Tag Archives: MSNBC

Justice tales

I woke up in New York City Sunday morning, and took to channel surfing while brewing a lovely bit of hotel room coffee. First I stumbled on Bob Schieffer delivering his customary end of show remarks for “Face the Nation” on CBS — this week sharing some very personal pearls we’d all do well to remember as a noisy world amplifies more of our differences than similarities. Think humility, civility and appreciation for the wonders all around us.

Then Melissa Harris-Perry — an author, professor of political science at Tulane University and founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South — who hosts a weekend morning show on MSNBC.  Harris-Perry opened a marvelous riff on the role of arts in society by discussing President Obama’s recent White House screening of the film “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Soon she was quoting John F. Kennedy, sharing works by a Utah artist who blends paint with politics and putting a new face on the Jesus so often depicted with white skin and something of an overarching glow. All in the service of supporting art’s role in engaging citizens in dialogue. All powerful stuff — especially during a weekend filled with both Passover and Easter celebrations.

Things took a decidedly whimsical turn once I left my hotel room headed for Theatre Row on 42nd Street. People carrying Easter baskets turned up on the subway every now and then, but it was the gentlemen sporting tall rabbit ears that really grabbed my attention. If I was a rabbit, I’d surely be crying foul.

I passed banners for lots of events with a justice twist while walking from subway stop to theater, which reminded me that justice tales are on the horizon back home as well — as the South Mountain Community College Storytelling Institute concludes its annual “Folktales for Grownups” series Wed, April 11 with “The Jury’s Out: Tales of Justice.”

I’m told the event features “performances that spotlight time-honored folktales about justice from cultures around the world.” The SMCC Storytelling Institute notes that its storytelling programs “often contain sophisticated themes and content, and are suitable for both adults and young people.”

“The Jury’s Out: Tales of Justice” starts at 6:30pm on April 11, and latecomers aren’t seated — so get to the SMCC Studio Theatre (located at 7050 S. 24th St. in Phoenix) with time to spare. It features storytellers Sandy Oglesby, Kelly Davis, Harriet Cole, Mark Compton, Sule Wilson and KT Threatt.  Also Liz Warren, director of the Storytelling Institute, in emcee mode.

For those of you eager to explore justice-related themes with your children, I’ve included a sampling of books you might enjoy — many by author Margaret Read MacDonald, Ph.D., who has more than 30 years experience as a children’s librarian. Best to start exploring justice tales when your children are young lest they learn too late to care about such things.

— Lynn

Coming up: From lullaby to lion


Tony Award meets comic book?

I’d be getting ahead of myself by speculating at this point about whether or not the new and improved “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” will garner future Tony Award® nominations. But for reasons beyond my mere human powers to decipher, I’ve been inundated during the last day or so with comic-related news.

I’m not a huge fan of comic books or comic book characters, mostly because I know very little about them. Maybe “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” will turn out to be my gateway drug. Until now, my biggest contribution to the comic book universe was giving my daughter Lizabeth a lift to “Comic Zone” in Scottsdale so she could visit friends with a higher C.Q. than my own. But alas — no superhero came to the rescue as they readied to close up shop last month.

Lizabeth is headed out tonight to see a midnight showing of “X-Men: First Class” with a friend from her graduating class at Arizona School for the Arts. Last weekend it was “Phoenix Comicon.” My only recent brush with comic books was watching an MSNBC segment titled “Superhero Success” — with Deepak Chopra and son Gotham Chopra discussing a new book titled “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes.”

Seems mama Chopra used to fret about her son reading too may comic books, but father and son were quick to praise characters like “Batman” during the MSNBC interview for illustrating the importance of drawing strength from adversity. I’d love to read their review of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.”

Just the superhero I've been waiting for...

It appears I may finally have found a bit of comic book fare that I can relate to — because Scottsdale Public Art has just announced all sorts of free public events being held in conjunction with the “ZAP! POW! BAM!” exhibition you can enjoy through Sept 2 in a gallery located at the Scottsdale Civic Center Library. The exhibition was organized by The Bremen Museum in Atlanta.

Here’s an exhibit lowdown from event organizers…

“ZAP! POW! BAM! The Superhero: The Golden Age of Comic Books, 1938-1950” explores the genesis of cultural icons such as Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman and Captain America, and the way those figures shaped popular opinion.

During the economic and political turmoil of the 1930s and 1940s, comic books offered Americans champions who shaped the value of an entire generation. The exhibition examines the creative processes and influences that drove young, largely Jewish artists to express their talents through the story lines and art of graphic novels.

I’m told there’s a “ZAP Costume Ball” Thurs, June 9 in the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts atrium and a “Family Movie” Tues, June 14 at the Center’s “Stage 2.” On Wed, June 22 kids can enjoy a “Drawing Comic Panels” workshop with Albert Morales at the Scottsdale Civic Center Library.

Come Thurs, July 21 the age 18 & up crowd can show their comic book pride with a “Metropolis RetroMovie Night” at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. And a “ZAP! POW! BAM! Water Battle” takes place Thurs, July 21 at the Fountain Stage in the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall (think outdoor entertainment area, not shopping mall).

Who knows — maybe this time next year I’ll be penning a post praising the superhero powers of the “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” cast, crew and creative team. For now, I can just dip my big toe in the water of the comic book universe a bit closer to home in Scottsdale.

— Lynn

Note: Always check event details (date/time, location, age recommendations, registration requirements, cost and such) before attending.

Coming up: Puppetry meets Tony Awards®

Make a wave

After a Friday afternoon of movie-going with my son Christopher, I came home and turned on the television to get an update on the dreadful oil spill off the southern coast of the United States.

While reporting the story on his weekday program “Hardball,” Chris Matthews of MSNBC added the following: “This is a teaching lesson for how man can destroy his own habitat.” I can’t argue with that, but I’m certain Christopher would want to add something to it.

As we drove back from Harkins Theatre at Tempe Marketplace, where we’d just seen the movie “Oceans” (rated G, released 4-22-10 by Disneynature), I ran some possible blog titles past him—including “Get your shopping cart out of my fridge.”

It was a reference to one of many striking scenes in the film—which features an animal trying to swim its way around a shopping cart parked smack dab in the middle of its neighborhood.

Christopher liked the idea, but noted that it implies the oceans are nothing more than a food source for humankind. Indeed, the ocean is part of our habitat. The earth is our one and only home. But maybe it’s also got value beyond merely what it can do for us.

The movie “Oceans” left me wondering what we should be doing for the sea. Not because it was preachy or political—it wasn’t. But because it raised my awareness of the ocean’s beauty and bounty in ways few other things have.

Plenty of creatures live there, and I suspect they are every bit as fond of (and worthy of) clean food and water as we are. I don’t expect everyone who reads this to agree with my philosophy here—only to see the movie and have the discussion with their own friends and family.

“Oceans” raises important issues that otherwise get far too little of our attention. As the opening for the movie notes, we seem much more fascinated with exploring the stars than with exploring the seas.

Yet the seas hold no less wonder, no fewer mysteries, and no less potential for helping us to understand our origins and frame our future. I admit to pondering on many occasions why we invest so many resources in outer space exploration when our own inner spaces have been so nihilistically neglected.

Folks who see this flick may walk away with totally different take home messages. I’m all for it. But have the dialogue. See what’s out there. Then imagine the possibilities.

Remember that the ocean covers 71% of the Earth’s surface and contains 97% of the planet’s water, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which also reports that 95% of the underwater world remains unexplored.

“Oceans” runs about 90 minutes and is breathtaking throughout. The narration is lovely—informative but not overbearing or distracting. The audience we sat with, which included preschoolers through grandmothers, was still and hushed throughout.

The movie moves between fierce ocean currents and gentle lapping waves, between suspenseful hunting excursions and sweet animal parent/child interactions. It’s ever tasteful and never terrifying.

“Oceans” is truly captivating—and a must see movie for every family.


Note:  To learn more about “Oceans,” visit the Disneynature website—which features educational materials for parents and teachers. To up your cool factor with the Radio Disney set, be sure you correctly identify the movie’s closing song as “Make a Wave” sung by Joe Jonas and Demi Lovato. Photo: Child’s drawing of Earth, courtesy of NASA

Coming up: A review of “The Secret Garden” (the play)–presented by Curtain Call, the educational division of Arizona Jewish Theatre Company. Performances today and Sunday, May 2, at the John Paul Theatre at Phoenix College. Info at www.azjewishtheatre.org. Tickets at 602-264-0402 or the door.