shopping

Product Review: Goody Secure Fit Ponytail Holders


It never fails.

You’re away from home, your ponytail holder has been slipping all day, you’re putting your hair back up for the 26th time, and *SNAP*– there it goes. The one ponytail holder you have on you has just broken, leaving you a disheveled mess of static and fly-aways.

Hair bands: Notorious for their rapid loss of elasticity

And it doesn’t matter if you had the foresight to bring a backup, because chances are it’s a piece of crap too. They all are. The elastic is always too tight, or too loose. The casing disintegrates against your fingers, or it comes unwoven like a dollar store finger trap. And if the innards don’t go kaput, the glue at the seam will.

And that’s before you even get them home.

I’ve had long hair most of my life, and for the vast majority of that time I’ve worn it up. As such I have purchased so many hair bands over the years I’m surprised my receipts don’t include thank-you notes from the manufacturers for single-handedly causing their stock to rise every time I check out. It’s the least they could do after forcing me to re-buy these crummy products that lose their shape and usefulness so quickly.

A thank you note, and maybe an apologetic shrug, too; one for each band I’ve had to tie a knot in so I could stretch another use out of it.

Hello lover…

(It’s not that they’re such expensive products, mind you. It’s just that they’re so crappy given their cost. A cost you pay again and again and again…)

I think I may have found a way out of that Buy-Repair-Repair-Rep@#$@*!@#&!-Toss cycle, however, in Goody‘s Secure Fit Ponytail Holders from their StayPut Collection.

I saw these for the first time on September 17th. I was a little hesitant to try them out because it looked like the rubber grips might get stuck in my hair, but I was desperate for something that would actually work, so I dropped $3 bucks (or thereabouts) on a pack of 10 and hoped for the best.

(In the world of ponytail holders that’s actually a pretty steep price for so few pieces. But what can I say? I like to live large.)

I swapped out my current p.o.s. for one of the new Secure Fit holders when I got home… and then forgot about it.

Honestly.

It went on comfortably, my hair didn’t get stuck, the band stretched a good amount (without being too loose), and once I was done it didn’t move. Later in the day I found myself attempting to fix my falling hair out of habit, only to discover everything was still in place, right where I left it.

I wore that same ponytail holder every single day (including removing it and putting it back in repeatedly daily since fixing my hair truly has become a habit after so many years of being forced to do so), and it was just as secure on the last day as it was on the first.

That “last day” came on October 31st when the band snapped as I was putting it on.

That’s right. I wore the same ponytail holder all day, every day, for a month and a half before it finally gave up the ghost.

A study in frustration

The picture to the right features two sad ponytail holders I’ve been using for ages. Both still have strong elastic guts, which is why I kept them even after they were only being held together by wilted casings and frustration. And you’d better believe your hair will get caught in that weak material and those angry knots!

The ponytail holder at the bottom is a Goody Secure Fit hair band. She’s a beauty, ain’t she? Unlike the reanimated corpses top and center… To the far right is the Secure Fit band I wore for a month and a half before it finally broke.

Notice how even after all that time it didn’t stretch out of shape? True the other bands can be jerry-rigged for continued use after breaking, but their serviceable life is as good as ended long before that *SNAP* actually takes place. Whereas the Secure Fit band gave me the same solid, reliable usage right up until the very end.

If you’re on the market for new hair bands and you’re looking for an alternative to the garbage they’ve been selling us over the years, I would definitely recommend you give these Goody bands a whirl. I found mine at Walmart, but I imagine you can find them just about anywhere Goody products are sold.

And if you buy them and don’t like them? Give them to me; I’ll gladly whirl ’em myself. ;)

Half Price Books Haul


My Half Price Books

Half Price Books‘ Labor Day weekend 20% off sale is my Christmas. Already awesomely priced books available at even lower prices than usual, a cozy shelf-packed shop buzzing with book lovers sharing recommendations with each other over what to read next; it’s like a physical manifestation of Nerdfighteria.

Today’s highly successful haul demands yet another post wherein I brag about my awesome finds. (Scroll to the bottom for a full list of HPB posts.)

Link-clicking fingers ready? Let’s go!

Books | Grand Total: $8.48
Dune Messiah
, by Frank Herbert ($0.80)
God Emperor of Dune, by Frank Herbert ($0.80)
Heretics of Dune, by Frank Herbert($0.80)
The Word for World is Forest, by Ursula K. Le Guin ($0.90)
Something with “mumpsimus” and “hobnail” on the cover and which I can’t name because it’s a present! ($5.18)

Grand, ain’t it?! I’m especially thrilled to be making such good progress on filling my Frank Herbert shelf. So far all I owned were Dune, and the Atreides, Dune, and Harkonnen chapterhouse books after having read the rest of the original novels via the library. In fact– now that I think about it, all I need now is Children of Dune and I’ll have completed my set of Frank’s originals. I just get cooler and cooler…

Also: I wish I’d been trained as a Bene Gesserit (by Donna Kummer).

There. I said it.

The Ditty Bops

CDs | Grand Total: $12.80
On My Way
, by Ben Kweller ($1.60)
A Passage in Time, by Dead Can Dance ($1.60)
To Venus and Back, by Tori Amos ($1.60)
The Hour of Bewilderbeast, by Badly Drawn Boy ($1.60)
Whatever and Ever Amen*, by Ben Folds Five ($1.60)
Seven Swans, by Sufjan Stevens ($1.60)
Moon Over the Freeway, by The Ditty Bops ($1.60)
O Brother, Where Art Thou Soundtrack ($1.60)

*I might already have this. If I do, this one’s all yours, bro.

And after all that I still have $6 left on a gift card I received for “actual” Christmas. I’m fighting the urge to go back tomorrow and put the remainder toward completing my Dune collection. Ah Life and all her accompanying difficult decisions!

**************************

Previous Half Price Books mega-haul braggy posts:
See Change
All things on earth point home in old October
Resting Before I Get Tired
“How much do you love me?” and “Who’s in charge?”

I. Love. Aldi.


I’ve shopped at Aldi grocery stores for years. They always have the products I’m looking for, and I know can depend on the quality to be good and the prices to be low. I’m not ready to tattoo their logo across my heart or anything, but they’re definitely my first choice when it comes to grocery shopping.

(Not my only choice, mind you. I’m not some obsessive weirdo about them. They’re just my first (and fourth) choice.)

Because I’m such a fan of their particular shopping-positives, it has always surprised me to hear some of the reasons folks have given me over the years for why they don’t- or won’t- consider shopping there themselves. It’s rarely a matter of the quality of the food, the prices, or the proximity of the nearest location. Those are nays I’d understand. No, it’s generally stuff like:

1) “They make you bring your own bags! That’s so inconvenient! I would never shop at a place where they don’t just give me bags.”

This might be my *favorite* anti-Aldi comment. As the nation moves ever closer to eliminating plastic shopping bags altogether, and as using cloth bags for grocery shopping is one of the few eco-friendly trends that’s actually catching on, this excuse just doesn’t hold up.

Not to mention the fact that by not having to keep a constant supply of bags on hand for free, unlimited distribution to every customer, they’re able to lower their overhead. Any time a company can lower its overhead: be happy! The less it costs them to run their business, the less they have to charge you to keep things going.

And for the record: You don’t have to bring your own bag. You can also buy cheap paper ($0.06), cloth ($1.99), and insulated plastic bags ($0.99) when you check-out, or round up empty pallet boxes from around the store and use those to collect your purchases.

As for the “convenience” argument, personally I like to save my purchased paper Aldi bags inside a larger bag in my trunk at all times so I always have them available in case I decide to pop in to Aldi on an unplanned trip. I store them alongside a few purchased bags you might have, too; my Target bags, Roundy’s bags, Trader Joe’s bags… True those stores don’t *make* patrons buy those bags and will provide freebies no matter how much you’re purchasing. Heck– they’ll even double bag your stuff if you ask ’em to. But then– when you don’t have to buy your own bags it’s hip to buy your own bags.

Go figure.

2) “You have to put a quarter in your cart to use it? That is so lame! Why don’t they just do a better job of collecting carts? And what if I don’t have a quarter with me?!”

This one is generally followed by a series of “Ugh”s and “Guh”s and “Pfffft”s. And for the life of me, *psh*, I can’t understand why.

Want the store to be responsible for collecting carts and returning them to cart corrals at the front of the store? No problem! But keep in mind their operating costs increase when they have to find, hire, pay, train, insure, etc. additional employees to perform that task.

They also have the added cost of buying new carts to replace the ones that don’t get returned. Having to insert that quarter to get the cart in the first place means you’re that much more likely to return it when you’re done so you can get that quarter back.

And it’s impossible to gather every cart as soon as it leaves a patron’s hands after they unload their buys into their vehicles. So the next time some selfish, ignorant, short-sighted, mouth-breather leaves their cart outside their car instead of returning it to a cart corral 10 feet away (can you tell this one really bugs me?), it’s still just as likely to slam into your vehicle even if there are people on staff whose sole occupation is collecting carts. But who’s going to leave their cart out if they have to return it to get their money back?

As for not having a quarter on you– yeah, it’s possible. It’s possible the first time you go to Aldi you might not have a quarter handy. But there will be people all around you with “Aldi quarters” lining their car cup holders. Toss ’em a couple dimes and a nickel and you’ll be on your way. And next time? Next time I guarantee you’ll remember to leave your own “Aldi quarter” in your car for your imminent return trip.

3) “They only accept cash? That’s so stupid! Why would they only accept cash? Don’t they know people only use plastic these days?”

Let’s break this one down a bit:

They don’t “only” accept cash. They accept cash, debit cards, food stamps, and EBT cards. The only things you can’t use are credit cards and checks. The reasoning behind that is that it costs them more to process payments from credit cards and checks because the CC companies charge vendors a fee for every credit card transaction, and because bad checks = Aldi not getting paid the money the check was written for, in addition to the cost of attempting to cash the bad check.

Again: It’s all about lowering their overhead in order to keep customer prices down. If they keep charging you less than everybody else does, you’ll keep coming back. Wild concept, I know.

4) “Those stores are all so tiny, and they don’t have the brands I normally buy. There’s no way they’re going to have what I’m shopping for.”


They’re certainly smaller than your average Mega-Conglomo-Mart, but isn’t that the hip way to shop right now anyway? And no fair railing about the ‘ugliness of corporate America with their SUVs and their over-sized supermarkets and their blah blah blah’ if you’re also the sort to say Aldi stores are too small! Not cool, man. Pick a side.

Besides which: Have you ever been into an Aldi store? They’re not like gas station chip-and-soda aisles, dude. They’re full-sized, fully-stocked grocery stores.

And before you write them off for having a more limited selection than your corner Pick ‘N’ Save or Food-4-Less, take a peek inside to see what they do have. You might just find their 25 varieties of breakfast cereal meet your needs as well as the 60 varieties at your usual grocery store. Especially when you consider the fact that most shoppers aren’t generally found stacking 60 unique boxes of any given product into their carts every time they hit the aisles.

And if you really just are not satisfied with what you bought there, they’ll give you a replacement product AND your money back. That’s not bad, right?

But I digress. Let’s get this “love letter to Aldi” back on a more positive track, shall we?

Before leaving for a month-long missions trip to Honduras this July, I emptied my kitchen of all-things-perishable, and of all-things-I-shouldn’t-be-eating-anyway. I came home to a refrigerator housing six cans of Diet Mt. Dew, a half-filled Brita water pitcher, a seven week old bagel, 12 slices of cheese, and a door full of half-empty* condiment bottles. It was time to do some major grocery shopping, so I paid a visit to the Aldi store on Bluemound in Brookfield, WI.

Twenty minutes after hitting the aisles I was checking out with my 41 items for a total of $66.84. I never leave this place without feeling like some kind of Grocery Shopping Conquistador. Minus the violence, pillaging, disease, and gold-lust.

Today's Aldi Purchases

Pictured: Two Mama Cozzi’s 12″ frozen cheese pizzas ($2.29), four boxes of Ghirardelli‘s Double Chocolate Brownie Mix ($1.99), two avocados ($.49), four plums ($.29), two GIANT nectarines ($.29), a gallon of low fat skim milk ($1.88), flat leaf spinach, hummus, protein bars, two boxes of cereal, tuna fish, yogurt, sliced mushrooms, a pint of grape tomatoes, seven boneless chicken breasts, light salad dressing, three pounds of bananas, broccoli, mixed veggies, mixed salad greens (the good kind, not the *iceburg stems* kind), chocolate yogurt covered raisins, a bag of shredded mozzarella, three pasta mixes, spaghetti-o’s, a loaf of oat bran bread, canned ravioli, 30 kitchen trash bags, an 8-pack of paper towel rolls, and a bottle of Bolthouse Farms Strawberry Banana fruit smoothie ($2.69)

Side note: That particular bottle of juice (same brand, flavor, and size) is “on sale” at Pick ‘N’ Save this week for $4.99 a bottle. I was so stoked at this particular find I had to Tweet the price for use by any fellow Bolthouse loving friends in the Brookfield area. Yeah– the price was that good.

Every piece of fruit I bought today is fresh, firm, and beautifully colored. The spinach and salad greens are clean, healthy looking, and whole. The bread is soft. The hummus is creamy… No cart wranglers, no baggers, no fancy displays. Just affordably priced, quality goods in a clean, bright, well-lit store staffed by friendly people.

Awesome.

*(For the record: I’m not really a “half empty” kind of girl. I just felt bad at my potential over-use of variations of the word “full” in that paragraph. We still friends?)

Honduras Blog #10: Of Sandals and Bloggers


How am I so behind on blogging?? We leave Honduras in TWO DAYS!! Time to get crack a’lackin.

Squee-worthy sandals from Naranja Virtual.

Tuesday 8/17/10
Last Tuesday Mimi and I went to Arte Giancarlo with Ana and Melissa. It’s this lovely, high-ceilinged store across from the Universidad Católica about 10 minutes away from the mission. Toward the latter part of our trip I’ve gotten pretty bad about not taking as many pictures of the places we visit, which is particularly a shame in the case of this place because it was truly a beautiful shop. 30’+ high ceilings painted a rich blue, sunflower yellow walls, golden orange accent beams in the corners, dark wood shelves to display their wares, and pewter.

Pewter everywhere.

Pewter for purchase, pewter for decor on every flat surface in the shop…

There were also separate sections for painted pottery, wood art, homemade decorative candles, jewelry, and shoes from Naranja Virtual‘s Colección Madera. (I would like to apologize to Becca Rea for not purchasing any of the aforementioned shoes, in spite of their awesomeness. They started around $95…) Bought a few presents there for the fam. Had to cut myself off from shopping any further, though, as Continental Airlines doesn’t consider “it was pretty!” to be an adequate argument for not having to pay extra for overweight luggage.

Next stop: Espresso Americano with the girls for a mocaccino and a chocolate chip cookie. You know how we do.

Later that evening Brenda returned to the mission with her friend Jennifer, and Jennifer’s daughter Megan, in tow. Jennifer and her husband have a farm-based mission out in the country. They’re building a house out there right now, and working with their new neighbors to see what can be done to improve their current farming methods.

A quarter-eaten papaya bigger than my head.

So much of the land here isn’t ideal for agriculture, but when you’ve got to eat you’ve got to eat! Ergo: Corn stalks growing straight out the sides of mountains.

And with all of the additional labor that comes from that type of farming, and given that this is how it’s been done for generations, there’s often not much impetus (or financial freedom) to explore alternative methods. Enter: Folks who can try to help you get ahead.

Or at least catch up.

For now there’s no electricity in their village, nor do they have running water, so bathing is done with a bucket “in front of God and everybody” as Mimi would say, food is eaten or thrown out as there’s no way to preserve it, and if you want to charge anything up (batteries, etc.)– plan on an hour long drive down the mountain into the nearest town.

Dear Lord,
Feel free not to give me that particular kind of strength.
Thanks,
Ruth

Wednesday 8/18/10

Mimi, Megan, El Capitan, Brenda, Megan

Jennifer and Megan needed to run a few errands in the city before heading back into the mountains, so Mimi and I joined in on the fun with them and Brenda.

By afternoon’s end we’d hit the hardware store, PriceSmart (like Sam’s Club), Mall Multiplaza, and El Patio, where we didn’t even need the 2-4-1 pinchos we’d ordered by the time we finished our appetizer-style first course. Each of our meals came with an order of platanos maduros, beans and cheese with tortilla chips, various salsas, and some kind of pickled cucumber with beets or something, among other things.

Shortly after arriving back at the mission house I got a call from one of my favorite bloggers, Madame Gumbeaux (aka Laurie) over at Honduras Gumbo. Deniss from the mission dropped Mimi and I off at an Espresso Americano (there it is again) just past the airport so we could meet her in person at long last.

That woman is a walking powerhouse. I don’t know how else to describe her. You get the impression there’s nothing she can’t tackle, and that it’d be fun to watch her do so, no matter what the project.

Laurie and me at Mision Caribe

And don’t believe what she says about her Spanish! After reading her blog I was expecting heavily “h”ed “holas” and a few “very gracias”es, but ended up hearing nothing of the sort.

Too bad, too. “Very gracias” is a fun one. ;)

After coffee we hopped into Pepe Burro (her truck) to hit up El Hogar, a bakery a few blocks away, for bread, bottled water, and a bit more chit-chat before the AC there froze us out. We drove back to the mission where I handed off the children’s books I’d purchased for her in the States.

And just like that the day was over. So soon? So soon. But they have to end some time or I’ll never be able to write about them all. Not even the dull ones.

Honduras Blog #6: Revolución Yip


Donna, her son Stephen, and Michael flew back to the States today. It was sad to see them go, but there’s something exciting about it too, you know? Like– here you go on the next leg of your own personal adventure, and it’ll be that much more interesting and informed having just completed the work you’ve been involved in here. (I’ll blog some other time about all the stuff they were up to; now I’m trying to get this post up before the rain cuts off the internet.)

Lunch at Church’s Chicken. L to R: Me, Krystelle, Mimi, Blanca, Brenda

Mimi and I went along to say our goodbyes at the airport (nearly missing our chance to do so when they ended up past security earlier than we’d expected – oops), and to enjoy another sweet treat from Espresso Americano. Yum yum $1.43 mocachino!

From there we headed to Church’s Chicken across the street for lunch with Mimi’s friend Blanca. Brenda and Krystelle joined us, which made it all the better. It’s the company that makes the occasion, you know? The whole thing was a little surreal. There we are in the middle of Tegucigalpa eating fried chicken, biscuits, and mashed potatoes with gravy, washing it down with Cokes, while an American football game was being aired on the two flat screen TVs hanging on opposite sides of our sparkling fast food restaurant in the heart of Central America. Or maybe it’s not that strange at all and I’m still just getting used to the fact that other places might actually want the things that other nations, and we ourselves, ridicule ourselves in the States for having (ie. unhealthy fast food restaurants everywhere, super hyped up sports teams full of overpaid players, etc.).

Deserted MAJOR thoroughfare, barricaded airport entrance, riot police with shields and clubs, and yours truly to prove we were there.

After lunch we walked outside to get a taxi to take Blanca home, and to take Mimi, Krystelle, and me over to Supermercado Yip where I could buy some school supplies for the public school we visited last week in San Lorenzo.

But there were no taxis. In fact- there were no cars of any kind. This is unheard of at that intersection; Church’s is directly across from the entrance to the airport. There’s ALWAYS traffic there, complete with enough diesel fumes to choke a herd of bison.

But today? Dead. And across the street blocking the entrance to the airport? A squad of military riot police with riot shields and batons. In front of them in the intersection proper? More police, dripping sweat in layers of black and bulletproof vests, loaded down with rifles.

A young man standing near us heard us talking about what was going on and he joined us in English. He said his name is Fernando and he lives in Miami but has family here. He said just a few blocks down (he pointed in the direction we needed to go) the teachers had the streets blocked off as part of the strike that has caused kids to miss school all this week, plus weeks- months- already this year at other times. You couldn’t take a taxi that way even if you wanted to, he told us. And he advised against walking that road in lieu of driving it. He said if anyone around us were to even touch one of the soldiers it would be sufficient to turn things violent. I thought of the police station we’d have to pass, no doubt packed with soldiers by this point, and just said “Yup.”

Power lines across from the airport. This is actually one of the cleaner telephone poles in town.

Fernando’s Civic-History-Lesson Time: He said when the people here want to demand their constitutional rights be upheld, the first thing they often do is go to the streets and stop traffic to make their voices heard. In a hub like Tegucigalpa, interference with traffic is a big deal. The whole city grinds to a halt if enough major intersections are cut off. And in the meantime every building within spitting distance of the blockages end up covered in graffiti. He said these gatherings shouldn’t have to happen, that the government should always do for the people what their constitution dictates. (Can’t argue with that.) However, he went on to say, in this case the teacher’s union is interpreting the constitution incorrectly for their own gain and asking for things that aren’t really constitutionally protected or guaranteed. It’s hurting the entire country’s children, he said, and higher pay isn’t a constitutional issue in this case so shouldn’t they stop?

I don’t know enough about the whole thing so what else could I do but nod yes? (And I later learned the blocking of the airport was done in an attempt to keep the president from flying out of the country for a few days. The attempt failed, incidentally.)

So back to Church’s we went to wait out the day’s “revolución” in the air conditioning. Ten minutes later cars were back on the road and we could continue on our way. As we passed the police station I saw that– sure enough!– it was crawling with armored vehicles and heavily armed men in uniform. That’s Friday for you, I guess.

After dropping Blanca off, Mimi, Krystelle and I taxi’d on toward Supermercado Yip, a two level store that sells groceries on the lower level and all manner of household goods and school supplies on the top. Noé recommended I go there for school posters when I told him how long it had taken me to complete my multiplication table poster by hand (4 hours!!). He said I’d love it, and wow was he right.

Supermercado Yip: School Supply Heaven!!

As soon as we got upstairs I was in absolute heaven. Aisle after aisle of school supplies, and all for cheap cheap cheap. In the end I bought 18 little notebooks (one for each student, plus an extra), 2 small abacuses (abaci?), a 12-pack box of chalkboard chalk, a chalkboard eraser, 3 pairs of scissors, alphabet posters in English and Spanish, a poster of geometric shapes, a clown poster that teaches colors, alphabet flash cards, two kinds of wall tape, an English/Spanish dictionary, a basic Spanish dictionary for kids, a 12-pack of manila folders, and two 24 count boxes of colored pencils. That’s 37 separate items. Grand Total: $30.31!!!!! Best store ever. If I lived here I would shop there all the time. Great great great.

Now to de-pricetag everything in the luxuriously cool 85+ degrees of our bedroom to the hum of two fans on full power. Ahh. This is the life!

Death by Kohl’s


Kohl’s

Who got a 30% off coupon in the mail for Kohl’s Department Store’s President’s Day Sale? ME!

Who instantly regretted entering the Kohl’s Department Store off of X in Waukesha on Wednesday? Me. :(

From the moment I walked in the store until several minutes after I left, my ears were ringing from the LOUD high frequency buzzing/ whirring/ chirping sounds from their various security and tracking systems. Oh my God. Ridiculous. Every time I came near an entrance to the store itself, a fitting room, or a check-out register, the mosquito-in-my-ear-canal noise became so loud I literally had to walk around the store with my fingers pressing my ears closed.

It’s not the first time the buzz of Big Brother has pained my hearing near department store doors, but this time was downright intolerable! The weird thing is my hearing isn’t particularly spectacular. In fact it’s downright *meh.* I’ve got annoyed friends tired of repeating themselves for me who’d vouch for the overall mediocrity of my hearing, in fact, which makes the whole thing even stranger to me.  I also really have to wonder how it was that I was the only person who seemed to be affected by the CONSTANT ringing if aurally bionic I ain’t.

No, guys. It really was That. Bad.

And then I got two pairs of pants and a skirt for under $20. Woo.

The end.

Don’t Dress for Dinner

We’re only a week into the rehearsal process so far- just blocking and stuff up ’til now- but it’s already looking to be pretty darn funny and I’m very happy and thankful to be a part of it. And courtesy of the generosity of a few fellow cast members I now find myself in possession of an unusually large number of comp tickets for the show’s preview night in mid-March. I’m hanging on to a few for the fam. As for the rest of the comps: Any takers?

The following is a quick run down of what’s going on with the show, including a chance to listen in -but not watch because that kills the magic ;)- on a rehearsal, and a brief overview on how the auditions from my last video all panned out. The best part? I kept it under 5 minutes! Woo hoo! I prefer to keep it under 3, but 5? 5’ll do…

Sorry about that vertical blue line in the video, by the way. I don’t really have any way to see that things like that are present until I’ve got the footage uploaded to my computer and I’m ready to edit. *shrugs* I can live with it.

ETA: The show has undergone major changes. Please disregard the comments above and the contents of the video. Related tags have been removed from the video. Thanks!

Torch Song Trilogy

I feel kind of bad that all I’m writing about this amazing production (“Torch Song Trilogy” by Harvey Fierstein at Spiral Theatre in Milwaukee) is this teeny little snippet. I took notes during the nearly sold-out opening night performance and intended to write a full review of it but kept not getting to it, and now the show closes this Sunday so I feel even less inclined to really dive in. Bah. I’m a jerk- I know.

I will take at least a moment to say, though, that Mark Hagen in the lead role of Arnold is worth seeing the show for all by himself. Beautiful performance, real, funny, sweet, honest. The role could’ve been written for him. He’s got this great knack for easing into the levity of Fierstein’s one-liners in such a way that you don’t feel jolted from the emotion of the moment. And some of the moments? Phew! Very emotional.

Another actor bringing in a fantastic performance is Brian Richards. I’ve seen Brian in a few other shows and have had the pleasure of working with him once myself (also with Spiral) and have always enjoyed his performances, but he found something new and different in this part that I’ve never seen come out of him before and I have to say: I loved it. Particularly his first scene with Hagen. There was a confidence there that just– it worked.

The two of them are so enjoyable to watch- charming, romantic, heart breaking, human. Their relationship speaks to so many relationships and so many truths about dealing with people in and out of the bounds of *significant other-ness* I found myself giving my “I totally know what you mean” nod to every other line the two spoke to each other.

All in all: I can honestly say I believe this is director Mark Hooker’s strongest show to date. He packed it with powerhouse performances from an eclectic cast that gels the way a cast should, and because he’s got a soul he cut it down from its original four hour run time to a much more manageable two and a half(ish) hours. It’s at Plymouth Church in Milwaukee by UWM. Tickets are only $10. Go. You’ll dig it.

And whatever you do? Dig it fast! As of right now there are only two performances left… (Saturday 2/14 at 7:30 and Sunday 2/15 at 2:30)

*yaaaaawn*

It’s 1:25 am on a Friday night and I’m sorry if this revokes my youth cred but I have *got* to call it a night. Alfred’s in his kerchief, I’m in my cap. It’s time to settle these brains down, y’all. Nighty night…