Monday, December 31, 2018

Holly's Top Highlights of 2018

As I look back on 2018, while there were plenty of difficult things (college essays — barf.), there were so many more amazing things that happened to me and it was truly a great year. In no particular order, here are my top moments of 2018.

1. Getting into Cornell
2. Getting to play Anne Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank 
3. Visiting my 6th continent (Asia) 
4. Going on my first ever out-of-country trip without my family (and with friends) 
5. Going to Ireland 
6. Going to Paris 
7. Getting cast as Fiona in Shrek 
8. Doing fancy virtual reality research at Cornell 
9. Seeing 20 Broadway shows between the 4 of us 
10. Getting Gucci sneakers for Christmas (I’ve loved them for years and it was SO unexpected)

As you can see, it’s been a year of boujee traveling and wins abound, and I just want to say thanks to my family and friends and all the people who helped me through it all. Let’s make 2019 even better!

-- Holly 

Image result for highlights of 2018

Sunday, December 30, 2018

My Annual Check-Up With God

AGENT: Number 96. Now serving Number 96.

ME:  That’s me.

AGENT:  How can I help you?

ME:  I’d like a half pound of the Genoa salami, thinly sliced.

AGENT: Am I moving on to 97, funny man?

ME: Sorry, couldn’t help myself. I’m here for my annual check up with the big guy.

AGENT (noting the big calendar on the wall behind him): Cutting it a little close this year.

ME: My insurance only covers one check-up per year.

AGENT (gives me a hard stare): I see you haven’t gotten any funnier in 2018.

ME: Funnier? I’m not sure it’s possible to get much funnier than I am already.

AGENT: Nice. Might want to try a little humility when you see HIM.

A buzzer rings on the desk.

AGENT: He’ll see you now.

He pulls a lever which drops me down a chute into a room with bright white light all around me.

GOD’s disembodied voice booms, coming from everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

GOD: Hello.

ME: Oh hey. God. Thanks for squeezing me in so close to the end of the year.

GOD: How are you?

ME: Me?  I’m good. Pretty great actually. My wife and kids are happy and healthy. Thanks for that. 2018 really was a whirlwind year.

GOD: That’s something coming from you. You guys generally pack it in EVERY year.

ME: True. But there was so much going on. Work is good, took some awesome trips, spent time with friends and family, my daughter got into college—

GOD: Congrats on that. Must be a huge weight off.

ME: Thanks!  It is — for all of us.

GOD: So 2019’s going to bring a lot of changes.

ME: It will. We’ll be empty nesters for the first time in 18 years.

GOD: That’s big. How are you feeling about that?

I think for a moment.

ME: I’m not really looking forward to that part. I mean, I’m excited for my daughter to go to college. She’s going to the same great school where her brother will be a senior so I’m happy they’ll share a year there together.   All of that is good. I mean great.

GOD: But?

ME: But I’m going to miss having my kids around.

GOD: That’s natural.

ME: Sure. I know that. Most parents love their kids but I totally adore spending time with mine. It took years as they were growing up before I agreed to let them go to sleep away camp. I didn’t want to be away from them for that long.

GOD: But you did.

ME: I did. And I’m glad they went. It helped them become more independent and self-sufficient. It was a great experience.

GOD: Excellent. They are great kids!  You and your wife did a fine job.

ME: They are. Thanks! And that’s why I know college will be great too.

GOD: It will. You will see them and you and your wife will get used to having more time for the two of you.

ME: Really?

GOD: I’m GOD. I know stuff.

ME: Right. Still it’s reassuring to hear you say that.

GOD: 2019 is going to be awesome. For all four of you.

ME: That’s great. Thanks for listening.

GOD: It’s what I do.

ME: Happy New Year, God!

GOD: Happy New Year!

— Frosty


Saturday, December 29, 2018

Five Pets I’d Like to Have

Five Pets I’d Like to Have

(This is assuming that all mystical creatures exist, and that any animal/creature you have as a pet is completely domesticate-able and will cater to your every whim).

1. Teacup Pig
This is my number one pet that I want so much. They’re so ridiculously adorable, and they’re smart — as smart as a 3yo toddler. And they make such cute squealing and snorting noises (much less abrasive than barking in my opinion).

2. Bear
Having a bear as a pet would be awesome because when it was a baby it’d be like a little living teddy bear. And then when it grew up it’d be like a giant cuddly bed/mystical protector like in a fantasy video game.

3. Deer
This goes along with the fantasy warrior companion thing, but I feel like deer aren’t so incomprehensible to have as a pet. They’re kind of similar to horses and other barnyard animals. That’d be cool though.

4. Dragon
Now we’re venturing into mystical territory. Anyone who’s watched Game of Thrones has thought of what it would be like to have a dragon. I would love to have a big scary dragon to avenge me to my enemies and protect me, and then also a little pocket dragon (see the fourth Harry Potter movie) to sit in my shoulder and sneeze fire adorably.

5. Phoenix
I feel like phoenixes are an underrated mystical creature. It would be SO cool to hold your arm out and have your magical fire bird swoop down to land on it. Also they have other cool powers besides being firy so that’s good too.

-- Holly 

Image result for teacup pig

Friday, December 28, 2018

How To Get (Your Kid) Into College -- Part 2

Part  2 is about the application. 

First bit of advice, and I can’t stress this enough -- definitely apply somewhere Early Decision.  You’ve made your list of schools and if there is one, first choice, stretch school that your kid knows they want to attend if they get in, apply Early Decision.  There are countless articles out there about the fact that as colleges are increasingly focused on yield, they are admitting more and more of their entire class on an Early Decision basis because those students are committing to attending their school.  Don’t overlook this option.  You’ll thank me later.

Next topic is the Common App essay.  Assuming you are applying through the Common App, they give you a choice of 4 or 5 prompts.  You must pick one and have up to 650 words to write an essay.  You school’s guidance counselor will tell you the goal should be that if some of your kid’s high school friends found this essay in the hallway, they should be able to read the essay and know that your kid wrote it.  This means it needs two things:

(1)   Tell Their Unique Story: Many of the essay prompts are broad enough that you can fit almost anything into one of the topics.  Help your kid figure out their unique story to tell.  What are they most passionate about?  How have they explored this passion in a way that few others have?  Most admissions essays are deathly boring.  Tell a story that will be memorable and uniquely yours.
(2)   Voice: Let your kid write their own essays.  It is extremely important that your kid’s essay sounds like your kid.  Your kid has a way of speaking that is distinctively THEM.  You want this to come through in a big way.  You can tinker with spelling and grammar but you don’t want to edit their voice out of the essay they write.  Think about word choices.  Don’t suggest your child write with long, esoteric words unless your child actually speaks that way.  The people reading the essay will know when words feel out of place with the voice in the rest of the essay.

In addition to the Common App essay, many colleges have their own specific essays that you need to write when applying there.  With my daughter, we found schools with none, with one and all of the way up to eight (yes, eight!) additional essays.  They all have length limitations that must be strictly adhered to.  Some are as short as 35 characters (including spaces!) so you need to make every word count.  Others are as long as 500 words.  These require a lot of work (writing and rewriting) so make sure to leave yourself lots of time. 

Many of these college-specific essays take the form of “Why College X?”.  These essays are a bit tricky.  The colleges know they are great.  You don’t need to tell them they are great.  You need to explain why they are great FOR YOU.  They are all hyper aware and on the lookout for tell-tale signs that you might be sending the same “Why College X?” essay to every school and just changing the name.  You shouldn’t do that.  What you should do is pull out all of the notes you and your child took when you were touring campus and sitting in the info session and use those notes to inform your essay.  What stood out to you then?  Share the story about the conversation you had with your tour guide that made you feel like this was a place you could fit in.  Talk about the meeting you had with the chair of X department (and mention him/her by name).  Each of these elements show that you have done your diligence and have been convinced this could be the right school for you.  Another good source of essay fodder is to do some research on majors/programs/features that College X has that others don’t and if they interest you, mention them in your essay. 

One last tip in this area is to mention other areas of interest beyond your child’s intended major.  If they have studied Latin in high school and think they might continue in college, mention that if College X has a Latin department.  During your tour, if your kid thought an exhibit in the Entomology (bugs) Department was cool, mention that they might want to take a class in that subject.  College X will likely have thousands of applicants for the Biology department but your application might stand out a little more if you were the Bio major who also wanted to study video game design.

Last topic I’ll mention is letters of recommendation.  Choose teachers or employers who know your child.  Some people reach out to some well-known author or scientist they are 6 degrees removed from thinking it would be great if their child had a letter of recommendation from someone famous.  If that person doesn’t know your kid, it will be transparent in the letter and the admissions officers will recognize it as the stunt that it is.  Far better to get a sincere recommendation from the school’s janitor (see than from a department chair who only knows your kid superficially.  Choose wisely.  Good recommendations can make an application stand out.

That’s all I’ve got.  I’m sure other things might come to mind from time to time but those are today’s pearls of wisdom.  Oh, and remember to send your kid’s SAT, ACT, SAT subject test and any other relevant scores directly from the relevant testing organization.  Your school’s guidance office should provide details on how and when to do this.

Hope this helps.  It’s a tough process but everyone gets through it.  And despite what some schools might want you to believe, there is more than one “perfect” college for your kid.  Lots of luck!

-- Frosty

Image result for silhouette college graduation

Thursday, December 27, 2018


“Give it back!”

Jonathan held my lunch under his arm, staring at me as he started to back away. He was such a jerk. I spent hours preparing my food and this asshole comes into my house to take it.

He had dark brown hair and grubby little fingers; he looked at me like I was some sort of monster. What a douche.

He ran down the street with my lunch and I lumbered after him. Usually I would be able to catch him but I was wiped from getting my lunch. I lost him around the corner but my nose never fails me and soon found him hiding in a garden.

And then I freakin ate him and my lunch (his brother) because I’m a goddamn grizzly bear.

-- Rudolph

Image result for lunchbox

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Happy Boxing Day!

Happy Boxing Day!

I feel like this “holiday” takes on a whole new meaning when it falls on the same day that one needs to put out the paper recycling – which it did for us.

Anyway, in addition to opening many boxes wrapped in pretty Christmas paper yesterday, I also got to check out a big box of family photos. There were sooo many photos that we couldn’t get through them all in one sitting. 

I absolutely love old photos, especially ones of family.  I like the clothes, the settings and/or occasions the photographer deemed noteworthy, the food on the table, the cars people were driving back then, and so on.  Many of the pictures contain people that are no longer with us.  These are extra-special to me since they provide a glimpse of who they were.

All of the photos I’ve perused thus far have been great, but one that is coming to mind the most right now is one of my father in a row boat.  This timing of this photo preceded me so I never knew the rowboat nor the house that was built next to it by various members of my family.  In the picture, my father was actually bailing out the boat.  I think it just had some residual rainwater in it, not that it was taking on water or anything.  He is smiling in the picture hence my conclusion about just a little rainwater. 

Another photo that is staying with me is a picture of my brother with four of his best buddies at the time (at the age of 4).  Each boy is sitting on some form of serious 4-year-old transportation circa the 1950s: bikes, little scooter cars, etc.  They all look primed to start racing at any moment, right towards the photographer.  The whole scene is just such a moment in time of childhood fun. 

My next goal is to sort through and organize all of the photos chronologically.  I am looking forward to further examining this time capsule!

- Eve

Image result for boxing day

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Vintage Christmas

Since it is Christmas and they say a picture is worth a thousand words, I'm sharing a vintage Christmas photo of my brother.  Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

-- Eve

Monday, December 24, 2018

My Current Favorite Musical Artists

There have been a couple artists I’ve been enjoying quite a lot lately, and so I figured I’d write about them. 

1. Khalid
Khalid has had a few big hit songs in the last year or two, including Location and Young, Dumb, and Broke, and he just came out with a new album called Suncity. Anyway, his voice is totally butter-smooth and he does a lot of cool stylistic riffs and twists in his songs. I also just generally like a lot of his songs, so I’ve been enjoying his music very much lately. 

2. Billie Eilish
Although she is very indie and alternative, she’s becoming more mainstream now over the last two years. She’s actually younger than I am, so it’s really impressive that she has such a big following. But her music often has cool beats and rhythms and her voice is nice to listen to, so she’s another person I’ve been streaming on repeat lately. 

3. Bing Crosby 
Obviously I’ve known about Bing Crosby forever, but as the Christmas season rolled around this year I got Spotify, so I was exposed to a bunch of Christmas songs that were either new or I hadn’t heard in a while. Consequently, I have really been enjoying Bing’s version of What Child is This/The Holly and the Ivy on repeat. 

That’s all I can think of at the moment, but happy holidays and Merry Christmas to those who are celebrating!

-- Holly

Image result for khalid

Sunday, December 23, 2018

My Father's Big Win

A bunch of our blogs this year have been focused on college because that was such a big focus for us this year.  So tonight, on what would have been my father’s 85th birthday, I thought I would share the story he shared with me about how he got to go to college.

My Dad grew up in Philadelphia and was very poor.  His parents divorced when he was very young and his mother worked several jobs just to make ends meet.  As a young man in high school, my father was good at math and had aspirations of becoming an engineer.  With no way to afford it, the odds of him getting a college education were slim. 

Luckily, back in that day, Temple University had a program where they allowed interested high schoolers in Philadelphia to take a test they offered.  The person who scored the highest on the test would get a free ride to attend Temple.  When he got to senior year, he dutifully prepared for and took the test.

He came in second place. 

So close but not quite close enough. 

But then a wondrous thing happened – Temple University wrote to tell him that the person who scored highest on the test declined the scholarship and chose to go to college somewhere else.  The scholarship was his if he wanted.  He did.

At the time, Temple did not have a College of Engineering (it opened in 1969) so my father became a math teacher.  He was thankful for the education and always tried to imbue in his sons an appreciation for their education. 

While not what he originally hoped to study, my father had a long career as a teacher and guidance counselor, most of it at DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx.  I’ve often wondered if he didn’t have classes of new students each year for all of those years, he never would have had new audiences for all of his bad jokes and puns.  Maybe things happen for a reason.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

My Favorite Songs I Discovered (for myself) this Year

When I say “discovered” I mean it in the same way Columbus discovered the Americas. As in I didn’t really discover them. I discovered them on behalf of the 15th Century Spanish government. De nada.
Good Times by Matt Duncan 2010
Did I mention that not all of these will be from 2018? Whoops. A friend of mine showed me this song and it really captures the idea of “Happy-sad”. Kind of like the ending of Inside Out where Happiness and Sadness make a happy-sad memory and all is beautiful. This song nails that feeling for me.
WESTWORLD by Evan Giia 2018
Nothing to do with killer robots and that’s surprisingly a good thing. The only thing that’s killer about this song is its drop. Lol. It also seems rather under the radar at the moment but like it would be popular if more people listened to it so that’s kind of neat.

 Jane by Jefferson Starship 1979
Jane could have my favorite guitar solo of all time. I think that’s an important thing for a person to be aware of- their favorite guitar solo. Occasionally I’ll hear songs I think that they’d make an awesome soundtrack to an action sequence in a movie. This is one of those songs. Give me an epic superhero fight scene to Jane or give me death.

 Dan Bilzerian by T-Pain ft. Lil Yachty 2016
If you couldn’t tell from the rock and indie songs listed above, rap and hip-hop aren’t exactly my go-to. That said, holy shit is this song awesome. I’m generally bad at listening to song lyrics so mostly I appreciate the aggressive DUN DUN (listen and you’ll understand) but when I looked up the lyrics… yikes. Let’s just say they don’t exactly contribute to the feminist movement. Also the part where T-Pain cleverly says “them hoes can sick a duck”. If one looks closely, they can see that the bard subtly implies what he means but avoids actually saying it by changing the sounds. A poet walks amongst us.

Tubthumping by Chumbawamba 1997

 Funtimes in Babylon
This is just peak indie/sadboi. Listen while alone. Big fan.

-- Rudolph

Image result for westworld by evan giia

Friday, December 21, 2018

My Favorite Flowers

In light of a 60-degree winter solstice (and also partially due to the fact that I was sitting on my bed trying to come up with a blog idea and noticed the bouquets of flowers on my dresser), I have decided to write about my favorite flowers (I know it’s out of season, but you get what you get and you don’t get upset). So here is my Friday-night-at-the-beginning-of-break, secret-Santa-exchange-is-in-a-few-hours mad drivel about flowers. Enjoy!

1. Day lilies
Day lilies are great statement flowers, and they come in different colors which is great for making bouquets coordinated with other flowers for table centerpieces. Also, they smell amazing, and their smell is so strong that it fills up a whole room, which is incredibly satisfying.

2. Lily of the Valley
Another intensely odious flower, these are some of the first flowers to grow by my driveway in springtime, so if I’m ever walking outside, their smell fills the air and gives such a spring-y vibe. Also, they are my grandma’s favorite flower, which of course makes them that much more important.

3. Dahlias
Dahlias aren’t particularly fragrant to my  knowledge, but I think they are very aesthetically pleasing. They are so geometrical and the shapes of the petals are really cool looking in the way that they grow staggered on top of each other. Also, they come in SO many different colors, which is exciting for an avid table-decorator like me.

4. Poinsettia
Poinsettia are also all about the vibe for me. I am a HUGE Christmas geek (is that even a thing?), so having a flower that I can look at and feel the merry-ness and festivity of Christmas is awesome. Also, their colors are appropriately on palate with Christmas colors. So yay.

5. Allium
I love these flowers because they are really unique. They are super tall (I’ve seen them  grow up to five feet!) and they look kinda like giant dandelions (the kind that you blow) or like the Truffula trees from Dr. Seuss’s stories. They make a really cool aesthetic lining our street and driveway, and I’ve never seen anything else like them.

-- Holly


Thursday, December 20, 2018

Manhattan's Marvelous Museums

I live in New York, where museums abound.  There are, of course, big museums as well as small specialized or even quirky museums.  Here are a few of my favorites and a few I have yet to check out:

Metropolitan Museum of Art – This museum is the Cadillac of art museums.  The “Met” has over 2 million pieces in its permanent collection: yes, there are works by the usual suspects: Degas, Van Gogh, Pollack, etc. – but did you realize the Met is also home to the world’s oldest surviving piano as well as Henry the VIII’s actual armor.  And let us not forget the Costume Institute section of the museum which has over 35,000 significant articles of clothing and accessories.  There is always something “new” to explore here.

Tenement Museum – This museum, located in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, commemorates the American immigrant experience and the intertwined histories of New York City and the immigrants who shaped its evolution.  It is an authentic tenement that recreates different eras from New York City’s history, showing how working class immigrants from the 19th and 20th centuries would have lived. Each apartment represents a different family, living in a different era. One might observe a Jewish family’s home on one visit and an Irish family’s on the next.  This museum drives home the reality that we are a nation of immigrants.

Whitney Museum of American Art – This museum has been living in its new home downtown for about three years now.  Here, you will see works created by more than 3,000 American artists during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  Lots of large scale relatively current work to be seen.  At the moment there is a special Andy Warhol exhibit that looks terrific.

Now for the museums I have yet to see, some of which you probably didn’t even know existed: Mmuseumm, 9/11 Memorial, the Skyscraper Museum, the Jewish Museum, National Museum of Mathematics, Merchant’s House Museum, Houdini Museum.

I have been to many many more museums in NYC than listed about.  Those listed are just a taste of what is awesome and in the offing.

-- Eve

Image result for metropolitan museum of art

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Creativity To Burn

As a stay-at-home mom, I luckily find myself with lots of opportunities to be creative.  Whether it is creating interesting programs for my girl scouts or hosting fun parties or doing PR for our school community, creativity finds its way into everything.

One of my most recent ways to exercise my creative muscle is through photography.  To clarify, I have always been an amateur photographer.  However, I have now taken to trying a little exercise on Instagram: throughout the summer, I tried to take pictures of different types of flowers every day and then I post one a day.  This is actually more difficult than it sounds.  One can run out of flower species pretty quickly. And time, too!  Trying to make each photo unique and interesting becomes a whole other layer.  Also, you’d be surprised how just making the time to take a specific type of picture each day ends up being a challenge.  When we went on vacation for two weeks, the project became easier – new continent, lots of outdoor activities, etc.  Going to a botanical garden also helps.  I do give myself a little leeway in that I might take several in a given day and then just post them over the period of a week.

What I like about this particular charge is that it also forces one literally to stop and smell the roses, to take time to enjoy the beauty of nature.  Another benefit I have noticed is that my Insta friends have really been enjoying my efforts.  So they get to enjoy nature on a daily basis as well.

I tried this challenge in the fall, and hope to try it this winter.  But somehow summer just sings with great photo opportunities. 

What inspires you?  What gets your creative juices flowing?

- Eve

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

How To Get (Your Kid) Into College -- Part 1

I’m about to save you thousands of dollars.  No need to hire one of those expensive college coaches.  My only credential is that my wife and I have successfully helped both our kids get into the college of their choice.  Since those college coaches are so darn expensive, I figured I’d share some pearls of wisdom we learned going through the process twice.

Part 1 is about the college visit.  Colleges are laser-focused on yield these days.  This means that they want to know that the people they admit actually will come to their college.  They all admit more students than will actually attend but they want this percentage to be as high as possible.  This means you want to do everything possible to convince the college that if admitted, you will enroll.  How do you do that?  They look at several factors.  The top one is whether you’ve applied Early Decision or not.  Early Decision means that you are agreeing to enroll if accepted.  There’s no stronger showing of interest than this.  And if you apply Early Decision (and you should but I’ll talk more about that another time), your odds of being accepted are significantly higher than if you are in the Regular Decision pool of candidates.

If you’re not applying Early Decision, then it’s very important to demonstrate real interest in the college.  One of the best ways to do that is to visit.  If you schlep yourself all of the way from home to the college to go to an info session and a tour, they reason you must be serious about attending.  It’s also the best way for your kid to get a feel for a college.  We toured 18 colleges with my son before he made his decisions and probably 10 or so with my daughter.  In some cases, they knew before we got back in the car whether the college would make their short list or not.  They felt it.  And the only way to feel it is to actually go there and walk the campus and see the students in action.

During the information session, it is critically important that both you and your child take notes.  The notes will help you remember this college and distinguish it from others when they all start to blend together in your mind.  Your kid’s notes will also inform what kinds of things stood out for them.  These notes will be a huge help to you later down the road when your child has to write the “Why do you want to go to College X?” essay.  These highlights will provide fodder for the essay and demonstrate to the college admissions officers that you’re not just using the same essay for all colleges and just changing the institution’s name.

If your child likes what they see during the info session and tour, try to eat a meal in one of the dining halls.  Food is an important part of the college experience.  Eating in the dining hall will help inform the college selection process.  Do it if you can.

When you go to visit, you get bonus points if you (a) schedule an informational meeting with a department your kid might be interested in majoring in, and (b) schedule an interview for your kid (if they are offered).

Thousands of prospective students visit campus each year to attend the info session and a tour.  That’s great.  But far fewer actually go further by scheduling time with a professor or department chair in an area of your kid’s intended major.  Doing this serves multiple purposes.  It gives you and your child a better sense of their program.  Take copious notes during this meeting.  These notes will again prove helpful when you later write the “Why This College?” essay.

The point about scheduling an interview really depends upon your kid.  If your kid has a winning smile, a good sense of humor and is comfortable talking to people, then you want them to interview.  Again, a small percentage of the many of the thousands of students who tour campus each year will actually interview.  This will make your child stand out and demonstrate your seriousness in attending this school.  Of course, if your child is uncomfortable talking to strangers and answers most questions with one word or a grunt, then you might want to opt out of the interview process.  You make the judgment call here.

Last thing, and this is very important – before you get in the car to return home, have your child write down impressions of the school.  Did they hear about a funky club that interested them?  Talk to some students in the dining hall?  Hear an interesting story from their tour guide?  Did they like the architecture or the library?  It is scary how quickly schools start to blend together in your mind during this process and these notes will help remind them about this school later on.  They will also prove hugely valuable when writing the essay.  Final thing is you should ask your child to rank this school among all of the schools they have up to that point.  As you add schools to the list, by having your child rank and re-rank the schools, it will clarify what is important to them and make them more confident in the schools they choose.

By the time you’re done visiting schools, you ideally want 3-4 reach schools, 3-4 comfortable schools, and 3-4 safety schools on the list.  If your child gets into every school they apply to, then either they are a super genius or there weren’t enough stretch schools on the list.  On the other end of the spectrum, you want to make sure that you’re not aiming so high with every school choice that your child doesn’t get in anywhere.

That’s it for Part 1.  Hope this is helpful.  Stay tuned for Part 2.

- Frosty

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Giant And The Imp

A giant and an imp were walking in the countryside together when they heard gorgeous music flowing over from the next field. The giant leapt and the imp scampered through corn and wheat until they came upon the source of the music.

There, in the middle of the stone road, was a woman playing her stringed instrument. “Ah!” the giant exclaimed, “I love the violin and you play it so terrifically!”

The imp scrunched up its face. “That’s not a violin you big buffoon! That’s a bass and she’s playing it wonderfully!”

The giant and the imp argued and argued late into the evening.

And the woman just kept playing her cello. 

-- Rudolph

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Spotify End Of The Year Review

Spotify premium does an end-of-year review of all the music you’ve listened to throughout the year. However,  I only purchased Spotify Premium in the last quarter of the year, right when Mamma Mia 2 came out, so my whole end-of-year review was full of that and the Shrek the Musical cast album (because I just got cast as Fiona so I had to learn all the songs). I am pretty sure I could actually predict my most-listened-to songs and artists would be (Happy Now by Zeus and Elley DuhĂ©), as well as my oldest songs (Magic Moments by Perry Como) and others. But basically, I’m saying that I listen to a LOT of music, so I think it’s an interesting concept to represent a whole person’s life by the music they listen to. You can tell a lot about a person by their genres and artists. If someone listens to Christmas music all year, you know they are a good-souled, festive person. If someone listens to heavy metal all year round, you can tell that they hate their own ear drums. So even if you don’t have Spotify Premium to define you as a person at the end of each year, I ask you: what does your music say about you?

-- Holly

Image result for spotify

Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Miracle Of Hanukah

Most people know the story of Hanukah.   According to the Interweb:

“The eight-day Jewish celebration known as Hanukah commemorates the rededication during the second century B.C. of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, where according to legend Jews had risen up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt.  Judah Maccabee and the other Jews who took part in the rededication of the Second Temple witnessed what they believed to be a miracle. Even though there was only enough untainted olive oil to keep the menorah’s candles burning for a single day, the flames continued flickering for eight nights, leaving them time to find a fresh supply.  This wondrous event inspired the Jewish sages to proclaim a yearly eight-day festival.”

Everyone on the same page now?  Good.  But that’s not actually the miracle I’m talking about.

Today we hosted a Hanukah party.  Mostly extended family (and some friends) joined us at our home to eat, drink and catch up.  We don’t see many members of this group very frequently.  In fact, some we only see when we host this party each year.  The beauty and wonder of this event is how easy and enjoyable it is to spend time with these people.  They define what “family” means in its truest sense.  There is a love and bond and affection between us that transcends time.  Even though we don’t get together that frequently, we all basically pick up right where we left off the last time.  I appreciate them and even if it only happens infrequently, I look forward to our time spent together.

Happy Hanukah to all, and to all a good night!

-- Frosty

Image result for hanukkah menorah

Friday, December 14, 2018

So I Got Into College

So I got into college on Monday. I'm going to Cornell. Yay me!! Obviously I’m so excited about this news, and so I thought I’d write about how I feel. 

Basically, you always hear that kids walked onto the campus of their to-be-applying early-decision school and the stars aligned and a hallelujah chorus sprouted from the heavens — basically, it clicked for them. I, on the other hand, am the child of not one, but two Cornell graduates, so I’ve been making the 4-hour drive up there basically my whole life. Therefore, Cornell was in my knowledge for a long time before I was ever thinking about it in the context of applying. I never really had the “this is the place I NEED to be” moment, and I always just kind of assumed I’d end up going there. 

Fast forward to last year, when I did my science scholars research program work on Cornell’s campus. As I was starting to figure out where I wanted to apply, I had been worried I was only planning on applying early decision to Cornell because my whole family had gone there. But, as I went through the college process, I realized that yeah, I would actually be upset if I didn’t end up going to Cornell. 

And this past Monday I was a mess all day, but then I got my results and ate cheese puffs, and cookie cake and champagne to celebrate. It was an all-around excellent night, and I know I’m set to go to the best place for me for the next 4 years.

Image result for cornell university

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Eve's Excellent Movies of 2018

So last night in this blog my son detailed his Top 5 Movies of 2018. I, frankly, cannot even begin to recall all of the movies I have seen this past year so I figured I would be safe and call my piece Excellent Movies of 2018.  I decided there is a common thread running through all these movies but I let you figure it out as you go through.  Herewith in no particular order:

Simply put, Blackkklansman tells the story of of 1970s African-American rookie undercover detective Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) who infiltrates the KKK with the help of Jewish partner Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver).  I have to admit, I have not really seen many Spike Lee movies.  This one I liked so much, I decided I need to circle back and check out some of his other projects.  I enjoyed the plotline, of course, but what intrigued me the most was a white person “passing” as a black person, a black cop “passing” as an anti-establishment activist, etc.  And, of course, the movie takes on a special poignance when one considers the racial climate we find ourselves in today.  Plus then finding out that it is based on a true story just puts me over the top!

Can You Ever Forgive Me?
A celebrity biographer, Lee Israel, turns her falsifying letters when she can no longer make a living writing novels.  First thing to point out is Lee is played by Melissa McCarthy.  I will see anything this woman is in.  Here again, I enjoyed this simple but unique story for which it is not readily apparent where it is going to end up.  And it turns out this is a true story as well.

Free Solo
This movie is about a real professional climber, Alex Honnold, who completes the first free solo climb of the infamous El Capitan's 3,000-foot vertical rock face at Yosemite National Park.  How dry does that sound?  Well, it turns out that this film is the exact opposite – it is riveting.  In addition to learning the painstaking level of preparation that goes into such a climb (imagine a person memorizing each and every hole and rock pattern much like a composer knows by heart each and every note and rest note in a score), we gain an insight into Alex’ psyche as he prepares himself for the ascent.  Also, a major shout out to the photographers and videographers who, while they did not free solo while they were climbing and filming, they did have to navigate the climb with very heavy and very costly camera equipment!

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. A rock star on the United States Supreme Court.  Any movie about such an extraordinary human being can only be, by is association, an extraordinary film.  Enough said.

Three Identical Strangers
Here, identical triplets become separated at birth and adopted by three different families. Years later, they defy the odds and reunite.   That in and of itself is pretty crazy.  Add on top of that the weird, creepy, science experiment that was apparently being done by the adoption agency, with the results being under lock and key at Yale University until the practical ending of the triplets’ lives, and you have one helluva story.

This concludes my list.  I reserve to right to add movies as I think of them…

Image result for free solo

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Rudolph's Top Five Movies of 2018

And now we cut the shoot and write the piece that was happening sooner or later. Not to mention it will completely write itself. Here are my top five movies of 2018.

Avengers Infinity War
I wrote last year that seeing the first Avengers was probably the most fun I’ve had in a movie theater and is probably one of my favorite memories of my childhood. You got the feeling that you were watching something that shouldn’t work, something that shouldn’t be allowed. Some filmmakers got away with something that they should not have and we were lucky enough to witness it.

I had a similar experience watching Infinity War. It felt like my teenage years were accumulating to this moment; I was a giddy 12-year-old again watching the rules get broken. And that ending- holy shit did the entire theater fall apart. Those Russo brothers walked into the room and dropped their twin sets of balls on the table and told us to deal with it.

I don’t usually like scary movies because I despise jump scares. This movie had only one and my god did it earn that one. Hereditary terrified me and I loved it. There was one moment in particular where it absolutely held me in the palm of its hand and kept me there until I was shaking in my seat. It was awesome.

I like a good movie that misdirects me. (Semi-spoiler coming) Hereditary makes you wait and wait for something supernatural to happen and when you get about 75% through the movie and nothing does, you accept that it’s not going to happen. And then it does. In itself, having a horror movie that is perfectly scary without employing supernatural elements is an impressive feat.

In my college education so far, I’ve learned a little bit about German playwright Bertolt Brecht whose thing was direct address (directly addressing the audience, breaking the fourth wall, you get it) and denying the audience of closure so that at the end of his plays they felt the burning need to go out and fix the problem his plays presented. I’ve learned that Spike Lee adopts this method in his films and the latter part about deny closure really hits home in this film.

At the end, the protagonist has won and racism has been conquered. Huzzah! But then there’s the final sequence that reminds the audience that racism is very much not dead. It’s rampant and frankly not at all better than you saw it depicted in the movie you just watched which takes place decades earlier. What are you gonna do about it? Cut to black.

This one was particularly enjoyable because I got to smugly enter and leave the theater being like, “I read the book y’know.” Again, I like a good movie that tells me to go fuck myself. This was beautiful sci-fi that denied the viewer of any satisfaction of explaining what they were seeing. All you know is that whatever the hell is on the screen is beautiful, wild, and terrifying. The ending of this movie kind of felt like some poems, where you read it and it makes you feel some type of way but it isn’t exactly saying anything specific. I can imagine some people would find that annoying but boy was this a good poem.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
I walked out of the theater a kinder and more peaceful person. My dad and I went to a restaurant right after and I was calm and cuddly inside. Never has a film made me want to be so good. I’m too young to have been of fan of Mr. Rogers during his peak and during his later years, but Neighbor inserted that cute man into my childhood, present and future. I have found a new religion and my Jesus wears cardigans.

Honorable mention: Ready Player One
It was fun and looked pretty. Mark Rylance is an (inter)national treasure. “It was never about winning- it was just about playing the game” really punched me in the heart. That is all.

I look forward to writing this piece yearly until I die. Get amped.

Image result for Thanos