This Is Not A Moment, It's The Movement

A young 20 something interested in a lot of things who likes to scream into the void about them constantly.

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Dover Little Theatre

If you’re looking for my current projects check out all Dover Little Theatre’s internet presence.  I run (and created most of!) all the social media, the website, advertising, press releases, marketing, and oh so much more!

 

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Not Quite Everyone Lived Happily Ever After

Another fictional lesbian is dead and sadly, it comes as no great surprise.

Queerbaiting has become almost a norm in today’s television. It can be seen across every genre of television and happen with any kind of character.

Queerbaiting is when a television show has two characters that could possibly be in the LGBTQIA+ community and they have the potential to be together romantically. Most television shows play this for the ratings and the audience it gathers. There is a slim chance that they will get together, but the LGBTQIA+ community is so desperate for any kind of representation they are willing to root for anything.

Another way of queerbaiting an audience is to finally have said LGBTQIA+ couple get together and then immediately have one or both of them killed for no real plot reason. This might be the most brutal form of queerbaiting. The audience finally gets their LGBTQIA+ relationship and it is immediately dismissed and thrown away.

The first kind of queerbaiting can be seen in a lot of mainstream television. Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles from Rizzoli & Isles, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in Sherlock, Emma Swan and Regina Mills in Once Upon A Time, Dean and Castiel in Supernatural are all examples of this queerbaiting. They are all characters that have incredible chemistry, but never make it to coupledom. They keep the audience watching and hoping that one day they will get together.

The second form of queerbaiting is seen in many television shows as well. Lexa from The 100 is just the most recent case. She was accidentally shot and died in the episode that aired on March 3. Tara Maclay from Buffy The Vampire Slayer met the same exact fate in 2002. Naomi Campell suddenly got cancer and died on Skins. Maya St. Germain from Pretty Little Liars was bludgeoned to death. The list goes on.

Elizabeth Bridges, author of the blog The Uncanny Valley spoke about queerbaiting on March 7. She said, “Sadly, all of us queer viewers are so happy to get any kind of representation, we will watch anything with queer (or even potentially queer) characters in it, even though we know we’re going to see ourselves brutally killed onscreen sooner or later, and odds of our character ever being happy are slim to none. But we watch anyway, hoping that this time it will be different.”

Abigail Bruffy, 22, of Galloway stated her frustrations about queerbaiting with an example from Glee. “I watched the Santana/Brittany love story be treated as a joke and not taken seriously until the last minute scramble in the final season that led to them being married. Through the ups and many downs of their screen time I was left lost, uncertain if being a queer woman ever ended happily. It has been five years of me searching for that happy ending on screen and it has led me nowhere.”

Caitlin Forde, 23, of Union has also had enough of the queerbaiting. “It’s love, it’s human, boil it down to literal chemistry and biology for all I care. But queer people exist, love, and want to see that they and their experiences are valued. It’s just gross that we are still a punch line, a ratings spike, a f—— life to throw away.”

When it comes down to it, queerbaiting is basically saying that people in the LGBTQIA+ community do not get a happy ending. They are never portrayed on screen, and when they finally are, they are torn apart.

Television shows are saying that people in the LGBTQIA+ community are not worthy of representation. They do not deserve to see themselves on television shows. They are not worthy of their time, but the television shows will use them for ratings and to draw attention to their show.

It is time to end queerbaiting and have equal representation on television.

People in the LGBTQIA+ community deserve their happy ending.

 

You can find this published on The Montclarion’s website.

 

Fire Is Catching

Lily Mortar is a supporting character in Lillian Hellman’s “The Children’s Hour.” While not having all too much stage time, she really is a key factor in the outcome of the play. Mortar bookends the play without having developed her character in any way. She is the same self-serving, past romanticizing, crazy aunt that was in the beginning of the play. Lily Mortar is the spark and the extinguisher of the revolution created by Mary Tilford.

Lily Mortar is described as, “A plump, florid woman of forty-five with dyed reddish hair. Her dress is too fancy for a classroom.” (Hellman 451). From these two lines alone you get the exact feeling for who Lily Mortar is. She is living in the past; she was once an actress. Mortar is trying to keep the young look alive and fresh in her. While doing this, she is acting as if she is the greatest person to ever walk the Earth. She wants to teach the girls “her” way, while they really consider it the “old” way.

Mortar also falls great victim to any type of flattery. When Mary Tilford is coming to class very late, Mortar begins to yell at her. As soon as Tilford says she was late because she was picking flowers for Mortar because, “You were telling us last week how much you liked flowers, and I thought that I would bring you some and-” (Hellman 452) Mortars demeanor changes entirely. She is now very humbled and forgiving. “That was very sweet of you, Mary; I always like thoughtfulness. But you must now allow anything to interfere with your classes. Now run along, dear, and get a vase and some water to put my flowers in.” (Hellman 452). She immediately changes her tune, and forgets about Mary’s wrongdoing.

Mortar says, “Courtesy is breeding. Breeding is an excellent thing. Always remember that.” (Hellman 452). Mortar then asks her students to write it down. They respond that they wrote it down last week. This is very interesting and ironic. Mortar says, “courtesy is breeding.” However when it comes down to it, Mortar did not give Martha and Karen the courtesy of coming to the trial on their behalf. She appears to be in such high social standing, her breeding very excellent. However, at the bitter end, she does not even appear that way.

Mortar also enjoys name dropping. She is always going on about Sir Henry. She also said, “It was I who saved Delia Lampert’s life the time she had that heart attack in Buffalo. We almost lost her that time. Poor Delia! We went over to London together. She married Robert Laffonne. Not seven months later he left her and ran away with Eve Cloun, who was playing the Infant Phenomenon in Birmingham-” (Hellman 456). Mortar feels as if she name drops all the time people will consider her to be “above” them, more talented, known, and privileged. However, her rambling on about people that no one seems to care about any more makes her look wild, foolish, and desperate.

Karen and Martha feel as if Mortar is not helping their situation any by being there. They finally have enough money that they almost aren’t in debt anymore. Martha offers her aunt the chance to go to Europe, expenses paid by her and Karen. Mortar immediately turns it around and says, “You’re trying to get rid of me. So? You’re turning me out? At my age! Nice, grateful girl you are.” (Hellman 457). Mortar is insistent about complaining about any and everything. She can’t see the good in anything thrown her way.

While Mortar and Martha are arguing, Mortar is the spark of this entire play. “Every time that man comes in this house, you have a fit. It seems like you just can’t stand the idea of them being together. God knows what you’ll do when they get married. You’re jealous of him that’s what it is.” (Hellman 457). She then goes on to say, “You’re fonder of Karen, and I know that. And it’s unnatural, just as unnatural as can be. You don’t like their being together. You were always like that even as a child, if you had a little girl friend, you always got mad when she liked anybody else. Well, you’d better get a beau of your own now- a woman of your age.” (Hellman 458). This is it. This is what Evelyn and Peggy hear from outside the door and relay to Mary. This is what gives her the idea for her revolution. Lily Mortar was the spark.

At the end of the play Mortar comes back to the destroyed remnants of Karen and Martha’s lives. She tries to pretend as if nothing happened. She pretends that everything is just as it was. When asked why she did not respond to their telegrams and why she did not come testify for them she says, “Why, Martha, I didn’t refuse to come back at all. That’s the wrong way to look at it. I was on tour; that’s a moral obligation, you know. Now don’t let’s talk about unpleasant things anymore. I’ll go up and unpack a few things; tomorrow’s plenty of time to get my trunk.” (Hellman 477). Even when trying to defend herself, she tries to act as if nothing is wrong, and the entire outcome of the trial, and their lives did not hinge on her coming home. She continues to live in her dream world.

After Martha kills herself Mortar is sad for her for only one moment. It then immediately turns back around to her. “I’ll never forgive myself for the last words I said to her. But I was good to her, Karen, and you know god will excuse me for that once. Suicide’s a sin.” (Hellman 482). She then goes on to say, “She shouldn’t have done it, she shouldn’t have done it. It was because of all this awful business. She would have got a job and started all over again- she was just worried and sick and-” (Hellman 482). Her niece has just killed herself, and she is worried if God will excuse the last thing she said to Martha. She then is very angry and resentful towards Martha for killing herself.

Mortar then almost immediately is worried about what will happen to her now that Martha is gone. She will not be getting any money from her, or a home to live in of hers or any other means of living. “What will happen to me? I haven’t anything.” (Hellman 482). She then says “I did everything I could I- I haven’t any place to go.” (Hellman 482). She believes that she did everything she could to help Martha. She does not understand why she would kill herself. Mortar also has no place to go now that her niece is gone.

Lily Mortar is the spark of the revolution. By not returning for the trial, she is also the extinguisher of Martha and Karen’s hope for justice. Mortar is a self-interested, past romanticizer, who is interested in no one but herself. She does not see the world as a whole. She is only interested in her best interests and who and what can help her achieve that. The entire play hinges on her attitude and her self-interest. She said those words to Martha in a fury, and she did not come home to testify because she was busy enjoying herself with her theatre and traveling.

Who Needs Gender Roles When We Can Have Pizza Rolls

 

Cultural pressures and societal expectations takes the human body and turns it into a commodity.  People are expected to adhere to these rules or else they are othered.  They are seen as a deviant and are made fun of in every aspect of their life just for doing something differently.  People are assigned a sex at birth and that is what society tells them they are.  When people are old enough to form their own thoughts they then know their gender.  They know what they truly are.  The human body is something that is so intimate and personal and yet society has branded it as its own.

The difference between sex and gender is what is assigned to you and how you think of yourself.  Sex is something that is assigned to you at the time of your birth.  It is determined by your genitalia and has nothing to do with how you think of yourself.  It is purely your anatomy.   You have no say in the matter and it is something that will stay with you until you legally change it for the rest of your life.

Gender is something that you assign yourself.  This is something that you think and feel.  It has nothing to do with your anatomy or genitalia.  There is not just the assumed “male” and “female.” People can consider themselves either of those two things, neither of those two things, or both of those two things.  Some people are genderfluid, something that flows between male and female.  Some people do not believe in the gender binary and see themselves as neither male nor female because they do not believe that exists.

If your gender matches up with what you were assigned at birth, that means you are “cisgender.” If you identify as something other than what you were assigned at birth, you may be “transgender.” People’s personal pronouns range from “he/his,” “she/her,” to “they/them,” “ze/zer,” and otherwise.  No one can know your pronouns unless you tell them.  No one should assume your pronouns.

Gender is not something that can be seen with the eye.  People have to be told what gender you see yourself as.  No one should assign someone a gender when they see or meet them.  Gender is something that is very personal and should not have to be explained.  People should take it for what it is and move on. It should never be assumed.  Asking for someone’s pronouns is not something that is rude; it is something that is considerate.

Cultural pressures and societal norms control the body at all times.  People are expected to fit into the gender binary and not stray from it.  Women are supposed to be small and take up no space.  They are expected to be curvy, but not too curvy.  They are expected to have a big butt and big boobs, but not too big.  Women are supposed to have full lips and long hair.  They are supposed to wear heels and dresses.  Their make up is supposed to look natural, but they need to have lipstick, foundation, contour, eye shadow, eyeliner, mascara, and fill in their eyebrows.  Men are supposed to have broad shoulders and thick arms.  They are supposed to have a six pack stomach.  They need to have a chiseled jaw line and thick, but not too thick eyebrows.   They are expected to be tall and take up a lot of room.  They need to wear slacks and button up shirts and always look presentable.

If anyone goes against these societal norms they are seen as deviant.  They are not right.  They are made fun of, ridiculed, and mocked.  They are “othered.”  If women cut their hair short or do not wear make up they are made fun of.  They are expected to tailor to the male gaze.  However, if they do adhere to these cultural pressures, they are then catcalled and ridiculed in other ways.  Women have more leeway with the clothing in that they can wear pants and shorts.  Men have no leeway with wearing skirts or dresses.  In society’s eyes they are simply just not allowed to.  That would be completely unheard of and would go against everything that society has worked toward.

Marketing is made up of societal pressures and expectations and cultural norms.  Everything is tailored to that one specific ideal. This is how big corporations make money.  People want to stick so strictly to these norms that they are willing to do and buy whatever it takes to adhere to them.  Women’s pockets are purposefully made too small to hold anything so that they will have to buy big fancy purses to carry anything in.  This is a way that society pressures people into buying.

The biggest way that someone can go against these expectations is very simple.  All someone has to do is love themselves shamelessly for who they are.  If someone can do that, then they have won.  They do not have to play any sort of game to try to look good in someone else’s or society’s eyes.  They can do whatever they want and they can be whomever they want.  If they want to follow some or even all of these expectations, that is fine, but they are doing it for themselves and that makes all the difference.

Women are made fun of if they wear make up because they are tailoring themselves to the male gaze.  Women are made fun of if they do not wear make up because they are not tailoring themselves to the male gaze and are seen as ugly.  However, if a woman wants to wear make up for herself, she should.  If she does not want to wear make up for herself, she should not.  No one should change themselves just to please someone else.  The only person you have to please is you.

You are powerful when you love yourself.  There is no greater weapon against anything.  Even if someone says something to you that hurts, you know that hurt will pass.  You know that you are greater than whatever that person is telling you.  You know that you can rise above it.  There is no one you have to please but yourself.  When you love yourself you are telling society and everyone who believes in society’s expectations and cultural pressures that you know better.  You know better than to fall into their tricks and you are onto them.  You see what game they are playing and you will show everyone that you are better than that.

The relationship of the body to culture is such a huge one.  The body is something that everyone can see instantly.  It is not something that you slowly learn over time.  People’s reactions are instantaneous and very judgmental.  Society has ingrained their expectations into us so securely that it is almost ingrained into us what to think.  When we make our first snap judgment that is what society expects of us.  Our second thought is what we actually think or feel.  Culture expects so much out of people’s bodies that it is almost laughable.  The body is something that is so personal and yet society expects us to change to their every whim.

I am personally a bigger woman.  I have been my entire life.  Society dictates that because I am bigger I do not care for myself properly.  They are concerned with my “health” without knowing what I do.  Thinner women who do not eat healthy or exercise do not face this same judgment so it clearly has nothing to do with actual “health” only perceived societal expectations of what a woman’s body should look like.

When I was younger I was involved with many sports.  I played on two different softball teams and was on the swim team at the same time.  I was also involved with marching band.  These activities took up a lot of my time and were very physical.  Even during these times I was still not “thin.” My pediatrician explicitly told me that I would never be a thin woman.  I am “big boned,” whatever that means.  Since high school my activities have become few and far between.  While I am about the same size that I was, I definitely have gained a little weight.

I eat relatively healthy, and while I know I do not exercise as much as I should I do get a good amount of time in.  While I do think about how I could do better for myself I do not think I should change my habits for anyone but myself.  I do not want to change my routine because society says I should.  I know that I am fat, while it may not be okay in my eyes it is not because of the culture and society that I was raised in.  It is because of my personal insecurities.

My outward indifference to my body really surprises people.  While I do not strive to talk about it, I do not strive not to talk about it.  I know that I am a fat woman and while I do not exactly take pride in it, I know that this is who I am.  I do not want to change who I am because society tells me to.  I know that when I have time to sort things out I will do so, but it will be because I want to, not anyone else.  I take pride knowing that while I may not love myself unconditionally, I will not bend to what society expects from me.

I do not wear much make up.  I do not straighten my hair every day, so it is always a little frizzy.  I do not do anything to my eyebrows.  I do not dress fancily for anyone unless I want to look good for myself.  When I want to take extra time to look good for myself I will.  However, I do not feel that I need to take extra time out of my busy day to change something about myself that I will not see until I pass a mirror in the bathroom for ten seconds.  It does not make sense to me.

Gender is something that is entirely your own and society has no say over.  This is probably why people have such an issue with people who do not adhere to their assigned sex.  If someone is not cisgender they are breaking the cultural norms and expectations therefore becoming a deviant.  They are looked down upon and ridiculed because they chose to not follow what is expected of them.  Society brands human bodies as their own.  They tell people what to do and think is right for them without abandon.  The way people can become powerful is by loving themselves shamelessly.  If someone can love themselves without reservation they take away society’s hold on them.  They no longer have that constricting pressure to be something that they are not.

White Savior Industrial Complex

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Photo from Kevin Jackson’s “White Privilege Explained”

Since at least the British Abolitionist Movement white men have been the main storytellers even if the story is not about them.  Mary Prince’s narrative of enslavement and Nicholas Kristof’s tales of sex slave workers of today both come from the perspective of a white man.  How accurate can the experiences that are individual to people of color, women, or the enslaved be if they are told through the voice of their oppressor?

Through scholarly research, other stories, and videos, it is clear that these stories are watered down to try to have a white audience begin to understand what the enslaved of every kind were and still are going through.

The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave is a verbal story from Mary Prince herself.  However, Thomas Pringle, a white man, was her “editor.”

Mary Prince recalls her enslavement, “I then took courage and said that I could stand the floggings no longer; that I was weary of my life, and therefore I had run away to my mother; but mothers could only weep and mourn over their children, they could not save them from cruel masters- from the whip, the rope, and the cowskin.”

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Photo from Eugenia O’Neal’s “Mary Prince- National Hero”

Jessica Allen suggests that Pringle did a bit more than just the normal editing. “Even though he claims in his preface that his alterations to the narrative were insignificant, he also admits to ‘exclud[ing] redundancies and gross grammatical errors.’”

How can Pringle’s alterations be “insignificant” if he excluded “redundancies and grammatical errors?” By whose authority are they redundancies or grammatical errors? Perhaps, that is the way that Prince wished her story be told.  Perhaps, that is just the way that Prince told a story, and by Pringle editing out parts of it, the story lost it’s Prince touch.

Allen goes on to say, “This context suggests Pringle’s supposedly insignificant omissions might be, in fact, quite significant, because they reflect the larger cultural responses.”

“A tension, then, emerges in Pringle’s editorial decisions: although in his preface he attempts to emphasize Prince’s humanity to promote anti-slavery sentiments, his dismissal and removal of her repetition violate her subjectivity by overlooking her authorial decisions” Allen continues, “Thus, he fails to fully acknowledge the humanity that he hopes the pamphlet will affirm.”

Pringle undermines Prince by editing her words.  But, there is no way to find out exactly how much he edited because there is no transcript of Prince’s story and no first draft.

In the same way that Pringle undermined Prince, today we have Nicholas Kristof undermining human trafficking stories.

This white man has almost 15 different stories published in The New York Times about human trafficking.

Having a white man be aware about human trafficking and trying to spread the word would be wonderful.  However, his articles are all very short, they have little to no pictures, and if they do, it is a picture of his own face.

The stories are always about his experience dealing with the people themselves who have experienced human trafficking.  He uses very little quotes from the survivors and does not really give them a voice at all.

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Photo of Nicholas Kristof from The New York Times website.

When talking about a survivor Srey Pov, Kristof writes, “She’s a tough interview because she breaks down as she recalls her life in a Cambodian brothel, and pretty soon my eyes are welling up, too.”

That’s very sad that your eyes are welling up too, but this is supposed to be a story about Srey Pov, not Nicholas Kristof.

Kristof also offers a lot of non-solutions.  He states, “I think the most important single step is for prosecutors to focus more on pimps and johns. Closing down the leading Web site used by traffickers would complicate their lives, and after so many years of girls being trafficked on this site, it’s time to hold owners accountable.”

Of course it is important to focus on pimps and johns when talking about human trafficking, but that is a very easy way out.  Kristof can give more than a lame shot at a real solution rather than one that is almost a given.

Here is a short video about the human trafficking of today and a few statistics.

Teju Cole is a Nigerian-American and he had a major call out to the white savior industrial complex that is evident in Pringle and Kristof.

In a series of tweets Cole said,

“From Sachs to Kristof to Invisible Children to TED, the fastest growth industry in the US is the White Savior Industrial Complex. The white savior supports brutal policies in the morning, founds charities in the afternoon, and receives awards in the evening. The banality of evil transmutes into the banality of sentimentality. The world is nothing but a problem to be solved by enthusiasm. This world exists simply to satisfy the needs—including, importantly, the sentimental needs—of white people and Oprah. The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege. … I deeply respect American sentimentality, the way one respects a wounded hippo. You must keep an eye on it, for you know it is deadly.”

Cole goes on to say that for white people, it’s more about their own needs and validation of their emotional “healing”than anything else.

Cole explains it as the following photo, the invisible black child, and the prominent white man.

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Photo from Teju Cole’s “The White-Savior Industrial Complex”

Cole has actually spoken about Kristof, he said, “He does not connect the dots or see the patterns of power behind the isolated ‘disasters.’ All he sees are hungry mouths, and he, in his own advocacy-by-journalism way, is putting food in those mouths as fast as he can. All he sees is need, and he sees no need to reason out the need for the need.”

Cole is saying that Kristof does not dig deep enough into the problems that he is facing.  This is very similar to his non-solutions.  He is more than willing to help fix the end result, but he does not realize that he can stop the problem from happening altogether.

If we took Kristof and put him in the shoes of a woman of color, we would get Alicia Nunn.  She is just starting her journalism career at the Huffington Post, but in her most recent article, “A Salute To Warrior Women Past and Present” she really makes a splash.

Nunn talks about how survivors are strong, and that they can look up to people to help them make it through. Nunn also gives statistics about trafficking.

She said, “Sex trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise with 20.9 million adults and children bought and sold into sex slavery, forced labor and bonded labor globally. 98% of sex trafficking victims are women and girls.”

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Photo from Rachel Pross’s “How a Human Trafficking Victim Shook This Sheltered American Girl to the Core”

Nunn goes on to say, “Poverty and gender discrimination make women vulnerable to this horrible human rights violation. Sex slavery cannot exist in a world where women are valued as equal to men.”

This is what representation should look like.  A woman of color writing about how survivors can live and giving important information to others.

You always have to question the source of where you are getting your information.  How much of Mary Prince’s story was edited? How much is Kristof editing out of these human trafficking victims stories? Their white savior complex has gone too far.

As Teju Cole said, “The White Savior Industrial Complex is a valve for releasing the unbearable pressures that build in a system built on pillage.”

It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over

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Flowers were placed at Yogi Berra’s statue outside the Yogi Berra Museum at Montclair State University

Lawrence “Yogi” Berra died on September 23, 2015 at age 90.  He was the New York Yankee’s catcher, a manager, an All-Star for 15 consecutive seasons, and a 10 time World Series Winner.

Berra’s death was announced via the Yogi Berra Museum twitter early this morning.

President of Montclair State University Susan Cole, is quoted on the school website saying, “The Montclair State community is deeply saddened by the loss of our longtime friend, neighbor and supporter Yogi Berra.  We are proud that our campus is home to the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center. It will continue to serve as a lasting memorial to the outstanding achievements and inspiring sportsmanship of this legendary athlete and compassionate citizen.”

Berra is famous for his “Yogi-isms” and his quick wit on and off the field.  Perhaps some of his most famous quotes are “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over,” “It’s deja vu all over again,” and “You can observe a lot just by watching.”

The Yogi Berra Museum on Montclair State University’s campus is free today in honor of his memory.  There were news trucks as well as students and fans at the museum in quiet remembrance.

“I’ve been a Yankee fan for as long as I can remember, since I was born, really,” said John Valikus, “We’ve been to a couple Old Timers’ Days and we’ve seen Yogi at book signings here at Montclair State, and at Costco.  His grandson was actually a student of mine.  So I would ask him to bring home balls and get his grandfather to sign them. It was really great. But I think Yogi’s rapid decline happened after his wife passed away. It just seems like it really broke his heart.”

Many other fans and students mourned the loss of Yankees legend at the Museum by placing flowers at his statue outside.

Number 8 will always be remembered by baseball and non-baseball fans alike.  Thoughts and prayers go to his family, friends, and loved ones.

As Berra said, “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.”

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Fence at the Yogi Berra Museum at MSU.

Love The Wine You’re With

It is a beautiful brisk March morning in Madison New Jersey.  The home of Link and Sofie Larsen is shining magnificently in the sunlight.  The door opens to reveal a tall, slender man juggling two toddlers in each arm.  “Welcome!” Behind him stands a woman with beautiful flowing brown hair.  Their home is open, airy, and lets all the light in.

After sitting on the couch Larsen explains how he got into importing and selling wine.  “Just going out to dinner I got interested in wine and started drinking a lot of wine.  I’ve always worked in restaurants as well, like in Hibernia and Manhattan.  There was a place in New Brunswick called North Star and I became the head bartender there, and then the wine director there.  That kinda led me to working in Manhattan at Union Square Wines and from there I met my partner and we just loved Italian wine.”

Larsen continued to say that there are a lot of big importers, but not a lot of little importers of wine.  He and his partner, Alexis Beltrami, wanted to import a very specific kind of wine, what is called Terroir Society.  It’s small, family owned, and has organic producers.  The wines are very representational of where they come from. Larsen and Beltrami then created a company called Terroir Society Wines.

Terroir Society Wines is a bicoastal company.  They sell in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Then on the West coast they sell in California, Oregon, and Washington.

In addition to Larsen’s own company he also works for one called Lauber Imports.  It’s one of the biggest importers of wine that there is.  He says, “I’m physically selling those wines, whereas with my company I sell it to a distributor who then has people go out and sell it,” Larsen describes.  “We sell primarily in high end restaurants in Manhattan,” Larsen goes on, “I actually have the top five restaurants in Manhattan. I can’t afford to eat there, but God it’s fun going.”

Before he got married Larsen would be in Italy three to four times a year in different wine regions developing relationships.  There are twenty wine regions in Italy, and they have wines from almost all of them. Most of their wines are from Italy, however there is a small percentage from France and Spain.

There is an international wine fair called Vinitaly that happens in March or April where not all, but thousands of Italian wineries are represented and you can go taste all their wines at this major event.  Larsen would go every year to build relationships with their exporters and distributors.

Larsen says his own company only takes up about 5% of his day now.  “I worked so hard on my company every day for such a long time that now everything is sort of on autopilot,” Larsen comments.  He explains that now it’s mostly just emails and setting up appointments for distributors and tastings.

Larsen looks once more to his family in the other room. He says, “I’m going to Spain in a few weeks to meet with a client that we’ve had for ten years. It’s hard to leave these little buggers behind.  I never used to have to worry about it.  But it’s a relatively quick trip so I should be back to this madhouse in no time.”

 

To see this published, please look at Wired Jersey’s website.

Not A Tie, Just Two Winners

Tuesday night was the first Democratic Debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook.  The two frontrunners for the Democratic party, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have not received equal media attention the day after the debate.

In polls by viewers they have Sanders winning the debate by a landslide.  Slate’s poll has Sanders ahead 70% to 16%. Time’s poll has him ahead 57% to 11%. C-Span has him ahead 10,000 people to 1,200 people.  MSNBC has him up 15,000 to 2,600. There is no denying how far ahead of Hillary he is with the viewers.

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However, when it comes to the editors and the news articles, the exact opposite is true.  Everyone says Hillary won, without question.  Slate’s article is titled, “Yes, Hillary Won The Debate.” Time says “Hillary Clinton Takes Control In First Democratic Debate.” MSNBC tells, “Hillary Clinton Solidifies Top Spot In Democratic Debate.”

CNN takes the cake with more than one article on Clinton’s “win.”  The “Democratic Debate Winners and Losers” by CNN journalist Jeremy Diamond has Clinton as a clear “Winner” and Sanders as “Unclear” because “[he] didn’t shock anyone.” Another article is titled “Hillary’s Big Night On The Debate Stage.”  The interesting thing is that there is not a single article on anything Sanders said last night, regardless of whether he won or lost.

The Sanders supporters media blackout hits an all time high when CNN completely deletes their poll asking who won, when Sanders was ahead of Hillary 82% to 14%.

At the debate Sanders said, “I believe in a society where all people do well.” The viewers and the voters clearly had their say, and there is just one that is on top.

 

To see this article published, you can go to Wired Jersey’s website.

Laura Jones

I actually never wanted to teach.  It was a total accident that turned into my absolute passion in life.  When I was in undergraduate I just loved ideas, I loved learning, I loved the arts.  But I thought teaching was- I just thought it wasn’t for me.  I was really shy, I liked being behind a closed door reading, or talking to friends.  I couldn’t imagine being in front of a class.  But then I just sort of happened into high school teaching and quickly found out it was the best thing I’d ever experienced, and the hardest, but I very quickly found that it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  So. I feel really lucky.

I didn’t have an original plan.  I mean. I feel like most undergrads are like, “I don’t know! This is fun! I don’t know what comes next.” So after I graduated from undergrad I worked.  I was a cheese girl.  I worked in a cheese shop where I chopped these gigantic wheels of cheese into smaller slices.  Worked in coffee shops, worked in bookstores.  Just slacked off for a few years until I figured out what I wanted to do.

I actually like high school and college equally for very different reasons.  I like the material in college.  A lot.  We can go deeper; we can be more “intellectual” about things.  It’s more challenging.  In high school though, students seem to be, for whatever reason, more funny, and irreverent, and sassier, and I love that.  Students in college are so respectful and I appreciate it.  But I love the smart asses, and there just aren’t very many smart asses in college.

 

 As Told To: betwitchingbrielle

There Will Be Light

“They’re the perfect loving family so adoring, and I love them every day of every week. So my son’s a little shit, my husband’s boring, and my daughter though a genius in a freak. Still I help them love each other; father, mother, sister, brother, cheek to cheek.” These are the opening lines to the musical Next To Normal. This production’s book and lyrics are by Brian Yorkley.   The music is by Tom Kitt. Next To Normal tells the story of Diane, a bipolar mother and her and her family’s struggles with everyday life. Her husband Dan has to help her drive and get through each day of therapy with the help of Doctor Madden. Her daughter Natalie is sixteen, trying to make it though day by day with her boyfriend Henry, the stoner. She is trying to get into Yale early for the piano. Diane’s son Gabriel is involved in all sorts of school things. However, he never is in the room with his sister or father, and seems to be giving Diane all sorts of wrong advice.

I saw this production while it was on Broadway a couple years ago. However, I saw it again at The 4th Wall Theatre at the Westminister Arts Center in Bloomfield very recently. The cast was made up of Nancy Feldman as Diana Goodman, Gregory Allen as Dan Goodman, David Maglione as Gabriel Goodman, Kelly Karcher as Natalie Goodman, Miles Jackson as Henry, and John Wilkening as Dr. Fine/Dr. Madden. Each actor did an absolutely superb job. This is such an emotionally heavy show. They played it just the right way and had me on the edge of my seat, even though I knew what happened. They were wonderful; I felt as if these actors really were their characters. Every time you see a production of a show you have seen before you catch different things, and maybe see things from a different perspective. I definitely had this happen with this performance in comparison to it on Broadway.

This show is about Diane, a mother who has a bipolar disorder. (Spoilers!) She believes that her son who died as an infant is still living with her, her husband, and her daughter. Natalie, sixteen, can see that something is wrong and her father Dan takes Diane to therapy to try to help. After going through many drugs to finally find the right prescription, Diane stops taking them under the guide of her dead son, Gabriel. She then attempts suicide with the help of Gabe. After this her therapist suggests electroshock therapy. After some debate she goes through with it and doesn’t remember her son Gabriel. However, she doesn’t remember anything after the night she met her husband for the first time. After she regains her memory she still feels as if she is missing something. When she finds out about Gabe she decides it’s time for her to move out and try to come to terms with things on her own. The musical ends with a song titled Light which talks about hope for a brighter future and how they are able to overcome this obstacle together as a family.

The musicality of the show is incredible. There are a lot of deliciously crunchy dissonant chords that just chill you to the bone. The overall tone of this musical is dissonant and wonderful. There are a lot of interesting keys, both major and minor. The music jumps around from being in a comfortable four, to three four, six eight, cut time, and other mixed meters. It gives the musical a completely different feel depending on the music. You can feel the uneasiness, tension, hurriedness, sadness, and loss in every single note.

The performance was wonderful. The actors were working off books and they had the entire thing memorized, blocked, and choreographed. The venue was a small little theatre. It was very intimate and felt as if you were really looking into their home and watching what was going on in their lives. The acoustics were great, and the sound system that they were using was actually working and not glitching at all. There was no repertoire from the American Popular Songbook, only what was written by Brian Yorkley and Tom Kitt.