Thursday, February 28, 2008

Born to be wild?

Get your motor runnin'
Head out on the highway
Lookin' for adventure
And whatever comes our way...

If you live in La Paz, Bolivia it's wildly dangerous just to get home.
This is DEATH ROAD. As in you can get killed here highway.

Dustin posts about it here. Be sure to click on the pictures for a close up look at this thing.

Like a true nature's child
We were born, born to be wild
We can climb so high
I never wanna die

Born to be wild
Born to be wild

Would you do this? Not me, no way Jose. Dustin got me curious so I checked this road out a bit more. The narrow stone and boulder strewn road is not the only danger. It is three miles above sea level making breathing very difficult. There are rocks raining down from above; in the rainy season the drenched road turns into slime that can and have washed folks right over the edge; in the dry season it is so dusty it's like a blinding sandstorm;
cell phones do not work up there (there is no help service anyway); there are huge vertical cracks in this thing; if you look through the passenger side window you can see the river in the canyon below; no gaurdrails; and hairpin turns and dropoffs. As if that's not enough, many drivers move at breakneck speeds on this road flying past the many markers where others died.

The good news is, they are building a new road, a by-pass to replace the Death Road. The bad news is, they have been working on it for 20 years.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

C'mon Hillary

This is beneath you, girlfriend.

There are no illusions. You have heard him say many times, "Yes we can" not yes I can. "It's going to take time, we have to do it together, it won't be easy, and I will make mistakes." Yes, he actually had the guts to say the "m" word".

And, this picture that reportedly came from your camp. Hope it didn't. Using fear tactics is so Bushesque.

Obama in his father's homeland, Kenya.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Fun with Dance History

Alex's Video Friday feature made me scream! When you see this guy, dancer is not what comes to mind. But he has mad skills, especially in the way he transitions from one song to the next. Love it!

Time Out for Fun

I remember seeing comedians impersonate political figures. It was fun. Remember Vaughn Meader (or course you don't) who did such an excellent JFK. Everyone did the Kennedys and Nixon and thanks only to Saturday Night Live, we saw the Reagan, Bush, Carter, Clinton eras spoofed too.
I miss variety shows where we could see timely comedy during an ongoing election season.
Well, I guess that's what Youtube is for.
If Hillary becomes president, Rosemary Watson will be the girl of the hour. Her Hillary spoofs are pretty funny and spot on impressions.
Here are a couple that I'm sure even Hillary would laugh at.

This is Hill but I'm sure they all do this.

I still miss variety shows.

Giraffe? What's a Giraffe?

I'm on an animal kick lately. Maybe it's this seemingly endless winter and I need a warm fun day at the zoo with the kids. I love going to the zoo and watching the amazement of city kids seeing a goat or lamb or lion up close. Lambs are not all soft and fluffy, they're kinda nappy and smelly. Lions don't really ROAR, it's more like the Wizard of OZ lion's, rufffff.
Ain't nothing like the real thing baby.

Anyway I ran across this info on endangered species. I hate the whole idea of an entire species going away forever. Sometimes it's a natural thing, but most times it's us. Yeah, us humans, the destroyers.

On Endangered List: The giraffe population is teetering on the brink of extinction. More than 1,000 animals are on the U.S.'s endangered species list. I can't imagine the world without this leggy, beautiful creature.

On Endangered List: The small pygmy hippo lives in a forested area in West Africa. Its numbers are estimated to be dangerously low, at less than 3,000.

On Endangered List: Global climate change and general warming patterns, which are melting the polar bears' habitat, may cause the creatures to disappear within 100 years. This is totally our fault!

On Endangered List: In just 12 years, common hippos have gone from secure to vulnerable. Illegal hunting for meat and tooth ivory has decimated their population. Greedy humans strike again!

Some Good News.

Off Endangered List: In 2005, federal officials took grizzly bears off the list after the animals' numbers grew in and around Yellowstone National Park. Endangered species are not allowed to be killed or trapped by ranchers and hunters, except in situations when a human life is at stake.

Off Endangered List: The federal government announced Thursday that gray wolves will no longer be protected under the Endangered Species Act after their numbers increased sharply in the Northern Rockies following a 13-year restoration effort.

An estimated 1,500 wolves now roam Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. That represents a dramatic turnaround for a predator that was largely exterminated in the U.S. outside of Alaska in the early 20th century.
Ranchers are not so happy about the restoration effort and they can't wait to get those wolves in their sites. They will be allowed to get busy shooting as soon as this fall.
However, an independent wolf biologist said he would be "shocked" if the animal again ends up on the endangered list.

"The last thing any of the states want is for wolves to be re-listed by the federal government," said Daniel Pletscher, director of the University of Montana's wildlife biology program. He added that tolerance of wolves has grown immensely since the species was nearly wiped out. Good for the wolf.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Beautiful Newbies

SYDNEY, Australia (Feb. 19) - Scientists investigating the icy waters of Antarctica said Tuesday they have collected mysterious creatures including giant sea spiders and huge worms in the murky depths.

The expedition is part of an ambitious international effort to map life forms in the Antarctic Ocean, also known as the Southern Ocean, and to study the impact of forces such as climate change on the undersea environment.

I love that there are new species developing on land and in the sea. Although we humans are the destroyers, Mother nature just keeps right on doing her thing. If we keep trying her, eventually she'll come up with human proof animals and plants.
We can never beat Mother N when it comes to creativity, beauty and color. Here are some of the new Antarctica discoveries and some others from recent finds around the world.

Among the bizarre-looking creatures the scientists spotted were tunicates, plankton-eating animals that resemble slender glass structures up to a yard tall "standing in fields like poppies.

Here, a giant scale worm is pictured on the seabed 2116 feet below the surface.

This Kiwa hirsuta resembles a furry lobster. The eyeless shellfish, about 5.9 inches long, was discovered in March 2005, near the hydrothermal vents of the Pacific Antarctic Ridge, south of Easter Island.
Wouldn't this make a lovely Mardi Gras mask?

Scientists said they have found a new species of palm tree on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar. It's no wonder it went undiscovered for so long: The tree flowers once every 100 years and then dies.

The "golden frog of Supata," found in a remote area of Colombia, belongs to a group of poison dart frogs that have toxins embedded in their skin. Scientists announced the discovery of the creature in August 2007.

Conservationists found the clouded leopard in March 2007 in the rainforests of Borneo. Hello gorgeous!

In March 2006, the Atelopus frog was found in the Nassau Mountains in eastern Suriname. It was one of 24 new species of wildlife discovered by scientists in the remote plateaus north of Brazil.

A new species of smoky honeyeater was among scores of new plant and animal species found during Conservation International's Foja Mountain expedition in late 2005.
There is some serious chicken face happening here.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Snoop Dog

Uno, a beautiful beagle, became the 2008 Westminster Dog Show champion and the first beagle ever to win Best in Show.
Uno, was one of 2600 dogs to compete in the Westminster Dog Show. The field which included the competitors below, was narrowed down to 7 finalist.

The nation's new top dog was crowned with a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden. A true champ, he wasted no time stepping right into his winning bowl.

The only dog consistently listed among America's most popular breeds for nearly 100 years, a beagle had never won in the 100 times Westminster picked a winner.

Snoopy would be pleased. His breed, long passed over for glory, had finally triumphed.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

First Lady of Song

I just saw a PBS special tribute to Ella Fitzgerald. To me, she is the 1st lady period.

Ella was born April 25,1917. She was orphaned and actually lived in an orphanage (the Colored Orphan Asylum) at age 15. She then lived at the New York State Training School for Girls, a physically abusive reformatory. She left the reformatory opting instead for being homeless on Harlem streets.

Ella aspired to be a dancer but at age 16 she won the Apollo Theater amateur contest not by dancing but with her voice. She drew the attention and coaching of bandleader Chick Webb who introduced her at The Savoy beginning her professional singing career.

Despite never having received formal vocal training, Ella's technique and range rivaled that of the conservatory trained singer. She had a three-octave vocal range that remained uniform throughout in its clarity and timbre. Her diction was unfailingly crisp, and her phrasing, pitch, intonation and timing was and still is unsurpassed.

Along with her perfect technique, Ella had an improvisational talent on par with that of the best jazz instrumentalists. Her spontaneous, often pyrotechnic scat vocalizations, in fact, were a trademark of her style.

Ella had a distinctive voice: flexible, shaded, bright but with a gritty edge. She brought to jazz singing the glowing bounce of her rhythm and the infectious good cheer of a voice that sounded buoyantly girlish in its natural range.
Ella achieved legendary success in a career that spanned six decades, yielded recordings numbering into the thousands, and earned the singer countless awards including a Kennedy Center Award for her contributions to the performing arts, honorary doctorate degrees from Dartmouth and Yale, and thirteen Grammy Awards.
Ella also gave her style to contemporary songs into the 90's.

Nancy Wilson, a guest performer on the Ella Special, said:

"When I was first starting out I listened to everybody trying to find my own voice. Ella was the best. 55 years later nothing has changed."

As amazing as Ella's musical talents were, equally amazing was the fact that she managed not to fall through the cracks of the segregated child welfare system of the 1930's. A victim of poverty and abuse, Ella was able to transcend circumstance and develop into one of the greatest singers that America produced. Ella died on June 15, 1996 of complications associated with diabetes. She was 79 years old. Despite suffering poor health Ella remained an active performer until 1992.

Youtube has videos of several of Ella's signature songs, Lullaby of Birdland, Mack the Knife, How High the Moon, and one of my favorites, Mr. Paganini.

In college I took a fine arts music class in which one of the artist studied was Niccolò Paganini (October 27, 1782 – May 27, 1840) who was an Italian violinist and composer widely considered to be one of, if not the greatest violinist who ever lived. I immediatly thought of the Ella song my mother played at home. I asked the prof if she had ever heard Ella's song, Mr. Paganini? She actually acted insulted that I would suggest that a jazz singer referred to this great violinist and inferred that I had the name wrong. Of course, I brought in the cut and she not only learned something she enjoyed it.

Thanks absolutely goes to my mom for instilling in me an appreciation for the great jazz performers. I'll always hear her scatting along with Ella.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Prevention is Power
Get educated
Get Tested
Get treated

These are the facts:
Blacks are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. While making up only 13 percent of the U.S. population, they account for more than 49 percent of AIDS cases. AIDS is now the leading cause of death for Black women ages 25 to 34, and the second leading cause of death for Black men ages 35 to 44.

Yall need to:
get tested for HIV
practice safe methods to prevent HIV
decide not to engage in high risk behaviors
talk about HIV prevention with family, friends, and colleagues
provide support to people living with HIV/AIDS

National Women's and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
March 10th

Protect yourselves ladies.

Here and also There

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

We've Come a Long Way, America


To Here!

And From The Slave House

To Here

To Here

I hope we can keep going in the right direction.

OBAMA 13-8

Barack won more states than Hillary. Hillary got the big ones, California and New York and so far, with New Mexico still counting and the delegate count still on going, she won more delegates.
But it was not a deciding night for the Democrats. Still close as hell. This could go to the convention undecided. It could be a nail biting, rip roaring, super delegate deciding mess. It could be like a Rocky movie and come down to whoever's still standing on his/her feet. I am just glad it is between two good candidates.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Do Endorsements Matter To You?

Is who the endorser is, enough to sway you? Do you listen to public figures reasons for choosing a candidate? Does it matter how many endorsements or how big the star?

I find it interesting to note who endorses who. Really interesting when the choice is a surprise or there is an endorsement by someone who does not usually put themselves out there that way. Candidate choice does give some insight into people.

I find it interesting but, in races such as alderman, mayor, state and federal reps, governor and of course president - endorsements don't weigh that much with me. I listen and consider, but for those offices it's all about me and what I think.

For state cabinet offices, local offices like streets and sanitation and even the millions of judgeships, I look more to people I respect for endorsements. I know I shouldn't but, oh well.

I recently wrote about Caroline Kennedy's endorsement of Barack Obama. Her words seemed to come right out of my head. That was nifty to hear.
I heard a beautiful endorsement for Hillary Clinton by Maya Angelou. A woman beyond respect. I agree with her words about Hillary too.
I like John Legend and he supports Barack. Cool.
I like Quincy Jones and he supports Clinton. OK.

Celebrities really take a chance endorsing candidates don't they?
Would some people get mad and never buy John Legend CD's again if he were singing at Huckabee rallies? Of course they would.

Monica Roberts posted that the Congressional Black Caucus endorsements were practically split right down the middle. Half for Obama and half for Clinton. I know there are black people who feel betrayed by African American U.S. Congresspersons who support Clinton. I don't feel that way. Now if California Congresswoman Maxine Waters endorsed Mr. Huckabee, we should probably rush that sister to the hospital. That's understandable.
Maya Angelou endorsed Hillary Clinton and many people act like they have forgotten who Maya is and has always been. I find this despicable.

Here are just a few of the endorsements candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have received in their campaign for the Democratic nomination for president.
Notice the splits in families and friends like the Jacksons and Kennedys and Oprah and Maya. Could you withstand this in your family or close friends?
Do you see any surprises on this list?

Senators and Governors:
Sen. John Kerry (Massachusetts)
Sen. Ted Kennedy (Massachusetts)
Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vermont)
Sen. Tim Johnson (South Dakota)
Sen. Ben Nelson (Nebraska)
Sen. Claire McKaskill (Missouri)
Arizona Gov. Janet Napolatino
Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle
Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine
Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius

Oprah Winfrey, TV personality
Toni Morrison, author
Scarlett Johansson, actress
Ken Burns, filmmaker
John Legend, singer
Matt Damon, actor
George Clooney, actor
Robert Deniro, actor
Kathleen Turner

Other Endorsements:
Caroline Kennedy
Rep. Patrick Kennedy
Ethel Kennedy
Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin
former Sen. Bill Bradley
Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Adviser
Washington DC mayor Adrian Fenty
Sheila Johnson, co-founder Black Entertainment TV
Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley
Rev. Jesse L. Jackson
Maria Shriver
Hulk Hogan
Kareem Abdul Jabbar

Senators and Governors:
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (Maryland)
Sen. Daniel Inouye (Hawaii)
Sen. Robert Menendez (New Jersey)
Sen. Mark Pryor (Arkansas)
Sen. Diane Feinstein (California)
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (Michigan)
Sen. Evan Bayh (Indiana)
Sen. Maria Cantwell (Washington)
Sen. Bill Nelson (Florida)
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland
New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley
Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe
Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Miller
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell
New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer

Madonna, entertainer
Billie Jean King, tennis champion
Quincy Jones, musician
Berry Gordy, founder, Motown Records
Stephen Spielberg, director
Maya Angelou, poet
Rob Reiner, director
Barbara Streisand, singer
Kimora Lee Simmons, fashion designer
50 cent, rapper
Jenna Jameson, porn actress
Carly Simon, singer-songwriter
Jerry Springer, talk show host
Magic Johnson

Other Endorsements:
San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsome
Geraldine Ferraro, feminist and former VP candidate
Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY)
Boston mayor Thomas Menino
former Sen. Richard Gephardt
former Amb. Joe Wilson
Gen. Wesley Clark
former VP Walter Mondale
William Perry, former Defense Secretary (Clinton)
Robert Johnson, co-founder Black Entertainment TV
Kerry Kennedy
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Kathleen Kennedy-Townsend
Madeline Albright, former Secretary of State
Jacqueline Jackson (Mrs. Jesse Jackson Sr.)

Fitty Cent is for Hillary. I love America!

Superbowl XLII Goes to the Giants

I'm neither a Patriots or Giants fan, I just like football. I like drama too and Superbowl XLII had plenty from the start. The seriously underdog, road warriors from New York City weren't even expected to get past the Greenbay playoff final. Pitted against the multi armed perfectionists from New England, it wasn't predicted that the Giants would be trampled, but no one expected them to win. Period.
So, Superbowl XLII was from the start destined to be either a perfect end to a perfect Patriot season or a Giant upset.
Lots of drama and lots of snacks. The more I yell the more I eat. I mean, three lead changes, dramatic catches, down to the wire, edge of your seat drama, excitement and gaining five pounds.

The key to the Giants victory was the Giants' relentless pressure on Patriots QB Tom Brady. The league MVP was sacked five times and he spent most of the game struggling to find a rhythm, and to get up off his backside.

The Giants leave Brady dazed and confused.

The lock to the Patriots loss was the calm, steady leadership by Giants QB, Eli Manning (the brother of Peyton Manning who trounced my Chicago Bears in last year's Superbowl.)
Also key were offensive plays like this one.

Precision dancing catch by Amani Toomer as he steps just beyond the spot for a 1st down. I love this!

The Patriots who in their 18-0 season could never be held under 20 points in a game, couldn't get past 14 on the biggest Sunday of the season.
The Giants simply out coached and outplayed New England.
I know this 17-14 loss in the only game they couldn't afford to lose, must be a nightmare for the Patriots. I feel bad for them.
But for the Giants' wide receiver Steve Smith and all the New York team,
Oh What A Feeling!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Midnight Circus and Soul

The last time I went to the circus was to see my friends Alexandra, Mitchell and Russ, so of course I knew it would be no ordinary circus.
It combined the fantastic Midnight Circus including the comedy antics of Mitchell Fain, music by jazz musician Mars Williams along with pianist Russ Long, and Alexandra Billings as The Diva.
I saw it three times. Well, how many times do you get to see a friend fly!
Be sure to hit full screen and Check it out.
Alex flying. Gorgeous!

Hillary/Barack - And Then There Were Two

I don't usually watch debates, they make me nervous. I think I was traumatized during the Gore/Bush debates. Watching Al Gore lose every one to that sniggling snide giggling Bush made me ill. So last nights Clinton/Obama debate at the Kodak Theater in front of the Stars was great anti-trauma medicine. They put away their boxing gloves, shook hands and touched and laughed and whispered and darn near went skipping off together to discuss how to destroy John McCain.

Seriously, it was a debate with some substance. They discussed their differences without nastinesss. Like grown-ups.
This one made me happy and proud of America. Both Hillary and Barack mentioned being proud that a woman and an African American were on the stage.

Monica and I agreed that for us the overall winner with a itty bitty tiny slight edge was Hillary Clinton.
My own personel Jackie tallys on the issues were split.
A few issues:
Health care goes to Hillary (no contest)
Foreign diplomacy to Barack
Experience to Hillary
Character to Hillary and Barack
Best line of the night goes to Hillary.
Question: Is it right to continue the two family rule which has seen either a Bush or a Clinton occupy the White house for the past 20 years.
Hillary: "It did take a Clinton to clean up after the first Bush, and I think it might take another one to clean up after the second Bush."

The two candidates sitting up there under Hollywood lights with the red white and blue background, looking like America's dream ticket, were asked at the end of the debate if they might join up in November's general election.

"I respect Senator Clinton, I think her service to this country is extraordinary" Obama, added that while it was "premature" to discuss such a possibility, “I’m sure that Hillary would be on anybody’s short list.”

Senator Clinton responded: “Well, I have to agree with everything Barack just said.”

Me too.