The Third Act

I recently had the great, fun pleasure of attending The Third Act Series film screening at the Manhattan Film Festival and pre-screening cocktails, accompanied by a fun friend of mine. I initially met leading ladies Jody Atkinson and Susan Stava at the Cornell Entrepreneurial Network NYC’s “Business of Blogging” event and then reached out to them via The Third Act because something about their take on life got my funny bone.

Carolyn_Jody_ Susan_Third_Act_ Series_Screening_MFF_April_2018Carolyn, Jody and Susan at The Third Act Series screening/Manhattan Film Festival–photo by Ann Neilsen

Just as the dual protagonists of webisodes by the same name, Jody and Susan are as much a delight in person as they are to watch on screen in their very clever web series, and now also on the big screen. When my friend Ann saw Susan at the pre-screening and said to her that we were there to see their film, Susan bear hugged her without hesitation. Same from Jody when she came over to the bar where we were seated.

Carolyn_Ann_The_Third_Act_Screening_MFF_April_22_2018Carolyn and Ann at the screening–photo by random passer-by who Ann asked (true story).

The Third Act’s self-deprecating humor is a breath of fresh air in the current cultural climate of narcissistic, filtered, SnapChat-ty social media. It reminds me of the great columnist/writer Erma Bombeck and though Erma’s brand of humor would be wildly out of step with the current times, humor is humor to me. Maybe I’m an easy laugh, but I’m amused when I see a promo photo of Jody with her feet up on a huge desk, smoking a stogie with the thought bubble above her head, “The laundry’s done, the kids are in college…now what?” And I love how they ponder such modern brain teasers as “why do tits have to be sexualized?” Alas, the answer to this rhetorical musing is a HUGE one (all pun…? Oh no! I’m sexualizing the question!) with its roots in ancient art works such as the Hellenistic Aphrodite, the stuff of which doctoral dissertations are made (for more on such academic exploration, please watch the incredible new PBS series Civilizations particularly the How Do We Look? episode).

We also enjoyed the screening of an indie film Everyone You Hate is Here directed by Madeline Nehlen about the clique-y reality of beach clubs. Unbeknownst to us, Ann was sitting right next to the film’s lead actor, which delighted me having heard this person giggling at mostly everything in both The Third Act Series and her film, throughout the screenings.Everyone

Here’s a moment from the Q&A during which Jody, Susan and The Third Act Series Director, Michele Midori Fillion, are responding to a “future plans” inquiry:

I hope The Third Act Series gives women license to breathe when we have phases in our lives that take the stuffing out of us, and require all of our faculties just to endure, especially when we look in the mirror after-the-fact and find ourselves saying, “Mirror mirror on the wall, bye-bye yoga arms, hello bingo arms”.

Hats off (yes, as in Melania’s white Hervé-Pierre number) to the Manhattan Film Festival for a great billing (the new Tara Reid film Worthless about bullying sounds intriguing, so I might go back).

In the interim, BIG CONGRATS TO JODY & SUSAN AND CONTINUED SUCCESS WITH FUTURE SCREENINGS + SEASON 2!

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Italian “Bred”

CarolynWith CandiceGuardino

I had the great pleasure of seeing the one-woman showcase Italian Bred by Candice Guardino recently and meeting her afterward.  Amusing cameos by people “in the biz” such as comedian Mario Cantone who pop in to Candice’s various vignettes, made for some funny stuff. My favorite through line in the show, however, is Candice’s running impersonation of her family members, especially her grandmother, who was moxy personified, as only women of her time and place were and could be.

I had a similarly strong “force” of a grandmother on my paternal side, who was a pioneer indie retailer of the hot item of the 1950’s: appliances. Panasonic and Zenith were the brands that lined the walls of her store, and General Electric featured my Nonna, Lena, in their promotional materials to their sales force. She was quite cute and personified not only the moxy of the roaring 20’s generation women, but also ideal look of her era: five foot two, eyes of blue. Yep! She was a well-off retailer who designed, built and paid for her own home in cash, and a stage mother to my father to rival the likes of Gypsy Rose Lee.

She would commute in to the City with my father when he was just three years old (and BEFORE the NJ Turnpike was even built!) for his voice lessons at the Royal Associated Studios on 52nd Street and his weekly radio appearances on NBC Radio Children’s Hour with emcee Ed Herlihy, sponsored by the great but gone Horn & Hardart automat.

I don’t want to give anything away about Italian Bred so in the meantime, I’ll share an anecdote about Italian mothers. Recently, I was having lunch with mine at Cafe123 before seeing Farinelli and the King (for the second time!) We were never weight obsessed being naturally thin with fast metabolisms and we always ate well, so were talking about nutrition, etc., over our crêpes. I remarked that I didn’t think I was eating very well lately due to a hectic schedule and that maybe I was eating too much fat in my meals. I continued that maybe I should scale back on fats a little, to which my mother leaned over the table and asked me in a hushed tone, “But you’re not going to give up olive oil, right?!” As if it’s a sin! Well, to Italians, Greeks, Spaniards and probably many more Mediterranean cultures, it probably is! My reply was of course, “No, of course not, Mom!” to which she sighed a breath of relief and proceeded to further enjoy her crêpe.

And that’s my “Italian Bred” in a nutshell! (all pun because Italians—at least my Italians–are nuts for nuts, also–there was a perennially full nut bowl on our teakwood table my entire childhood, like something out of Harry Potter–but that’s a WHOLE other story for another day!)

ItalianBred (2)

GO SEE ITALIAN BRED!

photo of Candice and Carolyn by B. McDonough — above photo by C. McDonough

Odes to the Ides

Ah, yes, tis the Ides of March–again.

And, isn’t it grand how we now change the clocks right before the Ides, just to really drive us all up the nearest tree struggling through the last of Old Man Winter?

So it’s dark in the morning–again. And it’s light out until 7:00pm-ish EDST here on the East coast BUT with the continued terrible weather, who would know?! Or care!

The whole ritual just makes everyone tired and hazy, except in Hawaii and Arizona,  because the smart residents there DO NOT succumb to this weird, ongoing social experiment in clock time, which began in England and Germany, and caught on stateside, to make people shop more.

Yes, SHOP more!

Honeybeelujah! Don’t tell Rev. Bill!

Speaking of shopping, it appears that Saks 5th Avenue, along with Gucci, have been reading this blog–again!

HOW else would they have come up with this recent window dressing theme?! URGENT: Please see Mona Lisa & An Iguana on 5th and Shopping Cart Abandonment for more.

SAKS5thAvenueShoppingCartsWindowFeb2018photo by Brian McDonough

I’d just like to know how on earth I forgot these two photos last week during Int’l Wonder Women Day

CarolynWithWW1

…in my last post? It MUST have been the clocks.

This year…

CarolynWithWW2WW photos by Acacia McDonough

…Wonder Woman is shielding me from the Ides!

And please don’t let this happen to you–no outfit is worth it!

SAKS5thAvenueShoppingCartsWindowFeb2018

 

Int’l Women’s Day + Gilded is Hot

Like many of my formative experiences, my first International Women’s Day took place in Italy through the celebration day of the Festa della Donna.

I was in the thick of my Fellowship at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy, doing a shift in the gift shop that day, when fellow intern (later to become hub as he’s known to readers of this blog) surprised me with a nosegay of mimosa blossoms, as I was busily transacting de Chirico and Magritte poster sales. Awww…

Many moons later metaphorically speaking, as it’s in keeping with the universal yin energy of today, we named our daughter Acacia. WHO knew the derived-from-Latin species name for mimosa blossoms is Acacia Dealbata?!

Mimosa

We had taken our time in naming her and considered many names while consulting different naming oracles (as new parents of a first-born often do) but I never came across this reference until researching for this entry. Awww…

In light of this day, and Women’s History Month, I recently had the pleasure of hearing author Karin Tanabe speak on her book The Gilded Years soon to be a major motion picture starring and produced by Zendaya in collaboration with Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine. Anything Neo-Victorian and gilded is HOT at the moment. So if this film is as engaging as The Greatest Showman (for which Zendaya–who’s career is on fire right now–received a lot of buzz as a stunningly beautiful, racially blended trapeze artist) and I have a feeling it may very well be, albeit in a different way, it has the potential to be a winner. The film’s working title alone is a winner:  A White Lie. Quite a compelling concept in our current cultural climate, n’est-ce pas?

Carolyn_Karin_ Feb242018

photo of Carolyn and Karin Tanabe by Acacia V. McDonough

I won’t give away the story, Karin’s a great storyteller and historical fiction genre writer, so please read the book:

The_Gilded_Years_Cover

I’m also blogging today’s Int’l Women’s Day post as a new member of the National Organization of Italian American Women and I appear on the #NewMemberMonday March 2018 Edition. Mille Grazie NOIAW!

Benvenute_NOIAW_March_2018

(you GOTTA love NOIAW’s yellow blossoms new members Welcome + Lady Liberty logo!)

AND finally I will be dining with one of the most empowered women I know, Rev. Dr. Tami Coyne whose recent 1-Woman Show Singing For My Life: One Woman’s Journey, with hilarious opening act by her stand-up sister, Teri Coyne, was fantastic! Here’s a clip:

 

To all the women of the world today, be the WONDER WOMAN you already are, turn something upside down, don’t forget to brush your teeth and…

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…support #METOO today/every day!

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photo credits: Acacia V. McDonough, C. McDonough

 

Viva Sistina?

TheCreationOf Adam

In a mall in New Jersey, the Benjamin-ian aura of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel has been nuked.

But there is hope.

Let’s deal with the nuking first.

Anyone who has visited the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican in Rome has undoubtedly endured a long line to enter, countless tourists, a sore neck, dizziness and maybe even Stendhal’s syndrome, hyperkulturemia, or Florencesyndrome, which is a psychosomatic disorder that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to an experience of great personal significance, particularly viewing art.

I don’t think the exhibition entitled “UP CLOSE Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel” mounted by Westfield in a large tent near the Garden State Plaza Mall will cause Stendahl’s, though Hub and I made it a priority to see it upon learning of it.

The staff couldn’t have been nicer and they serve various Italian wines, mineral water and Peroni beer in the exhibition space (sweet!) But the organizers, focusing on what they describe as the “stories”, mounted everything vertically, and while the thrust of the exhibition is to get “UP CLOSE” while learning the biblical origins of the ceiling’s “stories” the lack of use of the ceiling and heavy pixelation were disappointing and somewhat distracting. It is a CEILING after all. There were also no notes on technique, brush stroke, pigment or the mind-bending foreshortening Michelangelo employed so that the Sibyls and God jut out of the ceiling plane and come at the viewer below in a 3D way–just descriptions that read more like a “Who’s Who in the Sistine”.

TheLibyanSibyl

So the Sistine’s aura has taken a hit but is likely in tact in Rome where Michelangelo painted on scaffolding on his back while fighting with the Pope (see the film of Irving Stone’s “The Agony and the Ecstasy” with Charlton Heston and Rex Harrison) and the frescoes abandoned to years of wax/smoke residue until they were restored recently.

HestonHarrison

UpClose2BPM

GodSeparates WaterFromThe Heavens

UpClose1BPM

While the intentions are good, and the exhibition is a nod to a place people may not have a chance to see in person, the exhibition guide further complicates the trouble in aura land such endeavors create when it states: “UP CLOSE is organized so guests can fully comprehend the complex stories of Michelangelo’s work with maximum context.” Hmmm…well at least you can have a glass of wine and buy some coasters if you cannot travel to Rome! For us, on an autumn eve out with our teen, it was a diversionary substitute of sorts which will be coming to a mall near you.

Merch

photos: The Creation of Adam (detail), The Libyan Sibyl, God Separates Water from the Heavens by C. McDonough and the UP CLOSE exhibition space by B. McDonough

 

 

September with Nicki

 

Well I never expected to spend my September with Nicki Minaj, but between attending The Meadows Festival with my teen and a mall in NJ, I guess I did!

NMText2

Both the crowd (and my hub) were a little more enthused to see her surprise cameo than I was, as my text gives away, but hey, I’ll still take a picture! And who can ever resist a life-size cut out advertising a new MAC line? Not me!

NMWithCM

I did have a good time at The Meadows with some old school LLCOOLJ and DMC…

LLCoolJ

DMC

…”don’t push me ’cause I’m close to the edge…!” (you know the rest)

photos by A. McDonough and C. McDonough

Mona Lisa & an Iguana on 5th

 

MonaLisa Winking

While LVMH has Masters in their windows, someone at Gucci must be reading this blog.

How ELSE would an iguana wind up in the Gucci window on 5th Avenue this summer? (please see Day of the Iguana).

OR, Gucci Inc. has been following me since the late 80’s when I worked as a Christmas seasonal hire blissfully selling merchandise at the flagship 5th Avenue store, spending my days/eves chatting in Italian and English with Signora Rossellini (yes, Isabella’s grandmother and Elettra’s great grandmother) who was the concierge there in those years and who would randomly award me with those in her client book when they happened in on the store. Ah, what fun and nice commissions, too.

In any event, back to the iguana. Here it is: GucciIguana Window

GucciIguana CloseUp

…and a chameleon, too!

GucciChameleon CloseUp.jpg

There are also kitten head children one store front north of the iguana and chameleon.

Gucci KittenChildren

All this was quite the build-up as one walks up the avenue, to fashion conglomerate LVMH’s display/appropriation/misappropriation of the Mona Lisa and four other master works of art for luxury handbags designed by artist Jeff Koons for LVMH.

VanGogh LVMH Window

Frangonard LVMH Window

Where do I start with the wrongness of this? And yet I am drawn to the Titian tote despite its $2,800.00 price tag. Watch this and you’ll see why…

…and this…

At least the window displays are a more subdued treatment than the monumental projections of Mona Lisa & Co. when the collection launched. Drat! No photos and I was there for it, but too dazzled by the spectacle and too mournful of the Benjamin-ian auras decaying by the nanosecond. (please see The Digital Aura).

It is summer after all and even I could not resist a contemplative selfie (or two) with a winking Mona Lisa and a Titian AND hilarious passers-by in the background:SelfieWith Winking MonaLisa

SelfieWith WomanOnPhone

SelfieWithTitian AndWoman

photos, selfies and video by Carolyn

 

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