Tuesday, March 12, 2019

On Classical Music

My local classical radio station, WRTI 90.1, recently asked listeners what song got them hooked on classical music. Here is my recollection of my gateway drug! 

I was an excruciatingly adorable, inquisitive primary school student, and our school's music teacher, Mrs. Horne, took a liking to me. Because she knew that I especially loved her History of Music class, she invited me on a special field trip with the OTHER fifth-grade music class  – the rival B-House!

Leaving the school when I should be in class? What a special and slightly anarchist gift for a conscientious fifth-grader!

So, on a sunny spring day, while my fellow fifth-grade A-House chumps toiled away in the classroom, I tramped across the lawn of Pennwood Middle School with my new B-House friends to a nearby church. Such an adventure that day! There, sitting in a wooden pew, I first laid ears on classical musical in the form of an organ performance of Bach's Little Fugue in G Minor. Slack jawed and astounded, I was instantly and forever hooked on classical music as the church pew rattled to the thundering chords and rolling melody of the piece.

Since then, classical music has been as welcomed an adventure in my life as it was on that fateful middle-school day. Regularly, the gift of classical music lifts my spirits, taking me on a figurative musical field trip while I toil at the office.

Thank you, Mrs. Horne, for plucking me out of the monotony of fifth-grade A-House and leading me on the path to becoming a classical music obsessee and devoted member of WRTI!

Monday, February 25, 2019

My winning SNL ticket entry essay.

I won tickets to a taping of Saturday Night Live! This is a dream come true! You can read all about my experience with the lottery and the actual show in the posts below.

In this post, I wanted to share my entry that earned me the tickets; I am very proud of it. 


I have been a "Wild and Crazy" fan of Saturday Night Live since that fateful night when my father plucked me from bed and sat me down in front of the TV to show me "something that you’re gonna love, Laura." He was right, and I proceeded to laugh my five-year-old butt off as I watched the Minkman brothers quality-check their squirting gag toilets and demonstrate faulty finger traps. What was this glorious show that aired so late past my bedtime!? Ah, this golden and formative memory has forever linked my life with that of Saturday Night Live’s, cultivated during my youthful "gag humor" years wherein I was never without my plastic sheet of vomit, my hand buzzer, or my Whoopie cushion. (My sense of humor has, of course, matured since then, but let's be honest, not by much.)

My point is, I've been watching SNL since those halcyon mid-80s years and have delighted in following the show as it evolved, serving to mirror and mock modern times as they unfold before us. From Eddie Murphy's “Hot Tub James Brown” to the glorious skewering of today’s Trump administration, my eyes, my ears, and my imagination have been yours.

That is why I think I should earn tickets to this upcoming taping season. Why? I, undoubtedly, will be a life-long SNL fan because I delight in the subversive, champion the creative, and indulge in the humorous. I eternally applaud and cheer on the enthusiastic talent breaking the rules, spreading their wings, and creating a comedic culture all their own within the walls of Studio 8H. I also really love to laugh. I think I've earned these tickets with my lifelong devotion!

I've been entering the SNL ticket lottery ever since I was of age to do so. So please, I beg of you, make this “Bucket List” dream come true for me! Let me join SNL’s legacy and witness the magic "live" for myself. Attending a taping would be like reliving that storied night back in the 80s when I was first transfixed by live comedy springing to life before my eyes.

To sum it up, I’m as loyal a fan as you can get - not a fair-weather fan, but a true, quality, lifelong fan of SNL who WOULD LOVE these tickets! As Herb and Al Minkman might proclaim, she’s no cheap knockoff… “She’s a Minkman!”


© L. Maire Maggio, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

My Experience at Saturday Night Live dress reherseal!!!

This is my experience at Saturday Night Live Dress Rehearsal on April 14, 2018. The host was John friggen’ Mulaney. People. My ghost is typing because I have died of joy. Attending SNL dress exceeded my expectations, and shattered any grand hopes and dreams I could ever conjure!

First of all, I entered the August lottery and won tickets.

You can read some details about the lottery entrance process, winning/notification, and seating here.

The anticipating had been building for me FOR DAYS, and after waiting for about a half hour in “The Peacock Lounge,” we were finally directed to freakin’ Studio 8H. We filed out the elevator and down THE hallway! (To confirm, an atmosphere thick with the stench weed hung heavy in that  hallway.) Then, up a few steps, AND I’M in the flipping studio (top level)! I die as my eyes and ears lay on the SNL band with friggen’ Lenny Pickett WAILING on saxophone! It’s cliche, but the excitement was palpable! A heavy, exciting fog blanketed the place!

By the way, SNL band is completely HOT and kept the whole show glued together and the crowd revved up for the entire two hours.They are, simply, amazing and without them there’d be no SNL.

We were seated in the back row center (great seats!), and continued to listen to the band and watch as the pages ushered in more guests. I sat in my seat nicely, silently freaking the hell out.

When we first walked in, the first thing I spotted was THE clock, but as I looked around from our seats, I couldn’t see it anymore. Turns out, the clock is raised and lowered from the ceiling at the beginning and end of the show!

Just seeing the set walls stacked up in the wings was amazing! The cold open was already set – a presidential looking room (not the Oval Office) and an interrogation/lie detector room.

I spotted Lorne skulking about the set, assessing and looking menacing; thus, I shall be graced with creative luck for the rest of my days!

Then Che, in street clothes, comes out to give the ole legal ”Leave if there’s an emergency” spiel and warmed up the crowd for about four minutes. (He was terrific!)

Next, Kenan comes out and sings…get this… Gimme Some Lovin'!! I’m dying because I have a Blues Brothers CD that I’ve been listening to non-stop since high school and it closes with this song! Kenan has an amazing voice! And Melissa, Cecily, and Kate came out as back-up dancers in sparkly gowns!!

Then it was time to start the cold open. Kate comes out as Jeff Sessions and Beck comes out as Pence. They did a little slow-dancing to the band’s music while they waited for the show to start.

***

Here are my reactions to the sketches. I’m listing them in the order we saw them rehearsed. The sketches in bracked in "[ ]" were cut for time and didn’t air. 

Cold Open: Yeah, a vein almost burst in my neck when first Ben Stiller, then DeNiro came out!

Monologue: John Mulaney is THE MAN! I only knew him as a previous SNL writer and was aware he did standup and had a TV show. At first I was upset that the host wasn’t a “big celebrity,” but then I realized that this might be a gift! I mean, this dude HAS CONTRIBUTED BEFORE! Has created brilliant characters and, as I discovered later, had sketch ideas that didn’t fly back then, but wanted to try again (Lobster Diner). So I lucked out because this was one of the funniest episodes all season! I was cry-laughing at his monologue. In all, John Mulaney was an amazing, hysterical, talented, and perfect host and writer.

Gun Walkout: Disappointed that this was the only sketch Leslie Jones was in. I friggen love her!

[1920's Circle of Wit]: Funny! The premise: a lowly writer (Mulaney) barges in on a table full of famous 1920s authors to trade some barbs. But his retorts aren’t witty - they’re flat-out insulting. Eg: “You’re a douche!” It was pretty funny.

Hollywood Update/Switcheroo: This was funny and upsetting! They definitely tightened it up and cut some content for air.

The Real Intros of Reality Hills (pre-recorded): 

Drag Brunch: Ha! This was brilliant! I loved the concept of the hired-to-insult waitress in drag randomly getting SO DARK with one of the guests. I didn’t think they’d ever reveal a motive - and I thought that was hilarious. But, the sketch concluded by revealing the waitresses’ motive and it lost some of the humor to me. One of the jokes was changed for air: On air, Beck’s line was: “The waitress couldn’t possibly know that the Dyson vacuum guy is my godfather.” In dress it was…”He couldn’t possibly know that I’m Blake Shelton’s Lawyer.”

[FishMan (Pre-recorded)]:  I didn't get this one. A man with a fish head was a star in a superhero fish movie called “FishMan”. But the actor really wanted to be a photographer instead so he left showbiz. One of his fellow fish-headed friends took the role as FishMan in his place. Then original Fishman becomes poor/a derelict because no one likes his photography. His fish friend rises in popularity, riches, and stardom, and eventually buys one of original FishMan’s photos for his son (with Adam Driver). Not my type of humor: It smells like the work of Kyle Mooney.

Jack White Song: “Over and Over and Over” Um, so apparently I really like Jack White.

Weekend Update: I was shocked to see they cut the (Beck?) Conor McGregor bit! It was probably the second funniest thing in the entire show (second only to Lobster Diner ). Beck played Connor McGregor as an over-the-top, probably drunk braggadocio who was regaling the crowd about his time in jail and his reasoning behind throwing a handtruck through a bus. It was HILARIOUS. I died when he called for a rematch with the bus!! I also enjoyed Kenan’s bit as Levar and loved when Kenan, almost breaking, was going on about there never being enough Band-Aids to prevent sandal chafing.

Lobster Diner: Omg. I can't with this one. It was by far, my favorite, and I think I'm dead because of it. When they first rolled out Kenan, the tank got stuck going through the door!! Everyone lost it. I eventually picked up on the fact that it was Les Mis, and that makes the whole thing better because I DETEST that show and this is the only version I ever loved! I died, then came back to life at “Clawsette!” Pete was breaking the entire time, and Kenan wore his near-break face and Kate chuckled. The bouncing claw over the lyrics was in-sync during dress and it broke my heart to see it off during live. That we got to see this IRL will forever be a highlight for me. Always.

Jack White: “Connected by Love” Jack White is my new weird emo/goth boyfriend
I wish my hair looked as good as his. When he left the artist’s stage and went backstage, there was all this hooting and hollering and applauding. I wonder what that was about.

Wild Wild Country: "Rajneesh Netflix Trailer" (Pre recorded): 

[Mar-a-Lago]: This sketch sorta fell flat, but the setup for it was involved! It poked fun at the cheesy, vapid, new money who stay at Mar-a-lago. It required two sets: 1) One with singers (Luke and Heidi) with a fake band singing a cheesy Mar-a-lago theme song (a la “Days of Our Lives”) in between scenes and 2) The interior of a ballroom at the resort. Mulaney would come out as a butler/host and make ridiculous announcements like “Don’t flush the beach towels down the toilet” and “We found a Bo Derek style wig in the pool. If it is yours, it will by drying out on the chaise lounge.” Chris Redd went around as a waiter offering stupid things like “Bacon-wrapped Cheez-It” (which, upon reflection, doesn’t sound half bad). Cecily, Beck and others played rich couples. (Eg: the most followed chiropractor on Twitter.)

Horn Removal: This sketch was PRICELESS. They added the “It’s not me, it’s the building” line for air. They also changed the following joke: For air: “Are you keeping your butt crack a zipper?” For dress: “Are you keeping the goldfish in your nutsack?”

[Parents/”I'm up”]: This was, cute?, but my least-favorite sketch. A group of college kids return to Beck’s hometown for the weekend. They’re hanging out at Beck’s parents’ house late at night after a concert. The parents (Melissa and…Alex?) are half-awake and trying to hang out with the kids and are not making any sense. Melissa kept saying  "I'm up,. i'm up!"  and tried to make them food, while the dad kept saying "I fell asleep in my chair.”

[Wedding]: Cecily and Mulaney are getting married. The best man (Luke) gets up to give a toast and breaks out into song (Dark Side of the Street.) We eventually catch on that he’s singing directly to Cecily and, when she’s into it, we realize they are both having an affair. Cecily gets up, with a mic and joins in on the song. Then they reference how they’re scared that “the three of us will get caught” and Mulaney asks “Three?!” Then Cecily and Luke start referencing a “Jack” in their song. Mulaney asks “Who’s Jack?!” Then Jack White gets on stage, joins the duo and does a guitar solo with them.

Closing/Outro: Ben Stiller was SO TINY. So is, for that matter, Robert Deniro. The closing for dress didn’t have the same energy as it does for air; I guess it probably feels a bit ‘fake’ for them to be all sentimental at dress. Mulaney is so gracious and is such a creator, he knew to thank the behind-the-scenes folk


***

All I can say is..I am in awe. Awe that as of last Monday morning, NOTHING ABOUT THIS SHOW EXISTED. Sure, perhaps a pitch or two had already manifested, but aside from that, this entire hour and a half of creative work sprung to life within six days - the sets, the costumes, the surprise guests, the camera blocking, the lines, the STACKS and STACKS of cue cards!

I mean, the sets alone were a work of art. As I remember back, I'm not recalling particle-board walls; they seem like actual entire rooms to my memory. And next week, they have to do it all again. It's impossible and crazy and amazing!!

And the organization kung-fu that keeps this ship afloat was astounding! From the notifying, managing, and seating of the audience to the seamless set-ups of the sets – it was mind-blowing. Studio 8H features three (small!) stage areas, and as soon as one stage was finished being shot, they  immediately set the other. The wings sheltered stacks and stacks of set walls, all organized so they could be stored, used, the stored away again in order seamlessly.

At one point, something (wardrobe?) had gone wrong, and the A.P. said “Don’t worry, you have 45 seconds.” Forty-Five seconds is a comfort to someone who is in a distressing situation at work!? That’s insane and gives me anxiety just thinking about it!

I’m also in awe of the changes that occur between dress and live. At 11:15 PM, they’re still at it, using Lorne’s notes to tweak, perfect.

Anyway, at its essence, SNL still exudes the “Let's put on a show! We’ll make people laugh and maybe save the barn” vibe and I will never NOT get behind that. I hope the show’s dedication, creativity, and pure nerve never dims and disappears in this world of criticism and cynicism.

I want this show to last forever and I will be forever grateful that I was part of SNl's 43-year legacy!

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Dining Dead

"Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity." ~Simon Weil

This quote hit me particularly hard today.

M and I went out to breakfast yesterday and had a grand old time. But as I looked around the diner, I noticed that a lot of people looked absolutely miserable: Young. Old. Couples. Parents with kids.

"What is going on?" I wondered. "Did they rescind the Lombardi trophy, or something?"

After some more observation, I noticed that at least one member of each miserable group was glued to their goddam shitty cellphone - the "dining dead."

A little girl pushed the placemat she had been doodling upon toward her father to show him her masterpiece. The only response she got for her efforts was a silent top of dad's head as he bent over the phone.

A couple in their 70s dressed to the nines sat across from each other in tight quarters. What should have been an intimate morning of "How was your sleep? Are you enjoying your eggs?" turned, instead, to a vignette of some poor dude staring at the top of his partner's head. I could see her phone screen and she wasn't even doing anything in particular. She was just flitting from app to app looking for her next hit. He looked dejected.

It made me so sad. Even when M and I don't have anything new to say at the moment, it's nice to just sit, eat, observe and think..

People, please pay attention to those around you - especially during special occasions like dining out. (I'm not suggesting you be attentive 100% of the time to 100% of those around you. That's impossible and will take you to the next stop to Crazy Town.)

Otherwise, you're just empty shells consuming food while sitting across from each other, or people sitting in a living room wasting time and life as a mute separate unit. And I'd bet that at least one person in your party is sick of looking at the top of your head and is wondering "Why the hell did I leave my house/room for THIS?" And if you happen to be hanging out with me, I guarantee you I'm thinking it.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Time Keepers

My dad was always the one to adjust the clocks at the beginning and end of Daylight Savings Time, and I always envied his task.

Even though I DETEST springing ahead, the whole ritual of altering time caught my imagination as a youngster. Plus, I was often enamored with shenanigans that occur in the dead of night. (I'm looking at you, Santa Claus.)

Back in the day, I imagined that dad performed his time magic precisely at 2:00 AM…because I'm a rule follower. I envisioned him huddled in the dark living room, eyes alert and glued to the big wrought-iron 70s sun clock, waiting for the exact moment. And of course, I figured that he was able to change all the clocks in the whole house AT ONCE.

There had to, I assumed, be some sort of...creature or being...involved in this annual practice: A Father Time-type figure who manifested, and with a wizened voice, proclaimed "ahead!" or "back!" at the precise moment, and then vanished. Or maybe little time devils sprang forth from each clocked device and ran amok with cloven hooves and round clock-face eyes until dad made the necessary adjustments, after which they were sucked back to the correct time plane in which they belonged.

And now it's my turn as official timekeeper of our household! And although I'm not going to give any secrets away about what occurs during this timely ritual – after all, we, the take-charge folk of the house who assume this task are a sacred brotherhood - it's every bit as whimsical as I imagined it to be.

Except for those timepieces that require me to climb up on a chair, require an unnecessary amount of button pushes, or is the friggen car radio…because who can figure that out? Then I'm like, "Screw dis."

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Sunrise, Sunset!

No, not the Fiddler song!

I just learned these interesting facts!

In PA for winter 2016/2017:

  • The sun will rise the latest (7:24 am) on January 4 and January 5, 2017. 
  • The will set the earliest (4:36 pm) on November 1st through November 14th.


The Winter Solstice falls on December 21, 2016. 

I always thought the latest sunrise and earliest sunset fell close to the solstice, but that's a lie! 

However, we receive the least amount of daylight from December 19 through December 23 (near the Solstice). Go figure! 

So, although we will continue to receive less daylight until the time around the solstice, we're already past the earliest sunsets of the season, which is all I really care about. I don't care if it's dark in the morning; I'm at work and in a zombie state anyway! 

So, the moral of the story is we already survived the hardest part (daylight-wise) of the year!! :) 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Hunka hunka!

Oh shit, why the hell am I attracted to Thomas Paine??