Thanks ADHD: Forgot Nearly $30 Whole Food Groceries

Eating two scoops of cookie dough ice cream for breakfast was the worst idea. Consumption of sweets has had an affect on my function, driving my anxiety and depression to levels of turmoil. It can weigh me down into inactivity or numb up my interest in life.

This evening, I ventured a few blocks down to the Harlem Whole Food, looking forward to  restocking on pasta and meats (I was undergoing a protein craving). I remember pulling out a cart, exploring the aisles, comparing the whole grain linguini with normal linguini (okay, which will benefit me more), and then I stood at the check-out line, frustrated that a lady stole my spot on cash register 4.

I remembered that the bag was heavy and I couldn’t wait to get home. Then I saw I was walking down the wrong street. Where was the Apollo Theater? Where was the Marshall? That McDonalds sure don’t look familiar. I corrected my direction.

And then as I lugged the bag upstairs to my apartment, I was ready to throw myself on bed…

Only to find that my pasta, chicken broth, and grape juice had vanished. I brought home about $20 of the $50 groceries.

Damn it. Damn me. ADHD can provoke my “just get it over it” eagerness when I left the Whole Food building. I missed that I was supposed to take home a second bag.

Having a bout of dullness, depression that day, I was tempted to just call it a day and throw myself on bed. But that meant accepting loss. And this also meant depriving my roommates of our community food supply.

So, with the receipt, I had to make a second trip to Whole Foods under the hot sun. Luckily, the cash register recognized me and kindly pointed me to the customer service line, where I stood for ten minutes tapping my foot. Next thing I knew, I was lugging an additional heavy bag of $30 groceries home.

The Morals of This Story

  • Double-check groceries.
  • To reduce the carrying load while keeping my pantry stocked, I have to plan out multiple Whole Foods trip, scattered through the week. Just bring home a juice on Monday, a carton of eggs on Wednesday, maybe cilantro and raw chicken on Friday.
  • Using the HANDHELD BASKET instead of the CART would gauge better if I could functionally lug stuff home without ripping at my shoulders. Using a cart with its high capacity would make me greedily just scoop products that weigh more than me.
  • I need to workout, lift dumbbells.

THE COMET OF 1812 on the Day of Oak Onaodowan’s Final Bow

in the Dave Malloy’s Natasha and Pierre in the Comet of 1812 works on a rudimentary opera plot with hard-on archetypes, lifted from about 40-70 pages (according to reported estimates from the mouth of its previous leading star Josh Groban) of Leo Tolstoy’s doorstopping War and Peace.

But while I am not normally a fan of soap-operatic beats in musicals, the quality and originality of the plot of Comet of 1812 is nearly irrelevant to the intended sensory-immersive experience of the musical, which, through its non-proscenium stage design, unravels the meta-awareness of the function of theater to its delightful extreme, so the plot is more or less just a vehicle of the experience.

So I witnessed the August 13 matinee.

Pre-Show

Waiting at the door, waiting at the door, waiting… #broadway @greatcometbway

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It starts with me forgetting my Dracula paperback, which I intended to read while waiting for the show to start in the Imperial Theater.

So I uploaded War and Peace on my IBooks and begun the first chapter.

Once I entered the theater toward my mezzanine seat, I noted that a man in front of me took out his DSLR and snapped a blatant flash photography. And I immediately inquired him if photography was actually allowed in here, since going off on one previous Broadway experience (Catch Me If You Can), theaters tended to be strict about snapping photos of the theater. But I found that as long there are no actors on stage, photography was a yes.

So I captured this Russian club design. I’m used to the standard prosceniums, boxes, thrust stages, but I’ve never seem anything like this before. The layout allows as much audience omniscience to the audience interaction as it can.

The view from my mezzanine seat. Didn't think they would allow pre-show photography. #broadway @greatcometbway

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And then the actors popped out. One actor threw boxes of dumplings at the crowd (unfortunately I wasn’t one of the lucky ones who caught it) and instructed them to eat them at home. They traveled to the seating to relay safety instructions, including the warnings of a strobe light effect. An actor came up near our aisle to point out, “show happens here, keep feet, bags, personalities within your area so I can live.”

And the siren blared. Showtime was near.

Act 1 begins…

“Prologue” – Ensemble

Once the grand doors opened, Okieriete Onaodowan as Pierre emerges with his accordion and his spectacles. Everyone in the room showered him with the obligatory thunderous “it’s his final day” applause before he even squeezed the accordion as Benton as Natasha entered with Andrei (Nicolas Belton, who also doubles as crazy Bolkonsky, Andrei’s father).

There were also mad cheers for Sonya’s Ingrid Michaelson, whom I also learned shortly during pre-show that she was also undergoing her final performance.

“Pierre” – Pierre, Ensemble

What I found to be a really clever visual that prevails throughout most of the opening is that Pierre sings “frozen at the center” right as he plays the piano at the core of the stage and stays there for quite some time.

“Moscow” – Marya D., Natasha, Sonya

So finally seeing the context of the lyrics play set some perspective. When I initially listened to the pre-Broadway soundtrack with Dave Malloy,

But now seeing the mechanics of the stage and the abstract blocking with concrete lyrics makes it come together.

“The Private and Intimate Life of the House” – Bolkonsky, Mary

This number in the soundtrack particular broke me, because I knew in this play, while Mary (played by a sweet sounding Courtney Bassett here) at least mends her first bad impression with Natasha, Mary’s misery never receives its resolution or salvation, unlike the original book (yeah, by ironically marrying poor lonely Sonya’s old flame).

What occurs in this number is quite thematic to the later bigger picture, where Bolkonsky is this terrible senile old man who abuses his daughter, who is fully lucid about the drudgery of the task and only sincere piety and love keeps her going. But while I wouldn’t stay to care for a man like Bolkonsky, it’s a testament to Mary fortitude that she still decides to love him–“I dare to judge him, I disgust myself”–but it takes a lot of damn labor to do so.

Also, the really dark accusatory humor of the audience made the scene both cringey and chuckle-inducing, with Mary going down to one of the audience pit and an audience member suddenly becomes “her suitor” that Bolkonsky yells at, before the old man goes off and mimes seducing another audience member, provoking Mary to yells “She’s using you, Papa, wants your money, Papa!”

“Natasha & Bolkonskys” – Mary, Natasha, Bolkonsky

So this scene has Benton and Bassett enter through an occupied onstage tavern table seatings with stools, sitting alongside baffled audience members, singing their tension from across the table. This created a really unique effect during the repeat of “constrained, constrained,” when Bassett very visibly has to squeeze between too audience members chairs. It’s also really amusing to see the audience members scoot to make space. It’s incredible how they worked with the spatial relationship with the audience seating.

“No One Else” – Natasha

Do I really need to remind you how gorgeous Benton’s vocals are in this lovely innocent ballad where she sings to a lover who isn’t even there, making her sing to the concept of love more than to her love?

Also, at the beat where Benton sings, “We were angels once, don’t you remember?” she made eye contact with an audience member in the tavern pit and she gave a very comical visible nod, that was chuckle-worthy.

“The Opera” – Natasha, Sonya, Marya D., Hélène, Ensemble

I was really looking forward to seeing this sequence in particular due to its bizarre, deliberately spooky “true art is comprehensible” orchestration in the soundtrack. Yup, and despite some lyrics passing some context, it’s pretty weird, with like an archbishop dressed in a quilt and like random flushes of spotlights and black-outs.

If there is a song that sums up the entire musical, “The Opera” is the one. It’s completely a sensory experience at its most primal form, which is the goal of the Comet of 1812.

There’s a particularly extremely neat visuals not conveyed in the lyrics, where suddenly, in the middle of the opera, we see a dusty Andrei emerge and actors yanking red ribbons from his torn uniform and a distraught Natasha reaching toward him. This really works with the active spatiality versus the lyrical concrete spatiality (Natasha is technically sitting in the imaginary opera box according to lyrics, but blocking-wise, she’s in constant movement).

Right after the rather perplexing, nearly contextless scene, Natasha and Sonya’s verses poetically describes a meta-nod to the what the torrent of emotions that words can barely capture.

“I cannot follow the opera, or even listen to the music… so false and unnatural, and everyone else seems oblivious, yet everyone feigns delight… I’m feeling the flood of brilliant lights…”

And the immersive lighting illuminates all the strange wordless torrent that only Sonya could describe as “Natasha passing into a state of intoxication.” That’s the musical, invoking this drunkness, which you can’t explain.

And then there’s that pivotal inciting incident where, from an overwhelming flood of light from the grand door, “hot, spender of women and wine” Anatole (a gorgeous Lucas Steele) struts into the scene, literally in context of the opera and the entire show, in “the middle of the act.”

“Natasha & Anatole” – Natasha, Anatole

This was a really intense soap operatic moment, where the beats of clanks serve Natasha’s attempt to process these strange new feelings, and having been swarmed by the indecipherable emotions of the opera, starts to plunge into new sentiments with Anatole around. She misinterpret her stirrings, which the audience suspects is sexual tension, as a spark, for she has never been this close to a man, or even has a man approach her in this manner.

I winced when Anatole playfully demanded her hair-flower as a pledge to see him again. And then he plucks it without her consent. But subtly enough, he does return it to her, and that baits her trust.

(It’s worth noting that right here this was the estimated chasm of the cut song “Natasha Lost,” which I believe was reduced to a few verses here).

“The Duel” – Anatole, Dolokhov, Pierre, Hélène, Ensemble

In a deliberate shower of excess, this marks the really discomforting strobe-light scene and Russians dashing into the scene with modern club get-up. And Hamilton-style, there’s a duel (without the casualties or the tides of history) between Dolokhov and Pierre, with the latter miraculously winning despite all odds against him.

There was particular point where about 10 rows down from me, Onaodowan just suddenly popped up before my eyes, and I was too busied with below active flashy scenery to process that he climbed to the mezzanine seating area.

“Dust and Ashes” – Pierre, Ensemble

Ah, the golden song number I was looking forward to, as this was the first song number I discovered of the musical.

Onaodowan, almost like Dave Malloy, has a very guttural voice, and he consistently embodies this lost and drained-of-life man locked in a constant search to fulfill his soul, humiliated that his thoughtless revelry and reckless suicidal pursuit of a fatal game was nothing more but a shallow distraction, something that did make him happy.

I got goosebumps when the angelic chorus of the ensemble, who were standing in shadows a few feet away from me, vocalized.

“Sunday Morning” – Natasha, Sonya, Marya D.

Grace McLean as Marya bombastic “Time for church” makes me laugh.

“Charming” – Hélène

Amber Gray as Helene is killer here. I also have this Twitter note.

“The Ball” – Natasha, Anatole

So this is where I get to a nitpick. When the ensemble ventured to the front of the mezzanine area to waltz in front of us, I couldn’t really see the action down on the central stage where Natasha and Anatole dance. It might have been different for those on seatings above me.

“There is no barrier between us.” Yeah, well, there was a barrier between me and the view.

Act II

“Letters” – Natasha, Pierre, Mary, Anatole, Ensemble

So as Natasha reads a letter, she climbed to the mezzanine area and I was hoping she might get close to my area. Alas, she only went to the length of the front mezzanine.

So I was saddened that I wasn’t one of those in the audience who got a letter. It rubbed salt in the wounds when I saw an audience later at the backstage door getting her prop letter signed by the actors.

I almost missed it, focusing on the letter-giving around me and praying that a letter would reach me, but the audience just bust into random applause and I couldn’t see the context. My guess is that it was because of Lucas Steele’s reentrance because it was around that time he was initiating one of the musical’s most powerful riff. Everyone loved his repetition of “Just say yeeeeeeeeeees.”

“Sonya & Natasha” – Sonya, Natasha

Admittedly, when listening to the soundtrack, I kinda burst out laughing when Natasha childishly and churlishly goes straight for the “I hate you, you’re my enemy forever,” a line from the source material. And seeing this live… yeah, dramatically narmy here.

“Sonya Alone” – Sonya

She may lack Brittain Ashford’s inherent inflection timidity (casting-wise, this is nothing against Michaelson’s abilities), but Michaelson has a sweet, gorgeous voice filled with loyalty and brokenness over the lost of her friend. Again, as this was Michaelson final performance, there was a huge pause to applaud for her.

“Preparations,” “Balaga,” and “The Abduction” – Balaga, Anatole, Dolokhov, Ensemble

And like me not getting a letter, I didn’t get one of the egg-shaped shakers in the Pass Me baskets. I am sad. I didn’t get dumplings, shakers, or a letter.

Also, during the “wait, we have to shut the door, and sit down, it’s a Russian custom,” Antatole took his seat next to a woman in the banquette seating. And he smiles at her, and she actually smiles at him back. And he mimes putting his arm over her shoulder.

“In My House” – Marya D., Natasha, Sonya

I have to say, the sequence is as uncomfortable and intense as it was in the soundtrack and Marya really sells it.

“Pierre & Anatole” – Pierre, Anatole

Steele hits a particularly phenomenally high note at the end.

“Pierre & Andrey” – Andrey, Pierre

Oh hai, Andrei, how’s the war going?

I got particular chills at how Onaodowan’s delivers “And he [Andrei] smiled maliciously like his father,” which calls back to the actor doubling as the cruel father, to refuse to forgive Natasha. After all, it’s awful that a man claims a moral and then openly admits that he can’t even try to commit to it.

“Pierre & Natasha” – Pierre, Natasha

God damnit, Pierre telling Natasha that he would ask for her love. It’s the payoff to “Dust and Ashes” and Natasha’s dream of love. Natasha doesn’t just receive emotional recovery just because that a man has persuaded her of her worth, but that now she herself has seen what love truly is. It doesn’t come in the fanciful form of seizing her away from the function of life to an immediate flight or flattery that silences her. It comes in the wordless form of distance and time and that there’s a wait to it. It takes its time to just look at her straight in the eyes. Love is not this game of irrationality. Love is beyond reason, but it works toward reason. Pierre, in turn, finally wakes up. Because we’re asleep until we fall in love.

And this gets to brilliance of extracting only a fraction of a long novel. I’ve seen a decent Tolstoy’s opera adaptation of Anna Karenina that crammed in its plot beats. Most book-to-musicals adaptations would compress in all the beginnings, middles, and end.

And this serves the dynamic between Natasha and Pierre. Note that this is the only scene in the play where they truly meet face-to-face, despite the allusion to previous meetings and more interaction in the novel, with them as family friends/acquaintances. They met before, but we’re literally seeing them see each other for the first time.

But by never showing the matrimony that Pierre and Natasha are fated to in the source material, we’re left with something inconclusive yet hopeful. It didn’t matter if Natasha would say yes or no to Pierre, or that Pierre would even get the girl and a happy marriage, it mattered that they attained a purer vision of love.

“The Great Comet of 1812” – Pierre, Ensemble

And like a comet, it’s gone, all over. There’s nothing but the cast, the audience, and Onaodowan staring up at a never-to-last glow, an alleged omen that Pierre chooses to see as an optimistic spark.

Post-Performance

To my delight, perhaps maybe because the show was nearing closing, but Denee Benton emerged and it’s reportedly rare that she ever comes out to do autographs.

Natasha's young… #deneebenton

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Lucas Steele just whizzed past by without making eye contact with everyone and didn’t touch the playbills extended to him. At first, I thought he may have been too busy and just wanted to leave. But turns out, he just preferred to start signing and selfie-ing down the other side.

Anatole is hot, but I wouldn't date him since he spends his money on women and wine.

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Ingrid Michaelson emerged to sign autographs though security notified us that she had no time to poise selfies.

Ingrid Michaelson, we were allowed to take photos but no selfies.

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I was so starstruck by Onaodowan’s emergence. By coincidence, the backstage door was right next to the Richard Rodgers theater playing Hamilton, where he once played Hercules Mulligan. I could even hear the cheers of fans standing at the barriers as Hamilton actors emerged.

I wanted to do a selfie video, but it went so fast and I wasn’t sure if he and I were able to process if a stable shot took place.

Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan went by so fast to attend to fans. This was his final day as Pierre.

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Thus, this shaky result on Instagram.

Like a comet vanishing into the void, it’s all over.

Miscellaneous Musings

  • I believe it was around the “Opera” sequence, but there is a cool effect where the lantern-candle down the glass tables started to flicker, making it clear it wasn’t just decoration, it was a stealthily a function of the entire lightning design.

Theater houses need quaint tables like these! #broadway @greatcometbway

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  • I regret not taking a photo, but they had a vendor lady with one of those snack-boxes. So yes, they sold snacks inside the theater. It had Russian fare like… Pringles, M&Ms, and Twizzlers. Russian food is weird.
  • I suspect that pre-show/intermission photos were permitted for marketing purposes. I mean, look at the likes on my Instagram photos!
  • I laughed when I saw paperbacks of War and Peace books at the merchandizing table. Because the Imperial Theater had Wifi, I uploaded a Gutenberg copy of the public domain book for, like, $0.

And I’m still returning to the story.

Fresh from the COMET OF 1812…

As the Hamilton lyric goes, I initially restrained myself with a “wait for it” attitude. I made the mistake of assuming that Dave Malloy’s acclaimed immersive Broadway production of Natasha and Pierre and the Comet of 1812 would outlive 2017.

But with word of the show closing’s on September 3, right in the middle of one of my first nights in NYC, I suddenly could afford a $110 ticket for August 13th, which was the day of Okieriete Onaodowan’s final tune and last bow as the leading role of Pierre.

Because I can pick up the source material Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace anytime, but the Great Comet is not here to stay.

So I leave this musing before I delve deeper tomorrow.

The musical blockbuster Hamilton is borderline inaccessible to me. The closest and most affordable availability of Hamilton tickets lies around and over $540 for 2018 showings or the daily digital lotteries where, if won, a ticket is $10. But at least with the prosceniums of Hamilton, Lion King, and Wicked, their contents can be packaged easily into tour productions. Even Fun Home‘s thrust stage-format is translatable to the proscenium-traditional format to go on tour.

But a stylized stage like the Great Comet is so unique that it appears stationary and exclusive to where it is. How do you take and tour this production beyond the design of the Imperial Theater?

Act 1 has ended. @greatcometbway

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Everything went by, ephermal, like a comet. As in the realm of theater, you can never rewind it again. It’s all left in the visage of memory.

More thoughts tomorrow on the overall dazzling experience. 

And if you will excuse me, I’m going to go read War and Peace on IBooks.

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Top Remorses Upon Settling in NYC

  1. DID I MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION? WAS I TOO RECKLESS IN MOVING?
  2. I should’ve just gone all hippie and crafted a floor bed rather than deal with assembling this puzzle of a bed rack, which scarred my hands.
  3. Damnit should have finished my Star Wars fan fiction before I get racked with time.
  4. Should’ve applied for more jobs. Then maybe, JUST MAYBE, I’ll snag just one job interview.
  5. Dang it, brooms and soap at this store are 15 cent cheaper…
  6. Hey roommate, this is a safe neighborhood right? Should we have settled near that police station?
  7. My roommates has cats? Oh no, where are my kitty treats?
  8. Did I move close enough to that Whole Foods to save me walking distance?
  9. DID I MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION LEAVING BEHIND TEXAS?
  10. Did I say goodbye to my friends in the right way?

 

Final Texas outing with friend on the eve of move.

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BRIEF thoughts: 2017 CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS adaptation

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is crisp, cartoony animation that somehow tickles you into making a doofy smile, without making you feel like a doof.

So to… debrief you, the Dreamworks production of Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is over-saturated with gags, with many source material contents (about the first four books) tightly compressed. The plot zig-zags like a pinball without inertia trying to score everything all at once, and it has little breathing space to process some of the gags. It’s a succession of ludicrous plot turns as vehicles for rapid sight gags, juvenile comedy, toilet humor, clearly compiled for fans of the Dav Pilkey books, though any parent who hasn’t read the books, which had surfaced on Banned Books List, but forced to tag along with their children at the theater, will go, “Huh?”

But there’s something to be said about an adaptation that shamelessly hurls every joke-firecracker at you, with the plot on speedy Mad-Libs, and celebrates its unstructured imagination, like doodles gone wild or a comedian that doesn’t pause to give their audience a breath. It doesn’t feel like it sinks into low-brow humor. It revels in it, complete with an orchestra of whoopie cushions. The zany, boneless plot is the lifeblood of this film, a wild escapism. Perhaps, bizarre, considering its source material, and deliberation in its breathless pacing, but I felt it could use more discipline in allowing its viewer to absorb the jokes and space to chuckle.

Otherwise, it’s still fun.

 

Remember the Alamo: Never Found the Knife I Wanted

So weathered in the sun. So sandy-colored, crinkled. So proud.

Texas history was my most favorite chapter in the Social Studies textbook. I sung the legends of Davy Crockett and James Bowie. I sang the ballads in music class.

Visiting the Alamo is making a pilgrimage to ancient geeky Texas history nostalgia.

 

When I visited the gift shop, I wanted one of those lovely Bowie knives in the glass case. Ooooo, but $110 dollars. Besides, what would I even do with it?

So I settle for searching through the 14.99 jack-knives with the custom names.

But no “Carol.” Connor, Christ, Adam, James… No female-names found on the knives. Sure, maybe I should settle for the knives with “I HEART ALAMO” or just the plain “C.” But never seeing my name, let alone a female-name on the knives, disillusioned me into leaving the Alamo empty-handed.