Shake It, Gene Anthony Ray!

In 1980 when Fame hit the big screen the world was introduced to Gene Anthony Ray.  When his character Leroy Johnson hit the dance floor to audition for the School of the Arts, let’s just say some jaws dropped and hit the floor as well.

If you were a fan of Fame you remember Leroy refused to wear tights (in the beginning at least) and he was known for his short shorts and painted on jeans.  I often wondered what kind of material those jeans were made out of because they needed to be forgiving and supportive at the same time.  Leroy was that guy who had that bad boy exterior but would melt your heart when he’d break into a high kick, fall down into the splits, spin around, whip his body up then do a back flip and end with a shimmy-shake in 5 seconds flat.  What a talent.

The movie was full of energy, great singing and dancing. This iconic scene with the song of the movie’s title could easily be the inspiration for today’s flash mobs:

Even though she had starred as the title character in 1976’s Sparkle, Irene Cara shot to stardom in Fame.  Her vocal styling gave us tender and melodic on Out Here on My Own and she brought the sass in the jam Hot Lunch.   One of my favorite songs from the movie was written and sung by actor Paul McCrane who played Montgomery:

I love how he performed the song 30 years later on NBC’s Harry’s Law:

The film’s climactic ending spawned copycat renditions of I Sing the Body Electric at graduation ceremonies throughout the 80s.  Who didn’t feel like they could take on the world after this orchestrated masterpiece:

You can’t talk about Fame without mentioning the woman who was there from the first take on the movie set to the last take of the TV series in 1987: the one and only Debbie Allen.  Without her choreography and direction there would have been no Fame.  There would have been no famous tapping of the stick with the line:

You got big dreams…you want fame, we’ll fame costs and right here is where you start paying in sweat.

It was great seeing Gene Anthony Ray and Debbie Allen continue in the TV series.  Someone else who continued was cast dancer Michael “Det. Eddie Torres” DeLorenzo.  The next few clips you can witness his fro and his footwork.  First, check him out at the end of the TV show opening, along with Jasmine “Whitley Gilbert” Guy:

I have to say RIP Dominique “Poltergeist” Dunne after that scene.  I also have to mention that I find it funny how the characters of Coco and Danny pop up at the end of the scene after all the serious dancing is over.  It’s amazing how the musical and dancing talent on television has grown.  I don’t think that many of the principal actors on the TV show Fame would have made it through any audition process today.  Even with that said, that doesn’t stop me from having a few more musical numbers that I loved on the show.  This scene was a classic student-teacher moment:

I never thought that the character Doris should have been singing, but this was one of her more memorable performances:

Recently Janet Jackson told Anderson Cooper she didn’t have a good experience on the show, but this is a favorite moment of mine from her first episode called “Indian Summer” and she sang her own song “Two to the Power of Love.”

After all these years this next scene still chokes me up.  The actor Michael Thoma who played drama teacher Professor Crandall had terminal cancer in real life and the cast knew it as they sang this song to him in his final episode:

The final clip may have brought the dance down memory lane to a two tissue halt.  But if you stuck out the ride with me I hope it took you back to a time when you can see how the arts in schools were appreciated and celebrated.  Without Fame there would be no Glee or Smash.  It makes me want to slap on some leg warmers, crank up the tunes and do a few Leroy inspired shimmy-shakes.

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Rolling Out Movie Posters

This is a collection of some of my favorite movie posters.  Marketing and promotion are meant to enhance the selling of a product.  I believe the following do a great job of doing just that.  Clever, colorful abstract design wins me over every time.

Fancy Footwork of RG3

The Washington, D.C. area is all a buzz about drafting Robert Griffin III.  I’m excited to see what he’ll bring to the team, and I am looking forward to the continued footwear fashions of this Heisman Trophy winner.  Anyone who can rock the characters and colorful socks with pride is cool with me.  Go ahead RG3 – Go Catch Your Dream!

Go Catch Your Dream

Who’s Running the Show Here?

If memory serves me correctly the intention of Take Your Child to Work Day is to:

  1. show your child what you do for a living
  2. educate them on the company
  3. learn what your co-workers do
  4. create a work project pertaining to your industry that the kids can handle

If that is the intention, somehow that got lost in translation at my current place of employment yesterday.  I am a copywriter for a real estate media publishing company.  The office has three floors that are separated by wide open stairways in central locations that filter traffic into entryways near offices, conference rooms and cubicles.  Each floor has perimeter corridors that create a circle so it could be perceived as a track-like atmosphere. I think you know where I am going with this.

Instead of an organized day of getting to know what mommy or daddy does for a living, a scavenger hunt kicked off the day where kids got clues to go visit people’s offices to pick up random items that had nothing to do with the job.  This led to dozens of kids running around the hallways, racing up and down the stairwells and screaming at the top of their lungs while looking for their treasures.  When the first sound of chaos started I just knew that the adults supervising the day would stop everything and lay down the ground rules for no screaming, running and jumping down the stairs.  I was sadly mistaken.

It was 5 hours of recess; 5 hours of Kids Gone Wild; 5 hours where employees who were trying to get work done couldn’t do so effectively.  It was the most unproductive work day I’ve had since I began working there a few months ago.  I was dumbfounded that so many people around me didn’t think there was anything wrong with it.  I did however, find a few people who agreed with me and I knew why I would find common ground with them.  Sometimes it really does boil down to cultural differences.  I knew the co-workers that probably had similar backgrounds and upbringings as me would understand my point of view.  I wasn’t raised to go into someone’s work place and act like I just went through the turnstile at an amusement park.  I wasn’t raised to go into someone’s work place and speak in a tone that would be disrespectful to my elders.

I commented on Facebook and Twitter during the day’s events the following: “Take Your Child to Work Day has been a great birth control method and an eye-opening look into how my co-workers have raised their children.”  I think the latter part of my statement is what it boils down to: parenting.  I am not a parent, but I can see when a child is running the show.  The majority of these children were running the show because the parents never disciplined them or gave them any boundaries.  The organizers of the day lost sight as to what the day is meant to be.  It was a missed opportunity to provide teachable lessons to their kids about what it takes to have a skill, to make a living and to work well with others.  Now I am stuck with a fuller plate of work to do today because yesterday was a bust.  Happy Friday!

Maybe this was the master plan all along and why the organizers didn't plan a proper TYCTWD.

Assemble All Those I Resemble

Being approached by a stranger who is convinced you are a famous person is an odd experience.  Being told you resemble someone in the public eye can be flattering, or not, based on your opinion of that person.  In my case I am not always given the name of the same person; the list of individuals run the spectrum.  When you lineup all of my Doppelgangers none of them look like each other:

While living in New York there were multiple occasions where I had to prove to a couple of young ladies that I was not the singer Faith Evans.  The funniest moment was when one girl was running towards me yelling “Faith! Faith!”  I started looking around for Faith Hill or Faith Evans.  Instead she comes right to me so excited to meet “me” and I hated disappointing her.

I remember the first time someone told me I looked like Angelina Jolie; I just left the movie theater after seeing Girl, Interrupted.  A man who was also in the theater came up to me and said, “You look just like that girl Lisa in the movie.”

When I was in high school I went to North Carolina for a family funeral.  I overheard my older cousin who I had not seen since I was a young girl ask my mom, “So when did Kelly start modeling?”  She showed my mom a picture of model Gail O’Neill in a magazine and she was so sure it was me.

After a late night of dancing at a club back in the 90s, my friends and I were heading out and this drunken guy told me I looked like Sandra Bernhard.  Can’t say I was completely overjoyed but in a twisted way I can see why he may have thought that.

I don’t think I look like her, but because of my bushy eyebrows one of my nicknames was Brooke.

I was traveling on business in Charlotte, NC and a colleague and I went into Subway for lunch.  One of the “Sandwich Artists” said, “Excuse me, but has anyone ever told you that you look just like Mariah Carey?”  That was a first for me, but my cousin gets that all the time.

My cousin (the Mariah Carey look-alike) once said I had Drew Barrymore mannerisms.

My baby cousin told me recently she thought I looked like Jill Scott.

A former colleague said she thought of me when she saw Jordin Sparks competing on American Idol.

When the Facebook trend of turning your profile picture into your Doppelganger was happening, a former colleague was surprised that I didn’t have Jennifer Garner on my list.

And this is me.  I don’t think I look like any of them, but apparently to the outside world I have quite a few twins.  How about you?

Ode to Renoir

I inherited an umbrella with Renoir’s famous painting Bal du moulin de la Galette from my mother’s belongings years ago.  It recently sheltered me from some April showers and reminded me of the presence of Renoir in my household since I became a teenager.

During my formative years I had a very eccentric art teacher: Mrs. Peggy Hilton.  She was extremely talented with a quirky sensibility.  To get the classes attention, especially if we were being too loud, she would blow a whistle that she wore around her neck.  It was her trademark.   She was a tiny woman with a lot of gusto, and she used that gusto to motivate all of us students to create our own mini masterpieces. I recall one day I helped her take things out to her yellow Volkswagen Beetle and I noticed she had a stack of telephone books on the driver’s seat.  I learned in that moment she needed to sit on them in order to see over the steering wheel.  This tidbit of information made me realize she probably couldn’t reach the pedals very well and that is why she had a “wild” approach into the parking lot everyday.

One semester she wanted the class to replicate the work of an impressionist.  I chose Renoir’s A Girl With a Watering Can (1876).  It is a painting of Mademoiselle Leclere in her blue dress.  I believe I was in 7th or 8th grade when I made my version and for the life of me couldn’t sketch her face.  Mrs. Hilton helped me with an interpretation.  She was proud of the classes accomplishments and had our work framed.  It hung on the wall in the house for my mom to see from the time of its completion in the early 80s until I had to move my mom to an assisted living facility in 2007.

There were a few other pieces that Mrs. Hilton inspired me to create.  I never thought of myself as an artist, but I didn’t do too bad with this still life of pears.

For this water-color, I remember splashing the paint around when Mrs. Hilton walked by to observe what I had made.  She said, “Do you see what I see?  Do you see him?”  I said, “Him?”  She grabbed a brush and in a few gentle brush strokes she created arms.  I had a bona fide person on my canvas and she saw it before I did.  Instead of a man I decided it looked more like Grace Jones, so I have always called the painting “Grace.”  I see a bunny rabbit’s face in her neck though!  I guess it’s like looking at the moon and figuring out if you see the man or rabbit.

Another fixture on my mom’s wall since I was in high school was this sketch.  Mrs. Hilton asked me to sit for her advanced students.  My friend Bryon drew this.  My mom had it framed.  It was one of her favorite pieces of art.

The presence of Renoir and Mrs. Hilton has been with me for decades.  Today I just wanted to pay homage.

Faith Restored…Slightly

Last week I expressed concerns about the choice of nursing home I made for my mom.  Listening to my gut took me on the journey of researching new options and hitting the road with my aunt to visit half a dozen new places.  After crisscrossing three counties, meeting some really wonderful administrators and learning a lot about the different nuances of elder care facilities all roads led back to my original choice.  I am happy I went the extra mile to see more places, which takes the notion I had for settling on a place off the table.  I do however still have concerns for a few of the attitudes and personality traits of some of the “front of the house” staff members I have to deal with to get my mother’s affairs in order.

I am happy these individuals will have nothing to do with my mother’s daily hands-on care.  The staff managing her care has presented themselves to me on every occasion as being warm, caring and competent.   I will continue to take the brunt of any awkward exchanges with the business manager and the admissions coordinator.

It amazes me when the people who should ease the concerns of family members during such a difficult time in their lives, don’t and continue to retain their employment.  I have chosen to take on the new mantra of The Osmonds’ One Bad Apple.  In this case there are a couple of bad apples, but I can’t let their shortcomings spoil the whole bunch.