I grew up in Metro Manila, a Philippine urban jungle that’s pretty much Westernized, for better or for worse. At the end of October, malls would be decked out in Halloween decor. Private schools would have Halloween parades. Gated communities would have Halloween parties and children with their parents and nannies would go around their subdivision trick-or-treating. Horror movies, both local and international, would play on cable television. Halloween wasn’t for everyone, but everyone was familiar with it.


Ultraman versus a Kaijuu

I spent my first Halloween in America in Brooklyn—Clinton Hill, to be exact. The community organized family-friendly, outdoor, Halloween-themed shows to accompany the traditional dressing up and candy-giving occasion. The first show I watched was an amalgamation of monsters and horror movie references. While I never did catch the plot, the appearance of Ultraman made up for it. The second show I got to watch twice. It was a mixture of Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz, and a science lesson on the circulatory system. Its offbeat delivery kept me highly amused. But more than the shows, it was the community that delighted me. Total strangers would laugh and chat with each other. Families would roam the streets together. That sense of togetherness, even if it were just for a few hours, was memorable.

If I were asked to make a comparison between Halloween in the Philippines and Halloween here—we both use this event as an opportunity to comment on the current state of affairs of our respective countries.


Amazing Halloween decor.


Scarier than The Addams Family.

Talk about frightening. Happy Halloween, everyone!

Laura is a teaching artist from the Philippines. She is a graduate student in the MA in Applied Theatre Program and is also an Apprentice in the CUNY Creative Arts Team. She enjoys theatre, music, literature, and silliness. This is her first time in the United States. While she finds New York City full of delightful surprises, she has to admit Netflix has made quite an impression on her.

“Is education important to your own sense of freedom?”

That was the question I was asked when I visited the Brooklyn Historical Society to check out the exhibit, Brooklyn Abolitionists/In Pursuit of Freedom, which is on display through Winter 2018.  It’s a small, but good, exhibit.  Check it out.


One theme of the abolition movement of old is former slaves doing whatever they could to get an education for themselves.  The need for education is just as strong now.  Today, people all over the world are at-risk of being trafficked due to illiteracy, poor education and poverty, and they become victims through force, fraud and coercion.  People who work in education and workforce development are on the protection side of the anti-trafficking/abolition movement.

(http://www.polarisproject.org/human-trafficking/overview) I’m proud to be an educator.

Education is a pathway to the higher rungs of the job market, where people have an opportunity to find stable employment at living wage.  Yet, education is not just about getting a job.  Education is important because it helps us solve problems, it is fun, and it helps us to be fully participating citizens.

Education helps us solve problems.  Back in my social service days, my ability to read “official” letters was just an important as my social work skills.  For example, clients would bring in letters from the Human Resources Administration indicating that their benefits were about to be cut off, and not be able to understand the fine print explaining the appeals process.

Education is fun!  Education helps us understand some types of humor, like satire.  It also helps us enjoy activities like the crossword puzzle, Scrabble and Jeopardy.  (Remember Gloria (Rosie Perez) from the movie White Men Can’t Jump?  She studied furiously while waiting for her chance to get on the show.  Hilarious!)

Education undergirds meaningful citizenship.  We might be able to hear a campaign speech from Hillary or Bernie or Donald, and we can watch them debate; but meaningful participation comes down to critical thinking skills, which are honed through education.

Let education (and freedom) ring!

Rhonda Harrison is currently studying at CUNY SPS to earn her post-graduate certificate in Adult Learning & Program Design. She is a social worker with a background in workforce development and currently works as an Advisor at a community college.

It would be difficult to characterize 2015 as a banner year in film. Take a look at the top 10 box-office hits of the year and we find sequels, reboots, and superheroes. A box-office list doesn’t necessarily show us the good in film. Most often, it’s quite the opposite. These are major-studio-produced projects that have big budgets, and major dollars in advertising campaigns behind them, most of which are released in the summer months. We’re past that now. October brings in the season of more serious fare. Indie, art-house, supposedly award-worthy films.

Let’s break down some of the early hopefuls already in theaters. Perhaps this post helps some of you who aren’t sure what films are worth your time and money this season.

SICARIO – 3.5/4

My favorite of the early awards hopefuls, Sicario is a tense thriller that takes a look at the frightening drug wars on the border of the United States and Mexico. Director Denis Villeneuve (Enemy, Prisoners) has established himself as a man so adept at tension in even the simplest of scenes. Shot beautifully by Roger Deakins (DP – The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, No Country For Old Men, Skyfall), and led by a quiet, but powerful Emily Blunt, and Benicio Del Toro in his most chilling performance in years, Sicario is an ambitious, and compelling thriller that at times will leave you breathless.


I couldn’t help but feel disappointed walking out of this one, feeling as marooned as Matt Damon’s character on Mars. While critical praise is almost universal, The Martian left me cold. Damon gives a fine performance, but the rest of the cast—that for whatever reason needed to be someone recognizable in each role—was distracting at best, and annoying at worst. At times, the science is fascinating, and the imagery wonderful, but it was too Hollywood-by-the-books. A neatly wrapped up film where the end is never in doubt.


Steven Spielberg is no stranger to war-time film-making with movies such as Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Munich, and Lincoln under his belt. While Bridge Of Spies may not be a major Spielberg work, and at times feels like it’s a film more settled than ambitious, it’s well done. With a tight, at times humorous script by the Coen Brothers (of course!), and one of America’s most beloved actors (Tom Hanks) leading the way, it’s a drama about morals. About doing what’s right instead of doing what’s asked or expected. Mark Rylance as Abel, the Russian spy, is scene-stealing.

STEVE JOBS – 2.5/4

It’s another slam-you-over-the-head with quick, witty dialogue Sorkin-fest. Think The Social Network, but not as good (and I didn’t love that, either). There isn’t a lot of revelatory information here. Jobs was a difficult person to work with and be around, but this is known, and there are better sources for that information. The film, and script are more concerned with showing you how bad a guy this was, rather than the visionary who inspired it. This gets the extra half a star for Michael Fassbender’s immersive title performance as Jobs. He’s so good, you forget they look nothing alike.

A bonus pick for those of you who enjoy documentaries:

JUNUN – 3/4

For my money, Paul Thomas Anderson is the greatest working filmmaker today, and of the last 18 or so years. Writing and directing the fabulous Boogie Nights at 26 years old, and creating what I consider to be the only masterpiece of the past decade (There Will Be Blood), PTA is known for his flair behind the camera, his close-ups, and getting the best damn performances of actors a director could dream of. He sets most of that aside here to film his friend, and regular collaborator Jonny Greenwood (lead guitarist of Radiohead) creating an album in India with a group of Indian musicians. There is almost no dialogue, and very few interview moments we’ve become accustomed to seeing in documentaries, but the connection of these musicians, and the feeling conveyed by each shot left an impression on me. It might not be for the average viewer, and maybe you need to be a fan of PTA to get it, but for the wonderful music alone, and that it’s less than an hour, it’s certainly worth the look.

Tweet me @BobbyJDaniels!

Robert is a current student here at CUNY SPS, pursuing a degree in Communication and Media. He is interested in platforms of media, especially those related to digital media; and a fan of serious film as well as this current golden age of television.

Million Man Movement

Million Man March, October 2015

On October 10, 2015 the people spoke to the injustice that we have been forced to endure. Millions of us came together to awaken the feeling for solidarity among our clergymen, organizers, and the everyday working class people. We stood together to represent the fact that, “enough is enough.” As the buses entered Washington D.C., we were blessed with exceptional weather, and although the Nation of Islam served as a most gracious host, we all felt at home, as we refreshed our spirits and minds.

I was blessed to attend the march with The Universal Zulu Nation. We rode into the nations capital to reinforce the desire for peace in our New York communities. Afrika Bambaataa, a true legend of hip hop, explained, “it’s about taking ourselves home, doing the knowledge, waking up our communities, to get up and do something for ourselves.” The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan delivered the message in a monumental way, and we all returned home enriched in substance through love.

View the full message here.

Be sure to checkout the 42nd Universal Zula Nation Anniversary, November 12-15.

Click to follow Jeff on Twitter

Jeffrey C. Suttles is a Master of Arts candidate in Urban Studies at the Murphy Institute. He is an independent songwriter/musician who completed his undergraduate studies at The City College of New York. He is currently a CUNY CAP student who continues to pursue career opportunities in publishing, communications, and the arts.

Several years ago, I took the Myers-Briggs personality test.  It was a pivotal moment in my career path, and part of the reason I’m now in higher education.  The test results give people insight on what their preferences are in how they absorb information, make decisions and how much structure they’re comfortable with.

Career Services Officers administer the Myers-Briggs (and similar tests) to help students select careers that fit their personalities.  In other words, you find your strengths, and then find the jobs that need those strengths.  The round peg finally finds the round hole.

Most people, including me, do it the other way around.  Look for a job, and then try to fit in.  One of my colleagues uses a free, online version with his students.  Reportedly, they find it quite useful.  Maybe you will too.

Regardless of the test, I’d still like to hear about how people found their niche, since there’s no “right way” to find that sweet spot.

Rhonda Harrison is currently studying at CUNY SPS to earn her post-graduate certificate in Adult Learning & Program Design. She is a social worker with a background in workforce development and currently works as an Advisor at a community college.

I have studied Freud and psychology since the age of 12. Instead of playing with dolls I found solace in reading. During the summers I read over 15 books a week. The one thing I have learned as a life lesson is reading people. Your intuition tends to be spot on. Whether it’s that person who gives you a bad vibe, or that street you always walk down that today you decide not to because of an ominous feeling. The reason I’m talking about this is because of everything going on with Lamar Odom.

I’ve never met the man as I’m sure neither have many of you. But the one fact that we can all agree on is that it’s a tragedy. It’s like when we watched Amy Winehouse drive herself to her early grave. So full of life, potential, and the bright prospective of a future. It’s the shock of “no, not that person.” It’s that feeling of wanting to understand why, to reach out and hug them and say it will be okay. Life is pain, some people tend to understand that more than others. Like there are strong, and there are weak. More importantly, when things happen in life there are usually two choices: break or continue. The problem is that for those who don’t break, it changes you. The pain chips away at the person you were.

This is the reason why everyday I struggle to figure out where I can serve best. Because EVERYONE needs someone to believe in, to know someone cares, to get a second chance, to be guided to the light from the dark. I think that because of Lamar’s upbringing and past pain, I relate on some level and it makes me think of my life. I know what it’s like to want to make that pain stop because the pain of your struggles in life are so unbearable. Whether you’ve thought of entertaining drug use, suicide, or other outlets, the point is that emotions can carry such a level of weight that some people give into these thoughts. I know that life can bring you to some very scary contemplation’s, whether subconsciously or consciously. The question is do we give into these thoughts and feelings that can be incredibly overpowering. Just like I said before, there are weak and there are strong. Neither is right or wrong in it’s own right. Everyone is entitled to their emotions, thoughts etc.. There is no one emotion that is not valid to the person undergoing the struggle. I just think that we need to have a bit more empathy, a bit more understanding and a little bit more love towards how we treat others.

That inspiring word today, might bring someone off a ledge tomorrow. That smile or genuine act of kindness can be the one thing that kept someone from re-lapsing or delving into some other devoid behavior. I didn’t get to where I am today alone. I had people that believed in my ability. I had people in my corner that hugged me and told me everything is okay. So today, think about how you can impact someone, think before you judge someone so harshly and remember that everyone has a story…maybe someone’s story is much like yours.

Jessica is a full time mother, employee, and student. She works as an Immigration Paralegal and is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Business. Jessica loves to volunteer with organizations that are targeted towards children. She recognizes that children are our future and sometimes they need someone who believes in them.

Jessica’s motto: Balancing everything is difficult but achievable.

One of Jessica’s greatest passions is writing. She says, “You have the ability to connect with reader’s in a way that speaking sometimes you simply can’t explain. I have been through a lot in my personal life and am very open about my struggles, but I live to be an example to not only my own daughter but to others.”

It’s October and two big things are happening: The NY Mets are in the World Series for the first time in 15 years and it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. BOTH are super exciting!

I know this might seem like a “female” topic, but men should get checked out too so keep reading!

Getting a mammography can be a scary thought, so I wanted to share my experience to help.

I made an appointment at Maimonides Breast Center in Brooklyn; after arriving and filling out the necessary paper work, I was escorted to a room called…..”The Dressing Room.” More appropriately—it should have been called “The Undressing Room.” I was told to get undressed from the waist up which was very good news because if they asked me to get undressed from the waist down for a mammography, I would have questioned their medical practice!

I was given a lovely (not really) white robe and once undressed (from the waist up), I was told to have a seat in the waiting area with the other ladies wearing the same lovely (not really) white robe, also half naked. I’m not going to lie—sitting there thinking about my boobs having their photo taken was a bit nerve-racking.

Once called in, a lovely technician asks……”any CHANCE of you being pregnant?”

“NO,” I reply.

“Are you sure?”

“I would know.” Just saying!

She now says, “Let me see your breasts honey.”

I think to myself….okay….please don’t call honey while you’re eyeballing my woman-hood! She now takes these two little stickers with metal beads and sticks them to my nipples! Apparently this is to let the person reviewing my film know that these are my nipples and nothing more. Great….because I want someone who can’t tell where my nipples are reading my film.

So, as I now stand topless with pretty little silver beaded stickers on my nipples I’m asked to place my breast on this cold plate. As I place my pretty little silver tipped boob down, there was obviously some confusion—she mistook my girls for pizza dough!! She handled them as if she worked at Mama Leone’s. Finally, after much kneading, they were ready for their selfie! Slowly the machine comes down……a little more……….a little more…….technician says, “Hold your breath,”….then ……PANCAKE and release!! YEP, it’s that quick!!

This was my fun experience on mammography day! All kidding aside, cancer is a serious and scary diagnosis and I know fear keeps us from getting this test done, but early detection really is so important. I make light of it, not to minimize breast cancer or those who are and have battled. My hope is to inspire others to get checked through some light and laughter.

If you want more information on where to get a mammography or just need information, you can call the Maimonides Medical Center Breast Center at 718-765-2550 or visit their website.

SO, make October count….schedule an appointment for your mammography and make your boobs winners too!! Go METS!!!

Until next time……


Dianne Galasso is a Brooklyn native since birth! In 1991, she received her AAS in Journalism from Kingsborough Community College. She studied at St. John’s University from 1993-1999. Dianne has had photographic and written work published, as well as has edited for other published authors. Since 1991, Dianne has worked at a medical center in Brooklyn in various job functions, currently as a Manager in the Nursing Education Department. She has coached girls’ softball, volunteered in the women’s and children’s ministry in her local church and is an active resource in the lives of children. After a 15 year hiatus from school, Dianne is currently a student at CUNY SPS where she is pursuing her BA in Psychology.

Last week, I got to go see Clive Owen make his Broadway debut in Roundabout Theatre Company’s Old Times.  I also had a little too much wine beforehand.  As such, the following is not a review.

Old Times is by Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter and is a so-called “memory play”… this is theater-speak for difficult to follow.  

Old Times was also an unusually brief theater experience, a mere 67 minutes.  In the short time I was seated in the American Airlines Theater a lot of urgent questions came up for me…not all these questions were related to Pinter’s abstract script.  See below:

How much are tickets to Old Times on Broadway…per minute?

By my calculations, anywhere from $1.25 – $5 or more per minute if you buy directly from the box office.  I couldn’t help but wonder if 
maybe they should have inserted some more of Pinter’s famous pauses (google: “Pinter pause”) to add value for the audience.

How much does the show cost the The Roundabout Theatre Company…per minute?

A silly question, maybe, considering all the preliminary work that goes into a large-scale production like Old Times.  But interesting because Roundabout is the nation’s largest 501c3 not-for-profit theater company.   

Apparently, they also have to publish a public financial report which would answer the question of how much the production costs.  This report will come out next year so stay tuned  (Roundabout is likely back in the black thanks to a network of donors and subscribers after a recession that hit the arts hard).  But the financial report will not explicitly answer the next question…

How much does Clive Owen make…per minute?

An internet search for “Clive Owen salary” reveals that Clive Owen may be one of the highest paid actors in the world…but there is little to be found regarding compensation for his theater work.  

Clive Owens, if I had to take a not-very-educated guess, is making less than the $150,000 per week Julia Roberts reportedly made for her star-turn in Three Days of Rain.  Let’s say he makes the same $40,000 Patti Lupone allegedly pulled in for the last Broadway revival of Gypsy.

 It is not-for-profit after all, it’s a meaty role that Clive expressed great interest in and it is not like he needs the money.

So let’s say $40,000.  He performs for a total of 536 enigmatic, sexually-charged minutes per week.  That is a total of 74.63 unconfirmed US Dollars per minute of stage time.  It’s not Hollywood money but it’ll pay the bills.

I won’t touch the issue of wage inequality based on gender…and the question of how much Clive’s Tony-nominated female co-star Eve Best might be making.  But I’m all over the implications for income inequality…

How about the other workers on the show: what do they make?

A living wage.

The New York theater industry is heavily unionized.  FOX News aired an interview a few years back with Broadway producer Barry Habib of Rock of Ages, in which he knocked the influence of organized labor.  In fact, as many as 17 unions represent workers and artists in some Broadway productions, many under the umbrella of IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees).  This ensures that, in an industry that is VERY fickle and precarious, all workers involved are paid a living wage as long as the show is running and enjoy benefits such as health insurance long after it closes.   

By the way, producers have been known to complain about the high cost of the acting talent as a percentage of their total costs when negotiating with the actor’s union, Actor’s Equity Association (AEA).  But Equity does not negotiate star salaries; they simply negotiate minimums.  So a union can not be blamed for the star salaries here as much as the star’s agents and the stars themselves…and maybe a little bit the audience that flocks to see such stars.

What does Old Times have to teach us? 

There has been a lot of buzz recently on the “Hollywood” business model: a short-term, project-based model of employment.  In a world of work increasingly precarious, movies create a ton of good quality, high-paying jobs…so much so, that cities throughout the US now offer tax credits to lure production.  In large part, this is due to the unions that represent many of the workers.  But it was Broadway that wrote the book on equitable pay for skilled temporary workers.

If producers bemoan the cost of doing business on Broadway as compared to, say, London, it is because everyone gets paid more over here.  Broadway theater professionals can, unlike their counterparts in London, afford to live within the city limits.  That includes dressers and stage technicians as well as stars like Clive Owen living the proverbial American Dream.  No wonder our stages and films are filled with Brits.  

Roundabout reports that 70% of its “salaries and benefits” costs are paid under collective bargaining agreements, that is to say, negotiates by unions.  In my mind, that is all the more reason to subscribe.  

The revenue from your ticket to Old Times goes to support a not-for-profit institution that manages to pay equitable salaries for hundreds of Americans.  Pat yourself on the back.  You can feel good about supporting the theater.

Oh ya: Old Times is also an important British play from an important British playwright with a big-name British movie star…and you’ll be out by 9:30.

Professional actor turned hotel concierge, Dana Steer arrived in New York to pursue a career on the musical stage in 2000.  Work as an actor came and went—and Dana found opportunity to explore many other professions and interests.  He eventually settled into a job in New York’s robust hotel industry.  His professional life in the arts and the hotel industry has been shaped by unions: Actor’s Equity, SAG/AFTRA and more recently the New York Hotel Trades Council, the union of hotel workers.  An interest in the world of work and social justice in the workplace brought Dana to the renowned Murphy Institute at CUNY SPS, where he is pursuing a Masters degree in Labor Studies.  Dana is active in his union and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from Carnegie Mellon University.

A Sunny Fall Day

October 18th marked my second month in the United States. It feels like I’ve been here longer and I mean this in the best possible way. What’s lovely about being an international student, and one who has never been to America before, is a lot of things are new and exciting. Every moment is an opportunity to learn.

I’m fortunate enough to have experienced the seasons turn from Summer to Fall. Having come from a tropical country, the Philippines, I can’t help but marvel at those who have dealt with cold climates all their lives. I’ve been warned it’s only going to get colder.

While freezing isn’t exactly on top of my “things to do in New York” list, the warmth of the everyone I’ve encountered—from the MA in Applied Theatre Program to the Creative Arts Team and beyond—will last me a lifetime of winters.

I’m excited to be part of this weblog. I look forward to sharing with you my experiences as an international student.

Laura is a teaching artist from the Philippines. She is a graduate student in the MA in Applied Theatre Program and is also an Apprentice in the CUNY Creative Arts Team. She enjoys theatre, music, literature, and silliness. This is her first time in the United States. While she finds New York City full of delightful surprises, she has to admit Netflix has made quite an impression on her.


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