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Nancy Drew and the Secret of SingleGuyFromSyosset

nancy drew

Have you heard? Victoria Clark got married. You know, Victoria Clark? The actress who won a Tony for Light In The Piazza? She played a middle-aged woman, on her first trip to Italy, away from her critical and controlling husband, who discovers what real love is courtesy of a beautiful older Italian man with a uniquely understanding wife. She comes alive and sees the world with new eyes. In real life Ms. Clark discovered true love…(cue screeching-break sound) on eHarmony. That’s right, according to the New York Times, Ms. Victoria Clark, the beautiful, charming, immensely talented and outrageously accomplished Victoria Clark went on-line to find a date. Ya know what? If it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for me.

Do I believe that with a few strategic clicks you can find the person who makes you say; “I had no idea this even existed?” Can you amazon.com your way to turning the world Technicolor and finally understanding what all those songs and movies are really about? Sorry, no, I don’t believe that. My motivation is much more Cabaret based (“what good is sitting alone in your room”) and most definitely not about finding love, which I believe is elusive and magical and not the result of clicking on the right profile. Quite frankly a significant part of the appeal of internet dating, or perhaps any dating, is the Nancy Drew opportunities it presents. I graduated from a research university. That, partnered with my master criminal mind makes me more skilled than the average bear at unearthing the most horrific things about people.

Unlike meeting people in real life, you can Google as an online person reveals factoids about himself. (It’s doable but terribly recherché when meeting someone in real life, and involves several suspicious trips to the Ladies’ Room.) Recently I received very thoughtful and presumably forthcoming communications. He shared life experiences and viewpoints while perhaps fictitious were far more thought-out than the usual “you look hot, what’s your workout regime?” In the process of setting up an in person date he sent me his phone number. I was going to text when I realized I had enough clues to do some research without data gathered from additional communiqué. Two clicks later I discovered multiple sites in which this gentleman had ranted and raged using the most vulgar, racist and anti-homosexual language. That’s “multiple sites” with a photo of him as an avatar. He wasn’t even trying to hide his crazy. To his credit? My first instinct was to run out and buy a deadbolt for my door. It wasn’t the vulgarity mind you; I can curse the ink off a sailor, but his complete lack of judgment and anger management. This is the same man who when asked straight out about temper replied that life was too short to ever lose one’s temper. Yikes! So he’s either a liar or a sociopath or some special blend of a little of both. Deadbolt. Of course being a woman I actually briefly thought; “how will I let him down easily?” Yeah, I got over that notion pretty damn quickly. As fast as a hatchet coming through my front door! I managed to shake/drink that one off and head for the next profile (it’s best to not think of them as “men” or “dates” at this point of the process. It could be a well-trained homicidal monkey doing the typing.)

Typically people using internet dating sites know that when creating a profile you should put your best foot forward. This strategy includes using the most flattering photo you can find. The “more of me to love” fellows tend to use headshots only. For the follicley challenged there are a lot of baseball cap and helmet photos. It’s best to look beyond the professionally wrapped package and peek under the paper. Sometimes there are splendid clues to be found in the written portion. You gotta give props to a guy who on the first page of his profile spells out his psychic affliction; “my father left when I was 9 which devastated my mother. I learned that I couldn’t count on anyone but myself and should keep everyone at arms’ length” Call Me! How about the gentleman when asked to list 3 things he simply couldn’t live without, spells out a graphic event that can only be PG-13 described as “when a mommy and daddy love each other very much…” Really? I bet that reels the ladies in, huh fella? A list of “hates” which described me to a T captured my imagination. Discovering the following list: “TV Addict”, “Vain”, “Judgmental” made me momentarily wonder if he could actually see me through the computer. I mean that could be the lead of my obituary! I was so very tempted to rope him into a date just to announce mid-dinner, “Surprise! It’s me; your worst nightmare!!”

Dating is fun, particularly for a girl detective.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2015 in Dating

 

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At Last

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Picture it, New York City 1961. Grown people in girdles and fedoras could stumble into any one of dozen of night clubs and hear standards or jazz performed at the highest level. They would sit at their tiny tables; a shaded candle casting them in a flattering glow, sip their Manhattans while wrapped in a haze of cigarette smoke and either bop or swoon to sophisticated stylings. Sitting last night in the Cafe Carlyle, wrapped in Marcel Vertes murals, those halcyon days were brought back to life by William Blake. Resplendent in his black velvet jacket and beatific smile, Mr. Blake brings the best of the past back to life with his flawless show, Echoes of Etta: A Tribute To Etta James.

The audience danced in their seats to the rocking numbers ably backed by the swaying singing synchronicity of The Peaches (Ashley Betton, Shira Elias and Stephany Mora). The Peaches and the audience’s upper bodies were given a break periodically when Mr. Blake turned to the standards made famous by Ms. James. Pianist and co-creator Michael Thomas Murray joined Blake in duets to wonderful effect. Their strong smooth voices complemented each other and created something rich and large. The band (
Oscar Bautista, guitar; 
Mike Shapiro, drums; Frank Canino, bass)
 filled the stage and filled the room. Together they created a magnificent sound one rarely stumbles upon today. This fact was confirmed towards the end of the show when the curtained doorway parted. Jammed into the entry of the club were half a dozen people drawn to the sound. Their faces were a mix of joy and absolutely awe.

While the Etta James songbook is an ideal canvas for Mr. Blake’s range, he is not an impersonator but in fact the real thing. With the power of a rocker and the soul of a jazz singer he brings a tender strength to ballads and a growling ferocity to blues. There’s little doubt his talent could take him wherever his heart desires, but for the sake of those yearning to come taste the wine, and to come hear the band, let us hope Mr. Blake never leaves the cabaret.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Jim Caruso’s Cast Party

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Did you ever pine for Ed Sullivan? Maybe ‘pining’ for the real Ed is a stretch, but what about the beatific Ed of Bye Bye Birdie? Either Ed Sullivan that promised and delivered a really big show of stellar entertainment can create a longing and wishful thinking. His was a show that practically guaranteed that if you could make it there you would make it everywhere. Well if you could do without the spinning plates, dogs prancing on hind legs and monkeys on bicycles; if you don’t mind your Ed now dashing, debonair, brimming with charm and humor, then have I got the Ed Sullivan Redux Show for you!

Jim Caruso has been throwing his Cast Party at Birdland for 10 years. Each Monday night those folks in the business of show flock to West 44th Street to take to the stage and audience. The standards, show tunes, and jazz flow seamlessly in no small part because of Mr. Caruso’s producing, M.C.ing and song. The stellar band (Ted Firth on piano, Steve Doyle on bass and Daniel Glass on drums) provides a wonderful constant and backbone to the evening. They opened last night with a gorgeous jazzy homage that set the mood and the stage for Mr. Caruso’s medley of We’re In The Money/Pennies From Heaven. The audience was then treated to over a dozen performers and songs that included; If I Were A Bell, Everybody Says Don’t, Just In Time, and It’s Alright With Me. Stylings ranged from crooning to belting and all were flawless. However when William Blake took to the stage and delivered At Last the air in the room changed. There is wonderful and even excellent performing, and then there’s magic. There really is no other word for it. Mr. Blake delivered this song, which you’ve heard before but never like this, with the power of a rocker and the soul of a jazz singer. He brought a tender strength to the song I never imagined possible. He admitted to “showing off” for audience members Liza Minnelli and Michael Feinstein, and if that what comes from ‘showing off’ have at it Mr. Blake. (Speaking of wanting or not wanting to show off, The Drowsy Chaperone’s music/lyrist Lisa Lambert was in the house.)

We often grouse over the dearth of great entertainment. We wax poetic about the heyday of the variety show and bemoan the proliferation of game shows and contests passing as entertainment. How wonderful to know that as we once turned to CBS every Sunday night, we now can turn to Birdland every Monday night; where we’ll be treated to an ever-changing roster of phenomenal talent and the constant of the consummate showman Jim Caruso.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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What A Swell Party It Was

Do you ever play the lottery game?  You know, the one in which you fantasize about what you’d do with the winnings?  At every turn of this game, over countless years, my fantasies always take the exact same form.  It involves the requisite good works (anything else would be indecent) and the party.  The setting for the party has suffered some blows over the years.  It had to be relocated from the QE II to the Rainbow Room to now destinations unknown.  The event details are always the same; a small group friends, fabulous food, champagne and first-rate musical performances selected for dancing and swooning pleasure.

The real point of the lottery game is that it allows one to consider what makes one’s heart sing.  The party I dream of will most likely not become a reality, but I can approach my most meaningful friendships in the same celebratory manner.  I can also dream of an intimate musical performance that feels as if it is being performed just for me.  And on one cold winter night that dream came true.

A few years ago I was at the Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel to see Tom Wopat.  He is a remarkable performer; chock full of charisma and a love of ballads.  That winter night there were no more than 30 people in the audience and I was seated directly in front of Mr. Wopat.  As he sang his West Side Story medley inches from my table, my eyes filled and my mind raced; I was living part of my lottery dream.

My thoughts turn to that magical night with the news that the Algonquin Hotel will be shuttering the Oak Room for good.  When they docked the QE II I found it unsettling.  But when they closed the Rainbow Room and now the Oak Room, it was personal.  I know I don’t live in the most genteel of times, but when I step into these gorgeous time capsules I can dream.  And really, without a little sepia toned fantasy, doesn’t it all tend to get just a bit too dreary?

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2012 in Style

 

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A Swinging Birdland Christmas

Christmas is the most romantic holiday of all. American cinema and songbook are overflowing with splendid homage to the holiday. To my mind, the British have the food, drinks and decor holiday market cornered. But one need skip across the pond to bask in the Christmas show business splendor.

As soon as December rolls around, I find myself yearning for Bing to encourage me to have a drink more, because baby it’s cold outside. I catch a glimpse in the mirror and imagine what I would look like in a sequined snood, winding up a mechanical monkey and believing that next year all our troubles will be far away. During the first snowfall, I try running in the street and (quietly) wishing the building and loan a Merry Christmas. The mind reels with the richness of imagery. However, often the heart aches at the lack of real live people embracing and celebrating these traditions.

Imagine the complete and utter joy of discovering that such a thing truly exists and it involves champagne! A Swinging Birdland Christmas is a technicolor dream come true. Christmas standards, jazzy interpretations and re-imagined medleys are performed by Klea Blackhurst, Jim Caruso and Billy Stritch (and the Birdland jazz quartet.) Ms. Blackhurst, a new edition to the show, is utterly charming and of splendid voice. She has a surprise stupendous musical talent up her sleeve, which I will not divulge here. Mr. Caruso is a born showman, and in a decent world would be hosting his own televised variety show. His smooth voice is a natural for the repertoire. Billy Stritch sings like he plays the piano, with rich interpretation. His phrasing is reminiscent of Mel Torme and Frank Sinatra. Together these three make a delightful trio.

The show is a nice mix of solos, duets and trios. A standout solo is that of Mr. Stritch’s “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” (Frank Loesser.) I dare anyone not to swoon. Any one of the evening’s songs would put even the most Grinchy into a better mood. But for the hardest heart and coldest soul, there was the tribute to the Osmond’s Christmas Show. Jim Caruso’s Jimmy Osmond will linger in my mind. ( A note to television producers: There is a serious demand for Christmas variety shows!) If all this wasn’t enough to make one feel jolly, a special guest was in the audience last night. For the encore, Christine Ebersole took the stage and performed White Christmas. And when she asked everyone to join in, the barn door swung open (in my mind) and it was in fact snowing. I stood in my red satin, white fur trimmed gown, clutching Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen’s hands and thinking; “Oh what a lucky gal am I.”

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2011 in Holiday

 

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