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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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   Royale Theatre
Wednesday, November 28 2001

Clones! That's such a fucked-up word! Oh my sweet Jesus! To clone is, by the sound of the word alone, to commit a crime against nature! This is the reaction of the decidedly Scientifically-illiterate George W. Bush and the puppeteers who control him. But to my way of thinking, my cells are my property. If I want to cleave off a few and clone them into adorable little blastocysts, even if I ultimately want to cover them with soy sauce and make them into Chinese food, that's my business.

This evening Gretchen and I went to see a genuine Broadway show at the Royale Theatre in Times Square. It was a one-man autobiographical comedy piece by actor John Leguizamo called Sexaholix. Gretchen had seen a show by Leguizamo once in the past and had loved it, so she wanted me to see this one.
My life experiences are broad in some respects and not-so-broad in others. I'd never been to one man comedy show or anything like the Royale Theatre in my life. It was a huge place, with something like 2000 seats separated into two main sections stacked one on top of the other with several smaller satellite balconies. The Royale featured amazing decorative detailing, especially around the attachment point of a massive chandelier that hung from the top of the domed roof. I asked Gretchen how the Royale compared with the Sistine Chapel, which she saw once when she was over in Italy. Her response was that the Sistine Chapel really isn't all that impressive to someone raised on modern marvels.
We had thirty dollar seats, only six rows from the stage. The woman just beyond my left elbow bought a glass of whiskey during intermission and the fumes wafting over from it gave me strong cravings.
Leguizamo's show had most of the hallmarks of minority/ethnic comedy, with plenty of self-deprecating humor making generalizations about Catholics, Hispanic people, and non-Mexican Hispanics in particular. He jazzed up his delivery with plenty of in-jokes, Spanish phrases, and well-nuanced Hispanic accents. But, being an accomplished actor, Leguizamo could do plenty of other ethnic accents. In the course of delivering the dialogues of a great variety of people drawn from an early adulthood in multicultural Queens, he spoke as a Korean doctor, an Indian (dot not feather) therapist, a bored Jewish housewife, and even a Jamaican nanny. It was a good show, propelled by Leguizamo's seemingly-boundless energy and occasional lapses into audience-inspired improvisation. Yet again it confirmed my belief that the best work of every artist is ultimately autobiographical.
As we were leaving the theatre, Gretchen overheard a WASPy woman behind her commenting that, though the show was amusing in parts, it didn't really speak to her. In general, though, the audience had been most enthusiastic. Gretchen said that it hadn't been your usual Broadway crowd. Most people at Broadway shows, she said, are "bridge & tunnel people," suburbanites from Connecticut, Long Island, or most especially, New Jersey. They tend to be more conservative and less responsive to sardonic wit than true New Yorkers, the sort who had come to tonight's show.
Over on 9th Avenue in nearby Hell's Kitchen, we went looking for a restaurant. Eventually we settled on a cheap Chinese place called Westside Cottage II. (Chinese restaurants are always called Cottages in this part of town.) The moment we sat down, we were both handed glasses of house wine, some sort of pre-watered-down white. "Hmm, this tastes familiar," said Gretchen, referring to the time we'd had bait and switch Cabernet Sauvignon in an East Village Indian restaurant. The difference, of course, was that this watered down wine was being offered without having been requested. I ordered the squid & pepper sauce with brown rice, the latter of which was undercooked and was served in a disturbingly crunchy state. When our meal concluded, we were treated to yet another round of free alcohol, this time small glasses un-watered-down plum wine.
Demographic calculations went into the selection of our fortune cookies. Evidently we'd been classified as a hip hetero couple, because they read as follows:

Happiness is when you dream of a good fuck.
Happiness is when you suck pussy.

In the evening, inspired by an article in last week's New Yorker, Gretchen and I were joking about how funny it would be if we completely changed our accents to reflect the language every time we said a foreign word within the context of an English sentence. By way of example, Gretchen was using a Valley Girl accent as she made like she was ordering some Mexican food, but at the pronunciation of "burrito," she twisted up her face and trilled her r's in a moment of mock Latin authenticity. It was hilarious, and also something of a feat. One could strain a facial muscle that way.

At midnight, Noah the Cat had gone to the door and matter-of-factly asked to go out. It was past the time that I normally open the door for the critters, but since the process of opening the door is also something of a reflex, I just opened it without thinking. Later, when I tried to call him back, he did not materialize. It was now 1:00am and I was in bed. But Gretchen was worried about him, so I kept getting out of bed and going to the door to call to him, but he was nowhere to be seen. By now even Sally was growing concerned. She started pacing the back porch and looking intently into the darkness. Finally I put on Gretchen's black robe and went out to find the wayward Noah. I climbed to the top of the fence and looked into the next yard westward. Nothing. I blinked and stared into the darkness. Still nothing. Wait a minute - what was that triangular shadow with a white spot there upon the leaves? It looked just like Noah in his pyramidal sitting form, except it wasn't moving at all. I even threw something, but it just sat there. So I clambered through the semi-obstructed gates and sure enough, the shadow was Noah, just sitting there being contrary in the usual passive-aggressive feline way. I carried him back to the house and he immediately checked his dish.

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