Lame offerings from Broadway to Broad Street

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Ilya Bryzgalov's musings are about the only redeeming feature on HBO's 24/7. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

Hi, my name is Stan, and I'm a hater.

Went over to the dark side recently. I can share the moment. Late in the first act of a Broadway musical called "Lysistrata Jones." The perky, young, blond cheerleader is belting out a song that's all about doubt and despair.

It's a one-joke musical, and the joke is 2,423 years old. The plot is thinner than linguine, the dialogue insipid, the songs mediocre. The perky, young, blond cheerleader has persuaded the other cheerleaders to withhold sex from their basketball-playing boyfriends in a desperate effort to inspire them to end a 33-year-old losing streak.

Aristophanes is churning in his tomb. He wrote a play around 411 B.C. about the women of Athens withholding sex from their soldier husbands in a desperate effort to stop constant warfare.

I'm churning in my seat, because we paid $76 a pop for this monstrosity of a musical. I glance down, my knuckles are white, gripping the arm rests, as the cheerleader belts out "Where Am I Now?"

It's all I can do to keep from screaming an answer: "You're buried in a brutal musical that has as much chance of surviving as a snowball in Death Valley."

I squelch the urge, we endure the pitiful second act, trudge out of the theater, agreeing that it was the worst piece of garbage we'd seen in 52 years of theatergoing.

And then, Ben Brantley writes in the New York Times that the production deserves "a few lusty cheers." He even found a serious message about the menace of apathy buried somewhere in the insipid dialogue.

"All the cast members," he wrote, "effortlessly inhabit that happy dimension where cartoon is made flesh and vice versa."

Aaaaargh. The youthful cast was energetic, the choreography was spirited, but you can see better basketball ballet at any Lower Manhattan playground. And you can see a better show slapped together by summer-camp counselors over a case of Anchor Steam.

The show seems aimed at a certain demographic, boys ages 15 1/2 to 17. They can snicker at the whorehouse scenes, giggle at the lyrics of "No More Giving It Up," blush at the sorting out of boy meets girl, boy meets boy, and root for the hoopsters to beat somebody, anybody.

And if that episode wasn't bad enough, failing to find anything redeeming about "Lysistrata Jones," here came "24/7," the HBO reality show that will lead up to an outdoor hockey game featuring the Rangers against the Flyers.

I hated it, every intrusive minute of it. Well, maybe not every minute of it. I loved the close-ups of Ilya Bryzgalov, the Flyers' Russian goalie who pontificates about the vast universe. "Hue-mang-us" he calls it.

For the record, I hate the concept, strangers lugging cameras into places forbidden to writers, eavesdropping on conversations that are off-limits to the regular media covering the team.

That's before I heard the coaches, Peter Laviolette and John Tortorella, screeching at their players. Every fifth word began with the letter "f," and it wasn't flock.

They lost me at the start when the narrator called the hockey season "an arduous journey." Arduous? Arduous is running barefoot over 26 miles of gravel. You can't show black-and-white close-ups of guys with half their teeth missing and more stitches than a major league baseball and call a season "arduous."

The trifecta was complete when I saw Santonio Holmes, of the New York J-E-T-S. First, he coughs up a fumble that the Eagles run in for a touchdown. Then he drops a pass that Larry Holmes would have caught, wearing boxing gloves, and he's 60-something.

And then, with the J-E-T-S trailing by two dozen, he catches a touchdown pass and taunts the Eagles' defenders by flapping his arms in the end zone. Tweet! A 15-yard penalty for excessive celebration.

I wouldn't want Santonio Holmes in the same ZIP code, let alone on my football team. That makes me a crotchety geezer who doesn't understand the "culture" of the NFL. That makes me a gen-u-whine hate-uh, and I think I might have some good company out there.


Send email to stanrhoch@comcast.net