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Star Wars vs. Matilda?

29 Dec

Unlike most of the world, I don’t give two shits about Star Wars. I’ve seen the original three movies, but none of the sequels. Any movie or book that features a made-up creature (like a unicorn, a dragon or a wookie) doesn’t interest me much. Unless it’s Harry Potter – then all bets are off.

Alan is in the other camp and was excited for the new Star Wars release. He didn’t have any firm plans to see it, but by the opening weekend he was concerned that if he didn’t see it soon, someone would spoil it for him on Facebook. So as we made our plans that Saturday morning, he informed me he’d be heading to the theater that night.

“I think you probably needed to buy tickets already,” I told him.

“Nah,” he said. “It’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure? I saw pictures of people still lined up at the Uptown yesterday.”

“Worst case, I’ll drive out of the city a bit. There’s a huge theater in Manassas that is almost always empty.”

Still dubious, I decided to not push it: Not my problem.

I also decided to look around for something to entertain myself since it was officially Day One of my nine-day break from work. A quick cruise around the internet and I found that there were still tickets available at the Kennedy Center for “Matilda” that night. A perfect way to end an all-day “Me Party” (my sister’s term for when you do things you love to do by yourself without worrying about pleasing anyone else).

So I arrived at the theater, relaxed from a day that included yoga and a massage. While waiting for the show to start, I snapped a quick photo of the stage, intending to text it to Alan with a “guess where I am?” caption. No sooner than I’d heard the shutter click than an usher was standing in the aisle, shouting down at me that photography was NOT allowed inside the Opera House. (To be fair, I’ve seen enough productions there I should know that, but I’d totally blanked.)

“My apologies,” I told her, somewhat mortified.

Instead of accepting the apology and moving on, she continued her lecture so that everyone within a ten row radius could hear it. I wanted to melt into my seat and disappear. OK, lady. Got it. Don’t you have people to usher? PS: there is someone behind you taking a photo RIGHT NOW – if you’d stop lecturing me, you could actually stop another photo from being taken.

At long last, the show started. Spoiler alert: It was a disappointment. Mind you, the last performance I’d seen at the Kennedy Center was Book of Mormon this summer, so it’s likely that anything would have fallen short in its wake. And it probably didn’t help that children comprised half the cast, which yielded a lot more shouting than singing. It had potential, and I can see where it would’ve been a great book – it just didn’t translate well to the stage.

When intermission rolled around, I went out to the lobby to text my illicit photo to Alan. When I turned my phone on, however, I was greeted by this picture from him:

Fire! Fire!

While he was, in fact, in possession of a ticket to see Star Wars (score one for his confidence, zero for my pessimism) he was unable to get there because his car was blocked by fire trucks, apparently dealing with a small fire up the hill from his place. Huge bummer. Apparently the Force was not with him.

To make him feel better, I sent him this photo, saying, “I got yelled at taking for taking this.”

Kennedy Center

As I took my seat and waited for the intermission to end, I eavesdropped on two couples sitting below me, who were clearly season ticket holders.

“This show is horrible,” the man said to his wife. “I don’t know if it’s because it’s opening night and they haven’t worked things out or what, but it’s hurting my ears.”

“And those strobe lights,” the other man chirped.

“Thanks for reminding me!” the woman said. “I’m going to send them a complaint. Those lights are triggering a headache. I can just feel it coming on.”

“I hate their British accents,” said the original complainer.

He didn’t get a chance to say any more because the flights flicked and one of the characters took the stage, standing in front of the curtain with the house lights still up. “Folks,” he said, addressing the audience directly, “there are a few things that have happened up here that I need to apologize for…”

“Here we go!” the complainer behind me said, with an excitement that then shifted to disappointment when he realized that the apology was part of the show and NOT an attempt to make amends for the first act.


The show might have been a disappointment, but at least it DID entertain me – which is more than Alan can say about Star Wars. As best I can tell, the only person who was satisfied with their evening was the usher who got to bust me.

Glad I could help.


See This Film: From This Day Forward

23 Jun
Title Art - created by Trisha Shattuck

Artwork by Trisha Shattuck – pending permission for use

Last week was the AFI DOCS Film Festival in DC. If you couldn’t gather it from the name, it’s a documentary film festival.

Friday night, Alan and I made a beeline for the theatre on E Street so we could screen, “From This Day Forward,” which is described on its website this way:

From This Day Forward is a moving portrayal of an American family coping with one of the most intimate of transformations. When director Sharon Shattuck’s father came out as transgender and changed her name to Trisha, Sharon was in the awkward throes of middle school. Her father’s transition to female was difficult for her straight-identified mother, Marcia, to accept, but her parents stayed together. As the Shattucks reunite to plan Sharon’s wedding, she seeks a deeper understanding of how her parents’ marriage survived the radical changes that threatened to tear them apart.

In the wake of Caitlin née Bruce making headlines, it’s a timely topic, but that’s not what drew us to the screening.

It was on my radar because – some years earlier – my sister  told me that one of the students she had become friends with through her job at the University of Michigan was using to raise funds to make a documentary about her family, focusing on her father’s transgender journey in northern Michigan.

I’m something of a kickstarter and gofundme junkie because I believe there’s not enough art, beauty or understanding in the world, so if I spot an opportunity to help reverse that, I do what I can.

Admittedly, most of my gambles have not paid off – aside from Calligraphuck, which seems to be thriving yet somehow lost my donor gift of profane greeting cards so I still haven’t actually handled the product. (Probably for the best or half my Christmas list might disappear in one year!)

So imagine my joy when I learned that a film I had contributed to actually made it to the big screen! There was no way I was going to miss it – and since Alan is pretty much the best partner ever, he accompanied me without even knowing what we were going to see.

Turns out? Incredible movie. Not only did Sharon Shattuck (the director) do a fantastic job with the images and videography, she also crafted a clever backdrop for the story by using her father’s artwork and her own wedding to unravel the threads of her parents’ marriage and their family dynamic.

Early in the movie she quotes her dad, Trisha, as saying, “Sharon, whenever you get married, I hope you’ll let me wear a dress when I walk you down the aisle…” The rest of the movie then builds to her wedding day, with the suspense of the reveal (will her dad wear a dress?!) flowing like an undercurrent, subtly tugging us forward as we learn about her parents’ marriage.

I won’t ruin the reveal. I will just say this: the film is loaded with gorgeous imagery – both in the form of Michigan landscapes and Trisha’s artwork; even so, the most beautiful part of the film is actually the message – that a marriage unfolds in many unexpected ways, and love actually can conquer all.

Needless to say, I wasn’t the only person wiping at my cheeks when the credits rolled. And I’m probably not the only person now trying to get one of Trisha’s paintings in my house.

Check out the trailer here, and see if it’s coming to your city soon – you’ll be glad you did:

March? Oh, it’s mad all right.

22 Mar

Image Source:

Quick poll: how many of you experienced bandwidth issues at your office this week because colleagues were busy streaming March Madness games to their desks on Thursday and Friday? 

Just curious, because the media claims the NCAA hoops tournament is a huge productivity killer at work, but I’m always booked solidly on calls all day, so I’m curious to know who, exactly, has time to watch a basketball game (or ten) while they’re on the clock?

I partially answered this question on a small scale when Alan showed up at my place Friday night and asked if I’d seen the Michigan State game. Apparently he’d managed to stream and watch it in his office while doing some project work.

And he was frustrated on two counts: first, because the internet had been sluggish because everyone at his law firm had been doing the same thing (allegedly), and second, because he missed the last 20 minutes of the game because he had to attend a meeting in someone else’s office.

Rough times in the legal profession.

Image Source: might not watch the games, but I do watch my bracket standings in our office pool. Ever since I won the first March Madness pool I participated in (organized by my social studies classmate in ninth grade), I’ve been hooked. The same strategy that brought me that win continues to serve me fairly well as an adult: I pick the team names that include letters I like (example: x, v, z, q).

As a result, I’m big on Gonzaga, Xavier, Villanova – and I picked Arizona as a longer-shot to win it this year.

You may laugh at that logic, but I’m currently in third place out of 19 and my best score still makes me a contender. Also? I’ve heard of crazier ways of choosing teams – like going based on which mascot would likely win in a fight.

Actually, the folks at Five Thirty Eight have taken this one step further and modeled a few different scenarios and the likelihood of that approach providing you a win. Here are a few of their examples:

Mascot Most Likely to Win in A Fight – Final Four

Midwest: Hampton University Pirates

West: Texas Southern University Tigers

East: Michigan State University Spartans

South: Iowa State Cyclones

Championship game: Pirates vs. Cyclones

Winner: Iowa State Cyclones


Cuteness Final Four 

Midwest: Northeastern University Huskies (No. 14 seed, <1 percent)

West: University of Wisconsin Badgers (No. 1 seed, 33 percent)

East: U.C. Irvine Anteaters (No. 13 seed, <1 percent)

South: Gonzaga Bulldogs (No. 2 seed, 24 percent)

Championship game: Badgers vs. Bulldogs

Winner: University of Wisconsin Badgers

Sorry, but I’m not clear on how a badger or an anteater are even eligible to participate in a “cuteness” bowl. Have the folks creating this bracket ever googled the animals they’re choosing? In case they (or you) haven’t, here’s a look at the badger:

Image Source: Google Images

So I’m going to have to disqualify the Badgers. Same for the anteaters, though I do enjoy saying any word that has “teat” hidden in it. Maybe – as it turns out – I’m not mature enough to pick my own bracket in the first place. Whatever… GO SHOCKERS!


[UPDATE: I am no longer in third place. I am now basically in last, thanks to the Villanova upset. Feel free to ignore my advice on team-picking.]

Kicks from the crypts?

14 Feb

Funny tombstone

Facebook recently announced the creation of a “legacy contact” feature, where you can appoint someone as the curator of your Facebook page to maintain it or shut it down after you die.

Upon learning this, I immediately went to my account settings and tapped my sister to see if she’d be up for the challenge in the event of my untimely demise. Who else would get the tone right in my post-life posts?

Here’s the type of updates I’d want her to keep flowing from my account:

“Hey guys – as it turns out, snowballs DO have a chance in hell.”

Whenever there’s a celebrity death, I’d like a, “You’ll never believe who I ran into last night,” post.


“Need a haircut. Can’t trust anyone with scissors here.”

“All the constant singing and euphoria is starting to get on my nerves.” 

“Time to go take my accordion lesson.” 

“Heads-up: Eternity is over-rated.” 

“After-life? I’ve been to better after-parties.” 

My friend Alison hopped in on the action, suggesting that there would be some pretty rich opportunities for “Throwback Thursday” (#TBT) photos as well. I tend to agree:

“Remember this? Back when I was ALIVE??? #TBT”

“Wow. I really had some skin on my bones in this one. #TBT”

“Looking kind of fleshy, no? #TBT”

“This one literally killed me. Literally. #TBT”  

Speaking of hashtags, I’m thinking we could create a new one” #PLP – for “post-life post.”

Whew. Glad I’ve sorted this out. I don’t have a will or a DNR order executed, but I can sleep better knowing I’ve achieved social media immortality.

I have a BETTER bucket challenge for you.

19 Aug
Don't laugh - he's raising awareness.

Don’t laugh – he’s raising awareness.

I think it’s great how the Ice Bucket challenge has raised awareness of ALS. I’m glad people started clarifying that really, the thing to do is BOTH share a video of yourself getting iced AND donate to the cause.

That said, I’m kind of sick of seeing the videos in my newsfeed. With the exception of one college friend (go, Hoyt!) who attempted to re-enact his best dance moves to “Ice, Ice Baby” before getting drenched, there’s nothing really amusing about watching people (in the heat of August) suffer from a mild dousing.

I’d like to up the ante in TWO WAYS.

First, there’s a cause that’s near and dear to my heart (or my belly button, if we’re speaking in literal terms) that almost no one talks about: Crohn’s Disease. Perhaps that’s because the sufferers very often shit themselves. (Though actually, I don’t know – taking a flyer on that since it seems like most of my friends over 40 like to share similar stories without even the benefit of an official diagnosis.)

Second, I think there’s a better challenge to be had. Rather than dumping ice water over your head – which looks mildly refreshing in this August heat – I propose that to raise awareness for Crohn’s, you film yourself pouring some edible and biodegradable brown mixture (pudding? chocolate sauce?) down your shorts. Because unlike the non-existent connection between ice and ALS, there is a very real connection between food and Crohn’s – and messy pants.

Finally, because we need a hashtag to help this thing go viral, I’d like to abbreviate the challenge. Instead of calling it the way-too-lengthy, “Spreading Crohn’s Awareness Together Challenge,” we’ll just go with the much more tweetable SCAT Challenge. Or #scatchallenge if you will.

So who’s on board? Send me your videos or post and tag @pithy_pants so I can see your handiwork.

I’d do it myself – but I don’t have a yard… Seriously.

(Oh – and here’s where you can read about or donate to the cause.)