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  1. Lunch With A Legend By Rhonda Hansome

    Thursday, August 29, 2013

    Well last week I was chucking it all in.  
    This week I was chuckling it up over lunch at Sardi's with a bevy of beautiful, dynamic women. One of those women has been a comedy idol of mine since I could laugh. 

    Marilyn Sokol is currently starring in the hit comedy show
    at the Westside Theatre, 407 W 43rd St. NYC.

    Marilyn's got a resume of TV, film and stage credits as long as your arm. Truth be told, I fell in love with her peculiar brand of merriment on the radio and have admired her ever since.  FYI, Her distinctive voice still graces many Sesame Street projects.

    At lunch this week, this entertainment goddess held aloft a tiny ceramic black cat.  She told of being in second grade when her teacher distributed one to each in the class.  
    She immediately set about painting her cat green.  
    She was made fun of by a classmate who laughed and called out to the teacher, 
    “Look who’s painting the cat green!”

    Embarrassed by her classmate’s outburst and instructed by her teacher to paint her cat black, she complied.  At the age of 70 Marilyn is full of fire and humor and holds her cat scanning for faint streaks of her original green.

    Having lunch with Marilyn Sokol made me want to shout, 
    "Look who’s painting the cat green - ME!"

    See Marilyn in Old Jews Telling Jokes before it closes in 2 weeks.

    Rhonda Hansome is a actor, writer, director and stand-up comic. Her cultural legacy project Drama Mamas The Film finishing fund Indiegogo campaign ends soon. Give a couple of thousand today!


    Last week was an eventful week for me.  I had a bout of mental health* that weekend.  Had a good comedy set where I actually enjoyed it while doing it.  (I often don’t enjoy it until it is over.)
    I finished a book I was reading.  The last ten pages can take me as long as the rest of the book because I don’t like saying goodbye.

    A comic, who I have been consistently supportive of, felt the need to attempt to make me a target from the stage.  Once it all sunk in, it saddened me.  I had acknowledged to myself long ago that we were different, our comedy different as well.  I didn’t think we had to be the same.  I had made room inside of me for where we are each at in our life’s journey.  Well, apparently, that acceptance isn’t mutual.  In many circles, “different” is not taken as an opportunity to see beyond one’s own experience but still means “traitor” and “she’s not like us so let’s pick on her.” 
    I know it is more a reflection of what my existence triggers for this person about their own self than it is anything I’ve done, but still it is a let-down, especially because I’ve been more a voice of be all you can while this person needed to be the voice of if you insist on speaking your mind, people aren’t going to be your friend.  Well I have a mind, and only I can speak it.  The status quo is already well represented.  Why bother taking the stage if I have nothing unique to offer?  My friends love the way I am.  It’s part of why the friendship exists.  One often says he counts on the artists to move humanity forward.  I wondered if this comic would’ve told Richard Pryor, “If you keep calling the bigots out on their racism, they aren’t going to like you.”  A poem by Pat Parker (may she rest in peace) came to mind.  These are the last lines of a verse of Pit Stop as it appeared in 1973: 
    SISTER! your foot’s smaller,
    but it’s still on my neck.

    Went to one of my favorite poetry readings but didn’t bring a poem to share at the open mic portion of the evening.  Tried to write one on the train about what happened in the comedy arena, but only got halfway through by the time my trip was over.  So it is possible the poetry people felt snubbed though that was not at all my intention.  Though I didn’t read, I like to listen. 

    A poet asked me to collaborate on a chapbook of poems relating to the Bronx.  I have some written, some have been cooking in my head, and I’m glad to have a focus for them now.  I think the other poet is quite good.  His poems recall his grandmother’s in the Bronx during his childhood.  I am a very irregular attender at the poetry workshop I know him from (due to job schedule) which could’ve put me on the outskirts in that group, but their tendency is to reel me in and not push me away. 
    I decluttered my desk at work for hours and hours over several days in hopes of leaving a clear desk before starting vacation (not going anywhere, but don’t have to go to work either).  Found so many interesting things, threw out much, filed stuff, but didn’t quite complete the task.  However, I made major improvement.  Now I must do that in my apartment as well.
    I went to see a comedy show with some folks in it who I like.  I sat up front and did not regret it at any moment.  All were mature male comics.  Mature men (not synonymous with aged) are a favorite group of mine.  Afterwards, I spoke with one of the men who is a friend (not only a comic I like to hear).  Without mentioning names, I shared the situation that had been feeling bad.  He looked furious that I should be feeling bad over other people reacting to their insecurities by wanting me to make myself smaller.  By the time we hugged goodbye, I felt I had been given an antidote, even a dose of what it must feel like to receive paternal love.  I told him, “You make me feel like I should be more of me and not less of me.”  He said, “That’s right.  That’s the way it should be.”

    On the train ride back to the Bronx, I finished the first draft of that poem I had started.
    When I got home, there was a message on Facebook from someone I don’t know.  It was a picture of an erect penis getting licked at the base by a young woman.  After the initial wave of nausea, I read what he wrote.  It was like junior high school for older folks who didn’t manage to emotionally develop much past puberty.  He was offering me penis and told me it was white and how long it was.  Who said men don’t court and romance women anymore?
    By rainy Thursday, I started feeling like I could get sick.  I didn’t want that to happen, so I cancelled a planning meeting with two other comics with whom I was working on a project. 
    A mouse appeared in my foyer by my livingroom.  My dog is hard of hearing now and didn’t even realize the mouse was near him.  It took a lot of self-control not to scream and stomp.  I didn’t want to freak out my dog.  The next day, my buddy set traps and eased my anxiety.
    Friday morning, one of the comics backed out of the project (at least for now due to other situations in her life that really had to take priority).  I was to be on a cable program Friday morning promoting our project for the fall, but adjustments were made so I was able to talk about it as something still in the planning stages.

    I have been having trouble getting to sleep early and getting up early now that I’m not teaching.  I was worried about rising to the occasion on Friday morning, but I did, and then I worried about not having enough to talk about during the interview especially with the changes.  But I worried for nothing.  The host, Rhina Valentin,
    made it easy.  We talked about things I had no intention of talking about.  It got prompted by the pronunciation of my last name.  That has been a conversation piece since kindergarten.  There was no Matijasevic in the phone book back then.  I have always, since before I was born, been in circumstances considered “different.”  As an adult, I am blessed with being able to experience “different” as a good thing – a breeze of fresh air, a poem, a truth-teller, a genuine human being. 


    *”a bout of mental health” is a phrase coined by Bob Cohen, my best friend and maybe the funniest person I know.




  3. Coming Soon

    Monday, August 26, 2013

    By Samantha DeRose

    In honor of Women's Equality Week, I did a few typically unorthodox chores (for women) around the homestead.

    As my four-legged son, Nunzio took it upon himself to create his own doggie door (3 years ago) in the sliding door screen, which I had been patching (for 3 years) with packaging tape, I decided that I would finally have the door fixed.

    When I mentioned to a friend that I'd be taking the door to a local hardware store to have it repaired, she promptly told me how she had repaired her own screen door for mere pennies.  

    Not to be one-upped by anyone, I watched a youtube video on repairing screen doors and marched myself to Home Depot to buy the necessary tools to DIM (Do It Myself).

    iPad and iPhone in tow, I managed to capture the entire escapade, shopping extravaganza and repair job, in digital format.

    I had very good intentions of editing the footage for today's blog, but alas, poor planning is everything when it comes to me, and the editing process didn't go as expected.

    Please stay tuned until later this week (Wednesday or Friday) for my very own How-to video.  

    Yes, I was successful*, in case you were wondering, and yes, I have been humming this song for 2 days.

    (*Success does not mean that I did not make a total buffoon out of myself... you'll see)

  4. Pain in the A@@

    Saturday, August 24, 2013

    By Lisa Harmon

    So much work! Why is everything so difficult? Remember when you could just turn on the television with one click? Now I find I have to click the clicker about eleven clicks till the proper combination of television and cable box turn on. Frustrating. I'd rather go back to olden times before remotes when my brother and I were the channel changers.

    No it is not OK

    Metal sinks - whose idea was this? Can we go back to porcelain? Or at least stainless steel? The new metal sinks are so low quality, they rust under where I keep the soap bottle. I think it is kind of silly to make a sink that rusts when it gets wet. But then I'm not some metal sink millionnaire, trying to eek another twenty cents out of everybody.

    Toasters. A good idea but gross. Come on, figure out what we're gonna do with all those crumbs. Let's go. Science? Bueller? Anybody?

    Windows: I have mixed feelings on these. I like looking OUT but I don't like anyone looking IN. Kind of a dilemma. We used to have a tree out there but for some reason someone decided to take it away, so, hello lady that looks into our apartment from her terrace. How are you and your awkward kids doing?


    Mirrors: You know how you clean the mirror and you get it so clean it doesn't look like a mirror anymore, it looks real, because it's just that clean? Remember that? Well I spent about four hours trying to polish a mirror like that when I finally told my Mom "I can't get it clean!"  My Mom (who knows stuff) told me that they don't put mercury in mirrors anymore! That's why they don't look clean anymore! Well we had mercury in our mirrors and we're still here! Oh this one irks me a lot. I like clean mirrors. I have to get onto a black-market mercury mirror site. Yes.

     They....never....look.....CLEAN!  AAAAAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH

    Cars: Yes. I like these. Way better than public transportation. With one major drawback - where does it go when you're done with it? Eight blocks away. Fail. Actually with the cost of a garage I might be able to hire a recently downsized individual to be my chauffeur. If only I hadn't also been recently downsized! Rats!

    Cell phones. I know they make fun of people for not being able to see their phone but I can't hear mine. I want it to yell! I'm in New York City. Even when it's quiet, it's noisy. Can we get this thing above a whisper. Hello? I can't hear you now.


    Ambulances: Enough. Your time to go is your time to go. No need to upset everyone in the neighborhood.

    Muni-meters. I liked these in the beginning because they take credit cards. No searching for quarters. Though I did have to ask a guy for quarters before he told me to use my credit card. Because I'm a big dope. Thank you stranger. But now that muni-meters have been around a while, a lot of them don't work. Some of them are slow. And you have to walk to it, and walk back to your car. Sometimes they're pretty far away too. So, no. Too difficult.

    Two miles up on the left.

    Cat problems: You didn't think these would be resolved do you? My poor old kitty cat passed away in June. I assumed my cat problems were over. No more waking up at all hours, no more crying cat. I mean, we still have a cat. Birdie.  But she's the least demanding cat ever. I figured I'd probably forget to feed her and she'd starve to death.  She's so low-maintenance I was thinking of getting another cat.  Even though I SWORE TO MYSELF that I would not get one more animal as long as I live - I started to want another cat. I tried persuading the Super, “I think Birdie needs an assistant. It is a heavy workload for one cat.” Thank GAWD the Super vetoed that idea!

    Since then Birdie has had, let's say "litterbox issues" three times. The vet doesn't know why. I don't know why.  It is pretty gross, but it did make me appreciate when I was totally free from cat-problems. That was the best three days of my life!

  5. Dear Reader,

    Two years ago, in an effort to jump start my return to comedy, 

                            Ha! Who knew I left??!! 

                          said in my Phyllis Diller voice,  

    I took an expensive social media course. Part of that course work required that I establish and or maintain an active presence on numerous social media platforms including a blog.  What a coincidence, you happen to be here at my blog!

    Well two years later, I’m thinking how nice it would be to have the $400.00 and the thousands of woman hours I invested in social media activity while simultaneously shedding every shred and semblance of privacy. Thank you Google for reminding me ALL my communication is subject to scrutiny, surveillance and is not even my own property! Yes, Big Brother is watching, reading, listening and has data files on EVERYTHING!

    So, in an effort to make my life a better place to live,
     I’m issuing a challenge on this blog.

    For better or for worse, jeeze, how those words remind me of my now defunct marriage, for better or for worse; if I don’t garner comments from more than the 3 women who regularly respond to my weekly blog and who, coincidentally also write on this site, I’m cutting it loose. Why not? If you are too busy to read and comment, I've got fish to fry, like...

    I currently have an Indiegogo campaign to kick, shove and push Drama Mamas The Film, my cultural legacy project honoring #BlackWomenTheaterDirectors, to distribution.  With 20 days left in the 60 day sprint to our goal of $52,275, we’ve raised $1,045.  You do the math…

    I’m in the midst of a hostile takeover of my beautiful apartment, the 3rd floor jewel in a brownstone in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy. Yes the ghetto where I was born, raised, fled in horror, returned divorced with head bowed and now can’t afford its increasingly outrageous gentrified rents in the hood.

    I’m Linkedin, tweeting, status updating and blogging my heart out to firm up my slippery footing in the fickle business of show.  The results are in!  This year I’ve had 1 paying acting job and 1 paying stand-up job. 

     Wait one minute while I post that as a status update…

    Damn you go on facebook for a minute and there goes the entire day. 

    Ok, I’m back.  So there you have it Dear Reader.  If right here on this site, I don’t get the comments I need to at least give me the illusion I make a difference here; one day - one Thursday – I just won’t be here.

    I'm not saying when.  I'm just saying it's been really real.

    Rhonda Hansome has social media exhaustion. You can give her encouragement and support here: Drama Mamas TheFilm, @RhondaHansome, Rhonda Hansome Comedy. You can see her whine about her life, I mean see her stand-up, live in NYC: Sept. 9th - the Friars Club, Sept. 17th - Moons Over My Hammy, Nov. 5th - Gotham Comedy Foundation

  6. The Good, the Bad, the Wrinkled, and the Ugly

    by Mindy Matijasevic

    There is no hiding from the lens of a camera.  Every infected pore and mustache hair is right there.  I know there is photoshop, and the photographer will probably do some wart removal and skin tone evening for my face.  However, the photos included in this blog are raw, the real deal, the good, the bad, the wrinkled, and the ugly.

    When I’m not smiling or talking, I tend to have a face that

    looks terribly unfriendly.  I think that became a defense in life in general.  I also think that may be my default position because my face reflects my thoughts, and though I’m learning to change the channel, I’m not in the advanced class with that.


    I’d hesitate to approach me, so I think it is important that I see these images.  Sometimes I feel and look like I can barely hold this heavy head of mine.  However, no matter how I may look, there is that person who will take it as a challenge.  I was once told by a male in my neighborhood who I didn’t know, “You look like you’re ready for a fight.”  I couldn’t believe that he could see it and hit on me anyway.  More commonly, I’ve been told to smile and how things can’t be that bad.  I’ve never known a frowning man to be told to smile and that things can’t be that bad.  In those moments, it feels so belittling of my existence.  None of these three are shots I will use for anything where I want to look good. 

    I feel lucky that this photographer gives me a sense of it being perfectly understandable that it can be a process to get into it.  We were in a little park in Herald Square.  It was a full house.  I had just come off the subway.  I had to do some serious attitude shaking. 

    I tried to pretend that I was in the country and no chance of anyone around to bother me.  I tried mentally reliving moments with my best friend – the person with whom I feel so free to be.  I reminded myself that I want good shots and I have a free photo shoot here with a photographer who normally charges, and I better pull myself together and make this happen.  (In my younger years, I now realize, I screwed up many opportunities in many different ways.)  I needed to loosen up.  My lips and jaw and mouth area looked and felt so tight.  There were some where I was smiling but then my eyes were squinty and it looked like my teeth might go flying out of my mouth.

    These are the temporaries, so hopefully it won’t feel that way when I get the permanent ones.  (Still paying that out.)  So while this is nice to have and see I had fun moments that made me laugh, it isn’t a shot that could be used to send for work where they need to see what I look like.  My original smile was never so gummy. 

    Then I remembered that physical movement helps.  I didn’t want to dance in the park to no music, but I did decide to dry wash my hair.  I think all the different things helped. 



    We did get some good ones.  I have to make a selection for him to touch up.  I like many for different reasons and dislike many for different reasons.  The hint of arm cellulite is not a look I’m going for.  The difference in color from where the sun hits and where it doesn’t reminds me of those two-flavor ice cream cups.

    These are some that I do like and he will make them look even better.

    I told my best friend that many pictures were looking mean or all teeth-and-gum smiling and that I had trouble finding middle ground, grey area.  He said, “I’m not surprised.  You’re not a grey area kind of gal.”

  7. Blog Time USA!

    Saturday, August 17, 2013

    By Lisa Harmon

    Well I can't believe its Friday and I have to write something compelling/brilliant/memorable AGAIN. Do only gay guys write memoirs? And do they all have OCD? Or is it just a coincidence that I started with David Sedaris and then went on to Augusten Burroughs? They seem to have some similar characteristics. I had to turn the book over repeatedly to double check which author I was actually reading.

    I did, in between, read a memoir by a woman – Jeanette Walls. And I have figured out the secret to writing the great memoir: You have to be raised by mentally ill and preferably self-medicating parent(s).

    My family didn't use drugs. And aside from being totally unhip, they didn't suffer from any recognized mental illnesses. Just my luck.

    I find myself here again, learning a skill that I probably will never turn into a paycheck. Art is all well and good but if its not paying my bills what is the point, exactly?

    And don't tell me that it is because I'm sharing. If I was sharing something that someone wanted to share, my bills would be getting paid!

    I never would have even picked up that book by Augusten Burroughs if I didn't really think about it for a second. That's because I was traumatized by a guy named Burroughs once.

    I finally realized the traumatic one was William and I gave the book by Augusten a chance. I don't know how people find these things humorous, I am always appalled at the events depicted. But its a pretty interesting read and anyway it isn't giving me nightmares like that psycho William Burroughs!

    Not only did I not finish Naked Lunch I'm pretty sure I threw it out because it was giving me the heebie jeebies.

    If you know of any good memoirs please drop me a note. I've got to pad up my reading list with stuff that won't scare the crap out of me.

  8. A Week in Review

    Friday, August 16, 2013

    By Samantha DeRose

    Saturday - Went to the beach and helped a friend find a home for her foster puppy.  Yay!
    Sunday - Went to a Christening and met a Great Dane who wagged her tail and knocked Lee's champagne all over the priest's antique table.
    Wrote comedy with a friend at the mall
    Monday - Had my dryer fixed
    Fell up the steps and injured my injured foot
    Went to the doctor and was scolded
    Did laundry only to discover that a sharp thingy was stuck in the dryer and had ripped all of our clothes
    Tuesday – Called the dryer guy who came back and dislodged the sharp thingy and denied that it was his fault.
    Went to the store.  Got home and dropped my wallet on the front steps outside.  My pants fell all the way down.  Reason #187 why my neighbors don't speak to me. (I live on the same block as my parents and sister)
    Wednesday - Went to the beach – warned everyone to use sunscreen as the sun was bright but the weather was chilly.  Forgot to sunscreen myself and burned.  Badly.
    Put a chicken on the grill to roast and almost set two houses on fire.
    Thursday - Worked.
    Bought lottery tickets.
    Went to the store for laundry detergent.
    Got home and forgot to buy laundry detergent.
    Friday - Spilled coffee in my shoes
    Made a craft necklace.  Fingers stuck together from glue.
    Went to work
    Came home
    Played fetch with Nunzio (throw the stick and he runs away)
    Went to my mother's and "borrowed" laundry detergent
    Did two loads of laundry (God, how I love a functioning, non-clothes-destroying dryer)
    Watched a movie and realized, halfway through, that I had already watched it 11 years ago.
    Stepped in cat shit.  Wasn’t wearing shoes.  Or socks.  Again.
    Checked lottery tickets.  Didn’t win.