Some thoughts on Avengers: Age of Ultron

age of utlron

                (I’ll keep the spoilers to a minimum and give you fair warning, but there’s nothing in this blog that you can’t find online elsewhere …)

I tend to see movies late in their runs. I don’t like crowded theaters so I usually wait until week two or three when the general masses have seen it once and the uber-fans have sated themselves during the week. Thus is this late review of Avengers: Age of Ultron.

And not a review as such, more like some random thoughts akin to my blog on Guardians of the Galaxy.

Avengers Age of Ultron is doing very well. It is the biggest money-maker of the year so far and has grossed a billion dollars internationally.

It certainly doesn’t need me blogging about it to hype it. Fans will go see it whether I like it or not. And I did like it. A lot.

It was just like an Avengers comic book from the 1970s.

But …

What is that nagging feeling I have in the weeks after seeing it? There was something about the movie while I was watching it and afterwards that keeps pecking … and I think I finally know what it is…

***

               I certainly loved more of the movie than I disliked: casting James Spader as Ultron was a genius move – the casting director deserves a bonus! He probably already has gotten more than the artists and writers who created the characters in the movie … but that is another argument.

And the battle scenes and special effects are grand.

avengers

               I especially enjoyed the human elements of the movie – and the humanity shown by the characters – going out of their way to save innocent lives. Captain America’s line “I asked for a solution, not an escape plan” said more for heroism than any scene from the Man of Steel

Plus we finally get to see more of Hawkeye and his personal life – the one character from the first movie that had no real back story. An excellent one was provided.

The things I didn’t like about the movie were not what was niggling at me. These things didn’t ruin the movie for me; rather they made me go … “What?”

Maybe I wasn’t paying attention, but I was lost at the creation of Ultron. The McGuffin of this movie – apparently required in all Marvel/Disney movies – was the stone in Loki’s spear. Somehow the stone contained an artificial intelligence that Tony Stark and Bruce Banner injected into their Ultron defense system and thus activated him.

Somehow the system was imbued with Tony Stark’s personality (Ultron was referred to as an “anti-Stark” a few times). That left me scratching my head a bit. Was it because he took over Jarvis’ mentality and Jarvis had a bit of Stark’s personality? Did I miss or forget that from a previous Iron Man flick?

Regardless, it worked; James Spader’s voice-work perfectly emulated Robert Downey Jr’s vocal inflections and mannerisms. In another reality he could have been cast as Tony Stark/Iron Man. Brilliant stuff. And while he didn’t steal every scene he was in as was the case in the first movie with Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Spader/Ultron made a memorable villain.

(Small Spoiler Alert) And the romance between Black Widow and Bruce Banner didn’t bother me. After Star Trek 5: My Eyes! Out Vile Jelly!’s fling between Scotty and Uhura, nothing like that bothers me anymore…   But I will say this – if Scarlett Johansson whispered to me that it was sundown and started rubbing my hand the last thing I would do is calm down…

***

               But none of that bugged me. I put my finger on the problem some days later while trolling my wall on Facebook. “Did you catch these Easter Eggs in Avengers: Age of Ultron?” shouted one article. I did not read the article, because it was my eureka moment – the problem I had with the movie hit me:

Avengers: Age of Ultron spent so much time being the flagship of the future Marvel cinematic universe it forgot, at times, to be Avengers: Age of Ultron.

The movie was burdened with being the gateway to future Marvel movies. It gave the film an “in-betweenness” it would not have had otherwise. With the exception of Godfather II, most sequels stink, especially when compared to the first and sometimes third movie. Two words: Indiana Jones. Even The Empire Strikes Back suffered from its “in-betweenness”. Great as it was, it was still the opening act for the third movie (and what a stinker that ended up being). Like the Pirates of the Caribbean and Matrix franchises, Movie 2 was basically part one of two.

Even before Age of Ultron’s release we knew what was going to happen next. Not just the Ant-Man movie, but we knew the next Avengers film will adapt the fantastic Infinity War storyline – and do it in two movies! A Black Panther movie is in the works. Captain America’s next movie will adapt the equally fantastic Civil War storyline and may give the now-aging stars of the Captain America and Iron Man franchises an excuse to bow out with a bang. Literally.

civil-war

               Age of Ultron crams all that in. They do not take away from the film to do it; which is why it clocks in at two and a half hours.

And I’m not talking about the now-mandatory mid- and post-credit teasers. Those are just that – teasers to thrill you as to what comes next (except for Thor the Dark World – I stuck around twenty minutes for THAT!? I could’ve been home by now).

So there’s nothing wrong with end-of-the-movie teasers. “James Bond will return…”

Remember when I said the movie was much like an Avengers comic book in the 1970s? Back then the comics would have a panel or two foreshadowing what is to come. “Who is that mysterious figure lurking in Avenger’s mansion? We’ll find out next issue, pilgrim, ’cause right now it’s back to the ACTION…” Age of Ultron was burdened with them, and I do mean burdened:

Thor’s illusion leads us to the next two Avengers movie and foreshadows his own next film; Captain America’s illusion reminds us to watch the next season of Agent Carter; the ending of the movie  – heck, the entire introduction of the new Avenger members – sets up Civil War. Our heroes go to Wakanda and fight a bad guy (played by chameleon Andy Serkis) to set up the Black Panther movie.

infinity war

               Even before Age of Ultron was released we the people knew about the next Avengers and Captain America movies. By this time during the first Avengers movie we the people had no idea what the next movie was about – it wasn’t until August 2012 that were even given the title. Age of Ultron was the forgotten middle child even before it hit the theaters.

Oh, I’ll go see the next movies, don’t worry, but I wanted to see Age of Ultron.

Too many moving parts leading in too many directions. That was what was nagging me.

And even Age of Ultron’s post-credit teaser was a let down. What was the real difference between this one and the teaser from the first Avengers movie?

This was a meme posted on my Facebook wall:

 Shield

               And I responded: That’s the movies, though. If it were the TV show “Agents of Shield” it would be, “I’m here to ask you a question, but I won’t ask it until the end-of-season cliffhanger. When you answer six shows into the next season I will say, ‘and now for the follow-up question…’ which will not be asked until that next year’s cliffhanger, and if we’re renewed…” The movies aren’t getting that bad, but they planted those seeds too. It’s getting to that point.

Let the next few movies worry about themselves. And in the meantime, let me enjoy Age of Ultron.

 ***

Footnote: As is usual with sequels TV networks aired the first Avengers movie to whet our appetites. I Tivoed the movie and watched it with my 5-year-old-daughter. Her gasp when Thor was first on screen is a memory I will cherish to my dying day. She says Thor is the best good guy ever. She (along with billions of others) laughed when Hulk beat Loki into the ground – after many minutes of explaining that Loki was a bad guy) and still loves watching Thor, Iron Man and Hulk beat up the “big fish”. At first she called Iron Man Flash and now she’s reversed that.

Although she likes the scenes with Hulk, she is starting to identify with Black Widow. Thor is still her favorite. I hope it’s because Daddy cosplays as Thor…

thor

Original material copyright 2015 Michael G Curry

Pretty good for a Monday! A wonderful review of Abby’s Road!!

frontcover

What a great way to start the week!

Abby’s Road got a wonderful review: you can read it here

or here:

Book Review

Reviewed by Charity Tober for Readers’ Favorite

Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption: And how Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped by Michael Curry is much more than just a book with a long and quirky title. The story follows the journey of the author Michael and his wife Esther as they undergo infertility treatments and ultimately adoption in their endearing quest to become parents. Curry is refreshingly honest, descriptive and raw when describing this roller coaster of a time in his family’s life. As you can tell by the book’s title, Curry also has a sense of humor, which he demonstrates throughout the story (so many fun geek and pop culture mentions in this book). The quest to bring Abby home is an endearing and enlightening read to say the least.

Anyone going through infertility, difficulties conceiving or the adoption process will find a kindred spirit in author Michael Curry. And even those who have zero issues adding to their family will find this book informative regarding the real life struggles of other parents. The POV of a male will probably appeal to readers who are expectant or struggling fathers-to-be and I found the light-hearted tone throughout the book enjoyable. I applaud the author for revealing to readers not only the happy times but also the dark and heartbreaking moments that he and his wife endured. The author’s use of quoting his and his wife’s Facebook posts throughout the story was an accurate reflection of the current digital age and added a realistic tone to the book. Highly recommended!

***
Charity is very charitable!  Thank you for the great review from Reader’s Favorite!
***

“Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and how Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped” leads a couple through their days of infertility treatments and adoption. It is told with gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) humor from the perspective of a nerdy father and his loving and understanding wife.

Join Mike and Esther as they go through IUIs and IFVs, as they search for an adoption agency, are selected by a birth mother, prepare their house, prepare their family, prepare themselves and wait for their daughter to be born a thousand miles from home.

 

Winner, Honorable Mention, 2014, Great Midwest Book Festival


Abby’s Road is available at Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Abbys-Road-Long-Winding-Adoption/product-reviews/0692221530/ref=cm_cr_pr_top_recent?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending


at Barnes and Noble here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/abbys-road-the-long-and-winding-road-to-adoption-and-how-facebook-aquaman-and-theodore-roosevelt-helped-michael-curry/1119971924?ean=9780692221532


and at Smashwords here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/457270

 

Original Material Copyright 2015 Michael Curry; the review copyright its holder or holders.

Abby’s Road gets a wonderful review at Reader Views!

Abby’s Road: The Long and Winding Road to Adoption and how Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped received a wonderful review from Reader Views online.

The cover of Abby's Road

The cover of Abby’s Road

Here is the review:

Abby’s Road: The Long and Winding Road to Adoption

Michael Curry
Curry Books (2014)
ISBN 9780692221532
Reviewed by Daryn Watson for Reader Views (2/15)

Michael Curry’s book “Abby’s Road: The Long and Winding Road to Adoption” shares the trials and tribulations of the author and his wife Esther as they embark on their quest to adopt a baby. After trying naturally and using in vitro fertilization methods, the couple realizes that in order to fulfill their dreams of becoming parents, they must chose adoption.

After waiting four more years, Michael and Esther become proactive with their decision to adopt. They discuss their fears of birth mothers appearing to reclaim their child, similar to what is portrayed in Lifetime movies. They also discussed foreign adoptions and the challenges of obtaining a child from overseas. Eventually they decide on the route of domestic adoption and their adoption adventure begins.

After compiling a very detailed profile about themselves, along with a few dozen photos, Michael and Esther are chosen as suitable adoptive parents from a couple in Long Island, New York.  The expecting mother, Valerie, had previously relinquished two children to adoption and at the age of thirty-eight, her third child would be going to the Curry’s.

Michael Curry has a great way of describing in detail the steps of their journey. He is very witty and entertaining with his delivery of their adoption journey. He describes very well in detail the surroundings of the places he and Esther visit while awaiting the arrival of their bundle of joy from Valerie.  Eventually the baby arrives and the joyous couple make their way back home to Central Illinois to begin their life as new parents.

“Abby’s Road: The Long and Winding Road to Adoption” by Michael Curry is fun, informative and entertaining. As a reader, I gained a great deal of knowledge of what the adoption process is like for adoptive couples. However, the book does very little to educate the public on the experience of other sides of the adoption triad. The trauma and loss that both the birth parents and the infant adoptee experience.  As an adoptee myself, I feel these topics need to be discussed in order to educate the public on adoption trauma. During the update at the end of the book, I would like to have known of any contact (if any) the family had with the birth mother.

 

Reader Views website with the review is here.

 

And I agree with the reviewer – it would have been nice to show the adopting parents’ side of the triangle. But unfortunately, in our story, that door was closed by the parents. The birth mother specifically did not want to see the baby or to meet with us. We set up an online photo sharing account with Smugmug and had no visits from her over the past three years. The birthmother called the adoption agency to contact us for the password and information on how to access the picks, and in the next week there was a spike of visits to the site, but nothing since.

I can only imagine what the birth mother thought and felt during the process and afterward. But anything I wrote about it would be a fiction I created,  as I do not know how Valerie felt or feels. That’s very sad.  We kept a letter she sent to us, some of the voice mails she left (so Abby will be able to hear her voice) and the onsie she brought with her when she was in labor. It is the only thing we have to give Abby that was from her birth mother – other than her pretty eyes and pouty profile. The  sweetness she gets from my wife and her temper from me!

We miss Valerie. We never met her, but we’re both very sorry we never got to. Both? I mean all three of us.

“Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and how Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped” leads a couple through their days of infertility treatments and adoption. It is told with gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) humor from the perspective of a nerdy father and his loving and understanding wife.

Join Mike and Esther as they go through IUIs and IFVs, as they search for an adoption agency, are selected by a birth mother, prepare their house, prepare their family, prepare themselves and wait for their daughter to be born a thousand miles from home.

 

Winner, Honorable Mention, 2014, Great Midwest Book Festival


Abby’s Road is available at Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Abbys-Road-Long-Winding-Adoption/product-reviews/0692221530/ref=cm_cr_pr_top_recent?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending


at Barnes and Noble here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/abbys-road-the-long-and-winding-road-to-adoption-and-how-facebook-aquaman-and-theodore-roosevelt-helped-michael-curry/1119971924?ean=9780692221532


and at Smashwords here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/457270

 

Original Material Copyright 2015 Michael Curry; the Reader View review copyright its holder or holders.

 

 

 

 

DC Salutes the Bi-Centennial (part one)

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

Part One: An Introduction

 

“DC Salutes the Bicentennial”. Does that ring a bell? July 4, 1776 is the most important date in our country’s mythos. Most people born before 1970 remember events on and around July 4, 1976 – the Bicentennial!

            I was 11 years old on July 4, 1976 – turning 12 that November. On the day itself we were out of town at a funeral, but I remember seeing plenty of fireworks in the distance as we drove through the night. CBS television had a “Bicentennial Minute” every evening through the first part of the year – a notable star or politician described what happened 200 years ago that day. President Gerald Ford had the honor of describing the monotonous – er – momentous events of July 4, 1776: our founding fathers voted approval of our Declaration of Independence (it wasn’t signed until several weeks later).

            By then I was already firmly entrenched in my nerdiness – I watched “Star Trek” and read the novelizations, my favorite TV shows were science-fiction-y and usually of the Saturday Morning variety. By this time next year “Star Wars” would dominate my culture. Can you imagine a world before Star Wars? Hardly seems possible, doesn’t it?

            Within two years my brother will join the Air Force and give me his record collection – including several albums by a British mop-topped quartet. This would start a love affair that has yet to diminish. Not just “With the Beatles” (heh-heh), but with rock music, too. In later years I discovered my beloved Badfinger and the Moody Blues.

            But in the first part of 1976 my loves were foremost comic books and related merchandise – superhero action figures, albums, etc.

            I lived near Sparta, Illinois, home of World Color Press. They printed DC, Harvey & Archie comics. So those were the comics my friends and I read – usually given to us free by World’s employees. Marvel was foreign to us – although World Color printed Marvel, they weren’t in the free bundles given out to employees. 

            My dad, by the way, did not word at World Color, but he did carpool with a lady whose husband worked there. “You have kids? Here!” Every few months we were in heaven when dad brought home a bundle of funny books.

            Marvel comics were available in supermarkets, though, but why buy comics when we can get them for free? Otherwise those characters were known only through their TV cartoons. By that I mean Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four. I was in my teens before I even knew who Iron Man or Thor was. I was in college before I knew what an X-Man was – hard to believe that, too, nowadays, isn’t it?

            So when I say I read comics as a kid – I mean DC comics. Archies went to my sister and Harvey (Casper and company) went to my youngest sister. A good division.

            National Comics (they wouldn’t officially call their releases DC Comics until cover-date February of 1977 – which means somewhere around November of 1976 – I’ll explain what that means later) celebrated our nation’s 200th birthday in a big way! Here is a house-ad that appeared in DC comics:

DC house ad

            In case it is hard to read:

            “DC Salutes the Bicentennial with a Great Free Offer! Look for our July and Aug(ust) covers which have the RED, WHITE and BLUE headings and are identified by a right-corner number 1 through 33.

            “If you send us at least 25 different cover headings, we will send, FREE, a METAL SUPERMAN BELT BUCKLE! (in antique silver finish!)

            “Example: … Cut and Send Top of Magazine!

            “Collect then, save them and then send them! Only these issues will be accepted!! Be the first on your block to collect the 25 headings!”

            And them the coupon with DC’s address and disclaimer (excludes wholesalers, employees and their families.)

***

            Note that we are talking about cover dates here, not release dates. Ever since there have been comic books the cover date is about two to three months after the release date. Once upon a time comic books were sold on newsstands …

            Let me back up; once upon a time there were such things as newsstands…

            A comic book with the cover date of July 1945 may have been released and on sale in April or May of 1945. This would “trick” the salesmen into keeping the comic on the shelf longer. “Eh? This-a Superman comic says July, ees-a only June-ah. I beddah not troh it away-ah.” It didn’t work – newsstand owners weren’t stupid – but the tradition sticks to this day.

            So the comics listed were on the stands and selling in April or May of 1976.

            These ads first appeared in the June issues – I checked three comics I had full runs of at that time World’s Finest, Brave & Bold and Justice League of America.  I checked the May issues and earlier and they had no ads for the Bicentennial; they each had ads for the Superman vs Spider-Man Tabloid-sized comic book out that year, however.

superspidey

             So this gave us only one month to save enough money to buy at least twenty-five comics while they were on the stands and then mail it all to DC Comics before the July 4th deadline. On top of saving for the Battle of the Century! Oh the pressure…

            This is nothing new. Kids have been collecting wrappers and box tops as long as there have been wrappers and box tops. This is not even a new thing in comics – ever since the first comics appeared in the 1930s kids were encouraged to cut out an ad or a symbol and cash in!

            But on this scale the only thing that I can think of as equivalent are the Marvel Value Stamps. In the letter pages of various Marvel comics were “stamps” of their characters on their letter pages. The stamps were only an two or three-inches-square and printed on the page as if it were any ad or text. Collect all 100 , purchase the handy-dandy Stamp book, paste the stamps on the inside and collect valuable prizes.

            The prizes consisted of discounts at various upper east coast conventions, free knick-knacks at said conventions, etc. A boy stuck in rural southern Illinois (a redundant term) didn’t find much use for such stamps.

            But a Superman belt buckle!? A Superman BELT BUCKLE!?

            Meh.

            Even at eleven years old … meh.

            It’s true – the prize didn’t thrill me. And twenty-five headings at thirty cents a comic (at the cheapest – some, like DC Super Stars #5 were fifty cents) was $7.50: a princely sum for a pre-teen.

            But forty years later it is another story. Collecting comics is now a fun hobby. They still entertain me – more so than modern comics. I want to read and review all 33 comics on the list. Maybe I’ll send in the tops (and ruin their value, true) and ask for my belt buckle. Oh sure the event ended on July 4th, 1976, but they might still have a few buckles lying around. Maybe DC will run across a box of them when as they pack for their move to LA.

            Writer Tony Isabella inspired me to do this series of reviews. For many years his blog contained reviews of comics released on the day of his birth. He now blogs about the comics released at the same time Fantastic Four Annual #1 was published – the comic that inspired him to want to be in the business. It was a day that changed his life.

            I considered doing comics released on the day of my birth, but nixed it. I don’t have that many and am not that interested in doing that much research. But DC’s Bicentennial issues – comics I have or can get for the price of a current comic? Why not?

            In past blogs I’ve reviewed the Adventure Line series of comics DC released in 1975 https://michaelgcurry.com/2015/01/02/the-dc-comics-adventure-line/, and released a companion/review of The Brave and the Bold comic as an ebook https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/497750. So I’ve had plenty of experience writing about and reviewing my favorite comics!

            So I decided to review the 33 comics with the Bicentennial headings in order of their number – regardless of issue number or release date. I will discuss the plot, art and creators of the particular issue and discuss the comic series itself. I will list the contributors of the letter columns and, if interesting enough, may sum up what they wrote. I will load each review with enough details to bore even the most ardent comic book fan.

            Will you join me on this trip back to July 1976? That’s the Spirit!

            Heh, see what I did there …

 

            All comic covers, advertising, characters and images are the property of their respective copyright holders and reprinted here for your entertainment and review under the Fair Use Doctrine as commentary, criticism and … sometimes … parody.

            Keep in mind the actual creators probably only received a fraction of their creative worth at the time of their creation … but that is a whole other story …

 

Original material copyright 2015 Michael G Curry

 

Unnecessary Farce, Act Two

     cast     

               Winter storm Uvula dumped a whopping three inches of snow in town. Some towns up north and to the south got 8-10 inches; enough for my boss to close the offices. It reminds me of my college days when youthful citizens of a certain megopolis in the northeast reaches of my state mocked local schools for closing when there were only a few inches of snow and ice.

                I could do a whole blog ranting about naming winter storms to give the drama queens that are weather forecasters better ratings.

                I could also do a whole blog ranting about northerners not realizing that school busses taking kids to school in the Ozark foothills have a little more to worry about than their fellow flatland metro bus drivers who might bump into another bus or a pole at 3 miles an hour … tumbling sideways into a creek bed comes to mind…

                But this gives me a chance to blog about the upcoming play I am performing in: “Unnecessary Farce”. It is put on by the Sparta Community Chorus and performance dates are February 27th, 28th, March 1st, 6th, 7th, & 8th.

              Last year I tried out for and was given a part in their 2014 Winter Play “Murder in the Magnolias”. I met a lot of new friends and finally performing a play we had to cancel in high school brought back a lot of memories and I blogged extensively about it then.

                This year it is wonderful to connect back with my old new friends and make new ones. It also helps this is a hilarious play – funnier than last year’s, I think.

                The Facebook page and website of the play itself provides some fun stuff – here are two posters of performances recently in Singapore and Iceland. I wonder if they did the play in English. I wonder how the actors handled the thick Scottish brogue of two of the characters.

Singapore

iceland  

              “Unnecessary Farce” has a great premise and I will try to tell you without any spoilers. There are a few fun twists and turns – all is not as it seems – and I won’t ruin it for you.

                Two cops, Billie and Eric, are given their first real assignment that doesn’t involve pushing pencils behind a desk. Karen, the city accountant, has found discrepancies in the city budget – someone is milking the city for millions of dollars. All evidence points to the mayor.

                Mayor Meekly is meeting Karen in a seedy motel room where Eric and Billie set up a sting. Karen’s job is to video-tape the Mayor confessing to embezzling the money. Easy, right?

                Nope, it seems the Mayor is a bit of a dope. Eric and Karen, while not incompetent, are very inexperienced. And Eric and Karen fall passionately in love with one another.

                The head of town hall security, Agent Frank, shows up in the midst of Karen’s interview with the mayor and stops it. To ensure the security of the motel room, he says. When the Mayor leaves, he warns Karen that the real reason he is there is to inform her that the Scottish Mafia, who REALLY runs the city, knows what she is doing and is sending a hit man to stop her.

                The hit man shows up. So does the Mayor’s wife, just as silly and clueless as her husband, looking for him (he tends to wander off, you see).

                Will the hit man take out Karen? Can the two young police officers fight off such a vicious killer? Will the mayor be exposed as the embezzler?

                It is a fun and wonderful script. With about ten days to go before the opening night, everyone is nervous – there are a lot of lines and a LOT of choreography with the motel doors. One person leaves just as another enters. Our lines depend on the verbal and physical cues of others. A few times my character doesn’t enter until I hear (or see if I peep out the slightly-opened bathroom door) others leave or hide. If I don’t hear/see the door shut, the other actors will have to wait until I appear.

                Fortunately we have a wonderful cast who have been in dozens of plays and musicals. They needn’t be nervous – we will all know our lines and cues and it will be rollicking fun.

                I’ve been performing in plays since before all but two of my cast members have been born, starting in 1979, but I am still the only “newbie” on the cast. This will only be my second time performing in play since 1982! But our director has picked a perfect cast! I was amazed at the first rehearsal I attended how the script flowed out of everyone so naturally. When you come see the play, compliment her on her perfect casting.

                Hopefully even that heavy-set fellow in the kilt…

 cast 2

 

 

 

Unnecessary Farce, Act One

 banner

             This year’s Sparta Community Chorus’ winter play is “Unnecessary Farce” by Paul Slade Smith. The play was announced last fall and I considered trying out for a part. I watched the few versions of the play on YouTube and thought it was funny.

            The director, Erica, played my sister in last year’s play, “Murder in the Magnolias”. I saw her when I went to see the Chorus’s fall musical “Legally Blonde” – which was excellent, by the way – and she asked if I wanted to try out. I said I would like the part of the Scottish hit man. She said she liked that idea – she doesn’t know anyone that can do a Scottish brogue. I told her she dinnae hae t’worry ‘bout dat, lassie.

            Last year my grade school and high school and childhood neighbor Stephanie directed “Murder” … I blog about that here: https://michaelgcurry.com/2014/01/04/40/

            In sum, she mentioned this was the play on her Facebook page. I mentioned I still had the script from our attempt to do it in high school. She said I should try out. I said the dress in act two probably wouldn’t fit me anymore. I tried out anyway and got the part! Two parts, really. Actually, four. I explain why in the blog and a bit later here…

            I made a lot of nice new friends in my first play since 1981 and relished the idea of working with them again.  And although it kept me away from my family during half the week, I enjoyed it thoroughly!

            The try-outs were January 2nd and I met a lot of the same people I worked with in last year’s play. This play has parts for only four men and three women.

poster 1

            The website for the author describes it thusly:

“Two cops. Three crooks. Eight doors. Go. In a cheap motel room, an embezzling mayor is supposed to meet with his female accountant, while in the room next-door, two undercover cops wait to catch the meeting on videotape. But there’s some confusion as to who’s in which room, who’s being videotaped, who’s taken the money, who’s hired a hit man, and why the accountant keeps taking off her clothes.”

poster 3

From the “Unnecessary Farce” webpage:

The play received its premiere at the BoarsHead Theater in Lansing, Michigan on October 27, 2006, under the direction of Kristine Thatcher – and has had over 145 productions to date.

Paul Slade Smith is a writer and actor based in New York and Chicago. As an actor, he will next appear on Broadway in the new musical Finding Neverland, which goes into previews March 15th. His past performing credits include the national tours of Wicked and The Phantom of the Opera, and productions at American Repertory Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, The Goodman and Steppenwolf. Paul is at work on his next play, A Real Lulu. For more information, visit http://www.paulsladesmith.com/

poster 2

            I tried out for, and got, the part of the hit man. Todd the Assassin. Also called the Scotsman or the Highland Hit Man. I speak in a thick brogue and some of my lines are complete gibberish. “Aw cripes, fer cryin’ Christmas oon a bike!” “Ye woulds be auld at the horn to teel it fest!” The lines are written phonetically and reading through it the first time was very hard to do. I found it easier to read the “translation” in italics after the line and say that with a brogue instead. It took a few weeks to get the lines down and now I have to practice saying them faster.

            I also have to pay more attention to the dialouge around me. Much more so that the play last year. Last year’s play, “Murder in the Magnolias” was a spoof of “southern” plays ala Tennesee Williams and my characters (I played two – and one had multiple personalities so I was playing FOUR characters, really) said mostly non-sequiturs that had nothing to do with the real dialouge.

            In other words, in THIS play when the character Frank says, “The mayor had an appointment with Ms. Brown…” I say, “The half-naked accountant?” (earlier she was caught indelecto and is still in her slip when I come in). Whereas in “Murder” I would have responded with something like “As I went for my daily constitutional in the garden, a groundhog ran over my left foot!”

            That makes it easier and harder. Easier in that the lines flow like real dialouge and makes it easier to memorize and remember my cues. Harder in that if I flub up a line, I flub other people’s next lines, too!

            We are also discovering how hard it is to find even a prop set of bagpipes! Ebay has a broken set of pipes for $50.00 opening bid. Fortunately we will be able to get a nice Highlander outfit from a costume shop in St. Louis for rent during the show.

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          Later on I can give you more details on how the play progresses. So far I have been to only one rehearsal (my character doesn’t show until late in the first act, so I’ve been able to play hooky the first week and the director was sick for one day…!), but that one rehearsal was a hoot! This will be a very funny play and I so look forward to it!

Mt Vernon Now magazine article features Abby’s Road!

Abby’s Road was the lead feature in this month’s Mt Vernon Now magazine for January 2015! Thanks to Robbie Edwards for a wonderful article! I transcribed the article below. Any typos are MINE, not hers! Enjoy!

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An Open Heart

By Robbie Edwards

             The heartbreak of wanting a child desperately but not being able to conceive is a feeling Michael and Esther Curry know well.

            So is the joy and abundant love of a child.

            “We wanted a third or fourth person to love,” said Michael Curry. “We had so much love for each other we wanted it to spill over to someone else. Two people so in love was so wonderful – imagine three or four or more.”

For years, the coupe continued to hope, even through the biological clock was ticking and the couple were unable to conceive.

            “Infertility treatments weren’t working and we gave ourselves until age forty to try to make it work,” Curry explained. “It didn’t. So for a few years we put the idea of a family aside.”

            On Jan. 3, 2009, the couple decided to look into adoption.

            “We should have considered adoption from the beginning,” Curry said. “I think everyone should. Remember the old saying, ‘your spouse is the only member of your family that you get to pick’? You get to pick through adoption, too. I think people make a mistake trying only infertility treatments. They should seriously consider adoption or fostering a child too.”

            The couple began doing research and looking for the agency they wanted to use and soon decided on the Adoption Law Center out of California.

            The adoption process continued with filling our paperwork, submitting photos and competing mini-biographies to build a page for birth mothers to browse.

            Curry said one of the rules when it came to what photos could be used is that the photo needed to be less than one year old.

            The photo the couple wanted to use was about three years old.

            “Our friends renewed their vows for their 20th anniversary in a renaissance-themed ceremony,” Curry said. “We dressed in renaissance outfits for the wedding and took a lovely picture in front of a castle at Boo Rothman Park south of Carbondale. The agency said the photo was fine and they would include it.”

            Curry said after the profile site was made, the two hopeful parents began weeding though the long process of ”red tape” that Illinois requires to be adoptive parents.

            “You have to become licensed foster parents to adopt in Illinois,” Curry explained. In addition, there are fees, inspections, background checks and forms to be complete.

            “We were selected by a birth mother in June and we talked to her on the phone,” Curry said. “She lived in Massapequa, New York and her baby was due on September 23, 2010.”

            Curry said the birthmother selected them because of the renaissance photograph – which in the beginning was not even supposed to be used.

            “She loved reading stories and listening to music of that era and that attracted her to us,” Curry said. “She picked us because of the photograph we weren’t supposed to use because it was over a year old. But they allowed the photo anyway and that was the reason she picked us.”

            The agency contacted the Currys in mid-September informed them the birthmother was in labor and they should make plans to come to Long Island, N.Y.

            The excited soon-to-be parents set off to meet their new baby girl – only to find out there was a bump in the road

            “It was a false labor. She didn’t have the baby that weekend,” Curry said. “There was another false alarm that Sunday. Thursday was the due date. Her doctor decided to push back the due date to October 1st. What could we do? A flight back would cost more than staying the next eight days. We didn’t want to visit New York City or any sights that would take us hours to get back in case the baby was born early.”

            Esther Curry said the actual adoption process seemed to go quick, but witing due to the false alarms is what seemed to take a long time.

            “We got to see her on the second and she was given to us on the third to take back to our motel,” Michael Curry remembered. “It took the rest of the week for the Interstate Compact to be approved between New York and Illinois and we took her home over Columbus Day weekend.”

            The Currys’ newborn changed their lives as it does for most anyone with a new addition to the family.

            “We knew what to expect and prepare for it, but nothing really prepares you,” Curry said. “You expect to be up every two hours for feeding and changing. You expect to plan ahead like Eisenhower on D-Day just to go out to dinner and a movie. But to actually go through it… “

            Abby is five years old now and is a little person on her own.

            “One of my secretaries asked if she was a girly-girl and she certainly is! She loves to dress up in pink and purple. She loves to draw and dance and sing.:

            Curry said he and his wife have had a lot of fun watching her grow and seeing how her mind develops.

            Curry said Abby has even discovered her own sense of humor.

            “Recently she said Robin Hood and Little Red Riding Hood must be related since they have the same last name,” Curry said. “We decided they are cousins.”

            Curry said adoption or becoming foster parents is as big a decision as having a baby and not something to take lightly.

            “This isn’t a whim. This will change your life forever – not to mention the life of the child,” Curry said.

            Curry has written a book about the couple’s experiences with infertility and adoption, “Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and how Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt helped!”

            The book uses humor from the perspective of Michael Curry – a self-proclaimed nerdy father and his wife. The book was winner of an honorable mention at the 2014 Great Midwest Book Festival.

 This article copyright its respective holder or holders…

***

The cover of Abby's Road

The cover of Abby’s Road

“Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and how Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped” leads a couple through their days of infertility treatments and adoption. It is told with gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) humor from the perspective of a nerdy father and his loving and understanding wife.

Join Mike and Esther as they go through IUIs and IFVs, as they search for an adoption agency, are selected by a birth mother, prepare their house, prepare their family, prepare themselves and wait for their daughter to be born a thousand miles from home.

 

Winner, Honorable Mention, 2014, Great Midwest Book Festival


Abby’s Road is available at Amazon here: 
http://www.amazon.com/Abbys-Road-Long-Winding-Adoption/product-reviews/0692221530/ref=cm_cr_pr_top_recent?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending


at Barnes and Noble here: 
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/abbys-road-the-long-and-winding-road-to-adoption-and-how-facebook-aquaman-and-theodore-roosevelt-helped-michael-curry/1119971924?ean=9780692221532


and at Smashwords here:
 https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/457270

 

Happy Birthday, JRR Tolkien & Isaac Asimov!

A quick blog entry, but of utmost importance!!

Yesterday was Isaac Asimov‘s birthday, today is J.R.R. Tolkien‘s, born 122 years ago. Tolkien created the fantasy genre eventually named after him (although as his book “Children of Turin” shows he still wrote “high” fantasy). My book shelves (other than the Asimov shelf) is lined with books he influenced. Thank you for everything, Professors – both of you – and I mean everything…

Abby’s Road makes the front page!

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                 A wonderful article appeared in the Mount Vernon (IL) Sentinel on November 29, 2014. I reproduced it here. Thanks to David Belcher for taking the time to interview me and for writing a great piece! My comments are italicized, otherwise any typos are strictly mine!

Curry writes “Abby’s Road…” book on adoption process

By David Belcher, Mount Vernon Lifestyles Editor

  1. VERNON – In a sense, Esther Curry had a pregnancy that lasted nine months to the day.

Except she was not pregnant.

Doesn’t make sense?

Read on…

Esther and Michael Curry decided on Jan. 3, 2009 to adopt a baby.

On Oct. 3, 2009, nine months to the day later, the Mt. Vernon couple welcomed their baby daughter, Abigail Curry, into their lives.

Michael Curry, mixing his love for his daughter and the Beatles wrote a book about the adoption process: “Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption.”

He said the couple wed in 2000. They wanted a child. However, about five years of infertility treatments produced no baby.

Finally, they decided to adopt.

The next step was hitting the Internet to select an adoption agency. They selected Adoption Law Network California. There are both couples looking for a baby and pregnant women who are searching for a couple to rear their child.

Michael Curry, who is an attorney while his wife is assistant head librarian at C.E. Brehm Memorial Library, said the couple submitted photographs of themselves to be looked over by the pregnant women who were also using ALNC’s services.

In June they got the word – a woman picked them to adopt her baby.

Michael Curry said they were told the woman was in the late 30s, already had two children and was living with her parents in Long Island, N.Y.

He said he thinks the photograph that really made her think the couple would be the perfect fit for her Abby can be traced to when the couple attended Renaissance-theme weddings in St. Louis and Carbondale. In the spirit of the occasion he said the couple dressed in Renaissance-era outfits, which were among the photos they sent. (it was a wedding/vow renewal in Carbondale, IL)

WAITING FOR THE BIG MOMENT

Now comes the hard part for all expectant parents, adopted and birth, waiting for the big moment. He said the plan called for them to be in New York when the child arrived.

In early September, they got the word. “The baby was coming,” Michael Curry put it, and they were to go to New York as soon as possible.

They flew to Massapequa, N.Y. where the baby was set to be born.

However, the couple learned it was a false labor. They thought it over and decided to stay in the area since it is about 1,000 miles from Massapequa to Mt. Vernon.

On the one hand, since Massapequa is in the New York City metro area there are (sic) no shortage of things to do. However, it is about 30 miles to “the city,” so they did not stray too far because since they could get a summons to the hospital at any moment.

Thus, they amused themselves by taking in attractions close to Massapequa.

They visited the Amityville Horror House.

They visited President Theodore Roosevelt’s house at Sagamore Hill. Among the items Michael Curry said the couple got to see was Roosevelt’s original “Rough Rider” uniform.

One reason why Michael Curry said it was important the couple be at the hospital is the birth mother said she did not want to see the baby or the adopted parents.

The youngster was born on Oct. 1, 2009. However, while the Currys could view her in her hospital nursery bed, they could not hold her. After meeting with the birth mother’s attorney to take care of some legalities, on Oct. 3, 2009, the(y) were presented with Abigail Curry.

The Currys were parents.

They did not waste time in taking advantage of what parenthood entails. They got to hold the baby. They got to dress the baby. They got to put her in a car seat to put her in the car and take her back the hotel where they were staying.

Abby Curry did not waste time in introducing her parents to other aspects of their new world. Michael Curry said they had a “sleepless night” at the hotel. Realizing what was coming, he said they had purchased “a slew of diapers and baby food.”

They also found out being a parent of an infant is a 24-houra day proposition. “No alarm clocks needed,” he quipped.

She was then brought from her birthplace to her home.

In the technical sense of the word, they were her guardians. Her adoption was not made official until June 16, 2010.

Michael Curry said his sister on June 16, 2010 gave birth to a baby girl.

“If I made up that coincidence for a story, an editor would slash it out,” he said.

Today, Abby Curry is a student at Good Samaritan Regional health Center preschool.

“Very smart. Very smart and very silly. She has a very silly sense of humor,” he said of his daughter.

She also has a sharp memory. Michael Curry recalled when he went o vote at Mt. Vernon’s Trinity Episcopal Church he took Abby with him. Ever since he said every time she goes past Trinity she asks, “Are we going to vote today?”

LOVE LETTER FROM FATHER TO HIS LITTLE GIRL

Michael Curry’s book is a detailed account of the vents which brought Abby Curry into his and his wife’s lives – a love letter from a father to his little girl.

“Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road” received honorable mention honors in the 2014 Great Midwest Book Festival in the Biography/Autobiography category.

He said people can obtain copies of his book through Amazon, Barnes & noble and Smashwords websites.

mtvlife@morningsentinel.com

 

 

 

 

 

My new book is out!

It’s official! My new ebook is out!

One of the problems of becoming a father in his late forties that he DIDN’T expect was watching television with his pre-schooler: “Daddy, can we watch Barney?” “Sure! The Andy Griffith Show is on in a few minutes!” “No Daddy, the purple dinosaur.” “Dino? I LOVE The Flinstones…”
In this sequel – kind of – to his memoir Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped, Michael Curry reviews the television shows his now-preschool daughter has available. It has been forty years since Michael watched children’s television and much has changed … and much has stayed the same.
Told with gentle (and sometimes not so gentle, humor) Michael reviews and comments on over 100 children’s shows aimed at ages 0-5 from the 1960s to the present!
Meet some familiar friends – from Oscar the Grouch to Thomas the Tank Engine – and meet some new ones whose adventures you might be missing!
Whether you are in your 20s or in your 50s or anywhere in between, you may find yourself saying, “I remember that show when I was that age!” or “If I was a toddler I would love this!”
Let’s see what the kids are watching!

It's official! My new ebook is out!</p>
<p>One of the problems of becoming a father in his late forties that he DIDN’T expect was watching television with his pre-schooler: “Daddy, can we watch Barney?” “Sure! The Andy Griffith Show is on in a few minutes!” “No Daddy, the purple dinosaur.” “Dino? I LOVE The Flinstones...”<br />
In this sequel – kind of – to his memoir Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped, Michael Curry reviews the television shows his now-preschool daughter has available. It has been forty years since Michael watched children’s television and much has changed … and much has stayed the same.<br />
Told with gentle (and sometimes not so gentle, humor) Michael reviews and comments on over 100 children’s shows aimed at ages 0-5 from the 1960s to the present!<br />
Meet some familiar friends – from Oscar the Grouch to Thomas the Tank Engine – and meet some new ones whose adventures you might be missing!<br />
Whether you are in your 20s or in your 50s or anywhere in between, you may find yourself saying, “I remember that show when I was that age!” or “If I was a toddler I would love this!”<br />
Let’s see what the kids are watching!</p>
<p>http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/toddler-tv-mich…/1120696982…