Sharing a Student Quote

Posted: December 11th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

A recent applicant’s personal statement included a final paragraph that I think is worth sharing (slightly modified):

The CUNY Baccalaureate program is a blessing. Like the joker card we are all part of the same deck but do not belong to any suit, nor are there many of us. And, just as most card games exclude jokers, many colleges don’t offer unique programs for us and if they do, it’s usually just a very restrictive interdisciplinary studies major. So, thank you CUNY for allowing people like us to play our own games.

Creativity from Within

Posted: September 7th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Michelangelo, Slave (detail of face) Accademia, Florence

Camus described the writing of The Stranger as if the book was “traced within him.” The idea of fiction existing inside the writer, as if lurking there to emerge, is part of a modernist credo. Proust, a writer otherwise at odds with Camus, expressed in Time Regained the same idea of characters that are already “forged within us, rather than sketched by us…”

In similar fashion, Michelangelo believed a sculptor to be a tool of God, not creating but simply revealing figures already contained in the marble. But, these figures were, in fact, those within Michelangelo himself, struggling to see the light of day. Just as the sculptor employed his chisels to chip away the excess to expose what lay beneath, so Camus and Proust used pen and paper to reveal their characters, who had been hiding within the writers themselves.

When a Lie is a False Assertion

Posted: December 12th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

truthliesIn today’s NY Times Jim Rutenberg writes, in TV News Must Pull No Punches for Trump: “Television news is going to have to do its part should Mr. Trump and his administration try to make policy based on false assertions…”

False, as we all know, is something that is not true or factual, and an assertion is a confident and forceful statement of fact or belief, so a “false assertion” is nothing more, therefore, than an “untrue statement of fact or belief” or perhaps we should just call it what it is – a “lie.”

So much for “pulling no punches”!

Donald Trump and I Have Something in Common?

Posted: August 2nd, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

HeelSpurIt seems that I and Donald Trump have something in common. I have a bone spur on the back of the heel of my right foot – not a particularly common location (they usually form on the bottom of the heel and are associated with inflammation of the connective tissue [plantar fascia] that runs along the underside of the foot).

It is not clear where Mr. Trump’s spurs, which were found in 1968, are located and not even in which foot.  But we do know that they prevented him from being drafted.  It seems it (or they) were still large enough, almost fifty years later, that he was able in 2015 to show to his biographer a tiny bulge on his heel. When questioned soon thereafter which foot had a spur, Mr. Trump could not recall. His campaign later released a statement saying that the spurs were on both feet.

Not all bone spurs cause pain but Mr. Trump has said that his spurs were a minor malady and they “healed up” over a period of time, suggesting that they caused him, at some point in his life, at least some discomfort.

I commend Mr. Trump for having, it seems, bone spurs on both his heels, and that for the past 48 years he has managed to have had no significant pain. In my case, having a single spur, the pain was at times severe enough that walking was almost impossible (see my December 2015 post). Over many months of therapy and stretching, I have managed to diminish the major painful symptoms; however, unlike Mr. Trumps’ “healed up” spurs, mine likely will always be with me, causing at least some intermittent pain. It seems that Mr. Trump’s spurs, although not causing him any painful walking issues, may still cause him some discomfort in his “run” for office!


Posted: December 21st, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Prince Grigory Potemkin

Prince Grigory Potemkin

Two articles in today’s NYTimes employ the term “Potemkin.” An essay about Provincetown, RI quotes a year-long resident that the town in winter is “like a Potemkin village,” and another article, just eight pages later, uses the same word to describe a Williamsburg chocolate shop as a “Potemkin” factory.

The term is eighteenth century, related to Prince Grigory Potemkin, a lover of Catherine II, who supposedly duped the Empress by creating a fake portable village on the banks of the Dnieper River to impress Catherine as she journeyed to Crimea.

According to Wikipedia: “’Potemkin village’ has come to mean, especially in a political context, any hollow or false construct, physical or figurative, meant to hide an undesirable or potentially damaging situation…”

And, as in the NYTimes cases, “Potemkin” can also be used as an adjective to modify nouns other than “village.”

So, next time it is appropriate, impress your friends by using “Potemkin” and see if they are aware of its meaning.

Ambulatory Reflections

Posted: December 10th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

walking-1My wife typically tells me, as she is two steps behind, that I walk too fast. I, indeed, do have a quick pace, which is even more pronounced when I am alone, weaving through the crowds near the Empire State Building or jumping a light when it is flashing 3 seconds.
But, lately I have slowed down, although not because of my wife’s admonitions. Instead, because of a bone spur on the heel of my right foot I have tendonitis in my Achilles’. So, I am not only walking more slowly but also now have a slight limp. As the pain is diminishing through physical and electronic therapy walking is less painful but I am still cautious about any rapid movements. So, over the past several weeks I have been forcibly enlightened on the benefits of moving a bit more slowly and, consequently, being able to see the world at a slower pace. I, indeed, am now observing with more clarity and mentally recording my movements more intensely than I ever did. On the other hand, I am looking forward to being without pain and it is likely when that happens I will be back to my “normal” pace and my wife’s reproofs.

Why Classroom Experience is Not Simply Conveying Information

Posted: December 1st, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

CollegeLectureI am presently reading Richard Dawkins’ memoir, An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist (2013). He is a British evolutionary biologist, an outspoken atheist and a popular writer. In discussing his experiences as a student at Baillol College at the University of Oxford, he writes:
“The purpose of a lecture should not be to impart information. There are books, libraries, nowadays the internet, for that. A lecture should inspire and provoke thought… A good lecturer thinking aloud, reflecting, musing, rephrasing for clarity, hesitating and then grasping, varying the pace, pausing for thought, can be a role model in how to think about a subject and how to transmit a passion for it. If a lecturer drones information as though reading it, the audience might as well read it – possibly in the lecturer’s own book” (page 155).

Coincidental or Intentional?

Posted: November 23rd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Taci's BeytiBecause the temperature dropped to 36 degrees this morning I was forced into wearing a heavier coat than usual so I decided on a leather jacket I had not worn for a while. When I dug my hand into a pocket I pulled out a menu from a Turkish restaurant, Taci’s Beyti, on Coney Island Avenue, where my wife and I had dinner with her colleague, Sharona Levy, two years ago in October 2013! Everyone has found lots of forgotten items in pockets, so this alone was not surprising. Yet, in this case, what was a bit shocking is that I had been thinking, for whatever reason, about this dinner and could not remember the name of the restaurant. So, I wonder if my selecting this particular jacket this morning was not simply accidental but that my subconscious remembered I had worn it that evening? The mind is mysterious.

CUNY BA Alumna Teaching Acting & Film

Posted: November 20th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

film-slateCathy Haase, a CUNY BA alumna, is now an adjunct professor at City College. She will be co-teaching several interesting courses in the Spring that may be of interest:

MCA 31132-BC
Acting The Camera (Lecture)
Fr 9:00AM – 12:00PM
Comp Goeth CG318
Jan 29, 2016-
May 28, 2016

MCA 31152-1EG
Film Without Scripts (Lecture)
Mo 9:30AM – 1:15PM
Shepard S-491
Jan 29, 2016-
May 28, 2016

THTR 23900-5AC
Acting for the Camera (Lecture)
Fr 9:00AM – 12:00PM
Comp Goeth CG318
Jan 29, 2016-
May 28, 2016

THTR 33600-1EG
Perf Prac In Film (Lecture)
Mo 9:30AM – 1:15PM
Shepard S-491
Jan 29, 2016-
May 28, 2016

My Own “M Train”

Posted: November 13th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

M TrainLike most people I have a morning routine. Mine takes me walking along 35th Street, having ascended into Manhattan from the “B” Train, usually 10 minutes before 7AM. At that hour the city is relatively quiet and, at this time of the year, just welcoming the morning sun. So, the ether is cast in a salmon color haze while I and a handful of familiar, although unknown, faces greet me with typically downcast or sometimes glazed eyes, such as the young man dressed in a hoody hosing the sidewalk in front of the Hotel Metro, who will courteously stop spraying while I pass, attempting to avoid the streams of water. Also familiar is a lighted sign across the street declaring simply HOTEL, its letters defined by round amber bulbs, like the studs on a Texas shirt, shining somewhat eerily in the gloom. I’m not sure why, but it reminds me of Paris. And, with several burned out bulbs on the “E” it is as if the Lanford Wilson play, Hot l Baltimore, is an actual place.
Approaching Fifth Avenue and peering downtown I see a great puff of black smoke crossing the sky in the distance, surprisingly not so much conjuring reminiscences of 9/11 but instead of the thousands of starlings seen in Rome during late Fall and Winter as they perform a synchronized dance, like schools of fish in a wine dark sky.
I was shaken, however, from my thoughts by the sound of a helicopter hovering overhead, its blades cutting through the air, making cicada-like, rhythmic thumps in my ear. These sounds shake my brain cells into remembering how we, as kids, would tape pliant but sturdy squares of cardboard onto the spokes of our bike tires so they would catch and release the edges as we road, making similar thwack-thwack-thwacks to the dismay of the neighborhood. Why these memories should come to mind was likely because I had been just before immersed in Patti Smith’s new book, M Train. No, not THAT M Train, but rather her personal M(emory) Train (of thoughts). A book I highly recommend, along with her earlier one, Just Kids.