Who knew that the woman that sang so passionately and danced so spectacularly would be even more impressive in “real life”?

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: West Side Story. These three words magically wrap us in its music and bring back memories of how much we love the original movie, although when we think of Rita Moreno, the amazing actress who gained instant fame from her performance as Anita, we have very different perspectives.

Although it would be well over a decade before Red became a Theater major at Wake Forest University, her love of musicals and theater started when she was growing up on Long Island, New York, about an hour from where “West Side Story” takes place on the Upper West Side of New York City. As she vividly remembers,

It was the bright red album cover that first got my attention, and Daddy used to play it. A LOT. Which made sense, as Leonard Bernstein’s score and Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics are fantastic. Of course, when the movie was eventually aired on TV (1972), it was amazing, not only for Jerome Robbin’s incredible choreography but Rita Moreno’s portrayal of Anita. I can’t imagine there ever being a better film version, but that won’t stop me from seeing the just-released Steven Spielberg remake, especially as it again stars Rita Moreno, although in a new role created specifically for her.

Of course, Black mentioned that Moreno’s also one of the executive producers of the Spielberg remake. And then explained how she had almost quit the original movie over offensive lyrics about her native Puerto Rico, but that Sondheim changed them during rehearsal, and how she (unsuccessfully) spoke out against the brownface used to darken actors’ skin,

Moreno’s life story and accomplishments are even more fascinating and inspiring than her performances, and her spirit, perseverance, and unwillingness to accept conventional restraints (not to mention her spunk at the age of almost 90) show you that this is a woman who not only went for it, but made it. Forget high kicks – she kicked ass!

Ok, let’s be clear (pun intended) … Communication is critical. Whether in your personal life or in business, not to mention communication skills are transferable between the two (Black even suggested Red hold family “business” meetings). And what better time to work on how we communicate, and maybe even have a new attitude toward vocabulary and “50-cent words” (Red loves those, but terminology scares her!?), than during Effective Communications Month.

Talking isn't the same as communicating. And hearing isn't the same as listening. Think about it.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Being an effective communicator, whether in our personal lives or at work, is a critical skill but one-size-doesn't-fit-all as we each use very different methods and styles … ranging from lots of words and talking stuffed animals (Red) to bullet points and racing flags (Black).

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Most workaholics can rationalize working all the time. At least to themselves.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: “Gizmos” already blurred the lines between the workweek and the weekend, but the WFH (working from home) “revolution” caused by the pandemic has destroyed the line; except for people like Black, who have always treated every day as a workday.

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We all “celebrate” Memorial Day differently, but we all should remember it’s a day to honor those who gave their lives serving this country.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Memorial Day may be the unofficial start of summer, and Red remembers celebrating over the years with family get-togethers, barbeques, and pool parties; whereas Black “celebrates” most holidays by having a quiet day to work uninterrupted, but it’s important never to forget the significance of the holiday.

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