A Study in Contrast

Jonny, then and now
Desperate Yentas who obsessed over the change in Renée Zellweger's appearance after she showed up at the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards in Beverly Hills looking nothing whatsoever like Renée Zellweger. She's obviously has a buttload of plastic surgery but she didn't end up looking like something non-human like Jocelyn Wildenstein or Suzanne Sommers. She looks like an attractive 45 year-old woman who just happens to not bear any resemblance to the star of Bridget Jones's Diary. The yentas who populate the social network were beating their breasts over this revelation but I figure it's Ms. Zellweger's face and she can do whatever she wants with it. The lady herself responded to the furor by saying "I'm glad folks think I look different! I'm living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows." I think she has a point. To illustrate, take a look at the photo of me on the left taken in 2010 and the one on the right taken of me yesterday afternoon. My hair's combed a little better and my beard's grown out, but I'm obviously the same guy that I was five years ago. And that depresses the crap out of me, because I think of myself as being a complete mess five years ago. Maybe if I'd gone the Renée Zellweger route and bought myself a new face, I wouldn't be the train wreck I am today. But that's for the yentas on the social network to decide. They seem to have an opinion about everything

Amy Ball, then and now
The usually annoying Amy Ball, who responded to the Renée Zellweger furor by crying out "I don't want to see any more Renée Zellweger. Please let's do something more productive, helpful, interesting, creative, [insert adjective]. Go ahead. Tell me about your obsession with carrots, post pictures of your new puppy, or give an update about the new project YOU'RE working on. Be Mary Oliver. Be Shel Silverstein. Be the person who inspires you. Those are just 2 of mine."What annoys me about this call to reason is that it makes Amy Ball someone who inspires me. So I did the same contrasting photo test with the picture of Ms. Ball on the left when we performed in The Apple Tree together in 2009 and the one on the right taken of her recently. She is clearly the same person, which means that the Amy Ball I thought was such a nuisance when she was stealing my makeup during The Apple Tree was actually an inspiration the entire time. So I'm going to go through all my old photos to see whose appearance has changed and whose hasn't. If anyone looks the same, that means that they're exactly the same person now that they were back in the day. If so much as an eyelash has been altered, they're a stranger to me now and I want nothing to do with them. I realize life doesn't really work like that, but at least it will give me a new project to report to Amy Ball about.

Stephanie Fredricks rockin' the house
Another of my Apple Tree co-stars, Stephanie Fredricks; who I saw in a Cabaret show called Triple Threat on Monday night. The concept of the show is to take three Broadway veterans (Ms. Fredricks appeared on The Great White Way in Wonderful Town) and have them perform a set of show tunes, ending with a "challenge"number in which they must sing a radio hit of some pop icon. Ms. Fredricks knocked it out of the park with her rendition of a Christina Aguilera song, but in retrospect that wasn't much of a "challenge"for her at all. If she'd really wanted material that would test her ability to entertain a crowd, she should have performed something from the repertory of your faithful author, Jonny M. I'd like to see Ms. Fredricks get a standing ovation by downing an entire bottle of vodka and then screaming a sentiment love ballad about Mara Marini (improvising the lyrics to the tune of "All By Myself”) while simultaneously crying and throwing up. Now that's what I'd call a challenge. And if she could raise the roof with my material the same way that she did with Christina Aguilera's, Ms. Fredricks would have my eternal respect. Whenever I do it, I only get a visit from the police telling me to keep the noise down.

Jesse Merlin with a Merliniac
Speaking of tributes, Jonny Award winner Jesse Merlin. I went to see Mr. Merlin perform his signature role of decapitated medical school professor Dr. Carl Hill in a revival of Re-Animator: The Musical on Saturday, and I was surprised to find that the show had developed such a cult following that many audience members came dressed as their favorite characters. This included one of his fans (tentatively referred to as "Merliniacs" until somebody comes up with something better) who came as Dr. Carl Hill in a rig similar to what Mr. Merlin wears in the show in which he carries around his own head. It was a fine costume but if the fan had wanted something truly terrifying to wear for the Halloween season, he would have come dressed as Mr. Merlin himself. The sight of him lumbering over the horizon wearing a purple velvet dinner jacket and carrying an armload of Yoko Ono albums and Doctor Who fan fiction paperbacks would be enough to send even the possessors of the stoutest hearts screaming into the night. I know that when I see it, I want to tear my own head off.

James Cleveland telling the world to
fuck off at the Musee D'Orsay in Paris
My college friend James Cleveland, who continues to correspond on the social network about his tour of Europe. I wrote last week about how Mr. Cleveland's Facebook posts about his dream vacation show be decoded as "My life is better than yours; fuck you."He took the idea and ran with it, actually using the phrase in his posts about the journey. But since Mr. Cleveland doesn't wish to offend his more genteel Facebook pals, he has adopted the acronym "MLIBTYFU."It's actually something of a status symbol knowing what "MLIBTYFU"stands for, giving you a feeling of superiority by recognizing at a glance that Mr. Cleveland considers you to be his inferior. The teeming masses live in a fantasy that he is posting photographs of his vacation to give them a view of Europe that they might otherwise never get. Only the "cool kids"are aware that he's actually just calling us all assholes. When I figured that out, I felt pretty darned good about myself.