Category Archives: Media

He-Man Returns; Westporter Helps

“He-Man” is coming back to life.

And one of “the men” responsible is a Staples High School graduate.

Rob David is executive producer of Netflix’s new anime series. Called “Masters of the Universe: Revelation,” it will take place in a Mattel-inspired world, and focus on unresolved story lines from the classic 1980s show. It picks up on “what may be the final battle between He-Man and Skeletor,” says executive producer Kevin Smith.

Rob David (left) and Kevin Smith.

David — a 1992 Staples alum, where he was active in Players and co-president of Model UN — is well suited to the task. He’s vice president of Mattel TV, and author of He-Man: The Eternity War. 

After graduating from Columbia University, he wrote for several New York-based animated series, including “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” He now lives in California, with his wife and twins. (She is in charge of online content for Sesame Workshop, and has helped develop their highly regarded autism, LGBT and military family inclusion material.)

Staples classmate Evan Stein says, “Having read Rob’s reboot stories of He-Man and She-Ra that he wrote when he moved to LA, and the fanboy favorite crossover of He-Man and the ThunderCats, I’m sure this will be a runaway success.”

The original He-Man animated series ran from 1983-85. Set on the mythical planet of Eternia, it featured Prince Adam — transformed into He-Man — as the most powerful man in the universe.

He-Man

[OPINION] Hans Wilhelm: Causes Of Suicide Are Not Always Physical

Yesterday’s post on suicide drew many comments — public and private. Hans Wilhelm — self-described “mystic, author and illustrator of over 200 books with sales of more than 40 million copies,” former Westporter, current Westonite, and recipient of a Westport Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature — wrote:

Hans Wilhelm

Your post on the suicide of Mark Snedeker was a sad reminder that more Americans now die by suicide than in car accidents. The cause is not only physical, but in many cases also disconnectedness and loneliness — predominantly with the young generation. This is often paired with a lack of deeper purpose of living.

In a society that focuses mostly on material goals our soul, our spiritual side, often comes too short. Over the years I have found that particularly our youth does have a strong longing for deep spiritual nourishment and information which organized religions don’t seem to fully satisfy.

A few years ago, I started to make short illustrated videos that explain the basic spiritual laws of the universe — mostly for young people. Since their attention span is rather short, I also keep all videos brief and to the point.

I was surprised that my video on suicide quickly became one of the most watched clips of the series. From emails and comments, I learned that this video helped a lot of people over the years, as not every suicidal person has a physical health cause. Here it is:

R.L. Stine To Star At Saugatuck StoryFest

When Alex Giannini told his mother that R.L. Stine was coming to Westport — he’s the keynote speaker for the Westport Library’s Saugatuck StoryFest next month — she said, “That’s all you read as a kid.”

“I know,” the library’s manager of experiential learning said. “He’s one of the main reasons I read the authors I read today.”

R.L. Stine (Photo/Dan Nelken)

Alex is not alone. Nearly every American under the age of 45 or so was weaned on Stine’s works: the dozens of “Goosebumps” books — and many other fiction/horror/ thriller works — by the man called “the Stephen King of children’s literature. He has sold more than 400 million copies worldwide.

On Saturday, September 28, his many fans of all ages get a chance to see him in the flesh. Stine will speak for half an hour in the Forum, answer questions, and autograph copies of his latest book, “Slappy World.”

Stine’s appearance was confirmed only recently. Library officials learned he was coming the morning their Saugatuck StoryFest brochure was going to press.

He joins an impressive list of authors and others appearing at the 2nd annual event. Co-sponsored by the Westport Public Schools, it’s an innovative, immersive 3-day experience, celebrating a wide variety of genres and interests.

Last year’s celebration of writing and stories drew more than 3,000 people, from around the tri-state region. This year’s event — held entirely at the newly transformed Library — builds on that foundation.

The theme for Thursday, September 26 is “Beyond Our Earth.” The StoryFest starts with a 6 p.m. “Gravity” show by new media artist Balam Soto. Using the Forum’s video wall, he’ll help participants “move planets” and “shape the fabric of space-time” with their fingertips.

He’s followed by Ray Bradbury’s biographer, Sam Weller, and Kate Howells, the author of “Space is Cool as Fuck,” who takes audiences on an interplanetary adventure far beyond our galaxy. The library can’t say it quite this way, but it will be exactly what the title promises.

Friday, September 27 — the only day of the 3 that is not free — features Mallory O’Meara (author of “The Lady from the Black Lagoon”), Broadway’s Rob Rokicki (“The Lightning Thief”), illustrator Dave O’Neill and the cast of Broadway performers for Rokicki’s “Monstersongs,” a rock musical song cycle celebrating literary monsters.

Joining Stine on Saturday, September 28 for a full day of panels and book signings are Tiffany Jackson, L.L. McKinney, Stoker Award winners Gwendolyn Kiste and Paul Tremblay, Hugo Award winner Seanan McGuire, horror editor Ellen Datlow, bestselling thriller writers Lynne Constantine and Wendy Walker, and more.

Saugatuck StoryFest promises to be an entertaining, fun, family-friendly 3-day celebration.

It’s enough to give you goosebumps.

(For more information on Saugatuck StoryFest — including panels and times — click here.)

Classic Connecticut, Says The New York Times

Today, the New York Times published a photo quiz.

They posted one archival image from each state. Readers were given a clue, and invited to guess which state was represented.

Here’s Connecticut’s image:

The caption says:

The 1993 Thistle Atlantic Coast Championships, seen here, kicked off at the Cedar Point Yacht Club in Westport, Conn. Fifty Thistle sailboats — 17-foot-long, single-masted, centerboard crafts, normally crewed by three people at a time — participated. Thistles are well suited to the light-air sailing encountered on calm summer days along the Constitution State’s shore.

It’s great that Times editors chose this photo to showcase our state.

Personally, I would have chosen a throwback tollbooth.

(Click here to see the entire Times piece. Hat tip: Jeff Manchester)

This Is My 10,000th Post On “06880”

It’s not a very good one, is it?

 (Photo by Katherine Hooper)

“May Your Dreams Be Bigger Than Trader Joe’s Parking Lot”

As much as Westporters love Trader Joe’s, we hate its parking lot.

We’re happy to buy our organic Caesar salad kit, chile spiced dried mangoes and Ethiopian peaberry coffee. We love chatting with the chatty checkout folks in their Hawaiian shirts, as foot-tapping music plays gently in the background.

We despise backing out of the of the narrow spaces, praying we don’t hit another vehicle, pedestrian or shopping cart. We loathe the Post Road light, playing bumper cars with drivers racing through the red or leaving CVS. We congratulate ourselves every time we make it home, promptly rewarding ourselves with a quart of cookie butter ice cream.

Fortunately — actually, not — ours is not the only killer Trader Joe’s parking lot. In fact, our country seems to be filled with them.

How else to explain BuzzFeed’s recent listicle: “17 Jokes About Trader Joe’s Parking Lots That You’ll 100% Relate To.”

How’s this for schadenfreude? They come from across America.

  • Oh, so you’re into BDSM? Have you ever tried to find parking at Trader Joe’s on a Saturday afternoon?
  • The Job Interview. Employer: “What was your last job?” Applicant: “I designed parking lots for Trader Joe’s.” Employer: “Get out of my office!”
  • Daughter was being annoying so I threatened to make her practice driving in the  Trader Joe’s parking lot.
  • Trader Joe’s Real Estate Agent: “How’s the parking lot?” Landlord: “Terrible.” Trader Joe’s Real Estate Agent: “We’ll take it!”

  • My car insurance doesn’t cover Trader Joe’s parking lot.
  • I don’t wear my wedding ring when I go to Trader Joe’s, because I need every motherf***er in that parking lot to believe I got nothing to lose.
  • If you didn’t have a near-death experience in a parking lot, did you even go to Trader Joe’s?
  • “Every hour the universe expands by a billion miles in all directions.” Trader Joe’s will still find a way to make sure there’s no parking.
  • May your dreams always be bigger than a Trader Joe’s parking lot.

(Click here for the full BuzzFeed piece. Hat tip: Richard Fogel)

Charlie Drozdyk: “Job Moron”

If you’re a college graduate looking for a job, you know: It’s tough.

In fact, if you’ve ever looked for a job, you know it’s hard.

As Charlie Drozdyk notes, for decades — centuries? — people have said, “This is a really bad time to be looking for work.” No one ever says, “This year, we have tons of jobs!”

But, Charlie adds — quoting a senior VP of programming at MTV — “There’s always jobs. And there’s never jobs.”

Charlie should know. After graduating from Staples High School in 1983, and then the University of Virginia, he’s worked on Broadway as a theater manager; in Hollywood for CBS and William Morris; in New York and San Francisco in advertising and publicity, and in Austin as COO of a software company.

Right now, he works remotely — as a “digital nomad” — in Central America for a Texas-based firm.

Charlie has also written about careers for Rolling Stone magazine. He had a weekly spot talking about jobs on CNN. HarperCollins and Random House published his books on how to get a job.

Charlie Drozdyk and friend.

He’s just published his 3rd. “Job Moron: Idiot-Proof Strategies for Getting Jobs That  Don’t Suck” offers advice to job-seekers from people who have actually gotten jobs, by doing things “differently and creatively.”

But you don’t only want to get a job. You’d like to move up! “Job Moron” has plenty of info on that too. (“You don’t have to show you can just do your job,” Charlie says. “You have to prove you can do the job above yours too.”)

He interviewed young professionals with “great jobs at great companies”: Geffen Records, the X-Games, the Whitney Museum, Chiat/Day, and top finance and software firms.

They talk about how to network (without losing your soul and integrity), land interviews, make cold calls, and create cover letters and resumes that get noticed.

They discuss what to say — and not say — in interviews. And how to write a thank-you letter that works.

Charlie weaves his own story in too. At UVa he majored in the infamous, often-mocked subject of history — and had, he says, “no contacts and no internships.”

It sounds easy. But Charlie warns: No one owes you a job. A job is possible because someone else worked hard at his or her job. They want to know how you can help them make more money.

Anyone in a position to offer you a job will do so only if they believe 2 things:

  1. You’re hungry for a job.
  2. You don’t think you’re owed one.

Charlie is a lively author. He writes plainly, clearly and bluntly. He uses salty language. He gets the reader attention.

After reading “Job Moron,” you’ll be ready to get anyone’s attention too.

And once you’ve got your foot in that job door, Charlie Drozdyk will make sure it never closes on you again.

(Click here for more information on “Job Moron.” “06880” readers can access the first 13 chapters for free.)

The Power Of Courtney Kemp

Never underestimate the power of a strong, smart, committed woman.

In 2013 Courtney A. Kemp — a 1994 Staples High School graduate who went on to Brown University, then earned a master’s in English literature at Columbia — created a visionary television drama.

It was about New York’s “rich and infamous,” and the international drug trade. She called it “Power.”

It was the writer-producer’s first pitch ever. Starz loved it — and bought the series. Kemp was nominated for an Emmy. Ebony Magazine named her to its (naturally) “Power 100.”

Her co-producer was Curtis Jackson — the Grammy Award-winning rapper/actor/director/entrepreneur known as “50 Cent.”

Courtney A. Kemp with her “Power” producer 50 Cent.

The duo know all about power. And next month (August 14, 7 p.m., The TimesCenter, New York) they’ll discuss “Power” at a New York Times Talk.

Topics include the creative origins of the show, and the importance of culturally diverse narratives on our sociopolitical landscape.

Sounds like a very powerful evening.

(Click here for more information and tickets. Hat tip: Mary Condon)

Minstrel History Comes To Levitt

As chair of TEAM Westport — our multicultural commission — Harold Bailey thinks a lot about how our town addresses race.

The topic is everywhere nationally, from politics and policing to religion and sports. Some discussions are superficial; others, quite nuanced.

Westport is not the most racially diverse place on the planet. But we are tied inextricably to the national conversation.

The recent “Remembered…” exhibition at the Westport Historical Society revealed — with stark photos, words and artificats — that kidnapped, enslaved Africans were critical to the founding and growth of this place.

Bailey says that Our Native Daughters do something similar on a national scale, for American music. Conceived by 4 gifted women, and spurred by a MacArthur “genius grant,” the group reclaims minstrel music of the 1800s from the tropes generated by whites wearing blackface. The quartet redefines that music, through its African-American roots.

In the process, Bailey says, “they vividly portray the ways in which the enduring storytelling and bonds from black women have been the bedrock of the African-American family, from antebellum America to the present.”

Our Native Daughters

That’s powerful stuff. This Tuesday (July 23, 7:30 p.m.), Westport gets a chance to see and hear it in an intimate setting.

Our Native Daughters perform a special, ticketed concert at the Levitt Pavilion. TEAM Westport and the WHS co-sponsor the event.

We’re in great company. The next day, the group performs at The Smithsonian Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, DC. On Sunday they’ll be at the Newport Folk Festival.

The Levitt date actually launches Our Native Daughters’ tour. A crew from the Smithsonian Channel will be on hand to film this show.

NPR says Leyla McCalla’s delivery is “characterized by willowy sereneness and subtly jazzy phrasing,” Allison Russell’s by “feathery, softhearted trills and curlicues,” Amythyst Kiah’s by “flintily soulful resonance,” and Rhiannon Giddens’ by “lithe expressiveness and regal bearing.”

Banjos are key. But all 4 women play several instruments.

The Levitt is well known for the variety and quality of its programming. Rock, blues, military bands, kids’ music, comedians — in over 40 years, audiences have seen it all.

Seldom however has there been a concert with historical significance, one that can promote reflection and dialogue at such a fraught time in our nation’s history.

The Levitt is a relaxing, wonderful place of summer entertainment. On Tuesday, Our Native Daughters’ artful, eye- and ear-opening music takes us to a new place.

(Click here for tickets and more information.)

If You’ve Always Wanted An Ovni Semi-Nuevo, Here’s Your Chance!

Spotted a couple of days ago, on Facebook Marketplace:

 

 

I have no idea what an Ovni Semi-Nuevo is.

Google — which knows everything — was no help. In either English or Spanish.

So I certainly have no clue whether it’s worth $125 million or not.

But I’ll keep an eye out for it. If I see it around town, I’ll let you know.

PS: Interesting, huh, that this is posted on the 50th anniversary of the day men walked on the moon. Cue Rod Serling…