Life is theater and music on A Good Reed Review
A Good Reed Review gratefully accepts direct donations via PayPal to help defray the costs of maintaining this site without creating paywalls.
Sunnyvale Community Players’ (SCP) is destined to make a big splash with Big Fish, opening on 23 October 2021. This is the musical based on Daniel Wallace’s 1998 novel, Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions, and the 2003 Tim Burton film, Big Fish. A little over a decade after the film debuted, the musical version of the story made it to Broadway in a show with book by John August (who also wrote the screenplay for the Burton film) and music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa. There are a few small differences in the plotline details between the movie and the musical, but the overall story remains. Big Fish follows Edward Bloom, a man who tells a version of his life history through his mythic stories that mesmerize anyone who will listen, especially his wife, Sandra. His storybook adventures are about living life to the fullest and being the hero of your own story. They are about love. They are about imagination and what the future holds. They also hide a deep secret that he never told his son Will about. Will is desperate to know the real story about his father’s life, as he is on the cusp of becoming a father himself. The show has a lot of heart and humor as it follows a dual timeline intermixing Bloom’s fairytale adventures with present day reality. It also provides some engaging life lessons to which everyone can relate. [Continue reading]
As happened most nights, Alex and Rowan Jeffries were having an impassioned discussion over dinner. The twins had been sharing a house for most of their lives, Alex a professor of biochemistry and Rowan a professor of music and religious studies at the same university. Having grown up together and only living separately as university students because they attended different schools in different states, it was both comforting and financially practical to have come together again once their student days were over. Neither had ever been married, and they considered one another perfect roommates. They relied on each other and were the best of friends even though they had a few notable philosophical differences. In fact, those differences often helped them, though they really only differed dramatically in a few areas. In other areas of their lives, they were often in agreement even when their approaches sometimes diverged. This evening, they were engrossed in a discussion in which they agreed for the most part, but differed in application. The subject this evening was honesty, or more directly, the value of truth and dangers of lies. [Continue reading]
I have always been intrigued by geometry and interesting shapes and perspectives in pictures. In fact, going through school, geometry was my favorite math class and not just because of the beautiful logic proofs, but I digress. In photography, sometimes a rather mundane scene can be fascinating when approached from a unique angle. Other times, the shading can even make common shapes pop. As mentioned in previous essays, I have spent a lot of time wandering through the exhibits packing the various Smithsonian museums over the years. While the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) in Washington, D.C. is my favorite Smithsonian location by far, I also appreciate several of the others in its vicinity. The Museum of Natural History has much to offer, and although the easiest way to get a good picture there is to buy one of their brochures which are filled with many elegant professional photographs, where is the fun in that? It’s far more satisfying to discover a unique perspective and capture it directly if possible. [Continue reading]
Previous essays in the series:
Book Review: The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness, by Sy Montgomery
Naturalist, Sy Montgomery, opens up a fascinating world that is foreign to most of us in her 2015, best-selling memoir, The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness. She tells her story of how she was introduced to her first octopus at the New England Aquarium in Boston, MA and was hooked. She was taken with their curious nature, their intelligence, their cunning, and their charisma. The book is her personal tribute to all that is the octopus as she educates her readers by dispelling many misconceptions and fears and bringing these extraordinary creatures to life on the page. The first thing she teaches readers is that the scientifically correct plural for octopus, contrary to common belief, is not the Latin “octopi.” The word octopus is derived from the Greek, oktṓpous, so the plural is instead “octopuses” despite what Dictionary.com may imply. She also gives an initial description of the animal thusly:
“Here is an animal with venom like a snake, a beak like a parrot, and ink like an old-fashioned pen. It can weigh as much as a man and stretch as long as a car, yet it can pour its baggy, boneless body through an opening the size of an orange. It can change color and shape. It can taste with its skin.”
I was lucky. I grew up in an era when Star Trek was new. This was the original series where so many of the pressing problems of the time were solved long ago in the story lines. Although I was a little young to catch the first season in its prime time slot because it was after my bedtime, I initially saw the show when the first season summer reruns aired earlier in the evening. I loved space and the idea of space travel to explore new worlds. This was during the era of the Apollo program, and the first moon landing occurred just a little over a month after the final episode of the original Star Trek series first aired. [Continue reading]
Earlier in this series, I talked about how my parents inspired me and encouraged my love of music. They are both long gone now, Dad for over 50 years and Mom for a decade, but every time I play anything, I think of them. In the last installment discussing whether I was still a musician or not, I came to the conclusion that even without performing for others, I am and always will be a musician. The pandemic has pushed me to enjoy my music more privately, and in doing so, return to my roots and my first instrument, the piano. Playing the piano reminds me of my mother, especially when I play some of the repertoire that she played frequently. One of her favorites was Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude. Mom used to play this one with deep expression and early on told me the story her piano teacher told her about the piece. Her favorite teacher used to tell her stories about every piece she was assigned, and in doing so made the music come alive as much more than mere notes on the page. [Continue reading]
Previous essays in the series:
The holiday season is upon us, and there are myriad music and theatrical events to celebrate the season. It is also the heart of the football season where a different kind of theater plays out all over the country. For some, the drama is in the game itself. … there is another kind of spectacle playing out in stadiums across the country, but this one engages fans from all walks of life. … Finally, there are the extreme fans. These are the ones who take fandom and raise it to a performance art form bringing a type of theater to light … My friend Mark is one such fan. … Today, many 49er aficionados know him as 49erMark. [Continue reading]
In REMEMBERING MOM AND DAD, I make the jump from analyzing the stories to telling them. The book is a collection of nonfiction essays and short stories written over time remembering Bayla and Jerry Jacobson. The stories include personal recollections from my experience along with the retelling of numerous events related to me in conversations over the years. Some of the stories included are: “Music in the House”, “The Parenthood Plunge”, “The Jacobson Pet Parade”, “Disney Days of Summer”, and many more. Interested?
Purchase the print edition: