Monthly Archives: April 2012

Michael Moore talks to Susan Sarandon at the Tribeca Film Festival 2012

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When your daughter is scared of a monster hiding in the closet, what do you do to make her feel safe and no longer afraid?

You open the closet. Show her there are no monsters inside (you might still have to leave the light on)

When people are ignorant about something they are afraid. When they have information they no longer have fear. We need to have the information to understand what is going on and what the correct choices are. (Michael Moore, Director)

Yesterday was my second round of Tribeca Film Festival events. Last year I was gripped by the 10th anniversary of the festival that coincided with the 10th anniversary of 9/11. This year, I began my 2012 film festival itinerary with a delightful conversation between Michael Moore and the Susan Sarandon (Thelma and Louise). Both sit on the committee for the documentary film competition and so the discussion was centred around documentaries; what works, what are the big questions we need to address and how documentaries can improve their digestibility in the film viewing world.

Michael Moore began. He has to stay “true to the art”, he says. It is a film first and foremost. An entertainment piece that acts as a vehicle to put out his opinions, political and other. As they discussed a recent Tribeca luncheon, where the likes of Robert De Niro were hanging out, they giggled as they admitted to their introverted natures. The two shy kids sat at the back of the room keeping to themselves. That being said then, does he get scared before busting in on a likely hostile target?

“Yes” he admits, “every time”

Documentaries find it notoriously difficult to make it on the commercial stage. The likes of Moore and Spurlock, for example, do very well but on a level below, struggling documentary makers battle to be seen and heard. The Academy Awards recently recently altered their rules in order to make the voting for documentaries fair and equal to their fictional counterparts. Spearheaded by Moore, the Academy now allows everyone in the documentary branch to vote for the nominees, whereas before only a handful of committee members ever had any say. It seems the tides may be turning. Documentaries may get the recognition and the respect they deserve? Moore is a self-proclaimed optimist. Despite the often frustrating revelations in his films, he remains confident that the world will be a better place. After all he never dreamt that the US could elect a Black President. He asks the audience, “are our kids bigots and homophobes? No they are a good group. The next generation will fix what we, the baby boomers, tried to destroy and the world will be a better place.”

How? Well he wants us to consider a few things. He wants media literacy to be compulsory in schools, “so that our children will understand propaganda and how to critically analyse what we hear everyday and from every media source around us”. He wants us all to join “Occupy Wall Street” and that doesn’t mean sitting in a tent in a park downtown. He wants us to stop waiting for someone else to fix things. WE have to do it. “Politics has a smaller and smaller gene pool. We are seeing copies of copies. We need to get money out of politics and we need to make ourselves heard. Run for office. Make a movie about something you care about. The technology is there. And if you want it to go viral? Well, put a cat in it.”

Moore and Sarandon were a pleasure to overhear in conversation. They were passionate about knowledge and activism, Sarandon on her take on how we could contribute to an alternative, less controversial Kony 2012 movement Hope North, and Moore on how people should be empowered to make change happen for themselves.

Good point Michael. Good point Susan.

Re-post: Mel comments on the NY League Squash win for Sport’s Club L.A. ladies

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from left to right: Melanie Heim (author of this post), Patricia Arroyo (disco squash), Louise Wilson (champ), Beth Ashbridge (ashbe), Jennifer Dorland (Jadore) Kara Popowich (kpops), Elizabeth Wainwright (Wainwright)
Susan Collins, the esteemed Republican Senator from Maine, asked me to forward this message to you:
Ladies, I haven’t been this inspired since Gerald Ford assumed the presidency. I had the good fortune to catch all of your matches via the closed-circuit spy cameras that were installed at SCLA as part of our Homeland Security Offensive on Liberal America Program, established 10 years ago. Though this costly program has done little to secure our nation, it has provided hours of entertainment to my fellow Subcommittee members. Here are my observations, which, since I am not seeking reelection, you may take as sincere:
  1. Grace and Skill – Louise, your footwork and seeming ease inspired all who watched you. I actually heard several people in the Senate chamber comment that we should do what we can to get you onto Dancing with the Stars – NY Edition, as you absolutely would outclass Mayor Bloomberg, Regis, and even Tim Tebow (if he has the guts to show up).
  2. Determination – Beth, way to dig deep and respond to coaching. Mackenzie gave it all she had (no wonder she was recently voted Most Relentless in the Northeastern Directory of Annoying Boarding School Graduates) and then some, but it wasn’t enough. I look forward to watching future drubbings handed out by you, particularly if Mel ever gets back on the court.
  3. Consistent Improvement – Jadore, despite playing an opponent who, at the least, was sandbagging, you rose to the challenge and demonstrated that no one on your team deserves Most Improved more than you. Your ascent within 12 months took Mel close to 10 years (according to a study of the future elderly recently completed by the Surgeon General’s Office). Wow your generation moves fast!
  4. Quiet Performance – Patricia, your game 2 win clinched your team’s championship, and you did it with little fanfare. You simply got on the court, didn’t give up, and delivered when your team most needed it. I have asked my colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to delay by three more years any plans to invade Canada. This has been done in your honor. I make no promises, however, about Peru.
  5. Leadership – Kara, though you didn’t have a very high benchmark to reach, you went above and beyond your predecessor, exhibiting organization and key decision making over the course of a very long season. You never lost sight of your goal and modeled excellent play-hard behavior. Your team responded in kind. If you ever choose to go into politics, please consider running on the Republican ticket. We could use a few more poli-hotties in DC.
  6. Celebration – Elizabeth, nice touch with the drinks. When you’re not playing, you’re supporting your team mates and adding to the overall esprit de corps. Though my colleagues do not embrace your politics, I secretly do and hope that you continue to influence both your peers and students. A few more of you around the halls of the Capitol and fewer Lindsay Grahams, and I’d consider sticking around.
  7. Longevity – Mel, have you considered tai chi or something else that would be a little gentler on your body? I’m concerned that you continue to tax our already over-burdened medical system with your ongoing physical ailments. However, I do admire the way you just don’t know when to give up. Reminds me of Newt Gingrich a little bit, but only when I’m really drunk.
To all the rest of you, congratulations!  You are true patriots and warriors!
Fondest regards,
Sue
(by Melanie Heim)

Marie’s Crisis

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You probably remember my debut in the West Village a while back. A Barbara Streisand classic no less on the Stonewall Inn karaoke stage. Unfortunately it was not that big break moment for me but that is probably because I can’t sing a note in tune.

But never one to give up on a dream, and it being a Friday night, I jumped at the chance of a singalong piano bar dedicated solely to show tunes.

A crowded bar just off Sheridan Square, Marie’s Crisis welcomes a clientele of musical junkies. From My Fair Lady magnificence to Disney’s The Little Mermaid  (note this video has the singalong words you definitely need a click). We had Sound of Music tunes, Mary Poppins’ supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and of course the leg kicking cell block perfection of Chicago’s All That Jazz.

Truly the happiness in the air was palpable. Grins on all their faces as we eagerly belted out the oldies and the goodies.

Waitresses stepped in to silence the audience with unsurprising ease

and I absolutely concur with Eliza Doolittle. I could have danced (and sung) ALL night. Oh no wait. I did.

And we are on the subject of singalongs I would just like to put out a little number that the sister and I love a bit too much!? Hercules is truly the unsung hero in Disney flicks (pardon the pun). Ahhhh musicals. You make my heart sing but luckily no one can hear that.

First Woman to Run in the Boston Marathon

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Kathrine Switzer of Syracuse found herself about to be thrown out of the normally all-male Boston Marathon when a husky companion, Thomas Miller of Syracuse, threw a block that tossed a race official out of the running instead.

That’s Switzer, of Syracuse, being pushed off the Boston Marathon course by Jock Semple, one of the race organizers. The year was 1967 and as Switzer tells it, Semple jumped off the media truck and began yelling at her.

“Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers,” she says he told her.

The reason the picture seems to be making the rounds is that when the 116th Boston Marathon gets underway in two weeks, the Boston Athletic Association will mark four decades since women were allowed to run the world’s oldest annual marathon.

Switzer entered the race five years before that day. She entered using the name K.V. Switzer and wiggled out of the required physical by saying she had been cleared earlier.

Here’s a video from PBS’ Women Who Make America seriesin which Switzer talks about that day: (copied from NPR: PHOTO: The First Woman To Enter The Boston Marathon by Eyder Peralta)

Kathrine Switzer