Thursday, December 30, 2010

“You say ‘to-may-to’ and I say ‘to-mah-to’”

The palatial Loew’s Kings theater on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn was where I spent many Saturday afternoons as a child. With its majestic wide central staircase covered in red carpet it was simple to imagine being a princess descending to enter the ball.


In later years, the theater suffered hard times. It’s now been closed for thirty years. But many are full of hope that the opulent movie palace will be restored. There is a wonderful video on YouTube which gives you the story of this large wonderful theater. Whether you’re from Brooklyn (or wish you were!) or if you are a history or theater buff, you’ll understand why the Loew’s Kings holds such a special place in many hearts.


Whenever I happened to mention my childhood days - probably too frequently for my three children - I pronounced the name of the theater as I always had: “Lo-eez” Kings. My daughter Trish would correct me and say it was pronounced “Lows.” The discussion continues to this day, despite my having pointed out that during interviews with both Larry King and Barbra Streisand (both true Brooklynites) they pronounced it my way. Then, two years ago, my son John gave me a cookbook called Junior’s, Remembering Brooklyn with Recipes and Memories from Its Favorite Restaurant.


I love the cookbook more for the vivid memories and photographs of Brooklyn through the years than for its famous cheesecake recipe, and that’s saying something. But the authors also point out that the Loews theaters in Brooklyn were pronounced “Lo-eez.”

In the YouTube video, you’ll notice that the commentators pronounce Loew’s in one syllable. Except for Brooklyn’s Borough President. It’s got to be a generation thing.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thor Day

I had just decided to write something every week that focused on aspects of our language when I came across a four-letter clue in a crossword puzzle. It asked for the origin of “Thursday.” The answer? Thor, the Norse god of thunder. In the Norse language this day is called Torsdag. Perfect, I thought, since I’d chosen Thursday as the day in which I’d write about words and books.

Which brings me to the word “blog.” Although it is often called a contraction of “web log,” the word “blog” is actually a portmanteau. That is a word formed by joining two others and combining their meanings. For example, “smog” is a blend of “smoke” and “fog;” “infomercial” combines “information” and “commercial,” and “brunch,” well you get the idea.

Until a few years ago, I thought a portmanteau was a valise. (Does anyone use that word anymore?) Whenever I came across the word in an old English novel, I pictured an English gentleman carrying his portmanteau aboard a London train. I’ve since learned that this definition still stands, but the newer definition of blending two words is more popular now.

You can see how a large leather suitcase, or a portmanteau, that opens into two hinged compartments evolved into the merging of two words to make one, a portmanteau.

I think it would be interesting to see how many other portmanteaus we can come up with.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's List Time

Every year at this time, readers look forward to book reviewers’ lists to see which books deserve to be called the best books of the year. I’ve made my list, too. But it’s not of the best books published this year, but my five favorite books out of the 26 that I’ve read in 2010.



The Old Wives’ Tale by Arnold Bennett, first published in England in 1908, tells the story of sisters Constance and Sophia, the choices they make, and how their different experiences and environments shape their lives. I loved this book when I first read it just after graduating from college and decided to see if it had the same impact fifty years later. The sisters, as well as the other characters, are well drawn and provide a fascinating read.

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett is a charming novella published in 2007. It supposes that Queen Elizabeth encounters a bookmobile outside Buckingham Palace and discovers the world of books. It’s delightful and entertaining and speaks to the possibility of change regardless of age or circumstance.

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields, published in 1993, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The book tells the poignant story of  Daisy Goodwill from the moment of her birth in Manitoba in 1905. She lives an unremarkable life, carved by the circumstances and emotions encountered as a motherless child, in a loveless marriage, and in the ordinary daily life of wife and mother. My sister recommended this book to me years ago, but I put it aside, thinking that I wouldn’t like it. How wrong I was.



To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was published in 1960 and is a classic of American literature. I had read it when it first came out but now, fifty years later, I found it again a simply elegant, heart-wrenching, and beautiful story.

The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larrson: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2008), The Girl Who Played with Fire (2009), and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (2010) are literary thrillers and publishing sensations throughout the world. Using his background as an investigative reporter, Larrson has plotted three fascinating books that are tied together by his main character Lisabeth Salander, a computer hacker whose personality and style keep the tension flowing.


What are the best books you've read recently?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

St. Petersburg

The Winter Palace of the Hermitage
It is not surprising to me that some travel groups shun Moscow and head directly to St. Petersburg. This former capital is as different from the current capital as a peasant is from a prince. Founded by the czar Peter the Great on the northern banks of the Neva River in 1703, it is today Russia’s cultural capital.

To reach St. Petersburg, we boarded the ultra modern train at the Moscow railroad station for the five-hour ride. As the train sped along, we passed forests and groves of birch trees, small hovels, and occasionally saw a babushka carrying her tote along the muddy unpaved roads toward home. The train made a few stops at rundown stations.

Stanlislav, our St. Petersburg guide, met us at the station and drove us to the modern Park Inn Hotel that overlooks the Bay of Finland. For the next few days we visited all the major attractions within the city, driving over dozens of islands with their hundreds of bridges. No wonder St. Petersburg is often called the Venice of the North.

The most well-known of St. Petersburg’s attractions is Catherine the Great’s Winter Palace, now part of the Hermitage,  one of the most famous museums in the world. Because of its immensity, it is impossible to see it all in one visit.

St. Petersburg is a beautiful city. Everywhere you look, it seems, are former palaces once owned by of Russia’s wealthiest citizens. As we descended our tour bus to enter the grounds of Catherine the Great’s Summer Palace on the outskirts of the city, our group of Irish men and women (plus me) was serenaded by a group of musicians who -obviously tipped off - played the Irish National Anthem.

Catherine the Great’s summer palace is just what you’d imagine a palace to be, with all the gold and artifacts and residue of its former resident. The wood floors in each of the rooms differ in design from each other. To keep them beautiful, visitors must don paper slippers to wear throughout the tour.

The St. Petersburg tour allowed a lot of free time to wander along Nevsky Prospekt,  the most famous street in all of Russia. The shops, hotels, churches and historic buildings draw crowds similar to those on New York’s Fifth Avenue: stylishly dressed women wearing the latest fashions, especially beautiful boots. The Nevsky Prospekt website offers views of its buildings and their histories.

The name alone, St. Petersburg, tells you something about the history of the country itself. In 1914 at the outbreak of World War I, it was changed because it was thought too “German sounding.” It then became Petrograd and was known as the “Cradle of the Russian Revolution.” Then, after the death of Vladimir Lenin in 1924, the city’s name was changed to Leningrad. To many, the name recalls the German invasion in 1941 which was called the Siege of Leningrad. Leningrad became St. Petersburg again 67 years later when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

There’s so much to be said for and about St. Petersburg. Anyone considering a visit will find it immensely helpful to get a good guide book.

I’ve been fortunate to visit practically all of the places on my “to-see” list and although Russia had never made an appearance on the list, I am glad I had the opportunity to see two of its most historic cities.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

More About Moscow


Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts
 Trying to read the Cyrillic Alphabet is like trying to read an eye-chart. It’s the major obstacle for most visitors to Russia. When you can’t read street signs or stops on the Metro, you have to rely on someone who speaks English. In Russia, that usually means someone under thirty.

On one of our free days, Kathy and I decided to visit the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts.  Sergei, our tour guide, had told us to take the Metro orange line across the street from our hotel and get off at the sixth stop and switch to the red line for one stop. Okay, that sounded easy. Until we realized that it would be wise to know the names of the stations for our return. The Metro map had no English version,  so I created a way to remember where we were. Metro stations in Russia, unlike in New York, vary in design. We had gotten on at a station that was silver in color. The second stop was white; the third was yellow. Because the fourth stop was done in alternating strips of black and white tiles, I named it “stripes.” Smart, huh? The next station reminded me of a Mondrian painting, so that was its name. We  got off at a station done in marble.

Heading back to our hotel, we ran into a little problem going from the red line to the orange line and had to ask for help. A young woman standing next to us on the crowded train overheard us talking and asked in English if she could help. Sitting in front of us was an old woman - a babushka - with a cane and a cast on her leg. The young woman and the old woman conferred. The old woman signaled for us to follow her down the very long escalator and then a flight of stairs, through the crowds and onto the marble station. From there, Kathy and I just went backwards: Mondrian, stripes, yellow, white and silver.

Some of our discoveries about Moscow include the overwhelming amount of smokers. Everywhere. You can’t escape the smoke while you’re walking on the street, sitting in the hotel lobby or dining in a restaurant or coffee shop.
 I had forgotten how awful it is to smell wafting smoke from nearby tables while you’re trying to enjoy your dinner.

Kathy was the first to notice that no one wore eyeglasses. All we counted were the lady on the bus who collected fares, a middle-aged man in one of the shops, and two more women on the street. Could the Russians all have perfect vision? Are they all wearing contacts? Are they vain? Whatever the answer, perhaps it’s one reason why Moscow roads are the most dangerous in the world.

Traffic in Moscow is unbelievable. Until you see it, it’s hard to imagine. Not only the number of cars on the road but also the absolute disregard for any traffic signs, or safety measures. When the Russian television station reported that Moscow has the highest number of deaths by auto than any other city in the world, I was not surprised. In our tour bus, we held our breaths many times as cars and trucks darted in and out along highways and side streets. At one point I swear it was only a matter of two or three inches between our bus and a car. At one intersection - with a traffic light, no less - we were blocked. No one could or would move. Drivers got out of their cars to berate other drivers, horns blaring, tempers flaring.

If you think this is an exaggeration, I urge you to check out this website and watch the video. http://www.examiner.com/world-travel-in-tucson/russia-s-road-deaths-are-highest-europe

Russian TV recently interviewed a young woman who said that she felt a bit guilty because she "bought" her driving license. Instead of paying for driving lessons and taking the driver’s test, she said she took the money given to her by her father and went to a friend who gave her a forged driver's license for a fee. The broadcaster said this is a rather common occurrence. Check out the Voice of Russia website that tells more about the corruption in getting a driver’s license.


The Moscow experience was something I’ll never forget. It’s what travel is all about - discovering, learning, and appreciating home.

Next: St. Petersburg

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nine Days in Russia

St. Basil's Cathedral in Red Square
Moscow  

Onion domed cathedrals, Red Square, the Kremlin, Siberia, bitter winters, Nicolas and Alexandria and a peasant class held down by the fists of dictators. These were my images of Russia. I’d never included Russia on my travel list, having grown up during a period of Russian totalitarianism, the era of Stalin and Khrushchev, and the threat of Communism. But since the demise of the U.S.S.R. in the late 1980s and early 1990s, changes had taken place and the country was supposedly more welcome to tourists.   Not entirely true.   

My trip in October consisted of four days in Moscow and five days in St. Petersburg. It is Moscow, however, that I found most unnerving, not only for its lack of civility but for its resistance to true change, despite perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness).

I signed up for the trip with a group based in Dublin, so I was flying alone. Although the Irish travel agency had made my plane reservations for me, I soon discovered that Aeroflot Airlines does not permit Americans to check in online for their airline boarding passes and seat assignments. That meant an early arrival at JFK so that I might get an aisle seat for the nine-and-a-half-hour flight.

The forty-minute ride from Sheremetyevo Airport to the Hotel Cosmos on the outskirts of Moscow set the tone for the next four days. After finding what I hoped was a scrupulous cab driver - I’d read the warnings in the guide books - off we sped. The gray sky was a perfect backdrop for the dreary commercial and industrial sights along the highway. I recognized a few names - Toyota, Citibank, Ikea and, of course, McDonald’s. What seemed like dozens and dozens of apartment buildings also lined the highway. I’d read how the apartment buildings were designated by the era in which they were built. Even later when our guide pointed them out, I still couldn’t tell the difference among the Stalin, the Khrushchev or Gorbachev buildings. They all looked alike - tall, imposing with crumbling concrete facades in need of repair.

Throughout the entire trip the basic tenets of hospitality and tourism were rare, especially among hotel personnel.
No welcoming attitude, no warmth, no smiles. This only enhanced the underlying tension I felt caused by the presence of police, the military and government officials almost everywhere.

Rather than making me feel safe, I kept reminding myself of the warning printed on the Metro map: “Any foreigners visiting or living in Russia are reminded that it is a legal requirement to carry a passport or Identity Card and visa and migration card at all times. Police can stop you to check documents at any time, and failure to provide proper documentations can result in detention or fines."                                                                                                                                                                     
 

Kremlin Adminstration Building
 No wonder then that a survey reported in the Moscow Times, printed in English, showed that only one percent of the people said they trusted or had faith in the police.  Our tour guide in Moscow was Sergei, a man in his sixties who had lived through several regimes. Though its citizens are now freer to criticize the government, visitors sense the tension and an underlying feeling of intimidation that comes through in the warnings and observations of officials on every corner. Even in our hotel where security guards stood at the elevators to check our status as hotel guests. 

While planning my trip, I’d been advised to register with the U.S. Department of State. I had already applied for and received my visa with the exact dates of my entry and departure. The State Department sent me pages of information, including these remarks: “Russian visa requirements are highly complex, and U.S. citizens must take care that they do not unintentionally violate entry and exit regulations. The Russian government maintains a restrictive and complicated visa regime for foreigners who visit, transit or reside in the Russian Federation. A U.S. citizen who does not comply with Russian visa laws can be subject to arrest, fines, and/or deportation. Russian authorities will not allow U.S. citizens to depart the country if their visa has expired. Travelers must wait until a new visa is approved, which may take up to 20 days. Please be sure to leave Russia before your visa expires!”

When planning a trip to a new city or country, I have certain expectations of what I’ll find. But I also look forward to surprises and to learning more of the history and culture of the place.

 In Moscow, I was surprised at the prevalence of Russian Orthodox churches which have seen a surge in attendance in the past few years. Because the Russian people had been deprived of so much in previous years, their religion is an important part of their lives. In each church that we visited we saw men and women who had come to worship and to venerate the icons.

Red Square, without its marching soldiers and dictators in the reviewing stand, was not intimidating. I soon learned that the red building with the spire at one end of the Square was not the Kremlin, as I had presumed, but an historical museum.

The Kremlin is actually a complex of buildings set behind the tall red brick walls. It includes the State Armory, now an impressive museum displaying the clothing, coaches, Faberge eggs and paraphernalia of the former tsars; the Cathedral of the Annunciation, the Cathedral of the Assumption; Cathedral of the Archangel; Church of the Twelve Apostles; and three more cathedrals. There’s also the State Kremlin Palace, now used for ballet performances, and the Patriarch’s Palace. Before my visit I had imagined the actual Kremlin government offices as dark and imposing edifices instead of the deep yellow and white buildings that house the administration.
Kathy O'Grady inside the Kremlin complex.

A long way from Brooklyn!
 
       Throughout my days in Moscow, I kept thinking of a Nelson DeMille novel I read this past summer, recommended to me by Kathy, my cousin and traveling companion. The Charm School is about a spy school where Russians are taught to speak, think and act like Americans. The KGB, of course, was the villain Just as art often imitates life, a few weeks before my trip a couple of Russian spies who lived as Americans were arrested in Montclair, just over the hill from where I live. So, between the novel and the arrests just a mile away, I could not shake off thoughts of the KGB throughout much of my time in Moscow.

I returned home with many images and impressions which I’ll talk about in my next blog.











Friday, October 29, 2010

Each year at this time I think of the Halloween Parade years ago where a public relations fiasco proved that you must keep your eye on the ball, or at least on Elvis!

It was 1986 and I was working in the public relations department of a large New Jersey hospital. The department director, let’s call her Margaret, was known for her excruciatingly attention to detail. It always paid off because the events she planned turned out to be successful. Except for one.

For the first time in years, the decision was made to have the hospital participate in what was known as the largest Halloween Parade held outside of Greenwich Village. Margaret recognized the potential impact of a well-designed and eye-catching float and set about to plan something that would present a positive image to the hundreds of marchers and watchers along Main Street.

Everyone took part in the parade - the mayor and local politicians led it off and they were followed by the local high school band, civic organizations, community businesses, the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, even mothers and fathers hand-in-hand with their costumed children, and, of course, fire trucks from all the fire companies in town.

Planning for the hospital’s float began in late August with a trip to the Atlantic City company that provided floats for the annual Miss America Pageant on the boardwalk. Margaret’s idea involved building steps on the float that would mark the increase in hospital beds during the hospital’s history. To designate 1961, the year of its opening, a hospital employee donned an Elvis Presley costume. And to mark the 210th anniversary of the birth of America, another employee dressed as the Statue of Liberty.

As the crowds found their favorite spots on the curbs along the parade route, all the floats gathered in the local shopping center. Elvis and the Statue of Liberty were in place, ready to roll. Margaret directed her staff to walk along Main Street and hand out little white puffy things that had the hospital’s name on them. She, too, decided to leave the float once the driver pulled it out onto the street.

Now Margaret, as I said, paid very close attention to detail. And just in case something should go wrong, she always had an alternate plan. Never thinking that something could go wrong, she joined the crowds on Main Street, and waited for the hospital’s float to pass by.

While Margaret was distancing herself from the float, she was unaware that it had gotten a flat tire almost as soon as it began its trek down the street. The float driver did not realize that a spare was available or that the company’s owner was nearby ready to make any repairs. So the driver told Elvis and Miss Liberty to hop off. Elvis took his guitar, Miss Liberty lowered her torch and they jumped off the float and mingled with the crowd.

Meantime, the flat had been fixed. But Elvis and Miss Liberty had disappeared. So the hospital float drove down Main Street while onlookers tried to figure out its meaning.

The local television station had its cameras set up a few blocks away for a live broadcast. The TV reporter, also not getting the float’s complete message, was kind enough to pass over it quickly. The taped version, however, continued to be replayed for weeks.

At the end of the parade where all the floats and participants gathered, Margaret was in a tirade. She screamed at the float company owner and driver and didn’t acknowledge her mistake in leaving the float. The float company owner told her he had looked for her to tell her the flat would be fixed and that the float would move on intact.

One slip. One misjudgment from a woman who never let any detail go unsupervised.
Each year at this time I think of the Halloween Parade years ago where a public relations fiasco proved that you must keep your eye on the ball, or at least on Elvis!

It was 1986 and I was working in the public relations department of a large New Jersey hospital. The department director, let’s call her Margaret, was known for her excruciatingly attention to detail. It always paid off because the events she planned turned out to be successful. Except for one.

For the first time in years, the decision was made to have the hospital participate in what was known as the largest Halloween Parade held outside of Greenwich Village. Margaret recognized the potential impact of a well-designed and eye-catching float and set about to plan something that would present a positive image to the hundreds of marchers and watchers along Main Street.

Everyone took part in the parade - the mayor and local politicians led it off and they were followed by the local high school band, civic organizations, community businesses, the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, even mothers and fathers hand-in-hand with their costumed children, and, of course, fire trucks from all the fire companies in town.

Planning for the hospital’s float began in late August with a trip to the Atlantic City company that provided floats for the annual Miss America Pageant on the boardwalk.

Margaret’s idea involved building steps on the float that would mark the increase in hospital beds during the hospital’s history. To designate 1961, the year of its opening,
a hospital employee donned an Elvis Presley costume. And to mark the 210th anniversary of the birth of America, another employee dressed as the Statue of Liberty.

As the crowds found their favorite spots on the curbs along the parade route, all the floats gathered in the local shopping center. Elvis and the Statue of Liberty were in place, ready to roll. Margaret directed her staff to walk along Main Street and hand out little white puffy things that had the hospital’s name on them. She, too, decided to leave the float once the driver pulled it out onto the street.

Now Margaret, as I said, paid very close attention to detail. And just in case something should go wrong, she always had an alternate plan. Never thinking that something could go wrong, she joined the crowds on Main Street, and waited for the hospital’s float to pass by.

While Margaret was distancing herself from the float, she was unaware that it had gotten a flat tire almost as soon as it began its trek down the street. The float driver did not realize that a spare was available or that the company’s owner was nearby ready to make any repairs. So the driver told Elvis and Miss Liberty to hop off. Elvis took his guitar, Miss Liberty lowered her torch and they jumped off the float and mingled with the crowd.

Meantime, the flat had been fixed. But Elvis and Miss Liberty had disappeared. So the hospital float drove down Main Street while onlookers tried to figure out its meaning.

The local television station had its cameras set up a few blocks away for a live broadcast. The TV reporter, also not getting the float’s complete message, was kind enough to pass over it quickly. The taped version, however, continued to be replayed for weeks.

At the end of the parade where all the floats and participants gathered, Margaret was in a tirade. She screamed at the float company owner and driver and didn’t acknowledge her mistake in leaving the float. The float company owner told her he had looked for her to tell her the flat would be fixed and that the float would move on intact.

One slip. One misjudgment from a woman who never let any detail go unsupervised.

Saturday, October 2, 2010



My upcoming trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg is the main reason why I decided to buy an e-reader. Instead of lugging books in a carry-on, I’ve downloaded a couple on my Barnes and Noble Nook. While I’m flying off to the land of Dostoyevsky, Chekhov and Pushkin, I’ll be reading Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna and Debra Dean’s The Madonnas of Leningrad .

Once I thought I’d never succumb to an e-reader. Then I hemmed and hawed for so long, comparing Nooks and Kindles, getting other people’s opinions, weighing the pros and cons. Finally, I recognized that for the sake of convenience alone, it’s a good decision. However, I am not giving up my option to take books from the library or walk out of a bookstore with bag in hand.

I read Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go on the Nook and while I found it not as good as his previous work - especially the incomparable Remains of the Day - the reading experience itself wasn’t much different from actually turning paper pages.

Reading is reading, after all, so after I turned off the Nook, I picked up a novella called The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. It poses the question: what if Queen Elizabeth suddenly became a voracious reader? What if one of the kitchen help was her guide to authors past and present? It is one of the most delightful books I’ve read in a long time and heartily recommend it to anyone who cannot imagine a life without a book in hand.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

"Waiting for Superman"

A year or so ago, our book group read Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America by Paul Tough and since then has paid special attention to innovations in American education.

A new documentary, Waiting for "Superman", will open later this month and it's creating a lot of buzz. It's by the filmmaker who did An Inconvenient Truth . There's a terrific article in this week's New York Magazine by John Heilemann about the film, about Geoffrey Canada, and others who see the need for vast improvements and innovations in American education.

Here's an excerpt:
“Superman” affectingly, movingly traces the stories of five children—all but one of them poor and black or Hispanic—and their parents as they seek to secure a decent education by gaining admission via lottery to high-performing charter schools. At the same time, the film is a withering indictment of the adults—in particular, those at the teachers unions—who have let the public-school system rot, and a paean to reformers such as Canada and Michelle Rhee, chancellor of the Washington, D.C., public schools, who has waged an epic campaign to overhaul the notoriously dysfunctional system over which she presides.

Among leaders of the burgeoning education-reform movement, the degree of anticipation surrounding “Superman” is difficult to overstate. “The movie is going to create a sense of outrage, and a sense of urgency,” says Arne Duncan, Barack Obama’s secretary of Education. New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein concurs. “It’s gonna grab people much deeper than An Inconvenient Truth, because watching ice caps melt doesn’t have the human quality of watching these kids being denied something you know will change their lives,” Klein says. “It grabs at you. It should grab at you. Those kids are dying.”

The education-reform crowd is not alone in waiting for Waiting for “Superman”—though for those on the other side of the ideological fence, it would be more accurate to say that they are bracing for “Superman.” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers and a character in the film, complains that it is “unfair,” “misleading,” and potentially “dangerous.” Indeed, not long ago, United Teachers Los Angeles posted on its website a flyer describing “Superman” as “scathing” and “attacking U.S. teachers” and calling for volunteers to appear in a TV ad to give “the other side of the story.”

The excitement and agitation around “Superman” might seem hyperbolic, overblown. Yet both are symptomatic of a signal moment in the annals of American education, when a confluence of factors—a grassroots outcry for better schools, a cadre of determined reformers, a newly demanding and parlous global economy, and a president willing to challenge his party’s hoariest shibboleths and most potent allies—has created what Duncan calls a “perfect storm.” It’s a moment when debates are raging over an array of combustible issues, from the expansion of charters and the role of standardized-test scores to the shuttering of failing schools and the firing of crappy teachers. It’s a moment ripe with ferment and possibility, but also rife with conflict, in which the kind of change that fills many hearts with hope fills others with mortal dread—and which gives a movie like “Superman” a rare chance to move the needle.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

From Papyrus to WiFi

Never, I thought, never would I give up an actual hardcover or paperback book for a digital reader. I like holding a book in my hands, turning paper pages, writing notes in the margins and flipping back to past chapters.

But excitement can be contagious. It began in Saratoga last month. My daughter Trish and my grandchildren were visiting my niece Kathie and her family when we got into a discussion of reading and the pros and cons of a digital reader. The conversation turned to the convenience of a Kindle or a Nook and the accessibility of downloading current books and the classics. As Trish and Kathie discussed the options, I began to wonder if it was just habit that kept me from taking the next step in this digital age.

Then I remembered what someone said recently: it certainly doesn’t have to be an “either or” decision. You don’t have to give up the traditional book just because you have a Nook or a Kindle. I could still use my neighborhood library or purchase a book in paper form from amazon.com or a bookstore.

That afternoon, Kathie, Trish and I went to the Barnes and Noble in Saratoga where Kathie bought the Nook. When the salesperson said there would be an information session that evening, the three of us decided we’d attend.

A group gathered in the Barnes and Noble cafĂ© and as the Nook’s features were being explained I turned around to see who else was there. I saw three men and five women and all of them were over the age of sixty, each with a Nook in hand. When the session was over and I asked for their opinions, they said they once felt the same way I do about "actual" books. But they're happy converts now to the e-reader.

My daughter bought her Nook that evening and she likes it too. I haven’t succumbed yet, but I’m not averse to it. In fact, I’ll be taking a trip next month that involves almost a 10-hour flight. Instead of cramming books into my bag, I might opt for the convenience of a Nook. Stay tuned.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A World History Curriculum for One

I might have developed a love of history sooner if the curriculum had focused on the men and women who were the instruments of change. If I'd learned about events from their perspectives instead of memorizing battle dates. But back in the seventh grade, the homework assigned by Sr. Jane Francis included memorizing the “nutshell” at the end of each chapter in our history books. A sure way to deaden any budding interest.

The RKO Pathe Newsreels shown in movie theatres were the only time where you could see famous figures actually move. They gave us our first close ups of Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, England’s Winston Churchill as well as Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Josef Stalin.

Then came live television in the early 1950s and I became fascinated with news broadcasts “Live from Washington” or “Live from London” or “Live from Cairo.” The world became increasingly smaller.

At home, I watched the Kefauver hearings on organized crime and the McCarthy hearings that inflamed America with Senator McCarthy’s pronouncements that communists were infiltrating the United States government.

I always looked forward to Sunday afternoons when CBS presented “You Are There.” Narrated by Walter Cronkite, the live show re-enacted historical moments with the actors portraying historic figures - Julius Caesar or George Washington or Galileo - who addressed the camera to explain what was happening. And at the end of each episode Cronkite would say these words: “What kind of day has it been? A day like all days filled with those events that alter and illuminate our times and you are there.”

I was a child during World War II and grew up knowing only the more publicized events. Movies filled in some gaps - “The Longest Day,” “Battle Cry,” “Stalag 17,” The “Guns of Navarone” and more.

But mainly, all I knew about the war in England was the Blitz and Winston Churchill’s role. Though I knew the basics, I had never given much thought to how the people in England braced for a potential invasion of Nazi forces.

I’ve taken to educating myself. I learned more about the hundreds of children who were evacuated from London to protect them from the Blitz, and how their parents must have suffered to see them put on a train and taken to homes distant from London. A wonderful rendition of the evacuation may be seen in the BBC drama “Good Night, Mister Tom.”

Recently I watched five seasons of “Foyle’s War,” a mystery drama series that was presented on PBS beginning in 2003. I’ve just caught up with it through Netflix. In each episode a crime is committed and the inscrutable Detective Inspector Christopher Foyle solves the murder or espionage. What makes this series memorable for me is that the writer Anthony Horowitz includes in each episode a factual account of preparations for war on the southern coast of England: how the wealthy escaped London and holed up in majestic country homes; how a chemical warfare plant had been established nearby unbeknownst to the townspeople; how map makers designed the targets in Germany for the RAF; the bravery of pilots taking off from airfields that were built on farmland for the Spitfire planes.

Following Foyle’s War I rented “Into the Storm,” a film made for television last year. It depicts Winston Churchill’s time as prime minister during World War II and the decisions and plans made in those years.

At the end of the film are these memorable words of Winston Churchill:

In War: Resolution
In Defeat: Defiance
In Victory: Magnanimity
In Peace: Goodwill

Just recently, I watched Ken Burns’ "The War," an extremely comprehensive look at World War II from the perspective of all those involved: the American forces, the families left behind, the townspeople who staffed factories, the Japanese units and African American units who also fought despite prevalent racism.

The history curriculum I’ve designed for myself is never-ending. My syllabus also contains a long list of books on World War II, including a biography of Winston Churchill and another that delves into all aspects of the war in Europe and in the Pacific. One page turns into the next. Soon it will be time to explore other times and places, wherever my interest takes me. Perhaps the Balkans, as I plan a trip there in the near future.

I’ve discovered that one of the joys of aging is a deepening interest in how our world came to be the place it is today. As I try to compare the events of today with those of the past, I appreciate more deeply the work, the talent, the dedication of the individuals who try to make it a better place for us all.

Friday, July 23, 2010

There's no place like Brooklyn


Whether you're coming or going, you gotta smile at these signs I saw today on Flatbush Avenue.

Entering Brooklyn? How Sweet It Is!

Leaving Brooklyn? Fuhgeddaboudit!


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sea turtles in danger not only from the oil spill

The older I get the more I realize how much I don’t know. So when I come upon something that’s new to me, be it history or science or just plain everyday items, I feel the thrill of discovery.

Sea turtles are just such an example. Two years ago during the week I spent with my friend Nancy on Siesta Key, Florida, we went across the street to the beach one afternoon where a local environmentalist was giving a talk on sea turtles. Until then, I had just the basic knowledge about these sea creatures.

The speaker presented a comprehensive and interesting picture of this endangered species, emphasizing the environmental dangers to their existence. She explained how they crawl ashore at night to deposit their eggs and then return to the Gulf of Mexico, and why the owners of homes that line the beach are encouraged to turn off or dim their lights after dark so the turtles will find nesting places without any distractions.

Now with the oil spill, sea turtles are in the news. For an up-close view of how the disaster has affected their existence - it’s not only direct contact with oil - click on “What’s Killing the Sea Turtles”, a six-minute video on the investigation to find out what is killing endangered sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Brooklyn mothers-to-be heading to Manhattan hospitals to have their babies



The recent New York Times article, “Manhattan Birth Certificate, Brooklyn Address” caught my attention because I also commuted from another borough and from another state to have my children; but mine was a case of reverse migration.

I had my first child while living in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn (Avenue K and East 35th Street). The fine obstetrician recommended to my husband and me had his offices in the Park Slope section and was affiliated with Methodist Hospital. When I was pregnant with my second child we were living on Staten Island. It was a no-brainer for us - he (it turned out to be a boy) must be born in Brooklyn. With our third child (also a son), we were living in Matawan, New Jersey, but knew we’d trek into Brooklyn for his birth.

Of course there were fine doctors on Staten Island and in Monmouth County, but I wanted all my children to share the birthplace of their mother and father. The reason was simple: I have always been immensely proud of the fact that I’m a Brooklynite. Today you hear much about the Park Slope and Carroll Gardens areas, but hardly a word about the Flatbush and East Flatbush areas where I grew up and went to school. Or about the East New York section where their father was born.

My sister Nan and I often bored our friends I’m sure, with our stories about Brooklyn back in the 1940s and 1950s. Yet of all the books written about Brooklyn seldom will you find one about our neighborhood.

The babies born in Queens or Manhattan, the Bronx or Staten Island will always be able to claim they’re native born New Yorkers. But for those born in Brooklyn, it will be an added cachet to say “I was born in Brooklyn.”






Sunday, July 11, 2010

To Kill a Mockingbird

In celebration of the 50th anniversary this month of the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird, I plan to re-read Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel this summer. On my Facebook page I mentioned that I was forming a book club for anyone who’d also like to read or re-read this classic.

To see and hear more about the impact of the book and the movie, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1962, click on this National Public Radio story about the book and the author.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Simply (and wonderfully) said

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”

I was looking for an apt quote as a tagline for my own blog when I discovered this gem by Robert Brault. A Robert Brault Reader is a wonderful blog of original sayings that will make you pause, smile and think. Here are a few of Brault’s sayings:

"Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true."

"My age? Let me put it this way. In the dance of life, I am applauding the band."

"Observing your child at make-believe, you realize that the most underrated of family values is its entertainment value."

"Failure would be a bad thing if it didn't reopen so many opportunities."

"Stay out of the court of self-judgment, for there is no presumption of innocence."

"Do not judge yourself until you're done. And if you judge yourself a failure, you're not done."

"A parent's love is whole no matter how many times divided."

"We've heard that ignorance of math in the U.S. is growing geometrically, whatever that means."

"Although we try to shield our kids from the ugly side of life, inevitably we must watch as they turn over every rock -- including the one we made certain we're sitting on."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

So? Whatever....

The New York Times’ May 30th article Follow My Logic? A Connective Word Takes the Lead discussed the rise of the word “so” which “may be the new 'well,' 'um,' 'oh' and 'like.' No longer content to lurk in the middle of sentences, it has jumped to the beginning, where it can portend many things: transition, certitude, logic, attentiveness, a major insight.”

It seems to fall in line with other words and phrases that a recent poll found to be the most over-used today: “whatever,” “anyway,” “it is what it is,” and “at the end of the day.”

Although I have my own list of over-used, misused and redundant words and phrases in the current vernacular, I must admit first of all that I’m guilty of “anyway.” I’ll try and correct myself if the rest of the world would kindly refrain from the words and expressions I find most annoying and redundant:

“Listen up” - Whatever happened to just “Listen”?
“At this point in time.” Why not just “Now”?
“At that point in time.” "Then”?
“Sleeping in” - in what? If it means sleeping late, why not say so?

New words and phrases make their way into our language every year from Silicon Valley, advertising, street slang, the media, business jargon, politics, and now from the abbreviations written on email messages, Twitter and texting.

LOL? When I received this at the bottom of an email message from a male colleague a few years ago, I didn’t know it meant “lots of laughs.” I was taken aback because I misunderstood, believing it meant “lots of love.” Fortunately, I was clued in immediately by a co-worker.

So listen, if you have a language pet peeve, I hope you’ll let me know.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Another reminder of the ‘50s




In this morning’s newspaper, the “Today’s Birthday” column noted that Bill Hayes is celebrating his 85th! He was a popular singer back in television’s early days on the weekly variety show “Your Show of Shows.” Later on he had the top recording of the “Ballad of Davy Crocket” and a long career as an actor on a TV soap.

His name doesn’t come up often all these years later of course, yet I am reminded of him every time I hear a certain phrase.

In 1953 Hayes was appearing on Broadway in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Me and Juliet.” One Saturday afternoon, as I was walking past an alley onto which the stage door opened, I heard the kind of screams that come from a mob of thrilled fans. As I turned to see what was happening, I noticed a throng of people crowded around someone. Looking closer, I saw it was Bill Hayes. He looked kind of apprehensive and not sure if he liked all the attention. Just then a member of the stage crew walked past the crowd and yelled to Hayes, “What price glory?” Indeed.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Random Misperceptions


In the days when radio was my primary source of entertainment I listened to many of the popular shows of the day: Jack Armstrong, the All American Boy; Inner Sanctum; Gang Busters; Lux Radio Theater; Grand Central Station; and Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons. (It wasn’t until many years later that I realized the theme show of Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons was Noel Coward’s “Someday I’ll Find You.”)

Radio show sponsors often held contests where all a listener had to do to win a prize was send in a postcard with her name, address and telephone number. The announcer told the listeners that the names of the winners would be selected at random from all the entries.

For years, when I heard “at random,” I thought the announcer meant the winners would be selected at a town called Random, and for some unknown reason I thought it was located in upstate New York.

Another of my misperceptions as a child had to do with Yosemite National Park. Since these were the days before television documentaries, my fascination for the national parks came from reading. As a child, I did not read Yosemite correctly as “Yo sem’ i te” but as “Yose’ mite,” with a long “o” and a long “i.”

I believe I finally learned the correct pronunciation from the cartoon character Yosemite Sam one Saturday afternoon at the Farragut Theatre on Flatbush Avenue. As he sang “I’m an old cowhand from the Rio Grande,” he asked the audience to join him by following the words on the bouncing ball. I was sitting next to a little boy who was too timid to sing out loud until suddenly Yosemite Sam pointed his pistol at the audience and yelled, “Ah said sing!” The boy next to me nearly jumped out of his seat and started to sing.

(The photo is of me and my litle sister in the 1940s.)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Thank You For Thanking Us or Customer Service 101




The New Amsterdam Theatre on West 42nd Street is a lovely old theatre with a “beaux-arts entrance and a magnificent art nouveau interior of painted plaster, carved stone, fine wood, murals and tiles.” Unfortunately the steps in the mezzanine leading down to the rows of seats alternate between long and short. That’s the reason for my tumble into the third row, resulting in cuts and bruises on my face.

No sooner had I discovered that blood was trickling down my neck than Tania, an usher, was at hand with her first aid box. My daughter’s sister-in-law Sue, a nurse, accompanied me and Tania to the lobby where I was provided with bandages and an ice pack. Tania also said EMS was available. She reiterated several times that I should ask for anything I needed. At the intermission of Mary Poppins, Tania and Louis, another usher, appeared again to see how I was doing and to refresh my ice pack. At the end of the show, they were back again.

I was so impressed by the actions of the theatre staff that I wrote to the theatre manager and the guest services manager to express my appreciation. I don’t mean to be cynical when I say that it’s been suggested that this type of customer service is in place to avert lawsuits. Regardless, it doesn’t affect my opinion of the ushers' actions.

Three days after I’d mailed my letters, UPS left a package at my door. Inside was a letter from the theatre manager that thanked me for my comments and assuring me that copies had been placed the ushers’ files. The letter ended this way: “In today’s world where many folks are more apt to criticize, it is refreshing when someone takes the time to write a letter commending service. Please accept the enclosed original cast recording of Mary Poppins as a token of our sincerity.”

About the show itself: a grand old-fashioned (meant in a good way!) musical with stunning sets, terrific actors, singers and dancers. And yes, Mary does fly out over the audience.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On



Terrific! That’s the only way to describe “Million Dollar Quartet,” a new show filled with rousing performances by musicians channeling Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins. Even I, who am so stingy with standing ovations, rose to my feet to applaud, hoot and holler!

The show is based on an actual meeting on December 4th, 1956 at Sun Records in Memphis where the four launched their careers. B.B. King once said that rhythm-and -blues once got together with rockabilly and had a baby and that baby was rock ’n’ roll. “MDQ” takes you to the birth of that era when Presley already had a hit with “Blue Suede Shoes” which was written by Perkins.

The four actor/musicians are all terrific, but a special nod goes to Levi Kreis who plays Jerry Lee Lewis.

“MDQ” is in previews at the Nederlander Theatre on West 41st Street and will open this Sunday. I predict it will be there for a long time. It’s a dynamite show. Get your tickets!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

American Nuns and the Health Care Bill

In her column in today’s New York Times, Maureen Dowd points out why American nuns have distanced themselves from the Catholic Church hierarchy in supporting the health care bill.

In an earlier blog (July 2, 2009), I wrote about my reaction to the Church hierarchy’s plan to investigate orders of nuns. According to the Dowd column today, “The witch hunt has sparked the nuns to have a voice at last. Vulnerable children were not protected by the male hierarchy of the church, which treated sexual abuse as a failure of character rather than a crime……..Now the bishops think that it’s better to deprive poor people of good health care than to let the church look like it’s going soft on abortion.”

It's not difficult to see why so many “good Catholics” are disappearing. The hypocrisy of priests, bishops, cardinals and the pope have driven people away, leaving more pews empty each Sunday.

It’s not easy to cut the cord. Having been taught by nuns in grammar school and high school, I received a solid education and also the basis of a belief in the power of good. So I cannot abide the utterly despicable actions of the Church hierarchy.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pleasing the Customer = Top Priority

"Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it.
It is what the client or customer gets out of it."

....Peter Drucker

You don’t need an M.B.A. to know that good customer service - or the lack thereof - can affect a company’s success. Call it common courtesy or a smart public relations tactic; exceptional customer service can impact the bottom line.

There’s an electronics retail store in Manhattan called B&H. It’s on Ninth Avenue at West 34th Street. I had never heard of the place, but then I’m seldom shopping for electronics. But my cousin, who was visiting from Ireland, had seen their prices online and was on a mission to pick up a couple of things for her son and her daughter.

Customer service? B&H gets an A+++. To begin, it was pouring rain that December afternoon but the store provided plastic bags into which you could put your wet umbrella while you shopped. A nice gesture. The lines to speak with a salesperson were short and organized, and the counter sales people were extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Our salesman’s expertise prompted me to say that we were getting quite an education in video cameras. As it turned out, he had been a school teacher once in Brooklyn.

After you make your selection, your purchases are put on a conveyor belt below the counter and make their way through a Rube Goldberg mechanism to the front of the store. By the time you have paid for your articles, your purchases have been retrieved from the conveyor belt, have been bagged and are ready at the counter for pick up.

I plan to buy a webcam soon. Guess where I am heading.

Another example of good customer service that I’ve experienced is Cablevision. If I have a question or a problem, I know that when I call, I’ll hear a human voice. The person will always make sure I am completely satisfied before I hang up.

Like a fool, I was persuaded by advertising to leave Cablevision about a year ago, despite the fact that I’d heard people complain about Verizon FIOS. But I switched.. The promise of more HD channels led me away from Cablevision. It took me less than six weeks, however, to realize my mistake. Calls to Verizon for clarification on certain features left me frustrated and increasingly angry. The recorded voice advised me to go to the web for all answers. When I did that, I became even angrier when all the answers to FAQ did not fit my situation or directed me to further sites. I learned a good lesson and returned to Cablevision shortly thereafter.

I keep track of incidents where I’ve been served well. I’ve been taking the New Jersey Transit buses a lot lately and have noticed that most, not all, of the drivers are friendly, helpful, and courteous. I applaud them and all the companies and individuals who know you really cannot put a specific monetary value on good customer service. But it’s there, resting on the bottom line.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The face is familiar.....

When I skim the “birthdays” column in the morning newspaper, I start at the top where the names are familiar. Mmm, Andy Williams is 82, Elizabeth Taylor is 78, Ozzy Osbourne is 61. As I scan down the column the names become less and less recognizable. Actor Royale Watkins is 40. Who? Bruno Campos is 36. Is that the guy on Dancing with the Stars? And Michael Angarano is 22. I doubt even my adult children know who he is.

The other day I saw that Conrad Janis turned 82. If you know the name at all, it’s probably from his role on “Mork and Mindy.”
(His website http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0417641/ contains a long list of credits on stage, television and the movies.) But Carolyn and I don’t care about that. We remember Conrad Janis long before he hit the big time.

(I’ve mentioned Carolyn several times before. She was my best friend and to this day, we can still laugh about some of our adventures growing up in Brooklyn way back when. On Saturdays in the 1950s, you’d often find us in Manhattan, exploring different neighborhoods, sometimes hanging around the theatre district.)

To us, Conrad Janis will always be the great jazz trombone player. One time, when we found out that his band was playing at Childs Restaurant in Times Square, we were tempted to venture down the stairs to hear him. But we knew we were too young at the age of 15, just as we knew we were too young to enter the famous Sardi’s or to follow Ralph Meeker into a bar between the matinee and evening performances of Picnic at the Music Box Theatre.

I cannot imagine allowing 15-year-old girls today to go some of the places Carolyn and I went. Like taking the elevator in the Brill Building to see if our favorite singer, Guy Mitchell, was at his agent’s office. Instead, the Four Lads, a singing group famous at the time, thought we were members of their fan club and asked us if we wanted to help with their fan mail. Or the time the two of us went to the premiere of On the Waterfront at the Astor Theatre and sat near Eva Marie Saint and her husband and got a nod and a wink from Karl Malden.

Often, we’d head for Cromwell’s Drug Store in the lobby of the RCA Building (now the GE Building or whatever corporation owns it). In the so-called “golden age of television,” many live TV dramas were aired from the NBC studios upstairs. So it wasn’t unusual to see some of the actors having lunch at Cromwell’s.

One afternoon after the lunch crowd had gone, Carolyn and I sat at the soda fountain and ordered cokes. The place was empty except for two guys sitting at the end of the counter. Oh, my gosh! It was James Dean and Nick Adams. And they were smiling at us! We tried to act cool but we couldn’t help giggling, especially when James Dean took out his camera and started to (or pretended to) take our picture!

Around that time a singer named Julius Larose was a big hit on the Arthur Godfrey Show. One night, Carolyn and I walked to the corner drug store, closed the door of the phone booth and called Julius LaRosa at his home in Ridgewood. When his father answered, he was pleased to put his son on the phone for two giggling girls. Just a few years ago when I was living in Albany, I read that Julius LaRosa would be making an appearance at the Colonie Center Mall. It seems he was friends with the owner of the new Boscov’s Department Store and had agreed to be part of the opening celebration.

My sister Nan and I decided to go. As we were headed toward Boscov’s auditorium, passing displays of towels and sheets, I spotted a short, white-haired man coming toward us. “That’s Julius LaRosa,” I said to Nan. Sure enough, he had aged just as we had.

When I read the birthdays column or see the obituary of some famous person from the past, I cannot help but remember the innocent days when a trip on a subway to Manhattan was not only safe but to Carolyn and me, quite an adventure.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Conservative and liberal attorneys join together to present the case for same-sex marriage

Every Saturday morning, my sister Nan would ask me if I’d watched Bill Moyers the previous night. No, I’d say, I forgot to tune in. Then Nan would tell me about the guests and the interesting discussion and how it was too bad I missed it.

So now, I’m telling you that if you missed Bill Moyers Journal on PBS on February 26th, I urge you to go to the website to see two well-known attorneys, Ted Olson, a conservative, and David Boies, a liberal, in a comprehensive and sane discussion of the case for same-sex marriage.

“The two lawyers, both veterans of multiple Supreme Court cases, have mounted a well-financed legal challenge to Proposition 8, California's 2008 ballot initiative that put an end to same-sex marriage in that state. The case could make it as far as the Supreme Court and define the debate on same-sex marriage for years to come,” according to Moyers.

Basically, Olson and Boies explained, it’s a matter of the constitutional right of all Americans to marry. The attorneys equated their arguments to those that did away with laws against inter-racial marriage and the right of prisoners to marry.

As Olson says, “Over our history, the voters have decided, because they get passionate about certain things, and they may not like certain minorities. Minorities are disfavored. Blacks have been denied the right to vote. California prohibited Chinese, a Chinese person from having any kind of business in California, or getting married. Those kind of votes are not acceptable if they violate fundamental constitutional rights.”

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Orphans' Home Cycle

I've had the privilege of seeing many fine theatre productions over the years but I cannot recall being so moved as I was recently.

About five years ago I became a subscriber to the Signature Theatre, an "off-Broadway" theatre on West 42nd Street, which stages one playwright each year. This season it is Horton Foote.

Foote's The Orphan's Home Cycle is presented in three parts with three one-act plays in each part. It is a wonderful play superbly acted. There is a chance that it will be staged on Broadway next year.

If you read the review of the play in today's New York Times I think you'll want to order your ticket.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Have Blog, Will Travel

After trying to maintain two blogs for almost a year, I have decided to discontinue Words on a Page in its current format at barbarasbookcorner.blogspot.com. I will, however, continue to write about books and language at Footnotes.

The original idea behind Footnotes was to show and compare elements of the past with the present. Now Footnotes will address other subjects that I find interesting and hope you will, too.

Barbara