Wicked Wednesday–the Best Performance

Wickeds, what was your all-time favorite performance–play, musical, opera, ballet? Tell us all about it and especially tell us why. I think this one will be impossible for Julie–or maybe incredibly easy. Top three, Julie?

Edith: I, along with my two older sisters, studied ballet from first grade through ninth. FOnteynNureyevSomewhere in the mid-sixties, my mother splurged for four tickets for us to see Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev dance a ballet. My vague memory says the performance was of Romeo and Juliet, and I can’t find a historic record of the performance. Despite the vagaries of an older mind, I have a clear memory of these two master dancers’ beautiful and graceful bodies. Their physical art put to music. Their emotional interpretations of the story. I still love to see any artistic dance performed.

220px-Christmas_Carol_(Patrick_Stewart)_Broadway_PosterJulie: You’re right, this is impossible. Three that come to mind: Patrick Stewart in A Christmas Carol. I actually saw him do it twice. Amazing. (He was also fabulous in Macbeth at BAM, but I digress.) Another one is the Lyric Stage Company production of Nicholas Nickleby. (Here’s the cast warming up.) Two shows, which I saw on the same day. About seven hours between them. A really delightful show, with a stellar cast. My last choice is another long one. Gatz, by the Elevator Repair Service. I saw it at the ART in Cambridge. Another two shows, this time eight hours of theater all told. Gatz is a staged version of The Great Gatsby. When it first started, and the main actor (the narrator) picked up a copy of the book and started reading it aloud, I started to squirm. The setting was a 80’s era office, and I thought to myself “what have I gotten myself into?” Then other people started to say lines, and all of a sudden there was magic. I was transported. Now, I didn’t list Hamilton, or Les Miz, or . . . Nor did I list dance or opera. I am very blessed that working in the performing arts has been part of my life for over  30 years, so there is a lot to choose from.

Jessie: I love, love, love Cirque du Soleil. I have attended performances three times and all of them have been magical. I saw them in Las Vegas, Orlando and in Boston. There is something so engrossing about the experience. There was so much to see that I couldn’t decide where to look! My very favorite part of each show was the aerial silks performance. Breathtaking!

Sherry: In the mid-eighties my sister and I saw Mikhail Baryshnikov dance in Denver, Colorado. It was supposed to be an outdoor performance but the weather was bad so they moved it inside. His leaps were breathtaking. The emotion he put into his performance unforgettable. A couple of weeks after we saw him, he was injured and from what I remember he never did the high leaps again. Another favorite performance was seeing Glenn Close in Sunset Boulevard when we lived in the LA area. She was fabulous.

Liz: I really loved seeing Wicked (and I’m not just saying that because of the name!) in New York years ago when it first came out. It was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. I’ve always been a huge fan of the Wizard of Oz and I loved learning the backstory of the Wicked Witch of the West. And the music was fab!

Michael Maloney as Prince Hal, Robert Stephens as Falstaff, Rob Edwards as Ned Poins

Barb: I struggled mightily with this one, too. Finally I decided to go with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Henry V, Part 1, which Bill and I saw in London in 1991. We both love the historicals most of all and have seen many together. I always feel when you see Shakespeare well-performed, you learn something about the contemporary world and people you know. This performance was so accessible, I felt like the actors were speaking directly to me and I was almost a part of it. Like Sherry and Edith, my second choice would be a ballet–seeing Violette Verdy with the New York City Ballet when I was a kid. She had so much charisma, you could not tear your eyes off her.

Readers: Tell us about your very favorite performance, who, what, when, where, why?

Wicked Wednesday–the Best Concert

Continuing with our March theme, “the best,” Wickeds tell us about your best concert or other live music event. Give us the who, the where, and the why.

Liz: I’m so predictable in this area – Stevie Nicks and the Goo Goo Dolls, both of whom I’ve seen numerous times! I have to say the show I’ll always remember is when I used to live in New Hampshire and the Goos played at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom. It’s a really cool, smaller venue and the band came outside after and met everyone who waited around for them (of course I was one of them!) It will always be one of my favorite nights.

Edith:  This, of course, dates me, but in August 1966 my sisters and I each took a friend to see the Beatles in Dodger Stadium. Our sainted father drove us and then sat in the car EmmyLouand read for the duration. But frankly, the concert was so long ago and there was so much screaming going on, I barely remember it. A couple of years ago I heard the great Emmy Lou Harris in Portsmouth, NH. I’ve loved her for years, and she’s going strong, five years older than I am. She played every song on her guitar. She did some energetic performing with the back-up band. She still has that beautiful, haunting voice and lyrics, and is putting out new records. It was the show of a lifetime for me.

Barb: Edith, I’m laughing because a friend of mine saw Emmy Lou Harris so many times, we used to tease him that her security people must have his photo as a known stalker. Liz, I would love to see Stevie Nicks!

Jessie: I saw Rod Stewart play in Old Orchard not long after I got my driver’s license. I went with a friend from school and had an amazing time. It is one of my many cherished memories of Old Orchard! Every time I hear his distinctive voice come over the radio I think of that evening!

Sherry: Two of my favorite concerts were at Fraze Pavilion in Kettering, Ohio. It’s an outdoor amphitheater that seats about 4,000 people. We were stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base during the mid-nineties. The Boston Pops were there and it was the second year that Keith Lockhart was their conductor. His energy — he jumped up and down the entire time — the lovely summer evening, and having my sweet mother-in-law with us made it a very special evening. We also saw Kathy Mattea there. She has a beautiful voice and her song Where’ve You Been makes me cry every time I hear it. I also love her album Good News.

Edith: I love Kathy Mattea, Sherry!

Barb: My best concert memory is at Tanglewood, on the lawn with my parents, Bill, my kids, friends, assorted sister and brother-in-laws and the kid’s cousins. It poured beforehand, but the skies cleared just in time and the stars came out. I have no idea what we heard. It was about family, friends, great food and wine.

Julie: Edith, so jealous you saw the Beatles! Wow. My absolute favorite band to see in concert is Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. I first saw them on December 15, 1990 (and again on the 16th) at the (now gone) Boston Garden. I’ve probably seen them a dozen times (maybe more) over the years. My favorite time seeing them was when they played Fenway Park. Honestly, my favorite band in one of my favorite places on earth? What’s not to love?

Readers: What is your best concert memory–tell us who, where and why.

Wicked Wednesday–The Best Trip

One thing the Wickeds have in common–we love to travel. Planes, trains, airplanes, and ships. I know it’s like choosing your favorite child, but give it up Wickeds–best trip evah. Give us a description that will make us drool with envy.

And there it is....General Sherman Tree himself. One giant tree.

Edith: I have traveled extensively, and have lived abroad in some pretty unusual places (can you say Ougadougou?). But if I have to pick one best trip, it would be taking my sons, 18 and 21 at the time, to Sequoia National National Park where I grew up camping every summer with my parents and siblings. The air is clear and pungent with evergreens. The giant Sequoias are majestic and drop dead gorgeous. The trails we used to hike on, the snow-melt creek we swam in, the night sky alit with zillions of stars in their constellations – I got to share it all with my children. And they loved it.

Liz: Barb, visiting you in Key West is right up there! But I have to go with London. It’s such a cool place, and I felt really at home there. Over the course of two visits last year, I did a Jack the Ripper tour – which was awesomely creepy! – and ate amazing Indian food, visited a boat-turned-bookstore parked in a channel and manned by a sweet dog, spent a lot of time in Neal’s Yarde at bookstores and organic shops, and took the tube everywhere. It’s nice to visit with a local, too, so you get to do different things. I really loved it.

Sherry: It’s so hard to choose, but I have to agree with Liz about London. We went a few years ago and it was a dream vacation. London was everything I hoped for and more. I almost wept when I was in Westminster Abbey. So much history! We also spent a fun day in Paris.

Jessie: I agree with Sherry! It is really tough to choose! I cannot decide between a trip IIMG_0007 took to Iceland in 2016 for the Iceland Noir conference or the visit I had with my son in Scotland and England last spring. I loved Iceland for the wind and the terrain and the lilt
of the language. I adored wandering through the streets and tow paths of Oxford, the alleys of London and Edinburgh, the twisting roads of Thame and the shoreline of St. Andrews..

Our window

Barb: I asked this question but it was almost impossible to decide. My husband, daughter and I had a wonderful trip down memory lane discussing which one to choose. I’m going with our 2014 trip to Paris. A friend of ours does an apartment swap every summer and couldn’t use the last two and a half weeks, so Bill and I took it. The apartment was a beautiful, huge place with views of the Musee D’Orsay and the Seine. Everyone said August would be awful, but the weather was perfect and Parisians have system of rotating vacations so every neighborhood has an open boulangerie, patisserie and grocery. We spent long days wandering through the city, and tracking down offbeat attractions. We loved it!

JAH Camel Ride 3-23-2010 11-23-30 AMJulie: I love to travel, both in the US and abroad. I’ve taken a couple of river cruises which were wonderful, but I have to say that my 2010 adventure is my favorite memory. I had always dreamed of going to Egypt, and I finally got a chance with a group of folks from Harvard. We had an Egyptologist traveling with us, and had regular lectures. There aren’t many folks who you can climb into a tomb with, and happily sit for forty-five minutes while the details of the space arJAH at the Great Pyramid 3-21-2010 1-55-35 AM 3-21-2010 1-55-35 AMe explained in great detail. One of the highlights was a three day cruise down the Nile. One of the best prep books I read was Barbara Mertz’s Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt. As Elizabeth Peters, her Amelia Peabody series is one of my favorites, and I thought about them while I was there. I’ve had other wonderful trips, but Egypt was a dream come true.

Readers: Tell us about your best trip–where did you go and why was it the best?

Wicked Wednesday: I Know What You Bid Last Summer

News Flash – Marla B wins Leslie Karst’s new book! Leslie will be contacting you, Marla.

It’s another Happy Book Release Wicked Wednesday! We’re so happy Sherry’s fifth Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery came out yesterday. Here’s the blurb for I Know What You Bid Last Summer:

When it comes to running a successful garage sale, Sarah Winston believes in doing her homework. She also believes in giving back. But when she agrees to manage an athletic equipment swap, she doesn’t bargain on an uncharitable killer. The day of the event, the school superintendent is found dead in the gymnasium. Suddenly the murder suspects are the school board members—including the husband of a very difficult client who’s hired Sarah to run a high-end sale and demands she do her bidding. In between tagging and haggling, Sarah studies the clues to see who wanted to teach the superintendent a lesson. But as she closes in on the truth, the killer intends to give her a crash course on minding her own business . . .

In I Know What You Bid Last Summer, Sarah’s sleuthing takes her to a bowling alley. The bowling alley has candlepin lanes along with the more common ten pin bowling. And much to Sarah’s dismay, it is also Cosmic bowling night with strobe lights, loud music, and a disco ball. Wickeds, have you ever bowled? Candlepin? Ten pin? Or, gulp, Cosmic?

Edith: I have bowled a few times. Big balls in California in high school, candlepin up here on the North Shore. I am NOT good at ball sports. Too much enthusiasm, too little aim and control. So we won’t talk scores, not that I remember them. And these days the lights and sound of Cosmic anything? No thank you! That said, I can’t wait to read about Sarah’s next adventure.

Barb: Congratulations, Sherry! I can’t wait to read I Know What You Bid Last Summer. I have bowled when the opportunity presented, or more accurately when it couldn’t be avoided. I don’t know why I’m reluctant. I’ve enjoyed it whenever I’ve done it. There was a bowling alley with both ten pin and candle pins one town over from us when my kids were growing up. Lots of fun birthday parties for their friends there. Happy memories.

Jessie: Congratulations, Sherry on another release! I am not really an enthusiastic  bowler. Maybe it is because the shoes don’t have heels… I have done it as a kid for birthday parties and that sort of thing. When my own children were small we went on occasion. One of my kids bowled a great game once when he was very small by tossing the ball down the lane with glee and landing on his backside each turn. It was a delight to watch!

Julie: Huge congratulations Sherry! I can’t wait to read the book! I have bowled. I am not good at the big balls, but I used to be pretty good at candlepin. I really enjoy the social aspects of bowling, and have a few friends on leagues. If I had the time, I might be tempted. And yes, I’ve bowled in neon alleys, and with rock and roll. Is that cosmic?

Sherry: Thanks everyone! I have never been candlepin bowling. The first time I went bowling when I was about ten I dropped the ball, it rolled down the middle, and I got my first strike! I did a bowling league one year with the Spouses Club and my team took first place. I practiced a lot so I didn’t let down the general’s wife who was an ace bowler!

Readers: Bowling experiences? Thumbs up or down on the sport?

Wicked Wednesday: Heart-Healthy Habits

It’s Edith hosting Wicked Wednesday again. We’ve been riffing on hearts all month, so let’s talk today about heart-healthy habits. Some of you know that my sister’s heart stopped without warning on Christmas night. By some miracle of modern medicine (and hundreds of people praying for her), she recovered with her brain and body intact. She went home from the hospital nine days later and is now doing cardio rehab, so you can bet I’m thinking about my own heart-healthy habits.

THree sisters

My sisters Janet and Barbara and me, two days before Barbara was released home.

AmerHeartAssnThe American Heart Association has some sensible guidelines for heart health that won’t be a surprise to most readers: exercise; eat your veggies, nuts, whole grains, and lean meats; don’t smoke; drink alcohol in moderation; and limit saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, red meat, sweets, and sugar-sweetened beverages. So let’s dish, Wickeds – what’s your favorite heart-healthy habit and which do you wish you could ignore?

Liz: So glad your sister is healing, Edith. What a great topic. I try to do all the basics. I haven’t eaten meat in years, don’t drink soda, eat a lot of veggies, do different types of workouts – boxing, weights, yoga – and I do a lot of meditation, which really helps reduce stress. I also drink black Pu’er tea that I get from my Chinese healer, Dr. Wu, which is great for blood pressure and cholesterol. And though I’m trying to give up sugar altogether, I (usually) only eat sweets with organic cane sugar.

Sherry: My dog, Lily, and I take daily walks. We take a long one in the morning and a shorter one late afternoon. Since we don’t have a fenced yard we are out in all types of weather. And I’ve been working hard on not sitting for more than thirty minutes without getting up and moving around.

Jessie: I am a big believer in the mind-body connection. As more and more research has come out proving the impact of strong, meaningful relationships on longevity and overall health I have been making sure to keep my connections with friends and family a priority in my life. I feel so lucky to count the Wickeds and our readers here on the blog as part of that social connection and support!

Edith: I agree about the Wickeds and our readers, Jessie! I’m very attached to my daily power walk. I know it doesn’t get my heart rate up as much as when I used to run, but it’s something. And has the added benefit of letting me talk out loud about what my characters need to do next! Otherwise I eat pretty healthy, although I’m perhaps overly fond of sweets.  And wine. And butter…. (I’m also relieved to know that my recent echocardiogram stress test came back normal.)

Julie: Welp, heart issues run in my family, so I take medication for cholesterol. Even at my thinnest and healthiest my numbers were very high, so modern medicine to the rescue. I also walk at least 7500 steps a day (working toward 10000), try to eat well, and am working on stress reduction methods. I am also mindfully exploring the joy of life–seeing people, loving the writing, making plans that include having fun. All of that said, I am far from perfect. Far from it. Aspiring to be better, but I like red wine, desserts, red meat and butter. Carpe Diem.

Readers: What about you? Heart-healthy habits? Not-so-healthy ones it’s hard to let go of?

Wicked Wednesday: Hearts and Candy

Edith here, wishing you all a Happy Valentine’s Day from the Wicked Cozys! You might think this is a silly over commercialized holiday, and that we should express our love every day. But for me today marks 14 years ago that I first met my Hugh, so it’s an extra special day.


Photo by Chrys Omori from Sao Paulo, Brazil

So let’s talk heart-shaped candy. Do you give or receive chocolates today? How do you feel about heart-shaped boxes? Do you long for the little boxes of candy hearts with the goofy sayings on them? Go!

Liz: I’ll never say no to chocolates…

Sherry: I love a heart-shaped box full of chocolates. As a kid I loved the candy hearts but now they taste like chalk.

Jessie: I don’t particularly care for chocolates myself but I love Valentine’s Day! I really enjoy gifting the people I love with tokens that show them I care whether it is candy or a book or hand knit socks!

Barb: We never developed the tradition of Valentine’s candy in our house, though it would have plugged the long dry spell between Christmas stocking candy and Easter baskets. We do, however, have a tradition of a nice dinner out on or near the day and, sometimes, roses.

Julie: I am a huge conversation heart fan, though since NECCO stopped making them they aren’t as good. I don’t “celebrate” the holiday myself (my cats are lousy at shopping), but I do love the sentiment of the day, since it was my grandparents’ anniversary. They were married in 1931 in a living room by a Justice of the Peace. No pictures, but lots of romance according to the stories my grandmother told us.

Edith: I give him fine dark chocolates and he gives me flowers, and we go out for a special dinner. I think this year I’ll get some of the heart candy with the sayings – maybe they have updated them by now!

Readers: Heart-shaped candy or boxes? Other treats to express your love?

Wicked Wednesday: Hearts and Other Games

It’s the month that includes Valentine’s Day right smack in the middle, so let’s talkA studio image of a hand of playing cards. hearts every Wednesday. Today, what about the card game Hearts? Who plays it? What’s your strategy for shooting the moon? If you don’t play Hearts, what other card games do you like? Dish! (Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26889555)

Jessie: The only card game I play with any regularity is Rummy. My mother and grandmother used to play when I was a child and they were a bit competitive about it. One afternoon when I got home from school my mother had been having an unusually good run of luck. My grandmother offered to pay me a dollar if I could beat my mother at a hand. It was the first dollar I ever earned.

Liz: I don’t know that I ever played Hearts, but where I come from (the Valley) we had a card game called 45s. I swear it was invented by someone in the Valley and stayed in a radius of ten or so miles, because no one outside of the town where I grew up has ever heard of it. But my brother and I learned to play at a young age, mostly because my grandparents played. They were SERIOUS about it, too. They played for fun with us, but every weekend they had card games with their friends and man, they were worse than high stakes poker games. I remember many a 45s-related disagreement between friends that lasted for weeks!

Edith: Indeed, Liz – I’ve never heard of 45s. We play Hearts when my sons are home. My older son has an amazing memory and he can track who played what when. When our young friends are here we play cards with them. I taught them what grownups call BS but with the kids we call it No Way. It’s a really fun bluffing game. I played rummy growing up, and my mother tried to teach us Canasta but it never stuck. When I listen to my favorite radio shows on Saturdays, I play solitaire. If I just sit and listen, I fall asleep. If I try to do something like cook, I don’t listen carefully. It’s the perfect solution, and I have found I normally win at least once an hour.

Barb: I played way too many games of hearts in college, and pinochle, bridge–basically any trick-oriented game–in the coffee house in the basement of the Quad at Penn. When my kids were growing up we played mad games of poker at our cottage, and then when the kids went to bed the grownups would play pitch. I don’t play many card games lately. I love to sit and read a book and listen to the rest of the family playing card or board games. However, I’m rethinking this. My mother-in-law played kalooki with a group of friends every week until a month before she died. Now they play with a photo of her in attendance. Keeps your mind working and keeps you connected with friends. Who can ask for more?

Sherry: I think I played Hearts once and got the highest score anyone had ever seen. As I recall that’s not a good thing. We grew up playing all kinds of card games: War, Solitaire, Whist, Spades, etc. In college we played Spades ALL THE TIME. As adults we’ve played Euchre and lots of games of rummy. My parent’s tried to teach me Bridge but it seemed more like work than fun.

Julie: I think I’ve played Hearts, but I’m not sure. I grew up playing Gin, and Rummy, and Gin Rummy. My favorite card game is Cribbage. I learned by watching my grandfather teach my parents how to play, and would play for hours with him. BTW, Barb, I love the idea of weekly card games with friends. Wonder if we could Skype one?

Readers: What card games do you play? Anybody up for a game of Wicked Cozy Hearts?