Tag Archives: CultureArtMedia

A Diet + The Waves

In the past week, I had the pleasure of seeing two quite divergent theatrical productions: My Life on a Diet, Renée Taylor’s one-woman show, and The Waves, adapted from Virginia Woolf’s novel as a chamber musical for the Powerhouse Theater at Vassar College.

Renée Taylor (aka Sylvia Fine of The Nanny sitcom) and her autobiographical romp (co-written with her husband, the late, great Joe Bologna) are comic gold, a delicious summer time treat (all pun). A stellar career trajectory as told through the many diets RT has attempted in a constant struggle to be thin for show biz, makes for a good dramatic device and a very fun time. The anecdotes from her family life, the roster of diets and the performers she’s met and worked with that emerge along the way are all gems in their own right. The audience, as guests in her leopard bedecked stage set, was roaring. If you’re reading this and you don’t know who Hedy Lamarr or Rita Hayworth or Elaine May were/are, go see this show asap. If you’re reading this and you do know who they were/are, go see this show asap.

I attended through a NOIAW special event, which included a Meet/Greet + dinner with Ms. Taylor, a very generous gesture on her part. I stopped by the restaurant and she couldn’t have been lovelier, which comes through in our photo together.

Carolyn with Rene'e Taylor of My Life on a Diet post-show at NOIAW dinner July 19, 2018

The Waves could not have been a more different kind of theatrical excursion. A cast of six accomplished and electrifying actors portray six siblings over the course of many years and rites of passage (boarding school, college – that is, Cambridge). The music, musical direction and the pianist are quite extraordinary. I felt the music and the actors’ phenomenal vocal delivery washing over me, literally, as waves. In the score, I heard hints of phrases from Les Misérables and reminiscences of the masterful, constant jazz piano background music of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. I truly liked the less-is-more use of projection — a simple beach/water horizon which illuminated and changed color and form very subtly, but absolutely created the work’s title in setting and ambiance.

The Waves Cast Powerhouse Theater at Vassar College July 2018 (640x427)

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MLOAD and The Waves were apropos to see in high summer and I highly recommend them both.

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“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” – Plato as quoted by WQXR.org

photos in order of appearance by B. McDonough; Powerhouse Theater at Vassar College; B. McDonough; A. McDonough

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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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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?!

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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?

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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:

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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!

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(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

 

“Friendgrass”

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Facebook’s Chief Product Officer appearing on Charlie Rose plans to harvest your “friendgrass”.

According to FB’s CPO, “friendgrass” is social media speak for what was formerly referred to as community, network, connections, “friends”, followers, etc.

AND, FB wants YOURS.

So a backdrop of Astroturf seemed a good visual toward this concept.

Huzzah.

Leap Day Memo to the Oscars

Oscar’s new format was as stunning in boredom as its 70’s Glam themed set.

As a process person, I was totally on board with the idea to mix up the awards giving order by “following the process of film making.”

The first award was always Best Supporting Actor and there was a reason for this having to do with Hollywood history, which I can’t recall right now, and don’t feel like Googling. Having dated a Best Supporting Oscar winner myself (see Oscar Winning ReTweet) who was in the audience and presented last night (which my ever generous and secure hub pointed out to me) I gotta say, this category is WAY more exciting than kicking off the show with Best Screenplay–no offense to writers and all personal bias of my own aside!

It’s as if the Oscar elves conspired an evil plan to both confound and put people to sleep right out of the gate. I can hear them scheming: “Let’s get everyone amped up by Chris Rock. Then, let’s make the first two awards for Screenwriting and have two A-list actors give out those awards by narrating excerpts from the nominated screenplays in droning monotone pre-recorded voice overs. Now there’s a HOT idea!

So, on this Leap Day, I take the opportunity to say, “ah, where are the good ole days of spontaneity within the overly rehearsed, highly packaged, pre-produced Oscars?”

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STILL, Oscar 2016 had some great moments: Tracy Morgan as “The Danish Girl” and Director Inarritu’s pronunciation of the word “hair” as “her”.

BOTH as GOLDEN as the statuette itself!!

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p.s. Memo to the Academy: PLEASE KILL the new “I’d like to thank the Academy” winners crawl because it gave a HUGE whiff of putting the cart before the horse making it seem that the awards are an inside deal (get out!) due to having been written beforehand.

photo credit: Oscar Selfie 2014 by Bradley Cooper as determined by copyright law and many entertainment attorneys

 

Bernie Buzz Lightyear

CultureArtMedia.com called the New Hampshire Primary on both sides of the aisle.

In my prior post last week, which I blogged the day of the Iowa Caucus, my egalitarian loyalty via personal anecdotes led me to select the two big winners from last night’s New Hampshire Primary. I was attuned to the cultural movements afoot this year. Politics and culture are synonymous this presidential cycle with the latter acting as a giant mirror, reflecting the likely successes with “revolution” in the air, albeit a polarized one.

WHICH revolution, the Sanders brand or the Trump brand, the populus will choose, is yet to be determined. And I would recommend getting a John Kasich seat belt.

In the meantime, the best line out of NH for me was in Bernie’s victory speech when he said, “we’re taking the revolution to South Carolina and BEYOND!” in an intended or unintended Buzz Lightyear voice. Priceless.

You go, Bernie Buzz Lightyear–to infinity and beyond!

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BERNIE!

Bernie Sanders eulogized my uncle-by-marriage.

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As two transplanted New Yorkers in Vermont, Bernie and my uncle-by-marriage on my maternal side, met in Burlington in the 1940’s. As the family story goes, they first met in a deli, probably the only deli in Burlington in that era. Where ELSE would two New Yorkers (one WASP and one Jewish) find each other?!

This became their place. My mother, much younger sibling to her sister who married Bernie’s BFF, would hear anecdotes about these deli encounters, which spanned a lifetime and culminated in Bernie eulogizing his friend, generously and genuinely, by all accounts. And while I never actually met my uncle-by-marriage, who served on the Supreme Court of VT, due to the largeness of my maternal side coupled with travel and age distance, I enjoyed many happy times as a child with his daughters, who I idolized.

So, due to this familial tie, I’m for Bernie!

And as I’m a loyal person, a lifelong New Yorker, and an egalitarian by nature, I once met Donald Trump at The Plaza Hotel. He was a great host and we had a really fun conversation. I wish I had a photo, but it was before the Selfie Age. So, due to this personal experience, if I were a Republican, or a Reagan Democrat, I’d have to be for the Donald.

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BEST OF LUCK TO BOTH IN IOWA TONIGHT!

AND, GO YOU, BERNIE! “LOOK FOR AMERICA” as I hear the Simon & Garfunkle song, the success of your Vampire Weekend event showed us–YOU’VE FOUND IT!BernieWithFlag2