Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Defy Gravity or Embrace Memphis Rock 'N Soul

Gregory Maguire started with an interesting premise for a book. Everyone knows the classic 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz. But, does everyone wonder what happened before the house fell on the wicked witch? How did evil begin? Wicked was quite successful, and in another level of creativity theater folks adapted the book (Winnie Holzman), created music and lyrics (Stephen Schwartz) and voila! a hit Broadway musical.

I saw a Dallas touring production a few years ago and was delighted. I saw the Gershwin Theater production recently and was blown away - what a stage, what sets, costumes, lighting, and voices. There were flying monkeys everywhere. No One Mourns the Wicked begins our musical journey, Popular sticks in the brain, and Defying Gravity will have you soaring.

Wicked is good.

Memphis tells the tale in music of a white DJ who's just crazy enough to hang on Beale Street, devour black music, and spread its joy. It's not easy, but the struggle is worth it. This musical journey shows the impact of integration issues through music. The glory of the voices will have you shouting amen.

The Music of My Soul, Everybody Wants to Be Black on a Saturday Night, and Someday will have you tapping your toes. Say a Prayer will bring tears to your eyes. Stand Up, Change Don't Come Easy, and Memphis Lives in Me will have you believing in the power of rock and roll, gospel, and blues.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

The noble kind of patriotism ... aims at ends that are worthy of the whole of mankind
Albert Schweitzer

Saturday, May 26, 2012

New York: Broadway - S'Wonderful

 Happy  Memorial Weekend everybody. I'm back in Texas, poolside, and applying buckets of sunscreen. I'm also going to continue my swoon over New York City and Broadway shows. Gosh, I love corny musicals and we kicked it off right with Nice Work If You Can Get It. Yes, Matthew Broderick still looks about twelve years old. His pleasant demeanor and voice are perfect in the role of a rich playboy who ultimately falls hard for the girl (a fabulous Kelli O'Hara) from the wrong side of the tracks. Throw in some moonshine, Gershwin tunes, and Estelle Parsons as the imperious mother and you've got amusement.
Our final show was a Monday night treat - Ghost the Musical had decent buzz from a man at Sardi's to folks in line at TKTS. Based on the Patrick Swayze/Demi Moore movie, this show rocked. It was a very modern musical - spare stage, very cool light effects, and a fast pace. It followed the movie storyline with Sam and Molly having it all (love, cool apartment), and Carl the best friend (secretly the jealous jerk) embezzling money, arranging a theft that ends in murder, and the cleanup. Sam's dead and trapped on this earth, speaking through Oda Mae. Powerful songs enhanced Ghost. The duets between our lovers were gorgeous, and yes, you'll have to dab your eyes at the end.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Book Review: Three Seconds

Page 6: He had to do it, keep it all down, or else - he knew the way things worked - he was a dead man.

Three Seconds by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom is a gripping read. The writing style is spare, like its Swedish setting. The mule has to keep down his swallowed heroin packets as he rides a ferry to his (unexpected) death. From the opener to the final page, you will hold your breath and turn pages.

Piet Hoffmann, former petty criminal, is part of a Polish drug ring and also a secret informant for the Swedish police. As a husband and as a father to two small boys, he sweats over his dangerous mission. A botched drug deal leads to death, and a Swedish investigator (not included in the special project) is gaining fast on Piet's tale/tail. Lots of double crosses reveal corruption and Hoffmann has only his own wits, and prison knowledge, to keep himself and his family out of danger.

Page 10: The silence when someone hangs up mid-conversation is always deeply unnerving.

Three Seconds will unnerve you and keep you guessing and praying for Piet's life.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Glorious Glass: More Chihuly

 Dad's still in town from PA and we're having far too much fun. He's 80 and darn peppy. He can snooze at the drop of a hat when seated, but out walking,etc. - he's tough to keep up with . Nonetheless, I've done no writing. We are moving from meal to meal and that's a good thing.
 Thus - a blog filler post with pretty pictures from the Dallas Arboretum. This Dale Chihuly exhibit is beyond amazing and glorious.

That's it. If you aren't in the Dallas area - you should be. Come visit. It's not 100 degrees yet.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Choice Chihuly

 Dale Chihuly, premier glass artist, has a newly installed exhibit at the Dallas Arboretum - May through November. My father is visting from PA and we drove to Garland this morning. Fabulous, Stupendous, et al. The arboretum is lovely on any day, but these glass creations add a new dimension.
 It's a glass festival, a carnival bounty overlooking White Rock Lake.
 Hidden niches reveal glass wonders.
Waterfalls dance behind shimmering glass.  This is a sampling of the day. Words aren't enough to expound on the beauty.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

New York: Buildings

 New York architecture is intricate - large-scaled and yet highly detailed. Best to walk with someone down the street and take turns gazing, while the other person steers. Here's the New York Public Library with the famous lions standing guard. The docent tour offers a lot of behind the scenes information, and is mind boggling for any author/reader/lover of books.
 Best FREE ride - the Staten Island Ferry. Shuffle on and stand or take a seat for thirty minutes to Staten Island. Get off, turn around, and get back on (security reasons for not staying on the same ferry). The ride back allows you to wave to the Statue of Liberty, see Ellis Island, and admire the new evolving skyline. It was a very overcast day, but the World Trade Center is standing tall and the whole site bustles with construction for the new memorial.
 We were walking toward the WTC site, down a narrow pedestrian alley. I looked up and managed to capture this dizzying perspective. There's a poem here somewhere. I need to contemplate the geometry and put pen to paper.
 Over to SoHo in search of a yummy lunch (we found a small tearoom in a chocolate shop), then walked in and out of nifty stores. Again, just strolling down the street offers eye candy.
One morning I sauntered over to the Museum of Modern Art. Alas, they had a private event, so it was closed to the public. However, further down the street I spied this tiny door. No sign. I have no idea what it led to, but I'll come up with something in a story or poem someday.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Movie Review: The Avengers

Happy Mother's Day!  My mom loved the movies. She did lean more toward romantic comedy, but she might have gotten a kick out of the characters below - here's a review I wrote for The Little Paper of San Saba (a town without a cinema).

What happens when you assemble a group of Marvel Superheroes - Thor, Captain America, Ironman, The Black Widow, The Hawk, and The Hulk in one movie? You have a screen filled with plenty of action and you have a lot of bickering. Yep - Joss Whedon, the director, has a wicked sense of humor and he brings it into the screenplay for The Avengers. So many egos, so many talents, and they tend to be annoyed at each other a lot of the time.

It's not Memorial Day yet, but summer movie season has launched into high gear, all in the name of fighting Loki (evil weenie brother of Thor) who's back causing trouble, stealing the Tessarac power cube, and creating mayhem. Nick Fury (Samuel L.Jackson) is in charge of SHIELD and this odd collection of fighters. He has a lot of talent running amok on the screen. We're lucky that they pull together and fight for America. New York City takes a beating, but survives. I won't go into any more plot details - it's fun to watch the action unfold and to laugh out loud at the sheer joy of the action on screen.

Here's the rundown - Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is mighty fine and wields his hammer well. Whew! Captain America (Chris Evans) might have been frozen in time, but he's catching up quick to the 21st century and is a strong leader. Stark's Ironman (Robert Downey, Jr.) is pompous and brilliant. Great performance as always from Downey,Jr. The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is new to me, but her spy skills and leather outfit balance out the testosterone in the room. The Hawk (Jeremy Renner) is aces with his bow and arrow. He wasn't his usual edgy self, but did his part. Finally - the big green guy, The Hulk, was played by Mark Ruffalo. Mild mannered Dr. Banner becomes the raging monster needed to smash anything in the enemy's path. He filled the screen with anger.

As you can tell, The Avengers pulled together star power, great effects, a bang-up script with witty dialogue, and an explosive story. Loki (Tom Hiddletson) is a very good creepy villain, yet as Captain America says, "He won't succeed. He has no conviction."

I paid full price for this film - I had conviction and was not disappointed. Go See The Avengers and kick off your summer right.

Friday, May 11, 2012

New York: The Morgan Library

 NewYork City - love it, never have enough time to do everything on my list. I did get to the Morgan Libary this trip, and what a treat. Pierpont Morgan, financier, assembled his world class collection of books, bindings, medieval manuscripts, literary and historical manuscripts, plus drawings and prints in the 1890s.
 Today the library and museum, brownstone and new modern airy spaces, welcome the visitor into another world teeming with a vast rich history.
 Here is one view of the East Room, filled with rare books.
 Another view of the East Room. Note the stained glass windows, the vaulted decorated ceiling, wood carvings, and ancient tapestries.
Here's a postcard illustration, courtesy of the Morgan collection - A.A.Milne's Winnie the Pooh and his Ten Honey Pots by artist Ernest Howard Shepard. So many gems to unearth in The Morgan Library. It's heavenly.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A to Z, Not Quite as Easy as 1, 2, 3

April's A to Z Challenge proved interesting, amusing, and eye-opening. First, to publish a blog every day takes dedication, time, and creativity. I did not have a true battleplan and it took a week or so to ramp up and get in the flow.

Second, to browse others' blogs and comment took a lot of time too. But it was refreshing to read so many blogs and appreciate the talent in the world. That's what I'll take from this challenge. I wish I had been able to do more.

Now I shall return to my once or twice a week blog post, and I do intend to keep reading some of the "finds" from the challenge.

Friday, May 4, 2012

New York, New York

 Adventures await. I'm headed to NYC with a friend and we have no official plan. Well, I personally see a bagel in my future, and some italian, and let's face it - there's always a food theme in New York. I can justify it with a straight face because, "I walk a lot."  I also found out Tracey has never been on the Staten Island Ferry, so that's on the agenda. It's a great way to see the skyline, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island for free.
 Maybe I'll hang around the New Yorker building and hand out cards advertising my book.
 Churches, museums, libraries (I want to visit the Morgan. Two years ago I did the New York Public Library tour - wow, impressive). And of course, we'll stand in line at TKTS and find a show to our liking. So many choices - tap dancing tunes or serious dramas
This is a picture I took near Bryant Park. Stories, reflections, and poems waiting to burst forth - I just have to keep my eyes open and soak it all in.

Broadway is Trade and Vanity made flesh - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Got to go pack my bags. New York bound.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Books 'N Authors and All That Jazz - 10th year

 Saturday April 28, 2012, I attended Books 'N Authors and All That Jazz, a conference at Weatherford College. It was their 10th Anniversary celebration and they put on a good show. I hung in the authors' wing, chatting with folks about my book - My Zoo World. Plenty of interest and enthusiasm
 My display included pictures of some of the critters cavorting through my chapters. Linda T's cat Benji was a star, as well as son Kevin's pit bull, Rusty. Certainly conversation starters.
 Other Trinity Writer attendees included Ann Summerville (A Graceful Death, High Tide, Storms & Secrets, and her latest The Berton Hotel), Sharon Owen (Thicker Than Water), and Arly Pineo (Cheat the Wind). Not pictured here are Sheryl Nelms (poet) and Kalvin Weaver (Kobra).  We hung out, made new connections, attended some classes (Dave Lieber is always a treat), and discussed the world of publishing in 2012 - ever changing, that's for sure.
The grand finale included some Jazz, thanks to the college jazz combo - very cool. Linda Bagwell, coordinator, also announced winners of various writing contests. Alas, I did not have to leap from my seat.
Nonetheless it was a worthwhile day in the world of writing and publishing....and all that jazzzzzzzzzz!