Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Right photo by Howard Petrick

I was in Binghamton, NY, my hometown in October for a work-related trip. That evening, a couple of my friends get me to go to this film about Costa Rica, which I’ve written about. It was sponsored by the local Green Party and some other activist organization. The friend of an old high school buddy of mine says he’s from The Frances Beal Society. What?

I’ve known Fran Beal pretty much all my life. She was my mom’s only female cousin on her mother’s side of the family. Fran, her late mother Charlotte Yates, and her three late brothers, Raymond, Donald and Robert all lived in Binghamton or in nearby Johnson City until 1954, when her father, Ernie Yates, my maternal grandmother’s brother, died suddenly.

Charlotte moved the family to St. Albans, Queens, New York City and the Greens visited the Yates at a minimum annually. And they visited us frequently as well. I wrote up an excerpt of this 2005 interview, the early part about her growing up in our shared hometown.

Fran grew up to be a black feminist activist icon. A couple years ago, local author Barbara Smith told me how much she admired her. I told the FBS person that my cousin’s politics are so far left that she made me feel like William F. Buckley.

So what IS the Francis Beal Society? As far as I can ascertain, it’s an entity at Binghamton University that occupied the campus administration building for a couple weeks in the spring of 2017, in part over opposition to the Blue Lights Initiative. Now, community organizations have been offered a seat at the proposed Town-Gown Advisory Board by the school administration.

I think I let Fran know about the FBS via Facebook, but I don’t know if she saw the notice. For their part, the guy from the Frances Beal Society would LOVE to have contact with the organization’s namesake. I’m not feeling a desperate need to play matchmaker.

BTW, happy birthday, cousin. It’s SOMETIME this month.

Chris said: Your memory is striking. Next “Ask Anything” I’m asking about that: do you remember the first time usually, or do you have to return to it repeatedly like most people, just you’re more diligent about than most?

Well, let me say that there are plenty of things I don’t remember. Some of it has to do with functionality. For instance, I know that Sonny Perdue is Secretary of Agriculture. When Obama was President, I knew Tom Vilsack was. But since he’s not anymore, he has slipped my mind. The only former Secretary I can remember is the infamous Earl Butz, under Nixon.

This isn’t a recent thing. When I worked at FantaCo in the 1980s, I usually made the bank deposits every weekday, and I’d see and briefly chat with one of the two tellers. One of them left, and seven months later, I saw her on the street. I could ask her about her cats or the problems she had with her apartment. Yet for the life of me, I could not remember her name.

I hate going to parties and meeting a bunch of new people. Despite all of those tricks I’ve read about overcoming this issue, it continues to dog me.

In junior high, I was supposed to memorize the Gettysburg Address; the whole thing is two minutes long. But I was unable to accomplish this. Likewise, I had a monologue in a high school production of The Bald Soprano by Eugene Ionesco, and the Fire Chief had some incoherent rambling I just couldn’t master.

If people tell me things, I’m not as good as if I read them. I specifically have no capacity for line dancing because the mind can’t remember what the caller just said thrice before letting us go on our own.

On the other hand, things involving numbers I’m much better at. My daughter’s Social Security number, my library card number. If I get hit by a car, I won’t remember anything about the car except its license plate.

Music, too, is a tremendous help in recalling things. The Daughter is doing well in social studies because she knows most of the lyrics to the musical Hamilton. This is how she knows the first four Presidents.

But some things I just know. All of the Presidents, their political parties and the years they took office. I don’t know ALL the Secretaries of State, but a good chunk of them.

When I was on JEOPARDY! in 1998, and I had to put in order the statehood of three states, I could visualize a map in my fifth-grade class, with California already a state in 1850, when the other territories north and west of Texas were not. So Nebraska was next. Oklahoma, which I know from Rogers and Hammerstein, didn’t become a state until 1907, so it was the 46th, I know without looking it up.

Of course, like most people, I also remember things tied to a significant event. How beautiful the weather was in New York State on 11 September 2001. The look on Lee Harvey Oswald’s face when he as shot by Jack Ruby in November 1963, which I watched on live TV.

And I can have memories of events that astonishes people, but only because some other fact triggered it. I believe I try to pay attention.

Finally, writing it down is useful. The blog is often doing just that, so, if for no other reason, I should keep it up for a while.

Finding Neverland is the story about how James Matthew Barrie (Billy Harrigan Tighe) wrote the story of Peter Pan by befriending a widow, Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Lael Van Keuren) and her four boys. One of the boys is named Peter, and the death of his father had damaged his sense of childlike wonder.

Barrie too had gotten all grown up, married to a high society-minded woman, having fancy dinners with snooty people such as Mrs. du Maurier (Broadway working actress Karen Murphy), and in need of writing another successful piece for a theater impresario, Charles Frohman (John Davidson – yes, THAT John Davidson) and his troupe.

(I’ll admit I love the stunt casting in these touring shows that my wife and I see at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady. I didn’t recognize Davidson straight off – his hair is much whiter than when I watched his TV show decades ago – but he was a solid performer, as was Adrienne Barbeau from Maude in Pippin a few seasons back.)

Barrie discovers he needs to find his own sense of adventure. And – no spoiler here – he finds it, with Frohman the inspiration for Captain Hook. Indeed, the Frohman character BECOMES Hook, taunting/inspiring the writer. Note that we’re not looking for historical accuarcy here.

The production features music and lyrics by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy, based on the book by James Graham. It was all quite serviceable to the plot, with a few pretty good songs. But I will admit that I got a bit misty-eyed at the end of the penultimate scene. It was one of the best payoffs I’ve experienced in seeing theater. If it’s touring in your area, I recommend it.

We did see the movie, also based on the play The Man Who Was Peter Pan by Allan Knee. back in 2004 or 2005, with Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, and Julie Christie. I remembered enjoying it, but this iteration, I believe, had a more of an emotional wallop.

Finding Neverland, the musical, ran on Broadway for 565 performances in 2015 and 2016, with Matthew Morrison, the teacher from the TV show Glee, as Barrie; Kelsey Grammer, who starred as Frasier on TV, as Frohman; and Carolee Carmello as Mrs. du Maurier. Morrison and Carmello were nominated for Tonys but did not win.

Having no New York State team to root for in the World Series, it was easy to support the Houston Astros. The baseball team started off as the Houston Colt .45’s in 1962, the same year the New York Mets also joined the National League.

The current name, reflecting the city’s role as the control center of the U.S. space program, was adopted in 1965, when they moved into the Astrodome, the world’s first domed sports stadium. They now play their home games in what is now Minute Maid Park in 2000.

But while the Miracle Mets won the World Series in 1969 and 1986, and lost the Series three other times, the Astros had only gotten to the Series once before, losing to the Chicago White Sox in four straight games in 2005.

After that, the team got pretty bad, losing over 100 games out of 162 in 2011, 2012, and 2013, the latter the year they moved from the National League Central division to the America League West.

I had another reason for supporting the Houston Astros. Major League Baseball teams have minor league “farm” teams at various level. The short-season single A farm club for the Astros is the Tri-City Valley Cats, who play in nearby Troy, NY.

Five of the former Valley Cats played for Houston in 2017, and one, Enrique Hernandez has been with their Series opponent, the Los Angeles Dodgers, since 2015. One guy who played in Troy was Houston right fielder George Springer, the 2017 World Series Most Valuable Player.

Coolest of all, the Astros flew a teacher of English as a Second Language, a colleague and friend of my wife’s, from Albany to Houston to attend Games 3 and 4 of the World Series. She had tutored many of the Valley Cats players who came from other countries.

I didn’t ask her specifically who she worked with, but I wonder if one of her students had been second baseman Jose Altuve, who was born in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, played in Troy in 2009, and was named the American League MVP for the 2017 regular season.

The Houston Astros beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4 games to 3.

Lady Bird is a charming, believable, well-acted story about a deeply opinionated teenage girl named Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) who butts heads with her hard-working, deeply opinionated mom, Marion (Laurie Metcalf).

I related to the triad that takes place among mother-daughter-father Larry (Tracy Letts) where the dad tries to facilitate domestic tranquility at a time that he’s lost his job in 2002 Sacramento and is unsure of his own prospects.

My wife, daughter and I all enjoyed seeing it at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany in December 2017. Ronan was the star of Brooklyn, the very first movie I saw at the Spectrum after it had become a Landmark Theatre, and she is equally good here. Metcalf, who I still associate with the TV show Roseanne, has a loving ferociousness.

Letts, who was also in The Lovers this year, was fine, as were supporting characters such as Lady Bird’s friend Julie (Beanie Feldtein) and first potential boyfriend Danny (Lucas Hedges, the teen from Manchester by the Sea).

The movie shows kids in Catholic school without overly bashing it, and that does not happen that much.

Here’s the problem with the movie Lady Bird: not much, really. Maybe the title, which makes me think of Lyndon Baines Johnson and his wife, who was a perfectly nice First Lady who wanted to beautify America.

OK, the problem with Lady Bird has been, as Ken Levine put it, “praised to the heavens. Ten years ago it would just be considered a cute little movie.” True enough, with a 99% positive reviews in Rotten Tomatoes, and 82% among the general public.

Part of it is that it features the work of Greta Gerwig, who “reveals herself to be a bold new cinematic voice with her directorial debut.” Yikes.

My fear is that the very good movie will disappoint – “What’s the hype about? – rather than being appreciated for the very fine, small film that it is.

Contact me
  • E-mail Contact E-mail
  • RSS Feed Blog content c 2005-2017, Roger Green, unless otherwise stated. Quotes used per fair use. Some content, including many graphics, in the public domain.
I Actually Know These Folks
I contribute to these blogs
Other people's blogs
Politics
Popular culture
Useful stuff
January 2018
S M T W T F S
« Dec    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  
Archives
blogoversary
Get your own free Blogoversary button!
Networked Blogs
Counter
wordpress analytics