If anyone is still subscribed to this blog — and I can’t imagine why you would be, you’re missing the fun over here — you might be wondering what the heck happened yesterday. No, I wasn’t hacked. I was and am teaching an Intro to WordPress class at Cambridge Community TV, and I’m using this (discarded, unloved) blog as my demonstration ground. So I apologize if I’m clogging up your RSS reader, but there’s two more days of this to come.
At work, my life has already been focused on Passover for the last two weeks. I’m really proud of the free, downloadable Haggadah I wrote — please download a copy and tell your friends to do so too! I do sort of regret not finding a way to work this Will Finn song into it… after all, it describes the Passover experience of a Jewish family from the Boston area!
I do love this song, and it kills me how perfectly it captures the joy and pain, silliness and sadness that holidays with families can evoke.
Ever so often, I revisit my first blog (from 10 years ago). Today, I went hunting for my hamentashen recipe that I remembered posting in 2001. While poking around The Wayback Machine, I found this post, which I thought I would share again today because it made me chuckle:
I just posted the second half of my interview with Tom Jones (the creator of The Fantasticks, not the singer of “It’s Not Unusual”) on the Fynsworth Alley Stage Door. I can’t help but share with you a blooper that got edited out of the final version:
DL: I know the one thing we didn’t mention at all, and I don’t know what stage you are at with this… I know you’re doing your first show without Harvey [Schmidt], where you’re doing Henry and June?
TJ: Henry and June? What a great thought! That would be a fuck musical, right?
DL: Er, uh, w-w-what did I mean?
TJ: Harold and Maude. See, shows where you mind is. Freud was a great man, right?
I know, I know, I haven’t posted anything of substance in this space in a couple of weeks. I’ve been enmeshed in some freelance editing work that’s taking up every free moment of computer time. I should be done in a couple of weeks, so hopefully I will return then.
Meanwhile, I’ve taken to keeping a Tumblr blog called Fuck Yeah Stephen Sondheim. It’s updated more or less twice daily, and mostly consists of videos and audio clips of fantastic performances of Sondheim. Occasionally, they are fantastically bad, but for the most part, these aren’t the obvious clips that you’ve seen a million times.
Of course, Tumblr is down as I’m posting this, so bookmark the site and hopefully it will be back soon. And then, not too long after, hopefully I’ll be back here with more substantive things to say.
In the meantime, can I interest you in a high school marching band performing selections from Sunday in the Park With George?
Today is the 12th annual international Transgender Day of Remembrance. I am lucky to know several transgender people in my life, some of whom I count among my dearest friends. I am even luckier that they don’t number among those lost to violence. The rates of violence against transgender people are so disgustingly high, and worse if you factor in the number of transgender people lost to suicide — a direct result of the hateful atmosphere towards transgender people in this country.
I’ve already written about how and why I try to be an ally to transgender people. I’m sure I don’t get it right all the time, and I’m lucky to have transgender friends who will let me know when I screw up and give me suggestions of how to be better.
Two things I know I can do are to be vocal, reminding those who don’t come into regular contact with transgender people that a) they exist and b) we’ve got a lot of work to do to make the world a safer place for them; and show up at events like tonight’s Transgender Day of Remembrance speakout and vigil at The Cathedral Church of St. Paul on Boston Common.
I first attended this event a few years ago, when I realized that so many transgender activists fight for gay rights that don’t necessarily benefit them, the least I could do was show up on days that are important to their causes. I was blown away by the speakers, the songs, the poignant mix of sadness and hope, and the tremendous fellowship among a mix of friends and strangers united by a cause. Since the first TDOR event I attended, the Boston vigil has grown in size — I can’t believe that 350 people have RSVP’ed yes on Facebook! But there’s still lots of work to be done.
There are events happening all over the globe this week. Check out the Transgender Day of Remembrance website to find out what’s happening in your community. Lend your voice in support, show up to be counted, and while you’re at it, write your legislators, clergy, school administrators, and others in power and ask them what they’re doing to make your community a safer place for all its members.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was in the first grade, I had a really spectacular teacher named Mary Caiza. She exemplified everything you could ever want in a teacher. She was kind and caring and made every student feel like a superstar. She encouraged creativity and imagination, and modeled these traits by telling us stories of her playful dogs (named Jack and Jill) and bringing in photographs of her neighbor’s duck-shaped mailbox that changed outfits as often as Barbie.
One day, she gave us an assignment to write and illustrate a poem. I still remember my first-grade thought process. “Everyone else is going to write a rhyming poem, but I know that poems don’t have to rhyme. I’ll write a poem that doesn’t rhyme so that mine will stand out. I don’t know what to write a poem about, but I really like Where the Sidewalk Ends, so maybe I can rip that off.” Please note, I was envisioning pastiche, not plagiarism.
So I wrote a poem called “Where the Sea Ends” (oh, the cleverness of me!), and I drew a beach with some seagulls, and handed it in. I (thankfully) can’t remember the actual content of the poem (although I do still have it, in a box that will get unpacked as soon as I remember to borrow my parents’ scanner so I can preserve its contents). But I do remember Mrs. Caiza’s reaction. She enthused about my effort and encouraged me to keep writing. It was that moment that I decided I wanted to grow up to be a writer.
Of course, being me, I wouldn’t be happy unless I grew up to eclipse Shakespeare. In fact, my Harvard application essay was about this very notion. If you’re going to do something, why not aim to be the best at it?
When I was in high school, I got very involved in Judaism via USY, the youth group of the Conservative Movement which, contrary to its name, is one of the liberal streams of Judaism. My time as a USY leader shaped the man I grew up to be, probably more than any other experience in my youth. And one thing became clear to me as a teenager: when I grew up, I wanted to be an involved Jewish layperson. But I definitely did not want to be a Jewish communal professional.
I am pro-actively redacting the post I might write related to this song and how I’m feeling, but please enjoy the incredible Juliet Prowse performing the hell out of one of my favorite songs from Follies.
Update! I am so enthused by this video, I went searching for a Fuck Yeah Stephen Sondheim Tumblr and found that one did not exist.