Catch the last two performances (June 30th at 9 p.m. and July 1st at 4 p.m.)
of Pop Theater’s first act of
‘The Beautiful Machine’ –
A Sci-Fi, Pop/Rock Musical
at the 5th Annual San Diego International Fringe Festival
Centro Cultural de la Raza, Balboa Park, San Diego
The Beautiful Machine is set in a dystopian, futuristic enclosed city. The government has turned to inhumane population control techniques, exterminating those who do not qualify as “complete” or “viable” specimens for procreation. Ben Phoenix, a newly promoted engineer has recently been exiled to the dark fringes of society. Alone and distraught, he has been left with nothing, and yet he is the most talked about person in the city. Why is his name on so many tongues? Why is everyone fighting to recruit him? Is he the one with the key to bringing down the regime?
THE FIRST THREE PERFORMANCES WERE FILLED TO CAPACITY!
ONLY 2 MORE CHANCES TO SEE THIS ORIGINAL PRODUCTION!
The Beautiful Machine is produced, co-written and composed by Mike Neumann (Pop Theater), co-written by Josh Switzer and Directed by Domonique Evans, a graduate student in the SDSU MFA Musical Theatre program, one of only two such programs in the United States. Neumann, a math teacher at San Ysidro High School, calls The Beautiful Machine “Sci-Fi and Pop Music – a recipe for fun!” and his inspiration was “wanting to make musical theater “non-believers” into fans of the genre, by connecting theater to a musical style that is easily accessible by everyone”. Pop Theater is an up-and-coming theater group debuting its first production in the San Diego International Fringe Festival! Their vision is to expand the genre of the Sci-Fi musical and bring more fans to musical theater.
Mike Neumann, Lyrics/Music, ‘The Beautiful Machine’
The inspiration for Director Domonique Evans “came from my previous directors in both high school and the collegiate level. Without them I wouldn’t be the man or performer I am today. I would love to impact, inspire, and guide our next generation as I was.” Domonique’s view on The Beautiful Machine is “A story about evolution and a government that is afraid of any kind of change”.
The Beautiful Machine Cast includes: Chris Chiles as Ben Phoenix, Brent Roberts as Roman Valice, Kimberly Moller as Clarity Providence, Lindsey Denham as Xandelle Jackson, Jillian Jackson as Anna Phoenix and Kitty Baton Rouge, Leo Chang as Jimmy Philadelphia, Emmy Farese as Charlotte (and Understudy Clarity), Terence J. Burke as President, Riece Johnson as Dibbs, Alexandra Lee as Sydney Bismarck (Understudy Xandelle), and Thomas Reasoner as Conway (Understudy Ben).
‘The Beautiful Machine’ extends thanks to their generous DONORS – without whom this would not be possible : Vicky & Bill McGinnis, Gina & Mike Farhar, Michael & Ruth Neumann, Jennifer Feddish, Kendra Tracy, Simon Schwartz, Carlos “Senpai” Luna, Ashley McCann, Joyce Inzunza, Ann & Rafael Montiel, Joey Thompson, Marie Thompson, Randa O’Connor, Miriam Haughey, Mike Byrne, Amy Walsh, Nina Stoddard, Elaina Scott, Richard Ho, Jennifer Lane, James Hall, Lucas Williams, and Thomas Nielsen.
Special thanks from ‘The Beautiful Machine’ to: Imran Shiekh – ‘The Beautiful Machine’ heart logo design; Shannon van der Reck- Prop Design; San Diego Steampunks – Promo photos; Jenny Lane and New Works Studio– Invaluable help and advice; Joe DeMers – Pianist; Susanna Vaughn- Assistant Choreographer; SJF Communications– Promotion & Media; Chloe Clark- Light Board Operator; Michael Short Photography-Videography; Chris Armstrong-transporting & moving props; and Hans Neumann- For believing in his Dad.
What if there was a musical – simultaneously serious and hilarious, that explores the wild ride of life’s later years, addressing the good, the bad and the ugly of aging?
Rag Lady Productions is thrilled to announce the World Premiere of THE GEEZE & ME, a new musical featuring a troupe of baby boomers who sing, dance, and hobble their way through issues of retirement, mobility, and more. At THE TENTH Avenue Arts Center downtown, San Diego, March 31st through April 29th.
THE GEEZE & ME Production/Creative Team includes: Original Music/Lyrics by Hedges Capers and Book written by Hedges Capers and Nancy Locke Capers. Produced and Directed by Nancy Locke Capers. Musical Direction by Will (B.J.) Robinson, Choreography by Joanne Lovejoy, Sound & Video by Joe Huppert, Costume Design by Max Cadillac, Lighting Design by Cynthia Bloodgood, Script Consultants Dilip Jeste, M.D., and Danielle K. Glorioso, L.C.S.W., in consultation with UCSD Center for Healthy Aging, PR/Media/Press by Susan J. Farese, SJF Communications, Casting by Samuel Warren & Associates, ‘Invisible People’ portrait by Artist Neil Shigleywith Brendan Hill as Assistant Director and Beonica Bullard as Stage Manager.
THE GEEZE & MEis a funny, irreverent, and poignant show about surviving aging. This timely show features a comedic troupe of eccentric players who team up to wrangle aspects of aging from an expert. An eclectic blend of songs ranging from pop to blues to corner street doo-wop, accompanied by electric choreography and state of the art projections. The perils and benefits of growing older are reflected in the concerns of this diverse group of people. Think “Hair,” after it’s gone…THIS IS THE DAWNING OF THE AGE OF BEWARE OF US!
THE GEEZE & ME Promo Video
HEDGES CAPERS – (Music/Lyrics and Book; Playing David, Soap-boxer and Beat Poet)Capitol Records recording artist, singer/songwriter with 8 albums as Hedge & Donna in the late 60’s, early 70’s. A&M staff songwriter. Actor- Title role in The Legend of Hillbilly John. Hundreds of clubs and concerts internationally including Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, Greek Theatre, National Arts Center. Every television variety show of the late 60’s (Smothers Brothers, Mike Douglas, the Tonight Show and more.) He later became a Marriage and Family Clinical Counselor, a behavioral consultant and patent holder in the corporate sphere.
Quote from Hedges Capers: “Have you ever done what you wanted in life? If you have, hats off to you. If not, best get busy…living the gift.”- Hedges Capers
NANCY LOCKE CAPERS (Producer, Director, Co-wrote Book) a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, SAG, CAMFT. After 25 years in the film industry as an actress in film (Pretty Woman & 23 film projects), TV, commercials, and theater, as well as theatre producer & director, screenwriter (having one co-written script produced by an independent film company and another bought by Paramount Studios and in development for 2 years.) Capers returned to school and passed the boards to become a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in La Jolla for almost two decades. She also worked as a behavioral consultant in the corporate sphere, both domestically and abroad.
Quote from Nancy Locke Capers: “We both have performing, script writing, show biz backgrounds, so it’s a delight to be able to create a meaningful/hilarious project about aging which we’re both experiencing. Can’t wait to open the show!”- Nancy Capers
JOANNE LOVEJOY (Choreographer) Dancer, teacher, choreographer. As a teen Joanne performed along side the Bright Side Singers in Bob Hope’s USO shows in California; singer and dancer for Cabaret Review” produced by On The Town Productions, numerous productions with the Rhythm-Aire Players, including Rhythm is our Business and Final Encore. She choreographed Annie and Little Shop of Horrors at the Lyceum. For the past twelve years she has been on the teaching staff at several local dance studios including S.D. Danceworks and Culture Shock Dance Center. Please see more at: https://www.metrodancesd.com/joanne-lovejoy/.
JOE HUPPERT (Sound and Video Designer) Previously at San Diego Repertory Theater, The Oldest Boy(Craig Noel Award). Other local video designs include This Wonderful Life for North Coast Rep, Glengarry Glen Ross for La Jolla Playhouse and The Elephant Man with Backyard Renaissance. As sound designer, shows include Blueprints to Freedom, Peter and the Starcatchers (La Jolla Playhouse); Scott Joplin, Extraordinary Chambers, Yellow Face, Stick Fly, Kita Y Fernanda, 26 Miles (Mo’Olelo); Urinetown, Over the Tavern, King O’ The Moon (Mercury Theater); Mr. Burns (UCSD).
MAX CADILLAC (Costume Designer) Working on such an exciting new show brings Max the greatest joy. He recently finished costuming for 9 to 5: The Musical at San Diego Musical Theatre (SDMT) as well as their holiday classic White Christmas. Working closely with Janet Pitcher, he has also costumed My Fair Lady at The Welk Resort, and looks forward to continue working with Janet. Max loves all aspects of costuming and fashion, including recently modeling for San Diego Opera. Performing throughout his home town of San Diego at Cygnet, SDMT, Moonlight, and The Welk Resort, Max is thrilled to play Lillias Pastia in San Diego Opera’s upcoming The Tragedy of Carmen, March 10-12. BFA, Musical Theatre (AMDA). A big OLD thank you to the cast and crew, his incredible geezer parents, and of course Susan Farese for making this happen.
CYNTHIA BLOODGOOD (Lighting Designer) Freelance Designer and Technician, Technical Theatre Teacher at La Jolla Country Day School, Technical Director San Diego Junior Theatre. BA from BYU, 1999.
DILIP JESTE, M.D. (Script Consultant) is a geriatric neuropsychiatrist, who specializes in successful aging, neurobiology of wisdom as well as schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders in older adults. He is the Senior Associate Dean for Healthy Aging and Senior Care at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and Director, UC San Diego Center for Healthy Aging, Estelle and Edgar Levi Chair in Aging, and Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry & Neurosciences in consultation with UC San Diego Center for Healthy Aging. Watch his excellent TED Talk: http://tedmed.com/talks/show?id=526815. Quote from Dilip Jeste: “It’s wonderful to see our Research turned into art.”- Dilip Jeste, M.D.
DANIELLE K. GLORIOSO (Script Consultant) is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been a member of the UC San Diego Division of Geriatric Psychiatry since 2001. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the UC San Diego Center for Healthy Aging and the Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging.
SUSAN J. FARESE (PR, Media/Press) Owner, SJF Communications in San Diego. RN, MSN, SAG-AFTRA. Provides personalized Marketing/PR/Social Media/Writing/Photography/Video Services /Coaching/Legal Nurse Consulting. www.sjfcommunications.com
SAMUEL WARREN (Casting) Samuel Warren International Casting Services Member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, a Casting Society of America Member and affiliated with the Better Business Bureau http://www.samuelwarren.com/
NEIL SHIGLEY (Artist) Fox television story on Neil’s portrait of a homeless man won a 2013 Emmy. His most recent work consists of large-scale portraits of homeless people near his studio in San Diego. His work has been exhibited internationally. We are honored that he will be doing a portrait of our Homeless woman which will be on display in theatre lobby. http://neilshigley.com/
BRENDAN A. HILL (Assistant Director) BFA in Dramatic Writing from Purchase College, SUNY. Company Manager at Food for Thought Productions/Cause Celebre for 6 yrs., plays produced at Ensemble Studio Theatre, NYC, semi-finalist for the O’Neill Natl. Playwrights Conference and Clubbed Thumb’s Biennial Commission. Three plays produced in Paris. Eight years in NYC theatre community receiving readings, workshops and small productions from 2012 – 2016.
BEONICA BULLARD (Stage Manager) is completing her BA at San Diego State University in General Theater. As a stage manager, she has worked with the SDSU School of Theater, Television, and Film on shows such as Julius Caesar, Into The Woods and The BFG. Also worked with Intrepid Shakespeare Company, Quality of Life, Comic-Conand the Plays By Young Writers Festival 2015 & 2016.
HEDGES CAPERS (DAVID, SOAPBOXER and BEAT POET)formerly of Hedge & Donna in the late 60s, Hedges performed in Carnegie Hall, the Greek Theatre, Hollywood Bowl, on the Smothers Brothers Show and many others. Starring in The Legend of Hillbilly John, he returns to the stage as co-author of the book and writer of all music and lyrics.
KENT BRISBY (BOB) Kent focuses mainly on original work, appearing in 2015 in The Pitch starring Paul Rodriguezand the upcoming Three Kings/Tres Reyes this holiday season. Toured nationally, appeared on more than a dozen local stages as an actor. As a playwright and director he has many more local credits, including projects at the Old Globe and San Diego Zoo. He currently serves as Artistic Director for Asian Story Theater, as well as Radio Theater for KPBS, AirStage and Radio Lunch. (Just down the street he is a co-author and director of a new play Halo-Halo at the Lyceum Space through April 9. Bring your GEEZE & ME ticket stub for discount admission). KLBrisby.com.
BYRON LaDUE (HOWARD) Byron LaDue is a veteran performer at many San Diego area theatres, including recent productions as Paul Gauguin in Prick (San Diego Fringe Festival), Gauguin in The Musical Paul Gauguin (Asian Story Theatre), and Willum in The Nerd, (Coronado Playhouse). Byron also has notable credits at The Old Globe Theatre, San Diego Rep, and the former Starlight Theatre, Gaslamp Quarter Theatre, Hahn Cosmopolitan Theatre and Marquis Theatre. Byron has a BA in Drama from San Diego State University. Extensive improv experience. Winner of the Best Actor Atlas Award as Big Harp in Robber Bridegroom and Winner, Comedy Festival as Duke Ladoo in The Piparoos Live at the Globe.
GABRIELA NELSON (SHERRY) Considerable stage, screen and recording artist who has worked nationally and internationally. She’s a former 80’s icon (NBC TV series regular of KIDD VIDEO). Recent San Diego appearances include SD Rep, 10th Ave Arts, La Jolla Playhouse, Black Box Theatre, The Horton Grand and Spreckels. Gabby also writes for the Latin Performing Arts Community.
JESSE MacKINNON (DWIGHT) Jesse is the recipient of the San Diego Critics Circle Craig Noel Award and The San Diego Playbill Award for Outstanding Performance in a Drama as Eddie Carbone in A View From The Bridge (Renaissance Theater). Other regional credits include: Jules in Sunday in the Park With George (ION Theatre); Roy Cohn in Angels In America (ION Theatre); Henry Peabody in Tobacco Road (La Jolla Playhouse); MacDuff in MacBeth (Intrepid Shakespeare); Polymester in Hecuba, (6th@Penn), Renee Gallimard in M. Butterfly (Diversionary); Horace Vandergelder Hello Dolly (Lambs Players); Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol (North Coast Rep); Henri Fontannes The Magic Fire (Moonlight at the Avo); Pharoah in Aida (Starlight); Emil De Becq in South Pacific (Lambs Players); Pop in Pajama Game (Starlight); Pat Denning in 42ndStreet (Welk Theatre) and Major Ed Lansdale Dooley at Diversionary Theatre.
LOLLY BOROFF (MRS. DINGLER) Actress/writer/director, Lolly is the daughter of the late George Boroff of The Circle Theatre, and niece of Academy Award winning actress Shelley Winters. Her acting credits include the original Broadway cast of The Effect Of Gamma Rays On Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds, films Blue Thunder and Star 80, and TV’sI Didn’t Know I WasPregnant, 1000 Ways To Die, and America’s Court With Judge Ross; has appeared on stage in All My Sons, The Dixie Swim Club and The Vagina Monologues; recently directed A Long Way To Midnight, at the Lyceum Theatre. Wrote, directed and produced her first film, Think Tank. She has appeared in several commercials, and loves performing improv and stand-up.
SUSAN BENNINGHOFF (MIRANDA) Trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, Susan is currently director of the legendary San Diego Playwrights development group, Scripteasers as well as musical and stage work including the Phoenix Performing Arts Center.
KIERA MERSKY (BOBBI & MARGO) Having worked in live shows (Universal Studios), theatre productions as a dancer and actress and in commercials, Kiera received her B.F.A. in Dance Performance from Temple University.
LAUREN PRESKI (MARGRET)Natl. Assn of Singing Teachers – 2nd place, NC, Back to the 80s – Moronga Casino,Last Chance Romance, Property of the Dallas Cowboys, Don Giovanni, Legoland – live shows, Six Flags, America – Wonder Woman.
ERIN VANDERHYDE (HOMELESS) Presently at San Diego State University (SDSU) Erin is pursuing her Bachelors of Arts Degree in General Theatre. Entertainer at Legoland. Theatre: Jesus Christ Superstar, The Drowsy Chaperone, Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights (SDSU), Hairspray,Godspell, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Legally Blonde, Footloose and Ragtime at Young Actors Theatre (YAT). Associates Degree in Music, Grossmont College.
SUSIE SINGER CARTER (SCIENCE & GINGER) As well as an acting history, Sue has also had success as a writer and is a talented singer as well. Also playing Ginger, here’s more about Sue: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0802053/ Sue has recently completed shooting a short film she wrote and directed, My Mom and The Girl, with Valerie Harper and Liz Torres.
SCOTTY BILLION(UNDERTAKER) Scott became involved in music at a young age. He sings vocals in Madman SD, a cover band for Ozzy Osborne. He is making his acting debut in The Geeze & Me.
My serendipitous connection with two-time Telly Award winning Filmmaker Sue Vicory began in 2015. It was meant to be! San Diego filmmaker/entrepreneur/educator Jodi Cilley, the President of the Film Consortium San Diego and the founder and producer of the annual San Diego Film Awards (and an equally extraordinary person) recommended that I connect with her film colleague Sue. Jodi was so intuitive in facilitating our connection (which I hope will last a lifetime)!
A quote about Sue from Jodi:
“Sue Vicory is one of the most inspiring and amazing people I know. She has dedicated her life to helping others and has gone out of her way to help build the film industry in San Diego in a variety of ways. She is a role model and I’m constantly amazed by her efforts to help people from all walks of life.” – Jodi Cilley
After reaching out to Sue via email, my daughter Emmy and I were cast in the short fiction film Downstage for the 2015 San Diego 48 Hour Film Project. Sue’s production company “Heartland Films” produced and Sue directed, along with the writing team of Sariann Monaco, Holly Rone and Talia Pauletti. “Team XX” was a history-making, twenty-five member, all-female team. Downstage is now on the film festival circuit. You can view Sue’s films and videos on Sue Vicory’s YouTube Channel. Read my previous post about Team XX .
Besides working on Downstage Emmy and I have participated in a few of Sue’s community service projects and we continually network. It was because of witnessing Sue’s purpose, passion, vigor and selfless “chill” demeanor that I decided to interview her here as an Extraordinary Person, Sharing her Story!
Sue is currently on an amazing one year trip across the U.S. in her branded van with her “extraordinary” “My Power of One” (MPO1) 12 Acts of Kindness National Tour”. Her recently retired and extremely supportive husband Jay and their amazing (will tell you why later) Golden Retriever Kacy are accompanying her.
We (my daughter Emmy, her friend Sydney and I), enjoyed a great afternoon on April 19th, 2015 at the 20th Annual “Ugly Dog Contest” at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club! We arrived about 30 minutes after it started, but still caught most of the contest!
The San Diego Coastal Chamber of Commerce and Del Mar Kiwanis were hosts. Sheila McDonnell, who passed away three years ago but was founder of the contest, was recognized and honored. Sheila’s wish was “for the event to continue to take place and to continue raising money for organizations that benefit animals and children”.
There were many 4-legged contestants, their owners/handlers, an MC (Greg Vicino- Associate Curator, San Diego Zoo Global), vendor booths, raffle prizes and snacks, and of course spectators.
According to the program, Judges were Brandi Williams (KUSI), Christy Manry (Elam’s Hallmark), Anna Orlando (Kilroy Properties), Sara Ingrande (Torrey Pines Bank) and Kelly Baldieri (Del Mar Hilton). Vendors were: Camp Run-a-Mutt, Welk Resorts, RDSI Designs, Easy Turf, Real Blue Proerties, The 4 Foundation, CruiseOne Dream Vacations, Keane Studios, Kahoots Pet Store, Total Thermal Imaging of San Diego, Built Green California, The San Diego Humane Society and Reality Changers (which received a portion of the proceeds).Product donations were provided by Vons, Albertsons, Ralphs, Whole Foods, Mary’s Tack & Feed, RDSI, Dirty Dogs, Dexter’s Deli, Keane Studios and the Del Mar Hilton.
The categories were “Cutest puppy/dog”, “Most unusual markings”, “Dog that looks like owner”, “Best trick”, “Best costume Adult & Dog and Child & Dog”, “Cutest Mutt”, “Most beautiful male and female” and finally “THE UGLIEST DOG”! The winner of the UGLY DOG contest: RASCAL!
Here below are the top three finalists of the Ugly Dog Contest: Snack , Puddin’ and Rascal!
Here’s a video of Rascal and his Owner, (Dane Andrew) by Animal Planet!
Alyssa Goodman, Ph.D., Professor of Astronomy, Harvard University
Susan Farese, SJF Communications (left) with Dr. Alyssa Goodman in Newport Beach, California, 2014
I first met Dr. Alyssa Goodman in Lexington, Massachusetts in 2008, when our daughters, now 16 & 17, were in the same 4th grade Girl Scout troop and then continued as fifth grade classmates. Besides being “Girl Scout and Classroom Moms”, our families spent time together socially.
Alyssa has always intrigued me. I admire her deep intelligence, humor and authenticity. She is easy to connect with and is truly “down to earth” vs. “up in the clouds”, considering she’s a tenured Astronomy Professor at Harvard! There’s no arrogance about her, she is not a diva, has a great sense of humor, and she does not intimidate others. She has a keen sense of awareness of her environment and the state of the world to include the skies, and loves making sense out of patterns of all kinds. As an aside, she also always wore the coolest colorful earrings!
Although my family and I moved to San Diego in 2010, we have kept in touch periodically. Dr. Goodman travels extensively and always lets me know when she is in my neck of the woods and vice versa. It’s my pleasure to interview Dr. Goodman as an “Extraordinary Person Sharing Her Story”
Alyssa Goodman, Ph. D.: Biography
Alyssa Goodman is Professor of Astronomy at Harvard University and a Research Associate of the Smithsonian Institution. Goodman’s research and teaching interests span astronomy, data visualization, and online systems for research and education. Goodman received her undergraduate degree in Physics from MIT in 1984 and a Ph.D. in Physics from Harvard in 1989. She became full professor at Harvard in 1999, and was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2009. Goodman recently served as Chair of the Astronomy Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and on the National Academy’s Board on Research Data and Information, and she currently serves on the both the IAU and AAS Working Groups on Astroinformatics and Astrostatistics. Goodman’s personal research presently focuses primarily on new ways to visualize and analyze the tremendous data volumes created by large and/or diverse astronomical surveys, like COMPLETE. She is working closely with colleagues at Microsoft Research, helping to expand the use of the WorldWide Telescope program in both research and in education.
And now, our interview:
SJF: You are extremely intriguing to me! Tell us a bit about yourself…
AG: Sure. Wow, this goes back awhile! I was born in NYC grew up on Long Island. When I was 8 years old, I was captivated by and in awe of marine biologist oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. Oh how I really wanted to be a marine biologist at Woods Hole someday.
My eventual plan was to go to college first and study marine biology, but as time passed, I changed my mind. My new plan was to become a Physician, but a family member was very sick at the time and passed away. I soon decided that dealing with illness and death wasn’t for me either.
I was a good student and always had a love for science. I applied to the undergraduate program at Harvard (but ironically was not accepted)! About the same time, my younger sister discovered (while reading stack of college application material) that MIT only “early accepted” or “deferred” applicants but didn’t “reject” any. I was accepted into MIT and majored in physics.
My Dad helped me to find a summer Internship at an engineering company, where I subsequently interned for two summers, after high school graduation and after my freshman year at MIT. When it was time to plan an internship after my sophomore year at MIT there were two possibilities: An “underwater archeological dig” and NASA! I was one of 60 applicants for a scholarship to an underwater archeological “dig” that one had to pay for and missed out on the scholarship by one spot. I also boldly called NASA (no Google then…I merely looked the number up in the “yellow pages”) and accepted and was paid for a NASA internship.
After graduating from MIT in 1984, I was offered a job at the Bank of Boston, but said no and decided to delay working by going to Graduate School.
I was accepted to Harvard for graduate school and received my Ph.D. in Physics 1989. I did my post doctoral at University of California at Berkeley for three years. My first post-graduate assignment was teaching Astronomy in 1992, (which was ironic, since I had only taken one Undergraduate and one Graduate Astronomy course and didn’t believe that I had the “credentials”)!
Harvard Professor of Astronomy, Alyssa Goodman, speaks about the new capabilities of Microsoft WorldWide Telescope 5.0 at the 223rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington D.C. (Photo: Microsoft Corporation)
SJF: Very interesting that your awe of the ocean led you to your gazing at and studying the stars & galaxies! What have been your life hurdles? successes?
AG: While it wasn’t a “hurdle” I did have uncertainty as to when I would become a tenured professor at Harvard. In academia, all those years of education weren’t enough, even with a Ph.D. I was initially an Assistant Professor 1992-1995 and was considered Junior Faculty, then became an Associate Professor from 1995-1999. Normally Associate Professors are tenured, but that was not the case at Harvard. I taught for seven years and balanced an uncertain future, worrying that I would need to relocate, wondering if I could have a family, etc. before I was tenured as a full professor in 1999.
SJF: Your “uncertainly” has certainly led you to a highly valued tenured position at Harvard and many amazing opportunities to educate and inspire us! Which leads me to the next question: Who are three people that you admire?
AG: Jacques Cousteau, for his lifelong work as an exceptionally bright marine biologist, Albert Einstein for his views of Judaism as a ” philosophy” vs. a “religion” and Meryl Streep for her versatility as an actress.
SJF: What have been three significant/pivotal events in your life?
AG: My first memory of a pivotal event? Well, when I was in 9th school, I gave my National Honor Society speech. One of my friend’s moms was there and heard my speech. She told me way back then that I had a “natural talent” for public speaking. I didn’t realize what she meant at the time! Incidentally, that friend’s mom is actually now the mother of an undergraduate student studying violin at Harvard today! Another pivotal event was when I became tenured at Harvard. And of course, becoming a Mom to my daughter Abby was a very special pivotal event and remains so.
SJF: What are your fears?
AG: I fear that our beautiful planet Earth will be ruined due to climate change (as well as how some people treat it).
SJF: What are some of your strongest assets?
AG: I learn things well. I stop talking, listen and pay attention. As an observer, I see patterns and connections. I also remember things that don’t connect. I stay fit.
SJF: Those assets are definitely words of wisdom! What do you usually dream about?
AG: Some dreams are vivid and memorable, some that are bad, I instantly forget!
SJF: That’s brilliant and concise way of describing your dreams! Speaking of dreams, how do you support dreams of others? Do you “give back”? if so with which groups?
AG: Not being fluent in another language. Although I have studied French, I feel I could have studied a bit more.
SJF: Who are your role models? Male or female, in or out of your profession?
AG: This is very interesting, because they are both serendipitous friendships. A female role model I admire is Astronomer Vera Rubin (Dark Matter) and a male role model would be Bob Kirshner , a Clowes Professor of Science at Harvard University who studied dark energy, and was a Wolf Medal Recipient.
SJF: What qualities should the younger generation aspire to have that you think are important in this day and age?
AG: There should be less emphasis on grades and more on actual curiosity and learning.
SJF: Agreed! How do you feel about the enourmous use of technology is being used today? Do you think we should connect more in person?
AG: I definitely use tech a lot, but have a love-hate relationship with it. I like it when it is associated with learning. I don’t like it as a time waster!
SJF: Any funny anecdotes about astronomy?
AG: I occasionally take a look at xkcd.com; It’s what I call “nerd humor” and it’s such a hoot!
SJF: I took a gander at it! Cool! What’s been happening lately and what is up next for you???
AG: I just taught a one day advanced workshop in San Francisco in February, 2015 called “See Think Design Produce” with Jonathan Corum, Mike Bostock and Edward Tufte: world-class design architectures for information, data, images, videos, diagrams, interfaces, presentations. We spoke about how to convey information graphically. In March I will be presenting at and attending “Tools for Astronomical Big Data” speaking about “Wide Data vs. Big Data” in Tucson, Arizona.
SJF: Those sounds like interesting workshops! Speaking of San Francisco, and Tucson, where have you traveled? Where is your favorite place in the world??
AG: My job has taken me many places in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres! My favorite place is Martha’s Vineyard.
SJF: Thank you so much, it’s been such a pleasure interviewing you and getting to know you even more!