekends.  I'm so grateful to have this free time for myself, but I'm also looking forward to auditioning in November to actually PERFORM in another play!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Nicest Kids in Town

"You'll never see them frown
'Cause they're the nicest kids in town."
Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman

DAY 334:  Well, we're almost through the third week of school and things are going VERY well this year!  My classes are large-ish (an average of just over 28), but certainly nothing I can't handle.  Now, I know it's only the third week and kids are typically on their best behavior until they start getting "comfortable," but I have to say I have some great kids this year.  I have had NO "issues" so far ... save one minor disagreement the first day, but that child has been nothing but polite and respectful since then.

Working in an arts magnet high school has its definite advantages.  One of those perks is the students themselves ... and I'm VERY grateful for that.  We absolutely have "the nicest kids in town."  For the most part, they are respectful, friendly, sensitive (though sometimes a bit too), tolerant, and caring.  They can also be overly-vocal, overly-dramatic, and quite unique, but NEVER (or rarely) mean or malicious.  They are often surprising in their individuality, humanity, and openness ... no surprise, however, for these tremendously talented, creative, and intelligent kids. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Sweet to Eat

"Just a spoonful of sugar
Helps the medicine go down
In the most delightful way ..."
Robert and Richard Sherman

DAY 333:  I have a favorite "on-the-way" home treat.  Right around the corner from my house in a strip mall is a "from-scratch" bakery called A Sweet to Eat.  About once or twice a week, I stop there on my way home and pick up a cookie or two ... or three ... and/or maybe a piece of cake ... and/or a cupcake ... well, you get the idea.  They have a limited, but varied, menu each day ... so it's kind of fun to discover what happens to be available each time I go by.  That's a picture of the Reese's Peanut Butter cake above.  Everything I've had has been DELICIOUS and I'm grateful for the "sweet treat" every so often.  They may not be low-fat or low-cal, but at least I know they're made THAT DAY from scratch with only REAL ingredients ... no sign of preservatives or high fructose corn syrup or any other nasties.  YUM!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Eight Days a Week

"Eight days a week
Is not enough to show I care ..."
Paul McCartney and John Lennon

DAYS 325-332:  Where did THAT week go to?  EVERY day I knew what I was going to write in my Online Gratitude Journal, but I just never got around to it.  I supposed I could write them all now and post-date them, but that would be cheating ... SO ... I'm going to offer a week's worth of gratitude in short bits!

MONDAY ... Tonight we had our first volunteer audience members as "guest spellers" in our Spelling Bee rehearsal.  It was loads of fun and it sure added a whole new dimension to the show ... we have two more rehearsals this week, and we plan to have a whole new set of volunteer "contestants" each night!  I'm grateful for friends who will take time out of their evenings to give us a hand ...

TUESDAY ... An unexpected evening off the week before a show opens.  We had some conflicts with some cast members this week, so we're only rehearsing three nights this week.  This is VERY unusual for a theatre production, which usually is in a FULL WEEK's worth of run-throughs the week before you open.  I spent a very quiet evening at home and was very grateful for the peaceful solitude.

WEDNESDAY ... When I got to my car after work today, I noticed that one of my rear tires was almost completely flat.  When I put some air in it on the way home, I noticed the head of the nail which punctured the tire.  SO ... I decided to stop by the tire place after stopping by home (and before rehearsal) to take care of it.  Once there, the "tire guy" showed me just how worn and bald my other tires were.  After a few hours and an $800 bill, I headed off to rehearsal on four new rather expensive SUV tires.  I'm grateful that I didn't discover either the damaged or worn tires the hard way ... at 60-70 miles per hour on the highway heading to or from Orlando last weekend!  I'm also grateful that, at 95,000 miles, my car has probably received its last set of new tires.

THURSDAY ... As I mentioned in earlier posts, I've been directing NON-STOP since January - that's three different shows in three different theatres.  The first two were incredibly successful and I suspect this one will be as well, but I'm VERY burned out on directing.  I'm grateful that in just over ONE WEEK, I will be theatre-free and directing-free for at least a couple of months.  I'm definitely looking forward to it!

FRIDAY ... I'm grateful once again to the Gods of Timing - they've offered me District testing all next week while I'm in final production each night for Spelling Bee!  I couldn't have asked for a better "syzygy"!

SATURDAY ... Today, I watched the Lincoln Center revival of South Pacific that I had taped off PBS on my DVR a few weeks ago.  I saw the show in April 2009, and wasn't fond of it - in fact, I found it rather lifeless and dull.  Imagine my delight and gratitude when I was moved and captivated by the taped performance, courtesy of the original performers, particularly Kelli O'Hara as Nellie Forbush.  And, as always, "This Nearly Was Mine" reduced me to tears ...

SUNDAY ... To quote one of my favorite movies - INCONCEIVABLE!  Our Tech Sunday rehearsal lasted LESS THAN TWO HOURS.  That's unheard of, and I'm immensely grateful to have the majority of my day left to relax and enjoy my free time.

MONDAY ... Is there ANYTHING better than a three-day weekend just a couple of weeks after starting the new school year?  Grateful, grateful I am ...

Back with you on Tuesday, after my DAY OFF TOMORROW!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010


"When the moon hits your eye
Like a big-a pizza pie -
That's amore.
When the world seems to shine
Like you've had too much wine -
That's amore ..."Jack Brooks

DAY 324:  Lasagna lunch yesterday with the cast of Spelling Bee and Carrabba's dinner with "Team Jackie Jones" for her birthday!  Delizioso!  Molto grato!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

In the Black

"We're in the money ... 
Come on, my honey,
Let's spend it, lend it,
Send it rolling around!"
Al Dubin 

DAY 323:  Many people envy teachers their two-month summer vacation, but make no mistake ... it is NOT a paid vacation!  Even with the four "extra" paychecks that are supposed to tide us over until the fall (if we choose to have money held out all year so we can be paid "all year long"), most of us find ourselves scratching for every last penny and budgeting like crazy until our first paycheck of the new school year arrives.

But ... I am SO grateful to report that when I received my first paycheck of the new school year today, I actually had PLENTY of money still in the bank (and a TINY manageable credit card balance which I can pay off in weeks)!  How did that happen?  I took more trips this year than ever - NYC for four days in the Spring, a week in Ireland, a weekend in Orlando and Disney - AND I spent an unreasonable amount of money eating out at night after rehearsals from late Spring through most of the Summer. 

Well ... I suppose I shouldn't question it ... I'll just smile and sit back comfortably "in the black."  Cha-ching!

Friday, August 27, 2010

This Much I Know

"The morning will come
When the world is mine.
Tomorrow belongs to me!"
Fred Ebb

DAY 322:  Of this much I am sure ... I am an incredible teacher and it's what I'm meant to do.  I'm grateful that, after the first week of my 27th year in this career, it's amazing to still feel this way and believe it!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Traffic Control

"Red light,
Hot light,
Linda Clifford

DAY 321:  In the early days of Douglas Anderson, there were about 400 to 500 students.  Now the school bursts at the seams with about 1100 to 1200 students!  Since our students hail from all over this VERY large Duval County, many of our kids either drive themselves or are transported by parents to and from school. 

With a campus that's not much larger than one square block, the traffic before and after school can not only be frustrating, but often downright dangerous.  So ... you can imagine how thrilled and grateful I was to discover not just one but TWO police officers DIRECTING TRAFFIC on the "main drag" in front of the school after the final bell today!!  In the twenty-plus years I've worked at the school, this is a first ... and it's a WELCOME addition and I hope it will continue ...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Very Big Undertaking

"'Cause it's a very big,
Very fraught,
Simple but it's not,
It's a very big undertaking ..."
William Finn

DAY 320:  Who would've guessed that an epic two-and-a-half-hour musical tragedy with a thirty-person cast on a HUGE set would be "easier" in many ways than a TINY, nine-person, hour-and-fifteen-minute musical comedy being played on a stage no bigger than most living rooms? 

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee gives new meaning to "deceptively simple."  I'm grateful, though, that we seem to be in great shape two-and-a-half weeks out from opening.  The second act is STILL a little rocky, but what IS working is working VERY well and I have no doubt the rest of it will, too, after SIX run-throughs next week!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Simple Life

"Simple as a babe is new.
Simple as a tree and as simple as a cloud.
It's as simple as the simplest things have always been."
Maury Yeston

DAY 319:  There are evenings like last night and tonight that bring to mind the song "What Do the Simple Folk Do?" from Camelot and the beautiful song "Simple" from Nine quoted above.  Those precious moments when the often mad pace of my life comes to a screeching halt.  Those delightful, restful evenings when I can come home from school with absolutely NO work to do, no afterschool meetings, no appointments, and NO REHEARSAL. 

It's a time to pretend for just a moment what it would be like to have a MUCH simpler life with a job that I can leave at work and evenings of leisure, instead of commitments.  Nights when I can go to bed as early as necessary and actually get a full eight hours of sleep before heading to work again in the morning.  I'm certainly grateful for nights like this ... ahhhhhh ...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Smooth Sailing

"I'm sailing away -
Set an open course for the Virgin Sea.
'Cause I've got to be free,
Free to face the life that's ahead of me ...

On board, I'm the captain,
So climb aboard.
We'll search for tomorrow on every shore
And I'll try, oh Lord, I'll try to carry on ..."
Dennis DeYoung

DAY 318: Surprisingly smooth sailing for the first day of school!  Quiet, calm, and uneventful ... and one of the first openings in a LONG time that I felt like there were sure and steady hands at the helm steering this VERY large and often unwieldy vessel.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

When I Look In Your Eyes

"When I look in your eyes,
I see the wisdom of the world in your eyes.
I see the sadness of a thousand goodbyes
When I look in your eyes.
And it is no surprise,
To see the softness of the moon in your eyes.
The gentle sparkle of the stars in your eyes
When I look in your eyes.

In your eyes, I see the deepness of the sea.
I see the deepness of the love,
The love I feel you feel for me.

Autumn comes, summer dies.
I see the passing of the years in your eyes,
And when we part there will be no tears no goodbyes.
I'll just look into your eyes.

Those eyes, so wise,
So warm, so real ...
How I love the world your eyes reveal."
Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley

DAY 317:  I thought I'd share the lyrics to another one of my favorite songs ... from the classic movie musical "Dr. Dolittle."  I heard it a number of times down and back on my trip to Orlando this weekend, and it gets me a little choked up every time I hear it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Happiest Place

"I will live in Disneyland.
Make my home in Disneyland.
Maybe it's all fake, that's a chance I'll take -
It's perfectly ok.
Someone give me Disneyland.
Take me there to Disneyland!
And when I get to Disneyland ...
I'll stay!"
Howard Ashman

DAY 316:  Combine "the happiest place on Earth," the final weekend before the first day of classes, and ten WILDLY ENTERTAINING theatre friends and you get a BLAST of a day at EPCOT center.  I had a amazing time with my friends the Goulds, Lee, Josh T., Josh W., Miranda, Gary, Julia, and Shannon (and Shannon's friend, Nick).  I had actually considered NOT going and just relaxing at home for the weekend, but BOY am I grateful that I changed my mind.  I'm fairly certain it's the best "theme park day" I've ever had ... thanks, gang!!