Tag Archives: low budget

Lame Adventure 417: Theater Karma

As much as I love theater, I hate the ticket prices. But, it is my passion so I try to see as many plays as I can for bottom dollar. Volunteer ushering off-Broadway plays has allowed me to see three of the last five Pulitzer prize winning shows for free. Unfortunately, Broadway does not allow volunteer ushers. About a week ago, Milton, sent me an email asking about The Realistic Joneses a 95 minute hit comedy written by Will Eno playing on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre. The poster features a dead squirrel lying atop a mailbox.

Eye catching poster.

Eye catching poster.

Milton wrote:

Milton: Are you interested in this?

Is grass green, is the pope Catholic, does New York stink in summer? Sign us up! Because we are both of modest means, we agreed that we would settle for balcony seats to the tune of $39 each. We’re not wild about seeing it from the proximity of Canada, but at least we’re getting to see it. The ticket seller asked:

Ticket seller: Can you handle climbing seventy-nine steps?

Me (thinking): Is this a test, should I be insulted, can she not see that I am the icon of fitness for my age demographic?

Me (answering): Yes, absolutely!

As soon as I spoke I imagined Milton screaming:

Milton: I’ve got to walk up seventy-nine fuckin’ steps?

We’re not seeing it for another month, so he has four weeks to prepare himself mentally and physically for this challenge.

As I walked past the Cort Theater, where a revival of Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan starring Daniel Radcliffe, was in previews, I noticed a sign on the door announcing the $37 rush ticket policy.

Head turning sign.

Head turning sign.

I asked the ticket seller how soon one should get in line for rush tickets for weekend performances.

Ticket seller: I’d say an hour would be fine. No one is aware of the rush policy yet. The sign was just posted today.

When that play was staged in London, where it also starred Radcliffe, it was a huge hit. The run sold out. Word travels fast in New York. I had seen this play five years ago off-Broadway for free when I ushered it. I loved it. It is a black comedy set in 1934 Inishmaan, an island in Ireland, where nothing much happens. Even the gossip is dull. One day a film crew arrives. That causes tremendous excitement, but no one is more excited than Billy, the cripple in the title, whose favorite pastimes are reading and staring at cows. It’s a tale packed with idiocy, cruelty, redemption and a lot of wit. It’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

I had a feeling that it would get rave reviews here and then I learned that it was opening this weekend, on Sunday. Once the raves pour in, getting weekend rush tickets might require getting in line several hours in advance. The weekends are when I power sleep. So Milton took sleep deprivation upon himself and got into the rush line this past Saturday at 8:52 in the morning waiting for the box office to open at 10 am. At 10:09 am, while I was deep in REM sleep, he emailed me that we got tickets to that evening’s final preview performance at 8 pm.

Cort marquee.

Cort marquee.

Our seats were in the center orchestra, row AA. That’s directly in front of the stage. We could almost eat the styrofoam painted to look like Inishmaan’s sea wall.

We resisted biting into the stage. We figured it does not taste like chicken.

We resisted biting into the stage. We figured it does not taste like chicken.

I asked Milton what he thought the seats behind us cost.

Milton: $400.

As for the play itself, the story was as wonderful as I remembered. The supporting cast was brilliant. The way one actress repeatedly delivers the three-word line, “Not a word” blew what remains of Milton’s mind. Daniel Radcliffe was a far prettier Billy than Aaron Monaghan, who I thought was perfect in the role five years ago. Milton was impressed with Radcliffe’s gay male following in attendance, but he thought that Radcliffe was the weak link in the production. Yet, his star power guarantees box office sales. He is adequate in the role. To his credit, he doesn’t chew the scenery. Overall, we were entertained.

When we were leaving the theater, a woman who probably paid ten times what we paid for her ticket, found my iPhone. Unbeknownst to me, it had slipped out of my pocket and she noticed. Afterward, at a pub, the bartender bought us our second round of suds. Overall, it was an excellent night. The play opened on Sunday to the rave reviews I anticipated.

Bring on that dead squirrel!

Lame Adventure 354: Gift Giving Insanity

Two weeks ago today my family and I celebrated Christmas.  We exchanged gifts and had the annual home cooked meal at my sister Dovima’s house in the San Francisco Bay Area.  As usual, it was scrumptious, not that I can recall anything I ate other than the cookies that my niece, Sweet Pea, baked.  I know the main course was something without cheese or tomato or lemon, the latter two acidic ingredients instantly activate my gastritis and make me spew hellfire.  I also know that it was not fish, since both Sweet Pea and my brother-in-law, Herb (with a silent h), are not fans of seafood.  My brother Axel will not eat red meat of any kind, so that eliminates beef as well as pork and ham.  My father loves turkey, but Dovima loathes eating fowl so soon after Thanksgiving.  None of us will go anywhere near veal since animal cruelty makes us all cry.  I know whatever we had, we kept it simple so it’s very possible that we celebrated the holiday with delectable bread and water.

Before that wonderful meal of — here’s another possibility — carrot sticks and crackers, we had appetizers.  I have no recollection of what they were, either, but I know that I did eat the equivalent of my weight in all of them including three fairly digestible paper napkins decorated with cartoon reindeer.  Then, we exchanged gifts.

Ever since the economy tanked, and my wages were decreased twenty percent four years ago this month — not one of my more treasured memories — affording  gifts has posed a challenge.  Every year as the cost of living increases, my meager alms are further stretched.  In years past when my pay was robust I could afford to give those near and dear presents of significant worth.  Translation: I shelled out for costlier crap.

Unfortunately, those days are now history and today, with such a scant pile of pesos at my disposal, I am forced to be creative or in the case of Herb (with a silent h), redundant.  For a second year in a row I have gifted my brother-in-law with the same present, a gum wrapper inscribed:

IOU a Gift.

My sister hinted that she needed an umbrella so that was easy.  I slipped five dollars to one of the umbrella guys that pop up all over Manhattan sidewalks the second a cloud bursts.  For my 85-year-old dad, I raided the supply closet at work and plied him with Post-its and paper clips.  As for Axel, I gave my brother a rusty, twisted nail.  That scored a huge hit with him.  Whispering this confidence lent it instant panache:

Me: They say that nail was used on Jesus.

When I told my pal, Milton, that I had gotten him a gift he admonished me:

Milton:  No, you shouldn’t have!

Abiding by his wish, I gave his Barbra Streisand pencil cup to my niece along with a post-dated check for two dollars.

Just as I thought I had finished the hell of holiday shopping I remembered that I had stiffed one of my most valued relations, Thurber, the family dog.  He completely slipped my mind the previous Christmas as well.  That year I rushed out to Target and got him a hard plastic mallard that landed with a thud literally and figuratively.  He made the definitive canine “I hate this toy statement” i.e., he buried it deep into a black hole.  It was more the equivalent of a black hole since he does not have access to a yard.  He shoved it under the couch and neither looked for it nor barked for some schnook or schnook-ette with opposable thumbs to retrieve it.  Possibly it remains there right now.

Worst. Toy. Ever.

Worst. Toy. Ever.

I know why that mallard was a dud.  Mouth feel.  Two years ago, I gave Thurber a Mr. Bill doll.  That toy not only had exquisite fabric-y mouth feel but it talked.  And yes, I tested it out in my own mouth.  It did feel very good.

Chew on this!

Chew on this!

Eager to repeat the Mr. Bill level of success with The Family Canine, I raced out to a neighborhood pet store where I found The Perfect Gift — a talking Curly from the Three Stooges.  It said several Curley phrases including my personal favorites, the more intellectually astute bon mots, “Soitenly!” and “Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!”  Plus, the mouth feel was sublime.  The one hindrance was the price, $18.47 (with tax).  Would I really unload nearly $20 on a dog toy, considering that I had spent less than $20 on my entire family combined?

"I pronounce Curly a keeper."

“I pronounce Curly a keeper.”