Sunday, October 21

Pluses and minuses.


The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy. I just finished this fun, knock-your-socks-off little book from the 1950s, recently reissued. Sally Jay Gorce is perhaps the most dynamo narrator I've come across since reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time a few years back.

Pushing Daisies on ABC. If you can get past the fact that every episode is basically an hour-long Walgreens commercial (seriously, is it the same narrator?), it's really a charming show. I like it, which means it will be canceled very soon.


Being sick. I've been laid up with a fever/sore throat/stuffy nose/general unpleasantness which refuses to go away. Today I could barely speak, and when I can't speak, I can't write, because I always sing when I write, which is a problem, because I have much to do. Also, today, I had bought two -- yes, two! -- tickets to shows (I never buy tickets to shows) which I had to skip out on because I was immobilized with illness. So I missed I Love a Piano, an Irving Berlin revue a friend of mine is conducting, and Ivo van Hove's The Misanthrope at New York Theatre Workshop, which I was really looking forward to. I may even have to drop another $20 to see it before it goes away. Damn germs.

Well, wasn't that interesting. Aren't you glad you stopped by to read all about my glamourous life? ; )

Tuesday, October 2

Sophie's choice.

It's only just hit me, sort of, that I've written a bunch of musicals.

This morning, I woke up, and dropped a copy of Musical A in the mail to a producer who'd been asking after it. I swung by the dayjob, then had a meeting about Musical B with my playwright collaborator, came home, spent the afternoon writing a song for Musical C, then went to a presentation of Musical D, complete with a live orchestra, to hear its orchestration for the first time.

Someone very recently (I think it was last night, even) asked me which of my musicals was my favorite. Which show, which collaboration. And I found I couldn't answer: it was like I was faced with the question of choosing which child I liked better than the others. I felt guilty even thinking about picking one.

I'm not actually a parent, but maybe this is what it's like.

Or, not really, because shows tend to fall in and out of your mind. And my idea of my "favorite" tends to be whatever is in front of me. Like, tonight's orchestra presentation was for Ethan Frome, which I haven't written anything for in a year. It's just been out there, doing non-writerly things, and in the meantime, I've written 1-and-a-half new shows, and started work on another still.

But then, like children, the shows like different things; they all have different personalities and grow up in different ways. One's just got a demo CD, but one's got an orchestra. With an oboe. How can you not love a kid with an oboe more than a kid without an oboe?

Like siblings, there's always a tendency to compare.

I know: it's like a Bar Mitzvah. Bear with me: it's like, tonight, Ethan Frome had its Bar Mitzvah. It's Ethan's moment, and the other kids, though I love them dearly, will just have to sit quietly for the evening as Ethan gets lots of kisses and fountain pens.

But then I feel bad neglecting the other children, so I have to come home and give them some of the attention they'd been screaming out for while Ethan read his haftorah.

OK, maybe I'm gonna be a bad parent.

Or, maybe this is simply the complicated joy of parenthood. The pleasure of watching each kid grow into their own, unique personage. Of liking one kid because he lends himself to the oboe, and one because he's got that lyric in him. One because you see so much of yourself in him, and another because he's clearly a product of so many people.

So, I've raised a little family. Of musicals. Some are pretty hip, and some are really nerdy. Some like tap dancing and some think it's gay. But what I love about them is that they're never going to be the same person musical.

To finally exhaust the metaphor: Like kids, they all grow up, and there's a joy in knowing that whatever they do, however many or few other lives they touch, it's somehow got to do with you.