curtain

Swan Lake Proves Magical

I grew up reading Hans Christian Anderson and The Brothers Grimm. I continually enjoy Disney films, both new and old, reveling in the animated stories that never cease winning over the hearts and minds of a span of ages. The Syracuse City Ballet really did a number with its production of Swan Lake.

At the beginning of the three-hour-long performance, Executive Director Kathleen Rathbun asked the attendees on the Friday, May 15, opening night — by a round of applause — who’ve been and never been to the ballet before. She also asked people to admit if we, the audience, have or have not seen Swan Lake before. It was my first time for both.

I didn’t mind admitting and owning up to my being new to the ballet scene. I new the story of the performance, but I never really understood exactly what was to take place. There is plenty of dancing, for one and the most obvious.

As for the storytelling … How?

When it comes to entertainment, I’m a bit particular and picky and borderline snobbish. When I watch a movie, there is hope for the production to lean toward film rather than blockbuster. My preference sways to heartfelt and tangible, humorous without even having to try, and have those dramatic and realistic elements to pull on those heartstrings. I’d like to feel something. I want to empathize and sympathize, and I want to relate even the slightest to something unfamiliar.

Before the production even began and before Rathbun welcomed everyone, that red curtain draped gracefully.

It was nearly a full house. It was difficult to see what the main floor looked like, but the mezzanine was packed. I sent a text (during the first intermission) to Stephanie Dattellas, friend and Ballet Mistress, asking where she was, if she was down below or what I referred to as the “poor writer” section. She and the rest of the Syracuse Ballet staff and families were on the mezzanine as well. The seats were the way to go, she said, “You can see everything.”

She makes a very valid point. All the action, the foot work and the leaps and bounds were clear. I was exhausted for them by the end of the show. These performers worked their tails off. Abigail Morwood, who plays both the white and black swans, Odette and Odile, gave a whimsical performance. Central New York natives, Peter Kurta and Jake Casey returned home to play valiant roles.

Brandon Ellis who played Von Rathbart, the antagonist of the story, how he moved with that cape around him the entire time is a task in itself.

I was able to wear the cape during one the rehearsals. It’s much heavier that it looks. How he brought forth Odile, the Black Swan, was very tactful. Instead of taking the route of the doppelganger being his daughter, the duplicitous character was a conjured up entity.

ballet

On assignment, donning Von Rathbart’s cape. It’s much heavier than it looks. (Photo courtesy Syracuse City Ballet. Photographer: Stephanie Dattellas.)

The work of the staff, the training and efforts of the dancers, the intricate work of the costume designs all paid off.

Speaking of “costumes”: It was pleasing to see that the attendees actually dressed up and did not opt for the jeans and T-shirt approach. Sure, some people wore jeans, but the women wore dresses and the majority of the gents wore slacks and blazers. Some guys wore more formal attire — tuxes and black ties.

The students next to me, however, enjoyed their shorts and weekend “mall wear.” True, I can’t really blame them, but their desire to pay attention to their phones became quite aggravating. The blaring LCD screen’s light took away from the lighting on stage.

Bob Dwyer did an amazing job with the lighting. (I would have taken pictures, but my phone was secured in my coat pocket.) It’s definitely proof that every little aspect can affect the outcome of a performance. Between the day, night, and indoor scenes were lit appropriately and believably. There is definitive method to it, as the hues and colors affects the scenes themselves and the audience’s perceptions.

While talking to Rathbun, I was able to get a little insight as to her thought process, including the ending. She didn’t tell me the end of the story that she decided to use, as there are many endings. She told me to wait and see. As it was one of the tragic endings, I’m still not going to give away which specific ending.

Why? To emphasize that those who didn’t attend truly missed out. Don’t look at me for spoilers. I will reassure you that it’s a charismatic love story.

I say again: The Syracuse City Ballet fills that artistic niche. Just because you missed the two-day, three-performance window to see Swan Lake, the company will have performances this summer and winter, so it’s best to keep eyes and ears ready for the information.

mansion

The Speech That Wasn’t Heard

On Saturday, April 11, the George and Rebecca Barnes Foundation had its fundraiser, Dancing with Our Stars, at the OnCenter in Syracuse, New York. I was announced and introduced as the President of the Board for the nonprofit, and I introduced a video that we collaborated with Solon Quinn. The video is featured at the bottom of this post.

I prepared to say a few words, but I was asked — in the moment — to simply thank everyone for attending, thank Arlene Stewart for putting the event on, and introduce the video. I’m in no way bitter about not speaking for very long; However, I had a couple minutes of material that I prepared for. This is along the lines of what I wanted to say: 

Let’s begin with a quick anecdote:

In 2009, I ventured off to Italy for a nine-day trip, and during that trip the experiences were nothing short of priceless. One particular aspect caught my attention. There were several moments where we, my cousin and I, were walking and gaping holes were found in the ground.

The confused expression on my face, I guess, said a lot.

In Brescia, to be specific, Adriano told me that the transportation system was being improved. However, when the ground is being dug up to prepare for the renovations, ruins were found. When ruins are found, they are not touched or moved or destroyed. The cities find ways to work around them.

Well, it’s good to know that another quality that cities in Italy share, aside the name Syracuse, is issues with its transportation system.

The fact is that European history — aside the actual land, but considering the actual length of  — is richer than our domestic history. We can knock down our thruway, because it has reached the point of deemed expiration, and it’s not as “classic” as the now dissolved Erie Canal.

And dismantle is a scary word; deconstruct is another one. When an area in the United States cannot find a use for something, the “easiest” approach is to knock it down and build instead of work with the beautiful shell that has been given to them. In the structure’s place, a sign is put up to mark history. And that’s that.

The Barnes Hiscock Mansion was built in 1853. George and Rebecca Barnes were very proactive and progressive philanthropists who looked out for the greater good of humanity, particularly participating and propelling the abolitionist movement.

The mansion’s doors are now open to you. Like the Barnes family, we want to be proactive and participate in our community. With Dick Benedetto, we’re installing GourMelt, a cafe and gourmet/specialty grilled cheese eatery. We’re planning on revamping the rooms and increase giving tours. We’ll hold your wedding, shower, birthday party, and we’ll house interactive plays. The Covey Theatre Company performed “Lizzie Borden Took an Axe” last year.

It’s important as community members to come together and support the cause, to support and keep the history of Syracuse alive.

Thank you to Arlene Stewart for putting on this fundraiser for the sixth season. Thank you to our sponsors. Than you all for coming, attending, and supporting.

Thank you to Solon Quinn for collaborating and putting together this video that we will reveal for the first time tonight.

chihuahua

The Chihuahua

I didn’t see its face until after parking and after leaving the vehicle. It was staring out the window of the SUV two spots down from my car. The Wegmans in Auburn, NY, isn’t the best parking lot in all of the land, regardless if it connected with the high-and-mighty Rochester-based grocer.

It is high-and-mighty, because it wants to be. It, Wegmans, has expectations to fill.

Chihuahua propped up on its front paws, which were resting on the plastic part above the door handle. It’s that thing with the small hole for pennies, dust, and used gum that is wrapped up in a small piece of paper.

The dog stared at me, and it wore a smug look on its face (similar to that of the picture found attached to this post, found by doing a simple Google search and at ebayclassifieds … of all places … I wouldn’t trust it.)

The site, not the dog. However, the trust in the dog is still up for discussion and determination.

It — the use of “it” is not to insult the integrity of the dog, but it’s because the gender couldn’t be determined — was wearing a sweater that his mother or grandmother probably knitted, but I was wearing a cardigan myself. It isn’t a homemade cardigan, but a light sweater nonetheless. The dog was wearing a collar — a tight little choker for such a neck-less pup — and I was donning a tie.

We both looked stupid. However, the dog had the upper hand, because I’m human.

The chihuahua was smirking because he and I were the same at the moment. The only difference was that I was outside. I was free. I didn’t have to walk up to the window and make faces at the animal. I didn’t have to do a victory dance, and The Bird didn’t have to be flipped. I just talked to it as if it could hear me.

It stayed put, looking out the window and not blinking. Chihuahua could have been dead and positioned as so.

But maybe it wanted to simply play. Maybe it wished the windows were rolled down a bit. Maybe the dog just wanted to just continually mock me, because it is catered to paw and … paw.

The nose — mine or the dog’s — wasn’t even close enough to the window to generate a foggy blotch.

As I walked away, we kept eye contact. The chihuahua still wore that sweater and that smirk. I kept my eye on the quadruped as if it was going to shoot me in the back — or, even worse, jump on my back — when I turned. There is nothing worse than little paws over both of your eyes, playing demonically possessed “Guess Who?!?”

Instead, the glimmer in its eyes spoke silently: “I will find you.”

But the SUV was gone after returning to the car. The damned thing probably drove it away.

 

blues

Shaving Day

Why do we shield ourselves from the morning light?

We’re comfortable, yes, but the light is refreshing. After a long and brutally cold winter the sunlight should be embraced, grabbed for. Instead of letting the rays rip through the sheets.

Sleeping on my stomach was never a habit. It’s uncertain where that practice came from. It works, however.

The static-gelled arm hairs noticeably stick up, stretch. Then it’s my turn to shed the layers and get up, stand up, stretch.

I poked my fingers deep into the bags under my eyes to remove the spiders, which wake me from sleep (momentarily) and hider my sleep, that crawl around under my skin and around my brain. They, the creatures as much of a metaphor as they think they are, antagonize the anxiety that produces a profound amount of curiosity before bed. Staying up past the desired time can only be … be … Where was I going with this?

[Reflection rolls its eyes.]

The bags just hang there, still, now empty and ready to collect whatever should fall into them.

My fingers rub my temples, my brow, my cheeks all before the lower half of the face. The ripples of the prints trip over the stubble, sometimes valiantly enough to shoot up into my eye. (But that hasn’t happened in a while.) The skin moves easily, however, around my mouth. It stretches, but not like “Beetlejuice stretch” when wanting to create some horrific disfigurement. There is no Lydia in my life to scare, so what’s the point.

I simply scare my self. Uh, the view is hideous. And the reflection just takes a step back, and the figure places its hands on its hips and rolls its eyes and makes some movement with its mouth as if its licking its teeth with its tongue — all for the sake of disappointment.

Yet, my fingers still examine my face. The sound of friction is similar to trying to spread hard butter with a plastic knife over cold toast. The knife trips a little bit, and it makes an awful sound, similar to that of Velcro — dissonance to the ears and heavy on the brain.

The water helps a little bit. It’s heated up enough to splash on, apply. Rogue drops bead on my hair before sliding down or jumping to a Geronimo! coaxing.

The water, now steaming, heats up and readies the razor.

The second guessing begins: Should I shave today?

Here we go.

The art is to get enough coverage and buffer so the razor can effectively mow the stubble down. Under the nose and around the lips. The cheeks and jawline. It’s, in a sense, sculpting. After its tidying up the sideburns and evening up where the hair ends on the neck. We may not think of it as precision, but it is. It’s tact. It’s accepting the necessity to get a new razor when your face is cut up and scratched more than a few times.

The skin, pores can breathe.

It’s a little time consuming.

Here we go. Not so much.

I’ll go for a run first.

Eisenhower

‘April, come she will …’

And April arrives.

“April, come she will …
… when streams are ripe and swelled with rain.”

– Simon and Garfunkel

What a better way to kick off the month with a 10-song soundtrack that spring has brought, what I’m listening to:

The Slip – Life in Disguise

Sean Hayes – Sufridrop

Wild Party – Life’s Too Short

Quarterbacks – Weekend

Kat Edmonson – ‘S Wonderful

The Roots – Dynamite!

Two Door Cinema Club – Cigarettes in the Theatre

R.E.M. – Moral Kiosk

Parquet Courts – You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Tick

Good Shoes – Wait (Bonus Track)

BRONCHO – It’s On (Bonus Track)

handle

Natural vs Processed

SPLENDA (processed)

He strolled in with a smile on his face, passing by the coffee bar and settling with perusing the landscape of the cafe. He opted for pivoting in place a couple times, the friction of his foot on the floor emphasized his indecisiveness, before leaning against a high-top and pulling out his phone.

She lied, spread out upon the couch, propping her head up with her hand. Her elbow rested on the arm of the furniture as she read with headphones in her ears. The flannel shirt offered some reprieve of the cold temperature. (It may have well been snowing inside, if it had been given the chance, and the flakes would have collected.) From time-to-time her amused eyes were almost forced to look around when her head tilted up.

The three or four uncomfortable minute-thick silent prelude exaggeratedly felt like a stretched-out 10.

Finally she picked up her phone to find text messages sent from another phone shot downward and at a slight angle. The noticed message(s) received brought a smile to his face, but he remained still and propped up against the table. A minute that felt like a dozen passed, and he finally walked down the few steps to greet his date.

He stared down at her, she up at him. He ventures for a coffee.

The questions started after a Tinder kindling. The answers were received. Back-and-forth table tennis, not pong and not even standard tennis. The conversation clicked as paddles were hit, but resonated as an engine failing to start. She periodically smirked, but her elbow still rested upon the arm of the couch, painting a picture off of the inspiring topics of small talk.

[Intermission: More questions, conversation.]

They eventually walked out and together. They stood on the sidewalk, facing each other, saying their goodbyes. At least he was smiling; at least she (seemed) to be humoring — it could not be heard in part the distance and the other part being the separating stone wall and windows of the coffee shop.

RAW (natural)

He sat across the room, partially postured and partially slumping. He was reading, and the book was flat upon the table, spread open by both hands.

She sat upon the couch, her arm was bent and holding her head up. Her elbow dug into the arm of the couch. The lounge, comfortable attire that gave reprieve from the cold. (If given the chance, it may have snowed inside, but the flakes would have never stayed.) Her coat fell over her like a blanket.

The hardcover about the size of her head, a little larger, sat in her lap. She cradled it, gently turned the pages with her hand. The indistinguishable black lettering on the pages sharply popped up from the white surface. Sometimes the pages were fanned like a deck of cards.

He propped the computer up to either hide behind, using work or media or “access to music” as an excuse for constructing the boundary. He’d look up at the screen on occasion, clicking or typing. Eyes quickly shifted up, shooting glances over in an arc with hope to be caught.

What was caught was a bug of some sort. She winced, she held her book up as a barrier. She laughed at herself. This caught his attention, and he looked over and smiled. For the first time they made eye contact and mirrored smiles.

As she settled, it was unclear whether her hair twirled by her neck or it was a tattoo, regardless the spiral made a poignant characteristic. Where her face rested, he sat smiling and reading the duller-colored pages of his book. The sharpness of the black lettering was sanded.

[Intermission: More reading, more clicking/typing.]

The showdown would continue, but the unexpected, quick cut-to-black ending left the conclusion open to interpretation.

photo

For the Love of Writing

I’m not progressing as quickly as I should be with the most recent novel that my face has been hiding behind, that my nose has been digging into.

(Is that the saying?)

Well, whatever. Before I get into the meat and potatoes, let’s get something straight: So I’m essentially writing around Valentine’s Day when I know that I shouldn’t and failing to live up to my original intention not to. Is writing about relationships around the “holiday” a faux pas? A cliche? Too many questions are being asked.

Is it even worse that these words are spelling out during a French jazz tune? Yeah, let’s keep stacking this.

A passage caught my eye while reading A Working Theory of Love by Scott Hutchins. I read it days ago. It’s the passage that is below, poorly fashioned to give credit to the narrator and author. It’ll do.

hutchins

 

This is an enlightening passage. The book itself is pretty damn amazing. I’ll definitely keep it rather than randomly place it in a random spot for someone to find.

While hanging out with a couple of other fellows, friends, wandering and creative types, we had a thorough discussion about relationships. We were enjoying our dinner at The Old Toad, breaking bread and clinking our glasses after an enjoyable night of sketch comedy.

We’ve made our mistakes in the past. We own up to them, and sometimes — specifically me — honest, hard-hitting aspects are more difficult to swallow than others. I’m not going to specifically talk about theirs, but there are definite issues that seem to exist within ourselves. Now, let me be clear, that the three of us don’t walk around town blatantly displaying vulgar methods of misogyny, because that’s not the case. We don’t fall in the line where with the guys whose misogyny is generated from jealousy of women — that can be the case, especially with the A-Type guys who walk around with blinders on.

And I’m certain that women can be misogynists, too. I’m not entirely hating on my gender.

But, we three guys, we’re not bitter about our past relationships, but we do have our concern about the entirety of each. And this concern can be plaguing to the point where we can let it get the best of us.

It took a lot for me to get over a handful of relationships. The recoveries were not stemmed from disliking the person — there is a difference between disliking the actions that cause a relationship to end — but the time was spent wondering what went wrong and how I could essentially change myself or open my eyes a little wider. We cannot change others, nor should we try to.

One of the concerns that I brought up is a familiar one. It was about a post I wrote about for Syracuse New Times. The issue: writing about a conversation that took place. Because she read it, she got pissed. I can’t blame her for that. However, her level of being irate cannot be forgiven. Although, she said that she is embarrassed, but  there was no mention of her name or what she looked like. The only people that will know that it’s her will be the people she tells.

One of my friends said that he remembered that article, and recalled there was no specificity to calm my thoughts.

So my issue is being a lifestyle writer. It’s going to be a challenge for me to convey myself well so it doesn’t come across misogynistic. As many times as I bash myself or other guys, pointing out something in an objective fashion and blatant could ruin a relationship. As previously stated in a past article: I’ll be continuing to write even when kids are born. Because that’s life. I’m not going to include pictures or specific names to protect their privacy, but it is what it is.

Shit. I’m sure there are women out there, who would want to be included in articles. Sure, they could even have the opposite reaction of getting annoyed with my not including her name.

schmuck

With writing …

On the way home, we were listening to Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast that featured Bret Easton Ellis. It was really interesting, very intense. Both Maron and Ellis were intense. After recently finishing Less Than Zero, the characters and story definitely parallel Ellis and his life. The same thing goes for American Psycho and The Rules of Attraction.

Here’s a guy, who writes fiction that includes facts and an array of characters to parallel those people in his life. And Ellis is not only more skilled than I am, but he’s also more blatantly honest.

Ellis said that a writer can’t make excuses for writing whether it pertains to developing characters or the craft, writing every day.

With future consideration …

Not everyone gets married and/or has kids. I’m fine with that (should that be my fate). I’m rooting for success. However, I’ve been thinking a lot about it recently. Maybe it pertains to my brother’s wedding this year? Could be and partially so.

The two kids today, the older sister making her baby brother laugh hysterically in Cafe at 407, helped with the positive thinking.

The three of us guys talked more about dating than our exes. We talked about the process and the routes, including trying and attempting and falling face-first into online dating. But it’s funny, when we are occupied with the online dating scheme, who we notice around us. And it’s funny how thought-to-be annoying characteristics could definite a person for the better.

There was a cute redhead that I sat next to on the show. She wasn’t the prettiest girl on the block, but she was definitively cute and attractive. Her laugh, however, was most appealing. She snorted quite often, and she didn’t hold back either. The first snort came from out of the blue, and she cupped her hand over her mouth and nose as she bent over with playful embarrassment — embarrassment that isn’t embarrassment but an exaggerated motion.

But she’s a redhead. Although, I’m most attractive to that trait, I’ve never really gotten (along with) them.