Friday, March 28, 2014

Catching Up

I was away on a road trip.  While I was gone, many things happened and caused me to pause.  The tragedy of the Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 has been mystifying and confusing. How incredibly painful it must be to be a family member or friend of anyone on the plane.  What a roller coaster it's been.  They saw something, they didn't, they heard a ping, they didn't, they looked in the wrong place multiple times.  The family members were demanding answers.  The cost of the search has been gigantic.  To what end?  Nothing. They've found nothing.  I think the Malaysian Prime Minister just decided to cut it off.  Nothing new happened, but last week he declared the plane was gone and there were no survivors.  I think they just didn't know what to do, so they made a declaration.  No way did that satisfy the families.  We all can see through it.  Everyone's tired.  They don't know what else to do.  The search has been exhaustive and they've come up with absolutely nothing.  There is no peace.  There is no solace.  There is no closure.  You can decide to call it, but it's not a baseball game. This will be a raw, deep primal pain for all these families forever.  

Anna Wintour putting Kim Kardashian and Kanye West on the cover of Vogue stirred a lot of feelings.  Sarah Michelle Geller tweeted she was cancelling her subscription and encouraged others to follow suit.  Talk shows used up air time to discuss what the upset is all about.  I don't care, honestly, other than the fact that it cheapens the magazine.  It feels like Kanye was able to woo Anna Wintour into this decision.  After Anna Wintour cancelled Miley Cyrus' cover, this is so bizarrely hypocritical.  What in the world could Kanye West have promised Anna Wintour?  Seriously, what could she possibly want from him?  It's a shame.  I think it was a bad decision and the credibility of Vogue has taken a hit.  Maybe there is a chink in the armor. 

Also, two network television shows had shocking storyline turns.  Scandal was up first and lost a supporting and well liked character in a surprise calculated murder.  The second and by far the most shocking since "Who Shot JR"...The Good Wife.  That they murdered one of the stars of the series was earth shattering.  You could feel the earth move.  You could hear the gasps from house to house.  Twitter exploded.  It was the best kept secret.  Maybe the (presumed) threat of getting fired, if you told, should be used in Washington, D.C.  If you DVR'd The Good Wife and didn't watch it "live," you were screwed.  There was no way to avoid hearing the news.  It was in every newspaper, all over the internet, and television. Can the show survive without Josh Charles?  We shall see.  It's a very bold move and maybe just what the show needed.  Time will tell. There are a few more episodes to go for the season.

Sidebars: March Madness began and we are in the middle of the Sweet Sixteen.  My two teams are out, Stanford and UCLA.  My interest has waned but we shall see who makes it to the Final Four.  Maybe I can pick it up again.  NCIS has planted the seeds for the next spin-off, NCIS: New Orleans.  Look, Scott Bakula is wonderful, but he is no Mark Harmon.  It will be interesting to see how it flies.  If they shoot on location, it will make it a beautiful backdrop, but if it is a studio lot shoot....Winter will not leave the East.  It is time to go.  We have been more than patient.  Enough already.  When the UN presents what all intelligent people already know, maybe we can try to make global environmental changes.  They found that the ice caps are melting faster than they imagined. Maybe it will shake people up or we are literally sunk.  Okay, everyone, enjoy the weekend.  TGIF wherever you are.

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Friday, March 14, 2014


We begin Spring break at 3:15pm EDT today.  Everyone is packing up to go somewhere.  For the parents of 11th graders, here in New York City, we are faced with a very daunting task.  We are looking at colleges.  Families are going up and down the east coast, the midwest, and the west coast.  I can't even believe that in less than 18 months, my babies will be packing up their clothes and treasures and going off to college and begin their adult lives.  It's overwhelming, no doubt.  

When I was a kid, there was none of this.  When I was in 7th grade, my family was on a trip to Los Angeles.  We drove around the exterior of UCLA and I decided that I wanted to go there.  That was it.  No muss, no fuss.  When it was time to take the SAT's, we took them.  I don't know anyone that was tutored endless hours to get the best score on a test that really isn't a gage of intelligence or lifelong success.  We took them and hardly looked back.  Got back my scores and was very grateful that in the olden days, the UC system didn't care so much about scores if you had a high GPA.  That was really lucky.  

The day I left for college, it was my birthday.  I can't remember how I got to the airport, but I presume my Dad dropped me off.  My Mom was recovering from surgery.  My sister had pneumonia.  I flew down by myself with my suitcases to begin a new chapter.  A friend of mine that lived in Los Angeles was kind enough to pick me up from the airport, take me to my dorm, and then took me to dinner (for those UCLAers, JoJo's).  She dropped me back off again at Hedrick Hall and that was it.  

Today, we are so involved in the process.  The planned trips to visit colleges is meticulously mapped out.  The meetings with college counselors and tutors to get the best out of our kids.  I am an SAT naysayer, but we have to play the game.  I don't care what your score is I am sure there is no correlation to a lifetime of success. Wonder what Steve Jobs got....

Anyway, the future is hitting me in the face.  The reality is right in front of me that my children will be beginning their own new chapters soon in a new city, with new adventures, and new friends.  It's very hard to let go, but the only thing that will get me through it is all the other wonderful friends I have that will be going through it.  It's just that I will be going through two at the same time.  It's making me appreciate every single moment that much more, but we are off.  The look sees begin.  The bags are packed and the migration begins.  

Sidebars:  Mayor DiBlasio hasn't had one good day in office from where I sit.  Seriously.  Law and Order: SVU could be in trouble.  Dick Wolf pay attention. This week's episode was annoying and they've cut too many series regulars that they are down to five!  Five?!  Time to bring in new detectives.  It's ridiculous. Mr Wolf, I know you are involved with keeping Chicago Fire and Chicago PD on the air, but don't let SVU fall apart, please.  I didn't talk about The Bachelor but so much has been said.  It's a season better forgotten.  Scandal is ludicrous. Sirens is worth a try, which is on opposite on USA.  COSMOS is well worth it. Everyone should watch it.  Neil DeGrasse Tyson speaks in layman's terms, really.  Happy NCAA brackets!  Go UCLA wherever you land.  Hopefully, Spring will arrive soon.  70% of the country is waiting impatiently.

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Monday, March 10, 2014

LBJ All the Way!

I had the good fortune to be at the Opening Night of All the Way starring Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame and the very best New York theatre actor, John McMartin (whom I've had the honor of knowing for my entire NYC life). Coming into the night, I had mixed feelings. I knew it was long.  The playwright, Robert Shenkkan, has always been verbose.  We got to the Neil Simon Theatre to a very unusually on time Opening Night crowd.  The show began only ten minutes late!  From the get-go, they had me.  I love politics and I didn't know the history.  It opens with LBJ on a virtual Air Force One, flying the body of JFK back to D.C. with Mrs. Kennedy.  He becomes the unlikely President of the United States.  

The historical significance is still affecting us to this day.  LBJ as President changed the whole trajectory of the Democrats and Republicans.  Who knew?  I presume if you are over 65 years old, you lived it and were old enough to understand what was going on, but I didn't.  I was 4 years old in 1963.  I remember the tragic day in Dallas, but what happened the next four years...nothing.  I was stunned by the bitterness and the fighting from all sides trying to pass the Civil Rights Bill.  I couldn't believe all the dissension from both sides of the aisle and the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.  There were strong feelings on all sides and compromises needed to be made at the expense of what was right. There was bloodshed in the South during this time.  There were protests.  Disappearing people. Corpses found.  It was a very tense time.  None of that is a surprise, but what I didn't know?  I didn't know that is exactly when the South turned from 100 years of Democrat rule to Republican rule and the Dems have not been able to get a foothold since.  There were many Southerners that jumped from the Democratic Party to the Republican party.  That's how much they didn't want to let go of the old South and segregation.  Strom Thurmond jumped ship.  Can you believe he was ever a Democrat?  I was thinking maybe the South was Democratic because they hated Lincoln so much they couldn't be Republicans.  Don't know if it's true but makes sense.  I just was stunned by the complete openly racist, Southern loving politicians that couldn't bear to stand strong with LBJ and what was good for the nation.  

The Civil Rights Bill changed the entire fabric of this country.  We still feel the repercussions today.  It seems unfathomable that with time the "Old South" hasn't softened at all.  Even with 50 years of perspective, it just has gotten more divisive and more deeply racist.  Ignorance is the fuel that feeds so many in the deep South.  Clinging to the past.  Re-enacting battles of the Civil War as if there will be a different outcome....

If you love history and politics and are in NYC, go see All the Way.  If you can't, read the Robert Caro book on this period. I think it's book #3 of his LBJ annals.  It's illuminating.

Sidebars:  Episodes ended its season last night and again, I am saying, if you aren't watching it, you are missing it.  You can binge watch this easily. 30 minutes an episode.  The Good Wife was a new episode, finally, last night.  Honestly, I am having Sopranos flashbacks.  It feels so long ago since the last new episode that I couldn't remember the players or the connecting story lines.  That is a very dangerous trend to spread the episodes out so far.  It becomes difficult to get back in the swing.  Amazing Race always enjoyable.  It really is.  Tonight is The Voice, blind auditions continue.  Opposite that is the finale of the most uncomfortable Bachelor season.  Juan Pablo picks a bride or does he?  I think regardless of whether or not he picks one of the two remaining women, it will go no further.  Once real life intercedes, done, stick a fork in it.  Oh, on PBS there is a fantastic show traveling Israel with Peter Greenberg and Prime Minister Netanyahu.  It is incredible whether you've been or not.  Don't miss such a great hour of travel.  Did anyone watch Cosmos on Fox Sunday night?  I love Neil DeGrasse Tyson, super smart, great personality, and handsome.  I have DVRd it so I will get back to you, if I can remember.  Spring is in the air here in NYC for a couple of days.  We are all begging for it to be here permanently.  Enjoy your day!

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Monday, March 3, 2014

Oscars: Lowlights and Highlights

This is going to be the ultimate stream of consciousness jumping from thought to thought.  Before the actual Oscars began on ABC, it was the red carpet special.  Honestly, they should just give it up. Tyson Beckford was a big minus and had no business there.  Just let E do the red carpet shows if you can't do it, okay networks?  

Okay, onto the opening of the 86th Oscars.  Ellen DeGeneres set the tone of the night of fun, humor, and party.  I thought she knocked it out of the ball park. Her joke about bringing Jennifer Lawrence the Oscar so she doesn't trip again was funny and priceless was her Jonah Hill joke, subtle and funny. Of course, if you didn't see The Wolf of Wall Street, you had no idea what Ellen was talking about.  First Oscar of the night went to Jared Leto for his exquisite portrayal of Rayan in Dallas Buyers Club.  His speech was deeply moving and from the heart.  The first song performance was Pharrell Williams singing Happy from Despicable Me 2, which also helped set the party tone.  He came into the audience and interacted/danced with Lupita Nyung'o, Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, and Jennifer Lawrence waved him off.  Was it planned?  Maybe, but who cares? It was fun.

Harrison Ford presented and spoke monotone and emotionless. If he didn't want to be there, then just say no.  His earring looks dumb as can be.  Not a look he should be sporting.  He is getting old and needs to age more gracefully.   Kim Novak, who hasn't been seen in years, presented and looked scary.  Way too much plastic surgery.  Her mouth was really off and she seemed as if she had suffered a stroke.  It was really uncomfortable. Goldie Hawn, sigh.  Another person who has suffered at the hands of a Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon. I have loved Darlene Love for over 25 years.  When I saw Twenty Feet From Stardom, I was deeply moved and loved her in it.  When it won best documentary, I was thrilled, but when Darlene took the mike and sang, I thought it was awkward, though the people in the theatre seemed to love it.  

Let me address the live performances.  I must be clear, I don't get U2.  I never have.  I still don't.  I appreciate that I am in the minority, but....A standing ovation?? Maybe it was for all their fantastic humanitarian endeavors.  Pink. Okay, Pink singing and honoring The Wizard of Oz was a very interesting choice.  She looked amazing.  She sounded good, except for one glaring thing for me...she took breaths in the middle of words!!! Some-breath-where o-breath-ver the rainbow.  I hate that so much.  She is supposed to be in phenomenal shape fromall her aerial stunts while "singing?"  Maybe that's the act.  Maybe she's not really singing live.  I hate bad phrasing and truly can't get over it.  Sorry to all you Pink fans.   Up next,  Adele Nazeem.  Poor Idina Menzel.  Your biggest audience ever and John Travolta butchers your name.  Couldn't even sound it out, but let's get to your performance.  Idina, I always love hearing you sing, but somehow every time you sing out of the comfort of costume and stage, you are shrieking and don't hit all the right notes.  Maybe you were thrown by being called the totally wrong name, but it wasn't pleasant.  You have done it on the Tonys, too.  So great and yet so bad.  

Saving the best for last.  Bette Midler was announced to be singing a few weeks ago and my heart skipped a beat.  I have loved her undeniably since I was 12, which is over 40 years.  Hard to believe, but true.  They wouldn't reveal what song.  There were so many to choose from.  So, when the intro began and it was Wind Beneath My Wings (which occurred after the In Memoriam section), I was a little disappointed.  Bette has a vast repertoire, but okay, it was used in a movie....She came out looking fabulous and she sounded even better.  She is a pro.  She knows how to phrase, to emote, to connect.  It was a huge highlight!!!

Ellen Degeneres spent much of the show in the audience. I think it was a great move because I have never seen the stars so relaxed and willing to play.  When Ellen had 3 pizzas delivered to the nominees, Brad Pitt was passing out plates and napkins.  When she got a group of stars led by Meryl Streep to take a "selfie" to try to break all Twitter records, everyone tried to jump in the photo: Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lawrence, Jared Leto, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Lupita Nyung'o, Kevin Spacey and more.  Guess what?  It worked.  It was the most re-tweeted photo ever and crashed the site.  If you see the photo from behind, you see Liza Minnelli trying to get in but she is just too teeny. Speaking of Liza, I was disappointed that the Academy or the producers got Liza Minnelli, Lorna Luft and Joey Luft together in public and they didn't get to speak.  They just got to stand from their seats to honor their mother, Judy Garland.  

Great speeches of the night?  Hands down Jared Leto and Lupita Nyung'o!  Grateful, heartfelt, and moving.  Lupita's final line will be often quoted, "No matter where you're from your dreams are still valid." Gravity won every technical award including Best Director.  Somewhere around 20 years ago, the voters figured that the Best Director and Best Picture could split.  It's a little odd, but the more honors to different films, the better for the industry.  Spread the wealth.  12 Years a Slave won Best Picture.  Well deserved.  The producer/director for the best documentary, The Lady in Number 6, spoke beautifully about Alice Sommer who just passed away a week ago.  She was the oldest living Holocaust Survivor and died at the age of 110.  You could tell that her sharing her story impacted all their lives.  

All in all, it was a good show.  No upsets, no surprises.  Craig Meron and Neil Zadan, producers, were lucky to have Ellen DeGeneres back as the host.  So were we.  It could have been deadly in someone else's hands.

Sidebars: Can anybody tell me why John Stamos was there?  How dignified and graceful was the great Sidney Poitier.  That was a beautiful moment.  He is 87.  Coupling him with Angelina Jolie was perfect.  She gets how important he is to both acting and humanitarian efforts. John Travolta needs to go to rehearsal.  How completely embarrassing how he destroyed Idina Menzel's name.  Totally on him.  More people are talking about her today than they ever would have.  I thought that the fashion was gorgeous.  My favorite was Charlize Theron.  She looked magnificent.  So many did.  No real clunkers in all of those dresses, just some more beautiful.  Hear, hear to Cate Blanchett calling out Hollywood and stating that women aren't a niche audience.  It was a great year for women in film.  Can we keep the trend going and can Hollywood reflect society more?  It's Monday.  Enjoy your week.  Still too much cold all around the country.  Come on, Spring, we are waiting impatiently. 

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