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Help! Jesus at Ground Zero

Saturday night, Corb and I went to The Strand Theater in Boston to see a production of Jesus Christ Superstar. I wasn't really that excited about seeing it so soon, but a friend of ours was appearing in it and asked us to go. He's a good guy, so sure.

I'm glad I went, but I can't say I enjoyed the production. What I think I learned is that you may have some money to stage a show and greater technical ability, but if you've got a concept you haven't thought it through well enough, it really doesn't matter. The concept is always the crazy glue that keeps a show together, no matter what.

In this case, the concept was interesting. Or at least, provacative, which god knows is what Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webber wanted the show to be way back when. The show started off on the day of September 11. We see footage of the WTC towers going down. Then, people dealing with the aftermath. Then, Jesus (apparently a businessman in the Tower) crawling out from the wreckage, holding in his arms Mary Magdelaine, who in this version happens to be played by a transexual actor.

I have no problems with this premise at all. In fact, it's actually quite interesting. The problem is in the details.

I think it's the timey wimey elements that bothered me the most. This is hard to do, I realize, but on the other hand, September 11 only happened 14 years ago, as opposed to say, the Jesus story happening 2000 years ago. So how can people have such amnesia or be so careless about the past 15 years?

First off, the entire show takes place in front of the ruined Twin Towers. Wow! People eat there, drink there, sleep there, hold book signings there, and also, apparently, crucify Jesus there. Who would have thought? My memory of that area is that it was extremely difficult to get into. For obvious reasons. Didn't anyone in the cast actually go to New York City during that time?

BUT THEN. The show decides to have Jesus run for president. In 2008. So they can play off of the Obama "change" theme. Ummm, what? Jesus "tried" for three years...it's in the lyrics. Hmmm, let me do the math...2001 plus 3 equals...hmmm. And wait, were the Twin Towers still in the exact same state of disrepair in 2004?

BUT WAIT! Now it gets worse. Jesus is at a book signing to promote his new book and people are taking selfies with him. Now wait. Isn't taking selfies a relatively new thing? Like, a last few years thing? Oh sure, it came about mainly as a result of the advent of smart phones, so you could go back earlier than that...Apple started making them widely available in 2007, and camera phones were "really taking off" in by 2003...but even so, when does this sucker take place, exactly? The phones I saw were pretty new looking!

I could go on and on and on. Buzzfeed is quoted in one of the headlines that appear on the screen. That media company was launched in 2006 as a viral lab. It wasn't really that big...well, whenever this thing takes place.

The play was renamed #JCSuperstar. Those hashtags make things all new and modern, don't they? Don't get me started on when stupid hashtags became a thing.

Then we get to suspend our disbelief about the actual set itself! Even though the set is Ground Zero and there are supposedly these huge steel beams lying around everywhere, at one point these construction-type guys casually lift one up effortlessly to have a...get this...pizza party in place of the Last Supper. They lift up huge steel beams. huge steel beams! Like they are made of paper or something. Amazing!

Well, at least they are construction workers. Oh, and some buds of Jesus, just hanging around at Ground Zero. Some hooker friends of Mary. No apostles, because all of the Apostles have been removed from this version, so they could be replaced by reporters asking questions during what's the buzz...which sounds cool, except that it makes lines like "When do we ride into Jerusalem?" make ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE AT ALL.

Then they all leave after the supper is over. Meaning that when Jesus sings "Will no one stay awake with me," it makes no sense, because no one is there with him. Not even Mary. She just kind of waves him away. Guess she had somewhere else to go. That's gratitude for you. After rescuing her from the Twin Towers and everything!

Poor Judas has a similar problem. Instead of hanging himself, he gets to jump off a steel girder. I think? It's not clear. During his death, a steel beam is lowered to the ground. He moves to it and steps on it. Then jumps? Even though it's only a five inch high steel beam? I mean, I guess? Wow.

The Pharisees are even more confusing. In place of the Pharisees, the director decided to make it something like the Ecumenical Council of Churches. So, we get a few priests, a Protestant minister, someone from what looks like a Unitarian faith...all sneering and looking evil. I think they were supposed to be right wing (a headline flashes that Jesus is for gay marriage at one point), but it's really hard to wrap my head around. So...they are religious people that believe in Jesus from Israel 4 BC, right? But...this Jesus is a different one. But he's called Jesus. But they hate him, even the nice Unitarian churches that believe, hey whatever. Because he's not their Jesus. But he is. But...but...but...

Mind. Gone. Haywire.

I know, I get it. Maybe the director was trying to suggest that modern Christianity has lost its way, that it wouldn't recognize Jesus if he walked out of the rubble after September 11. And that makes sense in a certain context...and then you try to think about it from a logistical standpoint...people wearing crosses trying to exterminate a guy named Jesus and crucify him and...well, I start seeing cross-eyed again. It just starts to fall apart. It's silly.

I guess the point is, new ideas and concepts are great, but it's really helpful if you actually think them through to make certain they make sense. That your world actually is consistent within itself. This show didn't bother to think through those details, and as a result, it made it really hard to sit through. Shock and awe are one thing. Good visuals effects are helpful too (this show had it all over ours in that regard). But when you get right down to it, a story should try to make sense. Some kind of sense.

This show couldn't be bothered to think that hard.

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Deep Thoughts

These are the deep things I think about at work...



Question: If someone is missing an eye, would their smiley face emoticon look like this?

.)

And, if someone was a pirate, would their smiley face emoticon looks like this?

.)?

Aspire.

This morning, as I was getting into my car at Stop & Shop, this rather disheveled looking guy called out to me. As I stopped, car door open, he rode up to my car on his bike. "Would you have any interest in a soft top Eddie Bauer cooler?" he asked, unhooking the item from his bike and trying to hand it over to me.

I have to confess, I hate being approached about things like this. My immediate reaction is to run away. It doesn't matter what it is, but it seems to be uniquely reserved for people asking for donations or trying to sell me stuff. Especially the latter. I have an especial hatred right now for the sales people they allow to infest Best Buy, trying to get you to change your internet provider to that shitty DirectTV. Sales people should be there to assist you, not try to upsell you anything. Every time I get approached I start to go off, so much that Corb has to literally push me away before I say anything too obnoxious. I know, they are only doing their job. I am not angry at them, I am angry at Best Buy for allowing them to do it. Which is why, incidentally, I am currently boycotting Best Buy.

Anyway, I digress. The minute he asked this, I did what I always do. I moved away. "No, thank you," I said, quietly and politely, but still, in a way that was firm, with my head lowered. I immediately started to close my car door.

"You sure?" he asked, moving his soft top Eddie Bauer cooler back to behind his bike.

"No thank you" I repeated in the same tone and closed the door.

He left. I drove off. But still, this image lingered in my head. Him, on his bike. I think it was the way he said "soft top Eddie Bauer cooler" that bothered me. It had been so precise, so rehearsed.

Why was he approaching me about this? Was it perfectly innocent? Was he indeed just looking to give me, out of the kindness of his heart, a soft top Eddie Bauer cooler? Why would he be doing something like that? Was it some kind of homeless thing, like the people who stand outside of malls with increasing frequency these days, looking for a donation? (I am positive that is staged, by the way, and that's not without precedent. Back in the 1800s, the poor and indigent were put to work shoveling horse crap off the streets, until they protested the demeaning work. Look it up, it's true.) What was his story?

And what is it about me that shut down the way I did? Slam. Walls come down. Why am I like that? Would it kill me to keep a five or something in my wallet, for situations like that, instead of my George Castanza-like wallet spilling to the brim with receipts and plastic and nothing else? Isn't there something I can do to be better than I am?

Anyway, I just made a donation of $20 to my favorite homeless shelter, Crossroads of Rhode Island. It surely will not make me a better person or help me on the path to the countless hours of therapy that I so clearly need. But, maybe it will help someone in some small way. And maybe, it's a reminder to stop and think..and aspire higher.

Free for three Days: Pictures of You


Just wanted everyone to know, in case you haven't read it yet: my book Pictures of You is available for free as a KDP download for three days starting today.

Here's the gratuitous blurb about what it's all about:


A story of a haunting. Of a memory that lingers. Of voices that hide in the shadows. Video geek Ashes16 discovers disturbing videos popping up on her YouTube account, bringing back memories of her brother's grisly death. What happens when she finally understands their meaning is the chilling secret behind Pictures of You. Discover what’s been called a "supernatural thriller with a real heart and soul that helps carry this work high above many of its contemporaries." Get it now!

http://www.amazon.com/Pictures-You-TJ-Alexian-ebook/dp/B00IHOC7V6

If you pick it up, cool! Please do let me know what you think.

A dilemma

I don't usually get that angry with my family. Seriously, everyone loves my parents. Both Corb and Josie have said on multiple occasions that they wish my parents were there's. I know I'm lucky.

Really, the only person I've ever had huge problems with in years is my sister Laurie, but even that has kind of gotten better this past year. We've become civil to each other, and I was starting to feel better about our relationship.

That kind of changed today. As we were relaxing before dinner, the subject of mother's day came up. "Oh, we're not having mother's day this year," my Dad told me.

What? "Why not," I asked, kind of surprised.

"Your sisters are taking us to Disney World that week," was his reply. "I meant to tell you about it a few weeks ago, but you were busy at the time and it slipped my mind."

Wait...so, I'm not going to get to see my mother on mother's day because my sisters decided to take her away somewhere and no one thought it was important enough to tell me about? Maybe even...I don't know, this is crazy, invite me to go along? At least, give me the opportunity?

My brother, it turns out, did know about it. "They told me, and I had the same reaction as you," he said. "I wanted to go and said they might want to make it a whole family thing. The next day I learned they bought the tickets without asking me."

I'm not sure who got the worse deal: me, for not knowing anything, or Tommy, for knowing and then deliberately being excluded. My sister Kerrie was at dinner, and my dad told her that I was upset, so she came over and asked why I was angry. "We didn't think you would have the money to go, anyway," she said.

"It would have been nice to have been given the chance to make that decision myself," I replied.

"Well, fine!" she said, sounding irritated. "You're invited now. Can you come?"

Well, wait... now we are talking four weeks away, as opposed to six or seven weeks away. Everything's probably going to be more expensive, including flight, hotel fare, etc. Especially during mother's day week-end!

"I knew he was going to get angry and take it all out on me," I overheard her say behind my back later on.

I mean, maybe she's right about that. Maybe I should be mad at my parents, too, because they clearly knew and didn't tell me. Laurie I expect this from. She is so self-centered and thoughtless that this one's no surprise at all, even though, get this: she is mad at our aunt because she traveled to Boston for a wedding her son was having and felt it was inconsiderate that they neglected to invite her to the rehearsal dinner the night before. This seems to be to be a hundred times more inconsiderate.

I don't know. Maybe I'm reacting this way because going to Disney with my parents has always been a dream of mine. In fact, I brought the subject up with them a year ago, as something I'd really like to do with them. So maybe the thought that that's been taken away from me makes it even more of a sensitive subject, aside from the fact I won't see my mom on mother's day. Because let's face it, if I brought it up again, a year from now, their reaction is surely going to be, "Oh, well, we did that last year with your sisters..."

Any suggestions on how to handle this one? I don't want it to become a wedge issue, but I can feel it becoming that already with me. How can I keep my cool? Josie suggested having an alternative mother's day without my sisters, which is a great idea, but it's still going to hurt my feelings terribly (I just know) when I have to see all the fun they had that I wasn't allowed to participate in! Not sure how to deal with this one. I know it's not the biggest thing in the world, but I do feel they were really thoughtless here.

Tedwords Picture Parade: Easter Bliss


I have to admit, I am slightly obsessed with this photo. I haven't seen nearly enough creepy Easter bunny photos on my Facebook feed this year, so imagine my delight when I came across this while doing taxes in the bathroom last night. It's perfect! Check out the look of sheer terror on that baby's face! Look how perfectly the frightened baby and the creepy frozen-smiling Easter Bunny match up, from a color palette perspective, including the white wicker chair the bunny is sitting in. Even the denim blue baby hat matches the blue bunny eyes. Can you imagine how much therapy this kid is going to need someday?

I tell you, American Horror Story should skip evil clowns next year and go right for the bunny.  

Gurgle.

Gurgle. Gurgle. Gurgle.

Funny noise. It's the Sunday after we returned home from Salem, and I've been hearing it all day long. What could it be, I wondered? Occasionally.

Although I honestly didn't think to much about it that often. It was a beautiful day and the sun was out and the weather FINALLY starting to heat up. St. Frankie was actually able to be seen and I was actually thinking about taking some of the trash bags that had been hidden in our basement for a few weeks. Ever since our last big party, I'm embarrassed to say. I was also thinking about maybe finally cleaning out the disgusting kitty litter boxes that have been festering in the cellar for god knows how long.

After I finished cleaning the kitchen, I headed to the cellar stairs to take care of my next chores for the day. Happily whistling a little tune, I turned the corner, turned on the lights downstairs, and that's when I encountered THIS:


Oh shit. So that's what that gurgling noise was.

"CORB!!!!"

###

Actually, that photo was taken hours later. The water was four times that height when I discovered the flooding. The kitty litter boxes were floating in the water like little gondolas and most of the boxes were sitting on the ground. Soaking.

Frantically, Corb and I waded through the water, trying to figure out where the water leak was coming from. When we reached the far end of the basement, we finally discovered the source: the sump pump was spewing out water at an alarming rate. Thinking fast, Corb unplugged the pump. The spewing stopped.

We raced to the local hardware department and purchased a back-up sump pump. Hooked it up and started draining the moat right away. Later that night, the basement was finally dry-ish again and we were able to tromp through the basement. The floor was digusting. A bag of kitty litter had ripped open and half of the floor was covered in a sticky, muddy film.

Still, we had no idea why the sump pump had mis-fired the way it had. All we knew was that every time we turned it on, water started pouring out from a pipe about three feet above the hole. So, we decided to keep the back-up running and call a plumber in the morning.

That night, I woke up around four. Something felt wrong to me. I had been thinking about the sump pump all night long.

I went downstairs and listened.

I didn't hear anything. That wasn't good. I ran to the cellar. Sure enough, the hose to the back-up sump pump had disconnected during the night. The cellar was a swamp again. Quickly, I reconnected the hose and tried to go back to sleep. But first, I called Roto Rooter and made an appointment for the morning.

Corb didn't even know what had happened.

Around noon, the plumber came by. Turns out, it appears that the PVC piping connected to the sump pump had frozen, causing a back-up. As a result, a cap had burst. All the guy had to do was seal and replace the cap, an item that only cost about ten dollars. We could have done it ourselves, if we had known what the hell we were doing.

A simply solution to a big pain-in-the-ass problem. The only problem now: cleaning up the mess that had been left behind.

Spring UP!

Today is the official first day of spring. Of course, here in New England, we are still digging out from the worst winter of snowstorms...ummm, EVER.

But there are signs of life. Take, for example, my dear friend St. Franky, who lives under a tree in our front yard. Here's what Franky looks like now:


In contrast, here's what he looked like two weeks ago:


So, PROGRESS! We've been joking that Frankie wasn't actually under that pile of snow all winter. Our theory is he ran away to Florida with a saucy lawn gnome. But even if he did, it's good to see the big guy back.

Now, if we could only see the rest of him! I am so sick of this horrible boring white stuff! REAL spring cannot come fast enough, in my opinion. I want St. Franky surounded by a field of verdant foliage and STAT! Come the true spring, he'll have no need to run away with saucy lawn gnomes. They'll want to come visit him!

Happy first day of spring, you all.

Bad sign.

home-for-sale-sign-1

When we pulled in to Josie's driveway last night, the sign was right there, for everyone to see.

FOR SALE.

The sight of the sign had an immediate impact on Theo. Gone in a second was the laughing kid who had been going on about his experience that day at PAX in Boston. No more talk about chicken hats or obscure video games or scantily clad women. In his place, a scowling teen-ager reminded of something he'd prefer to forget.

He barely said good-bye to Corb or me. He mumbled "I don't like that," slammed the door shut and slouched into her house.

Thirty minutes later, a message from Josie: "Theo saw the sign and he's not talking to me."

"I was wondering if he saw it," I texted back. "I'm sorry. Maybe you should talk to him?"

"I'm going to give him some space," was her response.

"I just don't get your kids," said Corb to me, later that night, over dinner at our favorite dive. "This whole thing should be like a big adventure to them. A new chapter. When my my mom sold our house, I was all excited. I couldn't wait to see where we were going to go next."

I conveniently decided not to remind him that where he ended up after that wasn't all that great and instead dug into the mashed potato on my plate. "I can see it," I replied, after a few bites and a quick swig of diet coke. "When my dad wanted to move us to a new place my sophomore in high school, I was totally upset. We were so bad we actually convinced him not to move, even though it was for a big huge promotion. It was actually kind of a Meet Me In St. Louis moment." I thought about that for a bit. "Maybe that's what Theo is hoping will happen."

"You were a sophomore, he's a senior," Corb pointed out. "He's going away to college in September, anyway."

"But that's why it's even more upsetting," I replied. "His life is going to totally change in six months. "He wants to have the security of knowing that when he comes back, nothing will have changed. At least, at first."

Corb shook his head and continued eating his burger. Sometimes he is not the most sympathetic of people.

On the plus side, the realtor also gave Josie a lead on a great condo that she is selling that has a lot of room, is in great shape, and seems affordable. Josie has been convinced that she won't be able to take out a mortgage, due to the college loans for Ashes, but she has a good job she's been at for years and good credit rating (something I didn't have when I first started looking for a house). I think that hearing this from someone else helped. So, it made Josie feel more hopeful about the future...even if Theo is feeling sad about the past. 

A Cup of Tea

"Oh, by the way," I called out to Theo, sitting in the back of the car, as we drove to Green Victoria. "I bought you something at the supermarket tonight. I saw some K-Cups of Black tea and thought you might like it."

"Why?" asked Corb, sitting in the driver's seat.

"Ummm..."

"Let me get this straight," he said, amused. "You mean to tell me you bought Theo some K-Cups of tea just now. Just so he could have a cup of tea from a K-Cup instead of one from the box of tea bags you bought for $1.99 that are sitting in the pantry? How does that make any sense at all?"

"Well, it...it makes perfect sense," I sputtered, Oh how I hate it when Corb gets on one of his rants...

"Oh really? You think it makes perfect sense to buy 12 K-Cups for seven dollars when you already have 100 for $1.99 in the pantry, and the taste is exactly the same? Not to mention what a waste K-Cups are for the environment. Not to mention you are always telling me we need to cut down on buying things we don't need. And yet, that makes perfect sense? Huh?"

"Besides, dad, I hate trying new things," called out Theo from the back of the car.

Abandoned by my son. The nerve! This was clearly not an argument I was going to win.

But you know what? It's not an argument I need to win. In my defense, the more I think about this, I think that the purchase of the K-Cups signifies a little bit more for me than just wasted foolish money. It's sentimental money, and there's a world of difference in that.

Let me explain. Lately, before he's been going to bed at night, Theo has gotten into the habit of asking me to make him a cup of tea. Black tea, with sugar and milk. Piping hot, just the way my grandmother used to make it for me every night before I went to bed.

My grandmother...well, Nana...used to live in an in-law apartment in my parents' home. She lived there from the time I was five until I grew up. And one of the things I recall vividly about having her downstairs was the comfort of knowing I'd be able to spend some time with her each night, watching TV as she crocheted and drinking a nice cup of tea with toast.

Oh the chemicals that were being pumped into my young body! All that sugar and starch and caffeine. How horrible! She might just as well have been teaching me to smoke. And yet, I wouldn't have traded those moments with her for anything in the world.

And now Theo has added this on to our nightly ritual. See, what we've done for years is to watch an episode of the old classic Doctor Who series before he goes upstairs to bed at night. Just one, no more, no less. Theo never goes overboard. In about eight years, we've seen the first four doctors and are now almost through with Peter Davidson, which means we are almost ready to endure the horrible Colin Baker years. Hopefully we will be able to get through that before Theo heads off to college this September.

Oh yeah, there's that. College.

Theo was accepted to college last week, to the school he wanted to attend. In his typical low key way, he's not making a big deal out of it. But I'm awfully pleased for him.

But even though he hasn't said much about it...about the prospect...about the changes (and by the way, this will now make me an empy nester..how weird is that?) there's one thing that has changed: Theo started asking me for tea each night. Just the way he did when he was a little kid. Just the way I did when I was a little kid. It's a family tradition, I guess.

No one can tell me otherwise. This kid is looking for comfort food.

So, if I want to buy a few K-Cups of Black tea? Hell, if I want to buy dozens of boxes of Black tea? And if Corb wants to make fun of me for doing so?

That's okay by me. Because for as long as I live, that kid will have a comfortable chair here and a warm cup of tea waiting whenever he wants.

And nothing will ever change that.

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