Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee this weekend, I’d urge you to try Japanese Forest Bathing. I did on Saturday with my library. Forest Bathing entails slowly walking mindfully through the woods. It’s supposed to make you feel more peaceful, energized and creative. I will say I felt terrific afterwards.

Later I joined a prayer 40 Days for Life prayer service in front of a clinic in Chicago. I haven’t done this sort of thing, but the issue is major and my eyes have been opened by Prager U videos and the film Unplanned so I went. There was a good turnout and many people driving by showed their support. There were volunteers who supported abortion and unfortunately, they used foul language and insults to state their case.

On Friday a friend and I had a good dinner at Siam Rice before going to the Goodman Theater’s Next Stage Festival, where a novice playwright’s work is performed. Hats off to the Goodman for offering new writers this opportunity. The performances were free to attend. We saw In the Sick Bay of the Santa Maria, which takes place in the bottom of one of Columbus’ ships. One character is feigning illness to escape work and the rough sailors on deck, another really is ill. A subplot centers around a strict college professor whose students complain about her teaching. In my opinion the second story didn’t fit the main plot well and was just a distraction.

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We had snow, and lots of it in time for Halloween. I felt sorry for the kids trick or treating, but then I realized many years I had to trick or treat with a winter jacket on. So that’s just life in the Midwest.

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Friday I took my mom to St. John Cantius for an All Saints Day mass. It’s a magnificent example of traditional sacred architecture. Even if you’re not a major traditionalist, if you love art, you’ll appreciate this church.

 

 

 

The Music Man

The Goodman Theater offers solid brass band entertainment in Mary Zimmerman’s production of The Music Man. One of the top American musicals in my book The Music Man tells the story of con man Prof. Harold Hill comes to small town Iowa to cheat the townsfolk of their hard earned cash by promising them their boys will avoid the evils of the pool hall, a veritable den of inequity, if they just entrust them to him. For the price of instruments, sheet music, and uniforms, Prof. Hill will soon have these children’s virtue in place and they’ll be able to play beautiful music to boot.

The town’s mayor, who owns the new pool hall and the spinster librarian, Marian are among the most skeptical. Hill aims to win them over, though it won’t be easy. Marian won’t be the first skeptical lady his charm has won over.

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With a full orchestra, solid dancing and tunes like “Seventy-Six Trombones,” “Trouble,” “Good Night My Someone” and “Till There Was You” The Music Man knocks it out of the park.

The Chicago Tribune’s reviewer thought the show’s star couple lacked chemistry. Perhaps they weren’t the most electric couple in musical theater, but they did a good job and with these songs, the colorful costumes, creative set, and familiar story, this production won me over.

The theater was quite full and some shows have already sold out. I urge you not to miss this summer’s The Music Man.

Tell Me Something Good

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Tell Me Something Good is a simple challenge that prompts bloggers to share a nugget of positive news or wisdom and it’s started by the creator of A Momma’s View.

  • I’m almost done reading The Wings of the Dove. I don’t like the book but I agreed to read it with a friend for our online summer novel discussion. I’m just glad to be finished with this onerous task.
  • I loved the film Fanny’s Journey, a tale of courage during WWII.
  • We got some rain. We need more because the the leaves are withering and the grass is brown.

So for all of you who would like to play along and stick to the rules, here they are:

It’s easy:

Mention something that you consider being good in the comments

• Or write a post about it on your blog (please don’t forget the pingback if you do so I don’t miss out and also share the link to it in the comments below). Something good that happened to you recently, or something good you will experience in a little while, or something good you know will happen soon. Something that makes you feel good.

• Share this post and invite your followers as well.

Tell Me Something Good

monday-morning-inspiration-quotes-e1442491467149
Tell Me Something Good is a simple challenge that prompts bloggers to share a nugget of positive news or wisdom and it’s started by the creator of A Momma’s View.

  • I’ve been learning to use Adobe Illustrator and PhotoShop. While you can fiddle around with them and get some good effects, I’m amazed by all things you can do with these programs. (The problem is they’re so expensive and I don’t need them for work so I have to practice at the library.) I highly recommend Lynda.com’s course Illustrator for Non-Illustrators.
  • We had a nice neighborhood cocktail night, as always on Mondays. Down the road, one woman always hosts a BYOB and appetizers evening on her patio. It’s a simple way to promote community.
  • Positive News: Here’s something I learned last week from reading When by Dan Pink. Singing in a group like a choir has similar health benefits to exercise. It’ll lower your blood pressure, improve cardio health, increased sense of well-being and it helps children learn to read. You can read more here.
  • Wisdom: We live in a rainbow of chaos. Paul Cezanne.

So for all of you who would like to play along and stick to the rules, here they are:

It’s easy:

Mention something that you consider being good in the comments

• Or write a post about it on your blog (please don’t forget the pingback if you do so I don’t miss out and also share the link to it in the comments below). Something good that happened to you recently, or something good you will experience in a little while, or something good you know will happen soon. Something that makes you feel good.

• Share this post and invite your followers as well.

Pamplona at the Goodman

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I was lucky to get to see Pamplona starring Stacy Keach at the Goodman Theater. Set in a hotel room in Spain, Pamplona shows Ernest Hemingway struggle with writer’s block as the tries to write an article on bullfighting for Life magazine. As he struggles, Hemingway looks back on his life – all four of his marriages, his conflicts with his father and mother, his writing career and his love and respect for bullfighters and their sport.

Throughout the play, vintage photos are projected on the hotel walls placing the set in history. Pamplona is staged in Goodman’s smaller theater, which resembles Chicago’s Shakespeare Theater so every seat provides a good view in an intimate setting.

Keach brings Hemingway to life and is wonderful in this show. You have to be a powerful performer to captivate an audience for 90 minutes. Kudos to Keach.

I enjoyed learning more about this writer and was pleased with the surprising ending. Just masterful. The play was one of the best of this year’s season.

Tell Me Something Good

monday-morning-inspiration-quotes-e1442491467149
Tell Me Something Good is a simple challenge that prompts bloggers to share a nugget of positive news or wisdom and it’s started by the creator of A Momma’s View.

  • My niece has been visiting from Connecticut so I’m learning about teen culture.
  • My sister’s in town for work and has shared her wedding plans. It looks like I’ll be in New York for at least 5 days at the end of September.
  • Work is going well in a general way. No big milestones to report.
  • Good News: Scientists have made a small-molecule drug that has helped paralyzed mice walk again. Check that out here.
  • A bit of wisdom: If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. ~Lao Tzu

So for all of you who would like to play along and stick to the rules, here they are:

It’s easy:

Mention something that you consider being good in the comments

• Or write a post about it on your blog (please don’t forget the pingback if you do so I don’t miss out and also share the link to it in the comments below). Something good that happened to you recently, or something good you will experience in a little while, or something good you know will happen soon. Something that makes you feel good.

• Share this post and invite your followers as well.

Tell Me Something Good

monday-morning-inspiration-quotes-e1442491467149
Tell Me Something Good is a simple challenge that prompts bloggers to share a nugget of positive news or wisdom and it’s started by the creator of A Momma’s View.

  • The summer reunions continue. On Saturday I had lunch with a friend I probably see just three times a year, though I wish our schedules allowed for more. Yuki’s a professor and just returned from Japan where she worked on a project interviewing victims of the Fukashima. As you’d imagine we had a fascinating talk. Then my friend Theresa’s in town from Georgia. We went to high school together. Theresa’s a smart and very fair woman able to bring new insights to any discussion. I also like how she sticks up for the ideas louder voices try to drown out.
    After meeting for church Theresa and I had lunch with another high school friend and her fiancé . So  I got to meet him for the first time.
  • I had a good week at work that included a shift on the bookmobile, a wonderful outreach. I was impressed by how well rounded the smaller collection on the bus was so that there really was something for everyone. We stopped at the park, an apartment complex and three senior living centers before noon.
  • I went to a good play at the Goodman Theater. Starring Stacy Keach, Pamplona was about Ernest Hemingway’s life.
  • We’ve had some delightful summer weather. Even Saturday’s rain was welcome and didn’t interfere.

So for all of you who would like to play along and stick to the rules, here they are:

It’s easy:

Mention something that you consider being good in the comments

• Or write a post about it on your blog (please don’t forget the pingback if you do so I don’t miss out and also share the link to it in the comments below). Something good that happened to you recently, or something good you will experience in a little while, or something good you know will happen soon. Something that makes you feel good.

• Share this post and invite your followers as well.

Having Our Say

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Based on the lives two delightfully wise and accomplished African American sisters, both of whom are over 100 years old, Having Our Say lays out the history of racial matters from the Gilded Age all through the 20th century. Sadie and Bessie Delaney recount their rather unique heritage as their mother was 25% black and never tried to pass as white. Their white grandfather and Black grandmother couldn’t marry as it was illegal in the south until the late 1960s. Still they raised their family and attended a church that came to agree that okay the only reason you aren’t married is that you can’t be so we’ll welcome you.

The play is structured as a long conversation with a reporter, who’s represented by the audience. The stories range from charming and fun to raw depictions of injustice. Yet at all times the sisters are victors not victims. Neither married and both attained professional status in an era when few African American women could. Their father was a bishop and insisted his daughters go to college, though he stipulated that they work first because he had no money for additional schooling and would not allow them to obtain scholarships because he believed that would make them beholden to whoever supplied the scholarship. Both met his challenge without complaint. Sadie became the first colored* (sic) high school teacher in her all-white high school and Bessie became the first colored woman to be licensed as a dentist in New York.

The women recount their experiences and heritage from family stories of slavery to their own experience with Jim Crow and Civil Rights. Throughout we hear their family stories, wisdom and witticisms.

This production had an inventive set that featured picture frames which would show old photos of the friends and family Bessie and Sadie were describing.

The acting was superb and I’d love to see Ella Joyce (Bessie) or Marie Thomas (Sadie) in another play. The pair brought great energy and chemistry to the play.

My only wish was that the play had more of a plot. As it stands it’s an adaptation of a memoir. So it’s a chronological telling of lived experiences. While these second and mainly first hand accounts are interesting, they aren’t as dramatic as a play that uses Aristotelian principles to give a story plenty of momentum.

I’d prefer a structure like that of The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, a former slave who recounts her memories on up to the 1960s. Such a play requires more characters and sets, hence more money, but it offers more suspense. Nonetheless, this is a good production, well worth seeing.

*The women didn’t feel Black or African American were terms that described them well. They were American. They felt “colored” was more accurate than Black.

An Enemy of the People

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The Goodman’s production of Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People wasn’t the “timely classic” the ads promise. While the cast was good, except for one who stumbled on his lines a couple times, and the sets and costumes were creative and fitting, the play was dated and  the hero was egotistical and clueless.

They say group therapy works because while you can brush aside one person’s opinion or insight, when a bunch tell you you’re wrong, you realize you must confront your short comings. Too bad the hero of An Enemy of the People, never considered that. Factually, he was right, but otherwise he was so wrong in how he treated and disrespected his community.

The play opens at a doctor’s house as he and his wife are entertaining two young revolutionary journalists. In the middle of the party, the doctor receives and important report on the toxicity of the spa water for which the town is known. The doctor’s thrilled that his hypothesis is true. It was odd how happy he was because he was right. He had no ability to sympathize with people who would be hurt by the news. Throughout the play the doctor fights to get the bad news out. He never grows or cooperates with his brother the mayor, the printer who’s afraid of losing his livelihood, the journalists who get corrupted and side with the mayor. The hero never become a leader and never shows wisdom. He’s vain and right and will be damned if he has to take another approach.

The culminating scene is when the doctor calls a town meeting to reveal the toxicity. However, he changes his mind and instead gives a tirade about how stupid everyone else in society is. He’s the only one with any brains, which of course, the scene calls into question. His wife and daughter look on passively as their breadwinner and head of the family destroy their prospects. He goes on and on haranguing about how everyone else is brainwashed because of their bad schooling, never mind that he’s a product of the same school system, never mind that the rich probably were tutored, never mind that there are always some who’re born with a healthy skepticism and they have always questioned their teachers.

The play added a lot of needless swearing to make the production “modern.” That doesn’t say much for our times, does it?

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Blind Date

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Lucky for me my friend’s husband isn’t a theater lover. That’s how I got invited to see Blind Date at the Goodman Theater. Blind Date shows us how Ronald Reagan convinced Mikhail Gorbachev to attend a summit meeting to talk about the weapons race. My understanding of this page of history was foggy, but the performances brought clarity and interest. The play opens with a monologue by George Schultz, Reagan’s Secretary of State. Due to his education and experience in economics, Shultz was able to figure out how Russia would struggle and what the consequences would be. Thus he realized this was a key time to contact Gorbechev, Russia’s youngest General Secretary.

Next Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eduard Shevardnadze, shares his thinking with the audience before sharing cocktails with Shultz. (In their conversation, which begins awkwardly Shultz tells Shevardnadze about a cocktail called The Kangaroo, which most of us know as a vodka martini.

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We see a lot of negotiating and one step forward, one back action as the two governments and two men figure out whether they should meet and where. It’s quite a chess game and quite interesting. Both powerful men are married to driven women. Nancy Reagan and Raisa Gorbachev have some of the plays best scenes and lines. These women know their minds and masterfully can read situations.

The play has humor but adroitly manages not to canonize or lampoon Reagan. The playwright Rogelio Martinez was born in Cuba and lived there till he was 9 and came to the US. Hence Martinez is fascinated with the ideologies of democracy and communism and has written a series of plays about events like the ping pong competition between China and the US where communism and democracy intersected. It would be easy to make a play that bored or had the wrong tone, but with Blind Date Martinez entertains and enlightens. The play’s pace is good and I could see this show on Broadway. I could see watching this again, which I think is the ultimate goal of a good play.

Kudos to Director Robert Falls and all the performers. Bravo!