Ballet Beautiful

Edgar Degas Self Portrait

Edgar Degas 1834-1917

 

It’s been over a century since French painter Edgar Degas lived and died. This self portrait of Degas is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of art in New York City.

More than any other of the great artist from the impressionist era, Degas was fascinated by the powerful and exciting world of ballet. Degas was masterly at capturing in his paintings the flowing movements of ballerina’s on stage, candid poses of young dancers waiting in the wings and in rehearsal halls and dance classes.

Ballarenas by Degas

Edgar Degas – The Dancing Class 1871

Although Degas painted other subject matter, Degas was enchanted by what he called a “fairy like illusion of the ballet”. He admired ballerinas hard work which often the public never witnessed.

It wasn’t that long ago ballet performances were only enjoyed by the rich and famous and rarely did the underprivileged experience the beauty and wonder of ballet. Thanks to movies and television the public is much more aware of the beauty, hard work and discipline it takes to become a prima ballerina.

I’m an admirer of Edgar Degas paintings not for just his painting style, but also for the beauty and the grace of ballet. Live performances of ballet along with any movies or tv with ballet is one of my favorite visual experiences.

Although I never dreamed of becoming a ballerina, I always found ballet classes and ballet based workouts my favorite. In recent years, my go to workout is, Mary Helen Bower’s, Ballet Beautiful dvd tapes.

Ballet BeutifulMary Bowers is the prima ballerina who trained Natalie Portman for the 2010 movie, Black Swan. What I love most about Bower’s workout routine is I can do 15 minutes or more of Ballet Beautiful workouts in the privacy of my living room. The workouts are great for toning, elongating your body and just stretching to gain better mobility and balance. Doing this workout gives me energy and lifts my spirit.

If you’re looking to gain strength and quickly tone your body, you don’t have to be female, or join a gym or even be a prima ballerina to enjoy the benefits of Ballet Beautiful.

Shine On

 

Rod Serling

“There are weapons
that are simply thoughts.
For the record,
prejudices can kill and
suspicion can destroy.”
Rod Serling

Rod Serling


“You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination—your next stop, the Twilight Zone!”

 

One of the most iconic openings of any television show in history has got to be THE TWILIGHT ZONE. It’s  world renowned and often unsuccessfully emulated. Created and written by Mr. Rod Serling. He was a writer who was intuitive, talented, charismatic as well as sexy. A prolific writer who wrote about our mid-twentieth century world, its vulnerability and how we impact this world.

I find it eerie how the subject matters he wrote 70 years ago is relevant today. You could take any one of his stories he wrote and apply it to our society today. My guess is Rod Serling would be horrified at some of the events happening in the world today.

We’ve all seen THE TWILIGHT ZONE introduction at least once, right? Well, if you’re a huge fan of Rod Serling like I am, you’ve probably binge watched all the episodes on Netflix, right? At any rate, after I watching all the episodes of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, I became preoccupied with Rod Serling, the writer. Who was he? What did he write? Who and what inspired him to write?

In my quest to know more about Rod Serling, I checked-out every book at the library he wrote and every book written about the man. What I learned about Rod Serling only made me admire him and his work even more. If you are one of the few people on the planet who has never watched THE TWILIGHT ZONE, or are unfamiliar with Mr. Serling’s body of work, allow me to briefly introduce the great Rod Serling.

Rod Serling color
He was known primarily for his role as the host of television’s THE TWILIGHT ZONE, Rod Serling had one of the most exceptional and varied careers in television. He was a writer, a producer, and for many years a teacher. Serling challenged the medium of television to reach for loftier artistic goals. The winner of more Emmy Awards for dramatic writing than anyone in history, Serling expressed a deep social conscience in nearly everything he did.

Born in Syracuse, New York in 1924, Rod Serling grew up in the small upstate city of Binghamton. The son of a butcher, he joined the army after graduating from high school in 1942. His experiences of the working-class life of New York, and the horrors of World War II enlivened in him a profound concern for a moral society. After returning from the service, Serling enrolled as a physical education student at Antioch College, but before long realized that he was destined for more creative endeavors.

Changing his major to English literature and drama, Serling began to try his hand at writing. As a senior, after marrying his college sweetheart, Carolyn Kramer, he won an award for a television script he had written. Encouraged by the award, Serling started writing for radio and television. Beginning in Cincinnati, he soon found a home for his unique style of realistic psychological dramas at CBS. By the early 1950s he was writing full-time and had moved his family closer to Manhattan.

Serling had his first big break with a 1955 television drama for NBC, called PATTERNS. Dealing with the fast-paced lives and ruthless people within the business world, PATTERNS was so popular it became the first television show to ever be broadcast a second time due to popularity. Throughout the 1950s he continued to write probing investigative dramas about serious issues. He was often hounded by the conservative censors for his uncompromising attention to issues such as lynching, union organizing, and racism. Considered some of the best writing ever done for television, were Serling’s dramas REQUIEM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT and A TOWN HAS TURNED TO DUST.

Fed up with the difficulties of writing about serious issues on the conservative networks, Serling turned to science fiction and fantasy. Through an ingenious mixture of morality fable and fantasy writing, he was able to circumvent the timidity and conservatism of the television networks and sponsors. Self-producing a series of vignettes that placed average people in extraordinary situations, Serling could investigate the moral and political questions of his time. He found that he could address controversial subjects if they were cloaked in a veil of fantasy, saying, “I found that it was all right to have Martians saying things Democrats and Republicans could never say.”

THE TWILIGHT ZONE, first episode, “Where Is Everybody?” premiered on CBS, October 2, 1959. The show was incredibly popular, winning Serling three Emmy Awards. As the host and narrator of the show, he became a household name and his voice seemed always a creepy reminder of a world beyond our control. The show lasted for five seasons, and during that time Serling wrote more than half of the one hundred and fifty-one episodes. But for Serling, television was an inherently problematic medium—requiring the concessions of commercials and time restrictions.

1970 Rod Serling

Rod Serling at home in February 1972

For much of the 1960s and into the 1970s Serling turned to the big screen, writing films that included a remake of REQUIEM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT (1962), THE YELLOW CANARY (1963), and ASSAULT ON A QUEEN (1966). His most famous, however, was the classic PLANET OF THE APES (1968), co-written with Michael Wilson. Similar to his early work on THE TWILIGHT ZONE, THE PLANET OF THE APES was a moralistic tale of contemporary life told through a science-fiction fantasy in which Apes have taken over the world. Dealing with question of how we act as a society and how we view ourselves as moral beings, PLANET OF THE APES was a culmination of Serling’s career-long interests as a writer.

By the early 1970s, he found a job teaching in Ithaca, New York. Continuing to write for television, he sought to impart a sense of moral responsibility and artistic integrity to the new generation of television writers. Unfortunately, In June of 1975, he died unexpectedly of a heart attack.

Now, over forty years after his death, Serling’s legacy continues to grow. His television and cinematic works have reached cult status—enlivening a new interest in one of the great early writers of American television, Rod Serling.

Shine On

 

Wyland Whaling Wall

“I pretend like I’m painting
the whales as they swim by.
I’ve studied whales since I was a child,
so it’s all in my mind.”
Wyland

wyland-whaling-wall

One of Redondo Beaches most famous landmarks is the large mural created by world-famous Laguna Beach artist Wyland. He painted the mural for free back in 1991 in hopes the mural would inspire everyone to make ocean conservation an issue to be examined.

This 87′ x 622′ mural depicting 12 California gray whales can be viewed on the exterior wall of the AES Redondo Generating Station, 1100 North Harbor Drive, Redondo Beach, California. The mural is #31 of the artist’s largest and most extraordinary works created as a series of 100 life-size murals in 100 different cities around the world.

The mural illustrates the annual 10,000-mile round-trip migration of the Pacific Gray Whale from the Bering Sea to the warm lagoons of Baja California and back again to the arctic circle, with their newborn babies alongside. This migration happens every winter and brings the whales close to Redondo Beach’s shoreline.

I feel so fortunate to have witnessed hundreds of whales these past years making their yearly Baja trip. If you too have seen whales in their natural habitat, you know what an emotional experience it can be. We need to be reminded of our beautiful oceans and the precious cargo it is home to everyday.

The following 1991 video about Wyland and his passion for whales, also shows the painting on the Wyland Whaling Wall.

Shine On

Chasing the Sun

When there’s a huge solar energy spill,
it’s just called a “nice day”.

It’s difficult to highlight just one person responsible for the idea of capturing solar energy to generate electricity. The technology has been around for well over a century.

Some of the earliest uses of solar technology were actually in outer space where solar was used to power satellites. In 1958, NASA launched, the Vanguard I satellite which used a tiny one-watt panel to power its radios. In 1973, the University of Delaware was responsible for constructing the first solar building, named “Solar One.” The system ran on a hybrid supply of solar thermal and solar PV power. It was also the first instance of building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) – the array didn’t use solar panels but instead had solar integrated into the rooftop, similar to the design for Tesla’s new roof product.

Then in 1979, President Jimmy Carter had solar panels installed on the White House during his term as president. However, in 1981, President Ronald Reagan ordered the White House solar panels to be removed. In 2010, President Barack Obama requested that solar panels and a solar water heater be installed in the White House.

Solar energy today is being used from charging our phones to powering office buildings entire energy source. There are companies popping up all over the world to harness this clean free energy source from the sun.

I recently read about a new company based in Boston, SmartFlower. They created a large solar panel consisting of twelve solar panels shaped like a sunflower. Just like a sunflower, as the sun rises SmartFlower activates its panels to open. Not only does it open up like a sunflower, it also mimics this heliotropic flower. The pedal like solar panels slowly turn their panels so they continually face the sun throughout the day. It also has the capability to close and shut itself off in harsh weather. This beautifully sculptural designed devise is paving the way in solar technology. It’s the world’s only, all in one, solar solution to power your home and your electric automobile.

Although, we are still chasing after the sun to improve our planets energy source, we now have these beautiful flowering solar panels that are literally, chasing the sun.

Shine On