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Film Favorites Worth Sharing

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Bits & Pieces Column

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

 

We recently attended the annual Hampton International Film Festival (HIFF), which is a five-day event of films and special programs. With more than one hundred-fifty films and shorts to pick from, it’s difficult to pick which films to see.

On opening night we saw a fabulous film, Itzhak, a documentary about famed violinist Itzhak Perlman. The life story of this “greatest living violinist” captures the audience from its start, and high praise is deserved for director/producer Alison Chernick for this accomplishment. The story is told with vintage photographs, film clips and current interviews of Mr. Perlman and his wife Toby in their New York City apartment. Toby is also an accomplished violinist, and they met when both attended violin camp as teens one summer.

Itzhak was born in Tel Aviv to parents who were natives of Poland. The family moved to the United States when he was a boy of only ten so he could study at Julliard. Having contracted polio when he was only three, it was a difficult start that he overcame when his musical genius was recognized. Throughout the film, viewers saw and heard the fantastic personality of Itzhak Perlman shine through despite the hardship of his early life and illness.

Some HIFF films go on to be shown in theatres while others might be shown on cable or Netflix. Presented by The American Masters series on PBS TV stations, watch out for broadcast dates for Itzhak, so you don’t miss it!

Another film, Goodbye Christopher Robin, is the life story of author A.A. Milne. This is a sensitive portrayal of the little boy who was the subject in his father’s Winnie the Pooh book series. Milne was inspired to write his stories after seeing his only child playing with his stuffed animals. One might think this film is how whimsical and happy Christopher’s life must have been during the years this book series started and hit peek popularity; however, viewers are quickly immersed in Christopher’s life and come to see that the fame was not something we’d come to envy.

Newcomer Will Tilson (Christopher Robin) is absolutely adorable, and his dimpled smile melts your heart. The strong performances by Domhall Gleeson as A.A. Milne and Margot Robbie as Christopher’s mother complete this sensitive, enchanting and touching story. You will never look at storybook characters and the fame it brought its authors the same way again.

Read about other films in this year’s HIFF festival that might be in theaters soon. http://hamptonsfilmfest.org

 

November 8, 2017 |

Scary Movies and Monster Trivia

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Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

When I was about seven or eight years old I loved watching old black and white scary movies with my dad on the weekends prior to Halloween. These classic films included stories about mummies, werewolves and vampires, all of whom had me peeking out from under the sofa throw blanket each time a monster appeared on screen. Far less intense than the graphic and gory horror films of today, most of the “fright” was created by scary music and shadows across the screen.

Fairytales

When you think about the stories we have read to our children, the benevolent sounding word “fairy tale” conjures up happy tales of princesses and elves. However, when you recall the popular ones like Snow White or Sleeping Beauty, there is an evil queen wanting to harm the princess at every turn.

Our two grandchildren visited recently, and before bedtime they wanted me to read them a story. I still have books that belonged to our three children, and I let the grandkids pick one for me to read. They picked Jack and the Beanstalk, which I haven’t read in years. Do you recall the words the giant says after his famous “Fe Fi Fo Fum” chorus? Paraphrasing it is about “grinding bones to make his bread!” My six-year old grandson turned to me with wide eyes and asked, “What is the giant going to do?” Quickly covering up the words that just spilled from my lips, I mumbled something about “Oh, he is just trying to scare people and is pretending he is going to be mean so they don’t steal his gold.” For the rest of the book I read more slowly, changing the wording to be less scary.

Reflecting on my childhood and words that were a bit frightening, many brought images of monsters and scary beings to life. See how much “monsters trivia” you remember of names that made you shiver! Happy Halloween!

Questions:

  1. What actor starred in the films based on Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein?
  2. Bela Lugosi became famous for his repeated role as what monster?
  3. From where did Lugosi’s monster hail?
  4. What is the simplified name of the Pacific Northwest and Canadian monster called Sasquatch?
  5. Who is the beast covered in white fur that is found in the Himalayan Mountains?

Answers:

  1. Boris Karloff
  2. Dracula, a vampire
  3. Transylvania, Romania
  4. Big Foot
  5. The Abominable Snowman, also called the yeti (yet-tee).
October 31, 2017 |

Halloween Safety Reminders

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Bits & Pieces Column

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

Halloween is on the way with excitement building for little children. While so much has changed about this holiday, safety rules remain. It goes without saying that an adult should accompany young children when they go trick-or-treating. Some towns have organized parades or Halloween parties, sponsored by civic groups or school organizations. These are also fun for children so there is no need to go door-to-door. However, if your child will be going out on Halloween night, here are some tips from the U.S. Government General Services Administration (GSA) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission that parents should keep in mind.

When you are shopping for a costume, try to coax your child into a brightly colored costume that is visible and easier for cars to spot on dark roads. For darker colored costumes, stick some reflective tape on the costume to help make it more noticeable. Also put the tape on tote bags they are using to hold their candy. Make sure they have a flashlight or glow stick along. Use face paint instead of a mask that might obstruct their view.   Before the holiday, test the makeup to make sure the child is not allergic to its ingredients. Avoid costumes that are below their shoe line or that have flowing capes or skirts that might cause them to trip.

It is tempting for children to eat the treats they are receiving along the way, but try to impress on them that they not do this. Throw out any candy that looks opened or partially unwrapped or contains homemade goods if you do not know the giver personally. It seems such a shame to discard homemade items, but err on the side of safety rather than worrying about wasting food.

While on the subject of checking the treats they receive, parents of very young children should remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies or small toys before the child gets hold of them. By the way, make sure your child’s Halloween costume is flame resistant in the event that a cape or part of the costume does come in contact with a flame.

Pedestrian safety is vital and children should be cautioned against running out between parked cars or across lawns and yards where ornaments, furniture, clotheslines or lawn sprinklers present dangers. Sturdy shoes or sneakers are a must and mommy’s high heels should be avoided for little girls’ dress-up costumes.

Wishing everyone a safe, fun and Happy Halloween!

 

 

October 25, 2017 |

Hudson Valley Halloween Events

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Bits & Pieces Column

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

Trick or treating and parties add to the excitement of Halloween, but here’s another fun idea. The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, the Hudson Valley’s biggest all-ages fall extravaganza, takes place during 40 evenings through Thanksgiving weekend.

Invited by friends a few years ago, this is perfect for adults, with or without children along. The walk-through experience lights up the wooded pathways, orchards, and gardens of historic Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., where a small team of artists have hand carved more than 7,000 jack o’lanterns and elaborate pumpkin sculptures. This year, visitors will delight in a giant spider web and life-size dinosaurs and be dazzled by more pumpkin power than ever before! New additions include a jack o’lantern Statue of Liberty, a fully functioning, 20-foot-diameter pumpkin carousel, the Pumpkin Possum Posse, and a pint-sized herd of dinosaurs. Last year, over 200,000 guests attended!

Sleepy Hollow

Horseman’s Hollow takes Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow to its most terrifying extremes. Visitors will walk a haunted trail where creatures lurk in the shadows, ready to strike fear into the hearts of those who dare to wander. Professional actors, award-winning feature-film makeup artists, and state-of-the-art special effects make the Horseman’s Hollow experience all too real. This 15-night, interactive haunted attraction at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., is recommended for ages 10 and up.

Who doesn’t like listening to a riveting story? Irving’s Legend brings master storyteller Jonathan Kruk into Sleepy Hollow’s circa-1685 Old Dutch Church, where for 15 evenings his spellbinding rendition of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, accompanied by live organ music and delivered by candlelight, captivates audiences. Irving’s Legend is recommended for ages 10 and up. New this year, Sunnyside: Home of the Legend is a daytime experience at Washington Irving’s Sunnyside homestead in Tarrytown, N.Y. Learn about the author and see objects related to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and take part in historic games and Headless Horseman art activities. Sunnyside: Home of the Legend is an all-ages event.

All events are held rain or shine. Proceeds support Historic Hudson Valley, the Tarrytown-based private, non-profit educational organization that owns and operates the historic sites that host these events.

Ticket and date information These events have limited capacity and sell out. All admissions are by advance purchase timed ticket. Buy tickets online at www.hudsonvalley.org or by calling 914-366-6900 ($2 per ticket surcharge for phone orders and for tickets purchased onsite, if available).

Happy Halloween!

October 18, 2017 |

Once You Join, Showing Up is a Must!

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Bits & Pieces Column

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

Our three children went through scores of activities during their years in both elementary and high school. Whether it was music lessons, sports, dance club, the school newspaper, civic activities or helping out in Sunday school, we have followed the same guidelines. Once they have made a promise, signed up to be part of an organization, there is no reason except for illness that they were not going to fulfill the commitment. It was not fair to others on the team or club that is depending on my child’s share of the work or participation for my child not to show up. As a parent, this was definitely not easy to do, especially when three children were going in different directions with their school and social activities.

Our parenting perseverance paid off eventually because I could hear in their own words the disappointment and annoyance when another classmate let the group down. A high school float that needed to be finished by a deadline was down to the wire when several students repeatedly failed to show up to help. A backstage dance show was more stressful when volunteers never arrived for costume or set changes. The same frustrations surfaced years later as my girls described co-workers at summer jobs who failed to show up and headed to the beach instead. This made the workload harder for those that did come to work and added extra hours to their shifts. Apparently, the word commitment did not enter into these absent students’ decisions.

To this day my grown children often tease me about my “stiff rules” when they took extracurricular activities. My standards were plain and simple. If they wanted to be enrolled in an activity of any kind, they were required to finish out the length of the course or sessions that I had signed them up to take. There were also obligations to the group or team that they wanted to join. Besides not wasting money, I wanted them to learn that there was scheduling involved when I needed to drive them to an activity, lesson, practice or game.

There is more to teaching your child academics to prepare him or her for adult life. Learning to be committed can start with pets, lessons, household chores and student involvement. Later on in life it will translate to success in advanced educational quests, job commitment and hopefully strong ties in personal relationships as well.

October 11, 2017 |

‘Annie Get Your Gun’ Hits the Mark!

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Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

The Westchester Broadway Theatre (WBT) in Elmsford has scored another winner with Annie Get Your Gun. As a child I watched westerns and wonderful musicals from that time period with my dad. One of my favorites featured the feisty heroine Annie Oakley. Now the WBT presents its version running through November 26th, then taking a break while its holiday production runs. Annie Get Your Gun resumes December 28th and runs through January 28th, perfect for adults and children alike to enjoy.

Storyline

This musical is a fictionalized version of the life of Annie Oakley. Annie’s (Devon Perry) ability as a sharpshooter wins her a job in Buffalo Bill’s (Gary Lynch) Wild West show. Her brilliant shooting offends the masculinity of the show’s star marksman, handsome baritone Frank Butler (Gregg Goodbrod), and makes a romance between the pair impossible. A happy ending only arrives when wise old Sitting Bull gently demonstrates to the naive Oakley that she can easily win the insecure Butler by intentionally losing a shooting competition.

With a winning score and fabulous vocals by the two leads and ensemble, old favorites met with audience approval judging from their extended applause. Songs such as There’s No Business Like Show Business, The Girl That I Marry and Anything You Can Do, all wonderful Irving Berlin creations, make this production even more enjoyable.

The WBT always offers unique stage design, creative choreography and is consistent in its amazing casting selections. Delicious dinner and lunch selections also complement the theatre experience. Every show features performers that are perfect for the part, have strong singing and dancing abilities and most important — chemistry.

Devon Perry is perfect as the woodsy, homespun Annie who relies on her marksmanship to feed her siblings, but when she falls in love has to discover her way around the romance arena.

Funny, heartwarming, and loaded with favorite classic songs, this production is a lively, wonderful production not to be missed! With the holidays coming, gift certificate presents or a night out with friends offer an easy way to get into the holiday spirit.

For reservations:  Call (914) 592-2222 or visit: www.BroadwayTheatre.com

Discounts for Groups of 20 or more as well as for children, students and senior citizens at select performances.

Ticket Prices: Dinner & Show range between $56.00 and $84.00 PLUS TAX depending on the performances chosen. Also check the website for on-going Special Offers!

 

October 4, 2017 |

Autumn Explorations – Dutchess County

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Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

Enjoy the beauty of nature and the wonderful season of the foliage colors by going for a drive. There is so much to do in our area, especially in Dutchess County. Only 90 minutes from New York City, the heart of historic Hudson Valley is ideal for apple and pumpkin picking and a host of seasonal activities to enjoy. The Dutchess County Tourism Bureau offers an extensive agenda of things to do for both outdoor enthusiasts and those who prefer indoor activities. Dutchess County offers arts and entertainment, kids activities, farmers markets, floral festivals, craft fairs, concerts, shopping, antique hunting and so much more!

While the weather still cooperates, you can hike, bike, golf, and do some boating and fishing. Dutchess County has wonderful sites to partake of any of these pleasurable outdoor pastimes. There are golf courses, all with breathtaking views to enjoy. For those that love hiking, combine it with something for your taste buds, especially if you are a wine aficionado. Try the tours and tastings along the Dutchess Wine Trail. No need to travel to California vineyards when we have beautiful ones right here on the east coast! Some of the sites along the wine trail offer weekend activities that include musical entertainment and fine food to accompany the wine tasting.

History abounds in the Hudson Valley, and no visit to the area would be complete without a taste of our legendary past. There are castles and historic homes that are national landmarks such as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Hyde Park, the Vanderbilt Mansion and the Samuel Morse Home as well as more than twenty other fascinating sites. A visit to the Morse home (he is the inventor of Morse code and the telegraph) includes a landscape garden tour as well as a visitor’s center with his inventions and artworks on display.

 

There are too many events to list here that are planned for the next few months. Dutchess County has exhibits, contests, music, crafts, tractor pulls, and flea markets. Speaking of flea markets, one of the most famous sites for this is the Stormville Airport Antique Show and Flea Market where more than 600 vendors from across the nation display an enormous variety of antiques, collectibles, and new items.

For more information, visit: www.stormvilleairportfleamarket.com

For more information about Dutchess County tourism call (845) 463-4000 or (800) 445-3131, or visit: www.dutchesstourism.com

Invite a friend, or gather up the family and head outdoors and visit some of these wonderful sites. Autumn has arrived and it is time we go out and celebrate it!

September 27, 2017 |
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