I saw "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"

Why I haven’t been posting blogs: I am taking a class and working on improving this website. The class meets twice a week and has actual homework and requires me to give up two entire afternoons and their adjacent whole evenings every week and, oh,  also there is the extra time spent dreading leaving, seconds blown complaining about leaving, minutes frittered away leaving, hours squandered riding the train, and stretches wasted panicking about having only half of my homework done. 

What I saw: “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” a new Broadway musical, with some songs from the first movie (but not all), at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, 205 West 46th Street in Manhattan.

What I did beforehand: pilates, chased down a $289 error while balancing the checkbook, baked the bread dough I made the night before, met with a tree guy in the drenching rain, riding lesson, drove to S’s new house, took the inaugural shower in my friend’s new guest bathroom, got dressed, talked to Radar. 

What I wore: Chinese-made Australian boots, James jeans black micro-cords, Danner belt, Eileen Fisher brown jersey go-to top, mushroom-colored cardigan with fringe, the Indian scarf from the gift shop of the Folk Art museum, black parka 

Who went with me: S., her husband, their two kids and au pair.

How I got tickets: S.

Why I saw this show: all the nights in 4th grade I spent when I couldn’t sleep, and didn’t stop reading until Charlie got his golden ticket; being able to sing all the words to all the songs in the original movie; knowing someone with kids who was going. 

Where I sat: front row, second mezzanine, between S. and her younger child L.

Things that were good: spending an evening with my friend S. and her family. 

Things that were sad: Augustus Gloop is still a strange, fat, hungry, carnivorous German, but other characters have been “updated” to include some Heroes of the Internet and a Russian mobster/billionaire. This remake didn’t have time for my favorite song, Veruca Salt’s “I want it now.” L. was upset that two of the bad children seemed to have been killed (one exploded, the other torn into five pieces). I have to say that I enjoyed my friends’ company more than the show. 

Things that were funny/not funny: Grandpa George’s jokes about wishing he was dead, the (unintentionally) comically undersized sets (think Spinal Tap’s Stone Henge), my laughably sincere hope that the Oompa-Loompas will be the last of the tiny-yet-jolly enslaved people portrayed in children’s literature (no longer orange-skinned in this production); grade A performers with a C+ script.

Something I ate: Shake Shack with S.’s fam.

What it is: proof that this children’s book classic should not be remade anymore. People should read the book, watch the original movie and leave it at that. 

Who should see it: unintelligible to anyone who hasn’t seen the movie(s) and/or read Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book. 

What I saw on the way home: a distracting, decorative throw pillow on the side of the road.

I had a dream

What I did: I dreamed I was in Vietnam.

What I did beforehand: bedtime has been tricky since the election. I try to get comfortable, clear my head and close my eyes and drift off. I have an old shoulder injury that’s been bothering me, and it inspires me to worry about my kids, what environmental protections a climate-change-denying, pro-business, anti-regulation congress and senate can destroy, how our Supreme Court changes with one or two new members bent on the reproductive enslavement of poor American women, and then, what about all my friends who are immigrants? Not to mention the white supremacists and our broken electoral college. Who can sleep?

But last night I somehow set it all aside and found a ten minute window free of anxiety, and just as I was drifting off to sleep I could hear my old dog Cherry, locked in the kitchen, but standing by the door whining.


What I wore: a politically opinionated t-shirt, TomboyX flannel pajama pants, and my wedding ring that doesn’t come off.

In the dream, I had a khaki uniform, with pockets everywhere including on my pant legs and my boots fasted with chromed latches like on my mother’s old pair of 1960s black Rossignol ski boots.

Who went with me: my cat, Schwartz, who takes up half the bed when the Bacon Provider is out of town.


How I remember my dreams: they say you should keep a dream journal by your bedside and write them down as soon as you wake up. Anything on my nightstand ends up being a drink coaster. Sometimes, I tweet my dreams. 


Why I saw this show: see “What I did beforehand,” above.

Where I slept: because of my permanently messed-up shoulder, I sleep on my right side, and mine is the right side of the bed


Things that were sad: I dreamed I was in Vietnam, in the early 1970s, towards the end of the war. Caravans of U.S. military trucks were taking soldiers and civilians and whatever anyone could carry down the bomb-rutted roads and out of the city. I don’t know what city I was in. There were people everywhere– women with groups of tired children, a very old man with an empty dog leash– all walking around and looking like they didn’t know where to go. 

Things that were funny: my job was to set up the children’s libraries the United States was planning to leave behind, as a gift to the people of Vietnam.  

Things that were not funny: the books, housed in a crumbling warehouse that might have been a bad-guy hideout for the 1960s Batman TV show, were carefully stored in clean cardboard cartons, their colorful glossy covers like new, their pages fresh and straight. And every single book in every single box, in every one of the hundreds and thousands of cartons, stacked row upon row was in English.


Something I ate: last night for dinner we made a spicy carrot soup from a new cookbook, called “Zuppe,” which means “soups” in Italian.


What it is: my friend C. thinks this dream is about being frustrated.

Who should remember their dreams: people who want to forget the real world


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What I saw when I woke up: I got a text quite early, from 19. He was offering to walk the dogs and feed them, but pointed out that Cherry had had accidents all over the kitchen in the night. It was my turn to clean them up.

Cherry is 14

I saw "Matilda"

What I saw: Matilda
What I wore: boots, tights, a denim skirt, and mascara that ran in the rain
What I did beforehand: ate the candy I found in my purse (I jacked it from someone’s office when I visited last week)
Who went with me: about a thousand strangers, some with children
How I got tickets: online, full price

Why I saw this show: while my favorite Roald Dahl book now is “Danny, Champion of the World,” when I was a kid I read “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” over and over. I would start at bedtime, knowing I could not stop reading until all the golden tickets had been found. I read many positive things about “Matilda” as a show, specifically the music and production. I agree that the music is much, much better than typical successful Broadway shows, and the production is exciting and engaging. Matilda is one of Dahl’s darker books, with many cruelties inflicted on the main character and her classmates. 

Where I sat: Row G, center, on the aisle. I met people who’d come from Philadelphia by train and barely made it on time, and a woman and her daughter from Hawaii. The ushers made efforts in the run-up to curtain telling people to move their coats and tuck away their bags, sometimes revisiting the same people with new issues. Indeed, the actors run into the audience frequently, and I reflexively tucked my feet under me as they ran past. I wondered a number of times how hard it would be to trip them.

Things that were sad: Matilda is emotionally abused by her parents at home and her headmaster at school. The bullies are buffoonish, and their insults are delivered for laughs. The “good ending” involves a lot of nasty revenge. 

Things that were funny: there are a lot of zingers in this very funny show. Early on, Matilda’s selfish mother defensively screeches, “Dinners don’t microwave themselves!!” The woman next to me snorted with laughter at almost everything uttered by the character of Miss Trunchbull, broadly over-acted by the hilarious scene-stealer, Christopher Sieber; as it happens, the woman from Hawaii and I kept setting each other off with peals and snorts of more laughter.

Things that were not funny: I got clocked in the head by a leg or arm just as the funny line, “Dinners don’t microwave themselves!!” was delivered. I gather that the restless child behind me was being passed from the lap of one parent to the other. There were many children in the audience, not all of them quiet. Wine and candy were offered beforehand and at intermission, and the Skittles were $5.

What it is: a very, very good musical. Songs and dancing are truly superlative. Regrettably shouty, though, which seems to be a Broadway thing. I thought the accents were uneven, contributing to diction problems, especially from the large cast of otherwise amazing kids, and it was particularly distracting in the opening number. I realize that Roald Dahl was English but I’ve always thought of him as an American writer. The accents seem unnecessary. 

Who should see it: Wannabe Wednesday Addamses, Sally of Halloween Town, anyone who appreciates a weird and wonderfully wicked story, people who can tolerate the ruinous quality of over-amplified singing. I would like to see it again, and next time get a souvenir cup of wine.

What I saw on the way home: a menacing number of NYPD marching up the bike lane on 8th Avenue, looking for all the world like drunken sports fans making their way to their cars, staggering away from the stadium where they just witnessed the disappointment of a tie game.


The crows were probably the worst of my problems in first grade. They swooped at me when I walked, tiny and alone to school. Sometimes I would sit on the step outside the back door of our house crying to be let back in. My heartless mother would lock me out, so it was school or nothing. Sometimes school was cool and amazing, like the day I found the book “Little House on the Prairie” in the library and read it. Or like the times Mrs. Anastasoff would get out her guitar and sit on her desk and sing to us. Or the day the war was supposed to be over, when kids ran up and down the halls saying “The war is over!” I didn’t know there was a war. I really didn’t. I only knew about World War II, which had been over for a long time.