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12:43 pm - Sun 3/02/03

"What's The Matter? Don't You Like Musical Comedy?"

(Back at the internet cafe...)

In a recent comment in my guestbook, Linda asked if I believed the statistics about how few people crack a book after they get out of school.

In a word, Linda? Yes. Yes I do.

I find it easy to believe because I'm not sure the majority of people who come into the bookstore are "readers" (And I felt that even back at my old bookstore, though not nearly to the same extent).

We get a lot of students, and they always seem to want the Cliff Notes to whatever book's been assigned, no matter how short or otherwise accessible the book is (I don't think anyone should need Cliff Notes for To Kill A Mockingbird or Old Man and the Sea. And when someone wants them for Catcher In The Rye or Huckleberry Finn, I want to yell, "Come on! Read the damned book. It's really good!).

When I take away those people, the people who are buying books as presents (Often for people they don't really seem to know too well, since they often want me to pick something out for them), the people who come in for some specific bit of information who've obviously never been in a bookstore before (The question that always amazes me? "Where's your non-fiction section?"), the people who just hang out in the cafe to study or whatever, and the shoplifters, scam artists, and homeless people, not to mention the people who just come in for cds and dvds, and I don't know how many actual "readers" I see in the course of a day.

And I work in a bookstore.

And I notice this even in my own life; I have a computer, a vcr, a dvd player, a cd player, all of which are very easy and don't require much of me. And it's tempting, when I'm "too tired" to read, to let my tv do all the heavy lifting for my imagination.

And I consider myself a "reader".

And reading, for whatever reason, always came very easy to me. I was always "ahead of the curve" in that department, as far ahead of other kids as I was far behind them in math.

It's hard for me to really grasp, but other people probably have the same feelings about reading that I do about math; It's boring, it makes them feel stupid, and it's something to do when you absolutely have to, and not a minute before. I think it's kind of sad, but I kinda/sorta get it.

And I've always felt like something's wrong with how reading is taught in school; I feel like more people get turned off to reading by school than are ever turned on. I've seen it over and over again.

(Not sure what the answer is there, but I imagine it has something to do with figuring out what the student is capable of reading, or what they might be interested in reading about. But anyway...)

Well, this wasn't really what I intended to write about today, but suddenly it occurred to me that I hadn't really addressed that question of Linda's...


Had an interesting celebrity encounter at the bookstore day before yesterday...

Heidi Fleiss, the former "Hollywood Madam", came into the store with a little entourage, I guess to check on the sales of her new book, Pandering.

The general consensus by the staff is that they were "coked up", since no one's that excited to be in a bookstore.

I ended up dealing with them, and honestly, it was kind of annoying; She was harassing me about why the book wasn't displayed (It had been for weeks after it came out), when were we going to get more copies (We had three in the store at the time), etc and so on.

At one point, they wanted me to take a picture of them (One of them had a disposable camera, while someone else had a digital), so I did, then for some reason, they wanted me in the picture.

So, much to my bemusement, there are now pictures floating around of me and Heidi Fleiss, and her little group of druggie friends (Have I mentioned that people on cocaine are kind of annoying?).

My take on Ms Fleiss herself? In a word-Scary. Seriously, if "Freddy Krueger", "Jason", or any of those guys got a good look at her, they'd run screaming into the Hollywood Hills.


I was saddened recently by some deaths...

I never really watched Mr Rogers Neighborhood. I saw bits of it in passing, but my first real knowledge of "Mr Rogers" came from the parody Eddie Murphy used to do on Saturday Night Live.

But be that as it may, I felt a distinct sense of loss when I heard he'd died. Don't know what that's about, exactly, since there's no childhood nostalgia involved there, and of course, I didn't know the man personally, but it's there nevertheless.

I think maybe I'm just responding to the death of someone who, by all accounts, was a genuinely kind, decent man, who positively affected countless lives.

I remember seeing him, years ago, on The Tonight Show. I don't know what I expected, exactly, but I remember being somewhat surprised that he was the same quiet, kind, soft-spoken man that I saw in passing on PBS. No put on, no artifice, no joke.

Johnny was obviously charmed, and truth to tell, so was I.

I'm glad generations of children had him in their lives (And since those 900-odd episodes are still being run, generations still to come will have him in their lives as well...).

The cover story of this months New York magazine is about Lucy Grealy, the author of Autobiography of a Face, who died recently.

If you're not familiar with her--and to be honest, I'm not all that familiar with her--she had a childhood bout with cancer that basically destroyed her lower jaw. She had dozens of surgeries and procedures done as a result, but had to deal all her life with never looking "normal" (And I don't mean not looking "normal" like you or I might think of it. This was more like having children point and ask questions, and wondering if anyone will ever see past your freak show appearance to see the person inside).

I never read the book (I haven't even gotten to read the entire New York article yet), but my sense is that it was the typical story of "triumph over adversity".

But she didn't triumph. The adversity, in the end, turned out to be just too much for her. She had terrible black depressions, an inescapable loneliness, terrible chronic pain from all the surgeries, and addictions to various painkiller admistered to her over the years.

Again, this is someone I don't know and have little experience of. So why do I feel so sad about it?

Because I feel for her. And she obviously tried so hard to overcome her pain, her sadness, her loneliness, her hopelessness. She just wanted what I want, what we all want, and for some reason, it was made impossibly difficult for her.

And I don't understand why...


Store inventory tonite...

Trying to tell myself not to predict a night of boring drudgery beforehand. Not to make the night something I'll have to slog through.

But whether it sucks or whether it doesn't suck as much, it is just a night--Tomorrow's my "weekend", and I'm looking forward to that.

Well, I feel like there's a bunch of things I wanted to say that just scooted right out of my head once I sat down to write...

On the way out the door--to return some dvds to the library (Which was closed), then to do this--I saw a documentary on the making of Chicago on PBS (I popped in a tape before I left, so I'm going to watch it when I get back home).

I've had a "line" for awhile, where I say "I did musicals and comedies in community theater because that's mostly what there was to do", as if I was really meant for something else.

But you know what? I really like doing comedy, and I had a great time doing most of the musicals I was in.

And when I saw Chicago, my pleasure in musical/comedy performing came back to me; I didn't do those things because "that's all there was to do". I did them because they were fun.

But musicals also frustrated me in a way, because of my bass-baritone voice (With the emphasis on the "bass") and my appearance; I knew I was always going to have limitations in musicals, so eventually I started telling myself that I didn't really "want" to do them anyway.

But more on this later. I'm running out of time here, and I want to get back home and watch my show, then catch a nap before work tonite.

It's going to be a late one...

Should be back online again at some point tomorrow, but if not, and you want to write me, once again, it's [email protected]

(Keep those cards and letters coming...!)


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