Once upon a time, musicals only provided entertainment and an escape from reality. But today, they can also enlighten us!
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: At first glance, the film opening of "In The Heights" is all about the excitement of song and dance in the grand tradition of musicals, something that Red absolutely loves, whether live theater or a movie; but Black sees musicals not only as business ventures but as a reflection of the times.
The movie premiere of the multiple Tony-award-winning Broadway musical "In The Heights" was delayed by COVID-19 (it seems "everything" was delayed) and now is premiering in movie theatres and also streaming on HBO-Max. Red can't wait to see it on the big screen as she's desperate to go back to the movies, and since she loves musicals, it's a definite win-win. (And that doesn't include the popcorn!)
Black, on the other hand, has a different interest in the movie,
I know you do not want to hear about the business logic behind jointly releasing and streaming movies, so I will focus on how "In The Heights" has broken dramatically with how Latinx are usually portrayed. Instead of stereotyping the characters in supporting or minor roles, it has created an authentic story and starring roles. Not only has that expanded the target audience, but it shows how we all, regardless of ethnicity or background, have dreams, aspirations, and struggles.
But while the musical, which Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote before he went on to the phenomenal success of "Hamilton, the Musical," is considered ground-breaking in its positive focus on Latinx, it has still managed to draw criticism for a lack of dark-skinned Afro-Latino actors in both the general cast and especially the more prominent roles.
And while Miranda has responded that he "can hear the hurt and frustration" and is "truly sorry," it wasn't the first time a Latinx-themed musical was criticized for colorism, albeit it had been decades, as Red (the former theater major) points out,
"West Side Story" (both the play and the movie) was criticized for having a mostly white cast wearing dark make-up and speaking with accents. At the time, authenticity obviously wasn't important, as in the movie even Natalie Wood's singing was not hers, they dubbed in an opera singer. However, it was ground-breaking in that it broke the mold of "happy" musicals where everyone lived happily-ever-after by having lead characters "killed off" in front of the audience's eyes.
Just talking about "West Side Story" brings back memories, but since Steven Spielberg will be releasing a remake later this year, we'll have plenty of time to reminisce.
Empowering girls – one cookie at a time. Ok, maybe one box of cookies at a time.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: It’s that time of year when many people’s New Year’s resolution of eating better is challenged by the arrival of Girl Scout cookies; something that poses a problem for Red, while for Black, it's an opportunity.
Red remembers growing up with Girl Scout cookies, with her favorite being shortbread (now known as the Trefoil), while hating (yes, it’s a strong word, but that’s how she feels about anything flavored with mint) Thin Mints. However, what she finds interesting is that as an adult, she’s been far more tempted by all the flavors (excluding anything mint, of course) even though she doesn’t consider herself a cookie person.
She bought last year’s “new” cookie, Adventurefuls, but was able to resist the brownie-based cookie with the center of caramel-flavored cream as she’s a brownie purist, but this year’s a very different story,
I’ve been doing so well getting back on track with healthy eating, but with the arrival of the Raspberry Rally, I could be in real trouble. A thin, crispy cookie infused with raspberry flavor, dipped in chocolaty coating, this is going to be almost impossible to resist. The good news is that it’s only available online as I always find it hard to resist all the Girl Scouts who “camp” out, pun intended, in front of my grocery store.
Black, who isn’t a fan of cookies or even sweets (unless you count sweet potatoes), buys a box of each flavor and immediately delivers them to the break room at her high-rise. Of course, she’ll ask the staff to let her know their favorite, but she won’t even try one cookie, not even in the interest of market research.
Black has always been fascinated by the history of the Girl Scout cookie and how a simple idea of selling cookies to finance troop activities has grown over 100+ years into an iconic and extremely successful way to raise funds. But, more importantly, it’s a powerful (and delicious) way for the girls to have fun while at the same time learning valuable business skills and life lessons. Which explains why Black always buys cookies, even if she doesn’t eat any,
Each year I seem to buy more cookies than the prior year since our local Girl Scout council has a program where you can buy cookies to be donated to military and first responders. It is a part of my “calorie free – for me” plan, as it is a great way to support the Girl Scouts and show appreciation for others because everyone loves Girl Scout cookies.
Whether you buy them as “thank you” gifts or just sweet treats for your family and friends (or yourself), please support your local Girl Scouts!
Two years ago, on MLK Day, Red learned the power and inspiration of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And the power of dreams. And as long as there's social unrest and social injustice in the United States (stop and think about the first word … as we’re supposed to be united), the more we can learn from him … as not only did he fight for equality for all, but his approach is proof of the power of peaceful protests.
For most of us, writing and delivering one powerful and/or inspiring thing would be a very difficult task. To be remembered for hundreds is truly amazing.
We grew up in New York, where bagels are almost sacred, but even though they may have started as a Jewish food in Europe, they’re now enjoyed by everyone everywhere (including Red and Black, but in very different ways) – why else would there be a National Bagel Day?
National holidays aren’t the time to count calories.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: We both agree that happiness has a hole in it, although one of us may only eat one bagel a year while the other tries to keep it to only one bagel when she does indulge.
Red admits that although she knows bagels aren’t a healthy choice, she’ll occasionally treat herself, not only because they remind her of growing up in New York when almost every town on Long Island had at least one bagel shop, but because she loves whipped cream cheese almost as much as the fresh, squishy bagel on which she smears it. And while she was a fan of both cinnamon raisin and onion bagels as a kid, the introduction of the “Everything” bagel was a turning point. However, her all-time favorite is technically not a bagel, as it’s a bialy.
On the other hand, it only takes one look at Black’s “selfishly svelte figure” to know that she has the willpower to resist bagels (including her favorite, sesame) as well as all the other carbs that she loves, but when it comes to National Bagel Day and the “health” issues of bagels, she has an interesting perspective,
Bagels are one of life’s true culinary pleasures, often tied to wonderful memories, so you cannot always measure their value in terms of nutrition. But, when it comes to healthy eating, it might be interesting to remember that bagel-cutting injuries are common and result in thousands of people having to go to emergency rooms or urgent care centers … so, celebrate carefully.