Wednesday, December 31, 2008


(New Year's Eve Thai Style. Lighting the Khom Loys or hot air balloons)


A few pithy thoughts to usher in the year.

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man. ~Benjamin Franklin

Mark Twain
New Year's is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls and humbug resolutions.

James Agate
New Year's Resolution: To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time.

Bill Vaughan
An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.

Oprah Winfrey
Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire

A movie not to be missed!!! This incredible movie tells the story of an impoverished Indian teen who becomes a contestant on the Hindi version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." But how is it possible that he knows so much? He must have cheated, but how? He's arrested and tortured for the answer. Each of the show's questions intersects his life in some way and leads him to reveal a part of his story growing up in the slums of Mumbai.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Light My Fire

A light connected and sparked to life in my brain the other day. It was an epiphany; the cartoon version of the light bulb that goes off in the brain. An item appeared on TV the other day that opened a floodgate of nostalgic memories. My synapses hadn't even fired before over this hot story but it ignited and crackled across the media. CBS was consumed with thousands of complaints and worried emails about it dying out or worse yet, update it. It sparked a center page article in the New York Times.

Was it because it was normal for me; a part of my growing up, as common as trees? Was it because I took it for granted and assumed it was ongoing? Was it because as an adult I no longer needed it because I already had a real one?

But I am on a burning mission now. I must have one. A "real" one. I MUST have a Yule Log DVD. It MUST be as "original"as possible. Only the burning log with the old classic songs by Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole. Not that cartooney updated version with the old holiday radio programs playing underneath.

You see, I grew up in New York. Since 1966 I watched the WPIX Yule log burn away on my TV screen, at first in black and white and then in color, every Christmas. As a teenager I was the night owl that turned off the TV in the family room after my mother had long fallen asleep in front of the burning log.

I grew up, moved away, bought a house with a fireplace and never thought of it again except to wonder at the foolishness of people who were buying roaring fire DVD's; until this year.

The CBS Morning Program did a story about the WPIX inspiration for the Yule log. I think the juxtaposition of the words WPIX and YULE LOG is what fired up the synapses. So a warm wave of memories wafted over me. WPIX cancelled the show in 1989 amongst a firestorm of complaints but in 2001 they fanned the embers and brought it back to life. After CBS aired the story the other day, panicky New Yorkers were woried that there were plans once again to exstinguish the fire. CBS put a damper on their fears but as the New York Times says, "Still, if the current financial crisis has taught us anything, it's that it is wise to hedge bets."

So hedging my bets I am. Unfortunately, WPIX never produced an authentic version on DVD but there are others that are close, namely "The Original Christmas Yule Log Fireplace".

So I'm on a mission. Anyone have one they want to dump? Anyone know where to get one?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

"Let There Be Peace on Earth"

(St. Peter's Basillica, Rome, 2008, (c.) Jane Falion)

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."

(Mother Theresa)

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Peace

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bailey the Unknown Reindeer

Thought I'd share this You Tube video.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snowed In

14" of it! Larry was up north so it was "my" 14" to shovel with a little help from Katie and John. It was one of those eerie snows where no one ventured out and the roads were almost empty. We had to. Katie had a hair appointment and you don't mess with your stylist.

But the best part is that feeling that there is NOTHING pressing to do. The "snow day effect" a day off that is unexpected and leaves you with nothing you have to do.

So we snuggled in; hot tubbed and watched an old Audrey Hepburn movie, my request, Roman Holiday. Ah, what joy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

One Man's White Elephant, Another Man's Golden Goose

It's that time of year again. The annual theatre get together and white elephant exchange. So I am digging deep to find an appropriate gift. The white elephants have been losing their luster lately so I want to be up to the challenge. In the last 30 years we have had some GREAT white elephants. Elvis busts embellished as they are passed on year to year, local artistic talent, a statue of George Bernard Shaw, an elephant, African carvings to name a few. Even the singing Billy the Bass was a hit the first year it was around.

When the kids were little I would buy them their "white elephants" and sneak them into the mix and amazingly they got some really good stuff. Of course they probably don't have a clue as what a real white elephant is, metaphorically speaking. (See description below)

In years past I was a little racy with my choices until one ended up in the hands of a 14 year old boy who is now well into his thirties/forties? and a dear colleague of mine. Somewhere in my house there has to be at least 2 (Larry and I) really good choices if only I can find them. Any ideas?

A white elephant


A burdensome possession; creating more trouble than it is worth.


white elephantWhite (albino) elephants were regarded as holy in ancient times in Thailand and other Asian countries. Keeping a white elephant was a very expensive undertaking, since the owner had to provide the elephant with special food and provide access for people who wanted to worship it. If a Thai King became dissatisfied with a subordinate, he would give him a white elephant. The gift would, in most cases, ruin the recipient.

References to Indian and Thai veneration of white elephants dates back to at least the early 17th century. The first reference in English to the idiomatic meaning of the term 'white elephant' comes in 1851 G. E. Jewbury's Letters, 1892:

"His services are like so many white elephants, of which nobody can make use, and yet that drain one's gratitude, if indeed one does not feel bankrupt."

"Synecdoche: A Part of Life That Makes Us Whole"*

Synecdoche. What a great word! Almost as good as proclivity.

I have just been reminded of the clever William Safire and his On Language column in the New York Times Sunday Magazine.

His wit and pen turn this week to the confusion between Synecdoche and Metonymy. Now I know the word synecdoche but didn't realize it had a cousin, metonymy.

So a little elucidation.

Metonymy- identifies a person or a thing by something closely associated with it. For example "the brass" in the military, "the crown" for royalty and "the suits" for business executives.

Synecdoche uses the part to refer to the whole like "wheels" for a car and "head" for cattle and "troops" for individuals in the military branches.

So, at your next cocktail party toss those tidbits into the conversation.

*Headline by Philip Kenicott of The Washington Post

Missing Mike

Mike Hughes, long time Lansing State Journal entertainment writer was "downsized" right out of a job a week or so ago. We've all noticed how the paper has been shrinking in size, paper quality, local stories which no longer look so local, and now a talented writer!

Mike has been the performing arts writer since at least 1972 when I first moved to Lansing. He wrote about my shows and everyone else's. He reviewed them all; some we liked others we didn't. We may not have always agreed with him, we might not have always gotten the coverage we hoped for but he covered everyone! He wrote thousands of preview articles for us all. Not just theatre but art, music and of course, TV. He wrote about my wedding and even put it on the from page of the What's On section. He has hosted the Journal's Thespies Awards for just as long as I can remember. He will be missed.

All of us in the arts will feel the impact. It's not the ads that bring people into our venues but the human interest stories told about our events. It's the hook that makes people want to come to theatre, or attend a dance concert, or go to the symphony.

Please take a moment to write the Lansing State Journal and tell them what Mike meant to your organization.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Thinking Outside the Box

Which leads me to ask, When you buy a Box Set aren't you buying a set of boxes? But if you are buying a Boxed Set the boxed becomes the adjective describing some noun or object such as a boxed set of Harry Potter books or a boxed set of Star Wars DVD's.

Macaroni Grill Comes to Lansing

Well not exactly. I'm a huge fan of Macaroni Grill but there is not one anywhere near my home in the Lansing area. How can that be? So when I have to go out of town I always Google to see if there is one in the area in which I'm traveling. Even then my schedule is so crazy that a meal there usually doesn't work out.

So the other day as I was browsing the shelves at my local Meijer and there is was! A boxed dinner. Not usually a fan of the boxed dinner but it was worth a shot. Surprisingly it was excellent. Certainly not as good as the restaurant but this is a pretty sophisticated packaged dinner. You add the chicken that you saute in olive oil. Pasta, seasoning, tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese are all the components as you put this fabulous meal together.

We had the Tomato Herb and Garlic Penne.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Winter Storm Warning

Our first BIG snow of the year.