Searching…

med_searching_ver3Recently, the world was dealt the hand of losing another talented musician and rapper Mac Miller due to a drug overdose.  People come in and out of our lives through death, loss of connection, and/or lack of communication.  The film Searching really hits home on how loss can affect us as it focuses on a typical Asian family living in America during the technology age as the teenage daughter (Margot) goes missing mysteriously one evening after a study group.  The father (David Kim) desperately searches through emails, social media, and friends to find out that maybe he didn’t really know his daughter at all.

The story was predominately shot through a computer camera, chat messages, live-streaming, video recordings, and social media platforms such as Facebook.  I think the director really focused in on our obsession with social media and how technology is the center of human interaction.  The fear, paranoia, and hurt that can form when people can hide behind screens and make unruly comments and lie and think no repercussions can come back at them.  The mask you can wear behind a camera or through a chat room can change your perception of what those people’s lives are like.  Who they are?  How they think?  Even their motives for being online and doing what they are doing.

Searching shows what technology has done to our lives – the good and the bad.  It helps to create a mask, a mask which Margot hid behind for so long after her mother passed away from cancer.  Putting on a brave face for her father and moving past the pain and insecurity she felt.  She talked to people online that didn’t know her story, she took solace in the people that would let her vent without judgment, she distanced herself from most of the people that use to be important to her, and she became agreeable and compliant.  Margot became a loner because she didn’t know how to deal with the pain and in turn, it brought her into an even darker situation.

I don’t want to give you any spoilers, but Debra Messing’s character (detective in the Margot’s missing person’s case) has some skeletons in her closet.  Bravo Messing for a great performance!  The character, Detective Vick is very complex in her thought process on what is right.  The script is on point and the best advice that I can give you while you are watching the film is really listen to the dialogue, read everything that is typed, and pay attention to each character’s actions.  You get to understand their personal thoughts and feelings that they don’t share with anyone.  Their interactions, images, and tone of voice when they are talking to one another are vital to the story.  Attention to detail is key to solving the mystery.

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TAG! – 5 Grown Men & The Game That Connected Them The Last 28 Years

tagAs we get older, we sometimes lose our inner child.  The part of us that makes us fearless, unwillingness to take no for an answer, and the unwavering loyalty we have to the people we call our best friends.  As a kid, there is no thought process, judgment, or questioning of why we are friends with people; it is more of a way of life.  Moving forward usually means changes to our group of friends, not staying in touch with people that we assumed would be in our lives forever, and huge life adjustments like being in serious relationships or having kids of our own.  The kicker is we subconsciously make those choices by ignoring a phone call, not responding to a text, or deleting an email assuming that the person who reached out will try again.

Recently, I finished watching the movie TAG.  A film based on a true story of five friends that had been playing the same game of tag for the last 28 years.  Seriously, this story was in The Wall Street Journal and a slew of other major publications back in 2013.   These five men had moved to different areas of the country, got married, had children, and were heads of major corporations.  Once a year for an entire month they would show up in random places to tag one another just like when they were kids to avoid not being “it” for another year.  Can you imagine flying 800 miles to hide behind a car or creating an insane disguise just to tag your friend for the sake of not being “it” the next year?  The 11-month strategy and planning that goes into a game that has been happening for 28 years has to keep all of them sharp and a little paranoid but more importantly connected.

The moral of the movie had nothing to do with the game of tag, but more about how invaluable they believed their friendship was to each other.  We have the ability in the 21st century to stay in touch with people that are important to us no matter where they are in this world.  We use life as an excuse.  I’m too tired to text you back.  My kids are more important than responding to this email that will take 5 minutes.  I need to watch the new Game of Thrones episode with my significant other instead of taking this phone call for 10 minutes.  I read an article the other day that said there are 86,400 seconds in a day and the author said this: “Every day we get up we are blessed with this amount of time to connect with the people that matter.  There are no refunds, no exchanges, and no roll-over to the next day.  There are also no guarantees you will be around tomorrow to experience another 86,400 seconds.”

There are 31,536,000 seconds in a year.  Use every second to connect.  Call your best friend from high school for 900 seconds, laugh through text in a college group chat and reminisce for 300 seconds, or spend 1800 seconds with your parents watching a sitcom on T.V.  Use the time that you have to relate to the people that made you who you are in this life.  To every person that made me who I am today – “I like you because you join in on my weirdness.”  I just have one question.  Are you ready to be “it”?

I’m Breaking Free and Introducing Me…

This past weekend was a flashback to my childhood as Disney Channel had a whole weekend full of Disney Channel Original Movies in celebration of the 100th movie premiere. It is always the nostalgia that makes us wish for simpler times where memories flood back like a waterfall and you wished every day you could break into song for no reason without someone giving you side-eye.

The storylines don’t change much – finding yourself, learning that people are more important than things, and understanding that having integrity can lead to success. These popular television movies have catchy tunes that tie each story together, whether it is a full-blown musical or a theme song, it bring the soul alive and revives a little child in all of us.

Watching all these movies made realize that two songs really stand-out from the crowd for me which are “Breaking Free” from High School Musical and “Introducing Me” from Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam; both were written by the same person – Jamie Houston. Lyrically, these songs have a vulnerability to them. The ability to show someone your true self. In a world full of judgements and status quo, people constantly trying to put you in a box that formulates to their own images of who they think you are can make you feel like the walls are always closing in, but “Breaking Free” is a duet that creates a bubble that negative opinions can’t penetrate.

“You know the world can see us
In a way that’s different than who we are
Creating space between us
‘Til we’re separate hearts
But your faith it gives me strength
Strength to believe
We’re breakin’ free”

As an adult, have you ever notice that the first thing we ask people when meeting them is what do you do for work? In college, you ask someone where they are from? In high school, you ask someone what activities they are into, but in elementary school it simple. You ask someone if they want to play. When we meet people, we try anyway to connect with someone, but when you are young there are no walls up. You are an open book, honest and truthfully. Your heart is on your sleeve and telling someone your most intimate secrete isn’t terrifying.

“If you wanna know, here it goes.
Gonna tell you there’s a part of me that shows,
If we’re close, gonna let you see everything,
But remember that you asked for it.
I’ll try to do my best to impress,
But it’s easier to let you take a guess, at the rest,
But you wanna hear what lives in my brain, my heart,
Well, you asked for it
For your perusing,
At times confusing,
Possibly amusing…
Introducing me!”

Find something to hold on to. Beauty, art, and music are important, it gives people hope. So, in hopes that the rest of you let that wall down a little and really tell us who you are; here is a little about me:

Reading is my favorite past time
And I get truly excited when lyrics rhyme
Listening to violins brings me peace of mind
And when you smile I know it is all going to be just fine
So remember that I’m right here
No judgement from me should you fear
And in time that wall will come down
In hopes that laughter and imagination will always be around

For music click here!

Justin Peck: A Choreography Role Model for the Millennial Generation

imageBeing a dancer takes sacrifice, while being a choreographer takes vulnerability.  The documentary “Ballet 422” explores the development of twenty-five year old Justin Peck’s ballet creation “Paz de La Jolla.”  In 2013, within two months, he set New York City Ballet’s 422nd creation to a musical composition from 1935 by Bohuslav Martinu.  The ballet featured three company elite principal dancers (Tiler Peck, Sterling Hyltin, and Amar Ramasar) along with a 15-member corps.  Peck explores a contemporary ballet style with constant fluidity and directional changes.  His style, movement quality, and confidence reminds me of Jerome Robbins’ work where he intertwines movement within a story while bringing the audience deeper into the musicality of the composition.  Peck uses every beat from the quick sound of the violins to the strong brass blows that brings the piece of music truly alive.  His attention to detail and specifics from hand placement to body angles for a lift shows his ability to create strong work like Balanchine.

Peck had a modest start in dance training in tap at age 9.  It wasn’t until he was 13 years old that he started training in Ballet after he saw an American Ballet Theater performance of “Giselle” that inspired him.  At 15, he moved to New York City to study at the School of American Ballet where he ultimately joined the New York City Ballet as an apprentice in 2006 at 18.  From there, Peck rose through the ranks.  In 2007, he became a member of the corps, and as he continued to choreograph and dance his career flourished, and in 2013 he received the title of soloist.

As a choreographer, Peck produced his first Ballet in 2008.  He found success in the Company’s Choreographic Institute.  In 2013, when the documentary was created, he was commissioned to create the only new Ballet of that year for the winter season at 25 years old.  Now at 28, Justin Peck is a soloist at the New York City Ballet and has become one of the most requested choreographers in the Ballet world.  In 2014, he was appointed Resident Choreographer of the NYCB; only the second person in the history of the NYCB’s 68 year institution to hold such a title.  Peck has choreographed 25 works for companies all over the world such as San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Miami City Ballet, LA DanceProject, and the Paris Opera Ballet. His choreographic work – “Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes” was award in 2015 with a Bessie for outstanding production.  His focus for the work was about finding a balance between athletics and artistry.  It was primarily an all male cast with men partnering men. It explored that aspect of the men being the center of attention instead of the women, which was a refreshing view considering other Ballet casting structure.

The documentary “Ballet 422” brought the audience into a behind the scenes peek at a young choreographer as his career was beginning to explode.  Unlike most documentary, there was no interviews with any of the members of the production.  The viewer saw the the blood, sweat, and tears that went into “Paz de la Jolla” without verbal interjection.  Seeing Peck develop the work through movement studies in the studio alone as he sketched out formations and movement phrases showed that artists truly need time away from others to be creative.  Many artists are all about control, but Peck seemed to understand that it is important to let others interject in the creative process as it makes the work better as a whole from the costume designers to the dancers.  He seems to have an open forum for the people he works with that makes him approachable as the work is developed in a collaborative atmosphere.

Justin Peck is a forward thinker. Someone who thinks outside the box as a choreographer, dancer, and collaborator, which makes him push the boundaries as an artist.  Mikhail Baryshnikov said, “I found that dance, music, and literature is how I made sense of the world…it pushed me to think of things bigger than life’s daily routines…to think beyond what is immediate or convenient.”  Watching the end of the documentary as you see Peck walk away and preparing to dance after watching his piece on stage, I imagine that the wheels never stop turning for someone who is multi-talented from development to artistic you need consistent evolution.

Frank Sinatra at 100 Still Has Got The World On A String

imageWhen I think of romance and love, the first person that comes to mind is Frank Sinatra.  The backing brass and big band sound, accompanied by his smooth and calming voice that flows through the lyrics of classics such as Fly Me To The Moon, Love and Marriage, and I’ve Got The World On A String gives me chills.  These songs bring me into an image of a club in the 1940s as people dance cheek to cheek.  Sinatra is one of the best selling artists of all time.  He has sold more than 150 million records worldwide, and is considered one of the most popular and influential artists of the twentieth century.

He was more than a singer.  Sinatra was an actor, producer, director, and he created a vision and persona around all that he was as an artist.  A perfectionist, known for his impeccable dress sense.  Image and sound were important to him.  He always insisted on recording his band live during sessions so the sound was organic.  Being a singer that learned music by ear and never learned to read music, I think he needed the sound to be live because it was how he learned to sing and react to the instruments being played.

It is the year of Sinatra’s centennial as society celebrates a hundred years of his existence.  Even though he is gone, his legacy lives on through his music and movies.  In the film On The Town, a construction worker asks Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, and Jules Munshin “What can happen in one day?”  It isn’t important what can happen in a day, but those moments in a day that can change you as a person over a lifetime.  He did that with every word he sang.  What is interesting is the songs that Sinatra sang were never songs he wrote, but collaborations with various composers and lyricists – he was the one that made the songs famous; he was the one that made them classics.

Come Fly With Me, Witchcraft, and All The Way are iconic, and the epitome of sound that Sinatra stood for during the 1950s.  In 2016, the 1950s are starting to show back up in music like with Panic! At The Disco’s new album Death of A Bachelor.  It is full of trumpets, big drums, but a mix of rock n’ roll on tracks such as Crazy = Genius. Other artists like Michael Buble have that same old style, no matter how pop he tries to be.  Songs like Haven’t Met You Yet, You and I, and Everything remind me that heartbreak can be minded, dreams can still be a reality, and a smooth voice can give you hope.

Sinatra followed and idolized artists like Bing Crosby.  He wanted to work hard, and for everyone else to follow suit.  In 1945 & 1946 he sang on 160 radio shows, recorded thirty-six times, shot four films, and performed up to forty-five times a week singing up to a hundred songs daily.  He won eleven Grammys over his career.  He release one hit after another, but my favorite will always be Young At Heart.  Granted it isn’t one of his more popular songs, but the lyrics by Carolyn Leigh defines what it is like to get older and still feel that coloring or swinging in the park is great idea.  In the words of Frank –

“You can go to extremes with impossible schemes.
You can laugh when your dreams fall apart at the seams.
And life gets more exciting with each passing day.
And love is either in heart, or on it’s way.
Don’t you know that it’s worth every treasure on earth
To be young at heart.”