September 28, 2005

someone is on your side

I am heartbroken over the news that Bernadette Peters' husband, Michael Wittenberg, was killed in a helicopter crash earlier this week. In a way, I take her loss personally.

I'm going to ramble a bit so please bear with me...

I know it sounds funny to some but I adore Bernadette Peters. In fact, my blog name, Curly McDimple, is lifted from a short-lived off-Broadway show Peters starred in many years ago. I take some ribbing about her sometimes but I'm unapologetic and devout in my belief that this woman is a brilliant force of nature.

I cannot even begin to adequately describe how much I idolized her when I was younger. She first knocked my socks off when I saw Into the Woods in high school. A few years later, she was back on Broadway in The Goodbye Girl and that's when my fascination with this woman really kicked in.

My appetite for information about her was voracious. But she was reticent to talk about herself. She spoke about her work but not herself necessarily. Her life was spent on the stage and that was the only part of herself she was really willing and prepared to share. Personal details were not easy to come by. I wanted to know everything about her but at the time, my resources were limited to scouring the pages of the Daily News and the New York Post every day trying to find her name in bold-faced print. Sometimes I got a tidbit but mostly I was left cursing the fact that I wasn't obsessed with someone a bit more palatable to the gossip pages. It was a tough fascination to foster.

I didn't have much to go on so I treasured my Into the Woods and Sunday in the Park with George cast albums. I listened to them daily and was continually floored by the nuance in her voice combined with the sheer brilliance of Stephen Sondheim's music and lyrics. Peters and Sondheim formed quite a formidable duo. There was a spell in the 1990s when you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a Sondheim tribute. I relished that because I knew Bernadette would be in attendance and PBS would be there capturing it for broadcast during annual pledge drives.

My favorite was Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall. I sat impatiently through all the appeals for money and performances by Patti LuPone, Glenn Close, Daisy Egan, Karen Ziemba and scores of others. Bernadette didn't appear until the final hour of the broadcast but it was worth the wait. She stood on a darkened stage with that unmistakable hour-glass figure and those teeming curls in silhouette. The lights came up and the image was striking. She looked like she was poured into her long, black gown. Her pale skin practically glowed white in contrast to her scarlet lips and hair.

I held my breath. And then the camera moved in close and just stayed there throughout her interpretation of "Not a Day Goes By" from Merrily We Roll Along. The director rightfully called for a mix of close-ups, slow pans and dramatic fades to punctuate the magic on stage. She finished on a long, cascading note and was met with thunderous applause in Carnegie Hall and goose bumps in my bedroom.

I was on vacation in Florida about 11 or so years ago. I turned on the television in my hotel room to find this Sondheim tribute underway. I was happy to be on holiday but slightly homesick for New York and my beloved theater scene. So I plopped down on my bed and started watching. I changed the channel during one of the pledge breaks and when I flipped back a few minutes later, I was horrified to discover that the local PBS affiliate decided to yank the show in favor of Yanni: Live at the Acropolis. I think the switch was due to lack of interest or something but I can't be sure because my ranting speech about the "uncultured morons in Orlando" totally drowned out the station manager's explanation. Um, no offense, Orlando. It's just that Yanni and his puffy blouses tend to set me off, you see.

I was mostly pissed because they cut away right before Peters' performance. I wanted to see it again. She gets emotional every time she sings but when she tucks into a Sondheim song, she brings it to a whole new level. She contorts her face, throws her head back and rolls it from side to side, clenches her fists and swings her arms far and wide. Her entire body gets in on the act. Her curls rattle and often fall in her face. She sweeps them away but they inexplicably end up there again. She bellows and snarls one minute and then sweetly coos the next. More often than not, she tears up. The whole thing is most definitely theatric. Some think she overdoes it and I agree that it can seem over-the-top, but I don't think her performance is ever fake. She believes what she's singing and she feels it deeply each time.

The quality of her voice is debatable to some. I know several professionally-trained singers who complain that she sings "wrong." They prattle on about her breathing technique and how she loses her voice frequently. But I like that her voice can be hoarse and husky. I think the imperfections make it all the more interesting. I love that her voice gets ragged and coarse in between the soaring high notes. It adds texture.

At the risk of sounding like a total drama queen, Bernadette changed the course of my life. In a roundabout sort of way, she's the reason why I'm here working and writing on the internet. Back when I was foaming at the mouth for Bernadette-related info, I signed up for AOL so that I could access Playbill Online. I saw an ad in Playbill magazine promising active message boards, news, archives, and all the information a theater lover starved for information could possibly want. I can safely say that I was on that site every day chatting with people and exchanging information. I learned a lot about Bernadette -- her background, ex-boyfriends, rumors of ex-girlfriends (gasp!), lesser-known projects, pet causes and all that other fun stuff. I also gained knowledge of an array of plays, musicals, performers, composers, lyricists and playwrights. I was always well-versed in pop culture but through my exposure to Bernadette, I became more well-rounded. Theater was a gateway to dance, opera, avant-garde performance art, etc.

For a time, I was an education major in college. After I did some student teaching, I realized the mistake I was making. I was bored and disenchanted. It was a far cry from the passion I felt when discussing theater, movies, award shows, et al. I knew I could write and make a living at it so I changed my major to Communications/Journalism. As I filled out the necessary paperwork, I totally fancied myself an entertainment reporter specializing in the Broadway scene. Um, that's so NOT what I do now but I did actually work for an industry publication for a few years. However, I soon discovered that I enjoyed theater more as a fan rather than an industry insider so I quit. I bounced around in print for a bit before finding my way into the world of interactive media where I eventually met The Lovely Jess who encouraged me to start this blog. And there you have it.

Life-Changing Issue #2: While I can't attribute my being gay to Bernadette, I can say with confidence that she's somewhat responsible for my finally acknowledging it. I met THE EX through a shared love of her work. What started out as two straight girls with a mutual appreciation for Bernadette, eventually evolved into a passionate and intense romance. The relationship may have ended but that's where my new life began in a sense. I came out to people. I stopped hiding. I'm still secretive in many respects but I don't lie anymore. I reached a new level of understanding and connection with people, in particular the gay boys I had befriended through our mutual Broadway diva adoration. I would have accepted this truth about myself eventually but it was far more entertaining to get here via Bernadette.

Even though I don't technically know her, I'm still saddened by her loss. She gave me so much without realizing it. I've seen her numerous times in person but I can't adequately thank her... and I don't even try because, well, that would be weird and scary. The best I can do is wish her the strength and inspiration she helped me discover.

September 27, 2005

oh mandy

Dear Mandy Patinkin,

Does the pharmaceutical industry own your ass or something? The reason I ask is because every time I turn on my telly, there you are, informing me how one little pill will lower my cholesterol or ease the side effects of chemo.

It's honest work I guess but I'm just baffled is all. I mean, you're the man who tore Evita a new one! You hammed your way through Chicago Hope with aplomb! Um, I would cite your work in Yentyl as an example but I bailed on that movie after five minutes so I can't speak authoritatively on the subject.

BUT! You had the best line in one of my most favorite movies ever -- The Princess Bride. Say it with me now... "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!" And now you're reduced to saying things like "Side effects of Crestor may include diarrhea, nausea and vomiting...." That's sad.

Also, nothing on your recent resume seems to be suitable for people with liver problems, pregnant women or those who are nursing. While I don't have your official demographics handy, it seems to me that you're severely alienating your base.

So in summary, Mandy, kindly cease and desist with the pushing of pills with gruesome side effects. While your howling yelp may add some punch to even the most pedestrian Andrew Lloyd Webber tune, it doesn't quite wash in the commercial realm. I can't really explain it but something about the pitch and timbre of your voice makes diarrhea and edema seem even more vile than they already are.

Why don't you give old Steve Sondheim a call? I'm sure he can put your intense schmacting to better use.

Thank you in advance,

Curly McDimple

September 23, 2005

an ode to my itty bitty titties

Someone just found my site by searching for "poems about itty bitty titties." While I'm THRILLED that I'm the in the top 10 results on Google for this search term, I do feel bad that I don't have anything of the sort on this here blog. However, it doesn't mean I can't write a homage to my less-than-bountiful boobies now, no?

So, without further ado...

An Ode to My Itty Bitty Titties
My titties are perky and really quite small.
They are as wee as the rest of me's tall.

I don't mean to disparage what the Good Lord hath made,
But mine are on par with a girl's in third grade.

But I've discovered an upside
That's rather convincing,
I can run bra-less up and down stairs
Without even wincing.

As gravity sets in
My girls won't droop down to my gut,
Unlike Dolly's,
That big-chested slut.

I also won't have chronic back pain
When I'm all old and crusty.
When others are hooked on Doan's,
I'll be glad I'm not busty.

And while other boobies are subject to catcalls and "Moooooooooo!"s,
I continue to take comfort
That I can still see my shoes.

Thank you.

September 22, 2005

a rebuttal

According to a recent study 90% of women wash their hands after using the bathroom whereas only one in four men do. Over the past day or two, I've seen this study cited in numerous publications and newscasts and the headline is always the same: "Women are cleaner than men!"

Um, no they're not. Clearly they did not include corporate women in this study. Now I'm no fancy researcher or anything but I am a keen observer of people and I can say without hesitation that a lot of "professional" women are filthy bitches sorely lacking in basic manners and social skills.

The biggest offender of all was a former manager of mine. Not once did this woman wash her hands in my presence. In fact, on one occasion I saw her emerge from a bathroom stall EATING A PIECE OF PIZZA. I stared at her in disbelief but she was unfazed and just smiled, waved at me and kept on walking. No shame. No embarrassment. No soap and water. My coworker also saw her leaving the can with a half-eaten sandwich. Now, I admire those who can multi-task but there has to be a limit, you know?

Actually, there were several people at that job who had issues. Those of us who did wash our hands and you know, not eat lunch in the john, were forced to form a support network. We tipped each other off to the bad bathroom habits of our coworkers. We disseminated the information and maintained a stash of alcohol wipes and hand sanitizers in the event that we couldn't avoid direct contact with the guilty party or something he or she touched.

Those of us in-the-know abstained from eating the fruit salad at the holiday potluck when we discovered that a person guilty of the pee-and-run prepared it. It was all very, "Don't drink the milk! It's spoiled!" (Little Rascals, anyone? Anyone?)

Furthermore, Instant Messenger windows flared open on multiple desktops whenever a social taboo was spotted (i.e. "Don't touch the Fast Company in the common area. I just saw so-and-so come out of the bathroom with it!")

But gross bathroom behavior is not limited to hand washing and the defiling of shared periodicals. Far from it. I've worked in several different office buildings in my career and there's always one common element -- bombed-out stalls. Oh, and bad coffee too.

I've witnessed the same piss on the seats, clogged plumbing courtesy of tampons/pads, and the ubiquitous ring around the toilet comprised of half-dry, half-soggy toilet paper. I'm assuming these piles form when so-called "careful" bathroom users line the seat with TP before parking their asses on it. The result: Some of the paper "catches" after flushing and goes to its rightful destination. The rest either lingers on the seat or falls to the floor. While the culprits are trying to be all sanitary, all they're really doing is leaving a gross, disgusting mess for the next person. Since obviously it's their biggest fear, I cannot help but wish hemorrhoids on these people.

The pattern of piss on the toilet seats really blows my mind. Sometimes, it looks like the urine was deliberately and maliciously applied. The distribution is all scattered, swirling and angry-looking with pooling in certain areas. It looks like a fucking Pollock painting or something. For most of us, it's a toilet seat. For others, it's a blank canvas apparently.

If it's a light sprinkling concentrated in one area, that clearly means that the stream of pee became a tad unruly while the pisser was hovering over the bowl (as I do). An errant sprinkle of tinkle happens to us all. However, when normal people spot the misdirected flow, they reposition themselves accordingly. If not for the sake of the person who has to mop up at night, we do it for the sake of hygiene. Pee bounces, yo. Both porcelain and plastic are reflective surfaces and if you pee on them, they'll pee right back.

I could further belabor my point with examples of smells and people forgetting to courtesy flush (or just flush period) but it's all been said many times, many ways. In fact, I'll wrap this up right now with links to some suggested related reading:

:: The Sarcastic Journalist: If You Sprinkle When You Tinkle...
:: The Work Poop
:: Splatter Stopper
:: The Random Muse: Potty Politeness


September 14, 2005


I added another cool celebrity sighting to my collection tonight. I was walking up Lexington Avenue and was just about to bang a left on 58th Street when I saw a short, familiar-looking man with glasses and spiky hair. As I rounded the corner, I got a full glimpse of his face and there was no doubt I knew him.

Courtesy of Muppet CentralI was just about to acknowledge him and then thought the better of it. Why? Because while I know his face, I can never remember his name (Paul Williams; thank you, IMDB) and the words that were about to roll off my tongue were as follows:

"Hey, you're that wee fella that always hung around with the Muppets!"

While I'm not certain he has an issue related to his diminutive stature or penchant for associating with felt puppets, I clammed up just to be on the safe side. You see, I still carry the memory of the horrified look on John Glover's face when, at a loss for his name, I said, "Hey! You're the guy who burned his son! You're the guy who burned his son!" Um, I was referring to his portrayal of Charles Rothenberg, the man who deliberately set fire to a hotel room occupied by his child in the made-for-TV movie David. But, I'm not sure passers-by realized that... Mr. Glover had every right to take a torch to me but he was very polite considering.

I think it's safe to say that I've made tremendous strides with my celebrity encounters, no?

September 05, 2005

bang the drum all day

In honor of Labor Day, I'm kicking off a series chronicling some of the more interesting jobs I've held. And there have been a few. My inspiration for the series is Blown Sideways Through Life, a fabulous one-woman show written and performed by Claudia Shear. (Some of you may remember her as the chick whole stole Monica's identify on an early episode of Friends.) The book is available on, in case you're interested. Shear also performed it on PBS' Great Performances so if you can get your hands on a VHS/DVD or a rerun, please check it out!

First up: B-I-N-G-O!

When I was about 12 years old until the age of 16, I worked the weekly BINGO game at the local church. No, I wasn't the person who called the numbers or handed out the BINGO boards. Instead, I was among the gaggle of young girls who worked in the kitchen fetching coffee, soda, hot dogs and pizza for the aging crowd.

The kitchen girls arrived at 6:00pm, a solid hour before the actual event began. In that time, we'd make sure the hot dog water was boiling, the pizza oven was preheated, the coffee was percolating and all supplementary materials were stocked and ready to go.

Despite our early arrival time, the hall was already buzzing with activity. The doors opened at 5:30 so the BINGO diehards came early to stake out their regular spots and assemble their boards, chips, ink stamper things and their various and sundry good-luck charms in intricate patterns. The lucky charms were often those garish trolls with the Einstein-like hair or the prizes that came in a cereal box or Happy Meal. I never saw anything so run-of-the-mill as an actual rabbit's foot or four-leaf clover. These women prayed to the gods of General Mills and McDonalds for good fortune.

Before the game actually started, the customers came into the kitchen to make their purchases. Once the game got underway, we had to brave the smoke-filled air and load up trays and bring the coffee, tea, soda, etc. to them.

It was a risky business, let me tell you. We had to take great care not to advertise our wares while the caller was yelling out a number. One ill-timed "COFFEE!" would solicit violent shushing and deadly glares from the assembly. I once yelled "SODA!" in tandem with the caller's "B 12!" and my ass was swiftly handed to me by a bunch of old biddies. I skulked back to the kitchen and refused to go back out on the floor until my shame and embarrassment subsided.

You know, for a game that took place in the basement of a Catholic church, the participants were less than Christian-like. In addition to the aforementioned nasty "Shaddaps!" we were also privy to some hard-core greed and envy. When someone yelled "BINGO!" a less-than-magnanimous groan arose from the crowd. They tsked, sighed and muttered as they waved magnetic wands over their boards to snatch up all the chips and make way for a new game. If some poor sap made a mistake with her chip-laying/ink-dabbing, the crowd would actually cheer as the caller announced, "No BINGO!"

What a bunch of nasty, dusty-beavered, old bitches they were.

However, there were a few regulars that we had come to know and love. For example, the wee Scottish lady that came into the kitchen like clockwork each week and said, "One tea, please." When she handed over her money, she'd inform us of our tip by saying, "Take a dime." But with her accent it sounded more like, "Take a dame." Naturally, we imitated this EVERY week right after she left the kitchen. We were shocked -- SHOCKED, I tell you -- the week she came in and said, "Take a quarter." We were pleased with the increased profit margin but that phrase wasn't nearly as easy to imitate, even with my superior Scottish mimicry abilities.

Then there was the chubby "Two Diet Tabs!" fella. Every week, he'd walk into the kitchen, thrust two fingers in the air and place the order for his soda of choice. Unlike the Take a Dime Lady, this guy was Jersey all the way -- with a lisp -- so his request sounded more like: "Two Doy-et Taaaaaaaabth!" Again, the minute he was out of earshot, we'd reenact the exchange.

I distinctly remember Two Doy-et Taaaaaaaabth's hands. They looked jaundiced because of all the nicotine stains and he positively reeked of smoke. The minute he walked into the kitchen, we could smell him. His fingernails were all brown and crusty-looking so we were always careful to not make any contact when handing him his change. I admit that I take the occasional puff on a cigarette but memories of this man's hands will forever prevent me from developing a full-blown habit. Nicotine-schmicotine. My vanity can defeat addiction, any day.

In the last 45 minutes of the evening, things slowed down as interest in food and caffeinated drinks started to wane (I'm assuming because of issues with insomnia and poor bladder control). However, it was too early to close up shop so we'd sit around chatting (quietly, of course, or else the old bitch brigade would come into the kitchen and tear us a collective new one).

At one point during my BINGO tenure, I worked with my best friend and my younger sister. The combination of the three of us mixed with downtime yielded one result… MISCHIEF. One night, we got tired of BSing (at a low volume) so we did what comes naturally while working in the basement of a Catholic church -- we threw wet paper towels at each other and the ceiling.

The ceiling was REALLY high so it became quite the competition as we tried to scale the monumental height with enough velocity and force to make the paper towel cling to the masonry. An added obstacle was the system of heating and plumbing pipes blocking the ceiling. We squealed (quietly) with delight when one of our soggy missiles wrapped itself around the pipes and valves. And, somehow, we managed to keep things to a dull roar when I finally made contact with the ceiling.

Years later, I was in the kitchen visiting my father as he helped out with an Ash Wednesday fish and chips dinner. I looked up and sure enough, our handiwork remained intact.

You know, I think defacing church property, more so than carpet munching, will be the deciding factor in my banishment to Hell. Well, that plus the time I babysat two kids, ages 7 and 4, and taught them how to make prank calls and send pizzas to their neighbors. FYI, if you tell the pizza place you want the pie well done, they always believe the order is legit. Of course, this was before Caller ID had to come in and fuck things up…

Up next in the series: My stint as a janitor. Oh sorry... "custodial engineer."