On my way home from rehearsal Friday night, I was stopped at the corner of 48th and 6th (in Manhattan) by two tall gentlemen (All right: tall to


. You bastards.) who asked me a question. I could not hear these men, as I was listening to one of my transcendentally brilliant mixes through my

Sony MDR-J10 earbuds

, so I removed said earbuds from my ears, only to discover that I still could not understand these men. They had fairly heavy French dialects, and were asking me something about channel four. "You mean NBC?" I innocently asked, pointing to the glowing studio sign down the block. (In my hometown, NBC broadcasts on channel four.) Non, Non. The bar: Channel 4. Sorry fellas. No notion.

They moved on, and as I reinserted my Sony MDR-J10 earbuds I wondered what kind of bar they were headed for. Would I be allowed in, if I tailed them? Sadly, I was distracted by the common flaw of my Sony MDR-J10 earbuds. If you yank them too hard, invariably one will get a wire loose and only send you smatterings of aural delight, which is not delightful. The opposite, in fact. Cursing my good-natured ribaldry with the French, I switched to Dane Cook (spoken word, IOW) for the long ride home.

Frankie, my character in this incarnation of

A Lie of the Mind

, is a tricky guy to play. The only background you're given on him is his relationships with his siblings and mother, and a brief reference to his having won a baseball scholarship in his youth. Oh, and he was played by

Aidan Quinn

on Broadway. (Who ranks amongst my list of least favorite actors, though

Benny & Joon

is an undeniable classic. You bastards.) He has nothing--as far as I have discovered within a week of rehearsal--of his own to fight for in the play, apart from his survival after receiving a gunshot wound. Most of his time is spent trying to help his brother out. Tricky tricky tricky. This morning, getting ready to leave for our first full stumble-through, I was busying my mind with questions about this problem. Questions like, "Why are you such a foil, Frankie?" and "Who made you such a tool, Frankie?"

Then we had our stumble-through, and stumble we did, with great conviction. My favorite moment was when one actress expressed frustration with not having learned a note about remaining positive about everything that happened on stage, and another replied, "Yeah Cindy, I mean, you


been working on it for a whole eight days now." (I refuse to indicate "irony" with an emoticon in this space.) I relished the run-through, dreading it as I had been, because something about its continuity allowed me to cease freaking out about how incapable of the work I felt and thereby

actually listen

. Imagine my profound sense of revelation upon actually hearing my scene partners. Ah, victory. Or, at least, a step beyond.

After rehearsal I called

Friend Younce

, who was in town with family for yet another niece's blessing. I had forgotten that this was the prophesied weekend of said visit. Fortunately (and, might I add, miraculously), I had nothing else doing tonight. Unfortunately, the crew was assembled IN


. For those of you less familiar with the boroughs of my nuevo Zion, Bay Ridge is to Manhattan as Richmond is to DC . . . at least by


. It is not so far from my home in Brooklyn, however. If the Younce clan had been gathered in the Bronx or Queens, yours truly wouldn't have had the evening he eventually did.

After near-on two hours of travel, I was amongst them. Friend Dave, his wife Michelle, their children Hildegard and Enoch, his sister Carrie and her husband Ed and their children Hazel and . . . uh . . . Ginger? No. Dang it. I'll get it later. Also Dave and Carrie's parents, whom I hadn't seen in years. It was great, albeit rather different from my usual hang time with Dave, which is usually more reminiscent of our olden days of comicbooks and discussions of girls and mythology. I love the Younces. They remind me of how sane, yet individualistic family members can be. And Dave is one of those friends of olde that I just fall back in with. So it was unconventional and welcoming.

There was pizza, and playing kids' games, and a movie (

Stranger than Fiction

, which I had already seen and--not joking here--I believe would have made a better book) and some of the olde discussion.

When I stepped out to head home on the R train, it was raining but warm. It was midnight, but really 1:00 AM, given the imminent spring in time. That amazing smell of newly wet asphalt was rising all around. It was uplifting; one of those moments that makes one wake up a bit, just enough to remember to recognize and appreciate the world around him. After a few moments of enjoying the sound of the rain on the street and the stone's-throw East River, I happily inserted my new

Sony MDR-J20 earbuds

into my ears for the not-so-long journey home.