Sunday, September 30, 2007

Diva gets Sacked

This is an interesting story posted yesterday in the Chicago Suntimes.
by Laura Emerick

One of opera's big stars has been fired for conduct unbecoming a diva.
Soprano Angela Gheorghiu, scheduled to sing Mimi in Puccini's "La boheme" at Lyric Opera of Chicago, was dismissed Friday for missing rehearsals, said general director William Mason.
Gheorghiu, who has a history of misbehavior at other leading opera houses, missed six of 10 rehearsals for "La boheme," which opens Monday. She and her husband, tenor Roberto Alagna, are known as opera's "Love Couple." He has an equally tempestuous record; he made headlines in December after being booed off the stage at La Scala in Milan during Verdi's "Aida."
"An opera is a collaborative process, and there must be a serious artistic commitment from everyone," Mason said. "We can't allow anyone to be a distraction by their lack of respect for their colleagues."
The last straw came Tuesday, when Gheorghiu missed a full-orchestra rehearsal and left for New York City to attend her husband's opening night performance of Gounod's "Romeo et Juliette" at the Metropolitan Opera. Thus, she violated her contract by leaving Chicago without permission, Lyric contends.
In a statement released by her publicist, the Romanian-born soprano said, "I needed to be by Roberto's side at this very important moment. I have sung 'La boheme" hundreds of times, and thought missing a few rehearsals wouldn't be a tragedy."
Gheorghiu will be replaced by her understudy, soprano Elaine Alvarez.
"I've never seen anything like this kind of behavior before," Mason said. "This is the first time we've ever done anything like this."
Mason said that even Pavarotti and soprano Kathleen Battle -- notorious because the Met fired her in 1994 for "unprofessional actions" -- showed up for rehearsals. Pavarotti, who died Sept. 6, got booted for canceling engagements at Lyric.

Monica and I planned to see this opera especially for Gheorghui's tragic Mimi.
I love La boheme, it was my first exposure to opera way back in grade school. I'll never forget how my teacher spoon fed Puccini's opera to his very reluctant class. He painted the story and the characters so brilliantly we could feel them. When he brought in a film, it was magical. We understood it, even in Italian. We were all silent and mesmerized. Even the boys loved it.

Well, Miss Diva did not respect the opera, the company or the director. She didn't bother to clear her missed rehearsals or consider how it would effect others. After all she is the star.
I'd previously read that the wonderfully talented soprano Kathleen Battle is hellish to be around, too. I can imagine that being so extraordinarily talented requires a big ego and lots of star studded baggage. I realize it's your name up there and your name that puts the butts in the seats, but does that mean you can't be nice or at least respectful to the others working with you?
So, on the eve of the Boheme opening, Diva Gheorghiu gets sacked worse than Rex Grossman does on any given Sunday. The show will go on and perhaps a new star will be born.
Hopefully she learned some important lessons from Miss Gheorghiu.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Jena, Missed it's Own Lesson

White residents of Jena, LA attribute the view of Jena as racist, to "outsiders" who don't really know our town. Well Deja vu. These are EXACTLY the same words used during the civil rights era by so many rural townspeople. "We do just fine here until those outside agitators came". Remember that?
But, it bothered me to see young folk echo their elders mantra in situations that made no sense.
An interviewer's question - "How are the race relations in the high school? Why was there a "white tree"?
Jena High student- "We are fine here. The problem in our school was brought in by outsiders".
So, outsiders came into the Jena public high school and established the "white tree" that black students dare not sit under. I don't think so.

When some black students decided to test this peculiar tree sitting, they went to the school office and asked if they can sit under said tree. Assured that it was ok, a few black students sat under the tree for lunch and breaks just as the white students did. The next day hanging from the tree were three nooses. The students responsible were expelled but that punishment was overturned by the school board as too harsh. So they served a 3-day in-school suspension for this "prank".

Needless to say this provoked hurt feelings. So did the subsequent driving around waving Confederate flags to the cheers to people on the street; the gun pulled on black students filling their tank in a gas station; the set up invitation to a black student to a white party where a bottle was broken over his head (the white teen assailant gets a legal slap on the wrist); the intimidating school assembly, complete with sheriffs police and threats to black students not to make a big deal over this "prank"; and finally the extreme taunting and use of the "N" word by the white teen (who had been involved in several on and off school incidents) being knocked down and beat up at school. This student was treated, released and he attended a social function that same evening. Six black teens were charged with attempted murder.

Well, Jena saw some "outsiders" September 20th when more than 50,000 Americans came to the small town of 2900 to protest the attempt to put these teens away for life.

Jena residents that I saw interviewed were concerned that the nation will view Jena as racist. How interesting to watch these people, many of whom really believe there are no race problems. Well, for them there aren't. "We shop in the same malls and go to the same movies and go to the same schools. You people have the wrong idea, we are not racist." When black residents are interviewed the answers are quite different. There is a lot of fear in Jena. Fear to speak up or buck the systematic racism that is at the core of that city - so ingrained that it is almost normal. Fear deep, for Blacks and whites. The mother of Mychal Bell, (a black teen still jailed) says many white Jena residents told her they support her son and the others but are afraid to say so. Healing and uniting, silenced by fear.

Monica Roberts mentions this protest march, that was described as disciplined, focused, peaceful, uplifting and inspiring, as being an opportunity for a teachable moment for our youth about our history and the civil rights movement. Absolutely.
Now, they may not see the fire hoses or dogs or ax handles, but the symbols embodied in nooses and Confederate flags, white only shade trees, and the reality of double standard justice is a chilling lesson.

Jena, so concerned about it's image, missed a golden opportunity September 20th to show the nation what they were made of and to stand up and teach their children and bring the people of Jena together. Instead, they closed down city functions, officially incommunicado, and many boarded up their houses, yes boarded up, closed their businesses and left town for the day.
I hope the good folks of Jena, and towns like Jena, will use this painful situation to see the truth, face the fear and make changes.

They were of all ages.

They came in buses, big rigs, motorcycles and on horses.

They remembered a time not so long ago.

Martin L. King III

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Things that make you go ..hmmm

Got this from Alex who got it from Sheila O'Malley. Check out their answers, check out mine and add yours.

1. Is your second toe longer than your first?

2. Do you have a favorite type of pen?
I like Erasermate.

3. Look at your planner for March 14, what are you doing?
Give me a break.

4. What color are your toenails usually?
Clear. I don't usually like colors on my toes, but sometimes a pale pink.

5. What was the last thing you highlighted?
Something in some magazine article.

6. What color are your bedroom curtains?
Very pretty rose-ish sheers.
I love when you accidently find something that matches. While looking for something else, we found window treatments for the living room that remarkably matched the pattern on our lamp shades. What fun. We love it! We had already bought window treatment curtain panels for which my sister loves to and was all ready to swirl and knot and dip and clip. We took all of that back to the store.

7. What color are the seats in your car?
Light gray.

8. Have you ever had a black and white cat?
Yes. His name was Misty Bobo. Don't ask.

9. What is the last thing you put a stamp on?
Birthday card.

10. Do you know anyone who lives in Wyoming?

11. Why did you withdraw cash from the ATM the last time?
So I would have some money? I don't know.

12. Whose is the last baby that you held?
Our dear friends James and Marilyn's baby, our God daughter, Betty. She is so beautiful and sweet and Heavy.

13. Unlucky #?
Don't got one.

14. Do you like Cinnamon toothpaste?

15. What kind of car were you driving 2 years ago?
Teal Toyota Corolla. Our Teal mobile. It was totalled last May by the doofus who rear ended us at a RR crossing. Our totally totalled teal Toyota. It was terrible but we were ok.

16. Pick one: Miami Hurricanes or Florida Gators?
I once had some favorite sweat pants with a big Florida Gator on one leg. So Gators.

17. Last time you went to Six Flags?
About two years ago, we had some free passes.

18. Do you have any wallpaper in your house?
No. But, we added a ceramic tile backsplash behind our kichen sink. It was quite a production with gloves and brushes and grout. We were scared, but it turned out great.

19. Closest thing to you that is yellow?
A picture on our home office wall has a yellow background. It's of Curious George, painting. We altered it to look like he was painting Georgia O'Keefe flowers and called it Curious Georgia O'Keefe. We like O'Keefe.

20. Last person to give you a business card.
An Optomitrist.

21. Who is the last person you wrote a check to?
Rent. The only check I write anymore.

22. Closest framed picture to you?
Another one in our office, pics of me, Monica, my niece Cheryl, and nephew Nolen in caps and gowns from various graduations from kindergarten to masters.

23. Last time you had someone cook for you?
Monica, breakfast.

24. Have you ever applied for welfare?
Not so far.

25. How many emails do you have?
On my main account/name I try to keep up. I have different names for different uses, but then forget to check the others as regularly as I should.

26. Last time you received flowers?
Don't remember a date? We do it occasionally for no reason in particular.

27. Do you think the sanctity of marriage is meant for only a man & woman?
I agree with Alex.

28. Do you play air guitar?

29. Has anyone ever proposed to you?
Yes, one man and one woman. (Sticks tongue out at Alex).

30. Do you take anything in your coffee?
Cream and sugar when I occasionally drink coffe.

31. Do you have any Willow Tree figurines?
No. Should I?

32. What is/was your high school's rival mascot?
Oh please.

33. Last person you spoke to from high school?
Susie. but, I've actually reunited with a few via My Space.

34. Last time you used hand sanitizer?
Few days ago. It's great for on the go, and for kids with their nasty little selves.

35. Would you like to learn to play the drums?
Yes. I know two women who play drums, Princess, and Sandy who also plays bass.

36. What color are the blinds in your living room?
Off white. My plants are begging me to open them.

38. Last thing you read in the newspaper?
Story about Crocs (shoes) getting stuck on escalators. Lots of injuries happening. I don't wear them, but yall be warned.

39. What was the last pageant you attended?
Never happened.

40. What is the last place you bought pizza from?
Ordered-Giordanos. Frozen- Califorina Thin Crust.

41. Have you ever worn a crown?
Does Burger King count?

42. What is the last thing you stapled?
I live with a teacher. I am a stapling fool.

43. Did you ever drink clear Pepsi?
There is no such thing.

44. Are you ticklish?

45. Last time you saw fireworks?
July 4th.

46. Last time you had a Krispy Kreme doughnut?
A while back. Krispy Kremes make my head buzz and I see stars. SUGAR HIGH!

47. Who is the last person that left you a message & you actually returned it?
My nephew.

48. Last time you parked under a carport?

49. Do you have a black dog?

50. Have you had your mid life crisis yet?
Well, considering I do not know when I will die, I don't know where the middle part is or which crisis that would be.

51. Are you an aunt or uncle?
Oh Yeah. One niece, one niece-in-law, one nephew and two great-nephews.

52. Who has the prettiest eyes that you know of?
The prettiest, I'd have to honestly say Alex's wife, Chrisanne. They are green, intelligent and expressive which adds to the beauty.

53. What kind of soap or body wash do you use?
Dove. I entered the Dove Bodywash video contest and got some free. It's great!
Now Dove, please stop sending me e-mails for stuff!

54. Do you remember Ugly Kid Joe?

55. Do you have a little black dress?
Nope. It's been bugging me. Every girl should have one.

Congrats! WNBA CHAMPS!!

The Phoenix Mercury beat the 2006 defending champions the Detroit Shock in their own house, to take the 2007 Trophy.

Star player Deanna Nolan and the Shock, couldn't hold off MVP Cappie Pondexter and the Mercury in the fifth game of the finals.

Both teams are to be congratulated, but my girl Cappie was awesome!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

George W. Bush

We all know where we were on that horrid 9-11 morning, and how we learned of the terrorist attacks. We all know that our dear president thought it more important to finish reading a story to the class he was visiting, than to simply say sorry kids, there's been an emergency, I have to leave.
Alexandra's Video Friday feature includes an interesting video of Bush's memory of how he learned of the events in NYC.

I didn't know that after reading the story he still did not leave. I recently saw a tape of Mr. Bush in the school assembly hall filled with teachers and students, explaining that he had to leave because "a terrible thing has happened in our country." There was an audible moan from the crowd. But, they should have already known since there was a TV outside the classroom? Don'tcha think?

The sad thing is, that this president would feel the need to stand before people and tell an outright, detailed lie, about that morning.
And, if he would lie about something so simple...........

Friday, September 14, 2007

Ja Rule's Mirror

Well, rapper Ja Rule takes issue with Congress looking into the effects of hip-hop lyrics on society. Check out his view of who the real culprits are in this excerpt from his interveiw with Complex Magazine to promo his new CD "The Mirror".

C: Did you see that report about Congress preparing to hold hearings??
Ja: (interrupts) Yeah, they got my man Doug Morris under fire and shit, they got him going down to go speak to Congress about hip-hop lyrics, are you fucking serious? There's a fucking black kid right now about to get 25 years for having a fight with some white kids over hanging the nooses over the white tree, lets get to that. Let's get into shit like that, because that's what's tearing up America, not me calling a woman a bitch or a hoe on my rap songs. And if it is, then we need to go step to Paramount, and fucking MGM, and all of these other motherfuckers that's making all of these movies and we need to go step to MTV and Viacom, and lets talk about all these fucking shows that they have on MTV that is promoting homosexuality, that my kids can't watch this shit. Dating shows that's showing two guys or two girls in mid afternoon. Let's talk about shit like that! If that's not fucking up America, I don't know what is. There's a lot of issues we can address besides hip-hop, but they want to put everything on us like we're the problem. But see, and this is going to be a shameless fucking plug, but I said, "when everyone wants to point the finger, and ask why there's so much corruption, they only need to look in the mirror." It starts with themselves.

Interesting suggestion Ja. Your mirror must come from some carnival fun house.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Luciano Pavarotti

Back in April, I linked over to Steve Schalchlin for a magnificent collaboration of two of the most soulful men ever to grace a stage. Luciano Pavarotti and James Brown, from totaly different places on the musical genre scale, are perfect examples of what "soul" is all about. They both looked the part too. James Brown looked like "Soul Brother #1" and when you saw Pavarotti, with his sculpted beard and huge majestic presence, he looked every inch like the Worlds Greatest Tenor even before he sang a note. I love to watch this man sing.
Everyone is so surprised by this duet, but these two artists weren't. They understood that they spoke the same language of music and passion.

Alexandra's Video Friday, features Pavarotti today. Go and enjoy the music and the man. Luciano Pavarotti R.I.P.

Stop Playing Us, Mr. Bush

I don't like users even if they happen to be the President. I just hate the shameless, sappy new TV and radio commercials using widows, parents, disabled vets and patriotic servicemen of the Iraq war. I realize the sacrifices of these people are great and that it may be unthinkable that it may not have been necessary. I just hate the way these ads use them to bolster his "we've got to win in Iraq" position.

Check out Keith Olbermann's comment on Bush's "surprise" Iraq visit, the way he plays us and our having to endure 500 more days of this prez.

By Keith Olbermann
Anchor, 'Countdown'
Updated: 8:20 p.m. CT Sept 4, 2007

And so he is back from his annual surprise gratuitous photo-op in Iraq, and what a sorry spectacle it was. But it was nothing compared to the spectacle of one unfiltered, unguarded, horrifying quotation in the new biography to which Mr. Bush has consented.
As he deceived the troops at Al-Asad Air Base yesterday with the tantalizing prospect that some of them might not have to risk being killed and might get to go home, Mr. Bush probably did not know that, with his own words, he had already proved that he had been lying, is lying and will be lying about Iraq.

He presumably did not know that there had already appeared those damning excerpts from Robert Draper's book “Dead Certain."

“I'm playing for October-November," Mr. Bush said to Draper. That, evidently, is the time during which, he thinks he can sell us the real plan, which is “to get us in a position where the presidential candidates will be comfortable about sustaining a presence."

Comfortable, that is, with saying about Iraq, again quoting the President, “stay... longer."

And there it is. We've caught you. Your goal is not to bring some troops home, maybe, if we let you have your way now. Your goal is not to set the stage for eventual withdrawal. You are, to use your own disrespectful, tone-deaf word, playing at getting the next Republican nominee to agree to jump into this bottomless pit with you, and take us with him, as we stay in Iraq for another year, and another, and another, and anon.

Everything you said about Iraq yesterday, and everything you will say, is a deception, for the purpose of this one cynical, unacceptable, brutal goal: perpetuating this war indefinitely.

War today, war tomorrow, war forever!

And you are playing at it! Playing!

A man with any self respect, having inadvertently revealed such an evil secret, would have already resigned and fled the country! You have no remaining credibility about Iraq.

And yet, yesterday at Al-Asad, Mr. Bush kept playing, and this time, using the second of his two faces.

The president told reporters, “They (General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker) tell me if the kind of success we are now seeing continues, it will be possible to maintain the same level of security with fewer American forces."

And so, Mr. Bush got his fraudulent headlines today. “Bush May Bring Some Troops Home."

While the reality is, we know from what he told Draper, that the president's true hope is that they will not come home; but that they will stay there, because he is keeping them there now, in hope that those from his political party fighting to succeed him will prolong this unendurable disaster into the next decade.

But, to a country dying of thirst, the president seemed to vaguely promise a drink from a full canteen -- a promise predicated on the assumption that he is not lying.

Yet you are lying, Mr. Bush. Again. But now, we know why.

You gave away more of yourself than you knew in the Draper book. And you gave away more still, on the arduous trip back out of Iraq hours in the air, without so much as a single vacation.

“If you look at my comments over the past eight months," you told reporters, “it's gone from a security situation in the sense that we're either going to get out and there will be chaos, or, more troops. Now, the situation has changed, where I'm able to speculate on the hypothetical."

Mr. Bush, the only "hypothetical" here is that you are not now holding our troops hostage. You have no intention of withdrawing them. But that doesn't mean you can't pretend you're thinking about it, does it?
That is your genius as you see it, anyway. You can deduce what we want. We, the people, remember us? And then use it against us.

You can hold that canteen up and promise it to the parched nation. And the untold number of Americans whose lives have not been directly blighted by Iraq or who do not realize that their safety has been reduced and not increased by Iraq, they will get the bullet points: "Bush is thinking about bringing some troops home. Bush even went to Iraq."

You can fool some of the people all of the time, can't you, Mr. Bush? You are playing us!

And as for the most immediate victims of the president's perfidy and shameless manipulation of those troops -- yesterday sweating literally as he spoke at Al-Asad Air Base -- tonight, again sweating figuratively in The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death, the president saved, for them, the most egregious "playing" in the entire trip.

“I want to tell you this about the decision, about my decision about troop levels. Those decisions will be based on a calm assessment by our military commanders on the conditions on the ground, not a nervous reaction by Washington politicians to poll results in the media."

One must compliment Mr. Bush's writer. That, perhaps, was the mostly perfectly-crafted phrase of his presidency. For depraved indifference to democracy, for the craven projection of political motives onto those trying to save lives and save a nation, for a dismissal of the value of the polls and the importance of the media, for a summary of all he does not hold dear about this nation or its people nothing could top that.

As if you listened to all the "calm assessments" of our military commanders rather than firing the ones who dared say the emporer has no clothes, and the president, no judgment.

As if your entire presidency was not a “nervous reaction," and you yourself, nothing but a Washington politician.

As if “"he media" does not largely divide into those parts your minions are playing, and those others who unthinkingly and uncritically serve as your echo chamber, at a time when the nation's future may depend on the airing of dissent.

And as if those polls were not so overwhelming, and not so clearly reflective of the nation's agony and the nation's insistence.

But this president has ceased to listen. This president has decided that night is day, and death is life, and enraging the world against us is safety. And this laziest of presidents, actually interrupted his precious time off to fly to Iraq to play at a photo opportunity with soldiers, some of whom will on his orders be killed before the year maybe the month is out.

Just over 500 days remain in this presidency. Consider the dead who have piled up on the battlefield in these last 500 days.

Consider the singular fraudulence of this president's trip to Iraq yesterday, and the singular fraudulence of the selling of the Petraeus Report in these last 500 days.

Consider how this president has torn away at the fabric of this nation in a manner of which terrorists can only dream in these last 500 days.

And consider again how this president has spoken to that biographer: that he is “playing for October-November." The goal in Iraq is “to get us in a position where the presidential candidates will be comfortable about sustaining a presence." Consider how this revelation contradicts every other rationale he has offered in these last 500 days.

In the context of all that now, consider these next 500 days.

Mr. Bush, our presence in Iraq must end. Even if it means your resignation. Even if it means your impeachment. Even if it means a different Republican to serve out your term. Even if it means a Democratic Congress and those true patriots among the Republicans standing up and denying you another penny for Iraq, other than for the safety and the safe conduct home of our troops.

This country cannot run the risk of what you can still do to this country in the next 500 days.

Not while you are playing.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Bush Surprise Visit to Iraq

Just a short note to emphatically remind yall that in the U. S. Government there is no such thing as a "surprise visit". No such thing ever exists, EVER.
As a former fed employee, believe me, they cleaned up every inch of space he walked on or could possibly see. They interviewed and rehearsed every U.S. soldier and Iraqi he talked to. There would be no mess, no disgruntled or dissension anybody anywhere. Anything unseemly he sees is pre-arranged or okayed by everyone.
What a crock.