Saturday, November 8, 2008
However, now as the historic election of Barack Obama begins to sink in, I went back to read Angelou's poem and Morrison's letter again. In today's blog entry, I wanted to highlight a few parts of Morrison's letter and give us all a chance to share Angelou's response to the election of Barack Obama, who truly is, with all due respect to Bill Clinton, America's first black President ...
Dear Senator Obama,
... of one thing I am certain: this opportunity for a national evolution (even revolution) will not come again soon, and I am convinced you are the person to capture it.
... Nor do I care very much for your race[s]. I would not support you if that was all you had to offer or because it might make me "proud."
In thinking carefully about the strengths of the candidates, I stunned myself when I came to the following conclusion: that in addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, you exhibit something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don't see in other candidates. That something is a creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom. It is too bad if we associate it only with gray hair and old age. Or if we call searing vision naivete. Or if we believe cunning is insight. Or if we settle for finessing cures tailored for each ravaged tree in the forest while ignoring the poisonous landscape that feeds and surrounds it. Wisdom is a gift; you can't train for it, inherit it, learn it in a class, or earn it in the workplace--that access can foster the acquisition of knowledge, but not wisdom.
When, I wondered, was the last time this country was guided by such a leader? Someone whose moral center was un-embargoed? Someone with courage instead of mere ambition? Someone who truly thinks of his country's citizens as "we," not "they"? Someone who understands what it will take to help America realize the virtues it fancies about itself, what it desperately needs to become in the world?
Our future is ripe, outrageously rich in its possibilities. Yet unleashing the glory of that future will require a difficult labor, and some may be so frightened of its birth they will refuse to abandon their nostalgia for the womb.
There have been a few prescient leaders in our past, but you are the man for this time.
Good luck to you and to us.
It seems only fitting to bookend Toni Morrison's words at the start of Obama's historic campaign with Maya Angelou's words the day after his election. (The whole video is certainly worth watching, but Maya kicks in at 3:12 in case you're feeling impatient :-)
To echo my dear friend Mark's sentiments - I am more proud to be an American today than I have ever been. And that's saying something.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
You can go to the 2:15 mark to hear the song, or you can listen to his intriguing and amusing intro. Despite the fact that there are well over a thousand YouTube videos made to this song, which was written by Randy Newman, this was the only one I could find actually performed by Randy Newman.
Those who know me well know the penchant I once had to play a favorite song over and over until anyone in earshot was ready to kill me. I haven't had that urge in years, but I've rediscovered it with this song. Something about Randy Newman's rendition of "Feels Like Home," a song I've loved for years, first when I heard it recorded by Bonnie Raitt and later by Chantal Kreviazuk, has utterly captivated me. I never felt this level of devotion for the song until Dana started playing Newman's new album and Randy's voice washed over me, making completely new the so familiar lyrics. Now I can't stop listening to it.
At various points during my obsessive multiple listens, I've decided I'm so entranced by it because it demonstrates what a near perfect songwriter Randy Newman is. How else could one song work so beautifully for so many different singers? My latest impression, however, is the one that has inspired this blog entry. I think in this season of bitter political debating, his interpretation of his own song is striking me as incredibly, achingly, simply hopeful. Each few minutes I listen to it offer a respite from all the white noise around me.
I'll likely have a new theory after a few dozen more listens, but I figured I'd share his rendition of the song with you now, as it is my very favorite thing of the moment. Enjoy.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
And the thing that will drive me to help my fellow Republicans shatter it is if one more male Democrat tells me I'm being played. Let's just add being condescending to the list of mistakes the democratic spin doctors are making since McCain's announcement. Unlike some of my fellow Democrats, I am able to consider the whole picture and make a decision that is informed by both my philosophical leanings on policy AND my respect for what it means to finally have a woman in the White House, in a role other than that of First Lady. If I believe that McCain/Palin will lead this country in a manner that will do damage to the institutions I hold dear, then, of course, I will not vote for that ticket. So stop insulting me by suggesting they're insulting me by choosing Palin as a running mate. HOWEVER, if I'm not convinced that McCain/Palin will undo the very fabric of democracy in America. If, instead, I am intrigued that the first veto Palin exercised as Governer was to insure that gay couples had same-sex benefits and if I believe that her pro-life position is a hell of a lot less political than that of the men in her party, and that McCain is fundamentally a good man and far from George Bush's twin, then you better believe I am going to be influenced by the fact that voting for McCain/Palin on November 4th will be making a long overdue entry into the history books. The fact that the 2012 election would likely be Palin vs. Clinton doesn't hurt this narrative a bit. Will I make that choice come election day? I honestly haven't yet decided. But the Democrats in my party (save Hillary Clinton, who made the one relatively intelligent comment I've yet to hear) are so far playing their part to push me in that direction.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
We've been having a spirited conversation over at Meet me in Montauk's site about new music vs. old music, why we love the songs we love, CD vs. digital, and other such things. All of that "chatting," along with my increased opportunity to listen to MY music this week (driving back and forth to work sans kids -- which ends this coming Monday), has given birth to a new thought/theory: the musical litmus test.
If you could pick one album that would provide insight into your musical compatability (and probably your overall personality compatability, as well; who are we kidding?) with the various people in your life, what would it be? For me, hands down, it would be Lyle Lovett's Road to Ensenada. I've said many times that Lyle would be my desert island artist, for nobody else comes close to capturing all the moods I'd want to tap in my solitude. This album demonstrates his ability to effortlessly go from the most free-wheeling, funny songs (such as "That's Right") to the most enigmatic and haunting ones (such as the title track).
If a potential friend were to listen to this album and think "eh," I would know immediately the chance of our friendship deepening was slim. On the other hand, when somebody listens to a song such as "That's Right" and immediately "gets it," (as Maddie and Daniel did when I first played it for them, and they insisted that I play it again and again), then I know it's all going to work out just fine. I adore Lyle Lovett for his voice, his wry sense of humor, his full musical sound (horns and fiddles and pianos and guitars) and his compelling lyrics. For all these reasons and more, if we're going the musical monogamy route, he's my musical life partner. And this album is my musical litmus test.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Thursday, July 31, 2008
“A little movie called Once gave me enough inspiration to last the rest of the year,” said Steven Spielberg.
Perhaps if Steven Spielberg recognizes your film, mass audience acceptance becomes a bit less important. Clay and I have been debating this very issue over at Meet Me In Montauk (Miami Blues post). Regardless, I encourage anyone who hasn't yet seen Once to do so. And those of you who have seen it, go ahead and see it again :-) The moment captured below comes early in the film, so it won't serve as a spoiler if you haven't gotten around to renting this gem yet (really - what are you waiting for?) It more forcefully and eloquently expresses why I love this film than I ever could, so just go ahead and watch it.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
After an evening of Enchanted, popcorn and stories, the cousins had a sleepover (or at least a share the bedroom over, as some slept more than others ;-) Today they hung out, ordered McDonalds for lunch (where Sophia requested, "Can you tell them I'm a boy?" as she correctly resents the superior toys the fast food empire provides boys in their Happy Meals. Happy if you're a boy maybe!)
When afternoon storms threatened, they opted to watch Monsters, Inc. instead of going to the theater to see Space Chimps or choosing Clay's beloved Ratatouille :-) Finally, the skies cleared, and the kids hit the pool. Sophia showed us how she can swim underwater like a pro. With some coaxing, she also worked on swimming above water, by assuming the role of Purdy, the dalmation, while Maddie opted to be a golden retriever and Daniel a bull dog. Lots of dog paddling ensued. Check out the video below and photos above for all the action.
After reading Malagueta and Meet Me in Montauk's "song of the day" posts, I've been reflecting on why we gravitate toward the music we love. Yesterday I read a blog entry on the joys of watching films that was posted nearly two years ago (http://flat5ive.blogspot.com/) that caused me to do some further reflecting. Finally, this morning I decided to poke around the web for some song lists and came across this one: http://www.rollingstone.com/news/coverstory/500songs , which I vaguely remember reading (or reading about) when it first came out several years ago but which is newly controversial any time you start judging the songs that appear against the ones that don't.
I tell you all of this to provide the genesis of this blog entry (whether you want it or not!) When I got to #392 on the Rolling Stone list, "O-o-h Child" by The Five Stairsteps, I started thinking about Meet Me in Montauk's definition of hip. How would children born in a later era know about many of these "greatest songs of all time"? Either their parents (or other older friends or family members) had introduced them to these gems or, as often has happened to me over the years, they "discovered" them through a film. The above video has already revealed to you where I first heard "O-o-o Child," though I don't know if I ever knew it was performed by a group called The Five Stairsteps before perusing the list this morning. I'll never forget sitting in the theater, hearing that song, and watching the images on the screen. I became an instant (and lifelong) fan of Laurence ("don't call me Larry") Fishburne, Cuba ("I'll never make another good movie") Gooding and John ("I'll never make as good a movie") Singleton. More than those impressions, however, was the impression the song made. I have never been able to hear a bar of it without thinking of Boyz N the Hood.
This is also true for Dusty Springield's "Son of a Preacher Man" (#240 and forever associated with Pulp Fiction and Uma Thurman), "You've Lost that Lovin Feelin" (#34 and forever associated with "Top Gun" Tom Cruise serenading Kelly McGillis), and "You Can't Always Get What You Want" (#100 and forever associated with the opening scene of The Big Chill). Now, I know some of you will be incredulous that I heard these songs for the first time in the context of the films I just mentioned. Sue me. I'm sure some of you were introduced to songs through films. And I'm not talking about songs that were written for films; that's another blog entry entirely (for instance, I didn't know until years later that "Moon River" was written for Breakfast at Tiffany's, though I'll always choose to picture Big and Carrie dancing to it in an empty NY apt.)
If you choose to watch the Sex and the City clip, you can consider it a preview to future postings I may do on "best male tv characters of all time," "best tv couples of all time," and "Funniest supporting characters [Samantha "Why would anyone leave NY" Jones and Miranda "No" Hobbes] of all time."
In the meantime, I'd love to learn about your strongest film/song associations. Please share. :-)
Monday, July 28, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
is hearing from former students, even years later, with messages, good wishes, questions, and, sometimes, silly videos. The clip above is courtesy of David, the youngest of three siblings (the older two are Adam and Alyson) I had the pleasure to teach. As you can tell from his Dancing Queen rendition, he is a riot. Smart, talented, and fearless. I hope I am lucky enough to have another couple dozen like him in my career. He certainly made the school day fly and taught me as much as I taught him. He's also a huge fan of The Princess Bride, so what more could you want from a student? :-)
Friday, July 25, 2008
As I don't want to borrow Meet Me in Montauk's platform of writing about movies, I would like to direct you to check out that blog. There you will find my comments on some of the latest films (Batman: The Dark Knight - yuck, Kung Fu Panda - pretty darn good), as well as some insightful, witty and sometimes correct commentary by the blogger himself.
So... I'm off to troll more blogs to see what else is worth borrowing (would George Carlin be incensed by that word?) for my own.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
On Friday, we headed to Montreal. Where I proceeded to annoy everyone with my tres mal French accent. Still, it was fun to attempt to order in French, and Maddie, who has a very successful first year of French under her belt, enjoyed hearing it all around her. We hit all of the Montreal highlights - Vieux Montreal (Old Town), the Port, the Biodome (which housed four distinct ecosystems), the Underground city.