theShow, Year Whatever

Possibly because I am living a sad homebound life these days, I’m watching theShow (formerly theshow, and before that The Show) again. A few observations as we chew our way through the first cull:

–All of the vestiges of cruelty that marked its most successful seasons are pretty much gone. There is no Designated Professional Asshole (or asshole of any kind) among the judges; they’re all successful musicians and they know what it takes to make it.

That doesn’t mean they’re all sunshine and nonsense; they just know that this is a tryout, and that even great people fail tryouts — often many, many times — before things fall together. In these tough times, optimism with underlying honesty is exactly what’s needed. I inevitably nod my head and agree with their praises and criticisms.

–This is a show for artists now, not karaoke singers or pageant kids or the rawest of the raw. Sure, all of these latter categories get some representation early on, and last year’s winner was a subway singer, but most of these people just get trimmed prety quickly.

So many of the best tryouts I’ve seen this year come from polished, instrumentally talented, vocally accomplished musicians who are obviously accustomed to playing in public (albeit not at the big-concert level). And a lot of them write good original music, too. And theShow dropped its overemphasis on oldies and standards long ago, which punishes the mere decent singers and pushes up the artists.

–This is a great crew of judges: Affable, but not too much so; empathetic, but with little patience for nonsense or people who aren’t serious about their music; honest, but not brutal. You never know how much of this is because of the Magic of Editing, but they genuinely seem to like each other, too. They’re watchable, which is a good thing as this drags on for week after week.

So I’m on for the ride again. theShow (I’ve added a capital letter back because it’s earned it) is scheduled to run through most of May unless the network trims the schedule. Here’s hoping it makes it.

I’ve written about theShow an embarrassing amount. You can read some of my past posts here and here.

Cepillín, the Mexican clown

Originally posted to Twitter.

Recently, I became fascinated and a little bit obsessed with Cepillín, a Mexican clown. He died recently at 75 and I’d never heard of him before his death.

I’m an editor for a big advocacy group, and he showed up in the obituary section of our Spanish-language website. It’s unusual for us to have Spanish-only obits, so I assumed he must have been somebody really meaningful. Down the rabbit hole I went.

Turns out Cepillín was AWESOME.

He started out as a dentist who found that children were easier to treat if he dressed as a clown. (That’s where he got the stage name: ‘Cepillín’ means ‘Brush’ in Spanish.) That led to an offer for a TV show — called, of course, ‘El Show de Cepillín.

And from THERE, he became a children’s singer who sold millions of albums!

And things kept happening! He was in the movies! He FOUNDED A CIRCUS that ran for decades! He was putting together a farewell tour after 50 years in the biz!

An obit I read says he was asked about death at his last news conference. He said he would not be wearing clown makeup when he died because Cepillín was a living character. “I was born without paint and I leave without it,” he said.


No colds in a year

No sniffles. No flu. No respiratory problems of any kind. No big parties. No gigs. No movies in a theater. No concerts. No get-togethers involving more than a handful of people. No seeing any relatives. No new discoveries. No visits to the office. No seeing a single co-worker. No Vegas trips. No Caribbean trips. No Florida trips. No flights anywhere for the first time in 32 years. No sitting at a single damn bar, chatting up the staff and enjoying dinner. One indoor lunch at a rural restaurant with the nearest diner 15 feet away. One socially distanced lake vacation and a dicey beach Saturday that was probably a bad idea. Four trips into D.C. Three day trips that were more than 20 miles away. One shameful riot. One new president. One application for a vaccination. One bit of hope at last. One year I’ll never get back.

Meeting the meatloaf

I loved my mom. I want that known up front before I start talking smack about her cooking — and honestly, she had a hopeless task: She had to feed nine people three times a day. And she made some wonderful dishes; I particularly remember her apple pie. And I was a picky little shit until I hit adolescence, when suddenly almost no food was safe near me.

But cow parts suffered at her hands. They just did, and we all knew it, and nobody wanted to admit it. (This feels like the point where I should remind everyone again that I loved my mom.)

Pot roast, which is a great way to feed a crowd, was torture-roasted into chewy submission (I loved my mom. Did I mention that I loved my mom?), and that was a near-weekly meal for us. That wasn’t The Worst, though. The Worst was meatloaf.

Mom’s meatloaf triggered me. I hated the white bread chunks (my mom didn’t use breadcrumbs), the egg and the unidentifiable non-hamburger flavors, all mixed into what once had been perfectly good ground beef. She then cooked it until it took on meteorite-like qualities. I thought the texture was “weird” in a way only a 10-year-old can think of things as “weird,” but I couldn’t get up from dinner until I made a passing attempt at eating it or slipped some to the dog. He wasn’t too excited about it, either.

I reclaimed pot roast in my 20s. For that, I thank the now-defunct Black-Eyed Pea restaurant in Little Rock. It was my go-to joint for chicken-fried steak, but I tried the pot roast after a server heard my tale and arm-twisted me. It was so good that it made me angry. I subsequently learned to make a decent version of it myself, and I’ve made my peace with it.

The Black-Eyed-Pea had meatloaf, too. However, there was no damn way I was going to order a slice of gray meat cake. Even watching other customers eat it set me off.

But now that I’m well into my personal Back Nine, I feel I should confront this meatloaf problem. I mean, I eat sushi now, for chrissakes; the very existence of that food product still stirs revulsion in my Inner Midwesterner. And I have had many a kubideh kabob, which is basically Meatloaf on a Stick; Moby Dick‘s version was a go-to lunch when I worked in the Dupont Circle area.

So I’m going to hunt for meatloaf recipes and give this a shot, and I’ll keep you updated. Feel free to send along any recipes/suggestions. NO KETCHUP GLAZE RECIPES PLEASE. Eww.