Interview with author Kristina Riggle

I can’t remember how I came across Kristina Riggle on Twitter. Do any of us really remember how we stumbled across the people we follow?

We bonded over our children’s love of Star Wars and, in particular, the Wilhelm Scream. I’ve enjoyed her tweets as an insight into both her personal life and her writing life. Naturally, then, I’ve always rooted for her as an author.

So I was particularly delighted when she recently reported that an old novel of hers, Things We Didn’t Say, had seen a sales bump and was suddenly a USA Today Bestseller.

I enjoyed her most recent novel, Vivian in Red, which takes place in Broadway’s tin pan alley days. It tells the story of Milo Short, a producer who, nearing the end of his life, is haunted by a woman he hasn’t seen since the 1930’s. It’s up to Milo’s misfit granddaughter, Eleanor, to piece together the fragments of the mystery woman’s life and finally tell the real story behind Milo’s greatest song.

When the novel came out in paperback earlier this year, I published an interview with Kristina Riggle on BroadwayWorld.

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South Pole Station

I went through a long period of fascination with Antarctica, especially the doomed Scott expedition. I don’t know how much of that was spurred by the 20th Century Vole motion picture and how much might have been just a natural progression from the general cuteness of penguins. In high school, I wanted to mount a production of Terra Nova, but our drama teacher just laughed at me. In the nineties, I filled out an application to join Antarctic Support Associates and become a south pole worker.

 

I recently finished listening to a very entertaining novel called South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby and when it was done I was glad I’d never actually mailed that application.

The book gives an insider look at pole life while also offering sharp characters and some interesting discussions of science. I had some visceral reactions (which, for good or ill, I tweeted to the author) and generally found myself eager to return to the audiobook as often as I could. I loved it.

Wonder Woman ’75 – A Musical Treasure

I’m not immune to Wonder Woman mania. But as much as I enjoyed the movie, my summer of Wonder Woman centered around a brand new 3-CD release of music from the classic 1970’s TV show. I loved the release so much, I asked Film Score Monthly magazine if they’d be interested in an interview with the set’s producer (and my friend) Neil S. Bulk.

The piece was published in the June 2017 issue (subscription required to read the full article). Here are a couple of excerpts.

In the role of journalist, I know I should be strictly impartial, but I’ll admit right up front that I can’t stop listening to the music from the classic television series Wonder Woman. There’s just something about La-La Land Records’ recent 3-CD set that hits everything I love about soundtracks—catchy riffs, clever rhythms and a heavy dose of nostalgia.

I recently spoke to producer Neil S. Bulk about putting together the collection and discovered another good reason for me to love the set: There was one track that Bulk included with specifically me in mind!


Neil Shurley: How did you get involved with this project?

Neil S. Bulk: This was just a La-La Land assignment. I’d been watching the show. I hadn’t watched it in many years—I grew up with the reruns—but it sort of faded away for a while and I rediscovered it on MeTV. And so I was watching it, and as I was watching it, I was sort of paying attention to the music. I think I started watching on MeTV when it was on season three, and I thought—because you just sort of file things in the back of your mind—“Oh, this is Angela Morley. Oh, there’s a blaster beam. If this ever happens, I’d love to be part of it.” So when they asked me, I said, great, and then I sort of knew in what direction I wanted to go. Their initial want list, which I agreed with, was that it would be three CDs, a disc per season. And then we started searching Warner Bros. and discovering that we couldn’t find much from season one. We scoured the entire inventory and turned up nothing, just the pilot, which we couldn’t even find right away. I was going through the inventory and went, “Oh, wait a minute—what are these nine reels right here?” We called them in and it was the pilot score, so we did find that. And that’s how it all started.

NS: But you couldn’t ever find anything else from season one.

NSB: No, we couldn’t.

NS: Does it feel like there’s a lot missing, that there was a lot of good stuff you were hoping to get to while you were watching?

NSB: It’s been a while now, I’d have to look back at my notes for that. It would have been nice to have some of the World War II stuff on there, because it’s an important part, but we do have the pilot, which was critical.

Continue reading “Wonder Woman ’75 – A Musical Treasure”

Review: Book of Mormon funny, offensive

Theatre review originally published February 2, 2017 in the Greenville News

“The Book of Mormon” is going to offend you.

Whether it’s a concept or an action or the explicit language, you are almost certain to be offended, or at least find yourself cringing, at some point during the show.

But, even more than that, it will make you laugh. And it will make you feel like dancing, and make you laugh some more, and, finally, make you rise to your feet to give it a well-deserved standing ovation.

Returning to the Peace Center this week after a sold out run in 2014, “The Book of Mormon” is top-notch entertainment and one of the funniest nights of musical theater you will ever see. Don’t make the mistake of missing it. Continue reading “Review: Book of Mormon funny, offensive”

GLT’s Miracle on 34th Street Affirms the Magic of Christmas

Theatre review originally published November 30, 2016 in the Greenville News.

For those of a certain age, Miracle on 34th Street is one of a handful of beloved holiday films that played in regular rotation each December. Others were such classics as White Christmas, It’s A Wonderful Life, and various versions of A Christmas Carol. The dialogue and characters – and the actors who brought them to life – are as familiar as our own childhood living rooms.

Others may not have been so lucky. Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical, now playing at Greenville Little Theatre, tries to capture both audiences. It sticks close to the original screenplay, about a Macy’s Santa who may actually be the real thing, while adding a few songs to help give it a more theatrical appeal. Continue reading “GLT’s Miracle on 34th Street Affirms the Magic of Christmas”

Happier

I’ve now been using the Happier app for a year.

In honor of that anniversary, here’s an article I wrote about the app featuring some local users.

Amy Oliver wanted to follow her therapist’s advice.

“She wanted me to start keeping a gratitude journal,” recalls Oliver, a 44 year old who lives in Clinton. “And I was constantly forgetting.”

Then she remembered an app called Happier that she’d seen on the iPhone app store. “I thought maybe that would be a good way to do it, to keep track of things without having to write it in the journal every day,” she says. “I became hooked really, really quickly.”

Happier launched one year ago, and was named one of 2013’sbest apps by Time Magazine. The brainchild of Nataly Kogan, Happier is based on scientific studies showing that people who write down a few positive things about their day are healthier, more energetic, less stressed and anxious, and get better sleep. The app makes it easy to share those little happy moments.

 

“If you actually use Happier, if you get into the habit of finding small positive things, it actually makes you happier,” says Kogan. “We have thousands, tens of thousands of emails from people that tell us just how much this has impacted their life, which is amazing.”

“It helped me to celebrate the tiny little moments that I might otherwise just forget about,” says Oliver. “The fact that other people can ‘smile’ at your moments, it helps me to realize that it’s not so stupid that I’m enjoying a coffee at Starbucks.”

Kogan sees these little moments as validation of a larger truth. “To be happy in life, you don’t need a billion dollars, you don’t need to go to the moon, you don’t need to have the perfect wife, husband, career – you can appreciate having a coffee at Starbucks. I can appreciate that I got in my car and had heated seats. I’m not going to post that on Facebook, it’s not a status update, it’s not anything epic. But you know what? I’m really grateful.”

Eighteen year old Rachel DeSilva, a senior at Spartanburg’s Chapman High, joined Happier with the intention of becoming more optimistic. “Before Happier I used Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr,” she says. “They’re completely different because mostly people try to down you or complain or show how their life is better than yours in some way…But Happier is just everyone sharing their happy moments of the day and instead of ‘liking’ their status, you ‘smile’ at their happy moment. I personally love the confetti that it shows when you share your happier moment.”

Kogan recently launched a 21-day gratitude course that can be taken within the Happier app. She’s following that up with a 7-day meditation course and, later, a short yoga course. It’s all about finding ways to look for good things even when things don’t seem so good.

 

“It’s a place for teaching each other that these tiny moments are there, even on the bad days,” says Kogan, “and, yeah, you actually should appreciate them. It’s a moment, it’s not just the blur of life.”