“The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Today I am grateful for “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”, a play being performed by stellar actors at Actors Net, The Heritage Center Theater, 630 N. Delaware Avenue, Morrisville, PA  19067.  Phone 215-295-3694 or email actorsnet@aol.com for tickets.  There, I got that out of the way!  I had to get it all upfront because THIS is a show you don’t want to miss.

 

A friend of mine was part of the ensemble and another friend and co-founder of the theater, directed it.  Wow.  Just wow.  The last play I saw at a different theater, suffered from a lack of direction.  I can’t say that about this one.  Joe Doyle, the director, is a pro.  Every detail, every nuance, every necessary movement was well-timed and perfectly orchestrated.

 

The script is written with the first act laying a lot of groundwork.  The actors would do well to be sure their voices are warmed up so that every word is heard.  I had no trouble hearing them most of the time, but Himself, who wears hearing aids and admits to being spoiled by subtitles on TV and in the movies, had a difficult time.  That’s it.  That’s the only slight criticism I have for the entire show.

 

When I go to the theater, any live theater, I’m a stickler for the total package.   I don’t want rock music playing in the lobby when a period piece is being done on stage.  I don’t want costumes that look like they were purchased at the thrift store without any adjustments.  I don’t want the set to only hint at time period or theme.  I don’t want actors who are hesitant to go the distance, whether in a love scene or a conflict laced, tense, scene.  I want it all.  From the lobby/intermission music/sound; to the brilliantly designed costumes; to the perfect set; to the terrific acting; and the more than impressive directing, I got it all in this production.

 

When I asked my actor friend, who has been the lead in many productions if he was the star he said, “No, this is an ensemble piece.”  Humble.  But also true.  I am not singling out any particular actors because each was fantastic in their own right.  It was the assemblage of them reacting and interacting that made this play so special.  Acting without obvious effort is the best.  I forgot they were acting.  All of them.

 

Never mind that I might have nightmares from the most ominous of the characters. . .this show was worth it and then some.  If it is at all possible for you to attend, you better hurry and get your tickets because you only have one weekend left before “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” closes.   Check out the rest of their season at www.actorsnetbucks.org.

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Peaceful Places

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Today I am grateful for peaceful places.  We had a fantastic day today, driving to Morrisville, PA to see a wonderful play at our friends theater, Actors Net of Bucks County.  (More on that tomorrow)

 

Because we never know how bad traffic will be, we always allow a lot of time to get there, often two hours.  We got there in 50 minutes so to kill some time we drove along the Delaware again, this time much farther south than where we fished the other day and where this picture was taken.

 

We found a parking area, got out of the car and walked around a little, checking out the kayakers, the low level on the river and those fishing.  No one was catching anything and rocks are showing on the surface of the water a lot farther from shore than I would have expected.

 

As we sat in the blissfully cool breeze off the river, sunning ourselves on a large flat rock, a kayaker tore across the river.  When he got to our side he asked a man nearby for help pulling him up.  The current was so strong that he had made several attempts to bank the thing, but failed.  He chatted with us later.  Great conversation.  What is it about being near water that is so incredibly peaceful?  And what is it that makes people who are near water so friendly?

 

I’m sure I don’t know.  I’m just happy that the water makes me peaceful and so does good conversation. . .even if it’s with a stranger.  I needed both today and so did Himself.

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Mickey Mouse – Guest Columnist

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Today I am grateful. . .again. . .for my guest columnist, my mom, June Jens.  Posting her stories is either creating a monster, or giving her purpose.  I hope it’s the later.  I always promise not to edit her pieces, but for clarification sake, you should know that when she was a kid, my mom’s father owned a string of movie theaters.  Back in the day, before TV, when entertainment was not on every phone, that made knowing her a hot ticket. The picture is from my nieces shower.  Oh the ways we’ve tortured that poor old woman!  And she loves it!

 

From June:

Ok – Listen up – and pay attention – the old broad is back!

 

Recently I had an interesting chat with my grandson-in-law.  He told me that Mickey Mouse was born in 1931.  I did not know that.  Well, he was “born” in 1931 and his erstwhile father was Walt Disney.

 

He was – and remains a great little money maker.  Indeed he helped the movie industry pull through the depression.  Mickey has been with us for what seems like an eternity.  Think about it, what other celebrity – real or imagined has endured like he has.

 

When I was you, it was my job to chase the mice out of the orchestra pit with a broom.   Hm – do you think one of them was Mickey?  Maybe making a new cartoon?  Well, maybe.

 

During the 30’s my father took a trip to California and visited the movie industry.  He received a picture of Mickey Mouse sitting at the piano – with Minnie on top.  It is a personally autographed picture by Walt Disney.  I know it’s not a copy – because Walt Disney misspelled our last name.  Do you have any idea how much that picture is worth??

 

Mickey is part of your heritage as a &S citizen!  Maybe I’ll contact that grumpy cat, Garfield.  He could invite Mickey over for a lunch of lasagna and maybe a chunk of cheese.

 

Whoops!  Maybe that’s not the best idea.

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Dan May

Friday, September 23, 2016

Today I am grateful for Dan May.  He became a friend on Facebook a few years ago and his picture was in my local paper, The Reporter, today, touting his next gig and book.  Wonderful!  An article that surprises me in a positive, good way!

 

Dan was friends with a mutual friend of ours and that man enjoyed his writing and also enjoyed my writing.  He said, “You have GOT to follow Dan May!  He writes heartfelt nostalgia pieces laced with tons of humor, just like you do.”

 

Ever the skeptic, it wasn’t until my friends son, who plays bass in Dan’s band, insisted we would hit it off, that I sent a friend request.  My guess is that Dan was getting pressure on his end, too, because he immediately accepted and we have been friends ever since.

 

Notice that I did not put friends in quotes?  That’s because I consider Dan a friend, friend, not just a Facebook friend, although they are special, too.  In a private message chat one day, we were both remarking about how connected we felt to each other, yet we’d never met.

 

Oh boy, I can feel you all bristling out there. . . “She’s not going to hook up with some strange man, is she? What about her husband?  Is she crazy?”  Well let’s just let that last one go and address the others.  Of course, I’m going to meet a strange man. . .at a musical jamboree to which he invited me and MY husband, where  we met HIS lovely wife, great son and daughter-in-law and their funky, free spirited son and Dan’s grandson.

 

See, here’s the deal.  I like how Dan writes, but more than that, I like what he writes about.  And most especially, top of the list, I love when he writes about how much he loves his wife, son and purple haired (last time I saw him, but who knows by now) grandson.  He is not afraid to show who he is or where he comes from.  He is a free spirit, who encourages other free spirits and he does it with the heart of a big old softy.  His mom and dad and even his silly bulldog, Coop, are presented in ways that make me feel like they are my parents and silly dog, too.  (Dan, don’t read this to Coop.  I don’t want to get letters signed in paw prints or drool.)

 

If you look up the word “character” in the dictionary, Dan May’s picture is next to it.  So much so, that when he posts something, then later re-reads it and notices he might have come off harsh or unkind to a group of people, he corrects himself and  apologizes.  Yes, really.  You don’t find that every day.  That’s called character!

 

Born in Sandusky, Ohio, he travels back frequently, never forgetting his roots in his songs or writing.  But the following for his music. . .and now his book. . .is going to be much more far reaching than the Midwest and the East Coast.  Yet that connection is just one more thing we have in common.

 

I’m glad that we’ve already seen a show where he read excerpts from his book and performs with his band and I have to tell you, it was great!  His musicians play so many different instruments, with such skill, that it was like watching a bunch of Inspector Gadgets. . .playing in a band!  But if you’re lucky. . .and he’s paying attention. . .he will give his wonderful band a break and do several numbers (not just one) with only him and the piano.  That number was my favorite!  Brilliant!  Simple, honest.  True lyrics, with each word telling a great story and no razzle-dazzle.

 

If people want to compare my writing to Dan May’s, go ahead.  I’m honored!  I hope he is, too.  He will probably think this piece is a bit much. . .painting him a little bigger and brighter than he is comfortable with. . .than the way he sees himself.  But he’d be wrong and I’ll be the first to tell him.  So there!

 

Don’t miss Dan May’s show, “Heartland” (CD available @ http://www.danmaycd.com) on September 30th, at Kennett Flash.   Oh, and bring a pie.  I’m not kidding.  He is slut for pie!   Then treat yourself and buy his book, “Adventures in Grocery Shopping”. Now!  Go!  I hope someone smarter than me posts the links for both.  Trust me.  You won’t be sorry.  I promise.

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Spontaneous Days

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Today I am grateful for spontaneous days.  His golf plans fell through today, so when I got back from the pool I suggested we take our lunch to the Delaware River where he could fish and I could ponder.  In fifteen minutes we were in the car.

 

We got home at 8:15 p.m. but not because the fishing was fantastic.  On a whim I texted our oldest granddaughter who lives about 15 minutes from where we were, just on the outside chance that a 17 year old would not have plans, have to work, have too much homework, or come up with a lame excuse to not see Grandma and Grandpa just because.

 

All the stars aligned and we hooked up with her and her other sister outside of the Crayola Factory in Easton.  After an hour spent helping some poor Russian man try to find a bus to New Jersey, we decided on dinner in a marketplace that Anja had been trying to visit but it was always closed.  One of Anja’s friends was the entertainment.  Cool.

 

I got to hear “Senior” talk about the yearbook project; who’s who on this one and that one; who is no longer a friend and why; who misjudged her and now loves her; the process of college; senior lunch off the school campus; girl “friends” versus boy “friends”; and on and on and on.  What fun!

 

But the best, the absolute best, is the quick timing and sharp witted come-backs this young woman uses with her grandpa.  Just the right amount of love and sass.  I wanted to take a picture of them.  Anja snaps into full pose in a half of a nano-second.  Takes after her grandma.  Himself, not so much.

 

“Grandpa,” she says.  “Let’s put our hands under our chins.”  He does nothing.  “Grandpa!”  He looks at her.  “Were putting our hands under our chins for the picture.”  She demonstrates.  He says, “Looks good.”  By now I’m rolling on the bricks laughing hysterically.  “Grandpa!!!”  In his defense the hearing aids were picking up all of the street noise but not her voice.  Haha!  “Grandpa!!!  Pay attention!  Focus!  Look at me!  Put – Your – Hand – Under –Your  – Chin – Like – This!”

 

“Oh,” he says.  “Why didn’t you say so!”  Gotta love spontaneous days . . . and moments.  They are simply the best.

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Good Engineering

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Today I am grateful for good engineering.  Hang on.  I’ll get to the point.  After the exhausting exercise class at the Y this morning, and the unusually  ridiculous and hilarious coffee/tea conversation, and rushing home to have lunch so I could get to my haircut appointment by 12:30, then rushing home to give Himself a haircut, then getting in the shower because I hate that itchy haircut feeling, and then prepping the veggies and meat for dinner later. . .I sat down to see if more of the new play would regurgitate from me.  It did.  For hours.  I have another full scene.  Snoopy happy dance here!

 

You blog lovers are getting a bit of a short shrift again today and while I’d like to apologize for that, I can’t, because I’m having so damned much fun writing the play. It’s like being six years old in the sandbox and all of the toys are mine and all of my friends know it!  And I can’t wait to share.  But not yet.

 

But I do love posting on the blog and I’ve especially loved sharing our one great day at the Kimmel Center in Philly.  These are the last of the pics from the center and probably the single detail that amazed me the most.  Each seat has its own heating and/or air conditioning system.  Seriously.  I was so impressed by this that I can’t wait to get back in October and feel how it works.  I’ll probably sweat to death.  Or freeze.

 

Maybe they should have individual thermostats, too.  HAHAHAHA!  Can you imagine what chaos that would be?  “Your chair is blowing cold!”  “No, your chair is too hot!”  Turn it up, turn it down. . .just like home.  Don’t you just love good engineering?

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Beauty

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Today I am grateful for beauty.  Wow!  Big one.  Beauty is so subjective and the term can be used for many different things. . .and people.  But for my purposes, it’s the beauty of design in the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia.

 

We started to take a backstage tour, but quit after about 10 minutes because the crowd was huge and the tour guide so timid that we could not hear one word.  One of my favorite pictures was too blurry to use.  It was of a bunch of formal shoes balancing on a high pipe.  Why?  No clue, but it was cool.

 

After seeing the amazing performance space with the huge organ pipes, we took a load off in a great sitting area near where we ended the tour.  As I was swallowed by the huge couch a man came along and explained the large painting on the wall behind me.  He told me that the Philadelphia orchestra used to be so large that there were musicians seated in the wings during a performance.

 

He loved explaining the painting and was a true fan of the arts, yet not at all connected to the center.  I love moments like that, when a total stranger just wants to share their passion.  That’s the cool thing about beauty.  You can start out writing about design and end by writing about a person and both are equally beautiful.

 

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