Friday, August 1, 2014

In 'Get on Up, Becoming James Brown With Every Murmur, Milestone and Mashed Potato

Chadwick Boseman as James Brown in "Get on Up." Photo from "Get on Up" Facebook page.

MR. Chadwick Aaron Boseman is on trend to becoming a household name. His journey started with “42,” playing Jackie Robinson.

In “Get on Up: The James Brown Story,” opening today in U.S. theaters, the South Carolina native portrays another legendary, history-making figure. The moment CB shows up on screen, speaking in that rapid-fire rasp, he morphs into “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business.” (See video below).

The film, directed by Tate Taylor, tracks JB's life from his difficult childhood in Georgia to the early 1990s, around the time he begins to make a comeback after a stretch in prison for failing to stop for police and leading them on a two-state car chase.

CB delivers an electrifying performance, exquisitely capturing JB's hubris, in what is sure to be considered one of the best films of the year. And perhaps, the best biopic of the year from a story by Steven Baigelman, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth. It was adapted for the big screen screen by JB and J-HB.

“Get on Up” will not be forgotten during awards season. CB is sure to see his name on some Best Actor lists … More shortly

“Get on Up” is rated PG-13 for sexual content, drug use, some strong language, and violent situations; visit to learn more about the film.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

After Radiance Tea House and Fine Asian Cuisine, Chinese Food Will Never Be the Same

Golden Crispy Crumbs Salmon has a massive amount of flavors. Photo by Edward Dai.

A symphony of flavors is exploding on my palate. I am not able to identify any one in particular, however. My lone impression is that all is delicious. Beautiful. Transportive.

Perhaps, it is difficult to nail down any particular flavor because the Golden Crispy Crumbs Salmon is prepared using Chef Zizhao Luo's top secret "uniquely flavorful golden crispy crumbs."

Yours Truly is sampling the new tasting menu at Radiance Tea House and Fine Asian Cuisine, a Cantonese restaurant in Midtown East. Hands down, this five-course affair is the best Chinese food I have consumed in my entire life ... More shortly.

Visit to learn more about Radiance Tea House and Fine Asian Cuisine.

Monday, July 28, 2014

In Strangers We Often Trust Because We Think We Should and We Care What They Think

How likely are you to turn over money to a stranger? Archive images.

HEADS UP: In this second and final article about strangers, how feeling obligated fuels trust of those we don't know.

THE very reason mom admonished you not to talk to strangers is because you never know what people might do. Though last week, it was revealed that in some cases it is OK to talk to strangers, there is still a feeling that strangers can cause you upset or harm. (

In other words, strangers should not be trusted. Then why do we sometimes trust people we don't know? Is it because they seem trustworthy? The answer to the latter question is no, according to a group of researchers that has another theory, based on a few compelling experiments.

"Trust is crucial not just for established relationships, it's also especially vital between strangers within social groups who have no responsibility toward each other outside of a single, transitory interaction. eBay or farmers' markets couldn't exist without trust among strangers," said lead researcher David Dunning, a professor in the Psychology Department at Cornell University. "We wanted to examine why people, even those with low expectations of others, tend to trust total strangers more often than not.

To arrive at their findings, DD and his team undertook six experiments with 645 students from Cornell and Germany's Cologne University. In four of the experiments involving variations on a behavioral test known as the “trust game,” an average of 62 percent of the participants showed trust by giving money to a stranger (another student-participant) who could keep it or return a larger amount than previously given.

DD and his team published an article about their research, "Trust at zero acquaintance: More a matter of respect than expectation of reward," in a recent issue of the “American Psychological Association.”

Based on answers to a questionnaire given at the start of the experiment, only 20 percent of the students would have accepted the terms of the trust game.

One trust game scenario involved two participants who knew the rules at the start of the game and who remained anonymous after the experiment. One participant with $5 was asked whether s/he wished to keep the money or give it to a stranger (a second participant). S/He was also given to know that if s/he gave the money away it would be increased exponentially. Meanwhile, Participant No. 2 was given the option of keeping the entire increase or returning half of it to Participant No. 1. Sixty-seven percent of the time the give, take and give back was transacted.

In a coin-flip game, however, participants felt less obligated to trust. One participant was told that if s/he gave $5 to the other participant, the other would in turn flip a coin to determine whether to return $10. Only 44 percent was willing to part with the money.

"People felt more strongly that they should give the money when a reward depended on the judgment of the other person rather than a coin flip," DD noted. "This was the case even though the same participants reported earlier that they thought there was only a 37 percent chance they would get any money back in the trust game, compared to the 50 percent chance of return with a coin-flip."

In yet another experiment involving keeping $5, giving $5 away and trusting the recipient to share it, or flipping a coin for $5, most (54 percent) trusted and the least (22 percent) relied on the coin toss.

"Trusting others is what people think they should do, and emotions such as anxiety or guilt associated with not fulfilling a social duty or responsibility may account for much of the excessive trust observed between strangers every day," DD said.

What does this all mean? One thing that becomes clear is that to some extent we care about the good opinion of certain strangers whether we trust them or not.

It also means that we should continue to trust in mom's admonishment.

Visit to read "Trust at zero acquaintance: More a matter of respect than expectation of reward."

Saturday, July 26, 2014

'The Pianist Of Willesden Lane' in Perfect Harmony With Its Dramatic Roots

Mona Golabek in the one-woman show, "The Pianist Of Willesden Lane." Photos by Carol Rosegg.


often finds us in the darkest times.

"The Pianist Of Willesden Lane" tells the heartfelt story of Lisa Jura, who at 14, was sent from her home in Vienna to live and work in England.

Mona Golabek is the star and co-creator, with Lee Cohen, of the book. Hershey Felder adapted it for the stage and directs. It is based on the experiences of MG's mother's during WWII, recounted in “The Children of Willesden Lane - Beyond the Kindertransport: A Memoir Of Music, Love, and Survival.”

"The Pianist Of Willesden Lane," the inaugural production at 59E59 Theaters' new Series 5A through 24 Aug., is beautifully told in words and piano accompaniment.

MG is a charming narrator, channeling mostly her mother's voice and performances at the Steinway, but enacting other characters in this solo presentation.

Like LJ, MG is a well-known pianist who has performed at the Kennedy Center and the Hollywood Bowl, among other venues.

Mona recalls various characters in "The Pianist Of Willesden Lane."

The staging of "The Pianist Of Willesden Lane," with sets by Trevor Hay and HF, is very effective and affecting.

Originated at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, "The Pianist Of Willesden Lane" is a memory play and a tribute that maintains its dramatic integrity. It will move you.

Visit to learn more about "The Pianist Of Willesden Lane."

Friday, July 25, 2014

In 'Lucy,' Action Often Goes Where Least Expected

HOW refreshing it is to be watching an action film, constantly making predictions about it and constantly seeing those predictions proved false.

Such is the case with “Lucy,” Luc Besson's sci-fi, fantasy, serio-comedic, action flick. It stars Scarlett Johansson in the title role as a heretofore hapless young American woman who – thanks to a Taiwanese drug cartel – is operating on a lot of brain power. The film opens today in the United States and France. (See the trailer at top).

Though far from perfect, “Lucy” gets some things right. And when it does, it is utterly delightful … More shortly

“Lucy” is rated R for strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality; visit to learn more about the film.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bats! Pollinators Do Their Part to Birth Tequila.

NATIONAL Tequila Day is tomorrow (24 July).

What better time to consider this centuries-old spirit? What better time to learn a little bit about its bat connection? Yes, bat. See the video above from the Smithsonian Instiution's National Museum of Natural HistoryMore shortly.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Is It OK to Talk to Strangers Despite What Mother Said?

Talking to strangers on a train may not be such a bad idea, according to a new study. Photo from Chicago Transit Authority Facebook page.

HEADS UP: This week and next, a couple of articles about surprising results of dealing with strangers.

SOUND advice from childhood that most take into old age:

1. Say your grace;
2. Wash behind your ears;
3. Eat your vegetables;
4. Look both ways before crossing the street – even if it is a one way;
5. Don't talk to strangers.

Advice to live by, except that a recent study seems to question the wisdom of not talking to strangers.

According to an article that appears in the most recent issue of “The Journal of Experimental Psychology: General,” commuters on the rails and roads (city buses) to Chicago came away enhanced from the experience of talking to strangers on their commute.

“Connecting with strangers on a train may not bring the same long-term benefits as connecting with friends,” according to University of Chicago Booth School of Business Professor Nicholas Epley. “But commuters on a train into downtown Chicago reported a significantly more positive commute when they connected with a stranger than when they sat in solitude.”

Interestingly, before the interaction the commuters believed such a leap would have the opposite effect.

In “Mistakenly Seeking Solitude,” NE and co-author Juliana Schroder assert that humans underestimate or don't understand the importance of this type of social interaction.

Archive image.

“This misunderstanding is particularly unfortunate for a person’s well-being given that commuting is consistently reported to be one of the least pleasant experiences in the average person’s day,” NE said. “This experiment suggests that a surprising antidote for an otherwise unpleasant experience could be sitting very close by.”

Nine experiments in the field and in the lab helped the researchers reach this conclusion. NE and JS set out to examine why people who can enjoy tremendous benefits from social interaction prefer isolation in the company of strangers.

Study participants who take commuter rail and ride city buses were asked during their commute to engage in three behaviors: talk to a stranger; interact with no one, or follow their normal routine. Then they were directed to answer survey questions that would in turn be used to measure the outcome of “distant social engagement” compared with isolation.

“Participants in the connection condition reported having the most positive experience out of all three of our experimental conditions,” NE noted. “Most important, participants in the connection condition reported having a significantly more positive experience than participants in the solitude condition.”

NE and JS also found that participants in the experiments not only underestimated others’ interest in connecting, but also reported positive experiences by both being spoken to and to speaking with a stranger.

What does this all mean? Keep in mind that the experiment was carried out using commuters. Common sense should lead one to conclude that it may be OK to talk to the person sitting next to you on the bus, but it is all together different if you encounter a dodgy-looking character in a dark alley.

Archive image.

The study merely proves the old adage that there is an exception to every rule. In short, it is OK to talk to strangers – in certain circumstances.

Next week: Obligated to trust total strangers?

Visit to read “Mistakenly Seeking Solitude” and/or an abstract of it.
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