Category Archives: Treats

…And If Opera Isn’t Your Thing, How about High School Musicals?

The Metropolitan Opera isn’t the only great musical institution that has been shut down by this rotten virus. The pandemic hit the US just as high schools around the country were preparing to stage their Spring musicals. The resulting cancellations have broken the hearts of thousands of drama club kids who have worked for months on what should have been one of their happiest and most memorable high school experiences.

Tony Award-winning actress Laura Benanti* did something to make things a little better.

The response was huge. You can watch some of the videos and read encouraging tweets from dozens of theatre people on her Twitter feed. You’ll find even more snippets at #SunshineSongs.

Nicely done, Ms Benanti!


*She also won the Drama Desk Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award. Twice. Each.

If you haven’t seen her on stage, you probably know her from her spot-on imitation of Melania Trump on late-night TV.

The Return of “The Far Side”

“The Far Side” website, which will post a “Daily Dose” of Gary Larson’s classic cartoons, launched yesterday. The site includes weekly sets of themed strips and doodles from Larson’s sketchbooks.

Best of all, Larson told the New York Times that “I’m looking forward to slipping in some new things every so often.”

If you’re familiar with Larson and “The Far Side”, I don’t need to say anything more.

If you’re not, click that link right now! You won’t be disappointed.


You may be wondering why this post isn’t loaded with examples of Gary Larson’s brilliant art. It’s because I’m honouring the artist’s wishes, which he explains in A Letter From Gary Larson on the new website.

Adam Rippon + Joni Mitchell + Ben Platt = Serene Beauty in an Ugly Time

Olympian  Adam Rippon turned 30 on Monday, and flipped the usual tradition on its head by giving a present to everyone else. You don’t get to be “America’s Sweetheart”, as he once described himself, without occasionally doing something really wonderful.

“Today is my 30th birthday. I couldn’t be more grateful for everything and everyone in my life. Thank you for always sending love and positive energy my way. I hope I’m always able to do the same for you.”

He skated to a cover version of “River”, by Joni Mitchell, one of the indisputably greatest singer-songwriters of the 20th century.  The song’s lyrics made it a perfect choice.

This version of “River” was sung by Ben Platt, Evan Hansen himself, who won the Tony and pretty much every other Best Actor in a Musical award, for his 2017 performance in Dear Evan Hansen.


So there it is. No theatrics, no dazzle, just a simple little performance bringing together the works of three masters of their arts to create something beautiful.

Christmas Market at the Vienna Rathaus

Here are some pictures from the Christmas Market in front of Vienna’s Rathaus, or “Townhall”. You can find smaller markets in almost every public space in the old city, but this one is probably the most famous and popular.

I wonder why Christmas Markets, so popular throughout Europe, have never really caught on in the US. There are a scattering of them here, especially in places with large German-American communities, but nothing on the scale of what you’d find in Germany and Eastern Europe.

Despite the lights and the music and the food and the mulled wine, visiting one of these markets always leaves me a little sad.

I’m not a Christmas person, but my mother was. She started decorating for the holidays about the same time that the leaves in Pennsylvania began to change colour, and didn’t stop until every room looked like a Santa’s workshop.

I think of her whenever I walk through a Christmas Market like this.

She would have loved it.