My dearest, HAMILTON: A Love Letter from a Really Big Fan

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"Raise a glass....tomorrow there'll be more of us, telling the story...."

My HAMILTON journey has ended. And yet it’s just beginning.

Like most rabid fans I played the White House YouTube clip over and over and over to fully absorb the newness Lin-Manuel Miranda was putting out into the atmosphere. I have followed along with Lin’s every Facebook and Twitter antic and kept up with updates on the writing process, the development journey and the various stagings, being blessed to have attended a few and to have met those involved. I have watched and listened and blogged and shared everything imaginable. I have waxed incessantly to friends about this work and endured many a side eye at my explanation of the concept. I have met and expressed my admiration to many of the performers who have breathed life into this thing (and still have many more to see–I’m looking at you, Javi, Thayne and Ariana!), I have read and shared photo spreads, think pieces and other press to help shine a pinlight from my small corner of the world….all in an effort to make sure the world knows that it’s not overhype, that HAMILTON: An American Musical is THAT special.

And now the curtain has fallen, the dust has settled, and of the 16 record-breaking nominations, our show walks away with 11 trophies. To borrow from Lin’s lyrics, pride is not the word I’m looking for. Lin made a thing, y’all. He made an incredible, inspiring, enduring thing. I don’t have adequate words to thank him or Alex or Tommy or any of the incredible ensemble and creative team for this masterwork that has transformed the Broadway stage, reached into the hearts and minds of people who may never have been exposed to live theater, worked tirelessly to get this staged in as many places as possible and just flat out created magic. I am a mere viewer who was blessed to be in a few special rooms when things happened, and for these and many other reasons makes this my show, too. It’s more than something like Wicked or The Lion King or even In The Heights, that I love and cherish as great shows that I hold in my heart. This really feels like MY show, like I had some small part, some tiny investment in its creative formation. And it won 11 Tony Awards.

I don’t know what else to say. If you can see it without mortgaging vital organs, GO. If you can’t, get the cast album. Get the book. Get the audiobook. Wait for and support the regional and international tours. Get the experience, because it’s more than just a retelling of history. It’s an outpouring of love from the stage. It’s a reminder of our humanity, flaws and all. And it’s an affirmation that we all have a story that deserves to be told, and with any luck those who tell them will be kind and fair.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for turning my world upside down in the best possible way.

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When The Bottom Drops Out: Reinventing In Your 40s

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I am scared to death.

I am quite possibly literally one paycheck away from being homeless. Sadly, that’s not an April Fool’s joke.

I’m high above the city
I’m standing on the ledge
The view from here is pretty
And I step off the edge

I was fired from my television job of six years on my niece’s birthday–two days before her younger son’s first birthday and five days before Easter. So I chose not to burden my family with that news on such a festive week. But everything is imploding at the same time–I have to file my taxes (for which we will probably owe AGAIN), rent and bills are due, and not only am I leveraged up to my eyeballs, but I’m now without income and health insurance. My husband is working out of the country and doing his best to contribute, but it’s so hard doing this without him. Though as we’re dealing with more than just physical distance at the moment…..

I’ve been out of work before. Two long, scary years. But at least then I had my husband to lean on, and I didn’t have the spectre of mandatory health insurance hanging over my head. I don’t know how to do this alone, and the fact that I have no other choice is not helping to spur me into action.

The pressure it increases
The closer that I get
I could almost go to pieces
But I’m not quite there yet

I have told some of my friends, and I do have some ideas for stopgap work. The job application process is so vastly different now–EVERYTHING is electronic, and other than what’s on my LinkedIn profile, I can’t access my resume to update it. Not to mention that the career path I studied so hard for and spent half of my working life doing has been slowly killing my spirit, and I want to move into something else. I don’t want to feel this lost and untethered.

See, I’ve been bravin’ crazy weather
Drownin’ out my cries
I pull myself together
I’m focused on the prize

I’m trying hard to focus and get a secure plan in place…it’s so, so difficult when you’ve been fighting your own demons the whole way through. I don’t have the luxury of a breakdown right now, but I’m in the grips of it and can’t break free.

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Will I remain the same
Or will I change a little bit?
Will I feel broken or totally complete?…

The people all are pointing
I bet they’d never guess
That the saint that they’re anointing
Is frightened of the mess

It’s hard to regroup, and I know I’m not really alone, even though I feel that way. I have no choice but to try. So I’m crying, stalling, and imagining the worst…but I’m about to take those first baby steps into a new adult reality.

But even though I fear it
I’m playin’ all my cards…
Baby, you are gonna hear it
When I give them my regards

Lord help me.

Quotes from “Broadway Here I Come,” from the Smash soundtrack, written by Jimmy Collins and Kyle Bishop (by way of Joe Iconis)

White Tears and Casting HAMILTON

To paraphrase Jay-Z, I just saw a Facebook post that fucked up my day.

If you’re new to this blog, I eat, sleep, live and breathe all things Lin-Manuel Miranda, and have been actively following (and participating in as I’m able) the development of the Broadway smash HAMILTON since that little six-minute ditty at the White House six years ago. I’m just gonna drop it here for the three people who haven’t seen it.

Thanks to sold out shows into 2017, the show is now developing productions in Chicago and San Francisco, as well as national tours. So naturally, there was a casting call put out designed to preserve the casting dynamic…..which didn’t sit too well with some people.

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"You can't be serious....."

Since I saw it on FB, I also captured the edited header as well

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"It must be nice, it must be nice....."

Cue my blind rage. My poor friend Jason who reposted it got a blistering earful on my feelings….fortunately, I’m sure he knows it wasn’t a direct hit. Still, I felt the need to vent and had a whole head of steam drafted on the WTPD Facebook page before I shifted gears and brought my thoughts on the subject here.

Some very good points were made on how the wording appeared, and yes, I did consider that in parallel to the infamous casting call from the Straight Outta Compton movie. But as I have been following, studying, and critiquing HAMILTON for nearly the whole six years it took Lin-Manuel Miranda to bring it to the stage, I’d like to think that I have almost as much of an intimate knowledge of this show as anyone directly involved. In every single interview Miranda describes the show as “America then been told by America now,” meaning the melting pot of actors on stage largely telling the story of a whole bunch of dusty, scrappy White boys who shaped the republic we now live in. So you’re going to have to suspend disbelief a little as you see Black and Brown faces playing the obviously Caucasian figures you see in your history books and on your money. But, that is not to say that these are the only ethnicities in the cast. Jonathan Groff, Thayne Jasperson, Betsy Struxness and Neil Haskell are CLEARLY White and just as important to the show as their differently hued castmates. ( I believe that Betsy and Neil have since moved on, but you get the point.)

The popularity of HAMILTON is leading to other standalone productions and  national tours, and it would be idiotic to suggest that the casting mix that is clearly working and a large part of the curiosity for theatergoers be changed. I’m quite certain there was an open call for all dancers regardless of race, and with the huge number of Caucasian actors in the theatrical arts pool, the producers’ quota had been hit. This is not the same situation as say, the movie Gods of Egypt, where a conscious casting decision was made to have an almost solely White cast tell a story about ancient Africans. (Yes, children–Egypt is in Africa. Quel surprise.) At no time did the producers even hint at the exclusion of White actors in the show; this particular casting call asked for “minority” actors in order to mirror the current balance.

In entertainment, producers and directors are always going to be looking for a certain type. That’s simply the nature of the business. However, insecurities from the most well-employed section of the acting pool are not going to be eased by intimating a false controversy in this particular case. Welcome to the competition, fellas….this is what everyone else deals with on a regular basis. And if you’re still feeling some kind of way about this, I’m afraid you will never be satisfied.

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"I'm about to change your life...."

Here’s Lin-Manuel Miranda Reading MLK’s ‘Beyond Vietnam’ Speech in the Church Where King Gave It

Yesterday at the #MLKNOW event at Riverside Church, Lin-Manuel Miranda (of HAMILTON, In The Heights and countless other credits) lent his customary eloquent and impassioned voice to Dr. King’s speech “Beyond Vietnam,” delivered nearly 40 years ago in that same church.

I can think of few gifted enough to give the same movement and urgency to Dr. King’s words…Lin-Manuel is on the short list, well at the top.

http://jezebel.com/heres-lin-manuel-miranda-reading-mlks-beyond-vietnam-sp-1753642838?utm_medium=sharefromsite&utm_source=Jezebel_twitter

Dumbass Diaries 15: Bear Bares All

I’ve had a few articles in the queue for this that I took a little too long to address–the separate entrance for poor people to a New York apartment building, a few regarding some outdated and draconian views on children’s hair (which I’m sure I’ll eventually write because it’ll come up again), a bunch of professionals who never studied Latin or language and some two year old article on a perceived racist headline. But as asininity goes, this takes the cake.

No, really, it actually TAKES. THE. CAKE.

Baking has gotten quite elaborate–gone are the days when the simple sheet cake will suffice (and even those have gone to include computer-generated photos and graphics made edible). Three-dimensional sculpted confections have become wildly popular, and this woman named Sharon Green decided to order such a cake for her three year old daughter’s christening celebration at their church–a lovely little sheet case topped with pink blocks and two little teddy bears with pink bows. Cute, right?

Clearly not to Ms. Green (or any of her extra-churchy church friends). Apparently the toy bears’ rendering included an indentation representing the seam one would find on a toy bear–a seam that was interpreted as….wait for it…a labial fold.

Yes, you read that correctly. Ms. Green was upset because, to her mind, the bakers gave the teddy bears a VAGINA.

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Bear-ly an issue, if you ask me….

I don’t even know where to start. First of all, in all my years of owning stuffed animals, I have never in my life seen an anatomically correct teddy bear. And considering it’s a BEAR, in what world would you attribute this physical characteristic to an animal?!? I mean, clearly as a mammal the female bear does have one, but I’m fairly certain it looks nothing like ours, nor is it that prominently visible. Hell, even beloved character Winnie-the-Pooh is drawn WITH A SEAM ON HIS STOMACH. Which is the other curious thing here–the “boy” version of this cake is made exactly the same way but blue.

But OK, she saw what she saw and was offended. Instead of checking the cake in-store (or even, perhaps–and I realize this is a foreign concept–asking about the design BEFORE ordering), she complains about the cake’s vulgarity and demands a refund. Still a bit prudish and projecting to my way of thinking, but still within her right to ask for a satisfactory product. Here’s the kicker: the bakery provided her with candy flowers to cover the “offending” crease, in an effort to placate their customer. After which, not only did she actually put the cake out to be served, but she put the flowers strategically to cover the “crease”–which actually calls more attention and actually looks more suggestive than the original design.

Considering she’d ordered the cake well in advance she probably couldn’t have gotten a substitute from this particular bakery on such short notice. But there were several more logical and less, well, anal solutions she could have gone for. Get a butter knife and smooth out the “offending” crease. Get an inexpensive sheet cake from somewhere else. Take the teddy bears off–it’s just as lovely with just the blocks. Or here’s a crazy thought–DON’T PUT IT OUT. I’m pretty sure little Tahlia could have cared less whether or not there was cake at this party, or if she did, what it looked like. it’s CAKE. For slicing and eating. And I’m guessing those bears were either going to get taken off the cake anyway for slicing OR sliced up for serving. Who’s gonna see a friggin’ crease once you cut it up? Was she somehow afraid that ingesting it would somehow translate into performing cunnilingus? I repeat–IT’S. A. CAKE.

Though they probably could have handled it better, I’m just as nonplussed as the bakery owner about this lady’s complaint. I wouldn’t have even interpreted that had it not been suggested, and the fact that Ms. Green did makes me wonder about what levels of repression and projection she’s dealing with. I also can’t believe she took that type of complaint to the public side of social media. Since the post has been deleted I can’t confirm whether or not this was a page post or an inbox message, though considering this story actually made news I have to assume the former…and if that was the case this lady really is a piece of work. Again, customer satisfaction is key and she had the right to complain about not getting what she thought she’d requested, but she approached it sideways to begin with. The tone of her complaint, the seemingly immediate jump to a refund request instead of inquiring about a suitable correction (or again, CHECKING BEFORE SHE LEFT AND MAKING THE CHOICE TO NOT TAKE IT), and the pubic public chastisement all leaned more towards throwing a tantrum instead of seeking a compromise.

I’d bet even little Tahlia has better manners than that.

DUMBASS.

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Dreamweaver: The Militant Martin

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Just because Dr. King was an active proponent of nonviolent protest does not mean he didn’t have a revolutionary spirit. Most of us are more familiar with the hopefulness exhibited in the I Have A Dream and Mountaintop speeches, but King’s views on social justice were much more complex. On this day, and particularly in the current sociopolitical climate in America, here are some quotes that display that spirit:

Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.

We who in engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.

The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be… The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

A right delayed is a right denied.

The Negro needs the white man to free him from his fears. The white man needs the Negro to free him from his guilt.

The sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.

It is incontestable and deplorable that Negroes have committed crimes; but they are derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of the white society.

Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.

An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.

Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.

Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility.

Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.

Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.

Discrimination is a hellhound that gnaws at Negroes in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them.

It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.

A riot is the language of the unheard.

The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.

Pity may represent little more than the impersonal concern which prompts the mailing of a check, but true sympathy is the personal concern which demands the giving of one’s soul.

Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.

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Big thanks to Brainy Quote for this compilation of quotes. You can also find more of the revolutionary King quotes here in this repost on my Tumblr page.

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Do some good today…and if you haven’t already, go see Selma.

Props to Google today for today’s doodle.

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This Guy Just Changed The Way We See Beauty And The Beast. Mind Blown.

And if y’all DIDN’T know why I go so hard for Belle, now you know. ALLLLLLL of THIS.

http://m.tickld.com/x/this-guy-just-changed-the-way-we-see-beauty-and-the-beast

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