I Will What I Want

Friends, if you haven’t seen the new spot from Under Armour floating around the internet, then you must be on a social media detox. Or it’s because Facebook actually just went down.

For once, the voiceover actually adds to (rather than distracts from) the impact of the creative – told through the voice of a 13 year old Misty Copeland, originally denied her dream of becoming a ballerina for a myriad of crushing reasons. Because when you’re 13, your torso length is definitely one more thing you should be worried about and self-conscious of.

The story of denial and failure perfectly sets up what we are all excited and relieved to know is coming – her triumph as a soloist for the American Ballet Theater. The first African American soloist at the ABT in 20 years, no less.

The concept and cry of willing yourself to win, or accomplish something isn’t exactly a new one, but execution is everything, and this is beautifully done. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also a true, triumph-of-the-underdog story.

Now, let’s all go log some heel raises at the barre, because, those calves. That extension.


Image Credit: Penguin Young Readers Group

I recently got to see the musical Matilda and it was fabulous! No surprises there of course – but a funny story is that when my brother was visiting us last spring, I gave him the choice between Macbeth and Matilda…. and we saw Macbeth. Where Alan Cummings was essentially the only cast member… but I digress.

Firstly – the kids in Matilda are extraordinary. There is nothing like a six year singing and dancing his heart out as back up to the ten year old start in front of a full theater on a Wednesday night at 7:00 to make you question what you’ve accomplished in your life so far. But it’s also impossible not to love them. They’re so animated and endearing.

But the best part is the story; we all love a good underdog story (see Gladwell’s David and Goliath for your researched perspective) but imagine a good underdog story where the triumphant David is a ten year old girl with a British accent who can belt with the best of them… and uses her mischief to stand up for her friends, making things better for everyone. Some of my favorite lyrics:

Just because you find that life’s not fair, it
doesn’t mean that you just have to grin and bear it.
If you always take it on the chin and wear it
nothing will change!

Just because I find myself in this story,
It doesn’t mean that everything is written for me.
If I think the ending is fixed already,
I might as well be saying
I think that it’s OK!
And that’s not right!

So stand up, kiddos!

Lauren Dombrowiak: Domestic Edifice

When I flew home for Memorial Day, I had a pretty extensive layover in the Philadelphia airport, so I walked it. End-to-end. Through the “hall of international arrivals” and by The Supremes art exhibit.

I also discovered this gem by Lauren Dombrowiak, a ceramic artist.



I love the use of domestic and lovely items such as cups and saucers to create towering edifices and art. I am also a sucker for China – and love the gold rimmed saucers… which are artful enough on their own.

And while I am no art expert, to me this is about taking something with an expected function and turning it into something much more. Perhaps a more refined version of “when life gives you lemons”. Either way, it says something about triumph and creativity. And I really like it.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Windows

The Christmas windows in New York are an item to see on most people’s lists in December, but I thought the festive Valentine’s windows in our neighborhood deserved a little love, too.


This one  is my favorite – I love the simplicity of the neon heart. (I also love their bags.)

DSC02272 DSC02267


So Happy Valentine’s Day, to you and yours from our little decorated part of the world.

“The Girl”

A few nights ago I decided to watch HBO’s “The Girl” on demand. (This is not to be confused with HBO’s “Girls” although that would be easy to do.) I don’t write about movies often; I feel so much more at home with books. So be nice.

“The Girl” is the story of the Tippi Hedren / Hitchcock years. I am by no means a Hitchcock-buff, but the summary is that Hedren began as a model that Hitchcock spotted in a commercial and decided to make into a star through his films “The Birds” and “Marnie”. He became completely obsessed with her, and upon her repeated and certain rebuffs to his advances, he ruined her career.

The movie illustrates a twisted back and forth where Hitchcock punishes Hedren in peculiar way for resisting him. The most egregious of abuses and distrubing of scenes was in filming “The Birds” Hitchcock told Hedren she would be attacked by mechanical birds in close quarters, when in reality, she was subjected to five days of shooting with real birds, take after take, cut and scrape after nip and scratch.

But she never gave in. And she made two films with him – “The Birds” and “Marnie” and he refused to let her out of her contract. She wouldn’t work with him, and she contractually couldn’t work with anyone else, but she never gave in.

There is a “Chat” with the real Tippi Hedren and the cast of the movie available on HBO. Tippi wraps it up with a line that defined her resistance to a powerful Hollywood man and remains true in a world where it still requires great and certain effort to strive for the highroad and moral grounding because some things in the world never change.

“There’s a very, very good message in “The Girl” – can you really look at yourself in the mirror and be proud? That’s what you want to do. Always.”

You go, Tippi. You go girl.

“The Heiress”

One of the items in my Happy Birthday, Jesus Christmas bag was tickets to the play The Heiress. Much of the draw to this performance was the cast, for sure… and with good reason: Jessica Chastain, Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley!) and David Strathairn (SVU) certainly made for a talented and attractive cast. As far as talent – Chastain runs away with the show. Her character requires the most range, but Chastain is so convincingly boring and drab and then so wonderfully developed and triumphant. We saw her on Saturday night, and then we watched her accept the Golden Globe for Best Actress the following night on TV…. which was pretty cool.


However, it was a much darker story than I expected… Flex your brain back to American lit, and remember Henry James’ Daisy Miller. The story of a young ex-pat in Rome named Daisy who falls in love a socialite named Winterbourne. Short novella shorter, Winterbourne spurns Daisy for her lack of status and overly flirtatious manner, and she ultimately falls for an Italian, much to the chagrin of the ex-pat community, but she doesn’t care. Winterbourne discovers her at the Colosseum with the Italian, and Winterbourne scolds him for risking Daisy’s life by risking exposure the Roman flu. Daisy says she doesn’t care about Winterbourne or the Roman flu and ultimately gets sick……….. and dies a few days later.

(Spoilers ahead!)

Similarly, “The Heiress” (based on James’ novel Washington Square) hinges on the end of innocence for our heroine. Obviously, an heiress, Catherine Sloper (Chastain) is a bit dull but finds herself being courted by the lovely Mr. Townsend (Stevens/Crawley), who swears to love her for who she is. Catherine’s brilliant but emotionally debasing and abusive father, Dr. Sloper, tells her from the start- there is simply no way Mr. Townsend actually finds you attractive. It is only your money he is after. So he forbids her from marrying him or he will disinherit her and decrease her fortune, leaving her only with her mother’s portion. So we the audience hate her cruel father, and we love the promising Mr. Townsend.

Dr. Sloper is a mean, mean man who lost his perfectly idealized wife in childbirth and has never gotten over it. Nor has he forgiven his daughter for being born and for being so much less than his wife was – socially, physically, musically…. etc. So Catherine decides to run away with Mr. Townsend and give up her father’s portion of her inheritance, tells Mr. Townsend of this plan “so they can be together” and Mr. Townsend promptly disappears… leaving her distraught. He returns two years later, once her father has passed away, and Catherine has her full inheritance.

At this point, she tells Mr. Townsend to go pack his things and return for her, and they shall run away after all. She still loves him! And he has come back for her!

But no. She knows now, the worst irony of all is true, her father was right. She may not be beautiful, but she can’t un-know what she knows. When Mr. Townsend returns, she leaves him on the stairs, knocking and shouting her name. She instructs her housekeeper to bolt the door, and with the wool lifted from her eyes, she and her fortune silently ascend the stairs before the current falls.

Both Daisy and Catherine change their lives the moment their innocence is gone – Daisy is no longer concerned with the politics and inner-tensions of the ex-pat society in Rome, so she falls for her societally-suspect Italian anyway. And she loses her life.

Catherine can’t lie to herself any longer, and knowing she may never meet another man willing to marry her for her money or otherwise, she chooses to live alone, leaving the only suitor she ever had on the steps. Which for me, was oddly satisfying.