Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Calendar Time

Choosing a calendar is the highlight of my year. As an artist, I appreciate beautiful designs and a wall calendar is one way to enjoy art all year long. I spend a lot of time finding the perfect calendar that will inspire me for the next 12 months. I usually buy three wall calendars and an engagement calendar. In past years I've enjoyed a variety of designs and themes: TV shows, comics, abstract art, travel, films, nature, etc.

For my kitchen, I bought the Lang Coffee calendar. The decorative illustrations of retro coffee motifs are beautiful. Perfect choice for an avid coffee drinker and coffeehouse patron like me.

My home office calendar features snap shots of "I Love Lucy." Best comedy series EVER! She makes me laugh and I know I'll need to laugh a lot in 2011.

At work I have a small wall calendar called "Flower Spirits" featuring radiographs of nature. I spotted it at Barnes & Noble and fell in love with it on the spot. Steven Meyers captures delicate images of botanicals and flowers in invisible light. Truly stunning artwork!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Angels we have heard on high, sweetly singing o'er the plains,
And the mountains in reply, echoing their joyous strains:

"GLORIA, IN EXCELSIS DEO!" (Glory to God in the highest!)

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Two Days Until Christmas

Countdown time. When I was a kid, this was the longest week ever. Now I enjoy the preparations as much as the Day itself. I love sending out cards, decorating the house, baking treats, buying/making gifts, singing carols, going to Christmas events and watching Christmas movies. My faves are "It's a Wonderful Life," "Miracle on 34th Street" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

I especially enjoy church this time of year. The sanctuary is decorated and everyone is singing Christmas songs. Our hearts are in one accord as we anticipate the celebration of Christ's birth. On Christmas Eve we will gather for a candlelight service.

This Christmas I see God at work in my family, bringing healing and hope.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Five Days Until Christmas

Hark! The herald angels sing: "Glory to the newborn King!"

Peace on Earth, and mercy mild; God and sinners -- RECONCILED!

Joyful, all ye nations, rise! Join the triumph of the skies! With the angelic hosts, proclaim, "Christ is born in Bethlehem!"

Hark! The herald angels sing: "Glory to the newborn King!"

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Run, Forrest, Run!

I love to exercise. There. I said it. I'm not obsessive about it, but there's nothing like releasing those endorphins!

As a child, my exercise was hopscotch, jump rope, tag, monkey bars and dodge ball. We had no idea we were getting a workout; we were just having fun.

In my teen years I hated all forms of exercise. My least favorite class was P.E. I was never a fan of team sports and I hated getting all sweaty and taking showers at school. But it wasn't all bad; I met my best friend playing field hockey.

When I was in my 20s I took up jogging. It all started with an undergraduate psychology class called "Running and Being." It explained how running was a psychological and spiritual activity that could improve your life. And it did. I was hooked. I ran in local 5-k races, read books on running and kept a runner's journal. I learned which shoes were best for runners and how to stretch to prevent injury. I even subscribed to Runner's World.

I still run today, but not as much. I injured my left knee a few years ago and it set me back several months. It got better and I started running again. But then I developed plantar fasciitis in my right heel. Running was out so we bought an elliptical machine, the next best thing to running, with the added bonus of watching TV while I work out.

Back in the day I would run in the dark before dawn, in snow, ice and wind. I was like the mail man...nothing could stop me. Now, if it's a little bit cold or windy, I work out on the elliptical. I've become a weather wimp.

My goal is to get my groove back.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

In Progress...

For the last year, I've been thinking about the play I'm going to write, trying to get a solid grasp of the story I truly want to tell. I believe in destiny and that whatever is meant to be will happen. I also believe that there is a time for everything. And the time to write my first full-length play is now.

I can't discuss the details of the play on this blog, but I can tell you it's a comedy and many of the characters and situations are inspired by my own life. I've learned that, as a writer, who you are gets into your stories one way or another. It can't be helped. Look at the plays of famous playwrights; they are about the world of the author.

As I write, I'm discovering that the characters are starting to tell me what they want to say. It's rather disconcerting. My main character has to be careful that she's not overpowered by the minor characters...she must carry the play on her own. It's interesting that her mother is the one who wants to take over the play, which is what my own mother tended to do in real life...take over.

Maybe I'm a character in my own life. Like Harold Crick in "Stranger Than Fiction.":

"Little did he know..."

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

I'm Not Rappaport

They don't write plays like Herb Gardner's anymore. In my book, he's one of the best playwrights of the 20th century: "A Thousand Clowns," "The Goodbye People," "Thieves" and "Conversations with My Father," just to name a few.

My favorite is his Tony Award-winning play, "I'm Not Rappaport."  The original 1985 Broadway production starred Judd Hirsch as Nat and Cleavon Little as Midge. There was a Broadway revival of the play in 2003 and Hirsch reprised his role as Nat while Ben Vereen played Midge. The 1996 film version featured Walter Matthau and Ossie Davis.

Set in New York City, two elderly men pass the time on a bench in Central Park. Nat is Jewish and can't help stretching the truth to make his life seem more interesting. Midge is a black, displaced worker about to lose his job. The men confront issues of crime, family, society and aging. Beautiful ending...when to lie and when to tell the truth. It's not always black and white (pun).

One of the most intriguing things about this story is the title which comes from an old Vaudeville joke:

NAT: Hey, Rappaport! I haven't seen you in ages. How have you been?

MIDGE: I'm not Rappaport.

NAT: Rappaport, what happened to you? You used to be a short fat guy, and now you're a tall skinny guy.

MIDGE: I'm not Rappaport.

NAT: Rappaport, you used to be a young guy with a beard, and now you're an old guy with a mustache.

MIDGE: I'm not Rappaport.

NAT: Rappaport, how has this happened? You used to be a cowardly little white guy, and now you're a big imposing black guy.

MIDGE: I'm not Rappaport.

NAT: And you changed your name, too!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Morning Glory

Hubby and I went to see "Morning Glory" this week. I wasn't impressed.


Becky Fuller was so manic she made me dizzy. Running everywhere and talking nonstop, it was over-the-top ridiculous. Anne Hathaway could get away with it in "The Devil Wears Prada." Marlo Thomas could get away with it in "That Girl." But Rachel McAdams didn't pull it off. She's cute, though. I think that counts for something.

The scenes with Rachel and Jeff Goldblum could have been funnier. Goldblum is hilarious with the right lines. Remember his short bit in "Annie Hall"? At Tony's party he phones his guru and says, "I forgot my mantra." Woody Allen knows "funny."

Harrison Ford looked like he was doing an impression of Clint Eastwood. His facial expression didn't change throughout the entire film. Is this "acting"? I think not. There are many ways to portray a gruff character. All Harrison did was grimace and growl. Come on, Harry, I know you have what it takes to make your character interesting (Did someone say, Indiana Jones?)

Background music was distracting.


Diane Keaton was terrific. I wish she and Harrison had more screen time.

Patrick Wilson. As soon as he appeared on screen, I thought "What's Paul Newman doing in this movie?" Patrick/Paul was fantastic. Eye candy to be sure. Nice work, casting department.

Cinematography was excellent. Nice shots of the city and the interior compositions were beautiful.

Even in a film this lukewarm, I was surprised to see the visual metaphor of the "door." Becky was struggling with doors throughout the film, symbolizing her wanting to "get in"; opening doors of opportunity, in her career and personal life .

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Winter of My Discontent

Rant Alert!

Why do people freak out so much about getting "old"? What's the big deal? Everybody gets old. It's a fact of life. It's the second law of thermodynamics. Deal with it.

Me? I'm 53 years old. I'm what society calls a "baby boomer." I hate that term. I've always hated it. I also hate those other labels: Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z...what comes after Gen Z? Does Gen Z even exist? They sound like the names of spaceships in a sci-fi novel.

Yes. My hair is turning gray. I'm getting wrinkles on my face and age spots on my arms. So what?

And let's not forget to mention the commercials for wrinkle cream, orthopedic shoes, denture cream, ensure, depends and oat bran. Where is the "old" man or woman hiking in the mountains, building a house, flying a plane? Too adventurous? Well, then, what about going to the theatre, working in an office, fixing a car, walking a dog or even baking a cake? No, the old people are seen sitting in front of the television watching "Wheel of Fortune," wrapped in Snuggies and sipping hot tea.

I'm really starting to get annoyed at all the "age" jokes out there that ridicule and stereotype older people. I admit, I never paid much attention before. I even laughed at the humor myself. But now I take it personally and I'm offended. Call the ACLU!

Okay, let's talk about clothes. What is going on? As soon as you hit 50 you're doomed to elastic waist polyester pants and floral blouses? Do you seriously think a woman of a certain age should be walking around in mini-skirts and tank tops? Is there no middle ground?! (Yes, I'm exaggerating, but it's a rant after all.) Not that there aren't pretty clothes at all for older ladies, but you have to work hard to find them. You have to search. You have to dig. And when you find a store that sells clothes you can actually wear, you feel like a miner in the gold rush days. Eureka!

To quote Miranda Priestly in "The Devil Wears Prada":  That's all.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Are You Kidding?

I laughed my socks off when I read this "real life" blurb in our newspaper today:

HEADLINE: Man steals thousands of newspapers to keep pal's misdeed secret.

STORY: A man who acknowledged stealing thousands of free copies of a Colorado resort town's two daily newspapers because his friend was named in police blotters has made a public apology.

The Aspen Daily News and The Aspen Times both printed an apology letter Friday from 23-year-old Mitchell Reed of Carbondale, who agreed to write the apology to avoid criminal theft charges.

Reed stole thousands of papers on November 5 because one of his friends was in that day's police blotter in both publications for a drug arrest. A maintenance worker told police that Reed dumped the papers in trash bins behind an area grocery store, and Reed confessed to the theft.

ME: This is the craziest thing I've ever heard. I mean, who does this? It's something Lucy Ricardo would do. I like starting my day with a laugh but who would have thought it would be in a news report?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Joni Mitchell Tribute

I've been in a strange mood lately. Poetic, introspective, quiet. Joni Mitchell's songs from her "Clouds" album are perfect for such times.

I bought this album in the late 1970s, years after it was released. She was into jazz sounds by then. I found out some things about her. She is an artist and painter. She is from Canada. She is an amazing songwriter and her voice is unlike any other. I also found out, through her songs, that she has experienced loneliness, loss, fear, happiness and peace. Her songs speak to my heart. I have no idea how she reaches into my soul and sings the words that I feel but cannot express.

Her song, "I Think I Understand" is one of my favorites on this album. It's about Fear...facing it and overcoming it. The words are filled with beautiful imagery. Note the metaphor for Fear, Uncertainty, and the Shadow. My favorite stanza is the one that paints a picture of "sleepy rooftops round the harbor". 

Daylight falls upon the path, the forest falls behind
Today I am not prey to dark uncertainty
The shadow trembles in its wrath, I've robbed its blackness blind
And tasted sunlight as my fear came clear to me

I think I understand
Fear is like a wilderland
Stepping stones or sinking sand

Now the way leads to the hills, above the steeple's chime
Below me sleepy rooftops round the harbor
It's there I'll take my thirsty fill of friendship over wine
Forgetting fear but never disregarding her

Sometimes voices in the night will call me back again
Back along the pathway of a troubled mind
When forests rise to block the light that keeps a traveler sane
I'll challenge them with flashes from a brighter time

Oh, I think I understand
Fear is like a wilderland
Stepping stones or sinking sand

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Radio Theatre

Our drama team is having a script reading meeting next Saturday to prepare for our Valentine's Day Radio Theatre. Rehearsals will start in January but the scripts have to be selected soon so we can start planning the program.

I have a huge stack of scripts gleaned from my collection of sketch books, plus a few that I wrote myself. But that's only part of the program. We are also going to add commercials, jokes, and musical interludes.

It's a 1940s radio theatre, so we will be wearing costumes of the era. In fact, I'm on the hunt for the perfect vintage 1940s dress. I actually bought a wig inspired by Bette Davis in "All About Eve." So cool!

We're doing a Twilight Zone sketch I wrote called "A Good Book," about a bookstore owner who takes pride in helping people find the books they want. A customer requests a book that seems too good to be true and unlike any book every written. In fact, the author is out of this world.

What's a radio theatre without music? We're going to have Big Band music playing before the show and a lip-syncing bit with classic songs by Bing Crosby, the Andrews Sisters, etc. There will also be theme music playing to introduce some of the sketches.

Did someone say Foley Artist? We will be doing sound effects with bells, buzzers, foot steps, doors, etc.

It's a dessert theatre so there will be refreshments during the show; dessert and finger foods. And then there's the decoration: Valentine's Day theme along with classic radio theatre personalities.

So here I am in November thinking about Valentine's Day.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween

To quote the Cowardly Lion, "I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks, I do  I do I do I do believe in spooks."

Best Halloween memories? Going trick-or-treating and filling our pillowcases with candy. We'd stay out as long as we could and go as far as our little legs would carry us.There was always a house with an old lady who invited the children into her kitchen where the table was spread with the good stuff: big chocolate bars, popcorn balls, cupcakes, and assorted goodies. Of course, we'd heard the story about Hansel and Gretel and how the witch would use candy and sweets to lure unsuspecting children into her clutches, but this was a nice old lady who had  been drinking spice tea and watching Jeopardy on TV.

Then there was the house that was dark with a creepy scarecrow on a chair on the front porch next to a jack-o-lantern. Just when you got to the door, he jumped out and said "Boo!" Some kids ran away screaming in terror, but the brave ones stayed to get some treats. It was worth it. Seemed like if someone was going to go to all the trouble to scare kids, the treats were usually pretty good. Not apples and raisins, if you know what I mean.

At home, we'd watch the Charlie Brown Halloween special. Charlie Brown always got a bag of rocks. And Linus always missed Halloween because he was sitting in the pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin. I felt sorry for Linus. He totally got ripped off. and not only that, he dragged Sally down with him:

SALLY: I was robbed! I spent the whole night waiting for the Great Pumpkin, when I could have been out for tricks or treats. Halloween is over, and I missed it! You blockhead. You kept me up all night waiting for the Great Pumpkin, and all that came was a beagle. I didn't get a chance to go out for tricks or treats. And it was all your fault. I'll sue! What a fool I was! I could have had candy apples and gum and cookies and money and all sorts of things, but no, I had to listen to you. You blockhead. What a fool I was. Trick or treats come only once a year. And I missed it by sitting in a pumpkin patch with a blockhead. YOU OWE ME RESTITUTION!

And let's not forget the costumes! I've been a pirate, a gypsy, a ghost, a mummy and a monster. But my favorite was a witch. I got to wear a black hat and black cloak and "fly" around on my broomstick. This was decades before Harry Potter. Witches and Halloween go together like Tom and Jerry. Or Bugs and Elmer. Or Fred and Barney. Well, you get the idea.
I liked telling ghost stories and reading scary books. To this day I enjoy reading Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven" every year at Halloween. For the best effect, read it at night by candle light.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!'
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!'
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more!'

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.'

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.'
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.'

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never-nevermore."'

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.'

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Coffee and Conflict

So I'm drinking my morning coffee out of my "McCain for President" coffee mug. Rather ironic since I voted for Obama. I always get a kick out of that.

I don't typically discus politics. It's one of the most passionate subjects of conversation and tempers can flare. Not a good situation for someone like me who hates confrontation.

Not that I don't have strong opinions. I just don't like throwing kerosene on a fire, if you know what I mean. People can get so angry. Ranting, raving, accusing...almost to the point of insanity. It's like they've lost all ability to reason and to hold a rational, polite conversation.

What's up with that?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Great Movie Lines

So I'm reading the New York Times on the web and click on a story called: Longing for the Lines That Had Us at Hello.

Check it out:

Go ahead, make my day.
Life is like a box of chocolates.
Show me the money.
You talkin' to me?
Stupid is as stupid does.
Frankly, my dear. I don't give a damn.
I drink your milkshake.
May the Force be with you.
Round up the usual suspects.
Hast la vista, baby.
I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!
Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night.
Here's lookin' at you, kid.
We'll always have Paris.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My New Desk Calendar

I'm a fan of Mary Englebreit. I absolutely adore her illustrations and inspirational messages. Her engagement calendars feature delightful artwork and a quote for each week of the year.

Every year is a different theme. In 2011 it's "Hold Tight" and all the illustrations show the characters hugging, holding, snuggling, dancing, etc. The inspirational message for my birthday week is "It takes a long time to grow an old friend." And it shows two girls hugging each other at a birthday party.

In the past I've enjoyed various desk calendar designs: Dilbert, The Far Side, Blue Dog...but I've always liked Mary Englebreit the best.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mad Men

I'm a fan of Mad Men, AMC's Emmy-winning series about the fictional ad agency Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. It's one of the best shows about the advertising industry in a quite a while. I'm digging the mod 60s vibe of the sets and fashion, as well as the historical notes about real advertising interspersed during the "commercial" breaks. What's not to like?

Tragically, the season finale is next Sunday! In yesterday's show, the agency is "going under" due to loss of the Lucky Strike account. Dan Draper makes a bold move by submitting a full-page letter in the New York Times stating the agency has decided to take the moral ground and not advertise for tobacco companies. The partners had no clue and were furious with Dan for "euthanizing" the agency.


Dan's young daughter, Sally, is having emotional problems after her parents' divorce and is seeing a shrink.

The partners must contribute $100,000 each to keep the agency afloat. Pete Campbell (account executive) will only need to contribute $50,000. He has an argument with his pregnant wife and she compares his job to "a state room on the Titanic." Dan, in an act of generosity and to assuage his guilt, pays for Pete's contribution.

Dan runs into a friend named Midge, whom he discovers is an artist and a heroin addict. He buys one of her paintings, which inspired him to write the full-page letter to the New York Times called, "Why I'm Quitting Tobacco," the ad that caused all the brouhaha.

Due to cutbacks, people are getting fired right and left, but Peggy's job is safe.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Comfortable Clothes Controversy

On Tim Gunn's page (Gunn Laws) of the September 2010 issue of Marie Claire, Tim talks about comfort. As always, he gets right to the point with no apologies. Something to think about. Here's the excerpt:

Some people think of dressing up or being polite as a burden. They think having to wear a tie or use the right fork or send a thank-you card is a kind of shackle. To these people I say: Getting out of bed is a shackle. If you feel that way, stay in it! Invest in a hospital gurney and wheel yourself around on it when you to go out. I get very impatient with this whole "comfort issue" with clothing. Yes, you don't feel as comfortable in clothes that fit as you do in your pajamas. That's a GOOD thing. You're navigating in a world where you need to have your wits about you. If you're in a lackadaisical comfort haze, you can't be engaged in the world as you need to be.
ME: I totally agree. If you watch makeover shows like "How Do I Look?" or "What Not to Wear," it seems the major roadblock to improving one's appearance is "comfort."  They want to cling to the ugly worn-out t-shirts, elastic-waste polyester pants, oversized sweatshirts and crocs, simply because they are "comfortable." Interestingly, clothes that fit and look good CAN be comfortable.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thirteen Conversations

So I'm flipping through the channels one night and become mesmerized by this film called "Thirteen Conversations About One Thing." 

The cinematography is what captured me right away...each frame is artfully composed; like a painting brought to life.



Here's a review on amazon that pretty much summed up my thoughts exactly:

A smartly written and wonderfully acted movie about happiness and fate. 13 Conversations About One Thing takes four characters (a lawyer who hits a housecleaner with his car, then flees the scene; the housecleaner herself; a science professor who leaves his wife; and an insurance claims adjuster who's deeply envious of a coworker who seems irrepressibly happy) and blends their stories into a delicate but potent mix. The characters cross paths at various points, but more often the events reverberate off each other in funny, surprising, or sorrowful ways. For all its cleverness, 13 Conversations never loses sight of the characters' humanity. The remarkable performances (from Matthew McConaughey, Clea DuVall, Amy Irving, John Turturro, and especially Alan Arkin) are riveting. On top of that, this movie, for all its quiet and talkative nature, is visually stunning, each shot a carefully composed portrait of a state of mind. --Bret Fetzer

ME: It's the kind of movie you want to see again and again so you can delight in the rich dialog, search for visual motifs and bask in the beauty of the images.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Odd Couple

YIKES! I auditioned for The Odd Couple last night! Our community theater, the Cheyenne Little Theatre Players, is putting on the show and I couldn't be happier. I'm a huge fan of Neil Simon.

As a member of the programming committee, I help select our season line-up. It's right up my alley because I absolutely LOVE the theatre. I even have a Theatre Blog: All drama, all the time. I'm also a playwright and actor with the Sunnyside Players and write for their website.

Anyway, back to auditions. In addition to the leads, Oscar and Felix, there are six other cast members (four men and two women). The women are the Pigeon sisters, a couple of British divorcee's that live in Oscar's building. Gwendolyn is the older and Cecily the younger. At the auditions I read for both parts. They have one major scene in the second Act and then a small bit in the third Act.

The play is hilarious with smart writing by Simon. And although it's set in 1960s New York, the humor isn't lost on the modern audience. Even at the auditions, the audience was laughing when the actors on the stage read their lines.  

I would love to get a part in a Neil Simon play, but if I don't I will be perfectly happy to be involved backstage. Auditions continue tonight and the cast list will be up on Wednesday!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Revenge of the Birds

This is a movie review I wrote for Nights & Weekends:

One of the greatest filmmakers of all time, Alfred Hitchcock wasn’t called the Master of Suspense for nothing. In many of his movies, psychopaths, assassins, and homicidal maniacs play a major role. Yet, however dark and demented they may be, the one thing his villains share is their humanity.

Not so in The Birds. Hitchcock transforms our fine feathered friends into hated enemies, intent on taking their vengeance on mankind—or at least those who reside in California. But we can’t really blame the birds. The denizens of Bodega Bay pretty much deserve what they get.

Now, before you accuse me of being crude and heartless, let’s examine the facts. Here’s the pecking order:

Mitch (Rod Taylor): He’s too perfect. A successful lawyer who lives in San Francisco, he still takes time out of his busy schedule to visit his mother and sister every weekend in Bodega Bay. He has a charming sense of humor, he’s protective of his family, and he’s respected in the community. To make matters worse, he’s extremely good-looking. Enough said.

Melanie (Tippi Hedren): Rich, beautiful, and sassy, she’s certainly no birdbrain. However, her psychological hang-ups could fund Dr. Phil’s early retirement to the Bahamas. As a child she was abandoned by her mother, thus she craves attention by planning elaborate practical jokes. Her light-green suit makes her look like a parakeet, as does her pesky habit of cocking her head to one side. It’s obvious the birds have no sense of humor and are insulted by her parody. She becomes their first victim.

Lydia (Jessica Tandy): Mitch’s mother never recovered after her husband’s death, and she’s terrified of being alone. Perfectly understandable—except that her neurotic behavior turns her into the family martyr. She’s a mother hen who takes the empty nest syndrome to a whole other level. As if that’s not enough, she wears a skirt and pumps with matching handbag to drive a rusty old pickup to the neighbor’s farm. Call the fashion police!

Annie (Suzanne Pleshette): This is one hot chick. Unfortunately, that’s all she has going for her. She and Mitch were in love, but he broke it off when Mother disapproved. She left an exciting, adventurous life in San Francisco to pine away as an old-maid schoolteacher in Bodega Bay. Mitch is no longer interested in her romantically, but she stays in town because she can’t stand to be away from him. Her life is a cautionary tale told by feminists over martinis in Manhattan.

And let’s not forget the other citizens of Bodega Bay, who have inflamed the wrath of every bird on the West Coast. At the diner, we meet Mrs. Bundy, the ornithology expert, who tells us everything we wanted to know about birds but were afraid to ask. Her scientific explanations are punctuated by the town drunk’s prophesies of doom. A woman with young children decides to leave town immediately, not even going home to pack a suitcase. But before we can say KFC, the birds display their most deadly attack yet…blowing up cars, burning down buildings, and mutilating every human within pecking distance. Rambo has nothing on them.

Any normal person would get the heck out of Dodge. Not Mitch, Melanie, and Mother. They choose to board up the windows and hunker down for the next assault. Of course, if they’d left Bodega Bay, the movie would be over—and we’d miss watching Melanie creep up the stairs to the attic, where the birds lie in wait. We’d also miss Mitch’s heroic rescue of Melanie. And, more importantly, we’d miss Mother’s satisfied smirk as she lovingly strokes Melanie’s hair, pleased that she’s reduced this confident, lively woman to a catatonic vegetable—with the help of the birds, of course.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Getting to Know You

So I'm reading the August issue of Whole Living and was inspired by the "interview" questions on the back page. Here are my answers.What about you?

Bloom where you're planted.

Wrapped in my hubby's arms.

The Bible (God transformed my life on September 9, 1984.)

Gone With the Wind (I read the book 13 times in my early teens; it was an escapist novel for me when I was going through a rough time in my family.)

Roots (Inspired by the TV series, I read the novel and was fascinated with this era of American history.)

Night (Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel's account of his experience at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; since then I've read everything he's ever written.)

Watership Down (I had seen the animated version on TV and was immediately touched by the story. I later read the novel and it became my absolute favorite book of all time. Author Richard Addams creates an amazing world of rabbits who seek a better life and in the process must deal with peril, tyranny, love, friendship, death, family and hope.)

Chronicles of Narnia (I've read the series about five times and read the stories to my children when they were small. I stand in awe of C.S. Lewis and his amazing ability to touch my spirit.)

Am afraid of monsters under my bed.

I run.

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the same measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Jesus in Matthew 7:1)

Early in the morning at first light. I see the dawn outside my window and contemplate the beauty of God.

I organize my calendar.

When I was afraid of speaking in front of a crowd, Mom would say, "If they kill you, they won't eat you."

Worrying about my family.

Outrunning a tornado that ripped through our town.

Read what God told Joshua in the Bible (Joshua 1:9) "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

An artist.

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all
(Emily Dickinson)

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Leonard Pitts Gets It Right Again

I have been a fan of Leonard Pitts, columnist for the Miami Herald, for years. He's the voice of reason in this crazy post 9-11 world and I always look forward to his columns. Today he took on Rev. Terry Jones, pastor of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainsville, Florida, who plans to build a bonfire and burn the Koran this Saturday, the ninth anniversary of 9-11.

Here's an excerpt:

[Jones] proposes to commemorate an act of hate with an act of hate.
He will do this, he says, even though he's been denied a permit.
He will do it, he says, in the face of protest from Christians and Muslims.
He will do it, he says, even though half his church has deserted him.
He will do it, he says, even though it will inflame radical Muslims.
He will do it, he says, even though it might place U.S. soldiers at risk.

Another excerpt:

It's hardly news anymore when a conservative pundit or public figure -- and yes, that's almost always the profile -- says something belittling, bellicose, ignorant or hateful about gay people, Hispanics, blacks, or undocumented immigrants. And Muslims? Lord, it has been open season on them for years, the increasingly strident denunciations of Islam culminating in this summer of discontent.

ME: It's hard for me to understand how a so-called Christian can instigate something like this. As a  Christian, I find the whole thing abhorrent, to say the least. Would Jesus do something like this? I think not.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

So Long, Eyelashes

This past labor day weekend I gave myself a beauty break. Four solid days of no make up and no hair products. I think it's a good idea to give it a rest once in a while. Of course, I looked like a prairie woman in the pioneer days, but c'est la vie.

Not to say I didn't venture outside the house. I went to the grocery store, the farmer's market, Target and Barnes & Noble. I was a brave soul.

So I'm sitting in the car in the parking lot at Safeway, about to go in, when I check myself out in the car mirror. My eyelashes were almost gone! They were so sparse I could count the hairs. YIKES! My mind immediately went to work trying to figure out why. It had be the mascara. I use it almost every day. Always Revlon, but recently I had switched to Maybelline. I had noticed the Maybelline smelled like nail polish remover but I used it anyway.

So later at home I go online to research about whether or not mascara makes your eyelashes fall out. And guess what? It does. Especially if you glob it on several times throughout the day and sleep in your makeup (which I don't). But the main reason the lashes fall out is how you remove the mascara. If you rub your lashes really hard with your make up remover (which I do), then the lashes can actually fall out.

I found out it's best to use water based mascara and just touch the wand on the tips of your eyelashes. Also, use a mascara that has a moisturizer in it or use Vaseline at bedtime to keep them conditioned.

The beauty experts say your lashes will grow back. Thank goodness.

Does anyone else see the irony of mascara making your lashes fall out?

Friday, September 03, 2010

Cool Shades

We bought a set of cellular, top-bottom shades for our kitchen and they are FABULOUS! We chose ivory because we wanted a pleasing neutral. The shades cover the window above our kitchen sink and with the top-bottom feature, we can adjust the light anyway we want. They are also cordless so there's no ugly cord that we have to hide.

Fortunately, my Dad is visiting from Oklahoma and easily installed them for us. Hubby and I are mechanically challenged. We're lucky to know how to change a light bulb. Dad, on the other hand, is an expert home builder, carpenter, woodworker, mechanic, and jack of all trades. He had the shades up faster than Garfield could finish off a plate of lasagna.

Thanks, Dad! 

BTW: His name is Earl. No relation to the hurricane.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Secret Life

In my Secret Life...

I'm a musician. I'm a cellist in a symphony orchestra. I travel around the world playing beautiful music. I'm a pianist and play with Harry Connick Junior. I'm a baritone in an acappella quartet.

I'm an independent filmmaker. I make movies that show the beauty and horror of the world; movies that change people's lives.

I'm an artist. I create paintings and drawings that are shown in galleries. I illustrate children's books and my artwork brings delight to my readers. I'm a photographer whose pictures cut to the bone and reveal truth.

I'm a dancer. I express my self though graceful movement and become one with the music. My skirt twirls and my legs extend as I leap like gazelle.

I'm an actor on the stage. I am Lady MacBeth, Blanche DuBois, Nora Helmer.

I'm a writer. I write plays and stories. I write screenplays and TV scripts. I write comedy and drama. People actually pay me.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Face to Face

Last week at our church Family Night Ice Cream Party, I ran the face painting booth. I had no idea what I was getting into. I figured I'd just draw some cute pictures of cats, spiders, flowers, bugs and turtles on the kids cheeks.

Not so, Amigo.

The kids wanted full-face theatrical makeup! All I had was a small set of face paint crayons (no black!) and some washable markers. I don't know how I did it, but I managed to create a couple of butterflies, a leopard and a knight. I even created a replica of Mr. Mistoffeles from the musical "Cats."

When I got home that night, I had a taco (I was starving, what can I say?) and realized I had a lot to learn about face painting. So I did what anybody else would do. I googled. Boy, oh boy! There's a whole world of face painting I didn't know existed! I'm not kidding! Some are "professionals" that charge $100 an hour! It's a career!

"What's your major?"
"Face painting with a minor in philosophy."

What really impressed me the most was the amazing talent of these face painters. I had no idea the work could be so detailed and intricate. But when you're doing a party, the key is speed. You don't want kids standing in line very long. Lucky for me, I'm fast at everything I do. Talking, walking, writing, cooking, reading, you name it. Just call me Speedy Gonzales. (Hey, is there a Latino theme running through this blog post?)

All this to say I've decided to take face painting seriously. I want to be the face paint lady. Next time I'll be ready. The Incredible Hulk? Piece of cake. The Joker? No problem. A Geisha? Easy peasy Japanesey.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cube Anyone?

So I'm out and about and I come across this square car. Intrigued, I get a closer look and see that it's a Nissan Cube. Wow! I'm loving that name. It makes me think of sci-fi movies. In the future people will be traveling around cities in little Cubes working in Cubicles saving up for vacations in Cuba.

Advertisers say the Cube is competing in the Square Car Market. The demographic? Young people out of college living with their parents. Word on the street is that the Cube is like a little apartment on wheels where twenty-somethings  can exert their independence. Really? I thought only homeless people lived in their cars. Then again, aren't college grads without jobs and living with their parents considered to be homeless? I report, you decide.

I'm not the demographic for this car, but I think it would be fun to drive a Cube. There's a large wrap-around window on the side and it's small enough to fit into a compact parking space. But it might be embarrassing to be seen in a car that looks like 50 circus clowns should be climbing out of it.  

So how will we know if this car will have a lasting legacy in the automobile industry? When it becomes part of the of the Hot Wheels collection.

Monday, August 16, 2010

How Do I Look?

Have you ever seen "How Do I Look?" on the Style Channel? It's a makeover show that will knock your socks off! Clothes, hair, makeup, the works. The transformations are unbelievable. For example, on yesterday's show they turned a frumpy hippie chick whose wardrobe consisted of long skirts, peasant blouses and pajama bottoms into a stylish modern woman. Her hair had been extremely long for her age (down the middle of her back) and made her look like she was in her 50s. She was actually in her 30s. They gave her a medium-length bob. So cute!

I think the best thing about this show is something I call "Wish Maker." The women getting the makeovers talk about their dreams, whether it's going to Paris, starting a business or becoming a chef. One woman wanted to pursue her dream of being a professional photographer. Her wardrobe held her back, as did her lack of confidence. She not only got a wonderful makeover and a new wardrobe, but the best prize of all was paid tuition to study photography and new camera.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lauren Wins!

Lauren's solo.

This season's "So You Think You Can Dance" winner is Lauren! She was in the final three with Robert and Kent (who were also amazing!) Best season ever. So many wonderful and memorable performances.

Kent and Lauren: Final Two

Lauren and Pasha do the Argentine Tango

Lauren and Twitch in a hip hop routine. Smokin' hot!

Lauren and Twitch.

Robert and Lauren contemporary.

Kent and Lauren doing a jazz routine.

Lauren and Twitch perform hip hop in finale.

Kent and Neil dance a Travis Wall contemporary.
This one brought tears to the judges eyes and
made Mia speechless. It was so beautiful.
  It's the story of the end of a close relationship.

Kent and Neil.

Robert and Kathryn perform a Broadway number:
"Cool" from "West Side Story."  Excellent!

Robert and Kathryn.

Robert and Dominic performing hip hop.

Billy and Ade dance a contemporary routine.
Billy's best performance of the season.

Twitch and Alex in Alex's last performance before the injury
that caused him to leave the show.
The judges and everyone else were stunned.
Alex is a trained ballet dancer and everyone expected
him to have trouble with a hip hop routine.
But he surprised us all with an amazing performance.

Ellen Degeneres takes on Alex's part in the
famous hip hop with Twitch in the finale.

Alex. My favorite dancer.