Fingers Crossed

people at theater

Photo by Monica Silvestre on


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, I’d tell you that one minute ago I finished my latest draft on my play. I’ll need to print it out and look for typos, but I’m essentially done and will soon start another project.

Saturday I attended a lecture at my library on the Charms of Chicago or some such thing. It was a disappointment. The speaker just listed a bunch of well known facts you could find on a Wikipedia page. No depth or new information at all. I was tempted to leave, but I would have had to crawl over people on either side of me.

I finished a good book that I strongly recommend, The Old Wives’ Tale. It’s by Arnold Bennett, a Victorian novelist and essayist. I never heard of him, but a friend suggested we read the book and discuss it online. I’m so glad I said yes to the idea.

I loved the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? I’m still thinking of the power of Frank Rogers’ kindness. The film deserved at least an Oscar nomination. I’m not sure why it was overlooked.

I’m delighted that the Mueller investigation is done. It’s time to move on.

Spring is on the horizon. People are still complaining about how cold it is and it’s just in the 40ºs most days, but to me that’s still winter weather. I think part of the reason people are cold is that they’ve started to wear spring coats. It’s too early, folks.


Speed the Plow

Another David Mamet play seemed a fitting read as I’m currently taking his MasterClass online.

I’d seen the play at the Remains Theater in 1987.

The play is a satire of show business. Charlie Fox brings a movie deal consisting of a hot star and a blockbuster-type script to his long time buddy, Bobby Gould, who’s career is on fire since he’s gotten a promotion. He’s got till 10 am the next morning to get a producer to agree to make it. So he trusts his pal to make the deal, which will earn them boat-loads of money.

They talk about the business and their careers.  They dream of what they’ll do after this life-changing film is released. In the background a temp secretary bungles along with the phone system. Eventually, she comes into the office and winds up having to read a far-fetched novel as a “courtesy read” meaning she’s to write a summary of a book that’s not going to be adapted to film.

After she leaves the office, the men make a bet, a bet that Bobby Gould, whom Karen is working for, will succeed in seducing her. Karen’s not in on this but she agrees to go to Gould’s house to discuss the book she’s to summarize.

Karen finds the book about the end of the world life-changing. Like many 20-something’s She’s swept up by its message. What’s worse, when she goes to Gould’s house she convinces him to make the crazy book into a film and to leave his pal in the dust. The book and play are brisk and, as you’d expect, contain rapid-fire dialog. I enjoyed this book, but can see how some would find problems with Mamet’s portrayal of women. I think he portrays Hollywood quite realistically.

Red Velvet


Dion Johnstone as Ira Aldridge, CST

Chicago Shakespeare Theater presented an excellent production of Red Velvet by Lolita Chakrabarti. The story of the first African American to play Othello on the London state in 1833, the story explores racism. As we know, abolition was a hot issue in the mid-1800s. In England there were protests against the slave trade.

When Ian Keen, who starred as Othello, fell ill the manager of the Covent Garden Theater chose Ira Aldridge, a black actor from America to play Othello. Some in the cast were excited and supportive, but Ian’s son and another actor were strongly opposed.

Aldridge was a fine, thoughtful actor, whose goal was to work in London. He takes his art seriously and gives a passionate performance the first night. However, the critics were shocked to see an actor of African heritage on stage and their reviews were venomous. The manager, Pierre LaPorte is a good friend of Aldridge and he counsels the actor to tone down his performance. Yet we can see that Aldridge can’t rein in his perfectionism. His desire to bring Othello to life as he reads the play leads to disaster. A consummate professional, Aldridge pushes the edges of his performance.

The performances were all pitch perfect and the play was compelling as it showed a chapter of theater history, I wasn’t aware of. The play has been produced in London and New York. If it comes to your hometown, I highly recommend you check it out.

2018 Resolutions

I believe in New Years Resolutions as they do kick start action in a time of year when it can be so cold that hibernation is all I want to do.

Here are my 2018 resolutions, though I’m toying with the idea of doing monthly resolutions, i.e. one per month, so that I can avoid taking on too much at one time and ultimately failing.

  1. Continue to watch one old movie per week. This has spurred me to discover a gold mine of new treasured films like The Bad Sleep Well, Zazie dan le Metro, and Safety Last. This resolution has been a joy.
  2. Follow my 2018 Reading Challenge.
  3. Finish the courses on Instructional Design.
  4. Finish writing my play by the end of March and send it out to theaters for consideration.

I also want to increase my efforts to sell my writing, but I’m not sure how to quantify that because I don’t know what is an effective way to sell my stories.

With so many interests, I’m tempted to write more, but that’s the problem. When there are too many, it’s likely that some get on the back burner.

Taking Back Free Play

I do feel sorry for children today who’re over-programmed from an early age. I believe in organized activities and loved girl scouts, band, art classes and all, but I was also able to imagine, play with friends with little supervision and roam the neighborhood To Kill a Mockingbird style.

Now kids can’t roam.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Humanity


1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced. 2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag. 3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great photos from each month’s most popular challenge. Other great photos:

Photo Workshop

Reflection and Distortion

Under Cloud Gate


Prairie & City

Spitting Fountain?

I used a Groupon from Digital Photo Academy. Our instructor, a Chicago Tribune street photographer, was pretty good offering simple tips like suggesting we shoot from the hip, shoot from very low or very high, forget the rule of three, overexpose now and then for cool effect. Composition was the focus (excuse the pun) though we got some technical tips too.

The photos I took where I broke the usual rules weren’t that good. I will try them more though. The beauty of digital is that it costs nothing to goof around.

We started at The Cloud Gate, a.k.a “The Bean” and then went to the law by the Pritzger Pavilion where the city offers free yoga, pilates and zoomba lessons on Saturdays in the summer from 9 to noon.

We explored parts of the park I don’t frequent like the zig zagging bridge and the Lurie Garden with its wild prairie flora. We took some photos by the bridge by the Art Institute and continued to the very cool Crown Fountain.

The instructor did lose some of us three times so I’d say that part of his teaching needs work. It did get rather hot towards the end. If they offer this class in the fall, that’s the time to take it.

Millenium Park is fabulous in the summer though. It’s everything a modern park should be – a place to play, eat, drink, unwind, cool off, relax, renew and of course, people watch.