Book of Mormon


The Orpheum Theatre in Memphis, Tennessee is hosting the hit Broadway stage production of Book of Mormon and I had the pleasure of attending last Friday night. I went with my Broadway buddy and his daughter and her husband. The night started off on a hilarious note when my friend and his son-in-law decided to dress as Elders, complete with black ties and short-sleeved white shirts. All they needed was a couple of name tags and of course the renowned book in question. They also needed to be pushy, obnoxious and a little closed minded.

As soon as we get out of the car, I’m struck by the dazzling lights of the Orpheum marquee as I always am. We walk across the parking lot towards the entrance when we see young men in white short-sleeved shirts and black ties and these men do have the Book of Mormon in hand along with some literature that included business cards to direct you to the Ladder Day Saint website. When I willingly accepted the little card, I honestly thought that this was part of the show and that the young guys were actors hired to promote this event. Until I looked at the card and realized that these guys standing on the corner in front of our majestic Orpheum were in fact, Mormons. Now the funny thing about all of this is when one of the Missionaries made a comment to my friend’s daughter. “Nice blouse” he says to her as we walk by. She was wearing a nice blouse, one that was off the shoulder and that highlighted her stunning tattoos.  Any young man in America would have to be blind not to notice her, but for a Mormon on a mission, it seemed like an out of place comment that only added to the humor of the night.

And, humor was definitely the theme for the night. I’ve never been into comedy very much as I honestly don’t find most of it funny. I never understood The Three Stooges or slapstick comedy and I have never laughed at Don Rickles or Rodney Dangerfield. Just never really got it. Never found their schticks even remotely humorous.  For the most part, I’ve also stayed away from adult comedy humor and can remember one time going to a show in Tahoe and seeing Eddie Murphy do his adult stand up and I was disgusted. His obsession with bathroom humor just turned me off and though I’m not a prude, I felt like one while sitting through his routine.  I’ve also been to quite a few Broadway plays now and I’ve enjoyed each one immensely, but I have to tell you this was my first comedic play and I wasn’t sure what I would think about it.

Can you say, laugh out loud?

Well, we sure did and it was an uproariously funny show that did it’s absolute best to offend everyone, make the ladies blush and had the Christians in the audience wondering if they were going to hell after laughing through this performance. It was fresh, smart and carried out all the offensive gags with just enough class, truth and candor to tickle just about everyone’s funny bone.  There were some people offended but for the most part, the crowd loved the boisterous performances and the raunchy humor.

It kind of surprises me that Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone had the foresight to write this comedy that puts such a strong spot light on the Mormon religion.  Oh, and it’s not just the usual spotlight, but one that absolutely screams out how ridiculous religion can be and yet at the same time, highlights how wonderful humans have the capacity to be. The Book of Mormon was most surprising not for it’s crude and in your face humor but for it’s very evident story line that life is about love and understanding and a desire to unite the human race into a race of true brotherhood that transcends so called religions and their dogma.

These creator’s of South Park hit the mark and then some with this so very human show. They gave us laughter without bitterness and brought humor to our human condition with intelligence, compassion and a good dose of self deprecating humor. One of the most interesting things of the night for me was watching some of the older, obviously more conservative theater patrons and their reactions to some of the more outrageous skits. An older couple were sitting right next to me and I was curious to watch their reactions, and it was funny to see them at first uncomfortable and embarrassed and then laughing so hard, they had to hide their faces in their hands. It was reassuring to see people like that be able to laugh at the absurdities of life.

The Book of Mormon shot to the top of my favorite Broadway shows and it might always stay at the top of my comedy list. It was an awesome production that left me feeling good with the underlying story-line that love will always persevere and that if we can’t laugh at ourselves, there is no point in anything we ever do.

Is the show for everyone? Absolutely not. It is definitely an adult show and I would hesitate to bring anyone under the age of 18. I also would probably refrain from bringing my uber religious friends that don’t have a really good sense of humor and an ability to laugh at themselves. But, for anyone else wanting to spend a night at the theater being tickled funny, this is definitely the show you’ve been waiting for. Oh, and don’t forget to go to that Mormon website and download their free book! You’ll see pretty quick how easy it was to write a satirical play about this particular religion. I doubt many Mormons will be flocking to see this one, but if any do dare to venture out, I challenge them not to laugh out loud.


New York Day Four

Tired girl checking in with you all. Just uploaded the pics from today and thought I would take a few minutes to share with you the fun that we had on this picture perfect Sunday afternoon. 

We got a late start as we finally allowed ourselves a little time to sleep in and once we were up and about and as I was writing my morning post, Susan went across the street and bought us two extra large coffees. In New York, you don’t even have to own a coffee pot, because there’s always a place right next door or across the street that will have fresh brewed java at any time of day. Yeah, one of the perks. 

We walked from the apartment to a completely new to me, subway station and boarded for what turned out to be my longest subway ride to date. I think we were on for just about an hour or so and it was a great ride. We talked and chatted and laughed out loud for most of the ride and then it happened. We came up out of the subterranean and rode the rails in the daylight. We were above ground for a couple of stops and then we descended once again. A couple more stops and we finally came topside for the rest of the ride to Coney Island. 

We had just passed the Avenue I station when we saw something so unique to New York, I immediately told Susan that we had to get off at this stop on our return ride so that I could explore. If you’ve already looked at today’s pictures, you know what made me want to see this up close. It’s a Jewish cemetery that is the largest, most crowded, most New Yorkish cemetery I have ever seen. I’ve never seen anything like it, even on television or in the movies. I had never laid eyes on a sight so bizarre in all my life. The pictures can’t possibly capture the enormity of this place, but from the train platform, it almost appears to disappear in the far distance as if it goes on forever. So we vowed to stop on the way back. 

Another twenty minutes or so and I can see the rides from Luna Park as the train makes it’s way to the crowded station at Coney Island. When we disembarked, It felt a lot like a crowded train station as opposed to a subway station because everything is above ground and there are numerous tracks to choose from. We get to ground level and exit and that’s also kind of backwards because we normally go up to get out. The first thing I see is the world famous Nathan’s hot dogs. I’ve heard about them all my life and since it was already lunch time, Susan and I headed there first to get some hot dogs and cheese fries. I also got a frozen lemonade which was perfect on this warm day. It’s all outside seating of course and while I ordered, Susan went to fetch us a table. I see her seated with an older couple and I bring our food to the table at which point Susan introduces me to our new friends from Oakland, California; which is almost home for the both of us. How ironic to meet this very nice couple that are from our hometown area and have lunch with them. He’s from Southern California and was born in Los Angeles proper. She’s originally from Rockaway Beach which is just up the coastline from where we were sitting. They’ve been married forever and we talked about neighborhoods and Brighton Beach and Russians and Jews and how wonderful New York is to have every nationality from almost every country. Then the husband pulled out his phone and showed a picture he had taken from the train on their way in to Coney Island and of all things, he had taken a picture of Washington cemetery that had so caught my attention. He thought it bizarre enough as well to have captured the image on his phone and we talked about how cemeteries in California don’t look like that. 

We enjoyed our chili cheese dogs and went in search of a photo booth because we wanted to create a photo booth moment to compare to the ones we always did when we were kids. As soon as we dumped our tray from lunch, there was a booth immediately in front of us and we both scrambled to get inside and close that little curtain. These days, it’s all digital and you have choices of sizes and borders and funny captions or goofy designs. All fine and good, but the old way was definitely a lot easier. Put your money in and out drops a strip with four black and white pictures. Today, we weren’t entirely sure what we were doing but it was funny and it probably cost me 20.00 as compared to 1.00 back in the day, but we laughed and it was worth it. Susan is going to take a picture of the photo and also some we had done at Top of the Rock yesterday with her I Pad and get them uploaded for me as I’m not familiar with I anything. 

After the picture taking, we strolled through Luna Park and made our way out on the boardwalk. There were a lot of rides not running at all including the Cyclone which is the only thing I really wanted to ride. The Wonder Wheel was operating, but at almost 15.00 for the two of to ride one time, it didn’t really seem worth it. The park is old and dilapidated and I know that all of it was almost destroyed by hurricane Sandy back in 2012, but it was kind of sad to see it in this condition. Especially when seeing postcards of when this park was the glamorous, seaside amusement park and beach that it once was. Back in the day, it looked beautiful and romantic and exciting. Today it looks like an old woman that is just about ready to move on to the next world. Another thing that struck me immediately was how empty Luna Park was on a Sunday afternoon in June. There wasn’t a person at the carnival games and there were no lines for any of the rides that were open. The bumper cars sat silent even though they were open for riding and even the Wonder Wheel had almost no one in it’s swinging cars.

You exit Luna Park right onto the boardwalk and from there it is quite a stunning sight of the Atlantic Ocean. Susan and I quickly crossed the boardwalk and made our way down the sandy beach full of people and kids and we stuck our feet in the cold Atlantic Ocean and wondered how anyone could do more than ankle deep because it was chilly water for sure. Not Pacific Ocean chilly. But, still pretty cold. We took a couple pictures and headed to the gift shops where I seem to always end one excursion or the other. 

After shopping for a bit we headed back to the station to start our journey home with a couple of planned stops. The first of course was Washington cemetery. We disembarked and probably spent an hour walking through two sections and marvelled at how peculiar this place really was. One thing that struck us was the fact that each plot of earth between the markers was usually less than four or five feet in length. It doesn’t seem possible to fit a full sized casket into a space that small. I understand the graves touching side by side, but end to end just doesn’t seem to be big enough to accommodate a normal sized adult. Another thing that was interesting and that I want to know more about is that many headstones had rocks placed upon them. Some had many rocks, some had a couple of rocks. Some would have a single rock on one side and then multiple rocks on the other. I don’t know the significance and I know have some Jewish friends. So please, if you are reading this and know the meaning and the symbolism of these rocks, please let me know. Overall this place was amazing and like so many other things I’ve seen in New York, I wished I had a whole day to explore and see every section instead of just a fraction of two. 

From the cemetery we boarded another train to the Park Slope area of Brooklyn. Susan wanted me to see the classic brownstones that you see so often and so defines how people think of Brooklyn and I’m glad we went. As soon as we popped up from the subway station we saw a donut shop/diner directly across the street and went in search of caffeine fortification. This place is classic New York and it looked exactly like you think a New York diner should look. We ordered donuts and ice cream and strong, wonderful coffee. They serve the coffee in these heavy, old-fashioned mugs that have the name of the local coffee company they get their beans from and Susan was so impressed with the mug that she asked the manager if she could buy one. This is New York where everything is expensive, right? Well, he gave her a mug for free and our entire little snack and coffee came to under 8.00! Yep, just like a good old fashioned, Brooklyn diner should be. We left the diner and walked around the neighborhood for a few blocks and even spotted the Statue of Liberty way out in the harbor which seemed almost impossible to me. No other part of the harbor is visible, but if you’re on the right street corner and you look the right way, Miss Liberty is holding high her torch in the direction of the sunset. 

That’s it for today. We’re back at the apartment and we’re making it an early night. We are doing our posters for the Today show after dinner and of course Susan bought glitter and letters and markers for us to use to create posters that will stand out so brightly that all of you will be able to see us. Yes, please tune in to the Today show tomorrow morning or do what my husband will be doing, which is using the DVR so that he scan the audience shots for us. Our signs will be telling all the world that we are celebrating 40 years of friendship in NYC! And then, that will be about all she wrote and we will be out of the city by noon tomorrow to begin our drive back to Nashville. I then have to say goodbye to her on Tuesday and complete the rest of the trip to Memphis by myself. 

It’s been the trip of a lifetime. One that I will cherish forever and will always hold the memories close to my heart. I’ve been so blessed to have a friend like Susan for all these years and I couldn’t imagine having a better vacation than the one that’s just about to end. I’ve had a blast. We’ve done just about everything you could possibly do in the amount of time that we’ve had and though I’m about to drop from exhaustion and I have blisters and a sore hip and back, I wouldn’t trade this life affirming, life changing experience for anything. It’s been priceless. And, I’m so glad all of you have been here to share the journey. 

Okay, time to close for the day. I will probably not post again until we get to the hotel tomorrow night which we’ve planned to help break up the long ride home. But not to worry, I will post pics tomorrow night and give you a recap of my last morning spent in New York. I have absolutely loved sharing my trip with all of you.

New York Day Three

Good Morning, my friends!

Waking up to a warm 72 degrees this morning in Brooklyn, NY. Beautiful blue sky out there and it promises to be another picture perfect day. It’s our last full day in New York and we plan on going out to Coney Island today. I’m going to catch you up on all our fun from yesterday and hopefully will be able to get a post in this evening when we get back sharing with you the pictures and the fun we’re going to have today. 

Yesterday started with finding out that the subway train that we normally take doesn’t run on weekends, so we scrambled first thing to find a bus that would take us to a transfer station that would then get us down to Rockefeller Center. Between the two of us and a grumpy, Polish lady, we managed to get on the right bus and get to the right subway station. Once again we managed to get to where we needed to be with not a minute to spare. The nice thing about that is we didn’t have to stand in line.

We entered Rockefeller Plaza off of 50th St. and we’re immediately ushered to the elevators that would take us to the top. Elevator capacity is only 15 people and once inside you can look through the plexiglass roof and see all the way up to the top of the shaft. The elevator rose quickly and while I didn’t watch the ascent it still gave me that fluttery feeling in my stomach and when I wondered why we feel these things, I read that just like your ears are a barometer and your skin is a thermometer, well, your stomach is an accelerometer. See what you learn while on vacation in New York?

The elevator lets you off on the 67th floor and you exit out onto patios that have plexi-glass partitions guarding the ledges of the building so that no one jumps. You’re able to see the city from all four sides of the building and it’s a panoramic view that is simply amazing. On one side you see Central Park in the middle of all the skyscrapers and you look off into New York Harbor and can see the Hudson and the East River. On the other side is a perfect photo op for the Empire State Building and of course you can see pieces of Times Square and the Broadway section. I would love to spend a few hours on the rooftop with a native New Yorker and have them point out all the different buildings and tell me their names and their histories. The different styles of architecture fascinates me and intrigues me. I live in the 21st century and it’s still a marvel to me how they built these graceful buildings that reach so far into the sky. We made our way up eventually all the way to the 70th floor which is literally the top of the Rock and on this level most of the plexi-glass partitions are absent as there are natural barriers to keep you from leaning over or falling off. To see the views again without any obstruction or barrier was a little bit like flying to have that bird’s eyeview. Seeing the city from that vantage point also allowed me to get more familiar with the lay out of this huge metropolis.

We descended as quickly as we went up and this time I was able to look up and watch us fall from the 70th floor. Pretty cool. Susan and I took a break, found a Starbucks (I’ve only seen maybe 50 of them so far) and got some pastry and an Americano and sat in the garden cafe that looks out onto the famous Rockefeller plaza. It was fun sitting in 30 Rock and imagining all the people that go up the twin escalators every day. 

After a short break we went in search of Broadway as I wanted to see every theater and look at every playbill. It’s just a short walk from Rockefeller Center and within minutes I was standing on Broadway. I had never been to a Broadway show until my friend, Lee began taking me last year to the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis. I’ve fallen in love with everything Broadway starting with my first one, Mary Poppins. To see the “real” Broadway and to stand in front of the famed doors of these historic theatres made me feel so complete. To read the play bills from Wicked and Once and Kinky Boots made it seem so real. Some of the theatres took me back in time with their bright lights and flashing marquees. I’m not sure I found every theatre on Broadway, but I did my best. The only thing that could have made this part of the trip any better, any more special, would be getting to see it with the man that introduced me to the theatre. One day, my friend, I promise I will take YOU to your first New York Broadway show!

We had planned on eating at the Stardust Diner and we did find the restaurant in fairly short order. There’s some renovation under way and it was a little hard to see the name under the scaffolding. We crossed the street and realized as we got to the diner that there was a line of people waiting to be seated for lunch. Not a little line, either, but one that stretched around the corner and half way down the block. I settled for taking some pictures and we reluctantly moved on to other sights and picture opportunities.

We finally took time out for lunch and found an adorable Mexican restaurant that had outside dining right on the sidewalk in front of the building. We were on 48th St. in the heart of the theatre district and I couldn’t help but wonder how many performers and Tony award winning stars had eaten here or passed by here everyday on their way to perform. Tonight is the 68th annual Tony awards live from Radio City Music Hall and to think I’m walking the same sidewalk that these stars have walked made me feel pretty special. Can you tell that I just love this town? You might even say, it’s my kind of town.

Broadway melds right into Times Square and before long I found myself standing in front of the place where the ball drops on New Year’s eve and the funny thing was that it was much smaller than I had imagined. Really, when I think of it, New York is a juxtaposition with everything being both larger and smaller than what I thought it would be. Hard to explain, but when you’re standing there, you’re overwhelmed with the enormity of the huge buildings and the dazzling lights, but at the same time, it’s a city block and while impressive and of course quite famous, it’s not as big as it seems on television. Susan just helped me with the word I was looking for: intimate. It’s an intimate setting blaring with bright neon lights and video billboards, but it’s personal and intimate. Thanks, Sue! 

We reluctantly left the bright lights and descended into the Times Square subway station to catch a train downtown. We popped up in China Town and we were taken back a century or so. Seriously. This is not the China Town of San Francisco which I’ve been to many times since I grew up not far from there. This is New York’s China Town and it’s hard to describe the sights and the sounds and the smells. It’s crowded with both locals and with tourists and the locals have to sort of hate the intrusion into their world that all us out of towners bring. We saw jewelry stores galore, restaurants and markets selling things that were unfamiliar to me. I recognized ducks hanging in windows and some of the veggies sold out of baskets, but there were a lot of Chinese items that I couldn’t even guess as to what they might be. There’s lots of street vendors hawking to the tourists, but you also see old grandmothers in traditional garb being helped to the market by their sons and daughters. The buildings are old and dilapidated with rickety fire escapes running up the sides of the apartment houses. It’s dirty with trash in the streets and grime on the hand rails leading to the shops and eating establishments. Once you get onto the side streets most of the signs are all in Chinese and I got the feeling that we weren’t particularly welcomed or wanted there. It smelled. It smelled of foreign spices and literally decades of sweat and tears. Chinatown seemed to be the hardest place I’ve seen in New York and it’s one place I didn’t dreamily think about living in. 

The highlight of China Town for me was finding a park to use the restroom and seeing two elderly chinese men playing a game of checkers in the park. Classic New York scene and Susan snapped a picture to capture that sweet moment. The bathroom was horribly dirty and very unsanitary and it was a side of New York that I had not seen up until then. 

We walked a few short blocks over and looked at City Hall and the Supreme Court building. Magnificent. Overwhelming. Huge. Grandiose. Old architecture that is monumental in size and adornment. We continued hoofing our way across city blocks and took a small left turn to get onto the Brooklyn Bridge. We then proceeded to cross the Hudson River on foot and of course I had the opportunity to snap another hundred pictures. At this point in the day, I think Susan and I both had the beginnings of blisters and the sun was hot and beating down. We took a few breaks along the way, and though the views were well worth that walk, we were getting pretty weary. I have to say that I love the fact that from now on when I see the Brooklyn Bridge, I will know what it felt like to walk a little over a mile on that historic piece of history and to see Manhattan behind me glistening in all it’s wonder and glory. 

What a wonderful day full of so many sights and sounds. Susan is such an absolute joy with her bubbly personality and the patience of a saint. We have always gotten along and this trip is no exception. We were laughing about it the other night as we realized that in forty years of friendship we have never had such much as one cross word with one another. Not one. Now that’s simply amazing and so unique and special. How blessed am I? You know my heart is full to bursting with gratitude and gratefulness for this trip and for this friendship. If I’m never successful at any other thing in life, I take great satisfaction in knowing that I was one half of one of the best and closest friendships ever and for that I’m eternally thankful.

Okay, peeps of mine, it’s time to get in the shower and get our day started. We have trains to catch and a roller coaster to ride. You know I’m gonna be taking a couple of pictures and checking in with all of you sometime this evening.

Whatever all of you are doing today, I thank you for going on this wonderful journey with me.Image