Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Dealing with Death

I recently contributed to the Modern Dads Podcast in an episode about loss and death.

The episode, entitled On Loss, has 5 dads (myself included) talking about the loss of a parent and how they explained it to their children.

It's a very moving episode about a hard topic, so be prepared with a couple of tissues when you listen to it. (My part comes about 6 minutes in, but listen to the whole thing.  It's only 18 minutes long, and it's wonderful.)  Other contributors include Lance Somerfeld (founder of CityDads) Whit Honea, Jason Greene, and Josh Kross, who originated the idea.

I've included the text of what I contributed below the podcast embed if you are interested in reading it.

Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!





Dealing with Death by Adam Gertsacov

Me and my dad
My parents never knew my son.  My dad died when I was 22 in a car accident, and my mom died  22 years later, about 10 days after we found out we were pregnant (But before we told anyone) 

My son does have both (or rather all three) of his grandparents on my wife’s side, and up until he was about 4, his great grandparents on my wife's side were also intact.  So he knows about grandparents,

My mom Karel Gertsacov
I wanted him to know about my parents, so from the time he was small, I’ve been telling him stories about my dad and about my mom.  When we’ve visited Rhode Island, we’ve gone to their gravesites and laid stones on their graves (as is the Jewish custom).

 When he was four and a half, his great grandfather (Great Hank) passed away at the age of 98.  My son knew him, in the way that you know all your elderly relatives when you are a kid.  You say hello, you were polite, you hoped for a dollar.  

 We traveled from NY to the funeral, and although we weren’t sure, we decided to bring him to the funeral (and to the interment) with us.

My wife and I talked about it, and we decided we wouldn’t sugar coat death or make up weird stories about how Great Hank was on an extended vacation. We decided to talk to him about it, maybe not with all the gory details, but to answer any questions that he had, to let him participate in the process. We felt that not talking about it, or talking down to him about it, would do everybody involved, including him and the deceased person, a dis-service.

At the cemetery my son was sad but very matter of fact about it, and it didn’t seem to phase him too much.  Great Hank was here, and now he’s not.  He’s in the box in the ground.  Dad, you are sad.  Mom is crying. Can I give you a hug? Can I go  play now?

Great Hank
I thought that maybe he didn’t understand the permanence of death, but about 6 months later, we were in the car driving home from kindergarten, and he started asking me questions about my mom’s funeral, and if she was in a box too, like Great Hank.  And if one day I would be in a box, if he would be in a box.

I answered him straightforwardly, forthrightly, yes, everybody dies, I’m going to die, you are going to die, mom is going to die,  but it’s a long way away, and you can’t worry about it now.

He thought about it for a minute and then said, “Dad, when you are in a box I will come and visit you.” 

I nearly swerved off the road.


Joey The Cat
About 6 months after that our cat Joey died.  He didn’t go into a box, but he got made into ashes that we spread across the farm he was born on in Indiana.

There were tears and there was sadness but my son, now age five and a half, knew the score.

And still now, two years later, we talk about my mom, and about Great Hank, and about Joey the cat with the fondest of memories.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Gluten Free Allergy Friendly Expo (GFAF) is in Schaumburg this weekend!



The largest expo of Gluten Free and Allergy Free foods in the country, GFAF is coming to the Schaumburg Convention Center this weekend.  They've been around for 9 years, and Chicago is now one of 7 cities they visit on an annual basis.

While there, you can meet over 100 exhibitors, take informative classes, test gluten free samples, purchase all kinds of items at a discount, and find out more about eating Gluten-free and allergy free.

Photo courtesy of GFAF Expo website.


What do you get with your Expo Ticket? 
  • Entry into the vendor fair with over 100 brands 
  • Valuable coupons at the vendor booths 
  • Samples from the vendors are considered to be gluten free. 
  • Discounted products available for purchase 
  • Informative classes related to the gluten free and allergen-friendly lifestyle 
  • Free reusable bag to carry your goodies 
  • Meet your favorite vendors, authors and bloggers

Tickets cost $15 for adults, $5 for kids, and on Sunday there is a family pass for $35 for the whole family.  And if you use the code "ADVANCE" before May 13, you can get 20% off your tickets.)
Buy tickets to the GFAF Expo 


My local GF bakery- best name ever!
We haven't been before, but I heard from my local Gluten Free bakery (with maybe the best name ever!  DEFLOURED, at Clark & Balmoral)  that it can get super busy.


Find out more about GFAF Expo.





Hamilton By The Numbers

Illustration created by Matt Collins for Hollywood Reporter




Because Hamilton tickets are so hot right now, there have been a spate of articles about Broadway budgets, the budget for Hamilton, and how much Lin-Manuel Miranda will make each week as the writer/star of the hottest show on Broadway.

First off, this infographic on the left has some great info on percentages of expenditures for the show Wicked, which are fairly similar to Hamilton, but not in the obvious details.   (It also includes some info about In the Heights, Miranda's first Broadway musical)
(Graphic from musicalworkshop.org:  Click on graphic so you can see it in better detail)


And if you are looking for a great source of articles about Hamilton, I highly recommend Broadway World.

According to the articles, the show costs about $650,000 a week to run, including rent, actors, publicity, etc.  Then there are royalties. Some articles that have appeared suggest that Miranda makes around $105,000 a week from royalties, and that once the show earns out, he can expect another 3% of the net profit.  (And that's in addition to the $175,000 advance he received)  He also earns money as a performer (although he is reportedly leaving the show in July.)

The Public Theater, where Hamilton was tried out before switching to Broadway, is now making around $17000 per week, and once the show earns above a certain amount, that number could go as high as $57000 per week.

The show earns about 500K in profits per week, which means that it's paying back it's investors at an unprecedented rate.

All of this doesn't take into account ancillary income, like the best selling album, the secondary touring productions (they anticipate having as many as 7 touring companies!) , high school rights, and the inevitable film.

All in all, Miranda and crew will be relatively well-compensated for their work, but it's the investors who will reap big time. (Side note:  performers contributed to the writing/staging of the original show have reportedly requested some kind of percentage royalty, and a deal has been worked out.  What the deal is exactly is unknown)

Here are some articles recently written about Hamilton and its financials.


Hollywood Reporter

The Guardian

Deadline

NY Times

NY Post

Business Insider

Fortune Magazine

Hamilton Grosses- Broadway World


Monday, May 9, 2016

Asha Dornfest at Little Beans in Chicago- Thursday May 12 at 10 AM!

 PLEASE NOTE:  The time on this has been corrected.  The event will take place at 10 AM Central Time.

Join Asha Dornfest, creator of the award-winning
ParentHacks.com, as she shares MacGyver-like brilliance from her new book, PARENT HACKS: 134 Genius Shortcuts for Life with Kids. 

Asha will be joined by her illustrator Craighton Burman, and will be interviewed by Single Mom Nation founder Jessica Ashley.


(We reviewed the book here: Parent Hacks Book Review)  It's a great book filled with useful information!)

What’s a parent hack? It can be as simple as putting the mustard under the hot dog—minimizing the mess, or  strapping the baby into a forward-facing carrier when you need to trim her fingernails. Or arranging your to-do list by the amount of time each task will take.   These tips and many more were contributed by parents just like you.

Dornfest will share the story behind the Parent Hacks book and community, as well as give some practical tips and inspirational lessons for simplifying family life.


The interview/appearance/booksigning will take place at the Chicago location of Little Beans.

TIME AND PLACE
May 12 at 10 AM Central
Little Beans Cafe
1809 W Webster Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60614

Find the website for Little Beans here:   https://littlebeanscafe.com/Chicago/

See the website for Parent Hacks:  http://www.parenthacks.com
Buy the book on Amazon:  http://amzn.to/1NoGBor


Asha's also got other events going on in Orlando and Portland OR later in the week.

Friday, May 6, 2016

May the Sith Be With You! - The Evil Star Wars Day

A couple of days ago was May 4, which seems to have universally been picked up by Star Wars aficionados (as well as electronics and comic book stores everywhere, not to mention the President) as Star Wars Day.

Here's a list of all the deals that happened on May 4:  http://www.starwars.com/news/star-wars-day-2016-deals





Here's a video of the Dance Party at the White House.  The Emperor has the beat!



How Star Wars day started is chronicled in a very interesting article on the Verge.

It was originally a fan-based event that people lauded for its cleverness.  Once Disney bought Star Wars, they cemented the day as a commercial holiday and then it has been co-opted and completely embraced by our culture.  What's next?  Red Wedding Day? Vote Off The Island Day?  Celebrity Apprentice Day?  (my deep fear is that will make it into Trump's 100 day plan!)



Image from Starwars.com

"May The Fourth Be With You"


Not sure why devotees of the Dark Side haven't taken May 6 as their alternative holiday.  The pun is about the same.


Force is to fourth as Sith is to sixth.

In case you were wondering (and you somehow haven't absorbed this information) The Sith are the villains in the Star Wars saga.  It wasn't quite spelled out in the first couple of movies, but the Star Wars legend and lore (as well as the very complete website) make it clear.

From: http://www.starwars.com/databank/sith

SITH

An ancient order of Force-wielders devoted to the dark side, the Sith practice hate, deception, and greed. Notable for their red-bladed lightsabers, black dress, and use of their aggressive feelings, the Sith look to amass power at all costs. The evil Darth Sidious, along with his apprentice Darth Vader, achieved the Sith goal of galactic conquest after a millennia of plotting.

Practicing hate, deception, and greed.  Sounds like a corporate American holiday to me!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The King and I at the Lyric: Half Off Opportunity!

The Rodgers and Hammerstein classic musical The King and I recently opened at the Lyric Opera, and it is supposed to be wonderful.

The sets are reported as being lavish, elegant, and beautiful, and the talent (as always) is fantastic.

The show features Broadway stars Kate Baldwin and Paolo Montalban as the British schoolteacher and the King of Siam.

 I've had my eye on this show for quite some time.  I think it will be great. And so far all the critics bear out my thinking.

We are planning on going towards the end of the run, but I just got an offer too good to refuse that I had to share with you!


SPECIAL DISCOUNT CODE

If you use the code “SIAMBLOG” when purchasing, you can get 50% off your tickets for  Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday performances. Offer is subject to availability and not valid on previously purchased tickets or in combination with any other offer. #LyricKing

This will definitely make you Whistle A Happy Tune!
(one of the many classic songs from the show)

Please see lyricopera.org/promo for full offer details. Code expires 5/19/2016.

For more information on The King and I, or to purchase tickets, visit www.lyricopera.org/kingandi.
You can also call the box office directly at 312-827-5600 for more information.

I also want to say that I took a look at the program, and they are doing everything they can to make this show accessible to kids.  Here's a word-search from the program!





And here's a video clip with a number of review pull quotes.





Thursday, April 21, 2016

Review: Othello:The Remix

I saw the Q Brothers production of Othello The Remix and it was absolutely fabulous!

The Q Brothers are actual brothers from Chicago who re-create masterworks (primarily of Shakespeare, but they recently did A Christmas Carol!) They call these productions add-raptations, because they primarily add rap music into the story, and along the way combine it with dance, comedy, soul, music, and just about everything else they can pull out of their hats.  They've got four or five of them under their belt including The Bombity of Errors,  Funk It Up About Nothin', and I <3 Juliet, Christmas Carol, and Othello.

Othello was originally commissioned by the Globe Theatre of London, and has played Chicago Shakespeare once before to sold out shows.  This limited run (show ends May 8) is probably going to do the same so you should get your tickets early.  The word of mouth on these shows is phenomenal!

For this show, they've moved the action to an Empire-style locale (but remember, they wrote this before Empire even started!)

Othello is a hot rap artist with all kinds of juice. (Think Kanye)  He's on tour with his crew when he falls in love with a soul singer named Desdemona (Think Adele).  He's got a couple of his boys who also write/rap/ and hope to make it big in their own right (Iago, a rap purist with a punk/metal edge and Cascio, who would be right at home in a boy band.)  The show then follows Shakespeare's trajectory pretty well, right up until the tragic tragic end.

The acting is phenomenal.  The first song set the scene, and I was worried, because while the raps were clever and set up the situation, I was afraid that's all it was going to be.  My fears were allayed however.  All of the actors (there are 4 performers) play a multiple of roles, including wives and girlfriends, the Oil sheik mafiosi record producer, the dweeby lighting designer, and much more.  All of the guys surprise and amaze with their characterizations and ability to act and portray their distinct characters while rapping, dancing, and doing everything else.

An interesting choice was Desdemona, who never appears on stage, we just hear her sultry voice.  This choice creates a few donut holes in the middle of her scenes, but the performers make it work.  And the symbolism when Othello, moved my Iago's manipulations, kills her out of rage, is simply powerful.

Above it all there is a fifth character, the DJ, who mixes the music and sound for the show live on stage and does a great job of keeping us all in it.

Overall, I can't recommend this show highly enough.  Go see it if you can!

Here's a video montage of the show.




Tickets are available at Chicago Shakespeare  The show runs through May 8.

Find the Q Brothers online at http://qbrothersofficial.com/ 
(Interesting side note:  their family also owns Merz Apothecary in Lincoln Square and does fine men's grooming products as The Q Brothers.  Who knew?)


EDITOR'S NOTE:  AS PREDICTED, THE SHOW HAS SOLD OUT. BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME.