Over winter break I worked at a non profit arts organization. Here is one of my projects.

It feels great to look at that video and remember a time where I never thought I would be able to do something like this. Editing this video truly gave me the confidence to believe that it is never to late to learn a new skill.

SUNY Oswego’s Production of Grease

Last night, I saw Grease at the Waterman Theatre and was fairly impressed. The production was definitely pretty to look at, as it was very colorful and visually appealing (with the smoke on the stage and what not). The actors/actresses were very talented, but I do have my slight issues with it. The actor who played Danny and the actress who played Sandy didn’t really fit into their roles, and I didn’t think there was any chemistry between them. The actress who played Rizzo was utterly flawless, though; she couldn’t have done a better job, and I thought that she nailed Stockard Channing’s portrayal right on the head. I have only ever seen the film; this was my first time seeing a stage production.

Because I had only ever seen the film before last night, I wasn’t aware that the musical lineup was different on Broadway than it is in the film, so some songs were in slightly different order and were even omitted, songs that I would argue (again, based on my sole experience with the film) are crucial to the story, such as “Hopelessly Devoted to You” and “You’re the One That I Want.” The play is also missing “Sandy” and instead has the song “Alone at the Drive-In” during that scene. Also, there are two different versions of “We Go Together” in the stage production, one right before the end of Act 1 and then a reprise at the very end. My favorite musical number was probably “Those Magic Changes,” and the actor who sang that song did so beautifully, and I also really liked “Freddy, My Love.” Another crucial difference between the stage production and the film is that in the stage production, Sandy doesn’t go to the dance and sings “It’s Raining on Prom Night” in her bedroom, while in the film, she attends the dance.

It’s definitely a much different experience than the film, that’s for sure, and while I couldn’t have been happier with some of the cast members, there were others that I was not so happy with. I also feel that with the way some of the songs are ordered and with the lacking of “Hopelessly Devoted to You” and “You’re the One That I Want,” the stage production is a lot choppier than the film and doesn’t flow as well. Lastly, I couldn’t help but look at the story through a different lens this time, since it has been quite a few years since I have seen the film, and looking at it from a feminist perspective, I couldn’t help but feel really disappointed. Throughout the story, Sandy and Danny just don’t click regardless of how many times they try. He keeps abandoning Sandy for other girls, and when they do make attempts to sustain a relationship (the drive-in scene is what I am referring to in particular), he tries to take advantage of her. Only when she submits to his will and conforms to his style do they finally work, so not only does it do away with the “be yourself” idea, it provides an example of a relationship that only works after the female realizes that if she wants to be with the male, she is going to have to conform, which echoes quite a few Disney films. I had a great night, though, and it was fun to watch.

Review of Goodbye Lullaby, the New Album by Avril Lavigne

For me, Goodbye Lullaby, Lavigne’s fourth album, has been one of the most highly anticipated albums of my lifetime, as I have ultimately been anticipating it for seven years. While The Best Damn Thing was released in Spring 2007 (which was still quite a long time ago), I was not too thrilled with that album (save a handful of songs), and Under My Skin was released in Spring 2004. Many months ago (it was, in fact, close to a year ago), I read that this album would be a closer return to Lavigne’s earlier work as opposed to The Best Damn Thing, and I can agree with that.

While Goodbye Lullaby is not at all “heavy,” as some of the tracks found on 2002’s Let Go and 2004’s Under My Skin are (such as “Losing Grip,” “Unwanted,” “Take Me Away,” “Forgotten,” etc.), it is far from being the “cheerleader pop” (for lack of a better term) that The Best Damn Thing is, and Lavigne, with a majority of crisp melodies layered on top of simple acoustic accompaniment that is Goodbye Lullaby, affords her fans (such as this one of almost ten years) a very pleasant, refreshing experience. I do know quite a few people who loved The Best Damn Thing, so I apologize to them if I offend, but that certainly does not change my opinion.

In regards to The Best Damn Thing, Lavigne seemed to have retrograded, moving from a sophisticated, alternative style to adolescent high school craze with an array of songs that one might expect to hear at athletic games (such as “Girlfriend,” “The Best Damn Thing,” “I Don’t Have to Try,” etc.), and for that reason, I was very disappointed with the album as a whole with few exceptions (such as “Runaway,” “When You’re Gone,” “Innocence,” etc.). Goodbye Lullaby attempts to break away from that, painting a much more serene picture.

I purchased a physical copy of the album, so I have the benefit of seeing all of the graphics included in the package, and it is really beautiful; I consequently find myself quite impressed with that, as well. However, I also find myself in opposition to only one (rather trivial) feature; Lavigne, on the album cover (which, mind you, I do find very beautiful), looks rather morose, while the album’s content is primarily very relaxed and gleeful, dealing with lyrical themes such as being in love and enjoying the beauties that life has to offer. I reiterate, however, that the artwork (meaning all photographs, designs and additional art) is very beautiful.

The album opens with the very short (only 1:34) “Black Star,” and most fans should remember this from her Black Star fragrance commercial, in which a small portion of the song is featured. While I am slightly disappointed with the fact that the song is so short when I had been expecting it to be full-length, “Black Star” is one of my favorite songs from the album, as it is an incredibly beautiful, simple song accompanied by a simple but catchy melody composed of very high notes on the piano. The song sounds very much like a lullaby and would serve as a good introduction if it didn’t make such a rough transition into “What the Hell.”

“What the Hell,” the album’s first single, is the closest that the album comes to The Best Damn Thing, and, because of that, it, with the risk of using a cliché, sticks out like a sore thumb. When I first heard the song, I didn’t like it a whole lot, but when I began to find it consistently stuck in my head, it really began to grow on me, and I do really love it now, even though, again, it really doesn’t belong on this album. Next, we hear “Push,” a song that sounds a lot like Alanis Morissette’s style. I really like the song, especially with the male vocals, which I am assuming are Evan Taubenfeld’s, since he co-wrote the song with Lavigne.

The fourth track is titled “Wish You Were Here,” another one of my favorites on the album. “Wish You Were Here” operates as Goodbye Lullaby’s “When You’re Gone,” since it is nearly identical thematically (while it reminds me melodically of “Innocence”), and I am sure that it will be a single. “Smile” is a fast-paced song with attitude but is still a great deal of inches away from nearing The Best Damn Thing territory; “What the Hell” is definitely closer. “Stop Standing There” and “I Love You” are both mellow songs about being in love, and “Stop Standing There” is possibly the closest the album comes to Let Go, while “I Love You” is, for lack of a better description, an adorable song about loving someone for exactly who that person is, having no desire to change him or her. It is definitely a stand-out track, sounding a bit like something that would fit on Under My Skin, and it may just be me, but I think I hear a mandolin in the song.

The eighth track on the album is titled “Everybody Hurts.” Yes, when I first learned of the album’s track-listing a few months ago, I wondered if the song would be an R.E.M. cover, which it is not; it is, however, nearly identical thematically; “Everybody hurts some days,” the refrain advises. “It’s okay to be afraid. Everybody hurts; everybody screams. Everybody feels this way, and it’s okay.” It would seem to me like Lavigne draws inspiration from the R.E.M. song and attempts to recreate it for her generation. The song sounds a lot like something from Lavigne’s days prior to Let Go having been released.

“Not Enough” is nothing special, definitely not making any attempt to stand out on the album. However, like “Everybody Hurts,” it also reminds me of Lavigne’s “demo” era, reminding me especially of “Get Over It.” The tenth track, “4 Real,” has a beat and a melody that are guaranteed to stick with you, and while I definitely love the song, it sadly loses a bit of credibility due to its use of the number “4” in place of the word “for.” I am not amused when artists do that, especially not ones for whom I have a lot of respect. Pay mind to the fortunate fact that you are not Kesha (or should I say Ke$ha?), Avril.

Next on the album is “Darlin,” and I love this song because of how positive it is, seeming to be an attempt to cheer the listener up, reminding him that the world is a beautiful place in which he is loved. “Darlin” was written when Lavigne was only fourteen or fifteen years old, which is another reason that I love it. “Remember When” and “Goodbye” are slow, beautiful tracks with very similar stories; they are both memorandums in which the speaker apologizes for having to temporarily leave her lover physically but reminds him that he is very loved, while explaining why. I love “Goodbye,” because lyrically, it has sentimental value to me. I only wish that “Goodbye” had ended the same way as “Remember When,” that is, included a band at the end of the song. “Goodbye” seems to lack a component without that, especially since I expect it, but the strings are beyond gorgeous.

The album closes with an extended version of “Alice,” including an additional verse in between the original first and second verses. Fans will remember the song being featured on the Alice in Wonderland soundtrack last year, titled Almost Alice, and if one did not know that the song has ties to the film, either the title or the line “I found myself in Wonderland” should give that away. The standard edition of the album ends at this point, but the deluxe edition (the one that I purchased) includes acoustic versions of “What the Hell,” “Push” and “Wish You Were Here,” as well as the cover of Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” and a bonus DVD. Overall, I am very happy with the album; it was worth the wait and definitely worth the money.

NOTE: Please excuse a lacking of italics where they are necessary; this was copied and pasted from a Facebook note, and the formatting was not transmitted correctly.

Dan Kamin

This past weekend, I went to Dan Kamin’s show at the Waterman Theater with my boyfriend Ray, and I was surprisingly pleased. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did, but then again, I didn’t really know what it was that I was getting myself into, which is probably why it was that I wasn’t expecting to have so much fun.

Basically, what Dan Kamin’s show involved was primarily mime work, and he was hilarious. The show ran for approximately ninety minutes, and I was never bored, not for a minute. He was incredibly entertaining, and he told quite a few jokes, too. He was very communicative and interactive with the audience, and we were a part of the show. Perhaps, my favorite segment of the show was his parody of the Creation of the world according to the Bible, which managed to be hilarious but not offensive toward people who may have been Christians.

What’s really neat is that Ray and I then had the opportunity to meet Dan in person. On our way out of Sheldon later that night, he was walking in, and I had the chance to personally tell him that the show was awesome and that I enjoyed it, and that really made him happy. The show was definitely worth the $7.00, and it would be awesome if he came back for another show.

Visit to Tyler Art Gallery – South

Today, I visited the Tyler Art Gallery, the South one, which has a lot to do with the mixing of cultures. I was therefore able to connect most of what I saw to this class, because this class has a lot to do with assimilation, the mixing of cultures. There are many pieces of art in the display, so it unfortunately would have taken a great deal of time to cover everything and then write about it. I picked five sites that really stood out to me and decided to primarily focus on those, even though I did examine everything.

The first piece of art that I examined was called “Clash of Cultures.” Like everything that I saw today, I absolutely loved it. It is a painting and portrays an older woman standing in front of a house with another older woman in the left window of the house, a Protestant pope in the right window, and a Catholic pope in the upstairs window. The painting is meant to be a depiction of the artist’s parents’ wedding day in 1946. The artist’s parents came from different religious backgrounds; one was Catholic, and one was Protestant, and for this reason, there were parental issues involving disapproval, ultimately resulting in religious hybridity. The painting, anyway, was gorgeous, very colorful, and by the way, I have that background knowledge because there was a panel of information located directly to the right of the painting, which I had to take the time to read. The painting, along with a number of other paintings that I looked at, was in a style known as “egg tempera.” I didn’t know what that was, but running a quick search on Wikipedia told me that it is “a permanent fast drying painting medium consisting of colored pigment mixed with a water-soluble binder medium (usually a glutinous material such as egg yolk).”

The next art piece that I looked at was a collection of photographs. There were two photograph collections that I looked at, and they were really neat because they were in a window display with curtains, as well. I really like this idea, because it made me feel like I was looking into a window to the past. However, what I don’t like about the window displays is that there is only a title next to them, no information, so I was left wanting to know more. For example, the first window display that I looked at was called “The Life of the War Hero” and featured photographs of a soldier during what I presumed was World War II, and that’s all I know. I wanted to know – who is this man? What was his name? I knew nothing and wanted to know more.

The second window display that I looked at was called “Ancestors.” The collection of photographs seemed, to me, to be different photographs of someone’s family, and one in particular really stuck out. It was a photograph of an older woman standing outside in a gown. She was staring ominously at the camera, and the photograph was a negative, so her eyes were white, as was her dress (which meant that it was actually black). It was, in a word, creepy. I examined the photographs and made note of the time period – a lot of time spent outside, and families were very close. There seemed to be a very high respect and admiration of the elderly, since they were photographed quite often. Once again, however, I was left wanting to know more. Whose families were these? Who took these photographs? None of this information was provided.

The next art piece that I looked at was another egg tempera painting. The painting was titled “The Adventures of Great Uncle Pete.” This was the exact opposite of the photograph collections. Like the “Clash of Cultures” egg tempera painting, I got some information. The painting was based on a photograph of the artist’s uncle, Peter Barone, who had been a sailor. The photograph, which was also on display, showed Barone standing on a ship. The artist changed the background, however, to feature an array of adventurous displays. There is an array of exotic places, the sea, and a dragon and knights. The artist really seemed to be proud of his/her uncle and was displaying that pride in this painting. Once again, it was very colorful, and I loved it.

The final piece that I looked at was called “La Mia Vita.” The painting looked like it might have been another egg tempera painting and shows an older woman in bed, and she doesn’t look all that happy. Again, there was some background information provided. The panel told me that the artist’s grandmother (the elderly woman in the painting) was, in a sense, stuck in time, that she thought that it was still forty years ago and that Roosevelt was still president. In the painting, behind the woman, were hills, fields, and an old barn, which I interpreted as memories. In front of the painting was a bed with a very colorful quilt, which I assumed was a replica of the artist’s grandmother’s bed. The old woman’s name, by the way, was Carrie Barone, so it was the same artist that did this painting and “The Adventures of Great Uncle Pete.” One thing that I really liked about this painting and the background knowledge behind it is that it kind of has this theme of being frozen in time, and, to me, that is kind of the whole theme of the art gallery, in a sense. The point of paintings and photographs is to capture time and make it a constant, just like it was in Carrie Barone’s mind.

I really wish that I had gotten photographs, but I didn’t want to risk being reprimanded, because I didn’t know if it was allowed or not. I really enjoyed attending this gallery and really appreciated all of the art. I also really enjoyed the music that was playing. It was very light, classical music and helped put me in that mindset of being in the time period. I was really able to link concepts such as assimilation and hybridity to what I saw.