|Answer: That is a great question, Alana, and I had to think for a while about the answer. Some of my childhood experiences were negative. I lived with an undiagnosed disability (sensory and auditory processing disorder) and I was bullied by other kids. I think that the experience helped me to be able to identify with and support the underdog and to have more empathy. But I think that I would choose my participation in theater as something that has helped to make me into the person that I am today. Performing on the stage gave me confidence. It helped me develop my imagination because I was experiencing the world from a perspective other than my own. The theater became a magical place for me, a place where I felt safe and where dreams could come true. Some of the plays that I performed in were:
- Bury the Dead, by Irwin Shaw. This was an anti-war play about six dead soldiers who rose out of a mass grave to express their horror at the unnamed war in which they were killed. No amount of pleading and cajoling from the people who knew them could get them to go back into their graves. I played the role of one of the wives of the fallen soldiers when I was eleven years old. From this play, I learned about the futility of war. Years later, I became an anti-war activist.
- Alice in Wonderland. I played the role of the Queen of Hearts. This was pure fun, and I got to say, “Off with her head” over and over and over again. Well, sometimes, I said “off with his head.” Because of the absurdity of the language, being in this play, when I was fourteen, helped me enjoy my imagination.
- Auntie Mame, adapted for the stage by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee and based on the novel by Patrick Dennis. This is the “straight play.” Most people are familiar with the musical, called “Mame.” This play celebrated the free spirit that was Mame. I played the role of Agnes Gooch, who was Mame’s secretary. I had a nasal voice and drank a lot of Doctor Pepper. The character actually wore thick glasses, just like me. At one point, I had to walk down a steep flight of stairs, without glasses. I was seventeen when I performed in this high school production. It helped me to appreciate and explore my own free spirit.
Although I never became a professional actor, I think that my theatrical experience has given me the lasting gifts of a free spirit, empathy, and a vivid imagination. I think that I have become much more outgoing because I got on the stage and performed. I still enjoy performing on stage. The above photograph is me on the stage during my dance recital in June, tap dancing to “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing,” composed by Duke Ellington.
Martha asked, “I would like to know how.you come up with such exciting fractured fairytale. I love them!”
|Answer: About twenty years ago, I was given a book titled Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, by James Finn Garden. The stories were wacky adaptations of fairy tales. Later, I learned another term: “fractured fairy tales.” I found them to be hilarious. In fact, I had been composing “fractured fairy tales” for a few years before the book came out, mostly as “creative writing activities” with my nephew when I was babysitting him. In one story, Little Red Riding Hood was at an aerobics class with her grandmother. Unknown to them, the Big Bad Wolf arrived. He threw the grandmother in the closet and dressed up as her and did the aerobics. Little Red Riding Hood was not convinced that her “grandmother” was really her grandmother.
I have always enjoyed “fractured fairy tales” and, this year, I decided to have a little fun with them. One of the tales was actually inspired by a picture of a frog that I took when I was working in a garden. A few others have been inspired by this rather tedious presidential election that we are experiencing. I thought that it would be fun to lampoon the candidates via the genre of “fractured fairy tale.” I guess that the stories come from a combination of current events, satire, and overactive imagination. When I wrote my blog, I just make the story up on the spot, sort of like a creative writing exercise. It’s loads of fun, and I am really happy that you enjoy them, Martha.
Jean asked: “What are some of your favorite recipes to bake and why?”
Answer: For me, baking is definitely kitchen fun. The whole process is fun, from gathering the ingredients to the taste test. Here are some of my favorite goodies to bake:
- pineapple brownies: What is fun about these is the element of surprise in the brownies. In the middle of the brownie, there is a ribbon of little pineapple chucks. It adds a different flavor to the brownies, and it also adds a nice texture. My mother found the recipe for me in one of her old cook books. It is an old cook book that’s full of yummy recipes because it is obviously well used and has to be held together with a rubber band.
- coco pink cupcakes: This is a fun and easy recipe. It doesn’t require a frosting. Instead, I add nuts and chocolate chips to the top of the cupcake. The chocolate chips become soft and melty during baking and actually make the cupcakes seem as if they were frosted.
- double chocolate chocolate chip cookies: For me, the fun part has been in adjusting the recipe. I turned down the heat in the oven and let the cookies bake a little longer. They are nice and chewy and not hard. I add dark chocolate chips, instead of semi-sweet. Sometimes, I bake the cookies with other stuff, such as M&Ms. It is fun to play and experiment with the cookies. Oh, and the double chocolate part is because I add one-quarter of a cup of cocoa powder to the dry ingredients. I like the “special dark” version of the cocoa powder.
- banana bread: OK, I admit it. I really enjoy mashing the bananas!!! They are gooey! Goo is fun!
Well, that’s all for today. Once again, thank you, Alana, Martha, and Jean for asking these questions. One of these days, I’ll do another question and answer session! Bye bye for now!