January, 2015 – Let’s Be Honest Here…

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Cultural Corner

Let’s Be Honest Here…

(The emperor is stark naked!)

By

Lori Hope Baumel

Emp New Clothes Stamp

German Stamp: The Emperor’s New Clothes by H.C. Anderson                         Photo: Wikimedia Commons

“The Emperor’s New Clothes” is a short tale by Hans Christian Andersen about two weavers who promise an Emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, a child cries out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”

– Wikipedia: “The Emperor’s New Clothes”

As we embark upon the new year, it is important to recognize that we must be selective when it comes to how we spend our free time. Spare time does not come easily these days. Obligations to our workplace, family and our own personal well being require most of our waking hours. When we choose to enjoy a particular form of entertainment, hopefully it is worth the time and/or money spent on the activity.

For example, last November, my husband and I traveled to New York City. In most cases I rely on reviews and word of mouth regarding show tickets I purchase in advance. I am usually pleased with the result. This time I did not abide by my traditional formula. Prior to the trip, I purchased two rather expensive tickets to see A Delicate Balance while still in previews on Broadway. My reasoning was “What could be bad? It’s a revival of a Pulitzer Prize winning play. The cast includes Glen Close, John Lithgow, Bob Balaban, Lindsay Duncan and Martha Plimpton… how can we go wrong?” Well WRONG I was! The show was stilted, poorly directed and tiring. Yes, I can still say that I saw a spectacular cast. But, that statement was not worth the price of those tickets. In retrospect, I should have waited for the reviews. Luckily, I saw a few more excellent Broadway shows that week as well.

Another great disappointment was the recent broadcast of “Peter Pan Live!” on NBC. I have fond memories of watching the 1965 broadcast (and re-broadcast) starring the late Mary Martin. In addition, my children repeatedly watched a tape of it when they were tykes. Over time, we all memorized every aspect of the musical. In truth, Mary Martin performed it hundreds of times in front of a live audience prior to the ’65 broadcast. Therefore, she was comfortable with the show and it seemed second nature to her. Unfortunately, the modern broadcast’s lead players, Allison Williams and Christopher Walken, who are known for stellar performances in both pre-recorded television and film, appeared awkward, stiff and unprepared. The lack of a studio audience further muted their act. The only lead talent that seemed comfortable with the concept of the live broadcast was stage veterans Kelli O’Hara and Christian Borle (as Mr. and Mrs. Darling). This, as in A Delicate Balance, does not in any way reflect the capabilities of the lead performers in other media platforms. I’m a staunch Christopher Walken fan and Allison Williams is terrific in the HBO series Girls.

In other words, the emperor was stark naked. So let’s say it… both A Delicate Balance and Peter Pan were simply bad! In conclusion, as part of your New Year’s resolution, I urge you to be honest with yourself. Be selective with how you spend your hours (and in many cases – your money)! Most of my adult life I have advocated for the enjoyment of the arts. Therefore, I suggest that you read qualified reviews, talk to your friends who have similar taste and do your research. Whether it be live theater, television or film – be discretionary. It is an investment of your time that is well worth the effort.

Still, I urge you to…

Live… Go… Do!

 

Top Five – January 2015

(Based on top-notch reviewers and resources)

 

1) Film:

Oscar season rolls around next month. I would highly recommend the following films prior to viewing the broadcast:

Into The Woods

The Theory of Everything

Boyhood

 

For more information see The American Film Institute’s (AFI) nominees for the top films of 2014 at:

http://blog.afi.com/and-the-honorees-are/

 

2) Television:

 

After you take down the Christmas lights and settle back into the 2015 TV season, be sure to catch up on past episodes of outstanding shows. Some of the 2014 honorees deemed by AFI’s jury to be culturally and artistically representative of the year’s most significant achievements are:

 

The Knick
Mad Men
Orange is the New Black
Silicon Valley

Transparent

 

For a more in-depth list go to:

http://blog.afi.com/and-the-honorees-are/

 

3) Radio:

 

National Public Radio has been as staple in my adult life as long as I can remember. Fortunately for us, the best of their weekly broadcasts are now available as free podcasts. I would highly recommend you try out a podcast of any of the following shows:

 

Fresh Air (with Terri Gross)

This American Life

Says You

“Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me”

A Prairie Home Companion

 

For more information and shows go to:

www.npr.org

Scroll down the list of programs. You’re sure to find a topic of interest.

 

 

4) Music:

 

NPR announced its list of the Top Ten Breakout Artists of 2014. You are sure to find some extraordinary talent amongst them. The artists’ videos are wonderful! Also included are stories and podcasts about each artist. There’s bound to be something on this site that will open up your mind to new music and expand your horizons.

 

Sample some of this exciting new (and not necessarily mainstream pop) music at:

http://www.npr.org/2014/12/15/370178575/public-radios-10-breakout-artists-of-2014

 

5) Books:

 

As you all know by now, I’m an avid fan of Audible.com. But, if it’s a good old-fashioned book with actual paper pages or an e-book you’re in the mood for then check the New York Times bestseller list at:

 

http://www.nytimes.com/best-sellers-books/overview.html

***

Lori Hope Baumel and her husband Eric live in Wellington and have three children.

Lori Baumel

Their eldest, Sam, 27, is a media producer and conceptual artist who currently resides in (extremely hipster) Brooklyn, NY. Her younger children, Evan and Rachel, wrote the Around Wellington “Teen Talk” column in previous years. Rachel, 24, lives and works in Boston, MA and Evan, 21, is a senior at American University in Washington DC. Eric has practiced radiology in Wellington since 1991. His many talents include artist, cook, photographer and, recently, medical app developer. You can learn more about Lori at www.loribaumel.com or read her blog:www.grownupcamp.tumblr.com

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