Saturday, August 30, 2008

Movie: Saved!

From "Classic teen comedy mixes with cunning satire in Saved!. Fervent Christian Mary believes God wants her to save her gay boyfriend by sleeping with him. But he gets sent to an anti-gay indoctrination camp while she ends up pregnant--which starts to drive a wedge between Mary and her snotty best friend Hilary Faye. Meanwhile, they're both interested in the son of their Christian school principal. Saved! respects faith but gleefully mocks the excesses and absurdities of contemporary organized religion, particularly its suburban, let's-speak-the-language-of-the-kids manifestations." I recommend!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Something Unexpected in My Inbox

For your viewing pleasure --- A photo of Willa from COCA's "Under the Sea" Summer Camp finale unexpectedly found in COCA's latest email newsletter. Her role, you ask? Hard Coral.

Willa (left) and friends at COCA August 2009

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Book Review: The Mistress's Daughter by A.M. Homes

A.M. Homes, at age 31, is contacted by her biological mother's attorney with a simple message - I'm your mother, I want to meet you, contact me. Homes does eventually contact her biological mother as well as her biological father. Unsure of her parents' intentions and her own expectations, Homes asks for nothing more than the information she has grown up without - her history, her culture, her people. But, without warning, Homes finds that her parents', each still very dysfunctional, demand more from her than she can give. Her mother: very needy. Her father: very selfish. It is from this place that Homes must begin her journey of self discovery. My advice: Read only the first part of the memoir (1st Half Rating = A-). If you decide to read it all, don't say you weren't warned (Second Half Rating = D).

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Grand and Hartford

Cool sky and sunset looking westward from Grand and Hartford Avenues in South City. Wish that I would have had the good camera that day because this picture does not do the sky justice.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Book Review: The Elie Wiesel Trilogy

A few years ago, a lot of people were exposed to author Elie Wiesel's Night courtesy of Oprah's Book Club. Personally, Oprah annoys me but I cannot deny the positive influence that she has had, especially with the estrogen crowd, in promoting reading. So, between Oprah and your high school History or English teacher, you have probably read Night. For those of you who happen to live in a darkened cave (with internet access!), here's the story--Night is a small novel based on Wiesel's own experiences of having survived the Holocaust as a Jewish teenager from Transylvania. Wiesel's story is bleak and inconceivable. It offers no resolution, no conclusion, no hope. Yet, it is a powerfully important book. If you haven't read it, you must.

In Dawn, the reader meets Elisha who, like Wiesel, also survives the horrors of Auschwitz and Buchenwald as a teenager. Elisha is living in British controlled Palestine when he is recruited by members of the Israeli freedom fighters. He agrees and without much display Elisha carries out his orders. It isn't long before Elisha is given a big job: kill a British prisoner at dawn. As he waits for the execution (or will it happen?), Elisha is forced to confront his past, his present, and his future.

is considered the final book of the Wiesel trilogy. Again, Day contains biographical elements from Wiesel's life. A journalist, the main character, steps off the curb and into the path of an oncoming taxi. As he recovers in the hospital he must deal with the same reoccurring themes --- guilt, ghosts, and god -- that are found in his other books.

All of Wiesel's books are short, rich, and thought-provoking. And, who doesn't need a little more of that in their lives? So, go read, read, read......

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

No. 5, 1948

School started for the teachers on Tuesday. It's still funny to me that I ended up in the teaching profession. If we had crossed paths in college, you would have known that my sole professional goal was to become an art museum curator. So, I got the art history degree and promptly landed my first job in ............ a bookstore. Well, roll the reel forward and here I am starting my 10th year of teaching---history. And, in celebration of 10 big years, I have decided to indulge myself by incorporating as much art history into the curriculum as I can find the time to do. Who knows? Maybe I'll inspire a little Clement Greenberg or Jackson Pollock in my class.

No. 5, 1948, Jackson Pollock
The most expensive painting ever sold at $140 million

Sunday, August 10, 2008


By day, I'm a wanna be academic and teacher. By night, a frustrated writer/artist/crafter who lacks the time/inspiration/talent. Luckily, for me, and those out there like me, STL has been brewing a pretty decent indie art and crafter scene for the last few years (no doilies here!). And, the shows have never let me down: edgy, original, interesting, quality, affordable artsy craftsy wares. That said, it pains me greatly to say what I'm about to say. But, I have to say it~~what was up with the CraftaNostra craft sale last night? And no disrespect to the ladies and gents of the St. Louis Craft Mafia but there was maybe a third as much stuff as the last couple of sales, most coming from the same crafters who, I'm sorry to say, are putting out the same ol' stuff. I'm gonna have a hard time convincing myself that it's worth the trip next time. My rating? L as in LAME!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Fiddler on the Roof

Last night we had tickets to see The Fiddler on the Roof at the Muny. It was a little questionable as to whether or not the show would go on but after an hour and a half rain delay, it did. As I've eluded to before, I possess hardly any knowledge of musical theatre. So, it comes as no surprise that I knew mostly nothing about Fiddler except maybe that - #1, it's a popular play to see and to produce (I think that my high school drama department actually put this on way back when) and #2, it has something to do with Russian Jews. Turns out that I was right on both accounts (oi vai and mazel tov!). Fiddler was, ironically, a cheerfully entertaining show about the loss of culture and tradition due to uncontrollable external forces. Heavy stuff. It's just so amazing to me that even the most serious of historical and cultural topics can be theatrically interpreted by a catchy song or, in some cases, a catchy song and dance (Miss Saigon, Evita, Hairspray, Chicago, etc.). Maybe we've been counting on the wrong people (politicians, humanitarians, diplomats) to solve our problems (war, dependency on fossil fuels, poverty). Maybe we should have just called Stephen Sondheim.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Book Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Arnold Spirit, Jr. is a 14-year old Spokane Indian living on, as he puts it, the rez. Life on the rez has been stifled by the cycle of booze, poverty, and despair and Arnold realizes that his only hope of escaping it is transferring to the white high school in the next town over. Naturally, a chasm of problems arise for the young teen (conflicts with the larger and tribal communities and his identity namely) but with poignant hilarity Arnold navigates through the tough times of both worlds with maturity, humor, and insight leading to self-discovery. This is supposed to be a teen read, but I highly recommend it.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Book Review: A Wolf at the Table, A Memoir of My Father by Augusten Burroughs

Some of the "Average Joe" negative reviews of A Wolf at the Table that I've read online complain that author Augusten Burroughs' "didn't really know what it was like to be abused" or that Burroughs' mental anguish at the hands of his father's quasi-psychotic unpredictability "was boring, same day in day out" or that "it wasn't funny." Wow. What a bunch of self-centered, whiny turds.

A Wolf at The Table is what it is - a simple memoir of a son who spends a lifetime searching for the love of his father (who happens to be detached, cunning, and mentally ill). Yet, it is powerfully written and evocative. Burroughs' growth and maturity as a writer, the ease at which his writing breathes from the page is most evident in A Wolf at the Table. It compelled me from the start. In fact, I contend that might be the best Burroughs' work to date.