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!

Last year on MLK Day, Red learned the power and inspiration of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Today, in these divisive times, we can all learn from him … as not only did he fight for equality for all, but his approach is proof that peaceful protests can achieve social justice.

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.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: There's so much one can say about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who led the civil rights movement from the mid-1950s until his assassination in 1968, and whose leadership was fundamental to the ending of legal segregation in many parts of the United States. But regardless of your position on segregation, it's almost impossible not to acknowledge, yet alone appreciate, how incredibly powerful and inspiring his words were and the impact they continue to have on the civil rights movement. But don't believe us. This goodreads post provides more than just a good read, it's a seemingly endless list of inspirational quotes while a great "refresher" course on Dr. King is available at History.com.

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.

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A day to clean up your desk?! It will take way more than a day …

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: No one is immune from piles of paper, not even Black, the master of organization, but there’s a huge difference between a desk with a few small piles and some scattered papers (although her laptop’s keyboard needs serious cleaning) and Red’s “workroom” that usually looks like a tornado hit it.

Which is why Red rolled her eyes when Black mentioned today’s National Clean Your Desk Day, as it’d take her significantly more than a day to “clean up this mess,” but then she remembered Black’s advice on how to keep her piles (and piles) of paper under control and felt inspired. Red admits often feeling like she’s drowning in paper, but that’s because she lets the piles get out of control before reminding herself of Black’s very easy, straightforward approach to turning her mountains of paper into small manageable hills. And, significantly reducing stress along the way, because as Black points out,

Sometimes, it is more important to know what you are ignoring than it is to deal with everything in the piles.