Category Archives: Education

TNT Film Review: Hidden Figures Is The Year’s Best Movie

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*I’m tempted to tell you that the exceptional new Hidden Figures is the best movie I’ve seen this year. Since 2017 is just out of the gate, that comment might be seen as more than a little glib.

So I’ll go out on a limb and say this: Hidden Figures is the best movie I WILL see this year.

Usually, period pieces that are based on history don’t hold my attention, largely because we already know how the movie’s going to turn out. (We KNEW the Titanic was iceberg-bound and doomed, right? So who really cares about Leo DiCaprio’s “I’m the king of the world!” moment?)

With the story behind Hidden Figures, we already know that Neil Armstrong helps America win the space race, and that he walked on the moon eight years later. What most of us didn’t know was that a group of black women — “Colored Computers” they were called — were largely responsible for getting him there. Told from their perspective, THIS period piece kept me, literally, on the edge of my seat through the film’s final act. Continue reading

Danny Glover on Board As L. A. Women’s Theatre Festival Races to Reach its ‘Kickstarter Goal’ in 4 More Days!!!

"Women. What would life be without them? Well ...there would be no life without them." Danny Glover LAWTF Honorary Co-Chairperson (Twitter photo)
“Women. What would life be without them? Well …there would be no life without them.”–Danny Glover, LAWTF Honorary Co-Chairperson (Twitter photo)

*(Hollywood) During this time of gratitude, the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival (LAWTF) thanks those who have contributed to their 2016-17 Kickstarter Campaign.

As they gear up for their 24th Annual Festival, “TAKING FLIGHT” they welcome 18 phenomenal women performers who will share their stories through dance, theatre, song, spoken word and laughter. Some of these performers will come from as far away as London and Israel to be a part of this magical event.

Presently, the festival has 34 backers and it has raised $4370.  They are $5630 away from their goal of $10,000 and they have until midnight January, 14th to accomplish this. 

It can be done!  It must be done! Otherwise, they stand to lose all of their contributions from those who have pledged thus far. 

If you have not become a backer yet, they hope you will do so today? Continue reading

Minnesota Braces for Arctic Blast After More Severe Winter Storms

winterJust a day after winter storms brought fresh ice and sleet to Minnesota, the state had to brace itself for arctic cold on Tuesday. The National Weather Service reported that a cold front moving down from Canada is what brought the frigid temperatures to the state.

In normal circumstances, a roof should be inspected once or twice annually, but these severe low temperatures combined with winter storms just may call for an extra inspection this season. Tuesday brought single-digit temperatures to the Twin Cities.

Strong winds at speeds of up to 35 MPH made it feel much colder than just single digits. The cold followed a night of freezing rain in parts of Southern Minnesota and many commuters were discouraged from driving as a result. Travel on Interstate 94 north wasn’t advised at all due to issues with black ice.

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Family Adds Baby To Transplant List at 10:15am. At 10:55am, A Match

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*One of my former in-laws used to talk about needing to know someone who knew how “to get a prayer through” to God.  After reading about the McCabe family of Chicago, you’ll agree that they’re on that list of folks!

Five-month old Daniel McCabe had been fighting a rare liver disorder since he was born.  Just before Christmas, things got so dire that doctors placed him on a waiting list for a new liver, and prepared the family for a wait of several weeks, if not months.  (The average wait for a liver is 86 days for kids and up to 149 days for adults.)

Paperwork was processed and little Daniel went on the donor request list at 10:15am one recent morning.  At 10:55am a doctor received word that a donor match had been identified and that Daniel’s new liver was on the way.

The infant had successful surgery the following evening and is now recuperating.

“I was just speechless,” mom Melody McCabe said.

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Family Blames FaceTime for Fatal Crash, Death of Five-Year Old

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*I’m filing this one in my new GMFB file:  Give Me (a) Break.  (I’ll let you fill in the “F” for yourself, just in case there are children in the room.) 

Five-year old Moriah Modisette was killed and her father was seriously injured when another driver, Garrett Willhelm slammed into their car at 65 mph on a Texas highway in 2014, according to her family.  Willhelm was chatting away on a FaceTime video chat at the time of the crash.  FaceTime was still running as rescue workers removed Moriah’s lifeless body and her dad from the demolished car.

Instead of holding Willhelm liable, the family has gone after Apple, according to Fortune.com, as it’s their FaceTime program that runs on their mobile platforms.  The family claims the company has failed to install a “lock out” feature on FaceTime, thereby preventing drivers from using the app while on the road.  The family’s lawsuit alleges that Apple was granted a patent to install the feature earlier in 2014, and the feature could have prevented the catastrophic crash. Continue reading

Free Events! Whose Stories? Who Tells Them? Series Begins January 19

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*The following events are presented in connection with the play Bee-luther-hatchee, which runs at Sierra Madre Playhouse from January 13 through February 18.

Whose Stories? Who Tells Them? Is a series of five panel discussions on Writers and Diversity, presented on five consecutive Thursday nights at 7:00 p.m., starting on January 19. The panels will be held at different venues (see below) and all events in the series will be free to the public.

Diane Siegel, Curator of Special Programs for Sierra Madre Playhouse, states, “The play Bee-luther-hatchee by Thomas Gibbons is a story of writers and writing, stories that deserve to be told, and the issue of who is best to tell them.  The play provokes discussion on race, identity, and the power of writing. Sierra Madre Playhouse is presenting these panels in the community to provide a broader stage for discussion of issues raised in Gibbons’ play.

Storytellers working across several genres including fiction writing, journalism, social media, drama and poetry will focus on the challenges of creating authentic voices and the danger of cultural appropriation. These issues reach beyond the theater and by holding these panels we hope to provide room for discussion that perhaps can lead to dialogue. We are at a unique time in history and discussion of these themes and the power of writing seems crucial to supporting civil discourse in a time of increasing polarization.” Continue reading

UW-Madison Stands By Their “Problem Of Whiteness” Course

Bucky Badger, with no fucks left to give.
(Black) Bucky Badger of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with no fucks left to give.

*I have never been prouder to be an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Starting next semester, students in Damon Sajnani’s class, “The Problem Of Whiteness,” will discuss the problems caused by white people.  The course’s published description is a hoot.

“Have you ever wondered what it really means to be white?” the description reads.  “If you’re like most people, the answer is probably ‘no.’  But here is your chance!  Critical Whiteness Studies aims to understand how whiteness is socially constructed and experienced in order to help dismantle white supremacy.”

The course explores how white people “consciously and unconsciously perpetuate institutional racism.”

Now hear me:  the University of Wisconsin-Madison is a public university.  Only 2% of their current student body identifies as African American and more than 75% are white.  (That, sadly, hasn’t changed in the decades since I was there.)  And they are hosting a class on the problems caused by white folks.  I love it.   Continue reading

A&E Plans To Premiere ‘Generation KKK’

Ku Klux Klan (KKK) meeting, South Carolina, 1951. © Heirs of W. Eugene Smith

*My #ThanksTrump hashtag is getting more and more use these days. I’m having fun on Twitter blaming Donald for everything from crowded parking lots at the mall this holiday season to global warming.

One thing we can legitimately thank the president-elect for — damn, it’s still hard to refer to him that way — is the rise in hate crimes and, generally, the emboldened nature of those who would rather divide than unify. One has to wonder whether this TV series would have received a green light by a major network during a calmer, gentler time.

Premiering January 10, the network will present “Generation KKK” as an eight-part documentary series. I’m referring to it colloquially as “The Anti-Roots.” Continue reading