Friday, July 10, 2015

On the Death of John Sperry & my mom's love life

My mother told me the names of 3 of her boyfriends who she dated prior to marrying my father.  This happened a long time ago, so she said she was a virgin when she married.  The word “dating” means something different now, but there weren’t contraceptives then.  I did not find out these names, actually, until after my father died.

They were John Sperry, who she dated in high school, when they were both vacationing in Randolph, NH; Alan Horton, who she dated in college, but also when vacationing in Randolph, NH; and the third was her friend “Ernie’s” brother.  If I remember correctly, the last might have been called Douglas Stowell — but I’m not sure about that.  Mom also dated this third guy in college, but later than Alan.  Ernie was a friend of hers who went to Mt. Holyoke.  The brother went to Dartmouth. I thought I had already blogged about that, but I see I didn't post it.

My understanding was that in High School my mom was totally not ready for any kind of commitment.  In college, Alan Horton proposed to her, but she never could decide, so eventually he gave up and found someone else.  The third guy apparently broke her heart by breaking off with her after college.

I don't think she had any serious romances again after that until she met my father -- tho I couldn't be quite sure about that either.  She met my father in 1949, six years after she graduated in college, so she took her time.

John Sperry died July 2, 2015.  He was 93 years old.  He outlived my mother by almost a decade.

I never met him in person.  He contacted me after my mother died. We became pen pals. He sent me lovely photos, mostly of the west coast.  He lived in Jenner California.

He was constantly out hiking and traveling internationally, showing extraordinary energy and vitality.  His illness was rather sudden and quick.  I gather he died 7 weeks after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

It’s funny.  When my mother first died, I thought he would die in fairly short order. I was scared to write to him, because I was afraid to hear that he had died.

But he was such a reliable correspondent that I started taking his communications for granted.  

Then, in 2013, I was diagnosed with stage 3c cancer.  I started thinking I might die before him. 

Then, this week I wrote him, sending him some photos this time, and found that he had died — so I squeaked by and did not die before him, apparently.  Still I don’t know that it would be realistic to aspire to 93 for me.


Here’s another blog about him

Monday, June 29, 2015

The orange (or red?) dress

This picture was taken by Gerry Goodstein.  Please note that if you click on his name you will reach his website. There is a story behind this picture.

Let us begin with the dress.  I wore this dress, because I perceive it as orange. The color here is not quite the same as the dress, because my scanner was not quite right with the colors and also I think the computer display may also not be quite right.  Gerry's picture has the right color.  The original is more orange than this.  In any case, I've found that others perceive the dress as red, even in person.  I wanted to wear orange, because it was the 25th of the month.

I've been told to wear orange on the 25th of every month to protest violence against women and girls.  Here's the link to the UN website that explains this  I first heard about this campaign from a member of my Quaker Meeting.  The link to my Quaker Meeting is: .

So, red or orange, I wore this dress into New York City on May 25, 2015.

One thing I planned to do on that day was rehearse with Gerry. We're both in a class at the Wynn Handman Studio.  Wynn cast us in some scenes from Arthur Miller's "All My Sons," as Kate & Joe Keller -- just for performance in class.

We planned to meet at Grand Central Terminal (GCT) and find a place to rehearse lines.  Ultimately that place turned out to be an empty platform.

Aside: Just for those who don't know, the difference between a train station and a train terminal is that in a station the tracks go through and in a terminal the tracks end.  The tracks mostly end at GCT.  That's why it's considered a terminal.

We agreed to meet, as I think most people agree to meet, by the information booth in the main room of the terminal.  When I first got there, I didn't see Gerry, so I pulled out my trusty cell phone and started accessing the Internet -- probably Facebook -- and also sending him a text, telling him I was there.

While I was using my cell phone, Gerry, who is a professional photographer, started photographing me, because of the striking color of my dress.  He points out that behind me in the photo there is also someone photographing me.  He thought there were others as well.

When he took this picture, he did not realize who he was photographing.

When he started taking pictures, I did not notice, but eventually I did see him taking my picture.  I looked back down at my cell phone, because I wanted to finish something I was writing, and also figured he would want to finish his photograph.

Afterwards, I waved at him and he realized who I was.  He was quite bemused.

So, we live in a city that tourists often visit, the largest city in the country, home of the United Nations, arguably the capital of the world -- and here we were in a historic landmark -- but a striking dress still draws a lot of attention, apparently.

I am hoping that that attention might go to the campaign to end violence against women and girls.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Casting Directors I have taken courses from

Erika Foss-DeMeza
Meredith Jacobson Marciano
Leah Shapiro
Ned Lott
Bob Cline
Misha Calvert
Joanne Levenger
Kimberly Graham
Lisa Fischoff
Allison Kirschner
Mia Cusmano
Janet Murphy Butler
Angela Mickey
Rebecca Yarsin
Bryant Falk
Scott Wojcik
Cindi Rush
Rachel Hoffman
Stephanie Klapper
Jack Bowdan
Barry Shapiro
Andy Roth
Harley Kaplan
Tisha Ioli
David Vaccari
Jennifer McNamara
Trey Lawson

Sunday, June 14, 2015

List of Improv Courses I Have Taken

Please note that the date above is the date when this document was created, but I keep editing it
  • Improv 3, Magnet Theatre, Ross Taylor, January - February 2021 via zoom
  • Improv 2, magnet theater, Ross Taylor October-December 2020 via zoom
  • Musical Improv 2 with Katie Hammond at The Pit Theater 5/9/19-6/28/19 (includes class show)
  • Cherub performance 3/10/19 at NYU Langone d Evie Aronson & rehearsal with Evie Aronson
  • Cherub rehearsal 2/10/19 with John Swift  -- also performed at NYU Langone d M Condon
  • Musical Improv 101 with Eric Gerson 10/20/18-12/16/18 UCB + class show
  • Musical Improv Power Up with Jon Bander 10/20/18 NYMIF
  • Cherub Improv rehearsal with John Swift 9/23/18
  • rehearsed and performed with Spooky Doings 5/5/18
  • Cherub improv rehearsal with John Swift 4/6/18
  • Practice and Performance with Spooky Doings 1/18/17
  • Practice & performance with Geezers, Suzanne Hitchman, coach, 7/15/17
  • Practice & performance with Spooky Doings, Shacottha Fields coach, 6/3/17
  • Geezers: practice group & performance, Andrew Cornelius coach, 5/20/17
  • Improv 412 UCB, NYC with Frank Garcia-Hejl 3/22/17-4/19/17
  • Geezer improv practice March 2017; April 2017
  • Monoscene with Michael Lutton, Magnet Theater, 1/8/17-3/19/17
  • Character 101 with Chrissy Schakelford, UCB 1/7/17-3/5/17 this is actually a sketch class
  • Volunteer subject for coaching improv class with Armando Diaz Magnet Theater 1/21/17-2/18/17
  • Scenework for Musical Improv with Woody Fu, Magnet Training Center 12/1/16 through 12/22/16
  • 10,000 hours drop in sponsored by the PIT
  • Team Spooky Doings: rehearsals and performances
  • DCM 18 workshop with Erik Tanouye at UCB, NYC 6/22/16
  • Camp Magnet 2016 Dave Razowsky, Megan Gray, Jean Villepique, Michael Lutton, Elana Fishbein, Ed Herbstman, Louis Kornfeld, Rachel Hamilton, Hanna Chase 6/2/16-6/5/16
  • Basic Harmony for Musical Improvisers with Dan Reitz April 2016
  • 'Playing it Real," Improv Elective at UCB NYC Training Center with Gavin Speiller 4/5/16-4/12/16
  • 48th Street Exercise with Gary Austin at Artistic New Directions (AND), NYC 4/1/16
  • Musical Level 1 (retake) with Nikita Burdein/Miles Lyndahl/Frank Spitznagel at the Magnet Training Center 3/12/16-4/30/16
  • Level 1 for Experienced Improvisers with Armando Diaz at the Magnet Training Center 11/15/15 - 1/22/16
  • Special Effects with Peter McNerney at the Magnet Training Center 10/29/15-11/19/15
  • Musical Improv Workshop with Rebecca Vigil and Dan Reitz 11/7/15
  • Musical Improv Practice Group with Dan Reitz & Eric Gerson organized by Charone Frankel Spring-Fall 2015
  • Post UCB 401 Practice Group with Chris Griswold organized by Shanelle Riccio Summer 2015
  • "Embracing Musical Tropes," with Nikita Burdein at the Magnet Training Center 8/1/15
  • Camp Magnet 2015 (D Razowski, M Grey, R Andrews, L Kornfeld. E Herbstman, R Hamilton, A Marino)
  • UCB 401 June-July 2015 with Eric Tanouye
  • UCB 301 March - April 2015 with Dave Siegel
  • Musicality of Musical Improv Winter 2015 with Rebecca Vigil & Dan Rietz
  • Scenework for Musical Improv with Woody Fu 3/29/15
  • Face Your Improv Fears Caitlyn Steitzer 2/8/15
  • Musical Improv 2 November & December 2014 with Ryan Dunkin, Jon Bander, and Frank Spitznagel
  • Artistic New Directions Intensive with Scotty Watson and Michael Gellman November 2014
  • UCB 201 Summer 2014 with J Jennings & Nicole Drespel
  • Camp Magnet 2014 (Dave Razowski, Rachel Hamilton, Eric Hebstman, Alex Marino, Rick Andrews, Louis Kornfeld)
  • Scene Rebooted Greg Hess 5/10/14
  • Improv Cabaret 4/11/2014 with Barry Shapiro
  • Musical Improv 2 March - April 2014 with Ryan Dunkin & Frank Sptiznagel
  • Musical Improv Level 1 Michael Lutton & Frank Spitznagel December 2013-January 2014
  • UCB 101 intensive: summer 2013 with Dave Siegel & Dan Fanelli
  • Short form drop in with Beth Hicks summer 2013
  • Pro-(positive) Choices Dave Razowsky June 17, 2013
  • Level 4: Senior Project - Deconstruction with Alex Marino April - June 2013
  • Level 3: intro to Harold with Louis Kornfeld Feb-March 2013
  • Level 1& 2 Intensive: with Rick Andrews & Louis Kornfeld January 2013
  • Magnet Drop In at various times with Sean Taylor, James Rivera, and Frank Bonamo
  • Hip Hop Debate drop in at various times with N@t the Fourth and John Heffley
I was also on a Magnet Theater " Circuits" team coached by Sebastian Connelli.  Hannah Chase was a visiting coach as well.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Lousy @WholeFoods shopping trolley

One of the things I try to do in this blog is document products that break prematurely.  One such product is a shopping trolley that I bought from Whole Foods about a month ago.

One thing that has happened is that the sleeve that holds the drawstring has pulled off.  Here you can see where I've improvised a bunch of safety pins, held closed with gorilla tape, to hold the draw string.

Another thing that has happened is that the rectangular piece at the bottom of the trolley, which is there to give the trolley structure and hold the cargo off the wheels, is breaking through the fabric.   Here you can see where I have put gorilla tape over the corners, to keep protect the corners where the holes are and keep small objects from falling out.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Marble Hill Train Station

Before I moved to Tarrytown, NY, I lived in New York City.  The whole time I lived in New York City, I never heard of the Marble Hill Train Station.  After I moved to Tarrytown, I learned that it is a transfer point to the NYC subway system (#1 Line) from the Hudson Line of MetroNorth.  Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people transfer there every day.

Here's a picture from the Broadway Bridge.  You can see the station, down by the Harlem River, with four flights of stairs leading up to the street.

Here's a very short YouTube video I made of this spot 

There are another three flights of stairs to get up to the #1 subway, as it's an "EL" there.  Here is a picture of the additional three flights of stairs to get to the subway.  

There's no elevator.  This is probably the least handicapped accessible train station and transfer point I've ever heard of.  The people who transfer there have to be in good shape.

Not very PC 

On the other hand, it's an amazingly beautiful place.  It overlooks the Harlem River to the south.

Here's the Broadway Bridge from the station.  It's a bridge that can rise up like an elevator on the towers to let boats, through, tho it's rare that they do it, because the #1 subway goes over the bridge.  One time I did get stuck for a long time on the #1, because the bridge was up.

The north side, which is blasted out of the rock, is also picturesque.  Maybe you can see from the width of the roof how very narrow the single platform is at this station.

When I sit on the platform and look to the river, I feel like I'm on the porch of a resort, looking at the water.

It's sort of an anachronism, not having an elevator -- but perhaps that comes with the territory of having such great natural beauty.

So I just thought I'd tell people about it.


I'm just fascinated with this place. Here's another video


Addendum 230408

I found an interesting historical article that includes some information about the Harlem River and Marble Hill

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

NYC campaign to stop moms from co-sleeping with infants.

I am very upset about The New York City  campaign to stop moms from sleeping with their babies described here

They are dead wrong about this and are hurting children, possibly even killing them.

Co-sleeping helps prevent SIDS see

Co-sleeping also facilitates night time breast feeding. Moms who have to get up to breast feed get more tired and are more likely to stop.  I found this from personal experience having breastfed one baby who did not co-sleep and one who did.

Breast feeding is very important to infant health  Making babies sleep separately from moms is putting them at risk of early weaning, when they should be breastfed exclusively until age six months and with supplementation at least until age two.

The City is grouping together unconnected information about sleeping accidents in a misleading way. Yes, blankets and pillows can suffocate a child.

I cannot believe that a sober mom will roll over on her child. Sober moms learned not to roll over on their children when pregnant and continue to sleep very lightly for the rest of their lives, because of the concerns they develop for their children. If you have moms who roll over on their babies, I suspect they are usually drunk, high or lying. It is wrong to stop moms from sleeping with their babies due to these questionable instances.

I am particularly concerned that moms who are not using alcohol or drugs are going to be labeled as child abusers for sleeping with babies, when in fact that's the best thing for the baby.

I believe that the New York City campaign is putting babies at risk of SIDS and early weaning -- and not really addressing the issue of young moms who are chemically dependent and therefore endangering their children. I implore them to stop this misguided action.