27 September 2010

On this past Saturday, I had the opportunity to catch...

Josh Hilberman (tap dancer) and Paul Arslanian (piano) in Heeling Powers: Rhythms of the Left Brain at Playhouse on Park in West Hartford, CT.

Man, it was great and quite inspiring to novice tappers like me!

If you ever get the chance, take it.

26 September 2010

The REAL winner in this Christine O'Donnell race has got to be...

...Sarah Palin! 

Next to Ms. O'Donnell, the former governor of Alaska seems a veritable Winston Churchill!

23 September 2010

I hate to be one of THOSE fans, but...

...without Tiger Woods, I've little interest in the rest of the Fed Ex Cup golf tournaments.  Unless there's an absolutely unbelievable late Sunday afternoon showdown between, say, Angel Cabrera and Sergio Garcia (Are either of them even still in it?  Answer: No, I just checked.), I'll be waiting until the Ryder Cup matches in a few weeks to tune in again.  Sorry, PGA. 

22 September 2010

Mythic implications of the new McDonald's Happy Meal promotion...

Am I the only one who has noticed the rather dubious mythological implications of the new McDonald's commercials that have kids looking for Hope in the new Happy Meal boxes?

The last empty box that still contained Hope of which I'm aware was Pandora's -- and that didn't turn out well, as I've understood the tale.

Please note: I'm a big fan of Ronald McDonald Houses, as we needed to avail ourselves of the one in Manhattan many years ago, so I'm all for supporting them.  But let's be careful how we package the idea!

21 September 2010

Sometimes breaking one's bad habits means asking others to change ...

...their behavior too (even if it means to stop being nice)!

Case in point -- I've lost just about 15 pounds since the end of July by doing all the ridiculously obvious things: eating less bad stuff, eating less overall, and exercising much more.  So, during my radio show today, I zipped over to Starbucks looking for a yogurt, but the familiar faces on the other side of the counter immediately went to work on my old regular request of a medium hot chocolate.  I hadn't even ordered yet, and they were off and running.  Sensing what they were doing, I quickly had to ask them to stop their great service and just give me what I now wanted...They understood (and even complimented me on how good I looked, but I still felt like I was letting 'em down)!

17 September 2010

Farewell, great television!

As the World Turns has gone off the air.    Sigh.

Farewell, Kim and Bob Hughes (bottom)...
farewell, Holden and Lily (top)...
farewell, Lisa....
farewell, Tom and Margo (center)...
farewell, everyone...

Here's the opening I remember!

And I remember most -- watching with mom...after school (both as a student and, early on, as a teacher!)

14 September 2010

Harold Gould, RIP

Now HERE'S a part of my youth whom I will miss indeed!

I originally posted this on facebook...but worth disseminating more widely, I fear.

Gilbert Gigliotti wants everyone to say it with him: a male graduate of an educational institution is an "ALUMNUS,"  a female one is an "ALUMNA;" a group of females are "ALUMNAE," a group of males "ALUMNI," and a group of both "ALUMNI." You could also call them "graduates" or "former students" but NOT "former graduates" or "former alumni"...and CERTAINLY THE HELL NOT "ALUMNISTS"!

12 September 2010

A Great "Farewell to the Old Chairman" Party (9/12/10)

Photo by Dee Gable

A new season has begun at Playhouse on Park!

...with a very nice production of the musical revue Side by Side by Sondheim, featuring musical direction by Colin Britt and Emmett Drake, and vocal performances by Brynn Lucas, Dana Mierlak, Meg Richardson, Catherine Rogala, and Scott Scaffidi. 

A talented cast, they tackle this tribute to early (pre-1974) Sondheim with aplomb.  The revue has a very loose plot following Ms. Richardson and Mr. Scaffedi, but the real focus is on the power of the individual songs.  Among the many highlights: Ms. Lucas's "The Boy From," Mr. Scaffidi's "Marry Me a Little," and Ms. Rogala's "Anyone Can Whistle," a song that was new to me and, in the space of three minutes, has become a new favorite of mine:

I can dance a tango.
I can read Greek -- easy
I can slay a dragon any old week -- easy.
What's hard is simple.

What's natural comes hard.
Maybe you could show me
How to let go,
Lower my guard,
Learn to be free.
Maybe if you whistle,
Whistle for me.

I, after all, can't whistle...but I can read Greek.

True to Mr. Sondheim's body of work, there was a nice mix of the dramatic and the comic, the solo and the ensemble. Messers Britt and Drake have fun with "Everybody ought to Have a Maid" from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and Lucas, Mielak, and Rogala go all out on their rendition of the stripper number from Gypsy, "You Gotta Get a Gimmick."

Sondheim can be decidedly difficult to perform, and Ms. Lucas's performance of "Getting Married Today" highlighted it.  I could tell, due to the size of the POP space, that she was enunciating every word in the excessively fast song (while acting the hell out of it too -- with lotsa of physical comedy!), but I still couldn't hear much of it.  The singers were not mic-ed (a fact by which I am always pleased), but it made what Ms. Lucas was asked to do almost impossible.  I applaud her heartily , as did the audience, for clearly giving it her all.

And, maybe it's my age, but while Ms. Mierlak sang two wonderful songs, "Send in the Clowns" and "I'm Still Here," and sang them wonderfully well, I couldn't help but think "She's too young for those songs."

One more idiosyncratic quibble, "All I Need is the Girl" needs some tapping in its performance.  Mr. Scaffidi did some movement but a bit o' tapping would have made it all the better.

Quibbling aside, the show runs through the 19th.  If you like Broadway songs done well by professional musicians and actors who clearly love what they do, get to Playhouse on Park before it closes.

(And, if you go next Saturday, be sure to stay for the Open Mic after the performance.  Yes, you can perform your favorite Broadway hit accompanied by Drake and Britt, or sing along with everyone else, or just sit and enjoy!  Last night's was very entertaining -- with older daughter even taking her shot with "Popular" from Wicked and "Somewhere" from West Side Story.  Besides, it's a chance to spend more time at POP, and who doesn't want that?)

10 September 2010

A busy (good!) day ahead...

Latin I (Lat 111)

Early American Lit (Eng 340)

A talk with the first of several groups of freshmen visiting campus from New Britain High School

Freshman Composition (Eng 110)

The First Classic Fridays Film of the semester, The Front Page (1931)!

As the title of that James Taylor album reads, "Dad Loves His Work"

08 September 2010

So, my publisher and I thought that a perfect place for an entertaining, thoughtful, and wide-ranging Ava Gardner anthology...

...might be the Ava Gardner Museum in Smithfield, North Carolina, since folks interested in Ava would also be interested in her continuing cultural relevance.  We figured they would think visitors to the museum would want to read a book that includes what such great writers as Robert Graves, Margaret Atwood, and Allan Gurganus, not to mention many others from around the world, thought and felt about Miss Gardner.  We figured that the inspiration Ava still offers all of these artists would, if not fascinate them, then at least be a source of a little curiosity to them.

Well, we were wrong, I guess.  The Museum has chosen not to carry the book or display it at their upcoming Ava Fest because they feel it runs counter to the mission of the museum since, in their opinion, the volume too often shows Ava in a bad light and contains too much sexuality. 

Ava and sex?  Who woulda thunk it?

I always thought museums were supposed to be education institutions, y'know, organizations unafraid of art and what art can reveal about life and people.

My apologies, Miss Gardner.  I think you really would have liked the volume.

The hard (easy?) truth about not being chairman any longer:

I've been out of the office since Friday, 3 September, at 2:00 PM.  Upon returning this morning, I have not a single message on my voicemail and nothing but junk mail in my campus mail box.


03 September 2010

First day of school, 2010!

A recommendation for NEXT year's first year students' orientation...

...have them learn and sing repeatedly en masse the chorus to "Five Years," the opening track of David Bowie's landmark 1972 album Ziggy Stardust:

"We've got five years, that's all we got!
Five years, my brain hurts a lot!
Five years...
Five years..."

If that doesn't help the six-year completion rate stats, nothing will!

After one week as not chair, here's what I'm NOT doing nearly as much as I used to (most good, some not)...

1.  Answering my phone
2.  Signing my name and dating forms
3.  Being visited by students, faculty, and/or staff to sign and date said forms
4.  Making decisions about students not in my own classes
5.  Telling people no
6.  Talking to Darlene and Min   (: (
7.  Staying late in the office
8.  Teaching distracted by chair issues and, as a result, less effectively (or that's my perception thus far; my students may disagree!)
9.  Getting mail
10.Attending departmental committee meetings as an ex officio member

02 September 2010

What kind of slogan is that?!

Driving behind a DATTCO bus recently an saw their slogan:

our buses
      our people 
              & you

Now, along with actually putting the customer LAST in this list (a bad sign, no?), the slogan also focuses way too much on themselves.

I say chuck the whole thing and go, much more simply and catchier, in a different direction:

Now DATT's a bus!

If some high-powered DATTCO official sees this, feel free to use it -- free of charge -- just give me some acknowledgement in the next annual report somewhere!

The friends of "Frank, Gil, and Friends" are BACK, baby!

Look at this WFCS "Total Listening Hours" on-line listener chart from August 2010...I was on air on the 3rd, out of town on the 10th, on air on the 17th, out of town on the 24th, and back on air on the 31st.

01 September 2010

A question that came to mind while listening to it through on my 40-minute walk this PM...

...is there a more insightful -- and melodic -- depiction and critique of racism, alienation, and corruption in the South than Randy Newman's 1974 Good Old Boys album?
If there is, I'd LOVE to hear it.