Bingeing Broadway

Not many people know this, but I have a slight obsession with musical theatre. Only recently – after joining Spotify (I know, I’m very late to the game!) – did it occur to me that I’m a serial Broadway binger. I get hooked on a specific musical and then listen to it on repeat until my ears need a break.

On this occasion of my birthday, I thought it might be fun to look back at the history of my musical-theatre fixation.

I think the movie version of Fame is where it all started. This 1980 film – later adapted into both a stage musical and a TV series – focused on the aspirations of students at a performing arts high school, and embodied all my hopes and dreams as an ambitious young actor at the time. The soundtrack remained on repeat throughout my early adolescence, deepening my crush on Lee “bedroom eyes” Curreri every time I played it.


In the mid-1980s, my dad gave me a cassette of the Les Misérables soundtrack, after seeing the show live. Boy, did I play the heck out of that! In an unexpected turn of events, in 1991 I worked on the casting of the first bilingual-cast version of the show, an extraordinary experience that allowed me to see Les Mis both in English and its brand new French version.

Les Misérables

As my show-business career inclinations shifted to the tech world in the latter part of the 90s, my fondness for musicals only deepened, and my penchant for playing the poop out of my favourites never left. Here are a couple of songs from a few of my later obsessions:

Hedwig And The Angry Inch
Book of Mormon
Spring Awakening
Come From Away
Jagged Little Pill

Hope you enjoyed this roundup, and feel free to share your own musical-theatre faves in the comments!

Automattic Personal WordPress

10 x A8C

On a quiet Saturday this past weekend, I passed my ten-year anniversary of working at Automattic (A8C). If you’d told me a decade ago that I’d still be working here – and even more, still liking what I do – I truly don’t think I would have believed you!

Over the last ten years I’ve become friends with colleagues from around the world. We’ve gone on adventures in helicopters, planes, boats, busses, and subways. Partaken in meals and cocktails in Panama, Portland (both Oregon and Maine!), Lisbon, Barcelona, and beyond. Shared our lives and supported each other, most importantly.

In my daily work, I’ve witnessed countless WordPress users’ lightbulb moments, receiving thank yous ranging from the brief to the heartfelt. And who can forget the guy who wrote me an unforgettable song about CSS!

I’ve mentored new public speakers and given talks on topics I’m passionate about, from Hawaii to Halifax. Taken advantage of opportunities to grow, stretch, and put my skills to use on new projects and new teams. Enjoyed the time off I needed, whether to recharge my batteries over a week-long vacation or gain new perspectives during a three-month sabbatical.

Long story short: I felt lucky the day I was hired full-time, and I still feel lucky today. Thank you, A8C.

I take terrible selfies but I’m kind of fond of this one


As a problem-solver by nature and as a professional troubleshooter, I’ve tried to get into the habit of asking before doling out advice, even though it goes against my natural tendency. Over the years I’ve attempted to train myself to ask first if someone actually wants help solving an issue, or instead, would they prefer an empathetic listening ear?

That said, fair warning, I am about to offer some unsolicited advice, and it’s the following:

If you can at all avoid getting your tonsils removed as an adult, I would suggest doing so.

I will leave out all the gory details, but suffice it to say that having a tonsillectomy later in life is not particularly fun, and all the ice cream in the world cannot change that fact.

(I was extremely lucky to have had my wonderful dad come in from out of town to take care of me post-surgery, and I am extremely grateful for the endless refilling of my “ice collar,” batches of mashed potatoes and mamaliga, and countless other essential acts of care he provided. I also had lovely friends and family members checking in on me remotely.)

For your amusement, I’ll just leave you with a roster of several days’ worth of random exchanges I had with my father while I was unable to speak. I would hold my iPad out into his field of vision, sometimes waving to get his attention. You’re seeing my side only, since of course he was able to verbally share his parts of the conversation.

Vicki and I are going to zoom at 1 instead of her coming over here

And she’ll do most of the talking 

The funny thing is I eat this regularly 

Overnight oats - oatmeal, oat milk, yogurt, softened overnight 

On Madison we had Bonavita drip coffeemaker, it was recommended by Cook’s Illustrated as the best do you 

I got a free new drip coffee maker through one of my Facebook groups 

When I have people for brunch 

I found out that the pine wall was put in much later in a renovation 

Something with the word Milk?

Club sandwich from Chez Claudette

Maybe you could find the blue freezie pack with cows on it, somewhere in the freezer 

Could we decide tomorrow?
Automattic WordPress

From Jupiter to Comet

Since my 2019 sabbatical and throughout the pandemic, posts related to my working life have been sparse.

But I have some news to share that I’m really excited about! As I approach my 10th anniversary with Automattic, I’m about to embark on a new challenge.

In just a few weeks, I’ll be leaving my beloved team Jupiter to join a newly formed team of three Happiness Engineers, called Comet. Our time over the next year will be devoted to helping with the project and giving back to the open-source community as part of Five for the Future.

Launched in 2014, Five for the Future encourages organizations to contribute five percent of their resources to WordPress development. WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg proposed this benchmark to maintain a “golden ratio” of contributors to users. 

– Five for the Future,

Since my pre-Automattic WordPress experience includes working on self-hosted sites and volunteering in the support forums, I’m particularly excited to return to my roots, in a way. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings!

Group of several dozen WordPress Community Summit participants in Paris, 2017
WordPress Community Summit, 2017 (If you squint, you may spot me!)

Fever Dream

Last weekend, I attended my first live-theatre show since the Before Times: Sweet Charity, a musical I’d never seen before, performed by a group of local university students.

There I sat alone – my would-be companion sidelined with Covid, natch – the audience fully masked. Even the performers wore masks, except when singing a lead part.

A 1960s Broadway musical based on the Federico Fellini movie Nights of Cabiria, the original Sweet Charity came with a book by Neil Simon, choreography by the legendary Bob Fosse, and the lead role filled by Gwen Verdon as a bubbly “dance hall hostess” who meets a shy tax accountant when they get stuck in the same elevator.

The show makes it pretty clear that being a “dance hall hostess” commonly involved an income-supplementing activity for some of the women that, these days, would be referred to as “sex work.”

When the musical number Big Spender started up, a strange familiarity started to come over me. I knew that song. And not just from decades’ worth of pop-culture references. I knew it.

Well let me get right to the point:
I don’t pop my cork for every guy I see
Hey Big Spender! Spend a little time with me.

Wouldn’t you like to have fun, fun, fun?
We could have a few laughs, laughs
I could show you… good time!
Would you like to have a… good time?

Excerpt from “Big Spender” – lyrics by Dorothy Fields

And then it hit me. I sang that song. Back at a children’s arts camp I attended as kid, in one of our group performances.

Was it a bit odd that a bunch of 12-year olds were taught to sing a song about showing wealthy men a “good time”? If it was, we certainly didn’t realize it at the time.

Anyway. That wasn’t even the song that’s stuck with me the most since the show. That honour goes to Rhythm of Life, a mesmerizing earworm that just won’t leave, especially after I listened to this version by Sammy Davis Jr. from the movie adaptation. Check it out, if you dare. And tell me what you think.