Friday, July 27, 2007

Isaac Comes Home and I'm Home, Home on the Range

Timothy Isaac arrives home with Mom & Dad (Tim & Janet) in tow.

The view from the front door...the view from the back door...and the local U.S. Post Office. Mom, Dad and I are staying about 1/2 hour out of Richmond in horse breeding country. It's beautiful...the sky stretches forever and is filled with stars each night. That's the upside...the downside is that we're so far out in the country we're barely in Verizon's nationwide network.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

My favorites photos (so far). Issac, Me holding Isaac, Dad and Isaac, Tim & Janet with Isaac and Janet & Mom with Isaac.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Before we headed home, we got to pay Tim, Janet and Isaac a brief visit. Now that Isaac's been cleaned up, he's donning a little hat that conceals the curly red hair underneath.

Timothy Isaac Arrives

I'm at Panera Bread (where there's free Wi-Fi) and it's a race between my Dad and me to see who will post the proud photos first.

I few out early this morning and arrived at the hospital about half an hour before Timothy Isaac made his entrance. They didn't have to induce labor, he came on his own and in his own good time.

He was 9lbs. 9 oz and was 21" long. He was born at 11:46am...just in time for lunch.

Everyone was present for the birth (except for Janet's Dad who is currently serving out a tour of duty in Iraq). When they let us up stairs we all gathered at the window and watched everything unfurl. The first shot...the first bath...etc.

Below are the first shots of my Nephew.

Here he is...Timothy Isaac Hood (this is just the beginning)

A proud (new) Grandmother embraces Tim as he arrives to tell us that he's a Daddy. Some of the first - through the wire window shots. And Tim and the proud (new) Grandad sharing a laugh as they look on at the very chunky Timothy Isaac.

Role Call

Tim snapped a couple of pictures from the inside out of all us looking at him with baby. Clockwise, Anne and Hulyn (Tim's Godparents),Mom, Me, Dad and Mrs. Sewell (Janet's Mom).

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Antuan and Patti and Packing

I'm home packing...and adding one last entry in my Journal before I'm off to Richmond.

There's still no baby, so the plan is to induce tomorrow morning.

I'm packing up my suitcase...while watching a DVR'd episode of Supernatural.

Last night, on his night off, Antuan paid Gypsy a visit. It was so much fun for me to listen to him recount his experience at the show and how he watched the entire thing leaning forward on the edge of his seat.

The show closes Sunday night...I'd love to see it again - but there just aren't enough hours in the day.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Déjà vu

I’m on the Long Island Railroad heading away from Manhattan and out to Patchogue, NY.

Know where that is?

Yeah, me either.

I do have some idea...I have been out this way before.

Recently I've become addicted to Google Earth...check it out some time (visit: . Look up Long Island, NY. I believe it's the country's biggest island. It's stretched out and NYC dwarfs in comparison.

I warm you now that Google Earth is addicting.

I’m on my way to Gateway Playhouse (visit: to see Antuan in Dreamgirls. The Off-Broadway show he's been in, In The Heights, (visit: ) has closed to get ready for it’s move to Broadway and during the hiatus Antuan has opened in Dreamgirls. He's playing multiple roles in the ensemble and is also the show’s dance captain.

The show runs another week or so but this coming Wednesday I’m off to Richmond for the arrival of my nephew. So…making up for last weekend, I’m getting to see the show tonight.

It was almost a year ago that I was on the LIRR to see Antuan in La Cage aux Folles. Our first real date was the two hour train ride back to Manhattan. So… I’m sensing a bit of déjà vu as I ride a long. The train is slow moving, with a lot of stops, but it's a nice ride. We just passed the famed town of Amityville a few stops ago.

My Nephew’s still just a bun in the oven but he’s due any day. If he doesn’t arrive in the next day or so the labor will be induced on Wednesday.

My Mom and Dad arrived from Africa last night. So we’re all gathering for the kid’s arrival.

From what Tim tells me…the kid is a biggum’. A true “Hood.” Janet started having contractions 15 days ago, so we all thought he’d arrive early. I told Tim and Janet if they wanted to get all this over with they could just coax the kid out with a pork chop. It is a Hood after all.

Yet, still…the baby is staying put. So…he’s stubborn too (like a Hood).

On a totally unrelated note…

Man, I’m getting old. It seems to have happened all the sudden. I was trimming my facial hair yesterday and I noticed that I have a lot of grey/white hair coming in. I can trick myself into believing that it’s blonde hair.

When did this happen? It does seem like it happened over night.

And on another, completely unrelated note…I'm jumping all over the place with news this time...

I’ve finished my first week working in White Plains. I’ve got the commuting in my grasps. That’s not to say that I’ve got it mastered – I still end up either being really early or really late – but I’m getting it.

I’ve doing a lot of reading on the train. I just finished The Alchemist and I’m half way through Kevin Sessum’s amazing memoir, Mississippi Sissy. It is a very honest look at growing up gay in the South. Reflecting back on his childhood during the Civil Rights movement he shares the reality of living on the outside looking in. I'm really enjoying it.

I’m still not on the whole Harry Potter kick, but if I was, I’d have the new one almost finished - I'm telling you the commute is a great way to work through your own personal library. I’m actually a few books behind in the whole Potter-craze. To not allow myself to buy into the hype, I made a deal with myself that I would only ready them in paperback. So I’ve still got the Order of Phoenix to get to…eventually.

And that's it...

More from Richmond, VA.


So...the cast of Dreamgirls gets from their compound digs to the theater via a Yellow Short Bus. When I arrived at the station Antuan (a.k.a. "Roscoe the Bus Drive" - the show's chauffeur) was there to pick me up.

The town of Bellport (where the Gateway Playhouse is located) is quiet. Walking down the street you hear birds chirping...there's a nice breeze blowing through all the's a really nice escape from NYC.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Wal-Mart of White Plains

I love when people visit, call or e-mail and are truly inquisitive about NYC living. Some people read this BLOG for that very experience. People always write and say that they feel like they can live vicariously through me.

Now that I'm settling into my commute to White Plains, NY I thought I'd snap a picture of something I would not normally feel an urge to photograph.


This is the closest Wal-Mart to Manhattan but with space at a premium there it was still designed vertically. Smart.

Friday, July 20, 2007

GYPSY...What Can I Say That Hasn't Been Said?

I just got in from working all day and then going straight to the theater. I had a cheap $25 ticket to see Patti LuPone in GYPSY. I must confess that I thought I was much too tired to see and/or enjoy the show. The week had caught up with me and even the 25 minute nap on MetroNorth wasn't enough to get me excited about seeing one of my favorite actresses in one of my favorite musicals.

But...I pressed on.

I got to the theater in plenty of time to be disappointed by my seat. I felt like I was 1/2 a mile from the stage but at $25 - how could I argue.

The moment the Overture began everything changed and I do mean everything. My fatigue and even my seat seemed to lift.

Tonight will go down as one of the best nights of theater in my life. Seeing Patti LuPone in this much-heralded role that "she was born to play" was absolutely thrilling. She was perfection.

It is late and I need to go to bed (dentist appointment tomorrow before work) but I need to share something that will capture the experience. Alot has already been written about this limited run performance - so I thought I would share some clips of the Reviews.

If you're in or around NYC...hell, even if you're not...if you love musical theater - this is a show that should not be missed.

Michael Kuchwara in the Associated Press:
"There is no musical-theater performer more determined than Patti LuPone. Her drive can invest a character — whether it's Eva Peron, Norma Desmond or Mrs. Lovett — with an intense theatricality that is thrilling to watch. And those thrills are present in City Center's overwhelming revival of Gypsy, the King Lear of musicals. . . . LuPone doesn't shrink from Rose's obsessiveness, but the actress makes you understand the almost pathological compulsion that makes her shove her two daughters — first June and then Louise — into the spotlight. LuPone knows how to act the part of Rose and to sing it, too. . . . Still, in the end, Gypsy is LuPone's show, most dramatically in 'Rose's Turn,' the stunning musical soliloquy that ends the evening. It's here where Rose pours out her true feelings, letting the rage and frustration of a stymied life explode. And LuPone's powerhouse delivery is dynamite."

Matt Windman in AM New York:
"But how can we best describe LuPone's performance? She combines Rose's frustrated fury and vulnerable emotions with the polish and authority of an actress who has been ready to play the role for years. In short, she is absolutely thrilling."

Joe Dziemianowicz in the Daily News:
"Whether Patti LuPone was destined to play the steam-rolling Rose who pushes her daughters to be famous in the 1920s and '30s, who knows? But she's mesmerizing singing and acting the role created in 1959 by Ethel Merman. LuPone's work never feels like a performance. From the first line, 'Sing out, Louise,' to her final knockout number, 'Rose's Turn,' she creates a Rose you can relate to and empathize with."

Frank Scheck in the New York Post:
"When this indomitable actress finished her tour de force rendition of 'Rose's Turn,' the audience rose for a spontaneous standing ovation. LuPone acknowledged the applause fully in character as the self-aggrandizing Mama Rose, bowing floridly and in effect incorporating us into her character's elaborate fantasy. It is one of many memorable moments in the show . . . . LuPone, as might be imagined, is a powerhouse in the role, singing the hell out of the classic Styne/Sondheim score and giving a portrayal that easily ranks as one of the best Roses ever."

Linda Winer in Newsday:
"The idea that someone was 'born to play' a character sounds like hyped-up old nonsense — until, that is, Patti LuPone grabs the cliche in her bared teeth and scares the banalities away as Mama Rose in Gypsy. How is it that this force of nature is just now taking her turn in what's arguably the greatest musical-female role in probably the most satisfying backstage musical of the American golden age? . . . . LuPone's Rose is indomitable, as required. Along with the ruthlessness, there is a grand playfulness. She's a stage mother who will do just about anything to make her girls into stars so that, as she tellingly blurts out, 'So we'd be a star.' But she's also a lot of fun, which goes a long way toward explaining why Herbie and all the unpaid kids in her pathetic act could have stuck with her through thin and thinner. She wears a Louise Brooks haircut and the uninhibited sexuality of a lady trucker. When she finally takes the solo spotlight for 'Rose's Turn,' the power of her multicolored voice and the strength of her personality make a visceral connection to all our mothers who were 'born too early and started too late.'"

Ben Brantley in The New York Times:
"Ms. LuPone has endowed the thwarted Rose with charm, sensuality, a sense of humor, a startling lack of diva vanity and even a spark of bona fide mother love. . . . This Gypsy is especially good on shining a light on family frictions, and Ms. LuPone contributes beautifully to this dynamic. The early scene in which she sends both her young daughters to bed, focusing the beam of her affection exclusively on June, tells you everything you need to know about this prickly parent-child triangle and the problems it’s bound to generate. Ms. LuPone has other such moments throughout. Her scenes with Mr. Gaines are uniformly excellent. (I'll never forget her Rose, suggesting an abandoned army tank, standing in a dressing room after Herbie walks out on her.) And she brings a harrowing psychological nakedness to the big nervous-breakdown number, 'Rose's Turn.'"

David Rooney in Variety:
"Ever since she seized Broadway stardom by the throat in her career-making turn as Evita in 1979, Patti LuPone has made it clear the footlights are her lifeblood. So it's unsurprising that this indomitable performer connects fiercely with Rose, the ultimate spotlight-seeker and mother of all stage mothers. . . . But the success of any production of Gypsy is determined primarily by its Rose. LuPone earns her place in the pantheon of the role's memorable interpreters, nailing the brash comedy, the cruel tyranny, the child-like need for attention and, finally, the crushing disappointment. . . . in both the deluded triumph of 'Everything's Coming Up Roses' and the shattered self-exposure of 'Rose's Turn,' when she finally acknowledges all her clawing at success has been for herself, she's mesmerizing."

Peter Marks in the Washington Post:
"To an impressive gallery of Broadway performances that encompasses Evita Peron and Sondheim's meat-pie maven Mrs. Lovett, LuPone adds her movingly take-charge Momma Rose. The character's anger has rarely felt so transparent. Nothing halfway clings to this earthy interpretation. LuPone's Rose smiles, even manages to beam at times, but it's a harsher essence, one bordering on manic depression, that envelops the portrayal. As a result, the finales Rose is given in each act — 'Everything's Coming Up Roses' at the end of Act 1, and especially, 'Rose's Turn' in Act 2 —benefit especially well from LuPone's power-belting, the sense that the songs don't merely rise from her lungs but also from her ankles. You're left with the thoroughly discomfiting sense of a woman of terrifying entitlement."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Well...There's Good News and Bad News

Which do you want first?

The GOOD news...well, I have a phone. Finally. It took a couple of days...but I'm connected again.

The BAD news...right now I shouldn't be writing...I should be out on Long Island at Dreamgirls. I needed to be on the Long Island Railroad at 11:51. I left a hour early but it just takes one 'Police Incident' or train back up to throw you off. I walked into Penn Station at 11:54, having just missed my train.

I could've taken a later train but that would've meant missing more than half of the show. The ticket is good for 180, I'll be using it next weekend.

Yesterday was my last day at my first TCS store located in Manhattan on Lexington Avenue. I've been there since before the store opened...when it was all wet paint and scaffolding. Tomorrow I'll be start my commuting life to my new store in White Plains. There's a lot of excitement about the new position but I couldn't leave the store without some tears. The store has been my home for over a year and half and the staff of store has become like extended family. I'll miss them...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Day Off...New A/C and No Phone

So today was one of the those extremely low key kinda of days.

My phone was killed by water damage (or so the folks at Verizon tell me). I haven't been swimming with it or anything but that's the listed cause of death. Having budgeted my July, I didn't allow for replacing a phone.

Considering I was one of the last people on the planet to get one - I'm just going to relive those days again for a week or so. It isn't the end of the world - though it is funny how quickly you become dependent on something.

Today I made a connection and got a air conditioner for cheap. A husband and wife we're moving to Philly and it wasn't going with them. So...I walked across the island and then jumped a bus over to the far west side.

They lived in an elevator building - nice plus when carrying a a/c unit. I had money set aside of the air conditioner but didn't want to take a taxi unless I absolutely had to. As I walked out of the building there was a bus waiting. I hopped on...road down a few blocks and then jumped onto another bus that would take me back to the east side. The bus (the M116) actually takes me a block from my apartment.

The unit is now in the window and my living room can actually be lived in.

The hottest days arrived earlier this week and they were stifling. I knew I would need some relief before we get any further into July.

Now it has arrived...hand delivered by yours truly.

I jumped in the shower and made a quick run down to Bryant Park for Broadway In The Park. The cast of IN THE HEIGHTS was performing and I got there just in time to catch the last song. After the performance I got to see most of the cast and catch up briefly.

It's been a good day of do nothing.

Monday, July 09, 2007

You read it here FIRST...

In just a few hours I will be in a store-wide meeting. We'll be covering lots of different things - but the meeting will wrap up with an announcement. An announcement that will have me leaving New York City.

During this meeting it will be announced that I've accepted a promotion and new position with The Container Store family. Starting next Monday I will be a Sales Trainer for TCS and will be working out of our store in White Plains, NY.

So...technically, I'm not leaving NYC - I just added that for dramatic effect. I'm keeping my apartment and my life in the city will stay, pretty much, the same. I am trading in my 15 minute commute downtown for a hour long commute outside of the city.

I am very excited about this new chapter and so thrilled that the opportunity was presented to me and I had so many champions along the way orchestrated a move that would benefit me and the company.

This new position will allow me to work with the store in White Plains and other stores across the country, helping to ensure that both our employees and our customers have all the tools they need to be successful.

In other news...

-The baby's coming...still. More on that when it happens.

-TRANSFORMERS was awesome. I had a great time seeing the 80's fleshed out in a whole new way in 2007. I look forward to feature film versions of the Thundercats, the Smurfs and He-Man and She-Ra.

-It's hot. No getting around it. Last week's INCREDIBLY cool weather is gone and the humidity is back and on it's way to hitting the temperatures where I start swearing. So many people think that NYC is a weird city...with weird people. I don't think that NYC is any weirder than the next city. We may just have more crazy per square mile. The other day I was walking down the side walk and the man in front of me was yapping away on his cell phone. Nothing weird about that, right?


Well...when I looked closer...I noticed that this well-dressed, professional, middle-aged business man was talking on the phone, yes, but he was also doing double duty carrying his water bottle...on his head.

I guess he needed his other hand to gesture with while on the phone. Because it's NYC and it's me...I whipped out my camera and snapped a picture to share with you.

Here he is...sidewalk weird has never looked so Brooks Brothers. You will see my store, at 58th and Lexington in the background.
Here's a snap shot of my NEW store in White Plains, NY. The suburbs are calling my more Yellow Cabs.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Any moment now...I will be an Uncle.

The contractions started yesterday. I was really hoping that my nephew would make his debut tomorrow. How cool would it be to have birthday of 7's?


Talked to my brother and all's well. They've been to the hospital and they've been sent back home. They're doing lots of walking and any time now.

In completely unrelated news...

I'm seeing Transformers tonight with some friends from work. Words can't describe how excited I was to know that some of my favorite childhood icons were coming to the big screen. Last night I stopped by the theater to pick up my ticket (just anticipating tonight's crowd) and I was walking to the theater - Christian Slater was walking right towards me.

Only in NYC.

A couple nights ago...I was saying goodnight to some friends staying on the Upper West Side and I decided to walk through the park to the East side (my side of town) instead of taking the subway. As I walked along 82nd street, I noticed some runners stretching. I was plugging in my iPod when I realized that one of the was Matt Dillion.

Again...only in NYC.

On the theater side of things...

I was at the closing of IN A DARK, DARK HOUSE last night. Amazing cast and incredibly dark and real play. I remain completely in awe of Frederick Weller. I think he may just about be one of the best stage actors of my generation. I saw him in TAKE ME OUT years ago. Edward Albee's SEASCAPE last year. A couple of months ago he was on Broadway in SOME MEN. He's just incredible to watch on stage.

My new roommate Thomas celebrated the 4th of July with me a the musical, GREY GARDENS. It was my second visit to the Beales and one I was glad I made given the recent notice that the show will close at the end of month.

It's summertime which means lots of shows will close...making way for whatever's show that still needs a home on Broadway is IN THE HEIGHTS. So...fingers crossed...

More later...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

On Broadway...

There are a lot of people who check out my little litter corner of the read up on my theater life here in NYC.

This year's theater season was really exciting for me. I've written about seeing GREY GARDENS and but have only skimmed over some others.

Always scooping out a deal...I've been able to see see some remarkable theater this season. One of the shows that stands out to me is 110 IN THE SHADE starring Audra McDonald. I've been a fan of hers for years and have most of her albums but this show marked this first time I got to see her on stage.

The show (written by the same guy who brought us the longest running musical in history, The Fantasticks) is a very old fashion musical. You know, in your heart and gut, how it will end but that doesn't diminish the journey of getting there.

During intermission I found that I had tears on my cheeks. Not from the story or the music - though they were strong enough to warrant the emotion - but rather from Ms. McDonald's performance. I was speechless. I have never seen a performance like it. Imagine when you were a kid and you first saw a magic trick and you believed in believed in the magic.

That's what it was like watching Audra McDonald embody the character of Lizzie on stage. It seemed beyond real. Otherworldly. Her voice and presence is both powerful and effortless. You realize, while watching her, that you are truly in the presence of greatness and amazing talent.

Colorblind casting only enriches the experience of this story. The honesty and rawness of the roles roped me from the beginning. It is a simple, classic love story that invites - begs - you to let yourself go and enjoy the realness.


It closes this weekend and I am so glad I got to see it today.

Christopher Plummer and Brian Dennehy on stage together. I'd heard of the play (based of the famous Money Trial of a teacher accused of teaching evolution in the 1930's) but I had never seen it staged or even read it.

The play is incredibly powerful and charged with emotion. Getting to see two power-house actors in this play was truly an incredible theatrical experience. Both men carried themselves with such respect.

Recently I got to see the play, THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING with Vanessa Redgrave portraying Joan Diddion (who's memoir the play is based on). Watching Ms. Redgrave I was struck by her grace. The way she carries herself is almost stately. You respect her without even knowing her.

That's how I felt about watching both Mr. Plummer and Mr. Dennehy on stage. A class act.

Both plays were very powerful and, honestly, out of the norm for what I usually see. I'm so glad I took the detour.