Category Archives: Cinnamon Girl

They Say The Neon Lights Are Bright – HAMILTON

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A funny thing happened on a trip to London… Sous Chef discover that she, The Cinnamon Girl and I could see Hamilton for a terrifically reasonable price, so reasonable, in fact, that we thought we might be being scammed as we purchased the tickets. They were ridiculously cheaper than the ones we had been looking at in the states (in New York, LA and Denver where we had opportunities, though not the cash to see the show). Adding to our suspicion was that these reasonable priced tickets were in Stall A – the first row – at the Victoria Palace Theater in the West End. It all seemed too good to be true and we did not trust our fortune until we were actually at the theater with tickets in hand.

Long story short:

So there we were, in London, seeing Hamilton for the first time from the front row.

It will not be any of our last time to see Hamilton, of that I can assure you.

Truth be told, The Cinnamon Girl was well ahead of the curve on this Alexander Hamilton business. As an AP US History teacher, she has been praising the story of Hamilton for as long as I have known her, well before the musical or Ron Chernow’s book. She was on top of this Hamilton thing way, way back and her students who pay attention have ever known who her favorite founding father is. Let us give credit where credit is due.

So I was very interested in what she would think of the show, of its staging and music, sure, but, more importantly, of its history. Would it capture the man and his story? According to The Cinnamon Girl, it did. Absolutely. While she pointed out to us the ways the show changed the story, skimped on the details and did an end-run around the facts, she could find very little problematic in the alterations.

And, as for the staging, the music, the pace and the book, well, just put us down with the millions of others who think Hamilton is an amazing, uplifting and remarkable experience. Put us down with those who want to see it again and again.

The particulars of the performance we saw: the cast was terrific and I was very taken by Giles Terera as Aaron Burr. Remember, we were in the front row and we could see every expression, every bit of sweat on the brow. Terera’s performance seemed absolutely effortless. His moves powerful, his voice insistent, his presence towering. He is, for the, the indelible memory of the show and that may not speak entirely well for Jamael Westman’s Hamilton himself, but he was terrific, too. I simply thought Terera was the outstanding part of an outstanding cast (Rachel An Go as Eliza Hamilton and Michael Jibson as King George deserve singling out, too).

We saw a wonderful performance and I will forever be moved by the idea that we got to see this quintessential American show in London! What a delight.

As for the show itself, the show that transcends the cast that puts it on and where it is performed, let us salute the genius of Lin-Manuel Miranda, the man behind Hamilton and its first star. What an amazing production he has conceived. What a testament to what America is and what it can be. What a brilliant show.

I believe (and I am likely not the first to suggest this – and I am assuming the staging of the show does not vary overly from venue-to-venue) that the brilliance of the show and the message it conveys can be summed up in one moment: the curtain call. As we rose to our feet in standing ovation for the show, I noted with some surprise that the cast was going to be recognized as one. They were going to be recognized together. They were going to be applauded as a community. We were not going to single out Washington or Jefferson or Angelica or even Hamilton himself. Rather, we were going to put our hands together – wildly – for this overtly and intentionally diverse cast of women and men who had so well entertained and informed us for the past three hours.

Diverse. Strong. Together.

Thank you, Lin-Manuel Miranda for this show, for making something as complex as the American Experiment so simple, for entertaining and informing and for making our spirits rise up.

You surely did not waste your shot.


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Filed under Broadway, Cinnamon Girl, Family, Hamilton, Music, Sous Chef, The Cinnamon Girl

Love At The End… February 14, 2018

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A simple promise on Valentine’s Day… and, appropriately enough, it comes from a story The Cinnamon Girl (my Valentine) shared with me.

When the end of my days arrives, I hope to be able to speak in those final moments, to be peaceful in the approach and to tell those I love just how much I love them.

I hope to be able to tell The Cinnamon Girl just how much she has taught me love, how much she has changed my world, how much she has made me better.

But here is the promise, if I am not able to speak, if death comes too quickly, know this: just because my last words were not “I love my Cinnamon Girl” only means I did not have the time or ability to say it.

It will surely be my last thought.

Happy Valentine’s Day to my Valentine.

Cinnamon and me final

You see us together…

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Link’n’Blogs – 1.26.18: And the Singer Sings No More: Neil Diamond Retires

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I loved Lincoln Logs when I was a kid. Though I never entertained the idea that I would be a designer, engineer or architect, something about putting together these wooden and plastic pieces was simply simple fun. Connecting to ideas through the blogosphere seems similar to this pursuit, hence the title of this weekly post. Each Friday, I intend to post something interesting I’ve read out there on the internets. Hopefully others will find these posts as thought provoking as I have.

Perhaps you have already heard that Neil Diamond is retiring from touring because of his battle with Parkinson’s Disease. He has cancelled the remaining dates on his 50th Anniversary tour and, while he will still write and record, he is done with life on the road. I was lucky enough to see him in concert five times, the most recent being last summer with The Cinnamon Girl and I am very happy that I did. For a man who did not embrace the life of the performer when he began his career, he surely got the hang of things. Neil Diamond, thank you for the live memories… You can click the Washington Post‘s coverage below.

Neil Live

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19 Years of Sous Chef… Photo Essay

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Sous Chef is 19 years old today.

It may seem sentimental, but I thank God for every one of those 6,935 days she has been alive. Each of those days is a blessing. Each of those days is a gift. Each of those days is a grace.

She is a wonderful young woman, as likely to be volunteering her time with a marginalized population as she is to be having a raucous time with her many good friends.

That I am reluctant to see her grow up and beyond The Cinnamon Girl and me is cliched and obvious.

That I am more proud than words can express of her is, I hope, equally obvious.

That she is one of the shining lights of my life and one of the best people I have ever known is gospel truth.

Happiest of birthdays, Sweetheart. Many, many, many happy returns.


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Filed under Birthday, Cinnamon Girl, Family, Fathers and Daughters, HJ jr, Sous Chef, Stretch, The Cinnamon Girl

You Can Do Magic – The Cinnamon Girl’s Birthday

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Spring 2017Today is The Cinnamon Girl’s birthday and it is a day to celebrate all that she is to those of us who know her and those of us who love her. One of the many ways we will do that is to give her cards and gifts and that is good. I love – LOVE – to give gifts.

However, it occurs to me as I write this post, that she is the gift. She is the present. She is so very special.

She is the most special woman I know.

I cannot imagine life without her. I do not wish to.

I know that that our children, too, cannot imagine their lives without her in them. She has given so much to us and is the connection that brings us together, the light around which we all hover.

I marvel at who she is and all she does.

She is confidant and confider.

She is humorist and storyteller.

She is shocking in every good way.

She is kind and compassionate.

She is breathtakingly smart and stunningly quick witted.

She is incisive and insightful.

She is beautiful by any definition of the word.

There are many (myself included) who wonder if she has precognitive powers – if she is tapped into some kind of font that allows her to understand the world in ways that other people do not.

Here’s the secret: my Cinnamon Girl is magic.

She is pure magic.

Happy birthday, Cinnamon Girl. Thank you for being the gift.


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Only Three of Us Are Lucky Enough… Father’s Day 2017

The older I get and the more people I encounter in my life, the more I understand that I am one of the lucky ones. Not everyone enjoys a terrific relationship with their father for reasons of all kinds and I am sorry for those who do not.

But I am blessed enough to have had a great father and I will speak for my two sisters here: we were blessed to have Dad as our dad.

Whatever I try to be as a father, I learned from how my father fathered me. When I think of the memories I would like my children to have of me when they are adults parenting kids on their own, I want them to have memories similar to the ones I have of my dad.

  • Walking across the campus of my college alma mater, Catholic University, last week, I said to The Cinnamon Girl “That’s where the bank was where I opened my first adult account. Dad and I did that one afternoon my first week on campus.” He was taking care of me as he ever did.
  • Just yesterday, the hashtag #FirstComics was making the electronic rounds and I tweeted a picture of the first comic books in my collection (comics which are framed on the wall of my office). Dad bought them for me.
  • I think of dad each time I strap on my twelve string guitar. It has a hole in it that dad fixed.
  • We bought a new car in the spring and the impulse to check in with dad on what he thought was so very strong. He always had car advice even if it was not always good advice.
  • When my mother-in-law passed away last week, one of the first thoughts I had was how would Dad respond? What would Dad do?

I could share many more memories but I will conclude with this: I love my father. I always will.

I am one of the lucky three who can call him my dad.

Family 1989

Me, my sisters, our mother and father in London in 1989. Lucky family to have Dad as our dad…



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Best Combination, 10 Times Over

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Tin. Tin is the traditional gift for one’s 10th anniversary. The modern gift, by-the-way, is diamonds but no diamonds will be proffered to The Cinnamon Girl today.

Frankly, no tin will be, either. We have decided to treat ourselves to a lovely vacation in lieu of exchanging presents this year and it is killing me (but her birthday is in just over a month and I’ll make up for it, then!).

For reasons known only to her (and, I suspect, to God), The Cinnamon Girl married me and I married her 10 years ago today. And, while I could do some clever math adding up to 10 concerning the past decade –

Oh, hell, I have to do it now that I’ve thought of it!

1 purchased home +

3 graduations from high school +

2 new cats +

2 parents passing +

1 major job change +

1 perfect wife = 10!

Um, as I was saying, I could do some clever math, but I will resist the impulse. Instead I want to write about tin.

There is nothing particularly special about this metal. It is soft. My brave wife is the strongest woman I know. It is malleable. My incredible wife is the most confident and convicted a person as I know. It is not particularly shiny or attractive. My beautiful wife is absolutely dazzling.

What it has going for it is that it combines with other metals incredibly well and it makes them new, different, better. It changes and revitalizes them. That is what tin does.

Without question, that is what The Cinnamon Girl did for me when I met her over a decade ago. She did it when she and I married on a June 9 in 2007. She made me new, different and better.

With sincere apologies to all of my wonderful friends who are not her, The Cinnamon Girl is the person with whom I want to spend my time, free and otherwise. She is the first thing I think about in the mornings, the last thing I pray about when I fall to sleep. She is the best friend I have ever had and she is the wisest person I know.

She is my wife and the combination is all but perfect.

Happy Anniversary, Cinnamon Girl. I love you more today than I did yesterday, but not as much as I will tomorrow.

2017-03-03 18.48.23


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