The Great Comet – Review

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing The Great Comet, a musical, currently in previews (opening night November 14th), adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. It stars Josh Groban and Denée Benton as Pierre and Natasha, respectively, and it was absolutely thrilling.

I would classify it as an opera, though there is one spoken line, it was definitely spoken to draw attention to it as the crux of the show. Anyone who has read War and Peace probably already knows most of the plot, but for those who haven’t (probably the large majority of people reading this) I’ll keep the spoilers to myself. As operas typically do, it has some stunning vocal performances and a few notes scattered throughout held for quite some time for emphasis, as well as one notable (and probably unnecessary) run of huge range from Lucas Steele as Anatole, though that does fit in with his character’s theme of being unnecessarily showy. Overall, the vocal performances were solid, with the exception of Denée Benton, who was absolutely mind-blowing.

You can’t talk about The Great Comet without mentioning the stage setup. Rather than the traditional stage in front of an audience, this show is set up with plenty of seating on the stage, behind the stage, and even in the orchestra pit. It provides a very unique interactive experience for the viewers, who, on stage, are sat around small tables which the actors frequently use in scenes. They even had audience members help pass props around at certain points. But it didn’t stop there. The entire theater became the stage. I was seated in the front row of the balcony, and I constantly had actors and dancers within an arm’s reach. In the second act, they passed out egg shakers for us to help accompany the orchestra! We got to keep the shakers too, I was ecstatic, though admittedly, I am a sucker for audience interaction. I’ll upload a picture of the shaker when I get home tonight.

The stage setup provided an experience like none other, but not just for the audience interaction. The orchestra added more to the show than just music. They were constantly playing in the aisles, were dressed in full costume, and were definitely getting into the music (or were pretty good actors themselves) by grooving along with head nods and shoulder sways. Speaking of the music, it was very atypical for an opera. I would almost classify it as grunge opera. Definitely a very modern twist, lots of heavy beats, and seems to be a bit inspired by Hamilton’s success with hip-hop/R&B music. Not really rapping (though some lines could be classified as rapping I think), but definitely very unique and entertaining.

The action was constant, and everywhere. At one point my girlfriend remarked that she didn’t know where to look, and I said that it really didn’t matter, because it didn’t. The dancers were everywhere you looked, usually in pairs, doing the same routine, so no matter where you looked you weren’t missing anything. There is the drawback that being constantly surrounded by action means it’s a bit harder to follow the main characters, and sometimes you get swept up in the action and miss a piece of the story, but honestly, it’s a small price to pay for the unique experience and genius of the set. Also, for an adaptation of War and Peace (or rather, an adaptation of a section of it), the story was surprisingly easy to follow thanks to the unique, funny, and very clever character introduction (listen to the Prologue to see what I mean).

The whole show felt like one big party, intertwined with some very heavy emotional scenes. On the party note, the song “The Duel” turns into a giant rave scene, complete with strobe lights, neon glow sticks, and LED strips on dancers’ shoes. It was honestly one of the most entertaining things I’ve ever seen on Broadway, though it definitely makes this show not appropriate for anyone with epilepsy. The strobe lights were VERY intense. It very much felt like a legitimate rave. Well, that is if legitimate raves featured dueling accordions.

Overall, this was one of the most fun shows I’ve seen on Broadway, probably second only to Book of Mormon, which was more funny rather than fun. If this show finds success, which I very much think it could and should, it may usher in a new style of musicals with a party-like atmosphere, catered to a younger audience. We’re already seeing musicals catered to younger people with Hamilton being the smash hit that it is, this is another step along the path to a youth takeover of Broadway.

I’ll end with scores for Tony Award categories:

Best musical: 9/10

Best lead actor: 8.5/10

Best lead actress: 10/10 (I think Denée Benton wins best lead actress this year)

Best direction: 9/10

Best original score: 10/10

Best choreography: 9/10

Best costume design: 9/10

Best lighting design: 10/10

Best orchestration: 9/10

Overall score: 9.5/10 – A must-see




Dr. Seuss – Not As Silly As You Think

I am still currently employed as a preschool teacher, and as one might expect, that comes with a bit of Dr. Seuss reading. Over the past year, I’ve found some interesting themes in his books that I really don’t know are the best.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the man was a fantastic author, and his books are largely beneficial to children, but there do exist some underlying themes that might turn problematic in the long run.

Take The Cat in the Hat as our first example. This book is a masterpiece of beginner literature. Seuss took a list of beginner words which he was told every first grader should know (accounts vary on the actual size of this list) and he took 236 of these words and put them all into a masterful rhyme and meter that was an instant classic.

However, the entire premise of the book is allowing a strange person (or cat) into their house to play games. It can be argued that this was all in the kids’ imaginations, or that the Cat was an old friend of theirs, but still, it says their mother was out for the day, and then this cat comes in and destroys the house, breaks all their rules, and doesn’t listen to the one voice of reason in the book (the fish). As I write this, I also want to point out that even if they knew the cat, it’s a problem. Yes, teach your kids to be wary of strangers, but also be wary of people you know. 90% of abused children are abused by someone they know, love, or trust.

This isn’t the worst, since as I said before, it’s likely this was just an interpretation of a child’s imagination on a rainy day, and the cat left with a message of always cleaning up his mess, so I’ll give it a pass, even if it’s questionable.

The real issue I have is with the book Green Eggs and Ham. This is a book with the predominant theme of trying new foods because you never know what you’re going to like. And that’s an important theme. Working with kids, I’ve used this book countless times to convince 2 and 3-year-olds to try the food they didn’t want to try. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. (side note: this book is another masterpiece. Seuss wrote it on a bet that he couldn’t write a meaningful children’s book with only 50 words. Go ahead and count, there are exactly 50 unique words in the book.) The problem though, is how the book gets this  message across.

Sam-I-Am relentlessly hounds the nameless character until he finally gives in. He chases him over hills, through a house, on a train, through a tunnel, endlessly until their train crashes into a lake and nameless finally succumbs to Sam-I-Am’s wishes that he try the food. While trying to get kids to try new food is an important message, they should also be taught from a very young age that no means no. I highly doubt any research exists on this, but I don’t think it’s entirely implausible that this book has had some effect on our society’s current problem with rape culture.

Sam-I-Am does not take no for an answer. And while the persistence is definitely not the predominant theme, or even highlighted as an underlying theme, it’s there. It’s indirectly showing kids that if you ask again and again and again and again that eventually the other person will give in. Saying no once should be enough in any situation. Granted, for young children it’s a bit different if they’re saying no to bedtime or to washing their hands or cleaning up, but when interacting with their peers, saying no once should be enough. This book depicts two peers, one of whom is saying no over and over, and one of whom that will just not give up until he gets his way. Definitely a poor message. Especially when I’m also trying to teach these same kids that they are allowed to say “no” when their friends ask for something they’re not done with yet.

Obviously, I don’t think Dr. Seuss meant any harm in writing this, and it definitely never occurred to me until I started reading it almost every day, but that doesn’t change that the problem exists. I’m not calling for a ban on Dr. Seuss books. I think they’re wonderful, wacky, and fun for kids, and promote early reading like no other author I’ve encountered can. But at the same time, if you are a parent or an educator, I think it’s key that you recognize these themes, however innocent they appear at first, do exist, and should be addressed accordingly with your child when they are old enough to understand.

Or maybe I’m just reading way too much into children’s books. Such is life with an English degree.

List of reasons not to vote for trump

He believes Obama actively supported ISIS.

He claimed that asbestos would have saved the twin towers.

He claimed that global warming is a Chinese hoax.

He praised Kim Jong Un for murder.

He claimed to know more about ISIS than our generals.

He claimed that we didn’t even know who was leading ISIS.

He claimed Obama’s birth certificate was a fraud.

He is pro-torture and, and claims waterboarding ‘isn’t tough enough’

He made fun of John McCain for getting captured in war.

He wanted to execute 5 teens who were wrongly accused of rape.

He said Judge Curiel was unfit to preside his case because of Mexican heritage.

He blamed the Tiananmen Square massacre on the protestors and praised the Chinese government’s “show of strength.”

He withdrew financial support for his OWN BROTHER’S GRANDSON who with cerebral palsy because he was mad at the boy’s parents.

Used his university to target children with mental problems, then coerced them into giving positive reviews.

He reprimanded Trump University employees for not hard selling real estate to families who could not afford them.

He was deceitful in his claims that he would be actively involved in the education at Trump University.

He encouraged Trump University students to max out as many credit cards as they could.

He disparaged free speech on the internet.

His tax policy would reduce federal revenue by $9.5 TRILLION over 10 years. It would also increase the national debt by 80% over 20 years.

Wants to bomb Iraq’s oil fields.

Made racist remarks about Pequot Indians when their casino became more successful than his own.

Incited violence at his rallies by saying he would like to punch protestors in the face, and also by telling his supporters he would pay their legal fees if they attacked protestors.

Called Mexican immigrants druggies, criminals, and rapists.

Wants to ban all Muslims from entering US. (might sound good at first, remember ISIS’ main recruitment tactic is to point out how much the world hates Muslims)

Doesn’t think Muslims can do their jobs.

Called the Geneva Convention “the problem.”

Gets his military advice from watching TV.

Constantly flip-flops his abortion policy.


Supports proliferation of nuclear weapons in Saudi Arabia.

He’s never held a public office.

Won’t release tax returns (first president candidate in 40+ years to not release them), even though the IRS says it’s okay.

Tax returns from the 80s show he paid ZERO income tax.

Wants to disband NATO.

Wants to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency. Wants to cut education spending.

Flip-flopped on Afghanistan war.

“You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young, and beautiful, piece of ass.

Said he would date his daughter.

Flip flopped on Muslim ban.

Degrades women based on appearance.

Thinks unemployment could be as high as 42%.

Claimed there is no drought in California.

Was endorsed by North Korea.

Praised Vladimir Putin.

Wants to murder the innocent families of terrorists.

Has banned the press from covering his events.

Is okay with Vladimir Putin killing journalists.

Wanted to bulldoze an old lady’s house to build a limousine parking lot.

His debt strategy is “print more money.”

Claimed Obama was responsible for the Orlando shooting.

Wants to put Muslims into databases, and wants “beyond databases.” (For the record, that’s how the Nazi’s handled the Jews)

Called a woman disgusting for asking to pump breast milk.

Has been endorsed by war criminals.

Wants to sever trade relations with Canada.

Is being used by ISIS to recruit.

Claimed the movement to remove asbestos (which causes cancer) was a mafia movement.

Got into a twitter fight with the parents of a dead US soldier.


credit to u/marisam7 on reddit for helping me find a lot of these and the links.

Dr. David G. Myers – Teacher, Father, and Mentor, but Above All, A Friend.

It’s been too long since I posted.

This is a post honoring this blog’s namesake, the late Dr. David G. Myers. By far my favorite professor in my time at The Ohio State University. (side note: I highly recommend his blog, which I will link at the end of this post. It’s a touch religiously oriented, which may not be for everyone, but as a non-religious person myself I still highly enjoy his writing and respect the hell out of his opinions.)

So let me tell you a story. I was a shit student. No lies. I didn’t study, I procrastinated, I went out and partied every weekend, even during finals. Shocking part about all this is I passed every class I took in college. Not with great grades, mind you, but I passed. At the time that’s all I really cared about; getting drunk and scraping by. I started my Junior year and signed up for classes the way I always do: checked for my requirements, then found the classes which fulfilled them and also started after 12:00 PM. One quarter I was forced to take a class at 11:30 AM and I overslept for over half the classes.

Really guys, I was *not* a good student.

But Junior year I had to take a specific literature class, I can’t remember what the reason was for why I had to take it, but the only available time slot was 9:30 AM. I was very unhappy. But I dragged myself to class anyway and it was there I met David Myers. But for the love of god don’t call him “professor” or “doctor,” even though those are both valid titles. He goes by “David.” He made that clear to us at the start of the first class. And I realized I kind of liked him.

Then he began his opening day lecture. Usually these are just a boring reading of the syllabus, which we did cover, but then he said something that has stuck with me ever since:

“The basis for all intellectual discussion is disagreement.”

He went on to talk about how he expected us to argue with him, he expected us to not take what he said as law, and he expected to have us change his mind throughout the course. And then I realized I loved him.

He lived up to all of those expectations. That class was the most vivid and lively class I had ever taken up to that point. The surprising part about it was that it was a class on Henry James, and up to that point, I rather abhorred 19th century literature. I felt it was antiquated and frankly, boring. But David brought these stories to life, and we had some of the most passionate arguments I’d ever had about anything in that class. It was amazing. He also (being Jewish) brought us bagels and lox every Friday, since he knew college kids were not fans of mornings, particularly mornings on Fridays. I didn’t skip his class once that quarter, something I can’t say for any of the other classes I took at OSU.

After the class was over, I had a new way of finding which classes to take; look up which classes David was teaching and take those. I actually took an extra course I didn’t need to graduate just because he was the teacher for it. I ended up taking three classes with David, two more than I took with any other single professor, and over the course of that year, we actually became rather good friends.

I recommended his classes to my then girlfriend, Kyra, who also loved him. Midway through the quarter, Kyra was suffering from some mental health issues (I won’t say too much since she is a real person and I don’t want to spread her business around) and attempted to end her life. After a night in the ER and her being admitted to the psych ward, I went to David’s class the next day. I got there early and waited for him outside the room. When he approached, I let him know that she wouldn’t be attending class that day and (with her permission, we had already discussed this) that it was because of the suicide attempt. He dropped his binder. Literally dropped it. His face was so shocked and he got very concerned, asking about her, and where she was staying, and how she was doing now, and all kinds of things that he didn’t have to ask. I was just trying to let him know why she wasn’t there.

I had mentioned that I was going to visit her after class, and David ended class early. He drove me to the hospital. He came in with me to visit her too. We all sat and chatted for a while, and it was then that David confessed to us a bit of a secret of his own: he had advanced stage Pancreatic Cancer. He was going to die soon. He was actually already well past the initial estimate of when he would die.

Obviously, we were a bit shocked. Here is this man, so lively and energetic, so full of love and passion for his class and his family, and he was dying. Literally, actually, dying. I don’t know that I’ve ever been so taken aback. I didn’t know what to say. I still don’t know what to say. Honestly, what *can* you say in that situation? Luckily, he had already come to terms with it, and he helped us again getting through the revelation of his own imminent demise.

The rest of that year was bittersweet. We continued to have our lively and entertaining arguments in class, and eventually David opened up to the whole class about his cancer, and you could feel the same shock which I had felt resounding through the rest of the class. This man changed all of our lives that day. He taught us all, in one stroke, that life was fleeting, and yet even though it will end someday that that’s not a reason to hold back or to lie down and accept it.

Life is a gift meant to be lived to the fullest of one’s ability. Not only did David do that, but he also taught all of us how to do that.

Thank you, David.

Link to his blog

Job Search and More

I’m currently working at a preschool in downtown NYC as the lead teacher in a 2-year-old classroom, and while I love the kids and truly enjoy my job, I know it’s not something I can keep doing forever. It’s stressful. The kids are great, but they never listen, they always cry, and it doesn’t change. I get one kid to adjust to life away from mommy and daddy and a new student joins my class and has the same problems. There’s no progression, only cycles. The worst part for me, I think, is that I get so attached to these kids, and when it’s time for them to move on from my class (it’s all done by age, not school year, so the arrivals and departures are constant), it hurts. I know it has to be done and they can’t stay two forever (parents out there know this feeling), but it’s tough to have to say goodbye to someone, even though they’re only two, you consider a friend.

So I’m on the hunt for a new job. I had an interview last Friday for a job writing scripts on a TV show (I won’t say more for confidentiality reasons, the show isn’t even announced yet), and it went very well. I think I could get that job, but it would be mostly as a freelance writer. They said they might bring some writers on full time, which would be amazing for me, but it doesn’t seem likely. So I need to brush up on my freelance skills if I’m going to make a career out of it. And that means getting serious about this blog. That also means I need to work on my social media presence. I have a twitter but I really don’t use it like I should. Facebook I have down, but maybe I should make a page for my writing. Maybe I should get some writing published first so I’ll have something to put on that page.

I also have a phone interview scheduled next week to be a tutor. The listed pay was shockingly high for a tutoring job, so I applied and got the interview. That’s a promising option, but I really don’t think that would be a full time gig. The hourly rate, if it is a full-time job, would translate to about 170k/yr . Somehow I don’t think the demand is that high for tutors.

So, I have some questions. Some for my benefit, some as food for thought.

  1. How do you break into freelance writing? How do you find the jobs? I see them all over Indeed but I never get any calls or emails back. Do I need to have experience to get experience? (hopefully this blog helps, but I’ll need to write about more than just myself)
  2. How do benefits work as a freelancer? I’m aware of, is that the best way to go?
  3. What are your job search stories? What do you do that you think sets you apart?
  4. A deeper question: In today’s world, STEM careers are valued very highly, and for good reason. However, most people view careers in the arts as low-brow, which is almost the exact opposite of reality. Have we, as a society, outgrown art? I don’t think so. There is still art everywhere, and at least here in NYC there are museums everywhere as well. There must still be some demand for art, but there’s no money in it. During the renaissance, artists were some of the most respected people alive (who hasn’t heard of Michelangelo?), but ever since the industrial revolution, art seems to be dying, albeit slowly. How do we get art back?

I’ll try and answer number four. I don’t know if we can, and if we can, it’s going to be very hard. People view art as a hobby these days. Why would somebody pay someone to do a hobby? Why is somebody going to pay a blogger when there’s such a plethora of free blogging sites out there? Everybody and their brother has a blog these days. I’m actually quite late to the party. And you know why? Because I do not view blogs as an art form. Blogs are a good way to express opinions and thoughts, but our culture now is so obsessed with 140 character limits that our attention span barely gets out of the first paragraph before we get bored. There’s no appreciation for art.

And that’s why we see the proliferation of clickbait articles like “10 amazing ways to do x!” or “you won’t believe what happened after y!” People want mindless entertainment. So we make our clickbait and our sometimes-funny one-liners on twitter in the hopes that somehow, we can scrape together some semblance of a living out of the thing we used to have a passion for.

You know I actually applied and wrote samples for a clickbait site not too long ago. I was kind of disgusted with myself. But here was someone that was willing to pay for the one specialty I have. And you can argue that it’s my own fault for not going into a STEM field, and in a way it is. I could have done very well in STEM fields. I scored in the 98-99th percentile in science for every standardized test I ever took. But here’s the rub: science and learning is *my* hobby. Writing is my skill. I love learning about random stuff. It’s why Cosmos is one of my favorite shows. Every episode blows my mind and I love it. I think it’s okay that I like science as a hobby and writing as a skill. Most people see it the other way around, and that’s okay too.


The problem is there’s not really any way to distinguish between the writing hobbyists and the career writers. To publish a scientific study, there are regulations in place. There are peer reviews and scientific journals, and experiments are held to rigorous standards. There’s no such thing for writers. There’s no blog sites that have credentials checks. There’s no degree qualification to write this post, actually. I have an English degree, and I’m telling you that, but I could be lying, and this site would let me post it anyways. How many scientific journals would publish a study without verifying credentials? None. But every blog will.

And that’s the problem. Everyone is blogging. From the casual bloggers to the experienced writers to the retirees and everyone in between. This creates a false sense of high supply and low demand. As such, employers get away with paying writers less. You can argue that STEM fields have more of a demand and affect humankind more, and therefore they deserve more pay. While it is certainly true that the people who are curing cancer and AIDS are saving more lives, please stop discounting the positive effects of good art. Art is popularly viewed as anything that evokes emotion in the viewer. This promotes positive mental health, which is a HUGE issue right now. The stigmas around mental health are very real, to the point where most people refuse to seek out a therapist out of fear of being seen as “crazy.”

Well, I have a bit of news for all of you: we’re all crazy. Some of us just hide it better. We can all benefit from art; it’s time to start realizing it.

Good Things Happen

I’m starting a blog as a CV of sorts. A place where I can collect my best writings and produce new content. I’m going to start by just copy/pasting some of my posts from other sites and the archives of all my old computers. I’ll produce new content as often as I can.


Anyways, this is my first post, A bit on the shorter side, but a good message.

Good Things Happen


A short anecdote from my trip home:

I was on the subway, during rush hour, in NYC, so obviously it’s a little tight packed. I’m about 6 stops from home when an older (but not elderly, maybe 50) woman collapsed.

Before she even hit the floor, 3 people were helping her back to her feet. Somehow, the crowded car cleared a path to the nearest seat. The person sitting there had already gotten up for her. Another man took a notebook out of his backpack and started fanning her when she sat down. At the next stop, one of the new passengers, who hadn’t even seen her fall, passed her a fresh bottle of water.

She ended up being fine, and looked very grateful. Nobody there knew her. Nobody had anything to gain from helping her. They just did it.

We always hear about the bad things that happen in the world. Don’t forget that good things happen too.