Cool News: Silent Times is Opening May 25th

Official Silent Times Film Poster 2018Silent Times

The world is full of talented, amazing people. We pass them in the grocery store. We hear them singing in the car next to us at a stop light on a summer day.  We read their beautiful prose on blogs. We view their stunning photography on Instagram posts. We listen to their podcasts that team with artistry and information. And sometimes, when we are really lucky, we get to see them create their art in action.

Kat O’Reilly and I had just such good fortune when we dropped in on a filming session of the silent movie, Silent Times, being filmed in Mystic, Connecticut. Christopher Annino invited us to not only watch but also to participate in the film if we so desired. We opted to witness the magic rather than be part of the action.

In the midst of the mayhem of a film set, Christopher greeted us with an ebullient welcome and provided introductions as if we were visiting Hollywood film producers (our few boxes of donut holes certainly didn’t qualify us to receive that sort of welcome). There were jugglers juggling, flappers dancing, gypsies conjuring, pianists tinkling, and Christopher filming.

officer keystone played by David Blair and The Kid
Silent Times in Mystic May 25th

It was absolutely delightful. Kat and I stole about, watching, marveling, and trying to stay out of the way. It was equally impressive that everyone was very kind to us as we awkwardly meandered around.

The high point of the visit was that I was able to meet Kadrolsha Ona Carole, Queen of the Paranormal, in person. I had recently interviewed her on Tag! You’re It for Green Ink Radio. She was as gracious, funny, and kind in person as she was while being interviewed for Green Ink Radio.

Fast forward several months Christopher Annino and Tag Team Friendship Productions LLC of Mystic, Connecticut is now holding a world preview of the Silent Times film at the Mystic & Noank Library on May 25, 2018 at 6 pm. It’s open to the public; there is a suggested donation of $5 at the door. All proceeds will go to the Andrea Tegan Post Memorial Fund, which was created to help artists who are struggling financially. There will be an after party at the Jealous Monk 27 Coogan Boulevard Building #20.

If you’d like to learn more about Silent Times please read the details of the film from their press release:

Directed by Christopher Annino, “Silent Times” is a Roaring-Twenties escapade set in a fictional New England town. The story centers on Oliver Henry III (played by Westerly native Geoff Blanchette), a small-time crook turned vaudeville theater owner. From humble beginnings in England, he immigrates to America in search of happiness and fast cash. He becomes acquainted with people from all walks of life, from burlesque performers, mimes, hobos to classy flapper girls. As his fortunes rise his life spins out of control. The film is a loving homage to the silent films of the 1920s and 30s, and features a wide cast of characters based on archetypes and personalities common in those films, such as Charlie Chaplin, Emmett Kelly, Annie Oakley, Buster Keaton, Keystone Cops, Gypsy Rose Lee and many more. Much of the written comedy was inspired by Benny Hill, Mr. Bean, and Monty Python. Notably, it is the first silent feature film of its kind in 80 years. Shot in black and white the film speed was also sped up to match with 1920’s film speed. The film features local talent drawn from Groton, Hartford, New London, Stonington, New Haven, and Westerly, RI. Some of the local talent who starred in the film were David Blair, Bill McNally (Essex Steam Train Conductor), Enzio Marchello (Clown), Brian Olsen, Kim Laabs, Kristina Joyce Utt, Joel Melendez (acrobat), Tyquan Anderson from (CT Sun Dance team Solar Power), Row Dasilva (Sister Funk), (former Ms. Fabulous Ct) Melody Lucas, Elena Bright, Veronica Convery, Anna Convery, Dexter Herron (Retired Groton Town Police).Celebrities such as WWE Legend Brian Blair, Olga Kurkulina star of “Kick Ass 2,” Queen of the Paranormal” Kadrolsha Ona Carole, Sunny The California Girl from G.L.O.W. , (Patricia Summerland), Ric Silver the creator of the “Electric Slide” dance, comedian/ magician Skip Daniels, and WWE Legend Ron Bass appear in the film. The film is produced by international award winning film maker Biju Viswanath.
Director and Co-Writer Christopher Annino, is a graduate of Mitchell College in New London, Connecticut and won best community outreach award at the 2017 ICONIC film festival for his film “Trans Rights are Human Rights.”
Co-Writer Geoff Blanchette is a graduate of The University of Rhode Island and Co-directed “Waves” with Annino which won Best Romantic Drama at 2017 The Avalonia Film Festival.

We hope that you’ll attend the preview of Silent Times on May 25th. We saw it being filmed; the scenes were like the beginning pieces of a puzzle, and even without the larger context, it still appeared enchanting. I can fully appreciate how wonderful the finished whole will be. My guess is that there will be no words to describe the film (get it?).

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Volunteerism: Pre√ to the Afterlife

Volunteers Can Keep Their Shoes On

I suck at volunteering. I’m far too selfish, over-committed to other things, and, okay, lazy. I truly respect and admire people that volunteer their time and efforts. They will receive greater credits in the afterlife ledger. Volunteers? Move to the right for expedited check-in. No belts or shoe removal required and you can keep your laptops in your bag.

But what about those who donate money, but not time? Does that decrease our positive valence in the eyes of the eternal life judges? Is volunteering inherently more worthy than financial service? That entirely depends on what you value more. Personally, I treasure every spare moment, but not the pennies in my wallet. Donors also make the world a better place.

According to Harvard Health writer, Stephanie Watson, volunteering isn’t just good for the world, but healthy for us, too! It contributes to increased social connectivity by volunteers interacting with others during their selfless deeds, which in turn results in lower levels of loneliness and depression. It also appears to lower blood pressure and contribute to longer lifespans.

However, even with these perks (both earthly and celestial) clearly in mind, I cannot motivate myself to give up a Saturday out of my precious time to dish out soup, clean beaches, or even rally at the Capitol around causes I am passionate about. Why the hell not? Am I a bad person? No. I am not; I have my moments, but overall, I’m a decent person. I give a lot of money to charitable and philanthropic causes yearly (listen to Spaz on Health, Teammates for Life episode to learn the difference). Does that count? Will I get to move to the front of the coach, cattle-herding-like line in the afterlife because I was generous with a dollar? Maybe not so much. I never give more than I can afford. I never do without so that others can have. I give the little extra I can because I work two jobs and have a tiny amount of padding right now in my life (subject to change with any unexpected car or home repair expense).

Vianna Saves Girls Lives with Basketball

What makes someone deliver unselfishly of themselves to the universe? Are they born different? Are they more evolved? Yes. And yes. Take Vianna McGugan, for instance, who is my old friend and classmate. She retired from her work at Pfizer and now devotes her life to saving young girls from early pregnancy, rape, and even death in Uganda. Vianna is saving lives by introducing basketball to these young women and linking that with continuing their education in schools she is creating.  She created the organization Teammates for Life to provide the scaffolding for all the amazing lifesaving projects she does. This remarkable woman doesn’t just mail a check (insert sheepish grin); she goes and lives there, in third world country accommodations, fights entrenched misogyny and tribal antagonisms, digs wells, and recruits the young women she coaches. In her stateside time, Vianna is fundraising, sharing awareness, and collecting shoes and clothes not only for her girls, but for entire villages. She definitely has a spot in the expedited line to glory, glory in the highest. Her hopes are to grow the program from 30 girls to hundreds. See how you can help (if you’re an armchair do-gooder like me) by clicking here to donate. Even we lazy philanthropists can support Vianna so that she can get more girls out of their oppressive villages and into school and sports.

Raina Saves an Animal in Some Way Every Day 

Another volunteer that takes my breath away is my sister, Raina Spaziani. She is involved with so many animal charities that I have lost count. She donates over $40,000 a year to animal rescue organizations and initiatives. Additionally, she is in the process of developing her own no-kill cat shelter. She spends every spare moment raising funds for organizations like Pet Pals, providing transport for dogs and cats on death row from the South to shelters and homes in the North. She devotes a large part of her time petitioning and demonstrating for legislative change and tougher laws on animal abuse, building dog houses for neglected and chained dogs, and even going so far as to chain herself to a dog house in the blistering hot summer sun to raise awareness and create legal change around animal neglect and abuse. She is so committed that she suffered years of bullying and threats because she called out identified law enforcement agents for animal cruelty. The abuse still goes on. But, she continues to fearlessly speak out with a visceral rage against cruelty of those that cannot defend themselves. Raina literally saves an animal’s life every day of her life. For a while I had to stop opening her emails because every time I did, I ended up with a dog.

Lisa is a True American

My dear old pal, Lisa Middents, brings it in the activism category. She too will be in the accelerated afterlife line. She rallies, demonstrates, writes letters, coordinates and organizes protests, educates, and brings her family, too! She is a liberal for justice, so if that’s not your thing (if not, my suspicions are that you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog, so I may be talking to myself right now) you may not agree with her politics, but you would still admire her dedicated fervor to truth, liberty, and justice for all.

She is an American fighting for the country and inhabitants she loves—all inhabitants. She takes volunteerism to a new level and is passionate about Meal on Wheels, and coordinated this walkathon too, all the while tending to a dying and beloved father.* Lisa is unfailingly kind, generous with her time, and passionate about the good fight. She’s most certainly another front of the line candidate. I am entirely confident that she won’t have to take off her shoes in the afterlife.

 She Ruined Designer Handbags

Not that long ago, I shared with my sister Raina that I owned a designer handbag that cost a small fortune. Aghast, she said to me, “Do you know how many animal’s lives I could save with that money?” And so now, I think about my purchases with that ruling the abacus—how many lives could this pair of boots, purse, new curtains, ring save? Both animal and human? I’m not saying that I will stop shopping and plan to give all my money to charity and philanthropy (you didn’t listen, did you?  And you still don’t know the difference, I suspect.) or to live in a hut without indoor plumbing . But I am far more considered. Sad news for Nordstroms: She has ruined designer handbags for me forever.

What Line Will we be in?

So, the big question: What line will we get in if we only donate but don’t volunteer? I like to think we help the rock stars of change make their music. Without funding, they are unable to accomplish their miracles. We may not be born equal in the do-good area, but we can certainly help the gifted change the world, which can’t hurt our cause either. (Let’s face it—it’s always about us.) My bet is maybe we’ll have to take off our shoes and show our laptops, but there’s a small chance we’ll be able to keep our belts on.

God Bless You

*Good night, Paul Middents, rest in peace. You were an amazing American, serving your country for 34 years as a Captain in the US Navy. You are upon whom your daughter modeled her dedication to nation and liberty. It was a privilege to know you. You were always kind, and you tolerated our teen years. God bless you.