Sunday, December 30, 2012

I look to you

I am sharing this video tribute made by my friend Elise's little girl.

Mariah Quintana is a child performer who wanted to do something for the children and adults lost at Sandy Hook Elementary earlier this month.

The line "I look to you" touched me the most because it reminded me that all children look to us, adults, for their protection and as role models on how to behave in our society. Let's all do the best job we can for all the children we may know and meet along our journey in life. Not only in the big ways like protecting from harm, but in all ways possible. Just something to think about for the new year.

YouTube...Tribute song - Mariah Quintana to Sandy Hook Elementary

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The memories are the present.......

One of my favorite things was the fish bowl effect of my face as I peered into a colored glass Christmas tree ornament.

Remember the giant colored lights, each the size of a spark plug? We had those...and the tinsel that you toss on the tree in little handfuls, which looked great when the tree was lit up but kind of gaudy during the light of day.

Some years mom would let us play hooky for a day and take us to Dayton's department store in downtown Minneapolis. They had a fantasy holiday display on the sixth floor that changed every Holiday season. The one I remember most was "Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory". At eight years old I thought it was the real thing!

As I finish Christmas this year I am thinking of many past holiday seasons. Of course it is bittersweet due to the loss of my mother in October, but a worthwhile journey back in time.

For years there was the annual Christmas cookie baking day with my mom and sisters. Snicker doodles, Russian tea cakes, sugar cookies, and several more. It took all day but we made quite a team, the four of us! We traded with the neighbors and between all the families had every kind of Christmas cookie under the sun.

We always each got a giant candy cane that lasted for days.

My parents had five children on a one income household. Just covering the gifts for the lot of us was an undertaking. So I don't remember any real big or brand name surprises for myself or my siblings. My Barbies were all generic, never the Mattel ones. We didn't care. Instead of Pac Man we had Snack I'm not kidding. Was just as fun.

Christmas Day was for sledding, or to be more accurate, tobogganing! One year we even tried those red plastic K-tel skis. Luckily dad didn't have to take us far. Our front yard was the perfect hill.
What occurred to me when my mind wandered through my own holiday memory lane is that it's the memories themselves, not the presents that I seem to recall and treasure, the most.

Anna Wendt Copyright 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

"A Christmas Story".....Cheers to another 24 hours!

There is one tradition all Americans can count on at Christmas.

TBS will be airing their 24 hours of "A Christmas Story" marathon starting tonight at 7pm all the way until Christmas Day at 7pm.
What strikes me most about "A Christmas Story" is that every year I watch it I notice something new, or a moment I've seen so many times before now affects me in a different way. The first time I ever saw the show I was in my early teens. I thought the mother was being ridiculous when she said Ralphie would shoot his eye out if he got his coveted toy rifle....until he almost did! 

I remembered from my own experiences a kid not too long before Ralphie's excitement when ordering his spy game in the mail only to be disguisted that it was a trick. I also remembered being bullied, like Ralphie and his brother. In my case his name was Larry and he was as horrendous a bully as they come, to everyone. My mother would dress us warm in hats and scarves and he would try to choke me with mine when I got on the bus......One day he disappeared to a "boys ranch" and grade schoolers all around our school district breathed a sigh of relief.

The first time I saw "A Christmas Story", I actually thought the sexy lady leg lamp was kind of cool. Yes, I admit it! Now of course I realize it's horribly tacky and that was the point. Tacky or not, the father had won it, and we all like to win things, which is why we go to the fair and spend $11 on a dart game to win a $2 stuffed penguin.

I have also now been the aunt, wondering if I am sending a gift that is too childish or not fashionable enough for my niece or nephews. Trust me I have never sent anyone anything close to pink bunny pajamas.

This year I will watch again with yet another new perspective. The one of a lost parent. In my case, my mother. Every time I hear "Merry Christmas" I hear my mother's name....which is Mary. It's tough. I have never done so little for the holidays than this year. How can I? Everything is a reminder of so many holidays before. I do know its important to uphold certain traditions. Life is about momentum and we must keep moving forward. Plus, I know mom would have wanted us to. I will remember this tonight during my toned down Christmas Eve.

I will also think of this while watching "A Christmas Story". Perhaps I will pay more attention than ever to the mother in the show, her reactions, her moments.  Either way it will make me laugh, cry.....and feel connected.

"A Christmas Story".....on TBS
24 hours starting 7pm Central tonight, Christmas Eve

Internet Movie Database, "A Christmas Story"

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Marry Me A Little....while reading me Verse

12-12-12.....a popular date for weddings.....and a good day to write about Rag Tag Entertainment's performance of "Marry Me A Little", piano and poetry at the Las Vegas Arts Square Theatre. This was a theatrical experiment mixing tunes from the popular Stephen Sondheim musical with poetry readings by local rhymesters.  

Interspersing musical numbers with poetry readings as it turned out, was a successful collaboration. A perfect 75 minute, evening entertainment "fix".

Photo by Richard Brusky

Marry me a little
Love me just enough
Cry, but not too often
Play, but not too much
Keep a tender distance
So we'll both be free
That's the way it ought to be
I'm ready
Marry me a little
Do it with a will
Make a few demands
I'm able to fulfill
Want me more than others
Not exclusively
That's the way it ought to be.....

An excerpt from the Stephen Sondheim musical which debuted in 1980, these lyrics seem especially relevant today.


Poetry written and read well is soul stirring....a sample of one of the evening's many truly excellent poems.
Poet Jorge Lara, Photo by Richard Brusky

GIVE ME A LISTEN....Jorge Lara

the soft beckoning
 the miles within your eyes,
 the meters between the seconds and the years,
 the way our mouths
 speak volumes when they are shut,

 pound some life force into this,
 haphazard lazy in the tooth soul,
 pound some flesh overtones,
 be the humble grace that will unwind
 our tense bodies,

for nigh,
 in the foreground,
 our might left to astound,
 a break in formation,
 of our adulation,
 reaching its peak
 reaching full density,
 reaching for the sense of
 never wanting to speak,
 the same words,
 the same patterns ever again,

 pound some lust for life into me,
 give me the abundant energy
 to relish all that you can bring,
 when life is such a spectacular thing,
 una vida si un amor no es nada,
 i want to know why I exist without you,
 and why you want me to persist,
the soft beckoning.

A moment from "Marry Me A Little"......Piano and Poetry, Las Vegas, 2012

Rag Tag Entertainment's upcoming productions include more cabaret/poetry hybrids in 2013 and a huge staging of Les Miserables this summer, with an orchestra....I hear it will be epic!

"Marry Me A Little" is a musical with lyrics and music by Stephen Sondheim, conceived by Craig Lucas and Norman Rene'. This production uses a dialogue free plot and is about the relationship between two lonely New York people, who are in emotional conflict during an evening in their separate one-room apartments.  -Excerpt from



Kelly Ward

Glenn Heath

Kelly Albright

Brandon Albright

Sandra Huntsman

Ayler Evan

Kim Glover

Alex Mendoza

Jessica Ritter


Mick Axelrod

Jorge Lara

Kari O'Connor

Jesse Ranon

Director....................Andrew Wright

Musical Director......Karalyn Clark

Rag Tag Entertainment

Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York.....

RagTag Entertainment was formed with a single thought in mind: “The performing arts are for everybody, not just those who can afford them.” We have gathered performers from the Las Vegas strip and across the country who are passionate about sharing the arts. Our goal is to introduce the performing arts and enrich lives through various modes of performance.

The Arts Factory, Las Vegas

The geographic and creative center of the Las Vegas Arts District. Includes several unique spaces for performances and events.

Previous posts on Rag Tag Entertainment performances.

Broadway Las Vegas, September 2012 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Las Vegas, the center of the "Universe"

Here in Las Vegas, we love pageants and pageants love us.....So it's great news that the "Miss Universe Pageant" is returning to Las Vegas to air live on NBC from Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, December 19th.

The titleholders of over 75 countries have competed for the "Miss Universe" title since 1952. As times have changed pageants have too. What hasn't changed is that the "Miss Universe Organization" consists of the most beautiful and stylish women worldwide. Confidently Beautiful is their motto.....because a confident woman glows, inside and out.

Many have asked me when they find out I sometimes work with this group, if I know how to become a contestant.  They realize that competing with the Miss Universe/Miss USA/Miss Teen USA Organization is a plus, but just don't know where to start.

On that note, I was recently introduced to a former Miss USA who is bringing her own sense of passion, style, and "grace under pressure" to the Miss Universe/Miss USA/Miss Teen USA Organization.

Shanna Moakler
Shanna Moakler recently announced her position as the  State Director for Nevada Miss USA and Miss Teen USA program. Her experience in the pageant and entertainment industry and her ability to handle life's ups and downs with style, and a kind heart, adds a great deal to the program. 

"Many don't compete because they are too intimidated or think they are not pretty enough, not perfect enough. This is the very reason you should compete! Pageants help you discover your best self." -Shanna Moakler

Shanna Moakler, Miss USA 1995
I asked Shanna a few questions for those of you who would like to know how to get involved as a contestant at the state level. After all, you've got to start even Shanna did.

What are the Miss Nevada USA and state level pageant eligibility rules? -AW

"Anyone from the ages 14 to 26 can enter, they must be a resident of Nevada (or their state) for at least 6 months, never have been married or had a child and be recognized by their government as a female"

"I want Nevada teens and young ladies to know that they are welcome to enter to compete in the Miss Nevada pageant in January. There is no preliminary pageant required. (However some other states do require locals first. Check with your state director).  Our Nevada pageant is Jan 26th and 27th, in Las Vegas. -SM

What is the entry fee at the state level?

"The entry fee is $899 for Nevada (other states vary), and yes friends, family and sponsors are encouraged to help out!"

How are the contestants judged at the state level? 

"The competition is scored on Interview, Swimsuit and Evening gown. We are looking for poise, personality and confidence as well as beauty of the face and figure, Miss America is a "Talent" competition, we are a " Beauty" pageant. Most people get the Miss America and the Miss USA systems confused as they are the biggest two."   

Only one can win as we know. What, in your opinion are the main benefits of being a part of the Miss USA/Miss Teen USA program even for those who don't take home the title?
"There is a lot to be gained in this system. Contestants learn confidence, poise, public speaking and interview skills. You are put in front of a live audience. You learn how to work under pressure. Contestants will be surprised how much they learn about themselves. We have events that help the girls learn beauty tips and tricks, make up, walking, fashion, job interviewing skills... Also, you work within your community with different charities. We also have many coaches who have "dream teams" that throughout the year take the girls on fun trips like Disneyland as well as working with anti bullying campaigns. The girls even if they don't win walk away with something and I hope make great friends along the way..."

Can those who don't win enter again?...

"Yes. I myself did this! I was a former Miss Teen Rhode Island before becoming Miss New York and competing the Miss USA Pageant."

Where do I go from here if I want to compete in Nevada?

Miss Universe 2012-2013 Pageant

More about Miss Shanna.....Shanna Moakler is an American born Actress, her love of entertainment started at a young age when she competed at Miss Teen USA placing 7th on NBC with host Dick Clark, this propelled her into a modeling career starting in Boston, Miami and finally New York.  After appearing in numerous magazines, she eventually went on to win the title of Miss New York USA 1995 and then took the title of Miss USA. This then moved to her to Los Angeles to pursue her acting career, She has appeared in many films, such as "The Wedding Singer, and "Big Mama's House ". She then transitioned over to her favorite media that of television, she was a regular on USA's "Pacific Blue" and appeared on shows like NCIS, CSI, Joey and many more, she gained much notoriety form her reality shows, MTV's "Meet The Barkers", "Crowned the Mother of All Pageants" as well as "Dancing with the Stars" , Shanna has hosted on many networks from E! to VH1 and most recently was the host of "Bridaplasty" on E!. Shanna has also launched her own cosmetic line called SMOAK cosmetic a all mineral line and is also the Executive Producer of the Miss Nevada USA pageant! She resides in California with her three children.

Look for my upcoming article featuring personal stories of former contestants. Anna Wendt