Thank You, Buffalo Theatre of Youth

NumbertheStars1My younger daughter, Mia – she’s 9 – was cast to play the part of little sister Kirsti Johansen in the Theatre of Youth‘s recent production of Lois Lowry’s “Number the Stars”.  Actually, because the schedule of performances was demanding, that role was double-cast, and she shared it with another girl.

Today was supposed to be the final performance. I was even going to let her do the talk-back; something she hadn’t been able to do during any of the earlier school performances because I needed to rush her back to school before lunch ended. I had figured today’s the Friday before break – what the hell.

Unfortunately, the Friday performance was canceled because of the snow. The districts coming to see it today were unable to do a field trip into a district that was closed; in this case, Buffalo.

Doing this production was a huge commitment in time and energy. I know that most (if not all) working actors in Buffalo also have day jobs, and I have nothing but kudos for them for the physical and emotional investment they make in practicing their art. This is not an easy gig, but you do it because you love it.

For a 4th grader, it’s tough rehearsing and doing run-throughs from 6pm – 10pm on a school night, but she did it through the second half of December and most of January. Rehearsing, blocking, and memorizing lines, taking direction, and absorbing notes take a toll on a 9 year-old from 10 – 4 on a Saturday.

The performances themselves took place over the course of four weeks, plus public performances last weekend – my daughter did two on Saturday; one at 2 and another at 5:30.  She did nine performances in all, and the tenth was canceled.

But she did it. She learned her lines. She acted in front of several hundred people nine times. She was mic’d. She knew her cues. She knew where to stand, where to look, how to act, how to emote. She made people laugh. She acted. She did it.

It’s a hell of an accomplishment, what she did. I’m really proud of her. She proved – most of all to herself – what she’s capable of. She can be thoughtful, diligent, and mature if she puts her mind to it.

We had some stumbles here and there with schoolwork falling behind, but she’s still a 9 year-old. She has yet to correlate her abilities to her everyday behavior. Kids are, after all, a work in progress.

The reason for writing this – apart from memorializing it for some future time when she might stumble on it – is to thank Meg Quinn, Brittany Wysocki, and the rest of the staff and crew at the Theatre of Youth for taking a chance on her, and giving her a first taste of professional theater. You treated her with patience, kindness, and respect and for that we are eternally grateful. It is an experience we’ll never forget.

I also want to thank the rest of the cast – the German soldiers, Bryan Patrick Stoyle and Steven J. Brachman. Uncle Henrik, played by Eric Rawski. Jesse Tiebor, who played Peter. Mama and Papa Johansen, played by Diane Gaidry and Larry Smith. Katie Harrington, who shared the role of Kirsti with Mia. Anne Boucher, who played Ellen Rosen, and Renee Landrigan, who played Annemarie. Thanks also to Joy Scime, Marissa Biondolillo, Justin Fiordoliso, Priscilla Young Anker, and David Butler. Thanks also to Barbara Priore, who was in charge of wardrobes, Dixon Reynolds, who did the costumes, and Todd Proffitt, who did the lighting and handled backstage duties.

Thank you to you all. You are so dedicated and talented, and your professionalism and kindness is something that we will forever cherish. We are so lucky to have the Theatre of Youth here in Buffalo, and the theater is lucky to have you.

The Public & Me

Beginning today, my blogging will primarily be taking place at the Public (dailypublic.com). The direct link to my author page is here: http://www.dailypublic.com/authors/alan-bedenko.

I’m really excited about this opportunity, and offer special thanks to Geoff Kelly, Aaron Lowinger, Cory Perla, and everyone else at the Public who are trusting me with their creative and innovative publication.

It was Geoff who originally set Chris Smith and me up at Artvoice, and I’m beyond pleased to be working with him again.

This site will continue to archive my content. Follow along at the Public and on Twitter @buffalopundit.

Thank you!

WAT?

On November 10, 2014, I resigned as an Artvoice contributor. My first post there was posted on November 21, 2011.

I had a great deal of fun there, and it was great to be part of such a well-respected publication. I will forever be grateful to Jamie Moses, Geoff Kelly, and Buck Quigley for letting me write under the Artvoice banner.

So, we go from independent 2003 – 2005 to WNYMedia.net 2005 – 2011, to Artvoice 2011 – 2014, and back to independent for now.

But if you like your profane opinions a little left-of center, stay tuned.

 

Tony Stewart Killed A Guy?

Oh, hey, I’m back in town. 

Did I miss anything

What I’m Reading Now

Hey, it’s summertime in Buffalo, where both irony and cynicism are dead. So, I have nothing to tell you except to point you in the direction of things I’ve been reading lately: 

1. Kyiv Post: Pro-Ukraine English-language compendium of news & views about the Ukraine – Russia war.

2. Skift.com: AOL shut Gadling down, and Skift acquired it. While Gadling.com is still more or less silent, Skift has some good travel articles, despite it’s hilariously annoying pop-ups. Clicking on messages like “No I don’t want to hear about great deals” is the way you shut them down. 

3. 20 Committee: Military & foreign affairs blog written by John Schindler. Great insight into espionage, military and diplomatic tactics and strategy, and especially on-point with respect to Kremlinology. 

4. The War Room: in particular, this article about the Kremlin’s unusual panic. 

5. Reddit’s Front Page: see everything that will be in your Facebook feed two days in advance. See Buzzfeed listicles a week in advance. (Also the Buffalo Subreddit). 

6. Daily Banter: Lefty news blog that’s unusually sharp and often funny. 

7. Salon: It busts through the BS. Example. Example 2

I recently finished Robyn Doolittle’s excellent book about Rob Ford, “Crazy Town” – I’d recommend picking up the paperback, which has updated information. I have Ian Kershaw’s “The End”, which outlines the final days of Hitler’s Germany to read on vacation, and will likely grab something else. 

And Monday, I recorded this podcast with Chris Smith and Brad Riter, where we discuss society’s penchant for demanding insincere apologies and ending of careers over insults and outrages. 

Enjoy the last few weeks of summer break. 

The 2013 Undy 5000

I seldom write about my personal life, and when I do I keep it as vague and general as possible. You’ll forgive me for making an exception today, but it has to do not with me, but with all of you. 

Back in October, my wife’s gynecologist Dr. Judith Ortman-Nabi advised her to undergo a colonoscopy due to a significant family history of colon cancer. Usually, people aren’t prescribed colonoscopies until the age of 50, which we haven’t yet reached. She went to the endoscopy center on Maple near Millersport. It wasn’t an uncomfortable procedure, but the sedation knocks you out for a day. Bad news – they found a polyp; devastating news – it was cancerous.

That commenced a particularly scary and difficult time. We had to find an oncologist. We had to find a surgeon. My wife returned to the endoscopy clinic, where they tattooed the area so a future surgeon would know from where the polyp had been removed. The area “looked clean” but we didn’t want to take the chance that it hadn’t all been caught. We were exceedingly lucky to discover Dr. Timothy Adams, a talented, young, and friendly surgeon who performs laparoscopically-assisted colon resection surgeries. 

In mid-November, my wife underwent a successful resection surgery and we were overjoyed to find out that the section removed contained no cancer, and the bundle of lymph nodes that were removed along with it showed that the cancer had not spread. We had found it early – had we waited another year or until we were 50, the result would have been tragically different. Just this week, her oncologist, Dr. Frederick Hong, confirmed that all her bloodwork was normal. 

Catching this early was the difference between a full and curative recovery, and something far worse. Just this week, Simpson’s co-creator Sam Simon revealed that he was diagnosed with colon cancer, but he hadn’t caught it in time.  It had metastasized throughout his body, and he is told that he has months to live

I am writing this because my wife is now committed to helping raise money for the Colon Cancer Alliance.  On April 27th the 2013 Buffalo “Undy 5000” will be run in Delaware Park, and she and my older daughter will take part. She is raising money for colon cancer research via this page, and if I’ve ever made you think, laugh, or angry via this blog, I humbly ask you to donate whatever you can – however small. Your donation is 100% tax deductible. If you don’t or can’t, I understand, but I urge you to take colon cancer seriously. If caught early through a colonoscopy, it could be the difference between life and death. Here’s where the money that’s raised will go – to advocate, to promote and to expand access to screening, to educate, and for cancer research. 

Every day is a gift. Thanks for reading and for considering this. 

Leaving and Coming Home Again

I was out of town for a week visiting London, and neither know nor care what may or may not be happening in WNY politics, much less general American politics. So, instead, just a few logistical observations: 

1. The HAILO app that works in New York, Boston, and Toronto, is fantastic.  It tells you how long you’ll have to wait to hail a cab to your location, tells you when the cab is coming and sends you a receipt. You can pay by credit card with an automatic tip precalculated. Check out the screenshot, which identifies the driver who’s coming, and see how the license plate given matches up with the car that pulled up. I was impressed. You can tell the driver via the app where you’re headed, and when it’s particularly busy, the app gives you the option of letting prospective drivers know that the fare will exceed a certain threshold, bringing a quicker response time. The driver was great. 

 

2. One of the secrets of traveling with little kids is to just let stuff go. Didn’t make it in time for a parade? Go somewhere else. Also – put limits on museums. Two hours max is plenty, and be choosy about what you see. Get a map, select what you like (say, 15th – 17th century Flanders art) and go see it, then leave. Take the kids for ice cream or something. We found that the kids actually enjoyed and didn’t complain about the museums, ice cream notwithstanding. We went to one museum 1 1/2 hours before it closed, so we were forced to keep it short, but learned it was one of the best of the bunch. Another museum was a bit disappointing, so we just left after about an hour. Be flexible, and check your coats; museums suck when you’re too warm. Also, if you go to foodie paradise like Borough Market and it’s 34 degrees out and windy, you don’t eat street food outside while standing up, after 2 hours at the Tate Modern. You find a little Italian place, warm up, sit down, and have pizza and pasta. 

3. Bus vs. Subway – subway bypasses traffic, so it gets you places quickly. However, you see nothing. Bus may be slower, but you see things. Also, kids love the upstairs of double-deckers.  We used buses maybe 85% of the time we were commuting. 

4. From London, we did a day trip to Canterbury to see the historic cathedral of Thomas Becket and Chaucer. It was something of a counterpoint to seeing Chartres two years ago. The cathedral has guides wearing sashes who are all too happy to tell you stories about the history there, and the town itself is a charming reprieve from London bustle. To reach it, we took the high speed rail from St. Pancras, which reached speeds of 140 MPH. 

5. Rent an apartment as a home base. We used www.ivylettings.com and rented a one-bedroom apartment that had a washer/dryer. It had plenty of room for 4 – it was difficult to find affordable hotel rooms for 4 – as well as a full kitchen. We bought groceries like locals and became regulars at local restaurants and cafes.  It was cheaper than most hotels, and although you sacrifice things like daily maid service, the washer/dryer meant we could pack a lot less clothes. 

6. The signage at Toronto Pearson Airport for the Viscount Discount Parking Garage is atrocious. Upon arrival after going through immigration and customs, the first sign we saw for it was a small plaque by an elevator up on the departures level. There was all kids of signage for the daily lot across the street, but nothing for the airport’s own discount lot. This is also true of the signage as you approach the airport – I had to circle both terminals before I finally got a sign directing me to that lot. 

7. I thought this was the coolest food truck: 

 

Buffalo Eats Podcast

Thanks to Donnie Burtless from Buffalo Eats for a fun interview, which you can listen to here. We touch on all kinds of topics like food, blogging, pizza, cocktails, and the finer points of arguing.  Courtesy of Buffalo Eats and Audio Buffalo

[audio:http://buffaloeats.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/podcast-21-alan-b.mp3]

Good Stuff

1. Great Movie I saw this weekend: Senna, an award-winning documentary about the racing career of Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna. (The 2012 Formula 1 season just began, and will return to the US in November in Austin, TX.  Runner-up great movie: Spirited Away.

2.  Great Show I discovered last week: Airplane Repo. Exactly as it sounds, it tracks a team of people who travel the world repossessing aircraft for their secured creditors. It’s got travel, thrills, and legal procedure. I want a job with Sage-Popovich, LLC. 

3. Great Thing this Weekend: This weather is awesome. Washed two cars, cooked on the grill, wore shorts, and enjoyed early summer. 

4. Great Company I dealt with: I had to travel for the day on Friday on Southwest. My final of four flights of the day was to take me from Baltimore to Buffalo, but with the fog, this happened instead: 

When we returned, it was amazing to watch people out-do themselves for getting angry at the ground crew who were just trying to rebook people. After about 15 minutes, the airline realized that rebooking wasn’t going to work, and they just added a 6am flight the following morning. Perfect. 

174 people were mildly inconvenienced by the weather-related delay that was completely out of the airline’s control. We were best off going back to BWI, which is a Southwest hub. My favorite comment came as it was revealed that there were more bags than people, and the aircraft we had might not fit all the bags. Given that small chance that not all of her bags would be on the flight, a woman angrily barked at the woman taking boarding passes (as if she had anything to do with it) that it was a “disaster”. 

No, the plane plunging into the mountains of Pennsylvania would be a “disaster”. A missing bag is merely an inconvenience. 

They handed out new boarding passes in the order of our boarding, and I grabbed a room at an airport hotel and got a few hours’ of sleep before returning to the airport at 5am. The fog was still in place on Saturday morning, and when we landed I didn’t see the ground until we were over the Thruway on final approach to runway 23. Kudos to Southwest for so quickly and effectively accommodating us. 

Moving

If everything goes as planned, this will be my first post as an online writer for Artvoice. Thankfully, it’s somewhat of a slow week, what with Thanksgiving and all.  Many thanks to Geoff Kelly and Jamie Moses for this unique and special opportunity.

To those of you who may be unfamiliar with my work with WNYMedia.net, I mostly write about local and regional political matters under the pen name “Buffalopundit”. You can follow me on Twitter and become a fan on the bookface. You can email tips, etc. here.

By way of background, I’m an immigrant to Buffalo – I’m not a native, and I’m not repatriated. I’m also not a sports fan, so I have little use for Buffalo’s most popular pastimes – sports and nostalgia.

By way of introduction, here’s a post I wrote in 2005 explaining why someone would pick up and move from Boston to Buffalo out of, essentially, the clear blue sky. A few things are different; the 5 year-old is now 11 and has a 5 year-old little sister. I work at a new place, but the sentiments remain the same: Read more