Archive | January, 2014

The Vinyl Menagerie

31 Jan

I know what many of you have been wondering – “If I were to get Jason a gift, what would it be?” Well, let me tell you.

I’ve never been one to have collections for the sake of collecting things. I once half-heartedly collected quarters for a while, but that’s about it. Yes, I had a huge assortment of Star Wars and He-Man toys when I was a kid, but that wasn’t really a collection per se. They were functional – I actually played with them. Thinking back on it now, I wish I hadn’t because they’d be worth a lot of money now. I had a huge collection of CDs, but again – those were functional. I listened to music all the time in school and used those CDs as much for research as I did for my own personal enjoyment. They took up a huge amount of space and were hard to move and now I have converted everything over to digital files.

Neither of my parents were collectors, so I guess it’s not really in my genes. My Mom is an amazing keeper of house – everything is spotless and in its place at all times, so “stuff” just sitting around collecting dust wasn’t something we had in our house. I do recall having a collection of Toby mugs as a kid living in England, but those have somehow been absorbed by my parents and are not longer considered mine.

As I’ve written on many occasions, I’ve recently rekindled my love of all things Disney and I’m looking quite forward to moving to San Diego sometime this year where I hope to have just a bit more space than I did back in New York. So I’ve started a collection that I’ve been adding to since Christmas.

There’s a line of Disney figures called the Funko Pop Vinyl Disney series, which are basically 4 1/4-inch tall vinyl figures of various Disney characters. It won’t be any surprise that my favorite villain, Maleficent, was the first one I bought, quickly followed by Mary Poppins. My plan was to start collecting just the figures of the characters that I liked, or maybe to do a collection of Villains and Princesses or something, but now I’m slightly obsessed with completing each of the various series. For instance, Series 1 is Mickey Mouse, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Sulley, Mike, Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket, Snow White, Maleficent, Tinker Bell, Cruella deVil and Stitch. I’m not sure how they picked who would be in what series – it would seem more logical to do the series by popularity of character or in chronological order of their appearances, but I guess it does make sense to spread the major characters out in order to increase sales.

From what I can tell, there are 6 series, each with 12 figures, and they’ve also introduced a Disney Pixar series with Nemo, Dory, etc. and a new Monsters University series, as well. I’m curious to know when Rapunzel, Elsa, Anna and Olaf will be released.

So far I have 6 figures – Mickey Mouse, Maleficent, Mary Poppins, Buzz Lightyear, Ariel, Tinker Bell – nowhere near completing a full series. They are available at your local Disney or Barnes & Noble stores or online at and…just in case you wanted to send me a little pick-me-up or needed birthday, Christmas or Valentine’s Day gift ideas.

Funko's Pop Vinyl Disney Mickey Mouse figure.

Funko’s Pop Vinyl Disney Mickey Mouse figure.

Funko's Pop Vinyl Disney Mary Poppins figure.

Funko’s Pop Vinyl Disney Mary Poppins figure.

Funko's Pop Vinyl Disney Maleficent figure.

Funko’s Pop Vinyl Disney Maleficent figure.

Funko's Pop Vinyl Disney Ariel figure.

Funko’s Pop Vinyl Disney Ariel figure.

Haunting You…Haunting You!

31 Jan

Just like Jessie Spano, I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so…SCARED!! Why, you ask? Well…I’ll tell you.

Years ago, my old roommate came across a video that, to his knowledge, had never seen the light of day. It was a made-for-TV short musical from 1983 called “Love Cycle: A Soap Operetta.” It starred Patti LuPone, who had just won a Tony for Evita a year or two before, Tony Award-winner Priscilla Lopez (the original Morales in A Chorus Line), Lonny Price (Merrily We Roll Along, Rags) and Martin Vidnovic (Oklahoma!, Baby) as well as Walter Bobbie, who would go on to play Nicely Nicely Johnson in the 1992 revival of Guys & Dolls and would win the Tony Award in 1997 for Best Direction of a Musical for the revival of Chicago. Pretty great cast, right? Well, don’t get too excited, because the musical is pretty dreadful. Dreadful enough to be fun, though!

Where else would you see Patti LuPone trapped in a dryer or belly dancing out of a washing machine?  Or how about Walter Bobbie doing the worst Scottish accent in the history of acting? Maybe Priscilla Lopez getting a load of wet towels tossed on her head just as she takes a bite out of a bright red apple…like you do at the laundromat?

I have told so many of my friends about this musical, but it’s never been available for people to watch. I even told Priscilla Lopez that I’d seen it when I met her at the closing night party of Rent. She couldn’t believe that it even existed anywhere. And, as far as I knew, it didn’t – until now! Someone has posted it to YouTube for the world to see, and I’m sharing it with all of you!

Ladies and gentlemen…I give you “Love Cycle: A Soap Operetta.” Enjoy!!

Someone Has Killed Father!

29 Jan
Christina Ricci as Lizzie Borden in Lifetime's  "Lizzie Borden Took An Ax"

Christina Ricci as Lizzie Borden in Lifetime’s “Lizzie Borden Took An Ax”

I finally had an opportunity to watch Lifetime TV’s made-for-TV movie, “Lizzie Borden Took An Ax,” starring Christina Ricci as Lizzie and Clea DuVall as Emma Borden. As I’ve written before, I have always had a fascination with the Lizzie Borden story, and one of the highlights of my touring career was a visit to the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast in Fall River, Massachusetts. The B&B is the actual house in which the murders took place and guests can actually sleep in the room where Mrs. Borden was killed or in Lizzie’s bedroom. It’s a creepy place run by a wonderfully creepy woman named Lee-ann Wilber (who refuses to sleep in the house, by the way).

During our tour of the house, Lee-ann dramatically recounted the events leading up to the murders on August 4, 1892, guiding us room by room. The sitting room where Ms. Lizzie was informed that she was going to be arrested. The parlor where Mr. Borden was killed. The dining room where the Borden’s bodies were laid out on the large dining room table so the medical examiner could do his investigation. The room upstairs where Mrs. Borden was hacked to death as she was changing the linens on the bed. Lee-ann also gave us many hypotheses about not only who killed the Bordens, but why.

There was, of course, the “stranger in the back yard” theory which never really seemed to hold much water. There was the the theory that the murderer was one of Mr. Borden’s clients – he was known to be a very shrewd businessman and it wasn’t much of a secret that people hated him. There were rumors that Mr. Borden was sexually abusing his daughters. And, of course, there was always talk that Lizzie got rid of her parents to have access to the family fortune, which was quite significant thanks to the frugal lifestyle that Andrew Borden forced on the family. No one really knows the true motivation behind the killings – it’s hard to have a motive when you don’t even have a murderer – but I was quite surprised at how well the movie worked all of the possibilities into the storyline. There was the insinuation of an incestuous relationship between Lizzie and her father, though in this version, Lizzie seemed to be the one coming onto her father in a sort of power play to manipulate him.

The outcome of the story is, of course, the same – she’s acquitted – but the writer clearly has an opinion about who committed the crimes. I won’t give anything any spoilers, but…well…watch and find out yourself.

I have to say I actually enjoyed the movie. I thought Christina Ricci was wonderful as Lizzie. Really, my only problem with her was that she was too pretty, which is a ridiculous complaint. Lizzie Borden was not what most people would consider to be terribly attractive – at least not by today’s standards – but Ms. Ricci is beautiful with big doe eyes, a well-defined jawline, high cheekbones and a long, elegant neck. Her waist is shockingly tiny and, in a scene where she’s walking down the street with the rest of the Borden family, she is at least a full head shorter than everyone else in the scene. I think Elizabeth Montgomery was also a little too pretty for the role when she played Lizzie in 1975’s “The Legend of Lizzie Borden,” but they at least tried to make her look a little less glamourous. In any case, Ms. Ricci’s good looks certainly helped make her Lizzie a very sexual being, both with her father and with her supposed lesbian lover, actress Nance O’Neil. The relationship between Lizzie and Nance is only hinted at in the movie, but it is thought that the nature of their relationship was part of what drove Emma Borden, played by Clea DuVall, to leave her sister and Fall River in 1905, when she moved to Providence, Rhode Island. The two sisters never saw each other again, but in a weird turn of events, they died within 9 days of each other in 1927 and are buried side by side in Fall River. DuVall delivered an honest performance of a sister who is desperate to protect her sister, though it becomes fairly clear that she has little doubt of Lizzie’s guilt.

(L-R): Lizzie Borden, Elizabeth Montgomery and Christina Ricci

(L-R): Lizzie Borden, Elizabeth Montgomery and Christina Ricci

One thing that really bothered me, as a Lizzie Borden purist, was the house that they chose as the Borden’s on-screen home. Neither the exterior nor the interior looks anything like the actual building, which leads me to wonder why they didn’t just pay to rent out the Bed and Breakfast to shoot the movie. As I recall, the lots on each side of the house are vacant, which wouldn’t really work when filming the exterior street shots, but that was several years ago and I feel that façades could have been easily and cheaply built. Perhaps the interior shots weren’t filmed in the Bed and Breakfast because of space requirements for equipment, but it seems to me that the most logical place to film a movie about Lizzie Borden would be in her house. Again, I’m being very picky – most people would have no idea that the placement of the staircase and sitting room in relation to the front door were completely wrong unless they’ve visited the B&B, but these things are fairly easily verified. Does it really affect the film? No. Did it drive me a little crazy? You bet. In any case, it wasn’t distracting enough for me to take away from the movie, but I would really have loved for Lee-ann to get the money for them having rented out the building for the shoot.

Overall, this Lifetime movie was far better than their other recent made-for-TV movie, “Flowers In The Attic” and it satisfied me as a Lizzie Borden aficionado. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the story.

And to satisfy any curiosity you may have, here are a few more photos from the actual Lizzie Borden house.


The parlor in which Lizzie Borden was told she was a suspect in the murder of her parents.


The foyer of the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast – the house in which the Borden murders actually took place. The stairs on the right lead up to the second floor and the guest bedroom where Mrs. Borden was murdered.


The guest bedroom in the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast where Mrs. Borden was murdered. Her body was found between the dresser and the bed.


A little Lizzie Borden humor: This sign hangs above the staircase to remind guests not to hit their heads as they descend the steps.

The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast in Fall River, Massachusetts is the house in which the Borden murders actually took place.

The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast in Fall River, Massachusetts is the house in which the Borden murders actually took place.


29 Jan

Last night I wrote an entry about an encounter I had with a female patron who, for no real reason, told me to shut up.  Maybe she was having a bad night. Maybe she was just very cold. I don’t know. In the post, though, I found myself defending myself as a merchandiser and as a writer because of some comments that someone had made on Facebook indicating that perhaps I was the source of  a lot of the grief that I write about in my status updates and blog entries. I still stand by what I wrote yesterday, and I encourage you to go back and read it yourself, but it got me thinking about other examples of how my friends and I have been disrespected because of what we do and how people perceive us because of what we do.

Service industry workers have dealt with rude, thoughtless and hateful people from the beginning of the industry. I have visions of bar wenches being groped by drunk men as they fight their way through the crowded tavern with fistfuls of foamy beer steins. Anyway…anyone who works with the public has their fair share of stories. I have friends who are bartenders, servers, flight attendants, hotel concierges…we all have our stories. I remember my friend Brad, who was a server at a very nice restaurant in Columbus Circle in New York, telling me about guests who would rack up $300 checks and wouldn’t leave a cent for a tip. There’s a whole website devoted to the horrible and ridiculous things that people say and do to hotel concierges. What is it, though, that makes people think it’s acceptable to treat service staff as we don’t deserve the same respect as anyone else?

When someone approaches my booth and I say, “Hello! How are you tonight?,” the polite thing to do is to respond…or to even acknowledge my existence. Conversely, one should not march up to the booth and bark out, “MAGNET!” without the decency of a proper greeting. There was a time when, if faced with this situation, I would take a pregnant pause and look at the person and say, “
Hiiiii. How are you tonight?” Sometimes they would recognize that they’d just barked out an order at me, but most of the time they wouldn’t, so I’ve stopped that. Now I typically just keep my mouth shut, keeping the conversation at a minimum because they’re clearly not interested in small talk. It’s rude, but I can kind of respect that. I hate small talk, but I still think I deserve at least a “hello.” 

Then there are the people with no patience – the patrons who ask you a question but cut you off before you’ve had a chance to answer them fully. Or the ones who don’t seem to realize that cutting line “just to ask for prices” is still cutting the line. Everyone wants to know how much the shirts are – coming around to the side of my booth to ask me the prices while I’m in the middle of helping three other people will certainly not make you any new friends. And yet it happens all the time. Don’t be surprised when I direct you to the back of the line with everyone else.

Perhaps it’s just not something people think about, but I think one of the rudest things a person can do when making a purchase at my booth is to either hand me a wad of money or to toss their money on my booth, bill by individual bill. In Japan, the exchange of money is a significant action. When you hand a cashier money, you hold the money or credit card with both hands as you present it to them. They, in turn, will return your change or your card to you and you receive it in the same manner. This is to show that you are handling the money with care and that it is deserving of that care. It is done with dignity, which is something that I feel we often lack as Americans. Do not toss your credit card at me. Do not drop twenty-five wadded up $1 bills on my counter and expect me to open them up and flatten them out as you say, “I think that’s $25, but check to make sure.” I have been known, on occasion, to ask people to unwad their cash. It takes no more effort to hand me your card or your cash than it does to toss it on my counter, but it happens almost every night. Petty as it may seem, if you toss your money on my counter, I will toss your change right back. You get what you give.

But these complaints are really minor ones compared to the somewhat unbelievable personal digs people have taken on me and my friends.

I have been selling merchandise for a long time – I think it’ll be 8 years in April. I started out as a regular salesperson and worked my way up to management in less than a year, and I was actually really excited about the job when I first started and I was proud to be working on Broadway. It wasn’t long, though, before the ribbing started.

At Spamalot we had several t-shirt options, including one with the famous quote, “I Am Not Dead Yet” printed across the chest. Of all the shirts we had, it was my favorite, but I quit wearing it to work because I quickly tired of hearing, “You don’t LOOK dead!” Hardy har har. Still, that was all in good fun. It got old, but it was harmless.

At Mamma Mia! I became a rockstar at working the bag shift. I would go out into the outer lobby of the Winter Garden Theatre 15 minutes before the doors opened and I’d hawk CDs and programs – and I was good at it, too. There were some nights that I could bring in nearly $1200 on my own! I had my script: “Mamma Mia! CDs and souvenir programs!” and I’d hold a copy of the program and CD high above my head so everyone could see the product. Being a trained singer, my voice carried through that lobby beautifully and I’d often get comments about it – “Oh, are you a singer?” or “Oh…you sound like you should be on the radio!” I liked that, but sometimes someone thought they’d be “cool” and mock me from somewhere within the safety of the crowd, imitating the lilt of my announcement, saying things like, “Hot dogs! Peanuts! Getcha peanuts here!” In the beginning I’d shrug it off, but it still bothered me a little. What did that person get out of mocking me when I was just doing my job? I don’t go to stranger’s offices and make fun of them as their do their work, so why is it acceptable to do it to me? Develop a thicker skin.

I eventually became a manager and had to work the bag shift less and less. I quickly found out that the staff I had working the shows that I managed hated working the bag shift…mostly because they were embarrassed or uncomfortable hawking out on the street. When A Chorus Line closed, I was moved to the Broadway Theatre to assistant manage Shrek and once we had programs, I found myself working the bag shift again. I was happy to get back to doing something that I was really good at, and at Shrek we not only had programs and CDs to sell out of the bag, but also headbands with Shrek and Fiona ears on them, which I would wrap around my arm to make them easy to get to and because it was a cool way to display them.

I’m not sure what was so different about the crowd at Shrek, but any kind of mild rudeness I’d experienced up to that point in my merchandise career paled in comparison to what my coworkers and I would endure during the run of that show. My friend Rachel was working the bag one night, wearing her Fiona ears (which looked ridiculously adorable on her), when an older woman approached her and said, “Is this what you do?” Rachel replied that she was in school, but that yes, this was her job, and the woman looked at her and said, “It’s just a little pathetic, don’t you think?” The customer’s always right?

I was working the bag one evening, holding up a copy of the program and CD over my head with my arm covered in Shrek and Fiona ears, and a woman walked past me and actually shoved me in the shoulder as I heard her say, “God, what a terrible job.” On another occasion a woman looked at me and said, “Your mother must be so proud.” And I can’t tell you how many people came up to me as I held my wares above my head and “tickled” my armpit. If I were a doctor or teacher or police officer, would someone think it was OK to stick their finger in my armpit? Of course not. I have a freaking Masters degree!

Eventually we would also have Gingy hand puppets to sell out of the bag. That meant that I had a program and CD in one hand above my head, Shrek and Fiona ears covering my arm, a messenger bag full of programs and CDs across my chest and on the other hand I had a hand puppet. One group of tweenaged girls once commented, “It looks like your hand is up that puppet’s ass!” When I cautioned them to be mindful of the young children around them, their mother chastised me and called me an asshole. Welcome to Broadway, kids!

I don’t know when calling someone an asshole or telling them to shut up became acceptable social behavior, but I’m here to tell you it’s not acceptable. I don’t throw it around very often because, well…it’s kind of douchey, but I do have two degrees. I have dreams and aspirations and talents that reach far beyond the merchandise booth. I work a challenging, demanding job that most people can’t understand and I have a lot of responsibility. I am a person worthy of a simple “hello.” I am worthy of a “thank you.” I am worthy of your respect.

Take care. TCB. Sock it to me.

Cold Hearted

28 Jan

Greetings from downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, where upon our arrival last night, the wind chill was -26°F! Never in my life have I felt cold like this, except for maybe when we were doing Junie B. Jones in Oskaloosa, Iowa, where the windchill was supposedly -30°. The diesel fuel in our van froze and we weren’t able to go anywhere. Someone had left an unopened can of Diet Coke in the backseat which froze and exploded soda slush all over the inside of the van. It was a good time.

It was -11°F (-26°F wind chill) when we arrived in Minneapolis, MN last night!

It was -11°F (-26°F wind chill) when we arrived in Minneapolis, MN last night!

So here we are at the Orpheum Theatre, halfway through opening night. Surprisingly, we had a really good turnout tonight despite the cold weather, but no one really seems interested in buying any merchandise. I did have one rather interesting interaction with a patron, though, which left me scratching my head.

ME (to a PATRON and HER DAUGHTER after THEY bought a cast recording): Thank you very much! I hope you enjoy the show!
PATRON: Well, now that you’ve broke [sic] the bank…
ME (teasing): Oh…now, I didn’t make you buy it!
PATRON: Yes, you did.
ME (still thinking we were teasing): Noo…you chose to do that!
PATRON: Oh, shut up!
(SHE walks away)

This is somewhat similar to an encounter I had when I was working at Shrek the Musical on Broadway, too. I had just sold a Gingy hand puppet to a patron during intermission…

ME (walking away): Thank you so much! Enjoy the rest of the show!
PATRON: Don’t tell me what to do.

People are weird. I don’t understand them. And apparently someone on Facebook – a ‘friend’ – seems to think that I am the problem…that I have anger management issues and am not cut out to work with the public. While I will agree that I’m maybe not cut out for public service – and for the record, I never claimed to be…I have two degrees in musical theatre performance, not social service, for goodness’ sake! – I do try to do my job well and to be professional with patrons. It’s what my employer has entrusted me to do. What I choose to write on Facebook or here on my blog is my outlet because some of the things I would like to say, I can’t, so I write them instead. With my former employer, I most certainly would have been fired for writing what I have, and I definitely took a risk when I started writing blurbs on Facebook months ago during Flashdance.  As far as I know, I haven’t crossed any lines with my current employer and I know that he and I have the kind of relationship that would keep the door of communication open if I had. He would tell me.

I try to stay away from writing anything negative about the shows or the performers or crew or even the venues in which I work. Believe me – there are lots of people and things that I could write about that I haven’t, and maybe someday I will, but I’m trying to maintain a semblance of professionalism here. Just the other day I wrote something to which a cast member of this show took offense – he thought that I was making fun of the show, which was not at all my intention, but I deleted it from Facebook because I didn’t want anyone else to misinterpret what I’d written. I’m not a total jackass.

I don’t really consider what I write to be terribly important or life-altering, but I do consider what I write. Meaning I give it a lot of thought. It’s an extension of me, and honestly, some of it is pretty funny and it’s always honest. I don’t “publish” things willy-nilly. My writing is not intended to be hurtful or to imply that I’m better or smarter than anyone else. It’s an outlet and, perhaps, it’s also a learning opportunity. Or not. I don’t know. I mean…I don’t even know if anyone even reads this stuff most of the time, let alone takes it to heart. But if there’s anything you should take away from this blog, it’s this: Never, ever tell someone who’s serving or served you to “shut up” unless you have a very good reason. We’re people, too, and deserve to be treated as such. And if you treat us badly, don’t be surprised if you find your story on Facebook or Twitter or WordPress or Buzzfeed.

Lizzie Borden: Burying the Hatchet

25 Jan

Chrstina Ricci stars as Lizzie Borden in Lifetime’s made-for-TV movie.

I completely forgot that tonight was the premiere of Lifetime’s Lizzie Borden movie!! Has anyone watched it yet? I’m looking forward to it, but from what I’ve read online so far, it’s not terribly good. Any thoughts??

Clea DuVall and Christina Ricci star in "Lizzie Borden Took An Ax" on Lifetime.

Clea DuVall and Christina Ricci star in “Lizzie Borden Took An Ax” on Lifetime.

Frozen: En Español

25 Jan
Artwork for "Frozen: Una Aventura Congelada," the Latin American version of "Frozen." El poster de "Frozen: Una Aventura Congelada" en América Latina.

Artwork for “Frozen: Una Aventura Congelada,” the Latin American version of “Frozen.” El poster de “Frozen: Una Aventura Congelada” en América Latina.

As a continuation of the “Foreign Language ‘Frozen'” series, today I give you the Latin American Spanish lyrics and translation of “Let It Go,” or in Spanish, “Libre Soy,” which means, “I Am Free.” The Latin American title of the film actually remained “Frozen,” but with a subtitle of “Una Aventura Congelada,” meaning, “A Frozen Adventure.”  The song is sung by Argentine singer/actress Martina Stoessel, who is best known for her work as Violetta Castillo on the Disney Channel’s original series, “Violetta.”

There is also a Spanish (meaning from Spain) version of the film titled “Frozen: El Reino del Hielo,” or, “Frozen: The Kingdom of Ice.” In that version, the song “Let It Go” is entitled, “Suéltalo!,” which translates to “Let It Out!” We’ll deal with that one later.

In the meantime, enjoy “Libre Soy!”

La nieve pinta la montaña hoy
No hay huellas que seguir
La soledad un reino y la reina vive en mí
El viento ruge y hay tormenta en mi interior
Una tempestad que de mí salió

Lo que hay en ti, no dejes ver
Buena chica tú siempre debes ser
No has de abrir tu corazón
Pues ya se abrió

Libre soy, libre soy
No puedo ocultarlo más
Libre soy, libre soy
Libertad sin vuelta atrás
Y firme así me quedo aquí
Libre soy, libre soy
El frío es parte también de mí

Mirando a la distancia, pequeño todo es
Y los miedos que me ataban muy lejos los dejé
Lejanía me haces bien, ya puedo respirar
Lo sé a todo renuncié, pero al fin me siento en paz

Libre soy, libre soy
No puedo ocultarlo más
Libre soy, libre soy
Libertad sin vuelta atrás
Y firme así me quedo aquí
Libre soy, libre soy
El frío es parte también de mí

Fuerte, fría, escogí esta vida
No me sigas, atrás está el pasado
Nieve lo cubrió

Libre soy, libre soy
no puedo ocultarlo más
libre soy, libre soy
libertad sin vuelta atrás
y firme así, me quedo aquí
libre soy, libre soy
el frío es parte también de mi…

The snow the mountain paints Today
There are no tracks to follow
Solitude a kingdom and the queen lives in me
The wind roars and there is a storm inside me
A storm that came out of me

What is in you let no one see
You must always be a good girl,
You must not open your heart
Well, it’s opened!

I am free! I am free!
I can not hide it anymore.
I am free! I am free!
Freedom with no turning back.
And I stay here so strong
I am free! I am free!
The cold is also part of me.

Looking into the distance, everything is small
And the fears that bound me I left far behind.
Distance does me good – now I can breathe.
I know all left behind, but I finally feel at peace.

I am free! I am free!
I can not hide it anymore.
I am free! I am free!
Freedom of no return.
And I stay here so strong.
I am free! I am free!
The cold is also part of me.

Strong, cold, I chose this life
Don’t follow me – the past is the past!
It is buried in the snow.
I am free! I am free!
I can not hide it anymore.

I am free! I am free!
I can’t hide it anymore.
I am free! I am free!
Freedom of no return.
And I stay here so strong.
I am free! I am free!
The cold is also a part of me.


Frozen: En Français

23 Jan
Two versions of artwork for Disney's "La Reine des Neiges" ("Frozen").

Two versions of artwork for Disney’s “La Reine des Neiges” (“Frozen”).

Are you sick of reading about “Frozen” on my blog? Well…sorry…I’m about to write some more.

Tonight I started listening to some of the foreign language recordings of the film’s soundtrack and I was struck by how beautiful the lyrics are in other languages. Foreign language translation of song lyrics is very difficult – you’re restricted by rhythms and rhymes in addition to the gargantuan task of trying to convey the original intent of the original lyricist. That’s a tough job – especially when you’re dealing with an English to [fill in the blank with any Asian language] translation. My friend Koji translates musicals for a living and he works very hard at it. It’s nearly impossible to do a literal translation, meaning word-for-word, so sometimes you have to get a little poetic to make it work. Sometimes it works to the detriment of the piece. Whoever Disney got to do the French translations for “Frozen” (or as it’s titled in French, “La Reine des Neiges” [“The Snow Queen”]) is an absolute wordsmith. Their casting department also did a great job finding vocal matches for Kristen Bell (Anna) and Idina Menzel (Elsa). The French singers are Emmylou Homs (Anna) and Anaïs Delva (Elsa).

I have found that most of the translations for the songs are pretty close to literal, but I have noticed that a lot of artistic liberties have been taken with “Let It Go,” including changing the title of the song. In Spanish it’s “Libre Soy,” which means, “I’m Free.” In French it’s “Libérée, Délivrée,” which means, “Liberated, Delivered.” I think the French lyrics are beautiful. I’ve included them below with an English translation so you can see what they’ve done to the song. It’s pretty beautiful.

L’hiver s’installe doucement dans la nuit
La neige est reine à son tour
Un royaume de solitude
Ma place est là pour toujours

Le vent qui hurle en moi ne pense plus à demain
Il est bien trop fort
J’ai lutté, en vain
Cache tes pouvoirs, n’en parle pas
Fais attention, le secret survivra
Pas d’états d’âme, pas de tourments
De sentiments

Libérée, délivrée
Je ne mentirai plus jamais
Libérée, délivrée
C’est décidé, je m’en vais
J’ai laissé mon enfance en été
Perdue dans l’hiver
le froid est pour moi le prix de la liberté

Quand on prend de la hauteur
Tout semble insignifiant
La tristesse, l’angoisse et la peur
M’ont quittée depuis longtemps

Je veux voir ce que je peux faire
De cette magie pleine de mystères
Le bien, le mal, je dis tant pis
Tant pis

Libérée, délivrée
Les étoiles me tendent les bras
Libérée, délivrée
Non, je ne pleure pas
Me voilà, oui
Je suis là

Perdue dans l’hiver

Mon pouvoir vient du ciel
Et envahit l’espace
Mon âme s’exprime
En dessinant et sculptant dans la glace
Et mes pensées sont des fleurs de cristal gelées
Je ne reviendrai pas
Le passé est passé

Libérée, délivrée,
Désormais plus rien ne m’arrête
Libérée, délivrée
Plus de princesse parfaite
Je suis là
Comme je l’ai rêvé
Perdue dans l’hiver

Le froid est pour moi le prix de la liberté

Winter is slowly moving into the night
The snow reigns in turn
A kingdom of loneliness
My place is here forever.

The wind howls in me. I won’t think about tomorrow.
It is far too strong,
I struggled in vain
“Hide your powers , do not talk
Be careful, the secret will survive
Not emotional , no torment,
no feelings.”

Liberated! Delivered!
I will not ever lie again!
Liberated! Delivered!
It’s decided , I ‘m going.
I left my childhood in summer.
Lost in Winter,
cold for me is the price of freedom.

When we’re up high
Everything seems insignificant.
Sadness, anxiety and fear
I have long since left.

I want to see what I can do
This magic full of mysteries
The good, the bad , I say too bad
Let it be!

Liberated! Delivered!
The stars tend my arms.
Liberated! Delivered!
No, I do not cry.
Here I am, yes!
I’m here!
Lost in Winter

My power comes from heaven
And invades the space
My soul speaks
Drawing and sculpting in ice
And my thoughts are frozen crystal flowers.
I will not go back.
The past is past.

Liberated! Delivered!
Now nothing can stop me
Liberated! Delivered!
More than a perfect princess,
I’m here
As I’ve dreamed,
Lost in Winter.

Cold for me is the price of freedom.

Here’s the sequence in French as sung by Anaïs Delva. Amusez-vous!

Zoobilee Zoo…And My New Nikon, Too!

22 Jan

Today I headed out with my new Nikon D3200 camera and spent the day at the Denver Zoo – one of my favorite zoos I’ve visited in the country. I figured I should take the opportunity to spend some time in the sunshine before we head off to Minneapolis next week.

I’m so excited to have this new camera – it allows me to do so much more than I could before. Here are a handful of the shots I took today.


Boh, Shay…Cyan….Yew…Eeeeeeee…

21 Jan
Renee Fleming will sing the National Anthem at this year's Super Bowl.

Renee Fleming will sing the National Anthem at this year’s Super Bowl.

It’s been announced that Renee Fleming, arguably one of the most celebrated American sopranos in the opera world, is going to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl this year. She will be the first opera singer in history to sing it at the Super Bowl and my Facebook feed is all abuzz about it.

I spent three seasons working in the coat check room at the Metropolitan Opera House after I moved to New York. It was one of the best jobs I could have ever hoped for. Because I moved just a few months after 9/11, security was very high and the Met was requiring all male patrons to check any kind of bag they had with them. In addition, all female patrons had to check bags as well with the exception of their purse. To pull this off, they hired dozens of us to check the bags at the front entrances and then bring them downstairs to the coat room and sort them by number to speed up the distribution process at the end of the show. It was organized chaos, but it was a brilliant job. I met wonderful people there – people with whom I am still friends – and the money was ridiculous. We got paid a flat rate of $54 for the first four hours we were there. After the fourth hour, we started getting time and a half every 15 minutes and at the end of the night we split tips. My checks were sometimes $500-$600 and around the holidays we could walk out with $30-$60 in tips on a good night. Sadly, I have no idea where all that money is now, but I was enjoying life back then. I was working with one of my very best friends from graduate school (she got me the job), I had the best boss I’ve ever worked for and I got to experience the highest quality opera one could hope to find – and I got paid to be there to listen to it!

After two seasons of paying 10 people a night to basically sit around during the shows, the Met cut the coat check’s budget and got rid of the mandatory bag check policy. The majority of the staff was either let go or had their shifts cut, but somehow I kept on working as much as my boss, Jack, could let me. He was a good man and looked out for me and Jennifer, making sure that we were taken care of, both with shifts and with “family,” inviting us to his home to share a homemade Thanksgiving meal with him, his lovely wife, Mickey, and his mother-in-law. I was able to hang around another season before the budget was cut again and I was taken off the schedule.

While I was at the Met, I had extraordinary opportunities that I still can’t believe. As employees, we were allowed to purchase the best available seats to any operas we wanted for $40 a seat. I took my parents and my Aunt and Uncle to see Aida – we had center orchestra seats that would have normally cost $300 per ticket. I got to hear Plácido Domingo, Debra Voigt, Natalie Dessay, Juan Diego Flórez, Ruth Ann Swenson, Dmitri Hvorotovsky and so many more on any given night, and most incredibly, I was at Luciano Pavarotti’s final performance of “Tosca,” standing in the back of the auditorium, weeping, as he sang his last “E lucevan le stelle” at the Met. He was unable to stand on his own, so they restaged the number so he could lean against a table. His size and his age, however, didn’t diminish that incredible voice that pierced through the opera house like a laser cutting through the dark. It was a moment that I will never forget.

I also had the opportunity to hear Ms. Fleming sing on many occasions – most memorably during the run of Il Pirata that the Met mounted specifically for her. You know you’re a big deal when the Met builds a show around you. To celebrate her birthday, which was during that run, her old college roommate (and famous Phantom of the Opera Christine), Lisa Vroman, threw a party in Ms. Fleming’s honor on the Grand Tier level after a performance. Jack asked me to work the event, checking coats and packages for the guests. I would, obviously, be paid – I think it was $25/hr. – and I could accept tips. And I got to check Ms. Fleming’s feather coat. Yes, it was a coat of feathers, and she looked stunning in it. Ms. Vroman and I had chatted earlier in the evening – she was impressed that I’d heard of her – and so when she and Ms. Fleming were leaving, she made sure that we had a little chat before they left. She and Ms. Fleming were so lovely to me, a lowly coat check guy, and I will never forget that.

I will also never forget that Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance didn’t tip me when I checked their bags. But that’s another story for another day.

ImageI have no doubt that Renee Fleming will give us an incredible National Anthem on February 2. But if she happens to call out, I know someone who could easily step in for her.