Be honest – did you know there were three "Olympics" (summer and winter count as one), let alone the difference between them?
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red will admit that before Black let her know that the Paralympics Closing Ceremony took place over Labor Day weekend, she didn't even know there was a Paralympics.
So, Red's experience as a straight-A student kicked in, and she decided to go online and learn more. She also, begrudgingly, realized that this was one of those examples of when technology and the internet were extremely useful, as in the past it would have meant going to the library or hoping that you had an encyclopedia at home. However, she stopped short of looking for stories on social media. (She'll be the first to admit, technology makes her feel "old.")
Anyway, she was fascinated to learn that for decades not only do the Paralympics occur right after each Olympics, in the same host city, but that they follow a similar schedule. Such as they include Opening and Closing Ceremonies filled with ritual and pageantry, which Red has always felt is one of the best parts of the Olympics.
But it was really the difference between the Paralympics and Special Olympics which intrigued Red the most, especially as her younger daughter had helped coach a local Special Olympics volleyball team and found it to be one of the most rewarding things she'd ever done. And while it turned out there were significant differences, they had one important thing in common,
I now know that the Special Olympics is for athletes with intellectual and physical disabilities, and every person's accepted and welcomed, regardless of ability or disability, and Paralympic athletes must fulfill specific eligibility criteria (which include physical, visual, and/or intellectual impairments). But as a mom, I find both Special Olympic and Paralympic athletes to be incredibly inspiring, determined athletes who have overcome challenges that most of us have never even thought about, let alone experienced.
Black started to mention the concept of "inspiration porn" to Red, and how some people look at those with disabilities as inspirational solely because they are disabled (Black was fascinated by the TEDx talk where Sheila Young first used the term). But then realized Red's introduction to the Paralympics needed to be about the celebration of this year's games and how they were about unity, diversity, and overcoming a common obstacle (the pandemic),
Although I do not watch the Olympics or the Paralympics in real-time, I am interested in the various stories, because as I have said countless times, stories are powerful. And, every story I watched highlighted people who are world champion athletes. People who are inspirational because they are more than just skills – they are people whose stories inspire us with their humanity, hard work, and dedication.
Of course, the Paralympics, like the Olympics, has its stories of heartache (such as how a Malaysian shot putter won a gold and set a world record only to be disqualified for turning up three minutes late to the final), but also political triumph (the Afghans athletes who managed to get to Tokyo), and romance (the visually impaired runner who received a fourth-place finish but then a marriage proposal from her guide and partner).
And now we're both looking forward to the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris …
Happy Meals. Lasik surgery. A Supreme Court justice. Any idea what these three things have in common?
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Although Hispanic Heritage Month started in 1968 as a week-long event, Red, the straight-A student and lover of history, is a bit embarrassed that she didn't know about it, but the theater major in her realizes they're under-represented (and misrepresented) in the movies. When we talked about the comparison of "In The Heights" to "West Side Story," Black wasn't only focused on the business aspects but also how it reflects the times, and now is interested in the many contributions (including patents) made by Latinx, and the need for inclusion and diversity.
P.S. – We were both curious why the month-long celebration begins mid-month (September 15) and discovered it's in honor of the anniversaries of national independence for many Latin American countries.
Can something be "new" if it's made with "old" ingredients?
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Black's fascinated by the business and marketing aspects of food mash-ups (especially the multi-generational angle), while Red's excited that her beloved Dunkin' has collaborated with Post Cereals and there's now Dunkin' cereal (and both of us love the tag line, "Now you can have your coffee and eat it, too!). Funny thing is that we've all probably been doing our own "mash-ups" for years (ok, maybe not Black).
As the song says, "They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway, they say there's always magic in the air on Broadway" … and now it's all coming back!
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Although we live in Texas, we're originally from New York, and as different as we are, one thing we have in common is a love of Broadway, so we're excited about the re-opening of Broadway, even if for very different reasons.
For Red, the re-opening of Broadway's a return to better times, and even if she doesn't get to New York soon, it reminds her of falling in love with the theater – from Shakespeare to musicals, dramas to comedies – and why she majored in it at college. Yet her introduction to Broadway, which was less than 30 miles from where we grew up on Long Island, started thousands of miles away in London. At the time, Black was attending (not sure "studying" would be an accurate description) London Business School for the final semester of her M.B.A., and as Red's 16th birthday gift had her visit for a few weeks.
On one of Red's first nights in London, Black took her to the West End to see "The Crucifer of Blood" at the Haymarket (its "proper" name is the Theatre Royal Haymarket and to this day remains Red's favorite theater) starring Keith Michell. Red had avidly watched him years prior as he portrayed Henry VIII in the Masterpiece Theater series, and that night, she watched him play Sherlock Holmes on stage and,
I can remember it as if it was yesterday. Watching a live performance was magical and inspiring, and I felt like it brought all of us in the audience together. There's something very powerful about the theater "experience", and although there'll be various safety precautions, I'm excited Broadway's coming back. And I'd love to see Six, the acclaimed British musical about the six wives of Henry VIII, which was hours from its first-night opening when theaters closed.
Black remembers the first Broadway show she ever saw, Finian's Rainbow, when she was about 10-years-old. She hated it because she thought the storyline was far-fetched, and people didn't just break out in song for no apparent reason. (Obviously, she's always been pragmatic.)
Years later, Black was pursuing her M.B.A. at New York University, took an accounting class from one of the Shubert Organization founders, and was introduced to the business side of theater and immediately took an active interest. First in the history of what made Broadway, Broadway, and then she started going to the Broadway "hits" to understand what the market wanted. Looking at how Broadway continually seemed to reinvent itself to survive (there's a soon-to-be-released documentary, "On Broadway"), although it will face daunting financial odds.
And now that reinvention will include the recently signed "New Deal" where the theater industry itself (theater owners, producers, creatives, casting directors, even union leaders) has committed to reforms that will ensure equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility, and belonging. Of course, Black can't help but point out the elephant in the room (or is it the elephant on stage?),
Broadway has long been known as "The Great White Way," and although it was because of all the electric white lights on the theatre marquees and billboards, there is a "politically incorrect" connotation to that phrase. However, the Broadway that closed in March 2020 will be very different when it reopens … and hopefully will be the beginning of a strong season and a bright future.