Countdown to 2018: 2017 Books

Last year, I read 11 books! This year I also read 11. One of those books is A Series of Unfortunate Events book that I started with my babysitting charge and finished on my own, so I’ve completed my usual goal of 10 books on my own, like last year. I’m glad I’ve kept up my reading pace.

Overall, I read 4 fiction books (2 classics, 2 new–same as last year!), 5 non-fiction books (1 theater book, 2 pscychology/parenting/self-help books, 1 feminism book, and 1 book of essays–overall, 2 more than last year), 1 Children/Young Adult series books, and 1 book of poetry. I increased by number of non-American authors from 1 to 2 and increased the number of women authors from 5 to 9 (a major increase!), with 5 of the 9 being women of color. 6 books were for my virtual book club with my college friends, and 2 were for other book clubs, both at work. Usually I read 1 book by someone I know, which I didn’t this year, but I did meet one of them who is a friend of a friend of a friend. 1 I read because it related to something I was writing/working on.

These stats are fairly similar to last year’s but with some improvements, especially in the women author category. Two years ago my ratio of women to men authors was 3/9, last year it was 5/10, and this year it was 9/11. I also increased in reading non-American authors and went back to my resolution to read 1 feminism book a year. I kept up my good mix of fiction, non-fiction, children/young adult books, and poetry. My resolution has been to read 1 poetry book a year, and I have stuck to that. However, one of my resolutions last year AND the year before that had been to read a biography, and I still did not do that. I also have a resolution to read 1 Thornton Wilder book a year, and I almost didn’t make it this year, but we are reading The Bridge of San Luis Rey for my book club at work, and even though I’ve already read it, I figured this would be a good one to re-read in the last few days of the year since it’s very short, thus fufilling my goal. I basically achieved all my reading goals except for biography. Next year: Continue with at least a 50:50 ratio for women to men authors and continue with my reading variety–make sure to continue to read 1 poetry book a year, 1 feminism book a year, and 1 Wilder book a year–but make sure to read a biography as well.

I also read 7 New Yorkers (2 fewer than last year, which was already down from 1 the previous year) and 5 New York magazines (3 fewer than I read last year after being down 2 from the previous year) in between each book, as well as various other magazine and website articles. Plus, every Time Out New York. Next year: Try to bring myself up to previous years’ numbers of 10 New Yorkers and 10 New York magazines a year.

This year I’ve also added a list of my online reading/writing classes, since I did a lot of reading for those as well, and the short stories I read this year. Most of these short stories were for one of the online classes.

My favorite book(s) of the year:
Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof
I Must Be Living Twice: New and Selected Poems

The List:

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Countdown to 2018: 2017 TV

Disclaimer: I only rank shows that I watch and I’m not a TV critic. Also, there are some spoilers. Read at your own risk…

I did not get to a lot of the shows I usually watch. I haven’t yet watched this season of Transparent or started The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I have to finish Girls and I stopped shows I had been watching, like Nashville and Once Upon a Time. It’s been so hard to find time. But here are the shows I did watch (or am almost finished watching).

1. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has been my rock this year. The series has only deepened in its third season as Rebecca’s disorder fully surfaced and her friends and coworkers rallied around her. But as much as I love and appreciate the darkness, the light moments are what I remember most, most notably the songs “I Go to the Zoo” and the whole “Santa Ana Winds” sequence. Sometimes you need to see a women struggling with larger issues than you are in order to work through what you need to work through in your life, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend allows for that with humor and tenderness. This show is also one of the best examples out there of women writing women.

2. The Middle
It’s hard to deal with the fact that this is The Middle‘s final season. The show could go on forever as far as I’m concerned. We’ve been able to see the kids grow into adults and teenagers, all the while growing as a family unit. A lot of sitcoms go downhill when the kids head off to college, but The Middle has only gotten more enjoyable, and it’s been fun to see Axl navigate life post-college as well. Sue remains my favorite character and one of my favorite TV characters overall. She has changed subtly over the years without losing her essence, and her budding romance with Sean has been delightful to watch. While I’m not looking forward to the final episode next year, it will be interesting to see how they end it.

3. The Americans
While this wasn’t my favorite season of The Americans, it’s still one of the best shows on television, especially in the current political climate, and I’m sad that we’re approaching the final season. There were some stellar moments this year, that were, as usual, accompanied by a killer 80s soundtrack. Paige has always been excellent, but I was glad to see Henry get more to do this year as well. And it’s been fascinating to see the Jennings change as the 80s decade moves forward toward its inevitable conclusion.

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Countdown to 2018: 2017 Movies

I saw 7 movies this year. This is one fewer than last year, which had been a major drop from the previous year’s 18, which had already been a major drop from the previous year’s 25. What more could I expect, though, since I basically stopped going to the movies. I did make a bit of an effort this year, but that didn’t result in much.

This year, the majority of films I saw were new films (6 out of 7). 1 was part of a film festival, and 2 were at Film Forum. Last year I only saw 3 new movies. The older movie I saw this year was part of my company’s Movies for the Mind series. Of the 7 I saw this year, I saw all of them for the first time. Last year, that count was 7/8.

My rating system uses stars and equates as follows: 1=bad, 2=ok 3=really good 4=great.

My favorite new movies (4 stars) this year were:
Lady Bird

Runners up (3.5 stars):
I am Not Your Negro
Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan

My favorite old movie I saw for the first time:
None

My favorite old movies I loved seeing again:
None

Worst new movie:
None

Worst old movie:
None

The (Not-So) Big List:
Stefan Zweig, Farewell to Europe (Film Society of Lincoln Center)**1/2
Print the Legend (Movies for the Mind)**1/2
I Am Not Your Negro (Film Forum)***1/2
Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan (Film Forum)***1/2
Wonder Woman***
The Big Sick***
Lady Bird****

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Countdown to 2018: 2017 Theater

Last year I saw 69 shows, which was the lowest my count had ever been. This year I saw 76! I’m on the upswing! It’s still not as high as other years (two years ago I saw 89 shows), but I’ll take it. Apparently three years ago I saw 73 shows, so I’m pretty much at average. I’m accepting that my show count should be in the 60s and 70s, so 76 feels good.

Credit: Michael J. Cohen

I saw a good number of these shows for free and paid a discount rate for most of the others. Last year I didn’t see any shows more than once, but this year I saw multiple shows multiple times: Bella (2 times, + 1 other time in 2016), Miss Saigon (3 times), Raisin (2 times), Come From Away (2 times, one being when I volunteered for the Autism Friendly Performance). I also performed in 4 of them: The Pops holiday concert twice, my chorus’s synagogue program, and then my own cabaret at the Duplex. 9 shows (2 that I saw twice, so 7 productions) were connected to articles I wrote for 3 websites/publications (on par with the previous year). 2 shows were autism-friendly performance for people with autism, 1 for which I volunteered and 1 I attended with my siblings. 1 was an opening night.

I also want to note that the show I saw the most, Miss Saigon, was special each time. The first time I saw it with Tara, the second time I saw it with my mom and sister 25 years to the day that I first saw it with my mom (in the same theater), and the third time was with Sarah T. These are all people that share a love of Miss Saigon with me.

I used to do a star rating system, but since I know people involved in many of these shows, I’ve done away with that and just highlighted my favorites. After the favorites is the HUGE list of everything I saw. Then, I have listed some fun panels, exhibits, and events I also attended this year.

Top 10 Favorites (in no order, I swear):

The Oregon Trail
Significant Other
Miss Saigon (all 3 times)
Sunday in the Park with George
A Doll’s House, Part 2
Raisin (both times)
Bella: An American Tall Tale (both times)
The Ballad of Little Jo
Inner City Concert
Mary Jane

Runners Up (Also in no order):
Made in ChinaKid Victory
Big River
Come From Away
The Skin of Our Teeth
The Goodbye Girl Concert
Pipeline
The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin
Hello, Dolly!
Uncommon Sense
The Wolves
School Girls, Or The African Mean Girls Play

The Big List:

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Shoshana’s 35th Birthday Cabaret!

Celebrate my birthday with me at the Duplex Cabaret Theatre this Sunday! I’ll be singing songs I wrote and other songs I want to sing.

“Finding My Own Damn Way: Shoshana Greenberg’s 35th Birthday Cabaret
Sunday, October 22nd at 4:30pm
The Duplex Cabaret Theatre
61 Christopher Street (at the Corner of 7th Avenue)

Writer and singer Shoshana Greenberg is about to turn 35, so as a birthday present to herself and all of you, she will take the stage with songs by her and her favorite writers. “Finding My Own Damn Way” explores what being a 30-something means to her in 2017 and what she’s learned along the way. Her work has been performed at Ars Nova, Lincoln Center, The York, The Duplex, the Laurie Beechman Theatre, and New York Theatre Barn and she has performed in venues throughout the city including Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space, and the DiMenna Center.

$5 Ticket in Advance & a 2 Drink Minimum in the Cabaret Theatre
$10 Ticket at the Door (plus service fee) & a 2 Drink Minimum in the Cabaret Theatre

Purchase tickets here.
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Essay: 9-11-01: What If I Don’t Know How I’ve Changed?

This post originally appeared on Crazytownblog on 9.11.11. That blog is no longer in existence, so I am re-posting it here:

The closest I ever got to the WTC. May, 2001.

I’ve been anticipating the 10th anniversary of September 11th for years– the day when I wouldn’t feel I was the only person thinking about it. Everyone around me always seemed to be going about their day as though it were any other day. One year, I was walking in downtown Manhattan at about 11pm, and two girls looked up, saw the blue 9-11 lights and said, “Oh my god. Today is September 11th.” Really? You just realized? I’ve been thinking about it all day.

But after years of wanting 9-11 to be a non-working day of reflection, this year I longed for it to be just like any other day. For some reason, when I thought of everyone observing this anniversary, I thought they’d be doing it privately or in small, intimate groups. Instead, there were more articles than I had time to flag for later let alone read, and every person and their dog was talking about how we’ve all changed.

Yet “How have you changed?” is the one question I don’t want to answer because, after all these years, the answer is still: I don’t know.

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Thoughts on How We Experience Theater before Seeing Miss Saigon Tonight

Tonight I am super excited to see the second preview of Miss Saigon. I’ve been waiting to see this revival for years and already have tickets to return two more times. But you will probably be surprised to know that Miss Saigon is not my favorite musical. I don’t even consider it in my top tier of favorite musicals. Sunday in the Park with George is one of my favorite musicals, and it is also in what is supposed to be an amazing revival, which I’m seeing in a few more weeks.

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DAYS OF RAGE at New York Theatre Barn’s Choreography Lab

Days of Rage will be part of New York Theatre Barn’s Choreography Lab on Monday, February 20th at 2pm.

4 choreographers explore dance from 4 different moments of the new musical Days of Rage, a musical inspired by the activities of the Black Panthers and The Weather Underground in the late 60s/early 70s. Currently in development with New York Theatre Barn, Days of Rage is written by Shoshana Greenberg and Hyeyoung Kim.

2.20.17 |  2PM @ The Cell |  338 W 23rd St., NYC
Tickets: $10 in advance / $15 at the door
Purchase Tickets


Photograph by Michael Bonasio
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Countdown to 2017: 2016 TV

Disclaimer: I only rank shows that I watch and I’m not a TV critic. Also, there are some spoilers. Read at your own risk…

Just as it was last year, almost all of these shows have a woman as the main character. The ones that don’t are the family shows which have good mother and daughter characters. Also, THREE of these shows have Jewish female leads.

1. The Americans
The Americans has been my number one show for the past two years, and I’m happy it has maintained its status. The show manages to be both about the characters’ interior lives and the external events of the early 80s (now relevant again). A lot happened this season, but what sticks out is Martha, Paige and Pastor Tim, and Elizabeth and Philip’s slow descent into questioning their actions and choices. I always tell people they must watch this show, and now it’s on Amazon Prime so one can catch up. So, watch this show.

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Countdown to 2017: 2016 Movies

I saw 8 movies this year. This is a major drop from last year’s 18, which had already been a major drop from the previous year’s 25. Last year I said that I kind of gave up on movies, and this year I really saw the effects. Without the movie series we do at my company (Movies for the Mind), I would barely have enough films to warrant an end-of-year list (I don’t really have enough as it is). I usually see movies at MoMA–this year I saw none. I was only in a regular movie theater 4 times this year, but surprisingly that’s one more time than last year (last year I went to MoMA way more). With everything I do, something had to go.

I saw 3 new movies this year, all in a regular movie theater. Last year it was 4 new films. In total, I saw 0 films (both old and new) at MoMA (6 less than last year) and 4 at my company’s Movies for the Mind series (4 less than last year). Of the 8 movies I saw this year, I saw 7 for the first time.

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