Archives for the month of: May, 2010

My cousin, Keliher Walsh, and her husband, James Eckhouse are in this play. We are going June 6th matinee

Theater review: ‘Behind the Gates’ at Marilyn Monroe Theatre
May 21, 2010 | 6:30 am
An extraordinary monologue opens “Behind the Gates,” Wendy Graf’s passionate if soapy cautionary tale about religious extremism, now at the Lee Strasberg Creative Center.

Pierced rebel Bethany (Annika Marks) stomps on stage, furious at her privileged parents (Keliher Walsh and James Eckhouse), who send her to Israel to shape up. As the teenager recounts her growing fascination with Jerusalem’s ancient ways, Bethany begins to shed her jeans and Goth style, gradually donning the clothes of an Orthodox woman — a powerful conversion sequence.

Approached by an ostensibly sympathetic rabbi (Oren Rehany), Bethany is drawn into the secretive world of the Haredi sect, which enforces public segregation of the sexes and extreme modesty. Her desperate parents come looking for her, only to find themselves in a labyrinth of languages, beliefs and exile.

Played out on Stephanie Kerley Schwartz’s set of stone columns and sheer curtains, David Gautreaux’s staging has a minimalist elegance occasionally at odds with the style of the play, which mixes the tropes of a Lifetime movie with journalistic clarity. What ultimately resonates in this Hatikva Productions drama is the fierce hunger of an adoptee searching for her true home.

– Charlotte Stoudt

“Behind the Gates” Marilyn Monroe Theatre at the Lee Strasberg Creative Center, 7936 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Ends July 3. $25. Contact: (323) 960-5772 or http://www.Plays411.com/Gates Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes.

Images: Keliher Walsh, left, Annika Marks and James Eckhouse. Photo credit Ed Krieger.

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The Man From Saigon The Man From Saigon by Marti Leimbach

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Incredibly well written, gripping, mesmerizing, literary, fantastic; i guess that means I liked the book. Superb writing, difficult subject, and wonderful point of view – woman journalist is protagonist. At any rate a friend in book club recommended it, and we are glad she did. We fell in love with the book!

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A Thread of Sky A Thread of Sky by Deanna Fei

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Lovely, lovely writing; References Alzheimer’s as “brain plaques and fibrillary tangles,” “strands caught in knots.” Her style is wonderfully literary, yet compelling about sisters, mother, and grandmother’s return to China for a trip; and relationships and lives so differently lived. Philosophical observations keenly observed, choices of women, foward pull and backward pull, one’s place within the generations and the society. Wonderful read.

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One Good Dog One Good Dog by Susan Wilson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A page turner regarding dog and man; the dearness of it, the struggle, and good for me to read of a pit bull in friendly terms. wonderful read!

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Wow, what a weekend. Saturday went to a Cluster Reflection Meeting in Altadena, held in the loveliest of homes; very user friendly to large crowds. Great people, great conversation, basically we Baha’is encourage each other to contribute to humanity’s well being; and that plays out into children’s classes, devotionals, etc. We don’t do this to “make Baha’is,” but just to contribute to the ongoing advancement of the society and the individual, which includes us totally.

Devotionals are usually with lots of writings from other Faith Traditions, music, and then conversation about concepts. we had so many diverse points of view last night at a friends and the food then was luscious. different people who didn’t know each other found they had a lot in common. It was sort of a 6 degrees of separation type of thing.

Today we heard Judge Dorothy Nelson come and give a report; she was our delegate to the Baha’i National Convention. again, such an atmosphere of love and knowledge in the room. Wonderful. Also had great book club meeting; we discussed The Man From Saigon and I can’t remember author’s name. The writing was superb! We all brought something to eat, had brunch, tremendous conversation and divergent views about the book. Everyone liked it; but our points of view naturally differ because of our different lifestyles.

I don’t have a lot to say, but think despite all the heaviness in the world, and the utter crippling acts of some, there are many hearts and souls who work for the well-being of humanity, from all ranks, religions, traditions, and this weekend, there was evidence of this. We truly are one! Have a good week everyone!

My friend Pili Pili Saka who is on my blog roll is prolific. There’s a sort of cool breeze to his thoughts, his prose, and I find myself admiring his mind a great deal. He wrote about Salvation, and I had been at a discussion regarding that same term last night; not the literal, cause hackles on the neck arise, type of discussion, and then he discussed north and south, and in this case Africa, calling to my mind the different young authors of incredible talent I have written, one of whom wrote about Biafra – north and south, and then finally the tennis balls Pili Pili speaks of call to mind a piece I wrote after my twin’s passing. So I offer it here:

Lobbing
wimbledon plays, bop, pop, british accents
i sorrow for a twinging tooth
wimbledon plays, bop, pop, british accents
a back tooth like an old couch waiting for Goodwill

sorrow was two weeks ago standing in front of
my twin’s coffin, she in her blue bridal dress of old
me, alive, sorrowing for the little girl on a tricycle
sorrowing for her life of dripping Rorschach ink

wimbledon plays, bop, pop, british accents
sorrow has gone up like a balloon on a helium sortie
wimbledon plays, bop, pop, british accents
thwatting away epic events tumbling through and around
the people on the earth’s stage

order, thwats, pops, bops, all metronome-like
in their reassurance, the steadied beat of routine
comfort, sorrow, joy, laughter, anger, all runs together
wimbledon plays, bop, pop, british accents

Dear Blog Reader,

I tend to publish items about pug dogs, writing classes, stuff I’ve written, other writers, and always quips of book reviews sneak in every now and then. Last year I found my blog had themes of spirituality and pugs, and the pugs were edging ahead. It may very well be this year, thoughts from Baha’i individuals, institutions, artists, and whomever may appear more on these pages.

the world is complex to say the least, and yet a lot of people say about the Baha’is, “They’re always so happy,” and yes, when we get together, there’s a collective joy and renewal from being with friends, like-minded people, community builders from the greater community.

I became a Baha’i about 45 years ago, and outwardly I looked like an airline stewardess and was probably a little lippy too. Underneath tho, I was scared, ruled by underlying anxieties. Transformation came slowly, some patches in my life were incredibly arduous, and I bless every moment. I am at the point where my favorite quote from the Baha’i Writings is, “Nothing save that which profiteth them shall befall My loved ones.” I believe that quote applies to all of humanity, and that we’ve finally achieved the status in the world of a toe step into the circle of Coming of Age. With that in mind, I’d like to humbly offer a paragraph quoted from our recent letter To the Baha’is of the Word, from our international governing body, The Universal House of Justice. It concerns all of us. The message really addresses all of humanity:

“Baha’u’llah’s Revelation is vast. It calls for profound change not only
at the level of the individual but also in the structure of society. “Is not
the object of every Revelation”, He Himself proclaims, “to effect a
transformation in the whole character of mankind, a transformation that shall
manifest itself, both outwardly and inwardly, that shall affect both its inner
life and external conditions?” The work advancing in every corner of the globe
today represents the latest stage of the ongoing Baha’i endeavour to create the
nucleus of the glorious civilization enshrined in His teachings, the building
of which is an enterprise of infinite complexity and scale, one that will
demand centuries of exertion by humanity to bring to fruition. There are no
shortcuts, no formulas. Only as effort is made to draw on insights from His
Revelation, to tap into the accumulating knowledge of the human race, to apply
His teachings intelligently to the life of humanity, and to consult on the
questions that arise will the necessary learning occur and capacity be
developed.”

Stay wonderful…..esther

 

The sky I was born under indicated the Angels were planning a Rumble.  This is, of course, if you were to ask our housekeeper Rita, who when we had thunderstorms, told us “The angels are moving furniture.”

My twin and I were born August 28, 1938, and she was robust and I was more squirrel like.  But, I’ve nattered on about that before.  What threatened in the future for my father and mother and the neighborhood of West Roxbury’s small houses where Protestants and Catholics shared the streets of Oriole, Wren, and gossiped about Tarzan the man who swung naked through the trees at the very top of Wren Street, near the water tower.

We were born, entered a family already a bit intense, my brother, then my sister within the next year, and then the next year, Liz and I.  I think I fattened up, a phrase one would only welcome in our narcissistic world when one is a baby and four pounds at that.  After 7, years and pounds, consciousness enters slowly.

I probably got home, and cuddled up to my chubby twin, and the Great Hurricane of 1938 struck and smashed and just in general had the biggest weather hissy this generation of neighborhood dwellers had experienced.  Electricity was out.  People washed clothes with washers and wringers, and hung diapers out on a clothesline.  Making formula was highly more complicated and I think they went thru at lest 180 diapers a week.  Gives “doing a load of washing, “new heroic tones.

Well, in the meantime, my father who graduated from Harvard in economics was out of work, and within six months after the 1938 War of the Winds and Howling Furniture, shadows of illness struck us, the twins, the babies, and we came down with whooping cough, a serious disease in babies.  Children’s Hospital would foot the bill and get us better, and my father was always eternally grateful.

A year later, well a month and a year later, World War II started by Nazi invasions and this would lead to a seriousness of tone, a heaviness, and eventually to our peeing in the dark because of blackout curtains, our jumping on cans to flatten them, my mom smoking my father’s pipe after closing the drapes so the neighbors couldn’t see, and then Pearl Harbor Day where my mom thought my Uncle Tom had died.  He had been transferred from one sub to another, and since he was in charge, he scooted his sub out to the middle of the ocean and stayed out, thus my mother’s grief was short.  It was a complicated time, a time of innocence, slogans, and unawareness, particularly regarding race and religion.

I would grow up to the sounds of clashing pan tops when Roosevelt died; what can I say — we were the only insensitive Republicans in the neighborhood. 

I remember no sounds when Miss Flaherty swept between the school desks in third grade and shook me and shook me because I didn’t know 8 x 7 – which now gentle reader, I will tell you is 56.  I remember the sound of Liz crying in 4th grade; okay, okay, we were late bloomers, when the principal came into the classroom and said, “How many people still believe in Santa Clause? And Liz and I were the 2 who raised their hands, and he stilettoed that belief to pieces on a schoolroom floor.

I remember the sounds of my mother’s feet lurching down the stairs announcing, “They’ve electrocuted the Rosenberg’s,” and she was crying, and then the sounds of Chopin, her favorite composer, and his compositions and her hitting the piano keys with an alcoholic force in the middle of the night.

These are some images that shaped our lives.  When we lived in Dnepropetrovsk in 1990, I felt as if we had traveled back in time, to the 40s and some of the sounds and sights seemed familiar.  To Bill it was the bluing of laundry and stiff sheets starched and ironed, the beating of rugs flung over clotheslines and being whopped every Saturday.

I like sounds and memories.

  • The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this:
    >
    > A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him … a
    > touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy
    > is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is
    > death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering
    > necessity to create, create, create — so that without the creating
    > of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his
    > very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out
    > creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really
    > alive unless he is creating. ~ Pearl S. Buck, novelist, Nobel
    > laureate (1892-1973)

 

When I was a young girl, I discovered Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth, and then I went on to read all of her books.  Since an early age, I read everything an author says.  Last week or so her name came up, and I forget the context, but I discovered Anchee Min’s latest book is about Pearl – a fiction book.  Some critics say not as good as Anchee Min’s previous books which are cliffhangers, but anything she writes I read, and I was so glad to.  It sounded so accurate.

At any rate, I think Pearl Buck probably changed or added immensely to my life as I think we are hungry for other lives, insights, and in essence, we feel as if we are that person – oneness through literature.

A few years ago, a friend said in an email, “This is you,” and then the above quote was imbedded in my email.  I felt an immense relief.  I am in the last chapters with much creativity and contributions ahead, but I remember my younger days of emotional pain, of therapy, tests, struggles, now knowing who I really was.

I think we all go through that forming journey; the who am I, and in our later years, we are answered, and think, “aah that’s it.”  At any rate, I used to cringe that I was so sensitive.  I wished I simply could not feel as much.  People talked about getting in touch with their feelings, and I was trying to stifle them; they were too much.

Still time and writing, and a spiritual path, mine being the Baha’i Faith, where I firmly believe we walk the mystical path with practical feet, a path which has carved me out in order that love for others may fill me, a path of constant change.  I no longer experience that twisting pain of feeling as if inwardly I felt my heart was a bruised peach pit; I have gained insights, clarity, a voice, more laughter, and it’s all a dance in one way.  Still I cannot tell you how solaced and how solaced I still am by this quote of Pearl Buck’s.  It gives relief to the DNA which is standing still thinking will epigenetics reveals its stamp.  Luckily it has, but I know so little.

It’s exciting to have experienced a lot, learned a lot, and still always on the edge of knowing and learning; I sense epigenetics is one of my next themes.

I discovered  this wonderful young lady by trotting thru Facebook today, and a friend had posted her site:

http://www.kickstarter.com/e/fjl0c/projects/brina/reggae-singer-brina-needs-to-mix-and-release-her-d

All I can say, is try it, you’ll like it, and I hope she makes her deadline!

Reader, I am prompts person this week for CHPercolator for Writers and I must admit they were a little odd, gave me pause, so here’s what i wrote to my own prompts (using all of them) go to Yahoo’s CHPercolatorforWriters:
But I don’t think of blood. I thought this was the German blog and that CHPerc
was for Maxwell House devotees reunions. I had a difficult relationship with my
blood when I first got my sainted St. Jude Plastic Heart Valve. But now,
because I did a quick intake of breath on my first conscious awareness of a
foreign object ticking noticeably in my heart area in 1995, and with that breath
said, “Welcome. If you weren’t there as a full fledged aortic valve, I shudder
to think in what condition I might be.

For instance, I’m happy now to know my innards carry a never ending series of
light rail cars or trains, and that besides my inner mind’s landscape which has
traffic jams and nettling long lights, my physiological system is up and
running. Toot. Toot, Not only like a train system, maybe it’s like a river.
Now there’s a river, and I see ,,,,, oh bollocks, off track again.

Well the big thing in my young life is imagining my brain as three sloppy scoops
of ice cream. I mean I think they’d be on a cone, not a flaky little square
think that looks like it got manufactured at the dollar store, no my cone would
be like an urn, large and wide at the top; with flaky waffle imprints all around
it, down to its pointy, pointy bottom. The NPR guy said “3 scoops of ice cream
cone,” and that you could think of these scoops as your brain.

Does this mean my brain drips, sags, spills, stains? What I do know is I could
make them different flavors. Frog could be solid chocolate, firm, foundational,
and the middle scoop Reptile could be Praline and Vanilla, sort of twisty, the
praline would gently touch the top one Squirrel which would be plain Vanilla
with chocolate chips, stored by Squirrel, ever conscious that it doesn’t always
live in Pasadena and it must plan and save ahead.

Finally, the something or other bellum surrounds this cone of magnificent
splendor. I’d name my ice creams, not Frog, Reptile, or Squirrel, but imagine
them as pet names, like Stinky, Inky and Winky, or Sluggo at the bottom, Nancy
in between, and Ferret on the top.

All of which makes me wonder about the abandoned tunnels of my mind, nothing but
loose cabooses of railway cars shooting through, not stopping. Oh dear.

When I was much younger, I used to shuffle along the streets of Boston, scuffing autumn leaves, keeping my trench coat, wrapped tight around my west, and my head was always bent towards the ground.  Years later, I saw the film Housekeeping, I think, based on Marilyn Robinson’s novel which was excellent.  The characters, two sisters, walked the same way.  One chose life and growth and staying in a town after their mother committed suicide, and the other chose traveling with her aunt, hopping trains, vagabonding, in an era, when you could still get away with it.  Did I mention, they both walked with their heads down.

When we lived in Ukraine and Belarus, my head bent down, and a hump emerged right below my neck because we carried so many heavy things.  The Russian way of carrying heavy stuff, is one person on the left carries on handle, and the person on the right, carries that handle.  We schlepped to railway stations, busways, trolley cars.  There’s a joke that on Women’s Day, which is highly observed and beautiful (the streets are filled with people carrying all colors of tulips), on Women’s Day women get to keep one hand and arm free and only have to walk carrying stuff with that arm.  We would roar with laughter when we heard that.

Jokes were funny there.  Someone sitting around a small kitchen with you, having some chai (tea) would point to a poster on the wall of glossy fruit, bananas and particularly red apples, and say in a deadpan voice, “We have food in our museums and in our posters,” but not in real life.  In real life we have cockroaches.”  And we would yuck and slap our knees and then I the table. 

Look up is something I think of when a very wise man said, “If things are going contrary to what you wanted, don’t worry.  Keep your eye on the horizon,” and things will get better.    At least that’s my hope. 

Today at the end of the day, i hadn’t taken my more demand walk, so I threw my backpack on and toddled down the street towards Ten Thousand Villages and bought a mother’s day gift for Jessica’s mom. Then I walked out the door and saw Laura was there.  We hugged and chatted and then i walked.