WHERE HAVE YOU GONE, JOE DIMAGGIO?

A FACE-TIME FUNERAL – BY ELLIN CURLEY

On February 2, 2017, I wrote a blog about my husband, Tom’s, Aunt Helen. We went out to Rochester, Minnesota to celebrate her 100th birthday with her incredible and devoted extended family. Aunt Helen luxuriated in three generations of love and support from her two daughters and son-in-law, her four grandchildren and in-laws and her seven great-grandchildren.

Everyone loved Aunt Helen. Feisty and full of life at every age. A Red Hat party girl to the end. But after the big 100th Birthday Bash, she seemed to lose steam. One of her grandchildren many years ago told her that she had to live to 100. She made that her goal in life and achieved it. But having achieved that landmark goal, she stopped eating, lost contact and started to deteriorate. On April 12, she died.

Our Favorite Aunt

Of course Tom and I planned to go to the funeral. We knew in January that the next time we saw the Minnesota gang would be on this sad occasion. We bought airline tickets that got us in the night before the Saturday 11 AM funeral service.

Thursday night I woke up with a sore throat. By Friday, the day we were scheduled to leave, I was coughing non-stop, despite generous doses of cough medicines. I knew I couldn’t make the trip. So I drove Tom to the nearest airport and went home and got into bed.

A short time later, the phone rang. It was Tom. They were on the plane but there had been a delay. Some baggage apparently dented the outside of the plane and they had to wait for approval to take off. He was worried that the delay would cause him to miss his connecting flight in Chicago.

A half hour later the phone rang again. The flight had been canceled! Tom was now on a long line of irate passengers, all waiting to be rebooked on another flight to their destinations. Okay. Bad situation but probably not fatal.

The next phone call, at around 6:00 PM, had the really bad news. There was no other flight, direct or connecting, that could get tom to the funeral in time for the service the next morning at 11 AM. Not on any airline, from any airport in the tri-state area. Now neither of us was going to be with the family to officially say good-bye to Aunt Helen! Tom was dejected.

I picked him up at the airport and we drove home. A few hours later, the phone rang. It was one of Aunt Helen’s daughters, Tom’s cousin Barb. She had a brilliant idea. Barb’s daughter, Lisa, a pastor, had recently been able to watch her son’s basketball game in Minnesota, while she was on a mission in Africa, by using Face-time! We could watch the funeral by Face-time! The glories of modern technology! What a great idea!

So Tom in Connecticut and the pastor in Rochester coördinated their computers. Tom hooked his iPad up to the television in the bedroom so I could watch from my sick-bed. It was awesome! We saw the family and heard the beautiful eulogy that two of the granddaughters, Lisa and her sister Jennifer, presented together.

To top it off, they quoted my February blog about Aunt Helen in the eulogy! I was so touched! I had referred to the saying that it takes a village to raise a child. After watching Aunt Helen’s family in action, I had realized that it also took a village to get someone to the age of 100. They agreed.

Another grandchild sang a hymn in the magnificent voice we had heard about but never heard. It was wonderful to be able to be part of the service, long distance. Later in the day, Lisa texted photos of the family out celebrating Helen with a beer. Her favorite drink.

I’m not very tech savvy. But I’m in awe of what can be done today to connect people through their personal devices. Maybe it’s the strength of this particular family that makes connecting so much easier. It is fantastic to be a part of this warm, welcoming and wonderful family, through sickness and in health, in person and by Face-Time.

MY HARD TO DESCRIBE HOBBY – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I’m frustrated. I have a hobby that people don’t understand. I try to explain it to them in different ways until I see the glimmer of recognition in their eyes.

I’m part of an audio theater company. We call ourselves “Voicescapes Audio Theater”. We write and produce short audio plays, both comedy and drama. We post them online and also perform 60-90 minute live shows.

Audio theater is theater that is primarily, audio. Like old time radio dramas, but updated.  We try not to use the phrase ‘radio drama’ because it conjures images of old-fashioned melodrama, kitsch, overacting, and schmaltz. We write modern, sophisticated material attuned to today’s sensibilities and styles. Nothing like the old days.

For generations, radio was a primary form of entertainment around the world. Radio had all the shows TV now does – dramas, mysteries, serial or standalone, sit-coms and other kinds of comedy. Talk shows, game shows, news, documentaries, and of course, music.

In the ‘50’s, television became the entertainment of choice. But in England, radio, in all its original forms, retained its place in the lives of Brits along with television. England continues to have a thriving radio culture. It’s professional, well-financed and popular. The quality is on par with what is available on TV and in movies.

In America, television completely eclipsed radio, and radio almost died out as an art form. On a professional level, radio continues to play music. There are many talk shows and of course, news, but not much else. The other forms of original ‘radio drama’ have been pretty much relegated to the amateur world. The quality is generally not on the same level as its professional, paid counterparts on TV. It also has a fraction of the audience it had in it’s heyday.

So we’re left searching for the right analogy to get across to people what we do. We use the phrase ‘enhanced play reading’. The problem is, “play reading” sounds dry and not ready for prime time. Our pieces are polished productions, complete with sound effects, live and recorded, as well as music. We provide a fully-realized theatrical experience, mostly for your ears.

People love our performances. Not to brag, but we’ve been told our writing is clever, brilliant, and thought-provoking. Our actors are experienced, talented professionals. One member of our company, Barbara Rosenblat, is an Audie-award winning audio book narrator, with over 500 audio books to her credit. She has appeared on Broadway and off-Broadway, as well as on television, including on the Netflix series, ‘Orange Is The New Black’. Another member of our company, Robin Miles, has also won Audies and other awards for her audio book narration.

Our one honest-to-God review said that our performance was “A night to remember. Excellent writing and performances. A unique type of humor that audiences will carry with them when they leave.” (Cynthia Allen, Outer Critics Circle and Modern Theater Online).

So, we’re excited about what we do. Everyone who sees or hears us is excited about our product. Once you experience our unique form of entertainment, you ‘get it’ and you’re hooked. The problem is explaining what we do to get people interested in checking us out online or in person.

You can help by going to our website, listening to some or our pieces and spreading the word to your friends. I know that geographically, you can’t all come to our live shows in New York and Connecticut. But we have a whole other life online. We post all our material so anyone and everyone can listen for free.

Here is our website, VOICESCAPES AUDIO THEATER. There is also a link on the sidebar, so you can click any time and see what we do. Enjoy a comedy about driving through the countryside of France with two warring GPS machines. Or a comedy describing the joys of trying to cancel a cable account with customer service. Try one in which a husband and wife argue about whether farts are really funny. There is also a Twilight Zone style drama about the year 2214, when one woman wakes up to a very different and puzzling world. There is even one children’s piece if you have young children or grandchildren.

There should be something for everyone. Please give us a try and let me know what you think!

ODDBALLS ON A WARM SPRING DAY

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: April 16, 2017


Lots of little things going on. Finally, at long last, the dead rose-bush has been removed. It turned out not to be entirely dead and the living piece is still in place. So I won’t be planting something new. That bush is going to grow and take over that upper section of the garden. Actually, now that it has been so heavily cut back, it is probably going to grow like crazy.

I have learned the hard way. Don’t fill up the garden. It will fill up all by itself. And very fast, too.

The yellow car has been sold, but not yet taken away. We weren’t using it and older cars need to be driven or they just quietly fall apart. Bought by the son of a neighbor, it’s a good little car. Needs new brakes and a battery, but it’s good driver and Garry has always loved it. Bye bye yellow car. I like the way it matched the forsythia.

The dogs favorite game is to stand on the top step as I slowly move on up the stairs. They think being above me is hilarious. Maybe it is.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Wet flag in heavy rain.