Rocking in the Highlands.

What are the chances?  Meaning, receiving an amazing group of students from Edinboro University and Slippery Rock University as student teachers, and realizing these must be the cream of the crop because they are AWESOME!!

That was the feeling you could HEAR as we descended upon the American Legion in Condesa for tons of ice cream, whipped cream, toppings, and as much fun and interchange as we could muster.

These students brought a breath of excitement and fun to ASF in just TWO days, brought by Dr. Robert Snyder, Ph.D and author of What is a Veteran Anyway? – and the combination of having myself attended Edinboro University and Slippery Rock University? The familiarity of being surrounded by these students was awesome as ASF teachers mingled and the volume of conversations ebbed and flowed across the room.

It is always a great, great part of the year when such students come to ASF, and this evening proved how lucky we truly were with such a dynamic, talented, and interesting group of 16 that have come to us – life is good!

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Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, What Legends are Made Of.

Screen Shot 2017-04-09 at 8.54.58 AMApril 2nd’s production of Amadeus, by Peter Shaffer, certainly was what you would expect of a production of the National Theatre at the Lunario, and leaves you on the edge of your seat.  As always, interpretation and follow through have never been a weak spot of most of the National Theatre’s productions, and this would not be the case either.

Having seen a much earlier production of Amadeus, and securing the soundtrack, I knew even at its worst I was in for something extraordinary.  That did not even begin to describe the impact of Shaffer’s Amadeus. The combination of modern to classic, the factions within factions that worked against each other constantly, were just a few of the highlights that allowed this production to steer you back into a nonfiction and fictionalized production of Amadeus.  All these years, of course I thought the rivalry between Antonio Salieri and Mozart, had been a reality.  of course there might have been a slight animosity, but when you find most of this is highly fictionalized, and that in moments each composer supported each other in various performances, much of the trepidation and deceit was fictionalized, and I realized, I never had even heard anything by Antonio Salieri – and when you do- you realize what a talent Antonio Salieri brought to composing.

Yes, Lucian Msamati, in the role of Salieri, who I have never seen before on stage – stunning and straight to the heart from the very beginning.  As for Adam Gillen – his contrasts to Salieri and poignant thoughts on life that did not mesh into the German styles of opera and composing – it fueled the power that Msamati brought to the stage as Salieri.  He was everything that you would hope Amadeus would be and more.

The set was dark, yet full of life, and death, able to shift as you would imagine the set would shift for any theatre in London, Vienna, or in Europe at the time, and the touch that only a set of The National Theatre could create, seemed to add to the life and death of this staged performance.  Play on Mozart, play on for sure.

 

 

 

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Harold Pinter’s ,”No Man’s Land” could Be Anyone’s Land Without Precaution

There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.” – Harold Pinter.

I thought I missed my chance at seeing No Man’s Land at The Lunario March 5th and 5th , but no!  When No Man’s Land advertised, and was listed again for March 29th and the chance to see Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan on stage together was too good to resist.  

Damian Molony and Owen Teale also surprised me in how much they made this tale of reminiscing and regretting and definitely caught in between.  When the curtain lifted you are taken in by the Mid Summer Night’s Tale scenery that makes up the outside of the room of the setting. The room itself is very grand, truly isolating all the actors into one “arena” so to speak.

First published in 1975, Harold Pinter was an amazing talent in the areas of playwright, authors of screenplays, and as a director, actor, and screen writer. I never knew him.  I wish there was a curriculum that made mandatory the use of playwrights so everyone could be exposed to them at some point – for in Pinter, he seems enlightening to say the least.

Even other performances of No Man’s Land, exhibit the reality of lost opportunities, and what remains when you do not make the most of a life.  The question is, whose thoughts are these?  One person?  Individuals from one’s life?  The contemplation of where these ponderings come from, where they lead and what become of a life unfulfilled come full throttle to your lap, and leave them there to contemplate.  This is a powerful tool to be carried by actors, but actors that are quite capable of handling such a heavy topic.

The power of words is brought center stage thanks to the brilliant work of Howard Pinter.  I love the fact that The National Theatre Live, brings so many productions that cause contemplation.  No Man’s land does in fact take the ponderings and existence of words and juggles, aims, throws, and glances blows with such a dialogue, all the while, you see the drama of life, death, and truly in between fall in various points of view from all actors on stage. 

In this case, and this production, for sure, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.” -William Shakespeare.

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April 1 – The Resurfacing of Gifts at Home and Abroad

April 1 came again, and of course, it is more than a day of fooling.  My thoughts always drifted back to the powerful legacy my Dad left on his birthday, a large collective of family that influenced each of us so much, but even moreso, were influenced by his middle of the night to save someone stuck, answering the call for food needed by families, providing transportation to those needing to get to work, just to begin a comprehensive list.  yes Dad was quiet, but his actions spoke louder than words to each of us and told us to take care of our bodies, take care of each other in the family, and take care of those outside our family to feel as if they were part of our family.

This led me to so many past events that I am way behind on regarding some awesome events as of late – but one is worthy of mentioning.  MUN Press.  For those that might not be aware, MUN is Model United Nations, where for two days, our students mimic actions, calls to action, responding to, calling out for help and more on behalf of their own country as a representative in one of many delegations found at the actual United Nations.  I am in love with this event as my exposure to current events was students simply brining in a current event and discussing it.  This enlivens that idea and brings some truth to it – some energy, some synthesis of what is happening outside the country and the MUN to what is happening inside the MUN Conference.  I was fortunate enough to be asked to help supervise and represent the MUN Press, I love this position as I get to see the varying topics and weigh how to advise and represent all events and try to avoid the bias-ness that comes out from my own personal beliefs, (this is harder than you think).

This year the theme of Conflict Confrontation,  I was devoted to making sure we did not just become so insular and focus on ourselves during MUN only, the goal is to take what is happening around us and synthesize the MUN to the UN, and the world, and make connections to the real world, the MUN at ASF world, and represent all in an equal light, not so hard at times.

I could never have been more proud as I was able to see this year’s Press take all the past year’s MUN successes and add to them and then build on them, that is what using prior experience and information is all about.  Not besting a year before but using the year before to improve and reach people more effectively.  

The video and technology staff we had outdid themselves with the periodic videos that prepped all ASF for the upcoming MUN conference, they were phenomenal.  

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The newsletter The Right of Reply, did exactly what we hoped became creative, became informative, yet represented  a wide variety of topics that were international in nature.

The social media staff were very intuitive in making sure the Snapchat and Facebook sites were hopping an buzzing showing the same hop and buzz all members of MUN were involved in.  We made sure we even added some fun… (lol)

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The reporters made capturing audio components of MUN an essential part of the experience.

The editors made sure the professionalism did not stop at capturing the info for the articles, but how they appeared.

The photographers made sure the feeling of being everywhere and anywhere was a reality.

The planners and advisor of MUN helped support the Press but also helped show while many disdain MUN, these same planners and advisor of MUN showed how important it was to bring the outside world into ASF (American School Foundation) so we could experience it, and that is a life learning lesson that the only way to experience? – is to live it.    

It takes MUCH MUCH energy, thick skin, and vision to have one or two MUN press editors to oversee the whole process from within the MUN press, and we had them, Kudos to the student leaders of the MUN Press that have to think weeks ahead before we start.

The MUN Press,  I was lucky to be able to be surrounded by and play a role in giving them advice based on their amazing talents as we saw them unfold.   A huge bow and level of gratitude who exhibited the level of giving back to others and revealing to them the world in so many different formats.  I can’t begin to explain how much of an honor the MUN Press is and the best of the best have to be there to make it work properly, equally, and on a very wide audience level.

A huge thank you to the sacrifices made to the planners of MUN, there are many that are taken for granted, go unseen and unknown to what a huge job that is, but, we carry a bit of MUN with us if we allow it.

The gifts my father left behind are priceless, and when you see them rise again in students around you that are priceless, then we see this legacy of bringing in individuals as part of your family begin over and over again.  Did I think it would occur in another country?  Not on your life.  Am I grateful?  Beyond words.  Thank you for your gifts that keep resurfacing Dad!

 

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Personal Shopper will have you”shopping” for answers

Rules.  You have all seen them, and most of the time unconsciously. Film Noir  and Auteurs – Cohen Brothers, Alfred Hitchcock, Quentin Tarentino, Orson Welles, Wes Anderson, Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Tim Burton, just to name a FEW –

So what is the deal with Olivier Assayas  in Personal Shopper? The deal is all bets are off.  Take what you have come to know, expect and predict and throw it out the window.  Take several frame tales, attention to details that bring social media to the screen, and be ready to be confused, jolted, and taken on  ride that sometimes will lose you.

Does that make this film bad, awful, and off its tracks?  What most people have problems coming to terms with is the sudden bump in the road that ends up leading to construction sites – the unexpected that keeps becoming unfamiliar territory.  Yet, it does the soul good, and in Personal Shopper, a host of taboo and personal areas are breached in order to get the maximum amount of exposure from film to viewer.  

This certainly will not be for everyone, but yet, consumers of movies in the critique and amateur arenas will be thrilled to view a film that shakes many elements up to a high degree.  With such a difficult role, yes, Kristen Stewart marches on bravely through elements that cause many to question everything that is occurring, but Steward is able to deliver and then some. 

As always the world where art and controversy cross – always is interesting and I liked the fact that Hilma af Klint appears only adding to they mystery of what Stewart tries to seek out for herself and all viewers.

 

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ASOMEX for the sake of ASOMEX – the freedom of student expression in a variety of formats.

So what is it?  ASOMEX?  Well, the  Association of American Schools in Mexico represents so much!  On this case, on Friday March 3rd – The Middle school Drama, Jazz Band,

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and Concert Band

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 7.20.25 AM.pngattended Peterson’s day of music

for ASOMEX music, it was

GREAT!

THEY, the students, the band, the music, the pieces of art, the drama were great!  

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This goes to show me despite seats smaller than their bodies, despite being tempted with a ball pit,

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 7.21.37 AM.pngdespite putting together instrumental pieces that most would pale at, this was a day of celebrating what most do not know, how amazing the Jazz,

Concert, and Middle School Drama groups are – 

NOT just performing, attending stylistic workshops and trading and swapping skills – the dream is to grow this into something where ALL ASOMEX schools trade, swap and create something new, VERY COOL!

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expression in any form, and the freedom to do so is the best gift ever be it music, art, drama, it all can be an event, celebration, and a chance to show what art, academics, initiative, and creativity – when those elements come together thanks to students, faculty, and schools – amazing ideas and discussions begin to happen!

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“A Cure for Wellness” / La cura siniestra – not to be found here.

If you check out the trailer for A Cure for Wellness A Cure for Wellness directed by Gore Verbinski, brings several things to your mind (outside of those on the screen).  Stephen King, The Shining, Alfred Hitchcock, The Grand Budapest Hotel, to name a few.  Truly the music makes this film as well and truly is at your subconscious throughout the film.  The utter eeriness and possibility of what happens to individuals surrounded by the materialistic calling of the world around them comes to life in this film.

When looking at the actors/actresses Dane DeHaan, (A paired Leonardo DiCaprio EASY),  Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth, you get chills at the mere words that eventually “fall” out of their mouths. True, it seems the sheer length of this film could tire you out of the ideas you might see in front of the screen.  However, if you think about it, the futile attempts to escape a world of long hours, tirelessly crunching numbers, and being on that hamster wheel we make called “Life” between work hours overpowering the hours we could be reflecting, contemplating, and enjoying life? – that theme comes back ten-fold every time “Mr.Lockhart” finds a way around the endless mazes of what is known as the 

Amidst the hypothetical gorgeous backdrop of Switzerland, (but it was shot in Germany!) – and at Beelitz-Heilstatten – (you will find this location has its own stories and legends of its own outside of the film)  the scenes alone, as well as the ability to relax through periods of this film, work perfectly against the moments that jar you out of that lulling the film is able to present intermittently.  The backstory is definitely better than the individual concepts presented at times throughout the film.

To top it off, when you watch the trailer in the link I provided at the beginning of this review- you get a sample meditation exercise.  Just to make you well!  Enjoy!

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Tributes…

“I like to call them our tributes…”.  A dunk tank.   A bear suit.  It’s funny how specific situations can call up connections to various OTHER connections.  Anytime I hear the word tributes, I think of Hunger Games.  Today, however, (yesterday), I am sitting in a dunk tank, I am the ASF Bear, and I see “Tributes” in front of me, teachers from the Middle School, as we begin our Great Race to earn funding for scholarships at ASF.  The dunk tank?  What happens when certain amounts are raised, teachers will be “sacrificed” for the sake of others as we rise up the chart 🙂

This whole week was the ASF bear tour! – we started in Lower School, then ECC, today the Middle School presentation at the FAC, and later today the US.  Through it all, you may or may not agree with the idea of tributes, but if you think about it, it is more than that.  The individuals from ASF have a potential to take scholarships and give something back to Mexico and the community around them.  This is powerful.  We as supporters of a fund need to grow those ideas in individuals that are students, whether scholarship or not, not only encouraging students to make a difference in the world before they leave ASF, but to realize the resources in front of them allow themselves to change themselves but also, to make an impact, a ripple, that can be felt far beyond the walls of ASF.  This is a great motivating factor that lifts me up beyond the list of things to do, the papers that pile up waiting to be examined, and beyond the Monday to Friday calendar week.  

It is very easy to not see past the week, and this week seemed to wipe me out but, each time I thought about it, actually took time to think about it, I became clearer.  The moments we have to reflect on what fundraising means, and what it COULD mean, in actuality we ARE paying tribute to something that can in fact change the world and be a positive when alot of negatives are floating around.  I think the potential to be a “tribute” and paying tribute to how we can make a difference, is so much more than the road to get there, and it is vital to use every moment you haver to insure, if we want a better world around us, we pass on a little part of the need and want to others around us.

This sounds a little far-fetched  starting with a bear suit, dunk tank, and presentation about raising the opportunities for our own scholarship, but if you truly think about it, it DOES make sense, it DOES have the potential to be a starting point of change to push others forward and enable them to take an opportunity, and make more opportunities in the world that others might not even be aware of, and can pass that torch of change onto others.  Being positive is very difficult at times when there are so many concerns and possibilities for hurt but there are so many channels that reveal themselves as possibilities if you are patient.

screen-shot-2017-02-25-at-8-16-29-amOne case example, but there are more.  The one most painful thing has been losing one my the biggest parts of my life- losing Kinah.  On August 10th, we found one of the softest, tenderest, most lost canines ever and eventually she would become known as Kinah.  On the worst of days, Valentine’s Day, due to complications that I failed to find, I lost Kinah and not only me, but many lost Kinah.  As I write this I am having problems finding the words – as I have struggled with this the last few weeks in very difficult ways. However, Friday, February 25th, 2017, something special happened.  In an event called “Kibblethon” on our campus, I was graciously allowed to have Andres, from Walking Dog, bring Kinah’s puppies, Amaya and Wriggley, as well as Dane, to ASF as a demonstration to let people see what is possible when you takin in strays.  This was to promote shelters and the adoption of dogs and cats, as well as supporting the shelter who came to ASF.  It meant something to stand back and see hundreds of people surrounding Kinah’s family – and in the spot where Kinah herself had been found. Some that remember Kinah do remember the story of her puppies, but I am not quite sure I can bring myself to the point of going deeper into this subject with how painful it is. Sometimes it is enough to touch the surface of an event, but seeing everyone pay tribute the cause of helping animals, and having Kinah be a part of that, as well as that stemming back to what my father believed in, and being surrounded  by people that were truly supportive and just amazing, this might have been the best tribute anyone could have asked for.

Finally ASF Talks. Wow,  What a production and lasting all night. I have to admit I had never been to one before however, there was something magical beyond the late night and the long day put in.  Seeing the students that also had spent all day and all night at ASF, mingle and learn new techniques of videoing, interviewing, and more, some of the most unsung heroes were the students that made up the Media group.  From rushing back and forth, interviewing, recording, filming, videoing, and more – they were inspired and paying tribute to an event that brought people together in many ways. The alumni, speaking with them as some strolled into the library and reminiscing, seeing current students as well as alumni share visions of possibility, while all was a haze, there was this gift given of tribute back and forth.  It was a week of exhaustion for sure, but on the other end of the spectrum, redefining how the word tribute plays a role in so many ways if you let it.  Sometimes if leads you past valleys of hurt and pain to get to, yet, you find not until later down the road, that journey is worth it if you keep the faith.  It does your heart good – trust me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Splitting” the Screen

Amid the countless posts I am sorting in my head that are a small window of life itself, there is one amazing thing I always find at my fingertips – films.  One of the most spectacular right now is Split.  WOW.  This is eerie but a truly amazing look at Dissociative Identity Disorder  –  but the main character – James McAvoy wow.  This is the first time I have ever seen him and he is TRULY – impactful, this film sticks with you days, even weeks after.

The disturbing aspects of this film are actually matched with seriousness and humor as well, but love the idea that mental illness is depicted in a totally different light.  I have remembered when I first ran into this new shadow of how mental illness is treated with Neal Shusterman’s Challenger Deep, and with his visit to ASF in March, I am excited to see so many approaches and attempts to depicting definitions of situations around us – the co stars (Ana Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Director M. Night Shyamalan to name JUST A FEW, are amazing and this interview helps show the relaxed and expertise they brought to this film.

Yes this is a drama, based on trauma, but there are no answers provided, but allow a lens into a complicated understanding of what many often stereotype mental illness, and marginalizing people that have issues with mental illness.  This is always worthy of conversation and this film will undoubtedly allow you for this to occur.

Bruce Willis, whoa.  His appearance, and the reference to Unbreakable – this is a CRAZY connection – as well as to Mr. Glass, and what lies in the future based on how this film ends?  You have to see it to believe it.  

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Bigger and Better…

February 10, 2017.  It has been a long time since I have written. So much to have processed in the last few days, weeks and months and now, it is ready to come out!

So I am going to implement the see- saw approach spill out where I am now, then switch to where I left off pin the next post when I returned from the last leg of my Christmas Break (yeah, it has been THAT long!)

Arriving in Houston for the IB training for Levels I and II, I was excited as I have always hovered on the edge of being involved in IB, but not quite jumping in all the way.  Much to look forward to.  I love the fact that in two hours I am at my final destination, and as I lifted off un the AM and landed in the AM (STILL!) this was a new experience daylight still and on a plane from take off to landing!  LOVED!

I like the openness of the airport, the feel of being in the states without the dramas occurring in the states, if that makes any sense.  After touching base with those missed already back home, I boarded the Super Shuttle to my Hotel, the Marriott (definitely the way to get here) – booked the return pickup too, then off we were.  

A lot of concrete overpasses and highways spelled out what I was first seeing in Houston – but I figured, there is much much more.  As we cleared towards the city line and the Minute Maid Park came into view,(that sounds so strange)- I began too see Houston sprout up in front of me.

Some slight misunderstandings straightened out at the desk, I dropped bag, ran back out after realizing how amazing these beds would feel, and jumped onto the metro train, grabbed a $1.25 card, and made my way to the Houston Zoo.  Loved HERMANN PARK, LOVED, ad the zoo?  It was one of the most relaxing, beautiful, and awesome experiences I can remember at a zoo.  Loved the cleanliness, the natural habitat and just the overall feel.  Tons of amazing photos and scenes, and overall – this was an excellent choice due to the size of the park and the variety, and care given to all the animals.

Strange thing, the Houston metro train, so so clean and new but the cards.  Seriously, you pay and there is so strict way to check if what you bought is credited – seriously – so an honor system and you could technically get a 5.00 card and never actually asked to swipe it anywhere.  Honor system totally and I was in awe.  (It’s the little things that surprise me!)

Walking to Minute Maid Park and taking in the cool memorials to baseball around the outside is quite worth the visit, even in offseason.  

But all was not over yet – add into the mix the fact that a Theatre District existed, which I wandered to and fell in love with the buildings, fell in love with the Hard Rock Cafe and of course ate there and laughed thanks to a hysterical waitress, and then coming out, I swear it was out of a scene of Hitchcock’s The Birds.  I have NEVER heard nor seen so many birds in the trees, EVER.  The sound was deafening (but cool) and every single branch, TONS of birds!     Literally, hundreds, you have to hear and see it to believe it.  Wild!

The night in Houston is AMAZING when lit up and tonight I was able to see a huge portion of it in the first night.  As I came home and collapsed into my bed, I realized how cool it is to learn a new area without having to give up your own home and love of someplace that sits even bigger in your heart.  I looked forward to what delving into IB would mean at Rice University, glimpses of what I had seen were pretty amazing.

 

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