THE ATTACK OF THE SELFIES

In case one hasn’t been paying attention over recent trivial matters, there is still buzz going around (as of this writing anyway) regarding the “Tweet seen ‘round the world”; That is, Ellen DeGeneres’s group shot taken at the 86th Academy Award presentation held on March 2nd.
This little episode may have been the most re-tweeted tweet ever tweeted (so far), but is far from the only picture ever tweeted or posted by anyone anywhere anyhow. It just might be the only one that ever matters.
To keep up one at speed, the term “Selfie” roughly translates as a photograph of one’s self taken by the same photographer-the self. People have been taking photos of themselves since the beginning of photography, usually by mounting their camera on a tripod or some flat surface, setting the timer to trip the shutter within five or so seconds, then running in front of the camera to strike a pose. Other methods used consists of the person holding a camera in front of one’s self while standing in front of a mirror, then hitting the shutter button. (Using a flash only resulted of making the pic look as there was an explosion going on during the shoot!) And there’s the method where one points the camera to one’s self holding it in their hand while extending their arm forward. Depending on the camera’s depth of field as well as how well one pointed the thing directly at its target, one can get a decent picture for what it is!
But the above described methods refer to traditional cameras–ones that used light sensitive film to capture the image exposed. In today’s life, picture taking methods usually refer to using electronic camera devices that capture its image as an invisible digital file that can be viewed through a computer based device. There are a number of dedicated digital cameras still being used, but what’s overtaking those are the camera elements built into a smart phone apparatus. Thus, the term “Selfie” referrers to pics taken with the for noted digital cameras.
So what’s the deal here with posting selfies? According to a repot filed by the Pew Research Center, more than half of those of the Millennium age demographic (generally those born after 1980) have shared a selfie pic. Specifically, some 55% of these people have posted a self taken photograph to post on social media applications, be it Facebook, Twitter, Instantgram, or others.
The Pew report continues to note that this demographic, the ones that were introduced to this form of technology at a very young age, are the ones that perform this task the most, as no other demographic comes even close! The Gen-Exers (those born between 1965 through 1979) come in at a distant 24%. The Baby Boomers (born 1946-64) rank in at 9%, and those born before 1945 are at a low 4%. In fact, only six in ten of the Baby Boomers and one third of those born before ‘45 (known as the “Silent Generation”) even know what the term “selfie” means! That word became the 2013 “word of the year” by the Oxford Dictionary. (For the record, the Pew survey was conducted in middle February, some two weeks before that pic of Ellen and the gang made headline news!)
It’s really no surprise that those born in the wired age would freely take pics of themselves only to pass them around to anyone that desires to look at them. There have been reasons why this act that is just another part of their “slice of life”. First, just about all those of this demographic have access to a smart phone where a camera device is “standard equipment”. And since their phones are usually at their side at all times, taking a pic is quick, easy, and it’s always “there”. And many of these selfie pics are ones to take when there is noting to shoot at. (A picture of a face is more appealing that a photo of a tree or a lamppost!) Many of the younger set (age 25 and under) may also have the desire to expose themselves on media with the remote chance that they can become “famous”. Also, social media is one of many ways to communicate with others they know, know of, or just know as friends–real or otherwise!
But keep in mind that Pew conducted their report based on polling 1,8221 adults over the age of 18. This doesn’t count those 17 and under as well as those that never participated in the poll. And the question only asked if their selfie was shared through social media. It really didn’t address upon sharing pics with others through private means, as well as selfies that aren’t necessarily shared! One can guess that many selfies taken consist of  exposed body parts that are only shared to a select few, if at all!
So if one is in the mood (right now perhaps?), just whip out that phone, hold it at arm’s length, and say cheese! That pic will be the photo of the hour, or maybe for the minute! After all, digital film is cheap!
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NEWS AND REVIEWS
SuarezDanceTheatre presented the world premier of MOTHER.REDUX, a artistic performance that assembles a celebratory concept of humankind’s oldest profession–and it isn’t what one may think when that term is used. It’s about motherhood!
In this performance, a team of five troupers; Carmela Hermann, Carolina San Juan, Christine Suarez, Giavanni Washington, and Shelby Williams Gonzalez, combine dance, monologic prose, as well as selected musical interludes where these woman–all mothers themselves–verbalize about the notion of caregiving to a younger one they gave birth to. Each one, speaking as a semi group rather than one solely on stage, starts from their beginnings; Their great grandmother, their grandmother, their mother, and finally winding it to themselves. They comment about elements they take pride in, along with articles that are of a blend of culture (one woman is Filipino, another is African American, and a third one is of hispanic heritage), and the perception on how their kids became presented to their world as “normal” to otherwise! (One mother has a child that was born with a rare disfunction that made their child “sexless”). In spite of the experience of solicitude, detachment, sexism, in addition to the overall burden of caring for an offspring, they are pleased with their state of being, and their causerie and movement speaks for their place in their life and times.
This presentation uses a composite of free flowing ballet dance moves, as well as poetic-esk monologues that is part autobiographical, and part present statement of entity. It doesn’t take the elements of motherhood quite lightly as there isn’t much comical interludes about. (No “mom” jokes are told!) Much of what is stated was composed by the five performers, using additional material by Tessa Blake, that speaks from the heart and soul. Christine Suarez’s choreography is smooth and graceful, giving the dance numbers a stand of their own. Jmy James Kidd’s costuming consists of outfits geared of brighter colors that resemble tightly trimmed house dresses, donned with a few “crazy quilt” patches that could be mistaken as cleaning woman uniforms! (Moms do clean up the house!) Nathalie Renard’s set design only consists of a compressed stand of five foot poles aligns as short “walls” that interchange trough each scene. There is also a shorter “wall” placed toward the back of the lower floor consisting of cubby hole-type shadow boxes resembling folk art where momentous rest from the cast’s own mothers. Tessa Blake’s stage direction brings every form of audible and visual aspects used in their showcase all in one tight spot.
The only element that might be a footnote to this show is the fact that it lacks a bit of “oomph”! Sure, motherhood is a great status of matter, and moms are more respected than fathers. However, there could be more light heartiness presented, not necessarily just peppered with “mom gags”! (Leave that work to the handful of female comedians out there that push the situation of motherhood into “laff riot” comedy relief!)
MOTHER.REDUX does celebrate motherhood indeed. Some may find this show rewarding. Others might wonder just what the fuss is all about. There are the moms that cater to their post modern world only to rely upon their smart phones to guild them through every detail of their daily lives, and there are the mothers who have a heart and soul (heavy on the soul part), where in spite of the odds that domestic society dictates, they would never give up what they have. Any mom worth her salt would recognize this notion, and experts will agree that mother always knows best!

MOTHER.REDUX, presented by SuarezDanceTheatre, ran for only four performances between March 7th through March 9th, performing at the Miles Memorial Playhouse in Santa Monica.
    For more details, visit http://www.SuarezDance.org
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Santa Monica’s Morgan-Wixson Theatre presents the Steven Sater-Duncan Sheik musical SPRING AWAKENING, a coming of age saga that speaks upon the calvaries and visitations of adolescence living in a contemporary society of the past.
The setting is Germany in the final decade of the 19th century. The story follows a group of adolescent aged youths (“teenagers” in 20th century speak) who are rather circumvented by their pubescence desires while living in a rather strict society where parents offer minimal instruction about their coming of age; Mainly, their sexuality. The focus is on Wendla (Quinn D’Andrea) whose own mother finds herself unable to tell her daughter how babies are conceived. And there is Melchior (Julian Comeau) and Moritz (Zach Zagoria) two fellow students attending an all male academy. Both of these young men are experiencing their hormones going wild, where sexual thoughts and urges are taking its natural toll. The adults in their life (played by Joanna Churgin and Matt Harrison) ranging from parents to teachers, don’t appear to understand nor hold concern over these personal emotions the youths hold upon. The climax so to speak, occurs when Wendela and Melchior meet at a rural setting where they find their inner peace–and nature takes it course–an act that changes their lives, not necessary for the better!
The musical is actually based upon a c.1891 play written by German expressionist playwright Frank Wedekind called “Spring Awakening” that boldly told about how young student age juveniles were engaging in such scandalous (and often unspoken) acts that focused upon sexual concerns, in addition to where a youth commits suicide due to emotional and moral pressure. The score as composed by Duncan Sheik (music) and Steven Sater (lyrics, as well as book) has the emotions of musical interludes harking the feelings of the same youth placed in early 21st century society. (No “clunky-clunk” sounding melodies found in this bunch!) As to this specific production, the two leads Quinn D’Andrea as Wendla, and Julian Comeauas as Melchior are ideal within their character roles. These two are actually at or near the age they portray; Quinn is seventeen years, and Julian is just a few years older. The same goes for the ensemble players: Corey Affron, Melissa Deni, Kaitlyn Fajilan, Annie Claire Hudson, Hunter Larsen, Kira Lindsay, Andrew Mackin, Frankie Rodriquez, and Tommie Russell, as they sing very well (especially for the leads) as well as dance, as provided through Lauren Blair’s choreography. When these youths perform their vocal numbers, they hold wireless mics while musically emoting in the same method as a singer found on one of many of those talent programs as viewed on screens affixed to electronic devices. The sole adults (Joanna Churgin and Matt Harrison) play their parts as stern adults that take their leads over these youths, perhaps as a sign of things to come that the mother land would experience some forty years in the future. Anne Gesling’s transcribed musical direction bonds the setting between late 19th century Europe to the early 21st that speak for youth as then to as now! (The best number of the entire songbook is the self proclaimed aria “Totally F-cked”!) Tom Brown’s set design is simple as it consists of a series of museum frontage steps leading upward where two castle-type towers are nestled back stage (stage left and right) that represent the only buildings found in this unnamed German village. Also noted is Kristie Rutledge’s costuming that shows the youths donning outfits that are plain and peasant looking, something that teens of today would never wear since its far from designer or name brand clothing found at any shopping mall!
Directed by Aric Martin, SPRING AWAKENING keeps a title that suggests a musical that is light and flowing, akin to a 1940’s-era stage production. Alas, it’s defiantly for today’s world!  Even though the story is about youth, leave the kids at home as their are references to adults themes and contains rough language. In spite of these warnings, it dose keeps the themes that can be referred to the school of thought where the more things change, the more they stay the same! Today’s pre-adults still hold frustrations with their emotions and growing pains. Unlike the youths of Europe and the rest of the world of this era, the only differences found is that kids of that era were isolated, not being able to communicate to others outside of their inner group. Today, teens and even “tweens” are so connected, they have more stress and issues to worry about from concerns from their adult mentors, their Facebook “friends”, their BFFs, as well as the every lovin’ notion of FOMO! It’s recommend by this reviewer not to “miss out” on this production as seen within the intimate confines of one of Santa Monica’s theater gems that’s been around for over sixty years; In addition to the 48 years this theater company existed within the same playhouse location as found on Pico Boulevard.

SPRING AWAKENING, presented by the Morgan-Wixson Theatre Guild, and performs at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre, 2627 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, until April 5th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM. Special audience talk back sessions where the cast and crew discuss their roles to the audience with a Q & A, takes place following the performances of Friday, March 14th, and Sunday, March 23rd.
     For reservations or for more information, call (310) 828-7519, or online at http://www.Morgan-Wixson.org
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THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (Fox Searchlight) is the latest film by writer/director Wes Anderson about the misadventures of a concierge of a grand hotel along with the trials and tribulations that goes with running a place, from the “theft” of a priceless painting to murder, war, and jailbreaks; moreover with the aid of a faithful hotel lobby boy.
Ralph Fiennes plays Monsieur Gustave H., the head concierge of the title hotel, a splendid and luxurious logging palace located in some European nation that can be Austria, Switzerland, Bavaria, or someplace in between. Most of the action take place in c. 1932, just before war breaks out with yet another neighboring nation that could be Germany. He runs the location very tight and orderly. He also holds a tidy and long running affair with an elderly countless (Tilda Switnton) that sports four names but is best known as Madam D. She holds a great fortune where the hotel is part of her estate. M Gustave’s right hand man is the hotel front a.k.a. lobby boy named Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori), who he didn’t know that Zero works for the hotel as somebody else hired the chap. Things begin to unravel with Madam D. is found dead, possibly murdered! In her will, she leaves most of her estate to her son Dmitri (Adrein Brody), but leaves a rather valuable painting of a boy holding an apple called “Boy WIth Apple” to Gustave that angers Dmitri. Before long, the police is after Gustave that suspects him with the murder of Madam, He is off to be placed in prison yet escapes, and from there begins a long and furious dash for the life, liberty, and peace of mind of himself and the joint he runs, all in the name of the the best, and perhaps only place to stay in a minute yet proud nation.
As one would suspect for the above synopsis, this film is just a quirky as a typical title made by Wes Anderson that once again directs, writes (along with Hugo Guinness who contributed with the story), and foresees a film that is humorous in an alternative method. There are a lot of elements that comes in and out of this feature that shows most (if not every) scene decorated in a linear fashion; Each aspect shows centered vertical and horizontal lines and linage within the sets with plenty of trucking shots that move from left to right and vice versa. In addition, it’s fasted paced as well in the tradition of a 1930’s era screwball comedy made for post modern tastes. It also features a huge cast, many of the folks appearing make up Anderson’s rep company that usually materialize in a number of his past films. Those players are (listed in their alphabetical order), F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Tom Wilkinson, and Owen Wilson. Some of the named cast have bigger parts than others, but no matter! The casting just adds to the quirky attitude this movie brings forward.
Of course, this is not a standard comedy by no means! The humor is found in the pacing, the situations, and the deadpan actions and reactions that everyone tends to sport. (No jokes with punch lines!)  It’s also a bit cartoonish as well, especially in the chase scenes, all set to Alexandre Desplat’s music score that ranges to snazzy jazz to more traditional European melodies.
For those that can’t (or won’t) settle for sitcom humor created for a mainstream audience, THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL is where one can make their reservations. In fact. this feature will most likely play in those upscale movie houses that offer lavish and reserved seating, better food fair (no nacho chips with warn cheese-type goo served), and alcohol! In other words, it’s for thinking adults that know better not to text while the feature is on the screen!
This movie is rated “R” for mild violence, sexual resemblances, and brief nudity. Now playing at selected theaters.
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TIFFI’S FRIENDS SAY…
(As posted on her Facebook “wall”)
sitting in hospital waiting room. no one’s favorite pass time, especially when your son is so sick.
-Linda

That moment when you’re replying to an email and hear Ron Hearst talking about how much ice and snow is coming for the weekend and seriously thinking about crying because winter isn’t over yet. Then you realize you’re watching a show DVR’d last week.
-Carol

I have three indoor cats and am feeding several feral ones who live outside in our shed. One of the outside kitties likes to sit outside and sun himself. Roxy was sitting in front of the window, growling at him. Max came up and wanted to see, but Roxy growled at him, so I picked him and held him up to the door so he could see the outside cat, too. Then, Remmie tapped on my leg. She wanted to see what was so exciting. I picked her up in my other hand. (These are not small cats!) I held them both up so they could growl at the outside kitty, who didn’t even know they were watching. I tried to put them down, but they kept wanting to look. Finally, the only way to divert their attention was to get out the kitty treats.
My life as a Cat-herder…
-Ruth

Made a kickin Pasta e Fagioli last night. i still got it.
-Kathleen
As of March 10th, Tiffi has 2,015 Facebook “friends” and counting!
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2014 Linear Cycle Productions.
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