Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

monarch butterflies

Sitting in Union Square having coffee and talking to my friend, there was a monarch butterfly. it sat on my arm, head, shoulder. It continued to flutter around. It kept coming back to me. I was oblivious to it all but i then became very aware that the monarch butterfly was around. I have no idea what it is a symbol for but it was definately attracted to me and swirled around me last night.

angels on earth

i was walking to meet a friend in Union Square and i had a shopping bag full of goodies and the rope handle started to come out. A woman, a vendor saw me stop and aided me. I was about to do it myself and she offered and i allowed her to do so...I said to her that there are angels on earth and she concurred that angels appeared in all forms...

Which leads me to the new Holly Hunter show on TNT on Monday, Saving Grace.

About the Show
Academy Award®-winning actress Holly Hunter (The Piano) takes on the role of a cynical police detective facing a personal crisis of divine proportions in the provocative new drama series SAVING GRACE, premiering this July on TNT.

In her television series debut, Hunter stars as Grace Hanadarko, a tormented, fast-living Oklahoma City police detective who, despite being at the top of her field, takes self-destruction to new heights. After seeing tremendous tragedy in her life, both professionally and personally, Grace lives life hard and fast. She drinks too much, sleeps with the wrong men and defies authority. Grace has a tender side with her 22 nieces and nephews, but that is a side that most of the world doesn’t get to see. It all catches up with her one night when, as she’s driving too fast after too many drinks, she hits a man who is walking along the road. In an uncharacteristic moment, Grace asks for help, and she gets it – in the form an unconventional angel named Earl (Leon Rippy, Deadwood). Earl tells Grace that she is in trouble and running out of chances, but he wants to help lead her back to the right path. The journey, for both of them, will not be an easy one.

Creator Nancy Miller says of Hunter, “Holly can break your heart and make you laugh in the same moment. She’s astonishing. Grace is a complex character, deeply troubled but searching for the good, with a heart full of love and pain, and a surprising tenderness when you least expect it.”

In addition to Rippy, the cast also includes Kenneth Johnson (The Shield) as Grace’s partner; Gregory Norman Cruz (Criminal Minds) as detective Bobby Stillwater; Bailey Chase (Las Vegas) as detective Butch Ada; Bokeem Woodbine (The Big Hit) as a death row inmate who figures into Grace’s struggle and Laura San Giacomo (Just Shoot Me) as the criminalist who, despite having strong religious beliefs, is the only one in Grace’s life who does not judge her.

Saving Graces is also the name of the Elizabeth Edwards book i am reading.

Editorial Reviews
From Publishers Weekly
The breast cancer diagnosis Edwards received on November 3, 2004, is dismayingly common. Uncommon, however, is the timing and the circumstances surrounding it. Wife of the vice presidential candidate John Edwards, Edwards's discovery of the lump on her breast came the day after the election and subsequent defeat of the Kerry-Edwards ticket. This mixture of the common and the uncommon, of the everyday and the extraordinary, defines Edwards and her life. A lawyer, mother of a grown daughter and two young children, and the wife of a politician, Edwards is both an optimist and a realist with the ability to laugh at herself. Yet she has had to endure a parent's worst nightmare—the death of her teenage son, Wade, in a car accident. In the end, however, Edwards's memoir is not about cancer, politics or even unbearable loss (though the description of her grief is heart-wrenching). It's about the value of people coming together to support each other. You'll find no celebrity gossip here. But like the kiss on the forehead her husband gave her at the end of their first date, this memoir is disarmingly moving. First serial to People, second serial to Ladies' Home Journal; feature in Good Housekeeping; national author tour; October 2 appearances on The Today Show and NBC Nightly News. (Sept. 26)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book Description

She charmed America with her smart, likable, down-to-earth personality as she campaigned for her husband, then vice-presidential candidate John Edwards. She inspired millions as she valiantly fought advanced breast cancer after being diagnosed only days before the 2004 election. She touched hundreds of similarly grieving families when her own son, Wade, died tragically at age sixteen in 1996. Now she shares her experiences in Saving Graces, an incandescent memoir of Edwards’ trials, tragedies, and triumphs, and of how various communities celebrated her joys and lent her steady strength and quiet hope in darker times.

Edwards writes about growing up in a military family, where she learned how to make friends easily in dozens of new schools and neighborhoods around the world and came to appreciate the unstinting help and comfort naval families shared. Edwards’ reminiscences of her years as a mother focus on the support she and other parents offered one another, from everyday favors to the ultimate test of her own community’s strength—their compassionate response to the death of the Edwards’ teenage son, Wade, in 1996. Her descriptions of her husband’s campaigns for Senate, president, and vice president offer a fascin

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Capricorn Horoscope for week of July 26, 2007

Capricorn Horoscope for week of July 26, 2007

Verticle Oracle card Capricorn (December 22-January 19)
This would be a perfect moment to send 100 roses to someone you love. Oddly enough, it'll also be an excellent time to send 100 roses to someone you love to hate. In other words, the karmic ledger needs to be kept in balance. You've got to make sure that all the opposites in your life are given their proper due. Each side of every paradox deserves your equal attention. What's the payoff? An exotic and lyrical brand of harmony will be yours if you expand your mind to encompass the yin of every yang, and vice versa.

Monday, July 23, 2007

the green BMW

Sunday, i went to Chris's house to bring him my tent and falcon ridge stuff and went to the grocery store. I parked on the upper part of webster ave on the right side of the street. i had strong desire to get an oil change. I knew my oil was like Mud and i hadnt had it done in a good long time.. so before i went to Falcon Ridge, i went to get a oil change. When i came home, the parking space was gone and i pulled my car around 7th street.
Tonight, when i came home, i looked at forest green BMW that was in my place. THe side of the car was scraped and bumper was off the car. It was hanging off and the license plate was in the windshield.. it looked like a garbage truck hit it...Today waa garbage day

i just stood there and looked and thought that if i didnt get an oil change, that my car would have been in that spot...

Cat Sighting

This morning, i woke up as usual, but went back to bed for 10 minutes. I heard the rain start and took a shower and made coffee..When i headed back to my bedroom, I heard a cat talking, not crying really but making noise to be heard. I went to look for my cat and she was on the bathroom floor sleeping. The sound of a cat didnt disturb her. I looked at my bedroom window and there was a grey/black cat in the window sitting on the fire escape. I was talking to the cat, and wondered if she could get down. The apartment was on the 3rd floor and i couldnt understand how she climbed up the fire escape. I wondered if she wanted out of the rain... She talked on..

I knew i couldnt bring her in and didnt want her in my cat carrier but she shined her yellow eyes and tilted her head with her heart shaped face looking in the window. She tried to claw the screen and one nail got stuck. she continued talking... I told her to go back from where she came and she sat on the landing and shortly after was gone like she appeared.

The cat didnt upset me, just perplexed me to how she got there... There was something healthy about her...

I guess i am reading too much, or watching to many surreal movies.

she was real but was she a cat...

celebrity sightings

on my way to Nick Lowe, i stopped and watched John Travolta film a movie called OLD DOGS on Prince Street off Lafayette...

Then at Nick Lowe, i spotted studio bass player... Zev Katz.


Teenagers in Love and a Mom in Drag in the '60s

Published: July 19, 2007

That “Hairspray” is good-hearted is no surprise. Adam Shankman’s film, lovingly adapted from the Broadway musical, preserves the inclusive, celebratory spirit of John Waters’s 1988 movie, in which bigger-boned, darker-skinned and otherwise different folk take exuberant revenge on the bigots and the squares who conspire to keep them down. The surprise may be that this “Hairspray,” stuffed with shiny showstoppers, Kennedy-era Baltimore beehives and a heavily padded John Travolta in drag, is actually good.

Appropriately enough for a movie with such a democratic sensibility, there is plenty of credit to go around. Mr. Shankman, drawing on long experience as a choreographer, avoids the kind of vulgar overstatement that so often turns the joy of live musical theater into torment at the multiplex. The songs, by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, are usually adequate, occasionally inspired and only rarely inane. And they are sung with impeccable diction and unimpeachable conviction by a lively young cast that includes Nikki Blonsky, Amanda Bynes, Zac Efron and the phenomenally talented Elijah Kelley.

Of course there are better-known, more-seasoned performers on hand as well, notably Queen Latifah, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken and Mr. Travolta. But “Hairspray” is fundamentally a story about being young — about the triumph of youth culture, about the optimistic, possibly dated belief that the future will improve on the present — and its heart is very much with its teenage heroes and the fresh-faced actors who play them.

Ms. Blonsky, a ball of happy, mischievous energy, is Tracy Turnblad, a hefty Baltimore high school student whose dream is to dance with the city’s most telegenic teeny-boppers on “The Corny Collins Show.” Ms. Bynes plays Penny Pingleton, Tracy’s timid best friend, whose prim mother (Allison Janney) won’t even let Penny watch the show, much less appear on it. Mrs. Pingleton can scarcely imagine that her daughter will eventually fall for Seaweed (Mr. Kelley), part of a group of black kids whom Tracy befriends in the detention hall after school.

As Penny and Seaweed test the taboo against interracial romance, Tracy and Link Larkin (Mr. Efron), a “Corny Collins” dreamboat, take on the tyranny of slenderness. That “Hairspray” cheerfully conflates racial prejudice with fat-phobia is the measure of its guileless, deliberately simplified politics. Upholding both forms of discrimination is Velma Von Tussle (Ms. Pfeiffer), a television station executive who uses “The Corny Collins Show” — against the wishes of Corny (James Marsden) himself — as a way of maintaining the color line and promoting the celebrity of her blond, smiley daughter, Amber (Brittany Snow).

“Hairspray” does not seriously propose that Tracy and her new African-American friends face equivalent forms of injustice. But it does make the solidarity between them feel like an utterly natural, intuitive response to the meanness and arrogance of their common enemies. “Welcome to the ’60s,” Tracy sings to her mother, conjuring up the New Frontier hopefulness of that decade’s early years rather than the violence and paranoia of its denouement.

In freezing history at a moment of high possibility — a moment whose glorious popular culture encompasses “West Side Story” and the Twist, early Motown and Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound — “Hairspray” is at once knowingly corny and unabashedly utopian. On “The Corny Collins Show” Seaweed and his friends are relegated to a once-a-month Negro Day, presided over by Motormouth Maybelle (Queen Latifah). Tracy envisions a future when, as she puts it, “every day is Negro Day.”

What is missing from “Hairspray” is anything beyond the faintest whisper of camp. The original “Hairspray” may have been Mr. Waters’s most wholesome, least naughty film, but there was no containing the volcanic audacity of Divine, who created the role of Edna Turnblad. Divine, who was born Harris Glen Milstead and who died shortly after the first “Hairspray” was released, belonged to an era when drag performance still carried more than a touch of the louche and the dangerous, and was one of the artists who helped push it into the cultural mainstream.

Perhaps wisely Mr. Travolta does not try to duplicate the outsize, deliberately grotesque theatricality of Divine’s performance or to mimic the Mermanesque extravagance of Harvey Fierstein’s Broadway turn, choosing instead to tackle the role of Edna as an acting challenge. The odd result is that she becomes the most realistic, least stereotypical character in the film, and the only one who speaks in a recognizable (if not always convincing) Baltimore accent. (“Ahm tryna orn,” she complains when she’s trying to iron.)

A shy, unsophisticated, working-class woman, Edna is ashamed of her physical size even as she seems to hide inside it, as if seeking protection from the noise and indignity of the world outside. It is Tracy who pulls her out of her shell, and without entirely letting go of Edna’s timidity, Mr. Travolta explores the exhibitionistic and sensual sides of her personality.

Mr. Walken’s gallantry in the role of Edna’s devoted husband, Wilbur, is unforced and disarmingly sincere, and their duet, “(You’re) Timeless to Me,” is one of the film’s musical high points. Another is “Without Love,” in which the two young couples express their yearning with the help of some ingenious and amusing special effects.

There are, to be sure, less thrilling moments, and stretches in which the pacing falters. But the overall mood of “Hairspray” is so joyful, so full of unforced enthusiasm, that only the most ferocious cynic could resist it. It imagines a world where no one is an outsider and no one is a square, and invites everyone in. How can you refuse?

“Hairspray” is rated PG (Parental guidance suggested). It has some mildly naughty jokes and innuendo.


Opens tonight in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco; tomorrow nationwide.

Directed and choreographed by Adam Shankman; written by Leslie Dixon, based on the screenplay by John Waters and the musical stage play, book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Mr. Shaiman; director of photography, Bojan Bazelli; edited by Michael Tronick; score by Mr. Shaiman; production designer, David Gropman; produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron; released by New Line Cinema. Running time: 107 minutes.

WITH: John Travolta (Edna Turnblad), Michelle Pfeiffer (Velma Von Tussle), Christopher Walken (Wilbur Turnblad), Amanda Bynes (Penny Pingleton), James Marsden (Corny Collins), Queen Latifah (Motormouth Maybelle), Brittany Snow (Amber Von Tussle), Zac Efron (Link Larkin), Elijah Kelley (Seaweed), Allison Janney (Prudy Pingleton), Jerry Stiller (Mr. Pinky), Paul Dooley (Mr. Spritzer) and Nikki Blonsky (Tracy Turnblad)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Anxiety is situational or natural.. i dont see it as bad...and can be
connected to life events. it can be disabling .. my neie has free
floating anxiety and has learned to manage hers without medication...
she rubs pennies to release the stress of her anxiety..

.... so i am familiar with the spectrum of anxiety.... i felt it when
i left home.. still feel it when i enter a new situation for the first time or
find myself in unfamiliar territory ..Those are all natural... i wanted to
clarify my position on anxiety.... its a natural and normal state many
times, can be managed or medicated or not....can be situational and
connected to life events or can be free flowing... its energy... and
we have the ability to focus energy....
so when i have a big day, i have to set two alarm clocks to ease the
fear of oversleeping...
managing anxiety.... can be simple if you know what works for you ...

im not sure why i decided to write about anxiety... but i am sure we
will need it....

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Capricorn Horoscope for week of July 19, 2007

Capricorn Horoscope for week of July 19, 2007

Verticle Oracle card Capricorn (December 22-January 19)
"Dear Rob: Last night I dreamt that I finally met the soulmate I've been looking for all these years. We were making love in a limousine that was driving us to the church where we would be married. Then a terrible thing happened. Right there in my arms, my perfect lover turned into a toothless, stinking geezer whose sparse white hair was falling out in my hands. I shrieked and ran out of the car. Can you interpret my dream for me? -Crushed Capricorn." Dear Crushed: Your dream may mean that your romantic ideals have become outmoded; your long-standing fantasies about what constitutes your perfect lover are no longer relevant. It's probably time to adjust your definitions.

Xhibit.......You know what to do

Sunday, July 15, 2007

the Calling the Essay

The Calling.

I know its gonna be a good Mary Chapin Carpenter cd when there is a song that makes me cry. I found one at first listen on Time Sex Love, Grand Central Station upon my first live listening, and now the Calling. The dictionary defines “ a calling as • An inner urge or a strong impulse, or • An occupation, profession, or career. As Mary Chapin Carpenter was starting her professional career, I was starting mine… I am not sure about Mary Chapin but my calling found me….

Mine didn’t begin in NJ or CT or DC, it began in Massachusetts where through older friends or mentors, I decided to pursue a career in Jewish Communal Services but because I was advised that I could not get into Brandeis University and because I am a first generation college graduate and couldn’t afford it, and was made to believed that I wasn’t good enough, I entered Salem State as a Social Work major.. While at Salem two things happened.. (well more than that but those don’t pertain to my calling), I found a child welfare expert to mentor me and the program I was in was accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. My mentor, asking me why I choose child welfare, knew I that I had to tackle the hardest of all disciplines but also knew I that I needed exposure. She sent me to DSS in Lynn. They say…”Lynn Lynn the city of sin, you never come out the way you go in” that was true for me… After working with a 5 year old aphasic child and a 12 year old pregnant with her second baby, I found something I wanted to do…. But I knew I needed more education. Due to a series of missteps and errors, I ended up accepting the Masters Program at NYU. So I moved to NY for one year to attend NYU. While at NYU, I was placed on the lower east side in a child and adolescent mental health clinic. i met lots of kids who didn’t want to talk so I played for hours with them, including the gang wannabe teens. You cant imagine what that experience did to a 23 year old.

After graduating from NYU in 1983, I started working in Foster Care as an emergency worker for 14,500 a year. At that salary, I paid rent, student loans and survived (I guess it was a calling). My calling took to me the South Bronx and most of the project of NYC. It took me prison, both Rikers Island and Bedford Women’s prison to bring children to visit their parents. My calling had me spend countless hours in court and in hospital emergency rooms, including the night I slept on the gurney in a city hospital waiting for a child psych bed to open up at Kings County Hospital. My work exposed me to parents with AIDS and their HIV infected kids, crack addicts, heroine junkies, child abusers, sexual molesters and their compulsions. I had to take toddlers for GYN exams for their molestation. I worked with suicidal children as young as 5 and pregnant teenagers.

I got scabies and ringworm but never the chickenpox. I was peed on, and vomited on but clothes can be cleaned, diapers can be changed and hands can be washed. I met kids who were burned with cigarettes and irons. I met survivors of domestic violence and domestic disputes. I met kids who muled drugs from Nigeria and Mexico. I saw burned out buildings, crack houses and worked with women who prostitute. I met parents who tried to sell their kids at Port Authority and those who abandoned their kids in the hospital.

I was honored to bring children to families that would later adopt them. I attended multiple adoption hearings and testified to terminate parental rights but 85% of the children I worked with were released to their parents or relatives. The rest were adopted by people who wanted to adopt them. And ofcourse, I testified before Judge Judy in Manhattan Family Court.

I parented kids when no one else was there to parent them and I was there to love them when no one else did either. I parented parents because no one else seemed to do that either. I made sure children were safe and even told parents that their children had died when one little boy had a seizure and could not be revived. I have been to more funerals for children than I would have liked to attend. Deaths from Aids, child abuse and SIDS….

I later worked to get teenagers back into school programs or to help their families when they felt their kids were out of control. I helped gay and lesbian kids try to find themselves when their parents didn’t understand them. I helped gang involved or gang wannabe kids, pregnant teens, immigrant teens getting adjusted. I met teenagers with bad skin and raging hormones. I met kids who sold their Nintendo for winter coats and had to work to help their families out. I met teenagers who taught me about Eminem and teens I taught about Bob Dylan. I met their parents who needed help parenting them and many time I was the parent when the parents were exhausted. I met kids on drugs and parents on drugs. I met those kids who were adopted 10 years prior and were having difficulties during adolescents. All I did was help them when and where I could.

I found that I actually acquired a second calling….. teaching. Oh, great another calling where you don’t make much money…( I have made less money in my career than Paris Hilton spends on Doggie Clothes) – I started teaching four years ago on a part time basis- I have taught parenting classes, foster parent classes and college courses. I have taught courses in thing I have known…. Now I am a teacher full time. I teach inexperienced child welfare workers how to figure out if a child is safe and to keep children safe. I am suppose to teach them how to help people and how to form connections. Some come looking for a city job, some come looking for benefits, some come looking for a way to help and some will find that they cannot stand the people that they encounter and some will not care about them but then there are some who will find their calling. And I am sure I will find them….

Just as I was found…

1 Check Thyself Before Thou Wreckest Thyself
A fabulous woman is self-aware, and knows that her personality and behavior have an effect on those around her.

2Thou Shalt Goeth, Girl
A fabulous woman is a confident and powerful woman.

3Thou Shalt Show Some Class
A fabulous woman knows the rules of etiquette and social interaction.

4 Thou Shalt Work What Thou Art Working With
A fabulous woman always looks her best.

5 Thou Shalt Spit Mad Game With Style
A fabulous woman knows how to communicate effectively.

6 Thou Shalt Mind Thy Money
A fabulous woman knows how to make, and keep her own money.

7 Thou Shalt Payeth It Back
A fabulous woman gives back to the community.

8 Thou Shalt Represent
A fabulous woman is media savvy.

9 Unless Thou Can Play, Thou Wilt Be Played
A fabulous woman knows how to play the relationship game.

10 Thou Shalt Be Fully Fabulous



master chef, Kate (CATHERINE ZETA-JONES) lives her life like she runs the kitchen at upscale 22 Bleecker Restaurant in Manhattan--with a no-nonsense intensity that both captivates and intimidates everyone around her. With breathtaking precision, she powers through each hectic shift, coordinating hundreds of meals, preparing delicate sauces, seasoning and simmering each dish to absolute perfection.

More at ease behind the scenes, she only leaves the sanctuary of her kitchen to accept compliments for one of her signature dishes, or, on rare occasions, to tangle with a customer who dares question her expertise. After work, most nights find her in bed before midnight, set to rise at dawn to beat her competition to the fish market for the next day's freshest selections.

Kate's perfectionist nature is put to the test when a brash new sous-chef joins her staff, the high-spirited and freewheeling Nick (AARON ECKHART). A rising culinary star himself, Nick favors opera while working and loves to make everyone around him laugh. His casual approach to both life and cuisine couldn't be more different from Kate's, yet the chemistry between them is is the discord, like forks clanging off a granite countertop.

It might be easier to deal with this turbulence at work if Kate wasn't already off-balance at home, struggling to connect with her nine-year-old niece, Zoe (ABIGAIL BRESLIN), who has recently--and very unexpectedly--come to live with her. A bright, perceptive child, more comfortable with fish sticks than foie gras, Zoe is clearly out of place in Kate's routine but Kate is determined to make a home for her...just as soon as she figures out how.

As the weeks progress, Kate is not sure what steams her more--that Nick's talent scores big points with 22 Bleecker's owner, Paula (PATRICIA CLARKSON), and its discriminating clientele, or that his easygoing charm quickly wins over the shy Zoe, who finds it easier to open up to him than to her aunt. But when he challenges the boundary between rivalry and romance, Kate finds herself questioning, for the first time in years, some of the choices and beliefs that have made her so self-sufficient and so safe.

If she wants to forge a real bond with Zoe, find happiness with Nick and rediscover her appetite for life, Kate will have to try something bold and new, and learn to express herself outside the realm of her kitchen.

That would be like trying to cook without a recipe. But, as Kate discovers, sometimes the best recipes are the ones you create yourself.

most likely to engage in conversation or striving for connections

Friday at the annual James Satterwhite Training Academy retreat, my colleagues granted me and two colleagues with the "award" of "Most likely to engage someone in a conversation." I have been struggling to decide if this was a strength or should be considered less than complimentary...

I think that my struggle is over....

In her book, saving graces, Elizabeth Edwards writes of her father...

..."my father didn't need that. He could reach for the hands of strangers. He would corral teenagers at a table and ask them what they liked. He could tell nurses in the clinic how pretty they were. Each girl he passed by he'd say " Could she be? Well, she must be. Here's a princess. Imagine that, a princess, right here in the mall?" He would chat with cashiers as if he knew them, complimenting them on their hair or their eyes or their speed with which they worked. By they time they left, my father would know the life stories of the family in the next lane at the bowling alley. Why not pass the time with a cashier? You're not doing anything anyway. why not make friends with a bowling family? He we were a bowling family too.

My father was doing something most of us do or want to do- reaching for connections. Now, he has and still is an extreme example. and probably as a consequence, so am I. I am most likely not to change either, because the connections i have make have enriched me, sustained me, they have strengthened me by holding me up when I needed it, and they have strengthened me by letting me hold up my end when it was needed. My life is immeasurably better because i know that although we may say grace differently, or may not know how to say it at all, we all need each other."

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Published: July 10, 2007

“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” the fifth movie in the series, begins, as most of the others have, with a spot of unpleasantness at the Dursleys, and ends with Harry facing down Lord Voldemort. The climactic battle between the young wizard (Daniel Radcliffe) and the Dark Lord (Ralph Fiennes) foreshadows the final, potentially fatal showdown we all suspect is coming in Book Seven, which will be published later this month.

Imelda Staunton, center, joins the Hogwarts faculty as a political appointee following an agenda. More Photos »

Anticipation of that event may be stealing some thunder from this movie — a rare instance of the book business beating Hollywood at its own hype-producing game — but between now and publication day on July 21, Potter fans can take some satisfaction in a sleek, swift and exciting adaptation of J. K. Rowling’s longest novel to date. Devotees of fine British acting, meanwhile, can savor the addition of Imelda Staunton (an Oscar nominee for “Vera Drake”) to the roster of first-rate thespians moonlighting as Hogwarts faculty.

Curiously enough, “Order of the Phoenix,” clocking in at a little over two and a quarter hours, is the shortest of the “Harry Potter” films. The nearly 900-page source has been elegantly streamlined by Michael Goldenberg, the screenwriter (who replaces Steve Kloves), and David Yates, the director (who follows Chris Columbus, Alfonso CuarĂ³n and Mike Newell in the job). There is no Quidditch, and not many boarding-school diversions. Instead, “Order of the Phoenix,” which begins like a horror movie with a Dementor attack in a suburban underpass, proceeds as a tense and twisty political thriller, with clandestine meetings, bureaucratic skullduggery and intimations of conspiracy hanging in the air.

Mr. Yates, whose previous work has mainly been in television, is best known in Britain for “State of Play,” a brilliant mini- series about power, corruption and deceit. Those are among the themes he explores in this film, which depicts a wizard world riven by factionalism and threatened by chaos and inflexible authoritarianism. While Cornelius Fudge, the minister of magic (Robert Hardy), maintains his highly suspect denial of Voldemort’s return, a coup at Hogwarts threatens the benevolent administration of Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon). Harry, meanwhile, has gone from prince to pariah, smeared in the magical press (where his name is rendered “Harry Plotter”) and subject to cold stares and whispers at school. Back in Harry’s early days at Hogwarts, Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), Harry’s foil and reluctant ally, sneered at the boy’s “celebrity.” But in this episode, the boy — if you can still call him that — encounters the darker side of fame.

Some of his schoolmates doubt his account of the death of Cedric Diggory, who was killed by Voldemort at the end of the previous film, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” Dumbledore, Harry’s chief patron and protector over the years, seems to be keeping his distance, which leaves Harry feeling abandoned and betrayed. And more acutely, the pressures of being a designated hero — and possibly martyr — have begun to weigh on Harry, to isolate him from friends and to come between him and the possibility of a normal teenage life.

He does, at least, experience a first kiss with Cho Chang (Katie Leung), but that turns out to be a brief and equivocal moment of bliss. Whereas “Goblet of Fire” plunged Harry and his pals into the murky waters of awakening adolescent sexuality (or at least got their toes wet), “Order of the Phoenix” tackles the emotional storms that can buffet young people on their way to adulthood. Mr. Radcliffe, maturing as an actor in perfect time with his character, emphasizes Harry’s anger and self-pity. Mr. Yates frequently places him alone on one side of the frame, with Ron and Hermione (Rupert Grint and Emma Watson), his loyal but increasingly estranged friends, together on the other.

But this is not an Ingmar Bergman film, though perhaps Mr. Bergman can be coaxed into service for the film version of “Deathly Hallows,” the final book of the series. “Order of the Phoenix” has its grim, bleak elements, but it is also, after all, an installment in a mighty multimedia entertainment franchise. And like its predecessors, it manages to succeed as a piece of entertainment without quite fulfilling its potential as a movie. Perhaps by design, the films never quite live up to the books. This one proves to be absorbing but not transporting, a collection of interesting moments rather than a fully integrated dramatic experience. This may just be a consequence of the necessary open-endedness of the narrative, or of an understandable desire not to alienate “Potter” readers by taking too many cinematic chances.

Although “Order of the Phoenix” is not a great movie, it is a pretty good one, in part because it does not strain to overwhelm the audience with noise and sensation. There are some wonderful special-effects-aided set pieces — notably an early broomstick flight over London — and some that are less so. People waving wands at one another, even accompanied by bright lights and scary sounds, does not quite sate this moviegoer’s appetite for action. But the production design (by Stuart Craig) and the cinematography (by Slawomir Idziak) are frequently astonishing in their aptness and sophistication. The interiors of the Ministry of Magic offer a witty, nightmarish vision of wizardly bureaucracy, while Harry’s angst and loneliness register in Mr. Idziak’s cold, washed-out shades of blue.

The scariest color in his palette, however, turns out to be pink. That is the color favored by Dolores Umbridge (Ms. Staunton), whose cheery English-auntie demeanor masks a ruthlessly autocratic temperament. She posts proclamations on the Hogwarts walls, subjects violators to painful punishments and substitutes book learning for practical magic. Her purpose is to institute Minister Fudge’s head-in-the-sand policy with respect to the Voldemort threat, and she does a heck of a job.

Ms. Staunton joins an astonishing ensemble of serious actors who, in the best British tradition, refuse to condescend to the material, earning their paychecks and the gratitude of the grown-ups in the audience. Mr. Rickman has turned Snape (whose animus against Harry is partly explained here) into one of the most intriguingly ambiguous characters in modern movies, and it is always a treat to see the likes of Emma Thompson, David Thewlis and Gary Oldman, however briefly.

Even better, the Potter enterprise has become a breeding ground for the next generation of British acting talent. Mr. Radcliffe has already spread his wings (and dropped his pants) on the London stage, and cultural pessimists of my generation can take comfort in knowing that while our parents may have witnessed Malcolm McDowell and Julie Christie in their prime, our children will see Mr. Grint and Ms. Watson in theirs. “Order of the Phoenix” also introduces Evanna Lynch, a pale, wide-eyed 15-year-old nonprofessional from Ireland who, having read the book, decided that no one else could play Luna Lovegood, the weirdest witch at Hogwarts. It seems Ms. Lynch was right. She’s spellbinding.

“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). Its violence is intense, though not graphic, and some of its images are quite scary.


Opens tonight nationwide.

Directed by David Yates; written by Michael Goldenberg, based on the novel by J. K. Rowling; director of photography, Slawomir Idziak; edited by Mark Day; music by Nicholas Hooper; production designer, Stuart Craig; visual effects supervisor, Tim Burke; produced by David Heyman and David Barron; released by Warner Brothers Pictures. Running time: 138 minutes.

WITH: Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange), Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid), Warwick Davis (Filius Flitwick), Ralph Fiennes (Lord Voldemort), Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore), Brendan Gleeson (Mad-Eye Moody), Richard Griffiths (Vernon Dursley), Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy), Gary Oldman (Sirius Black), Alan Rickman (Severus Snape), Fiona Shaw (Petunia Dursley), Maggie Smith (Minerva McGonagall), Imelda Staunton (Dolores Umbridge), David Thewlis (Remus Lupin), Emma Thompson (Sybill Trelawney), Julie Walters (Mrs. Weasley), Robert Hardy (Cornelius Fudge), David Bradley (Argus Filch), Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), Katie Leung (Cho Chang) and Harry Melling (Dudley Dursley).
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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Capricorn Horoscope for week of July 12, 2007

Capricorn Horoscope for week of July 12, 2007

Verticle Oracle card Capricorn (December 22-January 19)
A misguided swan became infatuated with a pedal boat at a pond in Hamburg, Germany. Apparently mistaking it for his soul mate, the devoted bird guarded the boat jealously and rarely left its side. The human owner of the boat found it amusing at first, but later regarded it as a nuisance, since the enamored swan chased away all potential renters of the vehicle. I propose to make this poignant creature your anti-role model in the coming weeks, Capricorn. May he inspire you to free yourself of all delusions you have entertained over the years about the kind of intimate ally you need in order to

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Capricorn Horoscope for week of July 5, 2007

Capricorn Horoscope for week of July 5, 2007

Verticle Oracle card Capricorn (December 22-January 19)
It's Unity Week. You have rich opportunities to negotiate truces, whip up collaborations, and knit together seemingly irreconcilable elements. Maybe it has previously seemed insane for you to try mixing oil and water, apples and oranges, or Israelis and Palestinians, but it makes sense now. You'll tend to attract good fortune whenever you conspire to turn matches made in hell into heavenly blends. Here's a motto to inspire your work, from the rebellious unification expert Gandhi: "Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Keith Olbermann delivers arguably his most pointed and most powerful Special Comment yet on the ramifications of Bush’s commutation of Libby’s sentenc

Keith Olbermann delivers arguably his most pointed and most powerful Special Comment yet on the ramifications of Bush’s commutation of Libby’s sentence.

In that moment, Mr. Bush, you broke that fundamental compact between yourself and the majority of this nation’s citizens — the ones who did not cast votes for you.

In that moment, Mr. Bush, you ceased to be the President of the United States.

In that moment, Mr. Bush, you became merely the President… of a rabid and irresponsible corner of the Republican Party.

Transcripts below the fold…

Finally tonight, as promised, a Special Comment on what is, in everything but name, George Bush’s pardon of Scooter Libby.

“I didn’t vote for him,” an American once said, “But he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.”

That — on this eve of the 4th of July — is the essence of this democracy, in seventeen words.

And that is what President Bush threw away yesterday in commuting the sentence of Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

The man who said those seventeen words — improbably enough — was the actor John Wayne.

And Wayne, an ultra-conservative, said them, when he learned of the hair’s-breadth election of John F. Kennedy instead of his personal favorite, Richard Nixon in 1960.

“I didn’t vote for him but he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.”

The sentiment was doubtlessly expressed earlier. But there is something especially appropriate about hearing it, now, in Wayne’s voice.

The crisp matter-of-fact acknowledgement that we have survived, even though for nearly two centuries now, our Commander-in-Chief has also served, simultaneously, as the head of one political party and often the scourge of all others.

We as citizens must, at some point, ignore a president’s partisanship. Not that we may “prosper” as a nation, not that we may “achieve”, not that we may “lead the world” — but merely that we may “function.”

But just as essential to the seventeen words of John Wayne is an implicit trust — a sacred trust:That the president for whom so many did not vote, can in turn suspend his political self long enough, and for matters imperative enough, to conduct himself solely for the benefit of the entire Republic.

Our generation’s willingness to state “we didn’t vote for him, but he’s our president, and we hope he does a good job,” was tested in the crucible of history, and far earlier than most. And in circumstances more tragic and threatening.

And we did that with which history tasked us.

We enveloped “our” President in 2001.

And those who did not believe he should have been elected — indeed, those who did not believe he had been elected — willingly lowered their voices and assented to the sacred oath of non-partisanship.

And George W. Bush took our assent, and re-configured it, and honed it, and sharpened it to a razor-sharp point, and stabbed this nation in the back with it.

Were there any remaining lingering doubt otherwise, or any remaining lingering hope, it ended yesterday when Mr. Bush commuted the prison sentence of one of his own staffers.

Did so even before the appeals process was complete…

Did so without as much as a courtesy consultation with the Department of Justice…

Did so despite what James Madison –at the Constitutional Convention — said about impeaching any president who pardoned or sheltered those who had committed crimes “advised by” that president…

Did so without the slightest concern that even the most detached of citizens must look at the chain of events and wonder:

To what degree was Mr. Libby told: break the law however you wish — the President will keep you out of prison?

In that moment, Mr. Bush, you broke that fundamental compact between yourself and the majority of this nation’s citizens — the ones who did not cast votes for you.

In that moment, Mr. Bush, you ceased to be the President of the United States.

In that moment, Mr. Bush, you became merely the President… of a rabid and irresponsible corner of the Republican Party.

And this is too important a time, sir, to have a Commander-in-Chief who puts party over nation.

This has been, of course, the gathering legacy of this Administration. Few of its decisions have escaped the stain of politics.

The extraordinary Karl Rove has spoken of “a permanent Republican majority,” as if such a thing — or a permanent Democratic majority — is not antithetical to that upon which rests: our country, our history, our revolution, our freedoms.

Yet our democracy has survived shrewder men than Karl Rove.

And it has survived the frequent stain of politics upon the fabric of government.

But this administration, with ever-increasing insistence and almost theocratic zealotry, has turned that stain… into a massive oil spill.

The protection of the environment is turned over to those of one political party, who will financially benefit from the rape of the environment.

The protections of the Constitution are turned over to those of one political party, who believe those protections unnecessary and extravagant and “quaint.”

The enforcement of the laws is turned over to those of one political party, who will swear beforehand that they will not enforce those laws.

The choice between war and peace is turned over to those of one political party, who stand to gain vast wealth by ensuring that there is never peace, but only war.

And now, when just one cooked book gets corrected by an honest auditor…

When just one trampling of the inherent and inviolable “fairness” of government is rejected by an impartial judge…

When just one wild-eyed partisan is stopped by the figure of blind justice…

This President decides that he, and not the law, must prevail.

I accuse you, Mr. Bush, of lying this country into war.

I accuse you of fabricating in the minds of your own people, a false implied link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11.

I accuse you of firing the generals who told you that the plans for Iraq were disastrously insufficient.

I accuse you of causing in Iraq the needless deaths of 3,586 of our brothers and sons, and sisters and daughters, and friends and neighbors.

I accuse you of subverting the Constitution, not in some misguided but sincerely-motivated struggle to combat terrorists, but instead to stifle dissent.

I accuse you of fomenting fear among your own people, of creating the very terror you claim to have fought.

I accuse you of exploiting that unreasoning fear, the natural fear of your own people who just want to live their lives in peace, as a political tool to slander your critics and libel your opponents.

I accuse you of handing part of this republic over to a Vice President who is without conscience, and letting him run roughshod over it.

And I accuse you now, Mr. Bush, of giving, through that Vice President, carte blanche to Mr. Libby, to help defame Ambassador Joseph Wilson by any means necessary, to lie to Grand Juries and Special Counsel and before a court, in order to protect the mechanisms and particulars of that defamation, with your guarantee that Libby would never see prison, and, in so doing, as Ambassador Wilson himself phrased it here last night, of you becoming an accessory to the obstruction of justice.

When President Nixon ordered the firing of the Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox during the infamous “Saturday Night Massacre” on October 20th, 1973, Mr. Cox initially responded tersely, and ominously:

“Whether ours shall be a government of laws and not of men, is now for Congress, and ultimately, the American people.”

President Nixon did not understand how he had crystallized the issue of Watergate for the American people.

It had been about the obscure meaning behind an attempt to break in to a rival party’s headquarters; and the labyrinthine effort to cover-up that break-in and the related crimes.

But in one night, Nixon transformed it.

Watergate — instantaneously — became a simpler issue: a President overruling the inexorable march of the law. Of insisting — in a way that resonated viscerally with millions who had not previously understood — that he was the law.

Not the Constitution.

Not the Congress.

Not the Courts.

Just him.

Just - Mr. Bush - as you did, yesterday.

The twists and turns of Plame-Gate, your precise and intricate lies that sent us into this bottomless pit of Iraq; your lies upon the lies to discredit Joe Wilson; your lies upon the lies upon the lies to throw the sand at the “referee” of Prosecutor Fitzgerald’s analogy… these are complex and often painful to follow, and too much, perhaps, for the average citizen.

But when other citizens render a verdict against your man, Mr. Bush — and then you spit in the faces of those jurors and that judge and the judges who were yet to hear the appeal — the average citizen understands that, sir.

It’s the fixed ballgame and the rigged casino and the pre-arranged lottery all rolled into one — and it stinks. And they know it.

Nixon’s mistake, the last and most fatal of them, the firing of Archibald Cox, was enough to cost him the presidency.

And in the end, even Richard Nixon could say he could not put this nation through an impeachment.

It was far too late for it to matter then, but as the decades unfold, that single final gesture of non-partisanship, of acknowledged responsibility not to self, not to party, not to “base,” but to country, echoes loudly into history.

Even Richard Nixon knew it was time to resign

Would that you could say that, Mr. Bush.

And that you could say it for Mr. Cheney.

You both crossed the Rubicon yesterday.

Which one of you chose the route, no longer matters.

Which is the ventriloquist, and which the dummy, is irrelevant.

But that you have twisted the machinery of government into nothing more than a tawdry machine of politics, is the only fact that remains relevant.

It is nearly July 4th, Mr. Bush, the commemoration of the moment we Americans decided that rather than live under a King who made up the laws, or erased them, or ignored them — or commuted the sentences of those rightly convicted under them — we would force our independence, and regain our sacred freedoms.

We of this time — and our leaders in Congress, of both parties — must now live up to those standards which echo through our history:

Pressure, negotiate, impeach — get you, Mr. Bush, and Mr. Cheney, two men who are now perilous to our Democracy, away from its helm.

And for you, Mr. Bush, and for Mr. Cheney, there is a lesser task.

You need merely achieve a very low threshold indeed.

Display just that iota of patriotism which Richard Nixon showed, on August 9th, 1974.


And give us someone — anyone – about whom all of us might yet be able to quote John Wayne, and say, “I didn’t vote for him, but he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.”

Good night, and good luck.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

June 29-30 and July 1

Friday, i went to Jersey City to attend the Association for SW with Groups conference... OOOPs.... i went to work first and then realized i needed to be in NJ.... i boogied over there and attended three workshops and lunch and then on saturday, instead of going back, i went to my friend Nancy's 50th birthday party... I really thought that the conference was at the end of July.. i had gotten my dates screwed up and really felt badly that i screwed up and went to work instead of jersey city.. ACS employees dont seem to care and there were people who got there later and left early.. at least i was at work..

My Common Core group was taking their test and they ALL past so there is reason to celebrate...

We had a good time at Nancys party and i came home to do some stuff and went off to see SICKO, Micheal Moore's look at the Medical Insurance industry....

it made me cry because the system is so bad and sucks....compared to European, Canadian and Cuba