Monday, April 30, 2012

Sunday, April 29, 2012

THIS DAY IN HISTORY APR. 29

On April 29, 1945 American soldiers liberated the Dachau concentration camp.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY APR. 28

On April 28, 1967 boxing champion Muhammad Ali refused to be inducted into the Army.  (Was probably still Cassius Clay at this time).



Saturday, April 28, 2012

HUMOR


                                                                        

            What tickles your funny bone?  A pie in the face?  A slip on a banana peel?  Or, do you prefer dry, sophisticated English wit?
            Humor is very subjective, influenced by so many demographics. A person’s age, gender, nationality, and ethnic identification, are only some of the factors determining that which one considers humorous.
            Years ago, I dated someone of a different nationality.  He couldn’t understand why The Mary Tyler Moore Show made me laugh.  He didn’t get the cultural subtleties. On the other hand, he did enjoy Sanford & Son, a show I hated but whose humor was much broader than that of the MTM show and therefore more easily understood.
            Most women don’t get why men love The Three Stooges (I grew up with the Stooges because I was influenced by my older brother).
            In addition to gender and culture, ethnic identification is a strong variable in determining one’s outlook on humor. At one point, in the nineties, three networks were airing sitcoms each of which appealed to a particular niche (ABC’S “blue collar” shows like Grace Under Fire and Rosanne, NBC’s “urban shows” such as Friends and Seinfeld and the WB's numerous sitcoms which appealed to predominantly black audiences.)
            Perhaps one of the biggest divides is generational. Comedy has changed a good deal over the years. Charlie Chaplin gave way to the Marx Brothers who gave way to Bob Hope who gave way to Woody Allen who gave way to Chris Rock, and so on.
            Humor today, in my opinion, has become more mean-spirited and cynical. Maybe this happened after 9/11 or maybe it would have evolved this way naturally. (My son loves Always Sunny in Philadelphia but it does nothing for me).
            Some humor is timeless (The Honeymooners) while even the best (All in the Family) can seem dated with the passage of time.
            Fortunately, with all the technology that is available to us these days, there is no shortage of places from which we can all find the types of humor that make us laugh.

Challenge your ‘humor meter’ with the following quiz (most of those listed below got their start in stand-up), then scroll down for the answers.  

  1.  Timeless comedy writer/director/actor whose Broadway play won record awards a few years back.
  2.  Quick witted comic who incorporated ironic word play into his act.
  3.  “Take my wife…”
  4.  Famous for his stand up monologues using a phone as a prop.
  5.  Black comic actor noted for the various personas he can mimic.
  6.  One of the first standup comediennes; known for her acerbic tongue.
  7.  Major black comic to whom Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock owe much.
  8.  “Well excuuuuse me”.
  9.  First comedienne to come out of the closet.
  10.  Foul mouthed black standup who had his own series in the seventies.
  11.  Star of hit 90’s sitcom based on his life.
  12.  Plump comedienne of the 60's.
  13.  Poster boy for A.D.D., starred in a hit sitcom of the 70’s.
  14.  Politically incorrect Jewish comic who has an ongoing role on The Simpsons.
  15. “You look mahvelous!”
  16. Won a well deserved Oscar for her role as Oda Mae Brown in a 90’s hit movie.
  17. Famous for his hand-on-cheek gesture accompanied by a “well!” he was known to have been a great influence on future stars such as Johnny Carson.
  18. As part  of a team, he was straight man for his ditzy wife.
  19. Her nasal voice, like nails on a chalkboard, didn’t prevent her from having a hit sitcom in the 90’s.
  20. “I can’t get no respect!”
  21. Beloved SNL star known for her role as Roseanne Roseannadanna.
  22. Rubber faced comic actor who came on the scene in the 90’s with his starring role in The Mask.


























1.Mel Brooks 2. George Carlin 3. Henny Youngman 4. Bob Newhart 5. Eddie Murphy 6. Joan Rivers 7. Richie Pryor 8. Steve Martin 9. Ellen DeGeneres 10. Red Foxx 11. Ray Romano 12. Totie Fields 13. Robin Williams 14. Jackie Mason 15.Billy Crystal 16. Whoopi Goldberg 17. Jack Benny 18. George Burns 19 Fran Drescher 20. Rodney Dangerfield 21. Gilda Radner 22. Jim Carey


Have a great weekend and thanks for joining me on RHODES LESS TRAVELED, Vivian

Friday, April 27, 2012

THIS DAY IN HISTORY APR. 27

      On April 27, 1987 Austrian president Kurt Waldheim was barred from entering the United States. He was accused of aiding in the execution of thousands of Jews in World War II.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

On April 26, 1986 the worst nuclear power plant accident in history occurred at Chernobyl, near Kiev, U.S.S.R.. 


Coincidentally, the other day, while traveling to San Francisco, I met an elderly woman and we struck up a conversation. She told me that she immigrated from Russia twenty years ago and that she was still having medical issues as a result of Chernobyl.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

THIS DAY IN HISTORY APR. 25

   On April 25, 1992 Islamic forces took over most of Kabul, Afghanistan after the Soviet-controlled government collapsed.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

THIS DAY IN HISTORY APRIL 24

     Turks began deportation of Armenians that led to the massacre of between 600,000 and 1.5 million Armenians.

Monday, April 23, 2012

THIS DAY IN HISTORY APR. 23

     Sirhan Sirhan was sentenced to death (later reduced to a life sentence) for the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.

Friday, April 20, 2012

TAKING A BREAK TODAY


I am going to forgo my usual blog today because I’ve been busy preparing for the film pitch festival I will be attending tomorrow. The event is an offshoot of the writers’ workshop to which I belong.

Wish me luck, have a great weekend, and thanks for joining me along RHODES LESS TRAVELED,

Vivian

THIS DAY IN HISTORY APR. 20

     On April 20, 1841 what is, by many, considered to be the first detective story, Edgar Allen Poe's Murders in the Rue Morgue was published.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

THIS DAY IN HISTORY APR. 19

     On April19 1775, The "shot heard around the world" was fired. Colonial Minute Men took on British Army regulars at Lexington and Concord, Mass., starting the American Revolution.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

THIS DAY IN HISTORY APR. 18

On April 18, 1906 The Great San Francisco Earthquake destroyed over 4 sq mi. and killed over 500 people.

Monday, April 16, 2012

THIS DAY IN HISTORY APR. 16

    On April 16, 2007, a male student, Cho Seung-Hui, killed two in a Virginia Tech dorm, then killed 30 more 2 hours later in a classroom building. His suicide brought the death toll to 33, making the shooting rampage the most deadly in U.S. history. Fifteen others were wounded.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

THIS DAY IN HISTORY APR. 15

On April 15, 1912, Titanic sank off the coast of Newfoundland on its maiden voyage after it struck an iceberg. To commemorate the 100 year anniversary, James Cameron's Titanic was released in theaters this month. A teleplay about the sinking of the famed ship aired last night and TMC presented the film A Night To Remember, which also dealt with event.

   

Friday, April 13, 2012

FRIDAY THE 13TH.

Today is Friday the 13th, supposedly one of the most unlucky days of the year. There will be three such days in 2012 and apparently, this is one of the most widespread superstitions in the United States today.
            So just why is the day considered to be unlucky?  I researched some possible explanations.  For one thing, in numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of completeness, as reflected in the twelve months of the year, twelve hours of the clock, twelve gods of Olympus, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve Apostles of Jesus, the 12 successors of Muhammad in Shia Islam, etc., whereas the number thirteen was considered irregular, transgressing this completeness. There is also a superstition, thought by some to derive from the Last Supper or a Norse myth that having thirteen people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diners.
            In the past, some airlines skipped including the thirteenth row (probably fearing that many passengers wouldn’t book it.)  I recall years ago when I worked at Creative Artists Agency, we were situated on the fourteenth floor – there was no thirteenth floor. People working in the entertainment industry, by the way, are as superstitious as those in sports. (Try saying “Macbeth” in a theatre, or “good luck”.)
            As for Friday, it has often been regarded as an unlucky day to undertake journeys, begin new projects or deploy releases in production. Black Friday has been associated with stock market crashes and other disasters since the 1800s.
            In honor of the day (here comes some shameless promotion) – I am offering my newly released book, GROOMED FOR MURDER, free, for the next three days. Simply go to Amazon.com and look it up, or click here.
            Please help me spread the word by passing it along on Facebook.

Thanks for joining me on RHODES LESS TRAVELED, and be careful out there today.

Vivian

THIS DAY IN HISTORY APR. 13

    On April 13, 1970, Apollo 13 announced "Houston, we've got a problem," when an oxygen tank burst on the way to the Moon.

Monday, April 9, 2012

THIS DAY IN HISTORY APR. 9

     On April 9, 1942 American and Philippine troops on Bataan were overwhelmed by Japanese forces during World War II. The "Bataan Death March" began soon after.


Friday, April 6, 2012

CLASSIC LITERATURE

    
Through the years I have tutored high school students in the area of literature and I’ve noticed a distinct change in what kids are required to read these days and what constitutes literature.
            When I attended junior high school and high school, Dickens and Shakespeare were considered mandatory reading and almost all of their work was covered. Not so today. (Students might read A Christmas Carol, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, and Romeo and Juliet but not much more). In addition to this, the humanities were coordinated in such a way so that what one was studying in History corresponded to what one was reading in English (ie. When studying the French Revolution we were reading A Tale of Two Cities. We read Animal Farm when we learned about the Russian Revolution).
            It’s not that kids are not assigned required reading today, it’s that the list seems somewhat limited to The Outsiders, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Giver, Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm, and sometimes Fahrenheit 451.  The settings appear to be more futuristic in nature than historical, which most students might prefer. (Note the popularity of the Hunger Games trilogy).
            It’s true that literature is fluid and throughout generations, new works have been so well received as to become modern classics (such was the case with To Kill a Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye).  Recently, books such as House on Mango Street and Night have met those same qualifications. Understandably, new classics should be introduced and analyzed. It wouldn’t surprise me if, in a few years, The Help were to fall into this category.
            However, this begs the question, “Which older classics need be bumped to make way for the new ones?”  Recently, I mentioned to a student with whom I was working, the significance of Grapes of Wrath when studying California history. What I got in return was a blank stare.
            Surely it’s worth devoting even a few weeks to the study of classic literature if for no other reason than to be able to recognize the name Heathcliff during the course of a dinner conversation.

See if you can match the brief story line with the classic pieces listed below. Then scroll down for the correct answer.

1    Set at the time of the French invasion of Russia during the Napoleonic wars
2    In Salem Massachusetts, a woman is punished for having committed adultery
3    French revolutionaries take revenge upon the aristocracy
4    Various women stand accused, by their neighbors, of witchcraft
5    A family leaves the dustbowl of Oklahoma in search of employment in California
6    A small group of boys fend for themselves and form a hierarchy on a deserted island
7    Story of the nouveau  riche in pre-depression era Long Island
8    Tale of a man whose dreams of material success never quite come to fruition
9    Some might consider this a parable about the exploitive nature of whaling
10  In Northern California, two generations of brothers battle between good and evil
11  An Englishmen brings a swarthy, orphan into his home not knowing that the child is destined to, as an adult, become his daughter’s obsession.
12  A sailor, unjustly imprisoned for years, escapes and seeks his revenge.
13  A disabled outcast, hidden from society, falls in love with a beautiful woman.
14  An orphan, emotionally abused by her family as well as by the orphanage in which she was raised, finds work as a governess and falls in love with her employer
15  A woman, attempting to escape what she considers to be her provincial life, has a series of adulterous affairs.
16  In 19thC Russia, a woman first commits adultery and ultimately commits suicide
17  Set in 12thC England, it focuses on the battle between the Saxons and the Normans
18  Two friends, one of them ‘mentally challenged’, set out in depression era America to find work.
19  Emotional fallout from World War I described from the perspective of German soldiers
20  During the 19thC Klondike gold rush, a domesticated dog is snatched from a ranch in California and sold into a brutal life as a sled dog
21  A man must fend for himself after an ocean storm leaves him shipwrecked
22  A boy left to his own devices finds adventure along the Mississippi River.
23  An anti-slavery book published in 1852, it is said to have laid the groundwork for the Civil War
24  A tongue in cheek look at  the social mores of middle class English society in the 19thC.
25  A man and his companion set out to revive the art of chivalry.


SCROLL DOWN FOR ANSWERS:













1. WAR AND PEACE, 2. SCARLETT LETTER, 3 A TALE OF TWO CITIES, 4. THE  CRUCIBLE, 5GRAPES OF WRATH, 6.LORD OF THE FLIES, 7.THE GREAT GATSBY, 8. DEATH OF A SALESMAN, 9. MOBY DICK, 10. EAST OF EDEN, 11. WUTHERING HEIGHTS, 12. THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO, 13. THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, 14 JANE EYRE, 15. MADAME BOVARY, 16. ANNA KARENINA, 167 IVANHOE, 18. OF MICE AND MEN, 19. ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, 20. CALL OF THE WILD, 21. ROBINSON CRUSOE, 22. THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN, 23. UNCLE TOM’S CABIN, 24. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, 25. DON QUIOTE

Thanks for joining me along RHODES LESS TRAVELED and have a wonderful Passover/Easter weekend.

Vivian

THIS DAY IN HISTORY APR. 6

      On April 6, 1830 Joseph Smith and five others organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Fayette, New York.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

THIS DAY IN HISTORY APR. 4

    On April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated. I can vividly recall police on horseback riding in front of my Brooklyn high school trying to contain the rioting crowds.

Monday, April 2, 2012

THIS DAY IN HISTORY APR. 2

     Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon landed in Florida. He had set out to find the "fountain of youth"...he'd be somewhat surprised upon learning the demographics of Fort Lauderdale these days.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

THIS DAY IN HISTORY APR 1

     On April 1, 1970 President Nixon signed a bill into law banning cigarette ads from radio and television.