Sunday, May 26, 2019

In dance class, I'm someone's Mississippi

I've set a new goal for myself: I want to dance. On stage. In a performance with lavish costumes and in a sold-out venue that can hold a couple of hundred people.

So where did this come from?  Well, three years ago Mike and I moved up to Sun City Anthem, a 55+ community on the extreme south side of the Las Vegas valley. This place is amazing; I wish we'd moved here on my 55th birthday. They offer a million activities and clubs, including several in the performing arts. A few weeks ago we attended a song and dance review put on by the Spotlight Club in a beautiful onsite theater. We saw their show last year as well, and both times I sat there watching the dancers--all fellow AARP members--thinking, "I want in."

And so at a club fair held in one of the ballrooms, I inquired about joining the Spotlight Club. The guy at the table was quick to advise me, ever so diplomatically, that the Spotlight Club was kind of an elite group with more professional level members than some of the other performing arts clubs. I understood; this community of 12,000 is full of performers at the pro level, including the woman who sang the "Meow, meow, meow, meow" cat food commercial. (Truth.) Yet he probably couldn't turn any interested parties away, so I paid my annual dues and became an official card carrying member.

I learned that dancer auditions for their May 2020 show will be held on June 17, and received an email with videos of the choreographer walking through the two audition routines. After viewing the videos probably a hundred times, and tripping over myself in my kitchen as I tried to follow along, I wanted to cry. I'm smart enough to know this is way beyond my capabilities.

You see, I'm not really a dancer; my "formal" dance training is limited to a few years of ballet in middle school and some sporadic classes over the next several decades. I do love to dance, though, and I'm sure I'd be voted Miss Show-Off by the gals in my Zumba class, but confidence does not equal ability. My dance style? Imagine a stripper with cerebral palsy or Elaine's dancing in Seinfeld.

So anyway, yesterday I went to a class put on by the choreographer to help everyone prepare for the audition next month. Even though I arrived promptly at noon, the session obviously was already well underway.  About ten dancers--in full makeup, black dance garb and character shoes--sat in the corner as the choreographer held court, and when I walked in everything stopped like "When Merrill Lynch speaks..."

Certain that I had stumbled into the wrong room, one of the women, who identified herself as the president of the group, rushed over to question me, this unshowered wretch in sloppy gym garb and gray Sketchers, only to determine that yep, I was, in fact, in the right place. I expected her to start fanning herself like I'd just said, "Could ya please pass the jelly?" (That will be my final reference to vintage commercials.)

"I thought this started at noon?" I whispered. She kind of glared at me and said, "We arrive early to stretch."


We went through the routines, and yes, I am in over my head. Nonetheless, the dancers, who clearly have been in many productions together and seem like quite an insulated group, actually did seem to warm up to me. (They should--I'm a lovely f*cking person!) One of the really good ones, who when I first walked in had her leg stretched over her head to the wall behind her, came over during a break and told me to stick with it, and not in a condescending way. Another woman was especially nice, but I'm quite sure that's only because she's no longer the Mississippi of the group.

I am WAY out of my comfort zone, but I am going to stick with it. I'll be joining a few of the dancers on Wednesday night to go over the routines again, and there's another prep class with the choreographer next Saturday, to which I shall arrive 20 minutes early.

My first goal is to just to get to--and through--the audition. As I've learned from the great Dr. Leo Marvin, everything starts with baby steps. It's just a little harder when you have two left feet.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Leaving the "love palace" and ready for a change!

It's been so long since I've written on my blog--almost two and a half years--I've almost forgotten how to work this thing. And who knows, maybe this will be my last post for another two and a half years.  Or ever.  I hope not.

We're leaving the "love palace" at the end of the month.  Mike's kids moved to New Jersey with their mom in June of last year and it's taken us this long to conclude that 4000 square feet for only two people is a wee bit on the crazy side. So we're downsizing to 2700 square feet, which is still more than double the size of the house I grew up in on Lincoln Avenue in Albany and shared with four siblings, two parents, and a dog.

Our next stop, and I can hardly say this with a straight face, will be Sun City Anthem, a 55+ community just up the hill from where we are now.  Yes, it's come to this. If you've ever been through a 55+ community, you may have noticed the average age is actually more like 65+. Or 75+.  Or whatever, all I know is I'm gonna look like a friggin' supermodel strutting around the pool at the community center. Okay, yeah, I said it.

Seriously, that place really appeals to me. For one, "active adults" are generally pretty well behaved, and the older I get, the more I appreciate people who mind their manners. Yeah, I said that, too. Also, it will be nice to have someone else take care of the pool.  Keeping our pool clean now is a Sisyphean task--one day it can be pristine and then a good wind and rain storm will turn it into a Louisiana swamp. (First-world problem, I know.)

Mostly I am eager to plug into the dance and yoga classes they offer, and make good use of their beautiful exercise facilities. Plus they have their own TV station and a performance arts group that I want to get involved with. I never thought I'd say this, but can't wait to see what it will be like to be a part of this community.

Of course, we could hate it.  But that's the beauty of renting.  Whatev.  We'll move on. Right now I'm psyched.  We're purging, getting rid of crap that doesn't bring us joy.  Making room for new energy.

Just the thought of this change of scenery is stimulating my creativity, which has been in the SHITTER for a couple of years now. I haven't written a goddamn thing except resumes and proposals, and I'm at that age where one by one my friends are turning 60 and some are even dying. I want to write another book, maybe a screenplay, do more speaking, direct more energy to comedy... and the most ironic thing is, in my day job all I do is tell people to follow their dreams.  And at the end of the day, I'm too tired to work on my own freakin' dreams!

Along with this move, I want simplicity.  Less stuff.  More saying "no."  More time.

Jane Fonda refers to 60 as the beginning of "life's third act."  This is where it all comes together, she says, and we become who we were meant to be, hopefully culminating in a satisfying conclusion. Well, I'm getting ready to script that third act and it's going to be amazing.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My bad

Oh, I suck for abandoning you like this.

It's not that I haven't thought of you.  Au contraire.  It's like... you know how you have a friend who you really, really like but you haven't talked to in forever and so you know you're gonna need at least an hour and a half to catch up but you don't have that kind of time, so you put it off, put it off... and then you start feeling guilty about what a shitty friend you are and then finally one night on your second glass of wine you're like, hey, fuck it, I'm gonna take 20 minutes right now and although I won't be able to say everything I need to say, it's probably better than nothing and so I'll just pick up the phone and be done with it?

That's kind of where I'm coming from.

All is well in my world, I'm happy to say. I was crazy--insane--with work for a long time, but things are calming down significantly now that I have another awesome consultant in the office and we're changing our delivery model a bit. I also decided I'm not going to take on any more freelance work or side resumes or life coaching (blind leading the blind there, anyway), which gives me more time for myself.  I'm doing comedy more and although I haven't written anything worthwhile in way too long a time, I'm starting to kick around a few ideas again.

It's a weird thing when work consumes your life.  I never thought it could happen to me; I lean way more on the side of alcoholic than workaholic, or so I've always thought.  But I've never had a job that I loved, a job where I get to help people and guide people in their careers, and in their personal endeavors, every single day.  And I have an amazing boss who actually appreciates what I do, and who has no problem giving me every tool and resource I need to do my job right.

But it's still not good to put all your energy eggs into a single basket; interesting people aren't one-note wonders. I want to be interesting again!  Plus I've had this blog since July 2008. It wouldn't be good to let this go.

And so I'm back.   

Friday, November 15, 2013

Keeping an open mind Part 2, courtesy of Andrew Dice Clay

Before I forget, my Kindle book is FREE this weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) so before you do one more thing, hop on over to Amazon and pick it up!


Okay, so if someone had told me 20 years ago that I'd be sitting in the front row of an Andrew Dice Clay show in Las Vegas, I'd have said, "Get the hell out."  Seriously.  I never cared for his type of humor during his heyday in the late 80s/early 90s; I always considered him to be kind of a misogynist. Not that I'd ever ever actually seen more than a sound byte of his act, but there must have been some reason why Saturday Night Live cast member Nora Dunn refused to appear on the same broadcast as him, right? As did Sinead O'Connor.  And in 1989, why would MTV have banned him for life?  Huh?

I've gone years and years without giving "The Dice Man" a second thought. Then last year I considered hiring a comedy coach, Michael "Wheels" Parise, but was hesitant when I heard he was the opening act, tour manager, and best friend of Andrew Dice Clay.  Uhhhhh.... He would probably not be a good coach for me, I reckoned.   But then I saw him speak at last year's World Series of Comedy and had a good feeling about him, so I gave him a try. 

Wheels ended up coaching me for several months, and it was the best decision I've made in my so-called comedy career. He's a fabulous teacher who could take me to the next level.  That's what fabulous teachers do.  And as a performer, he's funny as hell. Here's a clip from one of his shows at The Laugh Factory here in Las Vegas.

Anyway, Wheels would mention ADC to me now and then, and then a couple of months ago I had a client whom I really liked and who seemed really funny and he was into him, and then Mike and I saw Blue Jasmine, the latest Woody Allen movie.  ADC has a relatively small role in it, but man, he did an AMAZING job. 

I got more curious about ADC, and found out he's Jewish (!) (you know I'm a big fan of the Jews) and we're almost exactly the same age, so I was like, you know, let's check him out.  Wheels, God bless him, hooked us up and that's how we ended up front and center, spitting distance from Andrew Dice Clay at the Vinyl showroom at the Hard Rock.  

It was a fun show.  Wheels opened and he was hilarious.  Then there was a funny chick, Eleanor Kerrigan, who was quick-witted as hell. A perfect selection for the lineup. And ADC--I didn't really know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised.  He was amusing; dare I say, there was something endearing about him?  Like he might be one of those guys whose stage personal is so unlike how they are in real life. Just a guess.

You can see some great photos of the three of them on this site.

So getting back to Blue Jasmine.  Gotta say I did not love the movie, even though my man Louis CK had a bit part.  The acting is amazing, though; it's truly an actor's film, but OMG it is depressing as hell.  But again, Andrew Dice Clay was a real highlight.

Have you ever noticed how well comedians do in dramatic roles? I'm not thinking "Mr. Laughter-Through-Tears" Robin Williams, but Louis CK and Jim Carrey and Steve Martin (LOVED Shopgirl).

So there you go.  Your pal Linda Lou keeps an open mind and wins again.  Just don't get used to it.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Keeping an open mind finally pays off--at a strip club

As you know, I hate compromising.  Compromising sucks all around; whenever I'm in a position where I have to compromise, I can guarantee you I'm secretly stewing (maybe not so secretly) because I'm not getting 100% of my way. 

Also I hate keeping an open mind. Whenever somebody encourages me to keep an open mind, I'm like, "I can tell you right now I'm gonna hate this. You can drop the issue, or you can insist that I play along and 'keep an open mind,' and then I'm gonna hate you as well.  It's your choice." 

I'm well aware that the window of opportunity of what I like is open but a crack; I'm a picky old bat.  And the beautiful thing is, I'm good with it!

Anyway, several months ago, the Sapphire Gentlemen's Club started doing regular comedy shows.  Every once in a while, one of the show's producers would call me to do a set there and I was like...  no. Strip clubs are not my scene, which is ironic because I swear to God I think I'd make an incredible stripper if only I could lose about 20 pounds.  Yes, I am totally in touch with my inner stripper.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I got another call and the producer assured me the showroom is beautiful with state-of-the-art blah-blah and it's really a classy place... and I'd be able to do my dirty material, which I kind of enjoy doing more than my clean stuff.  Plus I really like the guy, so I said yes to a Friday and Saturday night gig.

OMG, I had so much fun! The showroom really is beautiful, and it's right near the front entrance, so I didn't have to walk through the club to get to it. The first thing I had to do Friday night was fill out a W-9 tax form, which cracked me up.  It took me 56 years, and finally I'm filling out tax forms at a strip club!

The show was a mixture of comedy, magic, and burlesque.  I can only imagine how psyched the audience was to see me come out after this hottie.

 Wah-wah...  :(

This is funny. After my set, I'm sitting in the audience watching the magician I'd been talking to in the green room, and then... look what he pulls out in the middle of his act:

I nearly shit.  First I was going bonkers because birds indoors freak me out, and then I was like, WHERE THE HELL WAS THAT GODDAMN THING WHEN I WAS BACKSTAGE WITH YOU???  And then the guy pulled out a couple more birds and a cat and I just about needed smelling salts.

Needless to say, my mission Saturday night was to find out exactly where the birds were and the only time I spent backstage was right before my set, when I was talking to a really nice stripper who had started to read my book and she really liked it so I had to give her a hug.

Here's a group shot of me and my new friends:

So as you can see, this is the one time where keeping an open mind actually paid off.  But don't think I'm going to make a habit of it; I'm not about to start eating celery or tofu, and you won't see me at that Gravity movie everyone's raving about. 

But you might see me perform at a strip club again.  Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hang in there, pleeeeease!

I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate those of you who continue to check in on this blog to see if maybe, finally, I have another post up--especially you there up in Edmonton, Canada!  All of you... thank you so much.  (I'm still dying to know who the hell the faithful reader is in St. Francisville, Louisiana!)

So shit is STILL hitting the fan at work these days, and it's worse than ever.  I've been working 11-12 hour days and you know that is definitely not me.  The craziness has to end because I'm really starting to stress out, and you know there's no friggin' way I want to get a wrinkle over a job.  Plus I'm getting fat as hell.  UGH! 

Here's a picture of me cooking at a party we had at our house a couple of weeks ago. 

Now I know you're thinking, what the hell happened to Linda???  First she's working all the time, and now she's cooking?  Somebody call 9-1-1! 

(Weird or sad that I'm still wearing tie-dye?)

Anyway, I've decided this madness must come to an end soon and I will be reclaiming my life.  I have to.  So I will be back very soon, and with full details about what I did last weekend.  Here's a little hint, as posted on Facebook:

I swear, I'll be back very soon!  I love you all!  XOXO

Friday, October 11, 2013

Forgive me...

Forgive me for being such a shitty blogger lately.  I've been traveling and, as usual, am going out of my friggin' mind at work.  I love my job and can't believe how rewarding it is, but man, I'm turning into a one-note wonder with work, work, work.

I have been doing some comedy lately, which is good.  I did a set up in Boise last weekend and just missed winning a comedy contest at Shakespeare's Pub here in Henderson on Monday night.  I freakin' killed, but lost by .4 on the audience-o-meter.  Doesn't matter--it was a really fun night.   I'll be back there on November 4.

UGH!  That is a disgusting photo of me, but I have to post it to show the reality that being out of balance is causing me to let myself go.  I have never been in this crappy shape.  This is a wake-up call.  I'm too exhausted after work to exercise, but I gotta do something.

Enough of the complaining.  It's after midnight as I'm writing this, and if I don't get to bed, I'll have a miserable day tomorrow.  

Be back soon...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Support your local lions

Every day on my way home from work I pass the sign for the Lion Habitat Ranch on St. Rose Parkway just east of the M Casino, and always wondered what it's all about.  Then last week I had dinner with a former client who raved over it, so on Sunday Mike and I took the kids to check it out.

I loved it!  According to one of the handlers, there are 49 lions on site and one white tiger. (Wouldn't you think the tiger would be kind of lonely?)  The ranch is very low key and you can get really close to the animals. 

I'm not an animal person; if James Lipton of The Actor's Studio ever asked what my least favorite job would be, I'd say it's a tie between zookeeper and pedicurist. But I am fascinated by animals.  As long as they don't touch me. 

The staff was very nice and happy to answer all our questions.  Of course, I was a absolutely mortified when, as one of the attendants was showing us the little baby cubs, Mike said, "My wife wanted me to ask you if they make warm slippers."  OMG!  And until the lady realized he was kidding, you should have seen the look she shot me.

That reminded me of the time when B.H. and I were hiking outside Boulder, Colorado.  We passed a hippie family on the trail proudly walking their pet llama and then B.H. says within their earshot, "I bet the meat is delicious."  Another moment when I wanted to melt into the ground.   

Anyway, according to their brochure, the Lion Habitat Ranch supplied the lions for the MGM Grand for 15 years, until they had to leave the hotel in February of 2012 to make room for another nightclub or whatever (dumb move, MGM).  In December 2012 the habitat opened to the public.

The hours are limited; they're open only Friday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  It cost $40 for the four of us ($20 for each adult, kids were free), which is not bad, but not necessarily affordable for everyone.  There were only a handful of us roaming around the place last Sunday and it doesn't seem to be thriving, which is a shame because it really is cool.  If I were queen, this is what I would do:
  • Offer a season's pass for $30.  This would encourage people to keep coming back and would keep the place in the forefront of their minds.  We would definitely stop in there every so often to see how the lions are doing, but not at $40 a pop.
  • Spruce up the grounds a bit.  Add benches and places to sit and relax.  Make it a park-like atmosphere where people could come and hang.  
  • Add a cool gift shop and a food concession. A Starbuck's at the entrance would be fine with me and would increase awareness.  Hey, if people can spend four bucks for a coffee, they'd probably be willing to spring for a season's pass to check out the animals.
  • Set the place up as a non-profit. Recruit volunteers, create fundraising events. 
 Yep, I'm definitely the kind of person who would tell the pope how to say Mass...

So check this place out.  It really looks like it could use some community support.  Look how cute this one is:

Awwww... are you surprised that I'm so into these lions?  You shouldn't be--remember my creation in my backyard?

And I said would hate to be a pedicurist..

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Snooping around Liberace's Las Vegas mansion

Last week Mike and I watched Beyond the Candelabra, the HBO movie about the last 10 years of Liberace's life, based on the autobiographical novel by Scott Thorson, his much younger lover.  Okay, Mike watched only the beginning of it--nothing will make a heterosexual dude run from a room faster than a depiction of man-on-man action in the sack.  Am I right?  Even if one of the guys is Matt Damon.

I held out, mainly because the Emmy Awards are Sunday night and I wanted to see it so I'll know who to root for.  Michael Douglas and Matt Damon each give truly amazing performances, no doubt about that.  But other than the acting, I can't recommend the movie. It seems like something that just didn't need to be made.  It was sad and icky, and it sure as hell wasn't entertaining.  Liberace is not at all portrayed in a favorable light; he comes across as little more than a demented old, controlling queen.  I can't imagine a fan appreciating this film too much.  I could be wrong.

Anyway, last Sunday Mike took me to see Liberace's mansion at 4982 Shirley St. here in Las Vegas, not far from McCarran Airport.  Mike has lived in Las Vegas since 1966 and remembers riding his bike past Liberace's house when he was a kid.  He couldn't recall exactly where it was, but with the help of my trust iPhone, we found it.

According to this article, the property was purchased at the end of August for $500,000 by a British fan living in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, in honor of his 50th birthday.  In 2006, during the Vegas housing boom, the house sold for $3.7 million (ouch!) and went into foreclosure in 2010.  It sits on a corner lot with no land around it and is obviously in a state of disrepair.

Look beyond the dead tree and imagine Liberace himself, covered in jewels, under the canopied walkway.

Check out the Ls on the front door.

The place looks deceptively small, but in fact, it's a two-story structure with almost 15,000 square feet.  Interestingly, there are ten bathrooms but only two bedrooms. Lots of room for entertaining, but no place for overnight guests.

I looked in the windows and took a few pictures of the inside.


Here's a video I took as we walked around the property.

Sad when you think of how opulent the mansion once was, but it looks like the new owner will restore the house to its former glory.  It will be interesting to see what becomes of it.

Did you see Beyond the Candelabra?  What did you think?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Woo-hoo! I'm Miss September!

No, I didn't lose 25 pounds and pose for a Playboy calendar.  I wish!  Oh, how I wish...  But I am on a calendar. Kind of, not really.

Here's the scoop.  Seems that two of my beloved family members got themselves a "12 Months of Dachshunds" calendar last Christmas. Why? I don't know.  Even though we had a dog in the house when we were growing up, none of my siblings or kids have animals. We're not animal people.  So go figure.

Anyway, sometime during last Christmas' holiday season, these two beloved family members--undoubtedly aided by some sort of alcoholic inspiration--decided to name each month's featured dachshund after the real-life person the dog resembled.

Need I say more? 

They named the September dachshund "Linda" because of its beautiful hair. Of course.

How lucky was I to be at a party in Albany during my featured month so I could pose with my canine look-alike?  (To the first person who comments, "I can totally see the resemblance":  I will kick your ass.) 

But in real life, I can kind of see it myself...

Evidently, 2013 was the third year these two beloved family members got themselves a dachshund calendar, but the first where they named the dogs.  Actually, I'm kind of honored.  And thankful that it wasn't "12 Months of Birds." Now, that would be crossing the line.