31 March 2011

i'm a winner. no, really. i am.

not photoshopped

One of the things on my first list was to win some sort of a contest or a prize. When I was making up my second list, I realized how stupid it was to put that on my list, since it could be something over which I'd have very little control.

During the term of my first project, I managed to win a contest run by one of my favorite foodie blogs. And then, today, I just learned that I won another contest, this time run by one of my favorite gay blogs. Okay, maybe I didn't actually win this contest...technically, I got fourth place. But I still won a prize.  Since this is the second blog-run contest that I've won, I'm starting to think that maybe my superpower is winning contests like this.  Wouldn't that be sad?  I'd rather have the ability to freeze time and move around and change things.

The Bilerico Project was giving away DVD copies of "I Love You Philip Morris" to five readers who volunteered their craziest love story.  I don't really think of my love story with my partner, David, as being particularly crazy, but I offered it anyway.  Here's what I submitted:
I started dating someone I'd been friends with, and less than six months into it, I suggested that he come with me on vacation to Antarctica. He didn't hesitate to say 'yes.' I figured, well, if he'll follow me to the ends of the earth...literally...this must be serious.
Sweet, right?  Of course, I could have filled in all sorts of other details about how when we first met, we dated for a while, but I was on the rebound and the timing was bad for me but we stayed friends and then the timing got better and David gave me another shot, probably against his better judgment and he'll be paying for it for the rest of his ever-lovin' life most likely but we've bought a big old Victorian house at this point so he's obviously stuck with me mwah-ha-ha-ha...  But I left all of that out.


also not photoshopped
Anyway, I hope they send the DVD soon, because I'm really looking forward to watching it.  It took forever for this movie to get into theaters, and it was there so briefly that I missed it.  As we may have discussed, I so infrequently see movies in theaters that it was one of the failures from my first 101 Things list to see an average of one movie per month in a cinema.  But I've also got a list item that involves watching movies on the small screen, so The Bilerico Project has helped me with one of my list items, just the same!


Anyone out there won anything cool, late?  Anybody have a great crazy love story they wanna share?  Leave it all in the comments!

30 March 2011

totally not responsible for this, but it's part of one of my things.

Those of you who are playing along at home might recall that back in January, I completed one of my list items by singing back-up at Colleen McHugh's Barry Manilow Tribute Contest.  Technically, the list item was to sing at an open mic night, but, lets face it, singing background on "It's a Miracle" is way better.  So, I exercised my executive authority over the project and determined that singing back-up for Colleen was an acceptable substitute.

If you've not yet had the opportunity to see Colleen McHugh live, you're missing out.  She comes out of Second City in Chicago, she's a terrific singer, but she's also hilarious.  And, most recently, she's been on a roll.  This spring, she's won a Bistro Award, was a finalist for a Nightlife Award, and just today it was announced that she's been nominated for a MAC Award.  You might not know what those are (because I certainly didn't), but those are basically the big awards that they give out in New York to people who perform nightclub acts.

Colleen's shows are one-night-only once-a-month performances, and she's really, really terrific.  You should check out her next show, on April 28, 2011 at The Duplex.  Click here for more info.

Obviously, singing behind Colleen for one of the twelve shows that she did in the past year did nothing to help her win these awards and nominations.  But!  I didn't ruin her chances, either!  Who-hoo!

Check out this video of Colleen improvising a song at Birdland recently on the subject of Charlie Sheen.

27 March 2011

live-blog brunch with sausage and egg pie

the chives in my garden for
today's pie!
Good morning, Internet People!

As promised, I'm hosting a live-blog brunch, where we're all going to make one of my favorite savory pies--sausage and egg pie!  We're going to be making this together, because (1) it's super easy; (2) it's delicious, because it's pie; (3) You've already gone to the store to get everything to make this pie, because I warned you about it on Friday.  (Cue Rebecca Black song.)

The idea for a live-blog brunch had its genesis over at the Tribal Blogs blogging community.  Every Saturday night, the other Tribal Bloggers descend upon a chat room for their Saturday Night Slumber Party.  It's tremendous fun, but some bloggers have other plans on a Saturday night, and others have to get kids put to bed and stuff like that.  So, someone suggested that we do a brunch.  Since I've been dying to make my sausage and egg pie, I thought it might be fun to live blog that, along with all of you!

Hopefully, you'll be making pie right alongside me.  As you might recall from our live-blog Oscar Party, the software functions very similar to a chat room, but in order for your comments to appear automatically, I'll have to let you in.  I'll try to do that quickly, but keep in mind, I'm up to my armpits in pie.  When you get here, shoot me a note and I'll try to approve you as quickly as possible.

The fun starts at 10 a.m. Eastern!  Here we go!



On a somewhat related note, the bloggers over at Tribal Blogs are among the loveliest, most supportive folks on the intermanet.  If you blog, you should consider joining their community...or...better yet...go to the Tribal Blogs Convention this coming June!

25 March 2011

make a delicious brunch pie with me.

Attention Internet People!

This coming Sunday, March 27 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time/7 a.m. Pacific, I'm going to host a live blog where you and I (and a bunch of other internet people) will all make a delicious brunch pie together.  This will get me one pie closer to completing my pie-making item.  And it will get you a really alsome pie recipe that's simple to make, even if you're not very good at cooking.  Basically, this brunch pie is like a giant Sausage McMuffin with Egg, inside a pie crust.  Trust me when I tell you that you're totally going to want to put this in your mouth.

Here's how it's going to work:

1.  Get yer butt out of bed on Sunday, and move your laptop to the kitchen.

2.  You need to have the following ingredients/equipment at your disposal before the brunch begins:

- pie plate
- skillet
- paper towels
- 6 eggs
- ricotta cheese (low fat is fine)
- 1 lb. pork breakfast sausage (like, a tube of Jimmy Dean or Bob Evans--not links--the stuff you'd use to make patties if you sliced it)
- 1 package of prepared refrigerated pie crusts (two rolled crusts).
- and if you want to make it super extra delicious, you should have some chives on hand, as well.


3.  Direct your browser to 101 Things in 1001 Days and be prepared to participate!  I'll walk you through the pie-making process, and as with our on-line Oscar party, our live chat provides an opportunity for you to engage with us...almost like a chat!

21 March 2011

larry porter and the deadly halo, part 1


As you may recall, on my way to Brussels, I started watching Larry Porter and the Deadly Halo, Part 1. This is the first half of the last installment of the Larry Porter movies. The films all star Daniel Radcliffe as Larry Porter, a young wizard orphan who goes to Hogworms, a school for wizards and witches. He and his friends Hegemony Grangehall and Rob Weasel have many adventures as they try to save humanity from the evil wizard, Wal-mart (or He-Who-Does-Not-Have-a-Name). Some of the earlier films in the series were quite good. They included Larry Porter and the Princess of Ashkabob, and Larry Porter and the Goblins on Fire.

Well, on the way back, I finished watching it.  And this time, I stayed awake!  The movie was good, but it was also very, very dark.  If you rent this movie to watch at home, you're going to have to have room-darkening shades, turn off all the lights and still watch it after sundown, because if there's any ambient light in the room, you will not be able to see anything.

When I did my first list, one of my list items was to read the remaining Larry Porter Books, which I did, and to see the remaining Larry Porter Movies.  I completed both of those during the term of my first 101 Days, and I've kept up with the films since then.  Just one more film to go!

 Boy, have those kids ever grown up since their first movie!  Early on in the movie, Larry Porter gets cloned, and there are a bunch of Daniel Radcliffes without his shirt on, and he's got chest hair and a happy trail.  It is a sad state of affairs when the actor who plays Larry Porter appears to be older and more mature than Leonardo DiCaprio.  If you watch that movie, it may surprise you.  I, however, was not shocked to see that Daniel Radcliffe has chest hair, because I saw him on Broadway in Equus, and he got totally bare-ass nekkid in that show.   Ever since, I've started to refer to Equus as "Larry Porter and the Low-Hanging Orbs."

So, another movie off my list!


19 March 2011

teenage cop meets sperm donor -- together they solve crimes!

I'm in Brussels, again, this weekend.  For work.  And no, I was not able to squeeze in a trip to Luxembourg, to knock that off of my list.  While on the plane, though, I did finish watching Shutter Island, the Martin Scorsese film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, which I'd started watching on TV a couple of weeks ago, until I fell asleep.

I've said this before about movies that star Mr. DiCaprio.  I do not find him convincing as an adult human male.  He is a wonderful actor, of course.  He should stick to playing characters best described as "tweens," in my opinion.

Mark Ruffalo was in this movie, too.  You might remember him as the sperm donor who did secks with a lesbian in The Kids are All Right.  Mark Ruffalo is one of my all-time favorite actors.  I saw him on Broadway a few years ago in a Clifford Odets play, and he was really, really good.  It doesn't hurt that he's also secksie.

This movie was not really frightening or creepy or weird or anything.  I pretty much figured out what the gimmick was within the first ten minutes.  But I'd started it, it was one of the movies offered on the airplane, so I went ahead and finished it up.

There were other movie offerings.  I actually started to watch the new Larry Porter movie (I think it's called Larry Porter and the Deadly Halo, Part 1...) but I needed to sleep on the plane, so I didn't really get very far into that.  Maybe I'll finish it up on the return flight.

So, lemme ask you, though.  Does Leo DiCaprio's babyface get in the way of your enjoyment of his performances as an actor?




17 March 2011

another vegetarian day


For the past week and a half, there has been a parade going by my awfice.  But it's not a St. Patrick's Day Parade that got started 10 days too soon.  Oh, no.  It's a parade of horrible criminal injustices which have been visited upon me by the people, organizations and business institutions that populate my Enemies List.

I won't bore you with the details.  Let's just say that I'm on the verge of marching over to the U.N. to demand that they launch an investigation into widespread reports of atrocities committed against me by some of my cow-orkers.

It doesn't help that I've been traveling constantly.  In fact, so far in 2011, I have logged over 27,000 butt-in-seat miles on American Airlines.  That'd be more than enough to re-qualify me for Gold status, if I didn't already have lifetime Platinum status.  Thanks to that status, I was able to upgrade from coach on my flight yesterday.  The two meal options were each vegetarian.  I opted for the breakfast panini, which contained an herbed omelet, monterey jack cheese and sauteed mushrooms.  The bread had stripey grill marks, but it was limp and not at all crisp like a panini should be.

Still, it was vegetarian.  By the time dinner rolled around, I hadn't had any meat or seafood that day, so when we went to The Farm on Adderley for dinner, I ordered the chickpea fritters again.  So, I've got one more vegetarian day toward that item on my list, but otherwise, I haven't made much progress in the past week.  Because I'm getting slammed at work, and because I'm spending all of my time flying all over the place.

I will try to do better with my list.  I promise.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I have another plane to catch.

08 March 2011

g.i. joe: the rise of cobra


So, over the weekend, David suggested that we watch G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, because it was on cable.  I agreed, because watching movies on TV is on my list, and because I thought I could probably play Bubble Witch on the computer while it was playing.

I'll say this about it: it was diverting action-adventure hokum.  Also, Channing Tatum was in it, and he is very, very, secksie.

If you're like me (and I know I certainly am), you might be asking yourself, "Self? Do you think that Channing Tatum is related to Carol Channing?  To Stockard Channing?  To Tatum O'Neal?"

I do not know the answer to those questions, but it doesn't matter, because Channing Tatum is secksier than Carol Channing, Stockard Channing and Tatum O'Neal put in a blender and poured out onto a salad made of organic arugula.

So, if you want to watch a movie that might be on TV, and you want it to have really spectacular special effects and you want it to have a secksie guy who just might be related to Carol Channing in the lead...  well... you should totally watch this movie.

06 March 2011

baking my first ever loaf of bread

"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully.
"It's the same thing," he said.
I woke up this morning hoping that David would finally relent and make me a grilled cheese eggsplosion for breakfast.  The only problem was, David was already out of the house to go run a race up in Washington Heights by the time I finally got my big, fat, tired, white, lazy, union ass out of bed. I may starve to death before he finally agrees to make one of those alsome breakfast sammiches for me.  


Since I can't have an eggsplosion, so I moved onto Plan B, which was, basically to do something on my list, which is always exciting.  Tonight, for dinner, David's planning to make a roast pork shoulder.  Last night, he rubbed it with brown sugar and kosher salt, and I fully expect it to be completely awesome.   I obviously need to contribute something to the meal, so I think I'm going to try to make bread.


If you're following along at home, you may recall that a while ago, I attempted to get a sourdough starter going, without much success.  It's still in a jar in my fridge, but I haven't fed it in a while, so I'm guessing that I'd have to start over from scratch.  I don't have time for that.  I need bread today, peephole!  Fortunately, we've got a couple packets of yeast, and according to Mark Bittman, I should be able to make French bread in about 2 hours.  


The recipe is pretty easy.  In a food processor, pulse together 3 1/2 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of salt and a teaspoon and a half of instant yeast.  Then, through the feed tube while the food processor is running, pour a cup of water, slowly.  Hopefully, it comes together in a ball and doesn't stick to the side.  You add flour and water to adjust until you get the right consistency.


I turned it out into a bowl and let it sit for a couple of hours so that it'd rise.  That's when David came home to tell me that he needed the oven for six whole hours for his pork. So, I  formed it into a ball, dusted it with flour, cut a few slits in the top and popped it into a pre-heated oven.  I think maybe I was supposed to let it rise again for longer than just a couple of minutes, but...well...I don't wanna get in the way of our having delicious pork at dinnertime.


I baked it for a little less than an hour, until it came up to 210 degrees on my instant-read thermometer.  Right now, it's cooling on a wire rack.  It's kind of a funny shape, but for my first ever loaf of bread, I'm pretty pleased with it.




If anyone out there is an expert bread baker, I'd love any tips, tricks or hints, because I'm definitely going to try this again.


And if anyone out there is an expert in convincing other people to make breakfast sandwiches for them, post those tips in the comments, as well.






02 March 2011

how to see a broadway show for a discount (or free)

If you like live theater, living in New York can be expensive, particularly if you want to see the latest Broadway musical.  But if you know how to find the discounts (or freebies), it can actually be less expensive to see a Broadway show than to go to a movie and buy a large popcorn and drink.

Before I get to my tips for finding cheap theater, let me explain exactly how this relates to The List.  It's precisely because I live in New York that I've figured out how to see live theater for the cost of a movie. So, when I was making up my list, a couple of considerations came into play.  First, since I never go to movies, I put a bunch of movie things on my list.  Second, when I thought about a theater thing to put on my list, I realized that of all of the Broadway theaters, there were only two that I'd never set foot in:  The Nederlander and the Winter Garden.

There are good reasons why I've never graced the lobby of either of those theaters.  I've lived in New York for about ten years now, and for most of the time that I've lived here, Cats and Mamma Mia were at the Winter Garden and Rent was at the Nederlander.  I saw Cats on tour when I was in high school, and I saw Rent on tour when I lived in Chicago.  I kept meaning to buy a ticket to Mamma Mia, but I just couldn't justify paying full price for it.  And by the time it showed up as a discount ticket, it always seemed like the cost-benefit analysis weighed in favor of seeing something else.

Just last week, though, Mamma Mia showed up at a pretty steep discount...but only for a Wednesday matinee.  I cleared my schedule for the afternoon and skipped work (which I allow myself to do, because I routinely go for weeks on end without a day off...shh!) and cut work to go see Mamma Mia at the Winter Garden Theater.

The Winter Garden is actually a really, really beautiful theater.  The ceiling was gorgeous, and unlike many of the older Broadway houses, the leg room (at least in the Orchestra) was not half bad.  It's pretty wide, so if you're buying a ticket there, don't worry about being too far back.  Front row of the mezzanine is probably ideal, there, but as long as you're not waaaaay far over on the side, I think you'll have a pretty good seat.

Since 1982, the only two shows that have been on the Winter Garden stage are Cats and Mamma Mia.  Prior to that, there were some other notable runs.  The original productions of Mame, Funny Girl, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, West Side Story, Follies, Wonderful Town and Bus Stop were all at the Winter Garden, not to mention several iterations of the Ziegfeld Follies.

But that's not why you clicked through to read this.  You want to know about the discounts and freebies.  Okay.  Here we go!

Discount Sources

Use a Code.  Before you buy that full-price ticket, check to see if there's a discount code.  This is pretty easy.  You only have to go to one website, and that's Broadway Box.  If there's a discount to be had, it'll be on that site.  The discounts aren't very steep, and they're often restricted to weeknights or matinees, and for some hot-selling shows, they won't be available at all.  But, you don't have to be an insider to use these codes.  Don't let the fact that the site looks like it was designed on Angelfire by a gay amateur wrestler deter you from using the codes.

The TKTS Booth.  Once you're in New York, you can wait on line on the day of the show at the TKTS booth for day-of-show tickets that are up to half-off.  There are three booths.  One is in Times Square (or Father Duffy Square, to be precise).  One is at the South Street Seaport.  The third is in Downtown Brooklyn.  Availability comes and goes throughout the day, so there's no guarantee that the one show you want to see is going to be available.  So, if you are completely rigid and inflexible about what you want to see...plan ahead and pay full price.  If you're looking for a fun night that won't break the bank, research your options and wait on line.  Details about how the booths work can be found here.

TDF. The Theatre Development Fund makes steeply discounted tickets available to its members.  The key here, though, is that you have to be a member.  To be accepted as a member, you'll need to fall into one of their categories--if you're a performing arts professional, if you work for a non-profit, if you're an educator, a retiree, a union member, or a member of the armed forces or clergy, you may qualify for membership.  Through their website, members can get access to a pretty wide range of Broadway and Off-Broadway tickets at about 1/3 of what you'd pay at the box office.  Tickets to Broadway shows generally run less than $40, Off-Broadway is about $25, and they've got steep discounts to off-off-Broadway, live music, and other events.  My ticket to Mamma Mia! was through TDF, and I paid less than $40 for it.  You can find out more information about joining TDF (and supporting the important work they do) here.


Freebies, or Near Freebies

Papering Services.  There are a number of groups that will give you "free" tickets to shows.  Known collectively as "The Papering Services," they're basically used to fill sits in shows that aren't selling well. Usually, this means off-off-Broadway, occasionally off-Broadway, and infrequently a Broadway show.  You pay an annual fee to belong to their "club," and then they'll give you comp tickets to as many shows as you want, for a nominal (like...one or two bucks) service charge.  If you use these services, and if you like to see live theater and don't particularly care where or what you're seeing, you can really get your money's worth out of a membership.  I used to belong to a couple of these, but I've let my membership lapse, mostly because I was traveling a lot and not checking the websites often enough to get the full value of my membership.  Some of these services are:

Just a quick note: if you're coming to New York, and you want to take your niece to see Wicked on a Saturday night and that's the only time you can go, a papering service is not going to help you.  In fact, no discount source is going to help you.  Buy your full-priced ticket and then tell the kid how much you spent, and why that's an indication of how much you love her.

There are other ways to get freebies, of course.  Become good friends with a theater critic.  Get yourself on the committee that nominates people for Tony Awards.  Or submit yourself to Broadway.Com to be on their "Word-of-Mouth" panel, where everyday theater-goers review shows. 

I haven't said much about the performance of Mamma Mia! but a couple of things bear mentioning.  First off--on a Wednesday matinee, the average age of the crowd was somewhere between Social Security and death.  Secondly, there was an understudy in for the lead.  Her name was Corinne Melançon, and she was just terrific.  Really great.  Clarke Thorell really impressed me, too.  Let's hope they both become big stars and get lots of work.

So...just one more theater until I've made my goal of seeing something in every house.  If any of the producers of Million Dollar Quartet want to offer me a freebie so that I can visit the Nederlander...well...you know where to leave a comment.  (Hint: below...)

If you like this post, feel free to share it on Facebook, tweet it, stumble it, digg it or whatever it is that you crazy kids do to make something go viral.
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