Moments of escape can be moments of clarity!

"Oh, had I but followed the Arts"-William Shakespeare

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bits & Bobs Rachel Dupree & A fiddler

I know it's been a bit but I have finally been able to carve out some time to put thoughts together on books, music & career happenings.
Rehearsals are in full swing for the upcoming Maine Playwrights Festival. It's been a while since I've had the time for the huge commitment that Theater asks of you, but this is a one act play so it's been great to be able to fit that into my schedule. I'm struggling to get some song writing done, a lot of snippets of unfinished thoughts floating around on scraps of paper.
School is going well, but doing extra work to conquer my nemesis, reading fingerspelling.

I have managed to finish two books, but will only review one on this entry and save the other for a later blog. The book I'm reviewing is called "The personal History of Rachel Dupree" by Ann Weisgarber.  After the disappointment for me of "The Help" I almost swore off reading any book about Black people, written by White people, which tend to be self indulgent Great White Hope stories in disguise.
I decided I wouldn't paint with such a broad brush. While perusing a local book store (which I tend to do a lot, even though I tell myself to refrain from bringing home more books!) "The personal History..." caught my eye, I read the back cover and was intrigued,then had that moment of "Oh, crap, who wrote it?" I quickly turned to the  "About the Author" page and saw the picture of the very white Ann Weisgarber. I admit I had a moment of wanting to drop the book and move on, but I thought about my broad brush promise and decided to turn a blind eye and give this book a try.
"The Personal History..." is the story of Rachel Dupree who works as a cook in a boarding house in Chicago in the late 1800's. She meets and later marries Isaac, a former Buffalo soldier who is intent on making a life for himself as a Homesteader in the Badlands of South Dakota. This is a little known chapter in American history. It was a well written story about a woman taking on the challenge of carving a life out of the unforgiving landscape of the Badlands. It was full of vivid and rich texts. The Author also delved into the complicated, many faceted relationship between Native-Americans and African-Americans. They were slaves, friends, enemies, allies, and family. A relationship that remains uneasy and hard to define even today.

"The History..." was an amazing read. The ending wasn't to my liking, but that doesn't detract from the overall story, it was chock full of excitement and the deep personal history of an American family of the 1900's.

Now onto what's on my MP3 player. This week it's been Donny Parenteau an Aboriginal country music singer and a hell of a fiddle player. His latest CD "To whom it may Concern" is a cornucopia of toe tapping music, worthy of his nomination for "Aboriginal Recording of the year" I have placed my vote. Enjoy!!

Friday, March 9, 2012

"Do the thing we fear, and death of fear is certain"

My Reel of the week  is 1968's "Rachel, Rachel", starring Joanne Woodward in the title role. Rachel is 35 years old., and she has never been in a relationship. She is a school teacher living in a small town, her life is predictable, contained and claustrophobic. She still lives in the home she grew up in. Taking care of her smothering, slightly hypochondriac mother after the death of her father, the towns funeral director.
Rachel slowly comes to realize that she has been sleepwalking through her life. The fear of the unknown, paralyzes her as much as the fear of opening herself up emotionally. Rachel is afraid of everything, her emotions, her sexuality, her past, and her future. Estelle Parsons is gives a touching performance as Rachel's friend and fellow teacher Calla, who finds her own way of navigating through her own fears.
"Rachel, Rachel" is a kind of backwards coming of age film, a subtle, moving study of human drama. Directed warmly and intelligently by Joanne's husband , Paul Newman. The only explosions are emotional. A thoroughly satisfying movie!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Bits & Bobs

New month, new goings on. In my head it's Spring and that's a great place to be. I have returned from Winter Break refreshed (not really)  I've got a busy month ahead. Career-wise the next two months I will be involved in the Playwrights Festival. I will be involved in a one-act play. I haven't done Theatre for about six years, so it's very exciting for me and a little uncomfortable, which is great. The Theatre approach really stretches my acting muscles.
A little side note, I have suspended my "Criminal Minds" reviews, because of a lack of time. I'm fully involved in school, so I am behind in watching CM episodes. I don't know when I will resume.
Now onto what I'm reading and what's playing in my ear. I like to listen to music when I'm doing my homework, working on jewelry  and of course in the car. That's a must. In heavy rotation in "Traffic", I have always loved this band. Steve Winwood  has a fantastic voice, it has such warmth and electricity to it. He's album "Arc of a Diver" is marvelous beginning to end.
I just finished reading Dean Koontzs' "What the Night Knows" It has been quite a while since I have read any of his books. I have to say, it was like visiting an old friend or a familiar place that you haven't been to in a while, but can't recall what kept you away.
I love being scared and Dean Koontz like John Connolly fit the bill when I'm in need of a little fright.
"What the Night Knows" gave me a serious case of the night-time heebie jeebies. Koontz introduces us to serial killer Alton Turner Blackwood. Detective John Calvino in a horrific twist of fate, has the bad luck of running head on into Blackwood, changing his life forever. Just when he thinks he has come out the other side whole, he's faced with the very past he thought was left behind. The evil that is Alton Turner Blackwood resurfaces in a whole new way. Proving to Detective Calvino that evil never dies, it simply waits for an invitation.
"What the Night Knows" what a fast and scary read. Was it perfect? No. Their were moments when the set up for the ending was blatantly obvious. The ending was a little disappointing and sloppy, but the story was engrossing up until then. I couldn't put it down, so I would say it's worth a go.