Obsession, Thy Name is Fantasy Baseball

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I’ve heard that the role of the artist is to persuade his audience to share his obsessions. With the risk of elevating my measly blog to the level of “art”, let me tell you about my fantasy baseball team!

Intrigued? I didn’t think so. I’m well aware that besides my 11-year-old son (who HAS to listen because I don’t give him a choice) and my young adult stepson (who shares my baseball obsession and wants to play next year), I’m pretty sure NOBODY wants to hear about my damn fantasy team. Most people are like my wife: “Are you in first place? Good. No need to explain further.”

I AM in first place by about 10 points, which is a lot, and there are only two more days left in the season. Things are looking very, very good. So good. I won’t pop the champagne until the final out Sunday night, but suffice to say it will be very hard to catch me at this point.

This fills me with indescribable joy. How to explain?

I am a Mets fan. For those who don’t know what that means, let me safely say that it is not a good thing. I didn’t have many expectations of my crummy team this year, and they did not disappoint. Our best position player got hurt, our young star pitcher needs to get his elbow reconstructed, and the team was safely out of the pennant race by June. By far the most interesting thing about watching the Mets this year has been wondering what their insane broadcaster and former star Keith Hernandez was going to say next. Not a great year, although I’d rather be watching even bad baseball than go fishing or some other such nonsense.

So usually my baseball season is tied to the fate of my beloved but lousy Mets. If they are out of it early, which has been the case as of late, I’m stuck watching them be lousy.

Not this year!

This year I had my own team to examine every day, and examine them I did. All the time, with every spare minute. I turned over roster moves in my head for days, and would often wake up out of a dead sleep with the perfect idea about how to improve my team. I started examining pitching match-ups, looking up scouting reports on up-and-coming rookies, checking out lefty-righty splits for potential line-up changes. I even started to (gulp) listen to fantasy podcasts, hosted by guys who were even sadder than me.

Before you ask, no, there is no money on the line. There is no trophy, unless you count the pathetic little virtual one ESPN offers. I only know one other person in the ten person league, so there’s no trash-talking bragging rights. If I win, I won’t even get a handshake.

So why? Why spend all the time and energy? Why obsess over something so relatively meaningless?

I could answer that question existentially, I suppose. Why do we do anything, from seeing a movie to bowling? To stem the overwhelming dread that our lives are finite and we will all sooner than later be dead as a doornail and long forgotten within a generation. Happy, huh? But that would be too reasonable an explanation.

I could get all Freudian. That obsession in any form is just an avoidance of deep psychological issues that would invariably come bubbling to the surface if we stopped to think about them for more than a millisecond. I’m sure this is more than likely true of my situation, since I try never to miss an opportunity to suppress problems whenever I have half a chance to do so. That or it’s about my penis. Either or.

It might be writer’s block, that ridiculous, naval-gazing notion that somehow the stars need to be aligned with the moon in order to pick up a damn pen and write something already. What a perfect excuse! How can I possibly write the next Pulitzer Prize winner when I need to find a new closer?

It could be a distancing technique with my kids. Really, they’ve taken up an inordinate amount of my time so far in their relatively brief lives, and this is more important than your freaking homework, dammit!

It may be that my marriage is on the rocks, or that I am in the throes of deep depression, or that I’m a pathetic loser, or that I don’t drink so I have to do something, or that a butterfly flapped its wings and caused a tsunami, changing the usual barometric pressure in the northeast, causing all bald, pale, Irish-Italian disabled playwrights to spend all their time obsessing over fantasy baseball. Maybe it’s all of that.

Or maybe I just like it. I might have mentioned this before, but I remember seeing a talk show about obsessive-compulsives where this guy couldn’t close an envelope without checking 20-30 times to make sure he wasn’t sealing his daughter inside. They asked him if he suffered with his obsession, and he replied, no, actually, I quite enjoy it. Making ABSOLUTELY sure his daughter wasn’t going to Buffalo with the phone bill made him feel better. Unhealthy? Absolutely, no doubt about it, you bet. Did he feel better? Yeah, he did. The crazy lunatic obsessive nut-log did.

So, I don’t expect you, dear reader, or anyone else to really, really get this. And that’s OK. I don’t know why people watch the news. I don’t get gardening. I would rather be beat with kumquat than have to change the oil in my car. I don’t care who wins American Idol, nor do I really give a damn about ANY awards show, Oscars, Emmys, Tonys, Grammys, Golden Globes, what have you. I don’t understand why people take and post pictures of their food. There hasn’t been a movie released in the last ten years or so that I’ve felt the need to see in a theater rather than waiting for it to show up on basic cable. I think Jennifer Aniston’s personal life struggles are none of my damn business. Unless there’s nor’easter enveloping the eastern seaboard, I don’t know the weather until I look out the window. I don’t own a device that can take pictures besides my camera, and I have no desire to acquire one. I don’t play first-person war-based video games, and watching them gives me a bit of vertigo.

I do have a pretty good idea who next year’s St. Louis Cardinals closer is going to be. I fully support Paul Goldschmidt’s MVP candidacy, since he was instrumental to the success of my fantasy team this year. I followed the twists and turns of this year’s baseball season more closely than any season since the Mets won the World Series in 1986 when I was 16 and didn’t have a girlfriend. This is my thing.

Still don’t get it? That’s OK, you don’t have to. Just ask me on Sunday night if I’m in first place.

Sister Mercedes and the Temple of Doom FREE 9/20-22

Beginning September 20th through Sunday the 22nd, my ebook “Sister Mercedes and the Temple of Doom” will be available as a FREE download on Amazon. If you haven’t read it yet, download it! If you know anyone who’d be interested, please share! Thanks.

Sister Mercedes and the Temple of Doom

Non-Fiction/Humor, 5 stars/19 reviews

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00C479TN6/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

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“Sister Mercedes and the Temple of Doom” is a collection of blog posts from playwright and author Brian C. Petti. From the depiction of the author’s upbringing as a fat, shy Catholic school boy to the vagaries of family life to trying to live hand-to-mouth while on disability, “Sister Mercedes” is a sometimes hysterically funny, sometimes tragic and always human glimpse behind the veil of parenthood, marriage, pop culture and the world in general.

Moving on Up, to the Least Side

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Atlas holding up the world, which is slightly less heavy than our Attic Heirlooms dresser.

You know what’s really freaking fun? Moving. Right up there with dental work, airplane travel or talking politics with a Tea Party member.

We moved Sunday. It’s now Friday. The only muscle I can still use is the one in the finger typing this blog. Everything else is in the kind of pain usually reserved for watching a Miley Cirus VMA performance. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist. It’s actually in the blogging rules that you MUST include pop culture references that take over the planet for more than two weeks, and since the “Ben Affleck is Batman?” jokes had run their course…)

Moving heavy furniture does not jibe with my personal workout regimen, which currently consists of doing nothing physical at all and then taking a nap. I’m not just lazy, as those who follow my blog know well. I’m on disability and I have trouble keeping enough necessary vitamins and minerals in my body to manage tough stuff like brushing my teeth or climbing a flight of stairs. So what were our ex-roommate Jimmy and I doing moving our entire home full of heavy crap by ourselves? What we had to. Who else was going to do it?

For those who don’t know Jim, Jim is gay. Before you get all stereotypey, he grew up on a working farm and used to play very high-level volleyball. I was, I’m positive, slowing him down. The last time we moved I was working at a furniture store and the owner graciously allowed me to hire his son-in-law and another mover at a very good price. His son-in-law is an ox, mid-20s, maybe 6’3”, 240 and the other guy was just as big. Adam the ox said our furniture was the heaviest they had ever encountered. This was what we we up against (or, more frequently, under.)

We went and rented the truck in the early afternoon with Jimmy’s license because after everything was packed I couldn’t find mine. Surprised? Me neither. Little items like credit cards, licenses, and keys should be literally stapled to me forehead, not to remind me they are there, but as a form of punishment for stupidly losing them every time I sit on my couch. We were not ready for this. Jimmy had just starred in my play The Love Song of Sidney J. Stein that Friday, and now it was Sunday. I understand there’s a “coming back down to Earth” period after a show closes, but this was more like a “hurtling headlong through the troposphere and crashing back into the cold, cold ground like a flaming asteroid” period. At least that’s what it felt like when we were done.

The next eight hours (or were they days?) were a blur. A painful haze of sweat, Gatorade, Chinese food, more sweat, bruised and beaten muscles, extreme struggling exertion, more sweat and sweat. Did I mention the pain and the sweat? Good, I want to paint an accurate picture. Thank you Jimmy. I know your back will never be the same, but hey, I wrote a play for you, right? Right? Can you hear me, Jim, or did you pass out…?

Moving is one of the most exhausting things a person can do, physically and emotionally. There is only one good reason to put yourself through it, only one. Because you have no other choice. If it were up to me and I had no family I would live in a studio apartment with everything I needed within reaching distance of my recliner, and I wouldn’t move from that spot until there was a wrecking ball in my lap. Alas, there is more to consider than just myself. Like the fact that our not-so-gradually-shrinking income has continually forced us to downgrade and downgrade, chasing that extra $200 a month that will somehow deliver us from the almighty struggle. We haven’t caught it yet.

Since the time we owned our home (or at least shared it with the bank) we have had to move…let’s see…there was my mother’s (mistake), the cottage on the Irish Cultural Center grounds (even bigger mistake—never let the Irish be your landlords!), the place by the cow farm, the rented house in Durham that was sold from under us, the place we just moved from in Ellenville that we couldn’t afford and now this garden apartment. It’s fine, it’s a nice place and all that, but it’s just that we’re getting too old to be doing this every two years or so. Too old and too tired. After every time we’ve moved, Mary El has said something along the lines of, “That’s it! We’re staying here until we die, ’cause we’re never going through THAT again!” But we do. And do and do and do and do and do.

This one is it, though. We’re done, we give up. We have a good deal on a 14 month lease and they’ll have to pull us out of here with attack dogs when it’s up. We’re declaring ourselves the Sovereign Nation of Bankruptcy. Come get us if you have the guts. If you force us out we’ll just have to live in the parking lot with our excessively heavy furniture piled as a barricade on top of us. They did it in France, it can work here. The Petti Revolution.

Just don’t make us ever pick it up it again, Javier. Please. 

The Love Song of Sidney J. Stein in Newburgh, NY

My play will be re-staged in Newburgh for a one-night showing.  If you’re anywhere near Newburgh, stop by and see us this Friday.

Best,

Brian

After completing a successful and acclaimed run at The Fresh Fruit Festival in NYC, Hudson Valley playwright Brian C. Petti’s original play will come to Newburgh for one night only with an all-local cast. THE LOVE SONG OF SIDNEY J. STEIN, which concerns a former male prostitute attempting to guide a troubled young streetwalker, is a powerful and touching comedy/drama about trust, honesty, and second chances. The play will be staged at The Ritz for one night only, at 7:30PM on Friday, August 23rd.
The original piece is being revived in Newburgh as part of the historic Ritz Theater’s centennial year, in collaboration with Hatmaker’s Attic Productions, Inc., a local nonprofit theater company partnering with Safe Harbors of the Hudson on several projects throughout 2013 and beyond. This production is an exciting addition to the Ritz calendar this year, and a powerful glimpse into subjects such as street life, prostitution, and trust, and struggles of homosexuality. Reviews of the NYC production said: “…Petti has delivered these actors a complicated and multilayered script… a touching and sometimes terrifying glimpse into places loneliness abides just waiting for the dayspring of dawn of renewal and hope.” Additional information: pettiplays.wikispaces.com/The+Love+Song+of+Sidney+J.+Stein.

Safe Harbors of the Hudson, which owns and operates The Ritz Theater, The Cornerstone Residence, and the Ann Street Gallery, is a nonprofit committed to transforming lives and building communities through housing and the arts. The Ritz Theater’s mission is to create a vibrant professional performing arts venue in the city of Newburgh that revitalizes the local economy, enriches the education of youth, and enhances community pride. For more information please visitwww.RitzTheaterNewburgh.org

Hatmaker’s Attic Productions is honored to be a part of Safe Harbors of the Hudson Ritz Theater’s ongoing efforts to restore The Ritz. Founded last year by brothers Edward and William Gibbons-Brown, Hatmaker’s Attic is committed to creating positive environments where anybody can find a home in Art. This joint production will be the sixth project for Hatmaker’s Attic, and the third of five scheduled this year at The Ritz. Please visit Facebook.com/HatmakersAttic for more information on upcoming events.

With humor and pathos, THE LOVE SONG OF SIDNEY J. STEIN explores the struggle to truly connect with another human being. Audiences will not want to miss this very special evening at The Ritz.

The Love Song of Sidney J. Stein will play at The Ritz Theater (107 Broadway, Newburgh, NY).

ONE NIGHT ONLY: Friday, August 23rd — 7:30PM

Tickets are $15.00 ($10/students) and can be pre-ordered online atwww.artful.ly/store/events/1607

What NOT to Do While Attending a Stage Show

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I was a fat boy. A big ‘ole fat fat fatty. I am, from long being among their number, quite sensitive to the plight of the overweight, and I denounce those who denigrate people based solely on their waistlines.

Except for this fat, disgusting slob who was at my show this past Sunday.

I know, I know, the fact that he was fat had very little to do with his being a disgusting slob. But it’s very difficult to parse subtleties when you want to wring someone’s jowly neck.

My show was playing in New York for a brief, three night stay, and this was the last showing. Productions in New York are rare for a playwright, unless you have a lot of money and don’t mind losing it all in one glorious shot. They need to be cherished. Like newborn babies, or a really good Jewish deli.

So there I am in the back of the theater, soaking it all in. I always wait in the lighting booth until everyone is seated, then slip out into the last row. I do this for two reasons. First, I frequently have guests in the audience who know me and I would like to avoid that, “Hey, there he is, there you are, you’re about to see my play, yes I am, isn’t this freakin’ awkward?” moment. Second, if nobody likes it they don’t know where to aim the rotten fruit. You have to think these things through.

The play starts and I am right there with my cast of two, living the lines the three of us rehearsed in my livingroom for the past five weeks. They’re starting off strong, right from the first scene. I am completely invested, until…

There’s the rustling of a plastic bag. Then there’s more rustling, as if somebody is stuck inside the bag, trying to get out. I look for the source. It’s coming from about three rows in front of me, to the left. There is a woman to the left, trying to watch intently. There’s a man to the right, trying to hear the dialogue.

And there’s a fat slob in the middle, EATING HIS DINNER! He reaches into a tin plate, grabs some dripping, meat-like substance WITH HIS FINGERS and shoves it down his obese, repugnant gullet. I looked up synonyms for “disgusting” to help write this blog: odious, repellent, vile, distasteful, foul, repulsive, revolting, nauseating. None of those words do justice to what I was watching in (thank God!) the dim light thrown from the stage. He looked like this guy from “Miller’s Crossing”, except with hair:

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For those keeping score at home, this is the second blog in a row with a “Miller’s Crossing” reference. If I was making up a syllabus, “Miller’s Crossing” would most certainly be on it, along with every single Bugs Bunny cartoon. Its 7.9 IMDB score is about 2 full points too low. And my comparison with the disgusting fat guy in the theater is nothing against fine character actor Jon Polito, whose work as Johnny Caspar in the aforementioned film is the stuff of film legend. And Jon would most certainly NOT inhale mysterious meats during the first scene of my play in New York.

I forgot to mention the smell. How to describe it? Pervasive is a word that comes to mind. All-encompassing. The type of redolence usually associated with a county fair falafel stand. Which is not a bad aroma…if you happen to be AT THE FREAKIN’ COUNTY FAIR!

I didn’t know what to do. I heard that Laurence Fishburne once stopped dead in the middle of “Othello” when a cell phone rang, then stood at the edge of the stage with his arms crossed and stared at the offender until the phone was safely turned off and tucked away. Should I run to the front of the theater, stop the actors mid-dialogue and demand that Fatty McFatneck stop stuffing his cheeks? Was this a Morpheus moment?

Of course not. First of all, I’m approximately 1/1000th as cool as Laurence Fishburne. Second of all, I wanted to be invited back to this particular festival, and a good way to make that not happen would be to publicly excoriate a paying customer for his slovenly ways. But boy did I want to excoriate! I wanted to excoriate all over the guy! I’m not by nature a violent person, but I gladly would have throttled him within an inch of his life, if I could get my hands around his enormous neck.

Instead I sat there and stewed—no pun intended.

In the end, my actors won the gastronomical battle, or the guy finished eating—whichever. Despite the myriad of distractions, both audience and cast managed to hear enough of each other to create a good show. The fact that the fat guy was fat had nothing to do with his mistaking my show for dinner theater, I’m sure. His despicable habit of eating from tin plates in inappropriate places was his true character flaw, not his poundage.

But if I see him at one of my shows again, I may need to go all Matrix on his fat ass.

The Love Song of Sidney J. Stein, Opening Friday in NY

My play “The Love Song of Sidney J. Stein” will have its premier showing this Friday in NY and play through the weekend.  If you’re in the area, please come check it out!

The Fresh Fruit Festival presents Brian C. Petti’s The Love Song of Sidney J. Stein, a gay relationship play for the new millennium, at the The Wild Project, 195 East 3rd Street on the Lower East Side (bet. Aves. A & B, F train to Second Ave.) A former male prostitute tries to guide a troubled young streetwalker in this comedy/drama about trust, honesty, and second chances. Show times are: Friday, July 12th at 9pm, Saturday, July 13th at 4:30pm, Sunday, July 14th at 7pm. Tickets may be purchased for $18.00 online at https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/527. Runtime approx. 80 minutes. 
 

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Desperation is NOT Pretty

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Last night (and I mean ALL night) I emailed every LGBT organization within a 50 mile radius of my upcoming NYC play, The Love Song of Sidney J. Stein. There are a LOT. Besides the usual community centers, there’s a gay cycling club, a gay wrestling group, a few gay synagogues, a gay chorus, gay country-western line dancing… Out there living the glorious, childless life I could have had if God in his wisdom hadn’t made me so damn straight! There is even a group for bear lovers where you have to press a big hairy belly-button to get into the website. Who knew gays loved wildlife so much?

My show opens a week from this Friday and I am slowly reaching a level of panic usually induced by looking in my rear view mirror and realizing those shiny red and blue lights aren’t a UFO. You know, that moment of sheer terror when you make a quick mental checklist of whether you actually have the car registered, inspected and insured all at the same time and search frantically for your license so you don’t have to spend the rest of the night trying to arrange a ride back home from the police station? No? Maybe this example only applies to my wife and me.

Needless to say, I am freaking. Except for the livingroom where we rehearse, my house is a disaster area. There’s a new tire next to my piece of crap car waiting for it to stop raining so it can be restored to its rightful place. My fantasy baseball team is crumbling into disrepair. The kids have resorted to (gulp) getting food and drink for themselves! Because of my strange, three-hours-at-a-time sleep schedule, the cats pounce on me 12 to 15 times a day to be fed, probably thinking each time that it’s morning again. I’m a downward spiral, wrapped inside a hurricane, surrounded by an inferno of lava. And that’s just my stomach.

Every week the good people from All Out Arts who run the theater festival send me an email with our ticket sales to date. For the last three weeks it’s been the same—four total tickets sold for three shows. Four! Now of course more than four people will see the show. Rationally I know that festival audiences are usually spur-of-the-moment and rarely lock themselves into tickets beforehand. But irrational, sleep-deprived, obsessive Brian reacts like Oskar Schindler at the end of Schindler’s List: if I sold these cufflinks, I could have had three more audience members…this ring, I could have melted it down and gotten four more tickets sold…this car…why did I need the car?…it could have been 20 tickets…

See, if I was thinking rationally I would know that our car would be lucky to fetch the price of one ticket, and only if you sold it for parts.

My problem is I’m a playwright, not a producer. Oh, I’ve learned how to do the things I need to do to promote my show, and I write a helluva press release. But there’s that…glaze-eyed, single-minded, slightly manic INTENSITY good producers have and I lack. I’m not willing to call and call and call until I get what I want. Although some of my Facebook friends might disagree, I am not comfortable with the all-out, Super Bowl marketing blitzkrieg necessary to sell tickets. I’m not above asking friends to come support my work, but I’m no good with the follow up phone call where I ask, “So what day are you coming? Are you bringing friends? How many? Get more, I’ll arrange a bus.” Naked ambition and the ability to use people I like without a conscience aren’t in my DNA. Which is why I will never succeed as a producer.

I’m more of a soft sell guy. The kind who would write a passive-aggressive blog about how freaked out he is over ticket sales with the hope that everyone who reads it and can travel to New York “gets it” and instantly goes to the website at web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/527 and buys tickets to make my stomach stop hurting. See why I suck at this?

 

You want to know how I view the art of selling tickets? You ever see Miller’s Crossing? If you haven’t, go out and buy it RIGHT NOW. We’ll wait. OK, you remember the scene where John Turturro is being taken out into the woods to be shot by Gabriel Byrne and he’s begging, begging, begging for his life to be spared? “I can’t die… out here in the woods, like a dumb animal! In the woods, LIKE A DUMB ANIMAL!” Sniveling, pride-less John Turturro, pissing himself and crying, on his knees in the woods. “I’m praying to you! Look in your heart! I’m praying to you! Look in your heart! I’m praying to you! Look in your heart! I’m praying to you! Look in your heart… ” Producing, ladies and gentlemen!

 

I want the world to see my new show. It’s my latest child, and he’s just learning to walk. I want to show you the video and the endless pictures of his first step. But…I know there’s a limit to how much you’re going to listen to me go on about my miraculous kid. At some point you’re going to smile, nod your head knowingly, say something like “aren’t children great” and try to get away from me as quickly as possible without being rude. Oh, how I wish I could be one of those blissfully unaware people who think whatever is important to them is equally, if not more, important to the rest of the world! If only I lacked all empathetic ability, and cared not a whit about what the other guy was thinking as I’m saying, “So, you gonna come to my show? It’s going to be fabulous. Ten tickets or an even dozen?”

 

I need to send more emails and lie down for no more than three hours, if my stomach stops churning. Feel sorry for me? Good, here’s the flyer: 

 

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